A New Training Plan & A New Perspective

This weather has been quite the shit lately. I mean, honestly, while running, I generally feel as though someone is shoving pudding in my face as I imagine pudding would be difficult to breathe through. It’s thick, it’s weird, it’s oppressive, it’s the perfect metaphor for how I feel while aimlessly running down the street. Every day I awake to new highs in humidity, the other day it was 99% humidity. I didn’t even think that was physically possible. And my favorite is when I hit those strange pockets of hot air that make me feel as though I just exited my run and entered a real life sauna. Worst. Feeling. Ever. To beat the heat, my running partners and I have been getting up with the roosters. Alarm goes off at 4:45 am, sometimes 4:30 am and I genuinely feel like smashing my fist into someone’s face. Then I go and grab some coffee and I feel slightly better about the world but once I begin running, I immediately feel that compulsion to kill someone all over again. I just need someone, anyone to turn down the dial just a bit so that running can once again become, somewhat enjoyable. Because for real the other day, I contemplated throwing myself into oncoming traffic so that I could get out of running the remaining 2 miles. The conversation looked something like this:

“Ok, that is a small vehicle, the kind of vehicle that would do minimal damage I’m guessing, what is that a Ford Focus? Yea, perfect.”
Pause.
“What are we talking here, like a busted leg, maybe a cracked rib. That’s not so bad, right?!?”
Pause.
“What the hell are you thinking??? Focus on something positive. Like a nice round donut. A swimming pool filled with vodka. Margaritas the size of your face.”

For the BAA Half Marathon in October, I decided to try and up my game a little bit with an aggressive training plan. Virtually every workout, with the exception of “recovery runs” has intervals built in to it. It also calls for running within specific “zones”, each color denoting a different type of effort. This is uncomfortable for me. I hate speed work, and intervals and anything that is really hard. Typically I prefer to run a shit ton of miles, at whatever pace I feel like each day, show up for the race, have some sort of catastrophic melt down and just assume that everything is going to go my way. But I have grown to admit that perhaps there is a flaw in my system and if I want it badly enough, I just might have to gut it out and work for it. Week one of the training plan has me starting at about 35 miles and I’m assuming it goes up significantly from there into peak weak. I’m intimidated, yes, but I’m also excited to see what this will bring me on race day, if I can stick to it. Last year, I trained with aggressive mileage for this same exact half marathon but I did myself zero percent favors by doing every run at the same pace. I allowed my long runs to be slower when I knew they should be faster. And I assumed the hills here in Maine would translate into a successful race in the hilliest parts of Boston. In short, the BAA Half Marathon last year, chewed me up and spit me up. It was a rough 13.1 miles and truly, I still configure it a miracle that I was able to finish, let alone finish in 2:08 (with an exactly 2 minute bathroom break to boot).

They say that training hard in summer brings fall rewards. For right now, I’m just thrilled I have the company of all my people, because without them I would be screwed. Allison, Meg, & Jan have all ensured that I get my lazy ass up every morning and just get it done. I feel lucky be a part of a group where we can lean on each other and get one another through the hard shit. Running alone has its benefits, yes, but I’m not sure I would do it alone most of these days. I would probably roll over in bed and say, I’ll do it later and then conveniently never get to it. I’ll run alone in the fall, when there is no proverbial pudding being shoved down my throat. I’m sure everyone has these days, these weeks, these stretches, when running is more of a chore than a joy. Last night over dinner Allison asked me: “Why do you keep doing it?” And I said: “Because I know what’s on the other side. This is just a bad patch.” There is no greater truth than that. Running is like a river: it ebbs and it flows. Both ways. Good and bad. Sometimes you can’t live without it and sometimes you don’t know why you do it.

The sun will come out in my running sky any day now.

I just know it.

 

A New Training Plan & A New Perspective

The New Kitchen

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*This is not a picture of a kitchen, but it certainly is a swoon worthy space.

Well, I think it may just about be official–we are moving. We had the inspection and contrary to my hopefulness, everything looks to be in good shape–so with only one more tiny negotiation to go, I think it’s safe to say, this is happening. I do like the house we chose, don’t get me wrong, it’s the anticipation of it all that is just hampering my happiness. It’s the unknowns and the change that is keeping me just a little bit down. No, I haven’t lived a lifetime in this home, but I am about to host my 5th Harvest Party here, which will also be my last. Memories, have been laid down here. A life–was built here. We brought Miles home from the hospital here and planted the seeds that would eventually become–our very prosperous life. The last day will be emotional and so for now, I am trying to focus on the one thing that truly makes me happy–my new kitchen.

