2 for 1

9:23 AM

PR. Something that I’m always hoping for, but never sure if it’s within reach…

I always say I hate running, only to have my Mom ask, then why do you do it? To which, I have no answer, Mom. I must not hate it, although I dreaded every Speed Tuesday, Tempo Thursday, and Long Run Saturday. That has pretty much been my life the last 3, maybe 3.5 months. Thanks to my homie, Chris Malenab…go peep his cool blog: www.marathonliving.com, I had a new training schedule. The last time I attempted the Shamrockin’ Half Marathon I over trained and had jumpers knee severely, two weeks out. For those last two weeks I did the elliptical and only hoped to finish the race, I was wholeheartedly expecting to walk. Lo and behold…those two initials popped up…I PR’d. Although I did well, I did not want to follow that training method, so I asked Chris who is an avid Marathon runner and long time soccer friend. Kudos to Chris, it went better than expected.

At first it was really hard to stay focused on the training schedule; it was December – the month of obligations, parties, and a busy life in general. Trainings got moved around, I was trying to stay religious to the regimen, but days were switched…things were awry.

As January rolled around, my motivation was low, but I knew I was three months out and needed to step up my game, and hopefully drop some lbs for the race! January was touch-and-go, but I was getting my workouts in. Although Chris was very ambitious for my long runs, I made an abridged version of his long run schedule. When I saw the numbers 13, 14, and 15 – I was scared. So I scaled backs and my longest run was 11 miles. His aggressive schedule was because I had said I wanted to do better than my last time, but I was slightly intimated. Looking back, I think I could have done it, but I’m glad I did it the way I did.

So my social life, which isn’t very strong anyways these days, was almost nonexistent from January to February. I attended our regularly scheduled monthly girl’s nights, hung out with fam, and saw my friends a few times. But the extracurricular activities were cut down to a minimum or I got up at the ungodly hour of 5AM to get a workout done. Sometimes I guess this is what it takes to reach your goal. Not everyone understands your goal or why you pursue it, but if you do then you will stay on track.

Two things that came out of this race, which I am happy about, are that I now don’t mind getting up at 7AM (on a weekend) to prep for my long run and I actually started to venture out on the road and find new paths, which was by accident. I needed to steadily increase my mileage on Saturdays, so I kept running a little farther each week, which meant I was running to new places to hit my mileage. I know have a great ten mile loop that I enjoy running.

I would have loved to have a training partner, but finding the perfect one is difficult. I don’t want one that is too slow or one that I am too slow for, which leaves me solo training for all my races. I think it’s worked out better this way, but if I could find someone who runs at my pace that would be fantastic.

This race also taught me how to manage my caloric intake during races. Being such a novice, I would just wing it and go run the race and stop at an aid station when necessary. The last race I tried a GU, but was disgusted by the consistency and flavor (coffee, it was a freebie). So, at Eppie’s last year a good friend and athlete showed me the Cliff Bar Gel Shots. To say the least, I’m obsessed. I love them, although they are slightly big to chew, I practiced all my runs with them and was a pro at getting some calories into my body during my runs. Things, such as this, were things I never took into consideration before.

As March rolled around, being sad I was missing Spring Training this year, but excited to celebrate the BIG 3-0, I was getting anxious for the big race. It was about 10 days before the race and my cousin-in-law said I should run a trail half marathon with her. The kicker, it was exactly one week after Shamrockin’! After a few days of deliberation, I decided I’d do it…also within this time frame I signed up for my first full marathon – CIM! So not only was I going to try to get a good race time, I was going to attempt a second half marathon in one short week after my race…without any formal trail running.

Sometimes, it’s those serendipitous decisions you make that don’t turn out so bad! I was able to successfully get through Shamrockin’ with the huge help of Chris’ program and my parents cheering me on bright and early at mile 3 and at mile 12. It went well; it was the first time EVER that I’ve experienced a shin cramp, which was a weird sensation.

That whole week (post Shamrockin’) I was nervous, but happy I got to overdo it on carbs in prep for the next race! I don’t care if this isn’t suggested anymore, it’s one of the reasons I sign up for a race…the carb loading :) I ordered the Kinvara trail shoes; they arrived the Monday before the race (on Sunday). I didn’t break them in until Thursday and by “breaking them in,” I mean running around the grass at McKinley. I figured one time was better than no times. Let’s just say I was very nervous for this race. I kept reminding myself, no time expectations (but finish it by 3 hours) and have fun (but run strong). Those mantras replayed themselves in my head over and over, but being me I knew I would still get competitive with myself.

Trail is a whole different beast! Downhill is my least favorite and uphill is hard, but I enjoy that task much more. The downhill can be very technical and at a fast pace, I was sure I’d sprain my ankle at some point in the race. I had read some tips for trail running, look ahead four steps, keep your head high to get full breaths, and others along those lines. They would pop in my head and I would try to use them to my advantage. Nothing prepares you for your first BIG climb in elevation. At mile 3.5 we ran into the infamous K2 (or training hill) in Cool! This thing is a beast. I’m sure the top elite athletes could run up this thing, but not this girl. If I could even come close to describing it to you, it would be imagine climbing up a hill where your knees are coming damn well close to our chin for about 30 minutes. It was excruciating, sweat was dripping in my eye, my lungs were heavy, but I did it. After that, nothing seemed hard.  I knew there was another climb at mile 8, but it was NOTHING compared to what I experienced earlier.

 I did it. I walked, so what! I got a medal, #2 baby! But I cannot leave out; there were only 2 in my age group, so I was 2 of 2! Who cares, this just shows you how different trail races are versus road races. Popularity has not been gained, but this community is awesome. Everyone is supportive and kind on the course. They have the best aid stations – cheese its, M&M’s, pretzels, chips, soda, water, electrolytes, and goodness all around. I’m glad I did it and now I have no excuse to try another one.

 Today makes it three days post trail race, my quads are finally not in fire, slightly sore, but manageable. I reflect on my decisions and training and I’m actually smiling.

Hey Mom, I might actually not hate this running thing…we’ll see…
Shamrockin’ Half Marathon – Sacramento, CA: 1:54
Knickerbocker Canyon Trail Half Marathon – Cool, CA – 2:40

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