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Taking a Break…

29 Jan

Recently, I have had quite a few people ask me “what’s next?”

The past 3 and a half years, I have had an answer to this question. But today, I do not.

Since fall of 2011, I have had a marathon planned. I knew what race was coming up for the fall and spring, and had it marked on my calendar when the 12, 16 or 20 week training would begin. While some days I hated the training, most days I loved it.

I loved the accomplishment of getting up in the 4am hour to complete an insane workout, checking it off my training schedule and documenting it on my daily mile. I loved talking to my running friends about our upcoming races and the goals we had. And I also loved the miles and miles of thoughts I had to myself, or those that I shared with friends. While there were days I despised my alarm clock, cursed the Garmin and was over the training schedule, I really did love it. As we discussed in my run group today, we hate the training schedule, but we love it more.

Today, I am not experiencing any of that. And I know I won’t experience it again for a while.

Over Thanksgiving, I decided that after I ran Phoenix, I would force myself to take a break from marathons. My body hurt, and I didn’t love running like I thought I should. With this decision, I removed the Boston Marathon from my list of upcoming races. It was a hard thing to do, but I knew it was the right thing to do.

I have done Boston the last two years, and had quite the experience at each one. I am not sure that any race will every top that of Boston 2014, and for that fact I accepted that I was OK with not going back. Now instead of running a marathon on April 20, I will be coming home from a wine trip with friends. I decided that a new experience with people I love took precedence over running the same marathon for the third year in a row. I also knew that the break was much  needed and would be good for me.

Taking a break while I am still on top and healthy is much better than being forced to take a break because I am seriously injured or hate the sport.

I also do not have any marathon planned for the fall, which is very strange. My husband and I are planning a big trip to Europe late summer, and I know it is not feasible to train for a marathon while on a two week trip. I want to enjoy every minute of this adventure, not be worried about hitting 50 miles a week while I am there.

One of the reasons why I decided to run Phoenix was because I had a feeling it could be my only marathon of 2015…and it looks like that will be right!

Even though my marathon schedule is obsolete, I do have some halfs on the schedule. I am beyond excited to run the United NYC Half Marathon in March! After that, I will be running as the 1:45 pace group leader for Running with the Cows, and the 1:50 pace group leader for Hospital Hill (my favorite KC race!)

Since I am focusing half marathons now, my flexibility will be much better with my training. If I skip a day, it isn’t the end of the world. And goodbye to 60 mile weeks. Which means more sleep and more of a social life (my friends haven’t seen my out on a Friday night in 3 years 😉 )!

My goal is to maintain 25-30 miles a week this spring, and focus much more on my cross training. I went to a class on Tuesday and I am still sore…which proves that I have got to get my strength training back! I will do a couple speed sessions here and there, but nothing intense like I had been doing. Hopefully with this rest, my body will heal and I come back to my next marathon mentally and physically stronger than ever!

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xo,

Ali

Have you ever taken a break? How was the transition?

Listening to my body

11 Nov

The past few days, I have felt tired and worn out.

Last night, I posted my training update. If you read it, you know that I had a couple runs that I just wasn’t feeling it.

Yesterday morning, I was planning to run 12 400’s at 5k pace. I went to bed Sunday already dreading this workout and wondering if I should do it. My leg was hurting and I just didn’t feel good. And in the back of my mind I knew it wasn’t a good idea.

So when my alarm went off on Monday morning, I hit snooze. Then I hit snooze again. And finally, I turned the thing off and went back to sleep.

Very rarely do I sleep through a run, especially when it is a hard workout that I know I won’t be able to make up later in the day. But this time around, I just could not get up. I swear that if someone told me that there was $1000 waiting at that track I would’ve still turned off the alarm.

Normally I would feel guilty and lazy all day for skipping my run. But this time it was different.

My body is tired. And the aches and the pains were screaming at me to take a day off, so I listened.

Sometimes these rest days are just as important to us as the speed workouts are. When training for a race we put our bodies through so much, and it is only fair to give it a little rest sometimes. I tell people all the time to listen to their bodies, and finally I decided to practice what I preach! I probably should’ve done this last week when I knew things were off, but I was just too crazy dedicated to the training plan allow it.

Hopefully this missed day gets me back on track and prepared to face my last week of training before taper starts!!

Are you good at listening to your body? Or are you like me and struggle with the guilt of taking a day off?

xo,

Ali

Bad Runs Happen

29 Sep

This morning, I had a bad run. And not just a “bad” run…like a really really bad run.

The goal was to run 3 sets of 2 miles at half marathon pace. My PR half pace was right at 7:10 minute per mile, so I have been training towards a 7:00 minute per mile.