This new house has a kitchen that some, might love, I happen to absolutely, 100%, fundamentally-hate it. I hate everything about it. But, I am lucky. I am married to a builder and we can fix/change anything. I am also extremely lucky to have my father-in-law, who can sketch up a kitchen in no time flat and happens to have the ingenuity of a genius so my crazy fanciful ideas can hopefully become a reality. There are many things to decide and so many designs to integrate but I do know that I am starting by ripping everything out: appliances-gone, cabinetry-see ya later, you so ugly, tile flooring–peace out, you’re even worse, lighting, update, update, update, it’s so tired. To start, I am going with an white on white approach. White cabinetry with a modern, shaker style door. I consider this to be timeless, it’s simple and will hang on style wise for many years to come. I will have crown molding at the top of the cabinetry and maybe one or two glass doors with nickel gap boards as a backsplash. For the countertops, I am choosing Carrera Marble, and I’m hoping to find a slab that has a little more grey in it. I’m going to choose a cast iron apron sink with a white finish and some sort of industrial looking faucet. For the range I am choosing a 36″ Bertazzoni range which looks absolutely stunning, a hood to match the range, most likely a Bosch dishwasher in stainless steel (as I happen to LOVE mine) and the fridge is still up for debate. I love the idea of a restaurant style fridge with a glass door, Josh happens to think I’m crazy. At some point I will figure out how to win that argument.

I have ordered my 120″ farmhouse table with an antiqued pine finish and zinc strapping from Restoration Hardware, I have yet to decide on the chairs as of yet but that will come soon. I’m thinking two fancy chairs for each end of the table and 4 more casual chairs for each side. For lighting I am keeping it classic with just a hint of modern. I need to order new track lighting, a new chandelier for the dining room and the library as well as two sconces for the dining area. Paint colors are going to be the most fun part. I’m thinking something a little crazy like a dark charcoal for the kitchen to offset all the white and something a little softer for the living/library spaces.

We also have a gorgeous sun room which we have yet to decide what to do with. My father-in-law suggested French doors to close it off as necessary and I happen to think that is a wonderful idea.

I want this house to be outfit for entertaining. I want lavish and intimate dinner parties. Although, we may be on a Ramen budget after all is said and done but I’ll figure that out. None the less, I see people here–and that is what is keeping me excited. Also, I love the idea of being able to design my own space. The house we live in currently was a place I really had no say in and although I now love it to pieces, I didn’t use to. I’m excited to put my own style, my own flare, into our new home. One of the only major design obstacles is the amount of windows, which I know is not the worst problem to have. Part of me wants to leave some of the windows naked and use a bold white for the trim to dress it up. There are times when I think minimalistic can be really fantastic. Do I dare try that here?

We close August 15th and in the weeks following it will be renovations and choices. After the dust clears and the place is cleaned, we will move in and settle down. We will watch the kids play and make meals. We will hopefully watch the bees flourish in their new environment. I’m hopeful, even with the hesitation to move–that this becomes quickly, the right choice. I would love to know that we chose a place that we can thrive in and of course, continue to make beautiful.

The New Kitchen

Point Lookout Weekend Running Retreat in Maine

Recently, Kara Goucher, possibly my favorite athlete, decided to host a pimp ass running retreat in California that just looked amazing. I would have LOVED to go, however, the new budget conscience Jenny had to fight that urge considering it was $1,000 to attend (not counting airfare). But who needs to pay tons of money for a running retreat when I have so many runner friend resources that I can tap into and carve out my own little gals weekend where running and nutrition take center stage? And, being the loser that I am, once I found out folks were on board, I literally started to plan the entire menu and agenda. I am incredibly lucky to know more than a dozen women who are phenomenal runners and who are just a vast wealth of knowledge. I’m hoping that we can all bring something to the table that will enrich our love of running and of course, nurture the soul. Obviously, this itinerary needs a lot of tweaking, working, suggestion and input but I am confident that with the help of all my ladies, we will put together a truly memorable weekend. Also, I am THRILLED to be cooking for such an incredible group of people.

Weekend Destination: A three bedroom cabin at Point Lookout Resort in Northport, Maine (right next to Camden) that boasts a variety of amazing trails/running locations. Including some very daunting hills that could possibly crush my soul but no doubt, strengthen my legs. The ocean is within view and the area has a pleather of activities to keep us busy when we are not running/eating.

