My year in running

I have actually been feeling pretty uninspired to write on the blog lately. Mostly because it’s just that blah time of year and my routine isn’t really changing much as I’m at a point where I’m just maintaining a certain level of fitness/miles before ramping back up in the new year. But I read Fiona’s year in running and post and thoroughly enjoyed and when I mentioned that to her, she suggested that I should write my own. So thank you for the inspiration, Fiona!

Best race experience

I like racing in general so mercifully, I’ve very few bad experiences. And as I look back on the year, there are three races that stick out in my mind. Rough Creek half marathon was best executed.

rough creek 2014-2

I nailed my nutrition, kept a steady pace, saw improvement in my climbing and conditioning and never hit a suck patch. My most recent 5 mile race at Isle du Bois sticks out too, as it was my first time medaling.

isle du bois 3

But I think the best overall race experience was Whispering Pines 20 miler.

tyler1

It was a goal race and my first big race coming back from having plantar fasciitis. It was the prettiest of the races I did-at least in my opinion-and it was where I found myself shedding some old, ugly beliefs about myself. So from an emotional perspective, it was definitely the best.

Best Run

Even though this run ended on the struggle bus, those few miles of pure freedom still stick out in my mind as the best run I’ve ever had.

Best new piece of gear

Easy! My dirty, grungy, beat up hokas.

dirt path

I started running in these shoes early in the year in a desperate attempt to fix my PF and it WORKED. I really think these shoes were a major contributor in being able to train and complete a 20 mile race and to train for a 50K (granted I couldn’t complete the race but I sure put a lot on my feet before I had to step back to knee issues).

Best piece of running advice

This is the last thing I’m answering because while I’m so inspired by many people and look up to and respect so many of the runners I’ve met, I also like to find my own way to do things. Mainly because while I think there is so much knowledgeable people with expertise to give great advice out there, I also think that everyone’s individual body is different and what works for one person may not work for another.

For example, I remember listening to a podcast with one of the great ultra runners (I think it was Dave Horton but I could be wrong) who said if you want to get better at running, you run. Forget the cross training and all that and just run. Now he is obviously much more knowledgeable and accomplished than I’ll ever be but that doesn’t seem to work for my body. I see better performance and reduced injury if I add strength training to my routine. Doesn’t mean it’s not good advice, just doesn’t work for me.

BUT, if I had to share one piece advice that has really stuck with me, it’s that it’s all about time on your feet when training up for a goal/long distance race. Don’t focus on the mileage as much as you focus on getting your legs used to moving for hours and hours. That really helped put things in perspective for me and not freak out about getting a certain number of miles in at a certain time.

Best inspirational runner

There are so many people I fangirl over. That’s why Jason and I are making a movie about midpack runners to begin with-because I’m so impressed and inspired by the people I see out on the trail. The every day people with kids and jobs that are still putting in hours of training to come across often empty finish lines. Those are the people who often bring tears to my eyes-the 60 year olds and the single moms and the first timers and the ones who have been around for 20 years and are still slogging away and the people who train by themselves for no glory other than their own personal satisfaction. They keep me going and their stories tell me that I can do it too.

Having said that, I was watching Desert Runners for the 50th time while on the elliptical today and as far as elite runners go, Samantha Gash and Lisa Tamati are definite inspirations as well. I love that Samantha says: ‘It doesn’t go away, it does not go away, this feeling of am I going to be able to do this.’

Sum up year in a few words

Adapt and overcome.

Anyone else doing year in review sort of posts? I’d love to read them. You can comment or let me know on twitter.

If I don’t see you guys before Christmas, I hope you it’s a great one for you!

Race recap: Isle Du Bois 5 mile trail run

This race was the last in Endurance Buzz Adventure’s High 5 challenge and to be honest, I was kind of bummed going into it.

This was supposed to be my last race after completing an ultra marathon-it was supposed to be a chance to race just to enjoy racing and the community, one last hoorah to close out the year. Instead, I found myself standing at the start of the 5 mile distance because it was the only distance I felt capable of doing at the moment (4 distances were run that day-5 mile, 18K, 36K, 55K).

So mentally, I was struggling to get excited. However, physically, I’ve been feeling good and my knee has been feeling stronger so I was ready to push it a little bit and see if any of speed work/hill repeats have made any differences.

The 18K’ers and the 5 milers started together before splitting up after about the first mile. The trail through the Isle Du Bois state park is twisty and turn-y, not hilly per se, but with enough subtle change in elevation that you were rarely running on a flat surface.