When I started my run, I could tell my legs were off. There was nothing fresh about them, which surprised me after coming off an easier week. At first I thought I would work it out during the warm up, but then when it was time to run faster I realized there may not be any “working it out”.

My first two miles were both off pace. A 7:30, and a 7:14. And worst of all – they felt so freaking hard (#twss).

I recovered for a mile then tried it again. The next set was better, as I was on flat ground – 6:56 and 7:04. But they still hurt like hell.

After another mile recovery, I started the final set. Again, it felt like I was dragging weights on my legs. Splits were 7:24 and 7:02.

On my cool down back to my house, I couldn’t help but think about my failed paces on this run. If I was holding myself to a 7min/mile pace, that means I only hit 1 mile out of 6. Not good. And there was no reason why this run should’ve felt this hard.

But instead of getting mad, upset and down, I reminded myself that bad runs happen. We all have them. And we always will. It is part of running, and certainly part of training for any race.

If I didn’t have these awful runs, I wouldn’t ever appreciate it when I had the really great ones.

The runs where every split is 10 seconds ahead of pace and my legs never burn. The runs where I am smiling because I feel so great (yep – I do that).

If every run was easy, I wouldn’t be the runner I am today. Because without the bad, I would never truly appreciate the good.

And after all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger….right???

Now here is hoping that I get my act (and legs) together for my next hard run!

How do you handle a bad run?

xo,

Ali
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Getting Back in the Groove

21 Jul

The last couple weeks, I have been getting back into my running groove.

My hip is feeling much better, as is my weird foot pain I was experiencing. According to my PT, I have an issue with my SI joint. It has probably been that way my whole life but recently started bothering me due to a couple factors…

  1. Sitting too much. Apparently when I sit down, my pelvis tilts incorrectly. This is why I have nerve pain and the deep aches mainly while I am at my desk or driving my car.
  2. Not stretching and strengthening. When I up my mileage, I get lazy with everything else. I do less ab work, I stretch less, and I stop caring about the other important areas to train.

My awesome PT told me I can start running again. He isn’t concerned I am going to injure myself, or cause damage we cannot fix. But he has told me many times that healing and fixing this issue is going to take a lot of time and effort.

I have been very careful with my ease back into running. After taking 2.5 weeks completely off, and another 1.5 weeks super easy, I knew I had to go easy on myself. All of my runs have been a conservative pace – about 8:45-9:30 pace. Whatever feels good that day, I go with.

My mileage has been relatively slow to pick up as well. First week back was only 7 miles. The following went up to 15, and last week peaked at 29. All easy paced.

This week I hope to reach between 25-30 miles with a hard work out thrown in. Since I am not officially training right now, my focus is building back my base so I am comfortable when it is time to start. I have learned my lesson in the past of starting a training program without a base. Doing that has caused injuries, and will cause an injury (at least it does in my case…)

I am trying SO hard to continue my strength training and stretching. I dread this every day, but when I do it in front of trashy TV it goes by so much faster! I am also trying not to sit down as much. This can be really hard during the day at work, but luckily drinking water like a maniac leads to lots of potty breaks, which means I get up all the time. Another thing the PT suggested is sleeping on my back to keep my pelvis aligned. That part isn’t so fun 🙂

I am confident if I keep doing what I am doing I can come back to my training stronger than ever! And possibly, reach new running goals this fall (those are TBD!)

Other than all this fun stuff above, things have been pretty calm over here!

Drinks at the pool!

Drinks at the pool!

Have you read this book??? SO DARK.

Have you read this book??? SO DARK.

Fiery Stick event in KC.

Fiery Stick event in KC.

Sweet Winnie the Pooch all swaddled. Love our baby!

Sweet Winnie the Pooch all swaddled. Love our baby!

That is all for now!

xo,

Ali

Lessons Learned Through 1,000 Miles

25 Sep

Today on my run, I hit 1,000 miles for the year 2013.

For me, this is a huge milestone. Up until last year, I had not ever thought I would be able to run this much in one year. I mean, 1,000 miles is A LOT when you think about it!!

As I ran this morning, I watched and waited for my Garmin to click 6 miles. At 6 miles into the run, I would hit my 1,000th mile for year. As soon as I saw it click over, I did a little dance and had a silent celebration (dancing was also due to finishing my tempo miles on my run!!)

I have been through a lot these 1,000 miles, and definitely learned some things during them as well.

Run for you.

With the sport of running, it is so easy to compare ourselves to other people. We constantly strike ourselves down with self doubt and negative comments.