Loose Agenda & Menu

Friday (arrive between 12-2, obviously this is flexible for those who are working)

Moderate distance run (workouts to be determined) 5-8 miles

Dinner: Chicken or Steak Tacos served on your choice of platform (corn or whole wheat tortillas, or go without) with housemade salsa-verde, a variety of fresh accompaniments (red belle peppers, radishes, cilantro, scallions, etc.) served with lime infused quinoa.

Juice Option: Tomato, cucumber, carrot, red belle pepper & apple juice with a squeeze of lime.

Saturday

Pre long run fuel: Housemade oatmeal toast with your choice of topping (almond butter, peanut butter, additional options to be added) Fresh fruit will also be available. Picky Bars will also be available as well as any long run fuel you may want to take with you.

AM Run: Long run of 8-20 miles (for those that are fall marathon training)

30 minutes of strength training available or 30 minutes of yoga

Breakfast: Housemade granola with lots of healthy protein to restore & rejuvenate, served with 2% milk or plain yogurt. Seasonal fruit salad will also be served.

Juice Option: Green Goddess (parsley, kale, apple, pear, lemon, lime & spinach)

Afternoon activity options: Kayaking, Swimming or Yoga for those that missed the morning session and would like to take part.

Lunch: Hearty salad served with lemon pepper chicken breasts and housemade salad dressing. Served with mint scented pineapple.

Snacks will be available throughout the day: Juice, Housemade Granola Bars, Fruit, Core Bars, Nuts, Etc.

Evening Shakeout Run: 3-4 miles for those who wish to take part, easy pace

Dinner: Whole wheat pasta, sautéed chicken breast & asparagus served with a light dusting of olive oil, parmesan cheese & garlic, finished off with wilted spinach. A hearty garden salad will also be served alongside the meal with housemade salad dressing.

Dessert: Macrobiotic cookies with seasonal jam

Sunday (Checkout time: 10 AM)

AM Run: 4-8 miles easy, recovery run

30 minutes of stretching & yoga

Breakfast: Farm fresh egg omelets to order (egg whites will also be an option) with filling options to be selected. Served with seasonal fruit salad & housemade whole wheat toast.

Juice Option: Carrot, Strawberry, Beet, Ginger & Lime

Point Lookout Weekend Running Retreat in Maine

The BAA 10K

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I have come to really love the BAA races. The Distance Medley, which is a combination of all three races (5K, 10K & Half marathon), has become a symbol of triumph in my running history. in 2013, it was the “thing” that kept me training throughout the year, as the races are pretty well spread apart. It also was a trio of lessons learned. In the 2013 5K I learned that one should never house beer with a side of blue cheese fries the night before because what you’re going to end up with is the extreme urge to vomit all over yourself. (and a time of 29:00, which was a freagin’ miracle in and of itself) In the 2013 10K I learned that if you slack off in your training, you get back exactly the amount of effort you put in, which amounts to almost keeling over into a Gatorade cup. (and a time of 1:00, I think maybe there was 6 seconds in there) In the 2013 Half Marathon, I learned that race rituals should not be messed with. If you need a good bed, you sleep on a good bed, if you need to eat at a certain time, you better do that and if you need to pee 27 times, you best get in that damn port-a-potty line. Otherwise, you end up with a stomach that feels like it is eating itself for 13.1 miles and you waste 2 minutes waiting in line for the bathroom so your bladder doesn’t explode. (and a time of 2:08, which would have been 2:06 minus the damn bathroom). Why did I sign up again this year? Because I knew there was so much good there and I knew lessons learned and embraced would take me a very long way. My goal for this year was to trim major time off of last years cumulative total. Also, I wanted all four metals in my hand from the BAA (the three distance medley races & the Boston Marathon). To me, the Boston Athletic Association is symbolic of all great athletes. All runners who aim to be, better. The races all have standards but embrace everyone. The atmosphere is always tantalizing. And although the races are difficult (with the exception of the 5K, pretty easy), they make you feel, great, at the end.