Once we split from the larger 18K group, I found myself with a few people in sight in front of me but no idea where I was overall in the pack. Were those people the front of the 5 milers? Or the chase pack? Or middle? While that felt a little discombobulating, I would occasionally see Jason ahead of me as the trail switch backed and curved in on itself and knew that meant I was doing well if I was able to stay in sight of him. (I really need to get a watch with GPS/pace).

As usual, I chugged along sort of by myself. The people in front of me were just enough ahead of me that we weren’t really running together and I only caught glimpses every now and again of someone far enough behind me that they weren’t really catching up. I blew through the midpoint aid station in 25 minutes, waving off the offer for a snack and kept plowing ahead, happy to have a gauge on where I lay time-wise.

The trail was rooty and rocky and covered in an even layer of slippery leaves so I stayed careful of my footing, never taking my eye off the trail (well, except to gasp with glee like a 5 year old when three deer ran past me), and always mindful of the knee. I really wanted to see how well I could do in this race but I knew the minute any twinging cropped up, I was going to have to back it off-it wasn’t worth risking my knee. Finally, in the last mile/mile and a half, I passed the gray haired lady I’d been dogging for the duration of the race and kept her behind me as I forged ahead.

(side note: one thing I love about running in general and trail racing in particular, there is almost ALWAYS someone old enough to be my grandma in front of me keeping my ego in check.)

At that point, I was beginning to feel my energy flag a little and once again wished I had a GPS watch so I knew how much further I had to go. Finally, the roots and rocks gave way to the paved trail we started on and I kicked in a little more as I rounded the corner and came through the finish shoot.

Dave, the guy in charge of EBA was there, as he is with every single finisher, to present me with a finisher bottle of honey, my High 5 cowbell and…wait what? ‘She’s an age grouper’, the volunteer manning the timing station said.

Yep, I placed second in my age group, third overall female across the line. (I looked on the webscorer site today and I’m now listed as 3rd in my age group and 4th female overall. The stats I saw were live stats the day of the race-I’m emailing for clarification and will change this post accordingly once I know for sure).

isle du bois 3

cowbell with blue ribbon=High 5 challenge, cowbell with black ribbon=2nd place finisher

My first time to place in a race EVER (regardless of whether it’s 2nd or 3rd) and a really gratifying way to end the year, especially given the disappointment of not being able to complete an ultra marathon.

I also had to buy this photo of me taken during the race because it cracks me up-it looks like I’m being chased by a bear or something. (in actuality, I was at a road crossing and checking for cars).

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In fact, here is my rendition of what that would look like.

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I crack me up.

Hope everyone had a great weekend-run safe out there!

2015 word of the year (spoiler: cockwomble did not make the cut)

*as you can tell from the post title, swearing involved*

There is an idea out there that instead of creating a list of new year’s resolutions-which, lets face it, is just a to-do list that probably feels pretty boring-you instead focus on one word as a guiding intention for the year.

In years past I’ve usually chosen one of those big, deep, weighty words that beget well focused intention and good tiding or some such. Words like ‘integrity’ and ‘joy’ and…well, that’s all I can remember at the moment. You get the idea.

Anyway, my friend Tracy asked on FB what everyone’s word of the year was and I was feeling saucy (or on a sugar high) and said I was tired of intense or serious words and wanted something fun like Bazinga (team Sheldon Cooper 4EVA ya’ll) or badass or fuckballs-which has been my go to word lately because it’s been so cold. As in holy fuckballs it’s cold. or it’s cold as fuckballs. Much mature, so adult.

grown up

I then mentioned this on twitter  (<—my twitter profile if you are interested) and ended up having my favorite social media conversation ever with Fiona and Autumn on the topic. Of note, I learned the phrase ‘cockwomble’ and taught Autumn the phrase ‘douche canoe’. It was a growing experience.

(side note: this is my third time back on twitter and I think I’ve finally figured it out. Basically, you just stop caring about figuring it out and have fun with it.)

All this is a long winded (but hopefully entertaining) way of telling you that my word of the year for 2015 is going to be BADASS. I decided to take Tracy’s advice when she dared me to chose that word just to see what would happen. She said that word has power to it and I think she’s right.

Having said that, I don’t know that I have any particular idea of what having a badass year would look like for me, other than maybe being able to go a whole year without an injury. That would be nice.

icing

So I’m open to what comes up.

Anyone else doing a Word of the Year? Got it picked out yet?

The lost art of listening to your body

I often have a mini war going on inside me.