“She is so much faster than me”
“I’ll never be as good as her”
“I wish I could as fast as other people”
“I am so freaking slow”

Those things above are just some of the negative self talk comments I have said to myself.

But why?

When we run, we are running to make ourselves healthier, happier and all around better people. It shouldn’t matter what other people are doing. What matters is ourselves. We should be proud of our accomplishments, not ashamed of them because they aren’t as fast as your best friend can run. Or your random instagram/twitter/facebook/daily mile freakishly fast fake friend can run.

Be proud of yourself. Whether you’re running 5 minute miles, or 12 minute miles, be proud of the fact that you are out there doing it. And that you are setting goals and achieving them.

Don’t take a mile for granted.

Probably the biggest lesson I have learned this year is to never take a single step for granted. Running is a gift, and we should all be thankful that we are capable of doing it.

You never know the day you could get a freak injury, like Kara Goucher recently encountered during her NYC Marathon training.

And you never know what tomorrow could bring.

Because of that, we should be thankful for every step, and especially every mile our body gives us.

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Have you hit any major milestones lately?

What are the biggest lessons you have learned this year?

xoxo,

Ali

Some of my favorite adventures. Conquering the hardest half marathon EVER, Running with my GOTR girls, Crossing the Boston Marathon Finish line, and deciding to take the plunge and dive into NYC training.

Some of my most memorable adventures this year: Conquering the hardest half marathon EVER, Running with my GOTR girls, Crossing the Boston Marathon Finish line, and deciding to take the plunge and dive into NYC training.

Aside for the blog I am terrible at updating, we can also chat at the following places:

 

Running 26.2 in the Rain (It’s not as bad as you may think)

26 Oct

Happy Friday, everyone! And happy race weekend to all those running Saturday or Sunday!

Yesterday, I received a text from a friend who is running the Marine Corp Marathon Sunday. She was looking for some tips on running a marathon in the rain, due to the fact that Hurricane Sandy is most likely going to have an impact on their racing weather. I have experience running 26.2 in the rain (read about that experience here and here), so Andrea knew I would have some ideas on ways to salvage her race.

Although you might freak out about the thought of running a marathon in the rain (been there, done that!!), it really isn’t that bad. And it isn’t going to totally mess up your race. My first marathon experience was in the pouring down rain and 40 degrees. And I still look back at that day as being one of the best days of my life. I also got a BQ 🙂

So now let’s talk strategy about preparing for a run in the rain…We will start with at the bottom and work our way up.

Feet
Your feet are going to get wet no matter what, and your shoes are going to get super soggy and annoying. Make sure you put plenty of aquafor/vaseline/deodorant (deodorant is my favorite way to prevent chaffing and blisters) on your feet before putting on your socks. This will prevent friction and blisters from wreaking havoc during the race. I also suggest investing in a pair of dry fit socks. Those will deal with the rain much better than cotton.

Hands
Luckily for the MCM people, it won’t be nearly as cold as it was for my marathon in the rain. I made sure I had back up gloves for the race and switched them out halfway through. Dry fit gloves were my saving grace for the second 13.1.

Core
Wearing the proper clothing will be very important on race day. I tried on every potential outfit I brought for the race the night before, and threw water on each one. This way I could see what instantly absorbed water, and what didn’t.

I also got pretty crafty and made a waterproof vest out of my expo bag. The reason why I didn’t just buy a vest was because I knew I would want to shed this thing at some point of the race. And I didn’t have someone there to throw things to at designated spots. I swear that everyone running that race commented on how smart we were for making our own vests. This kept our core warm and dry, and I ended up wearing it for 24 miles!

Another must do is wearing a poncho as long as you can up until the race start. This will help you stay dry before the race starts.

Running in the bag!

Those ponchos were a life saver.

Head
A hat is a must on race day. This will keep the water from hitting your face and driving you insane. It will also help you not look like a wet dog with sopping wet hair in every photo (the race photos matter, people!). I put an earband over my headband so I could toss it off if I wanted to and not have to remove my entire hat. It also helped hold the hat down because it was windy (which it will be for the MCM people as well).

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I believe I have covered all areas of the body to prep for this race.

As I said early…running a marathon in rain isn’t as tragic as you may think it is. You can do it, and you can still have a great race!!

Good luck everyone, and let me know if you have any questions! I am happy to help out my fellow runners!

XO,

Ali

The proudest moment of my life – crossing that finish line in 3:32!!

1,000 Miles

14 Oct

Last week, I completed quite the feat..I hit 1,000 miles of running for the year.