On the one hand, my natural instinct is to listen to my body/intuition and let that guide my decisions-not just in running but in life in general.

On the other hand, I am a trying-to-recover-and-some-days-are-better-than-others control freak who luuuuvvvvsssss a spreadsheet and a schedule.

Which means sometimes my body told me it needs a break on a wednesday but my schedule says that’s strength training day and thus the war breaks out within. Or my body would tell me it was done after 12 miles on a long run but I had 16 on the schedule and that usually resulted in pushing through those last 4 miles and those miles feeling like a fight. Sometimes, listening to my body would win and I’d cut the run short or skip the gym workout but more often than not I’d talk myself into pushing through when I clearly needed a break.

I’m sure that even though my training schedule for the ultra had lower mileage weeks than most, this need to hit a schedule/hit a certain number of miles contributed to some overtraining FOR MY BODY and therefore, contributed to my injury.

Well, I haven’t had much of a schedule these days and a few weeks ago, I decided that I really wanted to step back, give myself some breathing room and listen to what my body decided to tell me in regards to any physical activity.

It felt weird at first, I’ll admit, and I found myself having to remind myself a lot when the ‘schedule’ part of my brain would kick in and be like okay we need to try five miles/hill repeats/strength training today!’ to step back and check in with what I was feeling up to.

It’s finally beginning to feel more comfortable and what I’ve noticed is, if I give myself rest when I’m feeling the need for it, NOT necessarily when I have scheduled it, I have more energy overall. This is the second week in a row I’ve been able to safely add in an extra day of running during the week and even an extra strength training session and my body is feeling BETTER for it.

After two weeks, I’m already seeing improvement-in my injury, in my running and even in my strength. It’s pretty exciting to see and because I’m not adhering to schedule for the sake of a schedule, I’m having more fun.

I have a feeling this is how I’ll have to build up to ultra distance, which means it will take time. I know I said no goal races in 2015 but it may take longer than that even. Or not. I don’t know how much time it will take but the goal is just stay happy, healthy and having fun.

And hey, I’m spending more time lounging in the sun with my best girl. ;)

Keely, AKA Chubs McGee

Keely, AKA Chubs McGee, and her jowls.

Also, I decided after a long sabbatical that I wanted to try the twitter thing again. I’m @runsfortacos if you’d like to be my friend on there-or let me know where you are and I’ll look you up!

I hope you all had a great thanksgiving and enjoy the rest of your weekend-

 

 

 

 

Slowly but surely

I have updates-good updates!

1. The knee is progressing well. My chiro has confirmed that the inflammation has gone down and that we can now lengthen the time between visits to once every week and a half to every other week.

I still need the pro-flex IT band strap and if I’m attempting anything other than a couple of miles, I need to KT tape it, but hey, I’ll take it.

KT tape

2. I have been doing speedwork weekly-mostly hill repeats. This week I was able to get in an extra session and do some fartleks. It was a couple of miles but again, hey, I’ll take it.

3. The movie is going along a little slower than I would like but that’s because I want everything done now. We have been able to do a couple of more interviews and have started cutting the footage to try and put a little teaser together. I’m hoping to have it online in a couple of weeks!

4. I was able to get in a five mile run today with NO ISSUES. NONE. Granted, my knee looked like ^ but I’m happy. This injury seems to be resolving itself much quicker than the plantar fasciitis did. Or maybe my perspective has changed and I’m more accepting of taking it one day at a time and not pushing anything but either way, it’s nice to see.

We ran at Cedar Ridge and it was so gorgeous. The polar vortex or whatever we had last week had dissipated and it was sunny and warm. Couldn’t have asked for a better ‘long run’-one that put my weekly mileage at 17 for the week.

cedar ridge sunlight

 

Happy running, guys. :)

So what’s next?

Now that my dreams for my first 50K have been put on the backburner for awhile, you might be wondering what’s next for me.

Well first, there were the temper tantrums.

Then I died my hair purple because feelings. Or something.

I like it! It's fun!

I like it! It’s fun!

But you know…wallowing gets old pretty quickly and I hate being in a negative funk so I did the only thing I know how to do to get me moving forward and focused on the positive-I made a plan.

Where I’m at now:

My chiropractor and I have figured out that the IT Band/meniscus stuff was a symptom of a greater issue that I’ve having with my kneecap. My kneecap goes sideways, not up and down like it should-this creates a lot of inflammation and obviously puts stress on the connective tissue on the side of my knee.

And now that we’ve discovered that (and when I say ‘discovered’ I mean he did a procedure that had me coming off the table and yelling so loudly the receptionist heard me), I remembered all the issues I had with my knee playing basketball in middle school. I eventually stopped playing because of the discomfort/swelling/inflammation but once I stopped playing, the symptoms decreased. They’ve never gone away but I’m so used to them, I don’t think about them anymore. I think it says something about how much less impact there is in trail running that it’s taken a year and a half probably 1000 miles (maybe?) for this to become enough of an issue to slow me down.

And right now I’m just in the cluster stage of healing where everything feels wonky and twingy as I’m strengthening muscles I haven’t really used before (or correctly, I guess) and other muscles are compensating as I use this brace to redirect how my quad muscles support my knee.

The plan:

I’m calling it THE YEAR OF THE STRONG GIRL.

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I know. Sort of cheesy.

But here’s the thing-I was starting to think that something was wrong with me, that I was weaker than other people and that’s why I could never get up to the distance I wanted to. Now it seems I have some biomechanic issues that are preventing me from getting as far as I’d like (the plantar fasciitis was on the same leg). So this is about getting a really firm foundation under me.

What does that mean?

No goal races in 2015- this was a hard decision. I just need to focus on other things now and take that off the table for now. And if I get healthier and get to a distance that might mean I can run a 50K sooner than I think, that’s great but it’s not the focus.

Strength training- Obviously. Not just my normal strength training regime. Consistent PT exercises. Changing up my yoga routine to include more specific exercises for the affected areas.

Better self care- The chiro will probably be a weekly visit for the time being. But I also need to be better about regular massages, hot baths, foam rolling and quality rest days (which means no more back-to-backs for the time being).

Finding a running group- My focus has been so much about doing longer and longer distances and while the training has been really valuable, it’s also been lonely sometimes. I want to run with people.

Speed work- once I get healthier. Let’s see if I can get stronger and faster.

Keep exploring- just because I can’t go as far as I’d like (at least for now) doesn’t mean I won’t be getting on to new trails. It may be shorter excursions and more walking but what really lights me up is the adventure of a new place. I need to remember that.

Thoughts? Experiences with this?

 

 

The Midpack: a movie

Yep, we are making a movie.

But first things first. Unfortunately, despite foam rolling/resting/stretching and high hopes from my chiropractor, I won’t be starting the Rockledge Rumble 50K this coming weekend. I tried a 5 mile run on Saturday and didn’t even make it half way before the knee was hurting so bad that I had to stop and limp back to my car. I can’t imagine putting 10 times that distance on my knee in a week. It sucks. It really, really sucks and I’m sort of a mess about it.

However, I will be sharing more of that in another post but for now, I want to focus on something else.

Jason and I have started making a movie. Yeah. Here’s what happened. I love watching trail running/racing videos. I am so inspired by the imagery, the runners, the stories. Yet often those videos area focused on elite/top runners in the ultra running scene and let’s be honest, they are basically unicorns to me. I can’t really relate to their running or their experiences.

But every time I run a race, I find myself just as inspired by the runners I end up spending time with in the midpack. Regular, everyday people with kids and jobs who are training and facing big challenges with just as much grit and courage as an elite runner in my opinion.

There aren’t a lot of videos made about them-these workaday runners and I think there should be. So that’s what Jason and I are making-a movie about the midpack runner-and let me tell you, I am already so excited by this project.

I put a call out for runners willing to talk on camera about their running experiences on a trail and ultra running facebook group I’m part of. Several of the runners that offered their time were in the Boulder area so we were able to meet with them last weekend when we were there.

I am so, so, SO glad we did!

Meet Hillary:

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And Laurie:

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And Jenny:

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Three amazing runners from different backgrounds, different racing experiences and different viewpoints but all with a passion for trail and ultra running.

They weren’t necessarily amazing because of what they’d accomplished (though they’d accomplished quite a bit. I mean Laurie alone is a TEN TIME LEADVILLE 100 FINISHER HELLO). They were amazing because these women who didn’t know each other and had varied life and running stories, all were so compassionate and nature loving and open and full of determination and spirit.

I absolutely loved talking with them and I can’t wait to share their stories as well as the stories of other runners we plan to meet. I hope to have a short teaser video of our time with them soon.

We will be interviewing runners in our area and plan to do a little traveling as well when we can. This is a big project for us and I expect it to be between 6 months and year before we get a finished product. But I plan on keeping you guys updated as things progress.

So I’ve got a bright light in the midst of a pretty crappy time. More soon-