Originally when I made my goals for 2012, I said I wanted to run 800 miles. Well, after training for a few half marathons and two marathons, I far exceeded my goal of 800. The few weeks before I hit the big 1,000 mark, I had been monitoring my Daily Mile stats. Every mile closer to 1,000 made me even more excited and motivated.

I realized before going on a 16 miler, that I would hit 1,000 miles at mile 9. As soon as I reached mile 9, I stopped, did a little dance, and took a photo.

1,000 miles was an incredible accomplishment for me. I have never run so many miles or trained so hard in my life. The last year of training has really proved to me what my body is capable of, and has given me so much more confidence in myself.

Although every single mile has not been fun or enjoyable, every single mile has been something I am extremely proud of.

Do you have a mileage goal for the year you’re about to exceed? Or a dream mileage goal you’d like to achieve?

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!!

xoxo,

Ali

A letter to the Running Gods

21 Sep

UPDATE!!!

In case you were wondering how this turned out…check out the photo below (she needed to run under 3:45)…

…I’d say she kicked some booty!!!!! (AND she already received the news that she is in for Boston 2013!)

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Dear Running Gods,

I need to send you a little prayer, and I really need you to answer this prayer.

My running buddy and dear friend Diana will be running her 4th marathon on Sunday, and will be making her second attempt at qualifying for the Boston Marathon at Quad Cities.

Diana is amazing, and so deserving of a BQ. She has worked her butt off through training, and would have qualified last May had the Running Gods not thrown us a little curve ball (ahem, this tragic marathon experience). Diana’s determination and drive never ceases to amaze me. She is beyond dedicated to this sport, and wants her BQ so darn bad. She is also one of the best running buddies in the whole world!

Please do everything in your running power to give her fresh legs on race day, cool temperatures and the mindset she needs to break 3:45. And to the readers of my blog – I ask that you send these positive thoughts to Diana as well.

I cannot wait to share the exciting news of a BIG BQ!

xo,

Ali

YES you are! (Di and I from the KC marathon last year)

A Nebraska Runsploration

16 Jul

Last week I took my first trip ever to Nebraska for work.

I decided that a Runsploration was necessary on this trip so I could properly explore the surroundings.

Below are a few pics I snapped in Sidney, NE. Home of the Cabela’s world headquarters!

These geese were very irritable. They hissed at me!!

It was a very flat run!

More geese, and more grass.

Trying to get a photo with some new friends!

Dinner location from the previous evening. Yep – it is properly named the “Goose Pit”.

And a couple other fun photos….(at some point in time, all these things were alive…)

I have antlers!

A new furry friend.

RAWR!!! This lion was CRAZY!!!

 

Wishing you all a good week ahead.

xoxo,

Ali

Running for Others

17 Apr

I have always been a supporter of running your own race, and not letting other people get in your way. When I run races to race, I get in my ‘Me’ zone, and only focus on myself. This might sound selfish, but it is what allows me to be the best I can be, and I always tell people to follow this mantra.

The next 6 weeks however, I will be completely changing my mindset on running for myself. And I will only be running for others.

It all begins this weekend when I run the Kansas Half Marathon as a pacer for the 1:55 group. Being a pacer means so much to me, and has been a goal of mine for the last few years. I get to wear a special shirt, hold a stick for 13.1 miles, and lead a group of runners to their goal pace alongside Stacy. What could be better than that?

The next race I run will be the Chicagoland Marathon on May 20th. I am running this marathon with my dear friend, running buddy, and accountability partner, Diana.

The purpose of this race will be to get Diana into the 2013 Boston Marathon. I have NO doubts that she can do it. And I cannot wait to run next to her when we cross that finish line under a 3:45. Diana and I have had the BEST coach (ahem Stacy Scalfaro), and we will reach that goal come race day.

Diana and Stacy supporting me through my first marathon!

The last race on the list that I plan to run for someone else is the Hospital Hill Half Marathon. I will be running this race with my BFF, Nicole.

Nicole will be getting married one week after the race, and we plan to kickoff the wedding festivities with a half marathon. Nicole’s goal will be a PR, and I will be there to help her achieve this. After all, I am the Maid of Honor, it is my duty to keep the bride happy and make sure everything is perfect (and what could be more perfect than PR’ing right before you get married?!?!).

We climbed a mountain together, a PR should be a piece of cake!

Although none of these races will be ran to achieve a time goal of mine, I couldn’t be more excited to run them. Over the next 6 weeks I have the opportunity to help others achieve some major goals. I also get to be there right next to them and see that accomplishment on their faces when they do.

Running for ME is fun, but I think running for others will be an even better experience.

More details to come on all of these races….

XO,

Ali

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