Since I was running the Boston Marathon this year, I knew I had to take it easy at the 2014 5K, it was two days before Boston and I wasn’t trying to race. Just shake things out. Keep it lose. I was lucky enough to run with my friend Stephanie (who also ran Boston) who kept me on target for a 28:03 minute race. So I shaved one minute off of last year’s time and it felt extremely easy. I was really happy with that. For the 10K on Sunday, I was aiming for 52-53 minutes and I showed up thinking I could probably nab it. I had a power playlist, I had my lucky shorts on and I had my watch charged and ready to go. I laughed off the hill as you come to Boston University, I think I called it a “blip” and scoffed at how hot people thought that strip was going to be. And I vastly underestimated the cluster fuck that seems to happen as you are charging up that hill. So, I will say this, as I lined up, I had slightly high expectations. They seeded people this year according to your bib and pace, which was so amazing. I was technically placed in the 8:00″-8:59″ group but I lined up with the 9:00″-9:59″ group as those seemed like more of my people. As the gun went off, there was plenty of space to spread out and I didn’t need to pass anyone because we all started out pretty nicely. I knew I was going a little fast so I tried to slow myself down, my watch read 8’20” for the first mile. So I tried to slow my roll. But this part of the race was shaded and cool so I felt pretty darn good. Mile 2, my watch read 8’35”, I was on target which made me feel even better. But then we turned the next corner which takes you to the hill. The first “blip” was no big deal, so I thought, AWESOME, I’m from Maine and I’m so cool, hills aren’t even hills but then I looked up and saw the real hill and I almost had a stroke. Everyone started clustering, people stopped short and started walking, this is where people fall apart. Right here. On this hill. It’s where dreams come to die. I tried to weave but I had some problems with that. It was hot, you’re on the concrete here with nothing to protect you and the sun is just beating on your face. It zaps energy like nothing I have ever experienced, so I went slower. My watch read 9’07” for mile 3. As I came to the top, where the turnaround is, I got really excited about the downhill, but the downhill just takes you into another hill, and this is where the strip of heat continues to kill your spirit, so at mile 4, I wasn’t really speeding up too much, 9’05”. I tried to convince myself to go faster, you’re almost done I thought. (sort of) But I was hot. So hot. It felt oppressive, mile 5 was a 9’09” and the last mile, I just couldn’t believe it, was 9’29”. I knew I was moving slow. I could feel it in my legs. My will to push was there, I think, but my body just wouldn’t listen. I was thirsty, so I stopped at water stops which were even larger cluster fucks and I know that affected my time. Once I passed the 6 mile mark, I just tried as hard as I could to book it, but I don’t think I was going very fast. The finish line just seemed so far.

My total time was 56:07, 4 minutes faster than last year but not quite where I wanted to be for this year. At the end of the race, I felt like I had given it all I had, but looking back, especially at that last mile, I’m not so sure. Maybe the lesson is that I just struggle with heat. Which I do. Or, maybe it’s that I keep making excuses for not ending with a great kick. Who knows. Either way, I’m not going to beat myself up over it. I had a good race where nothing catastrophic happened. I hung out with a friend after who I never get the chance to see. I got my metal, I got my T-shirt and I only have one race left in the Medley to go. So who cares. Running is running is running. Just glad to be doing it.

Stephanie has big goals for the half, she’s talking 1:55 and with a best of 2:00, I’m not really sure how to get there. Since the 2:00 half, I haven’t really been able to match that time, the closest I have come was 2:04. The only variable I can think of, is nutrition. I had adopted much better nutrition practices at that point where as these days, I seem to be adopting the “What, I’m a runner, I can eat whatever I want” philosophy. And no, I haven’t gained any weight but my insides don’t feel as good. My gut definitely doesn’t feel so hot. The months before that race, I just made better choices. I didn’t eat chips with lunch, I watched my portion sizes, I wasn’t eating sugar. It makes a difference, especially for me. I need to control what is in my power and line up, ready to do the best I can. Train hard. Give it all I’ve got. Then see what that produces. If I did finally nab that sub 2 hour time, it would mean shaving 8 minutes off last years half, which would be huge.

I’m going to use the same high mileage training plan and see where it takes me.

I would say that I am getting back to my running happy place which is completely due to the people who haven’t allowed me to fail. I send a VERY special thanks to Meg, who has kept me running long distances with her marathon training, I need that, I really do. A BIG thanks to Allison who makes me do things like speed work, which is a must to improve and who keeps me focused and tells me when I am being stupid. A HUGE thanks to Jan, who has been getting up early to run with me during the week, I value those miles, I really do and I wouldn’t do it without you. And of course, to Kristin, a BIG thanks for taking me out of my pace comfort zone and pushing me to be better, always. You guys are special people. My running life wouldn’t be nearly as full without you.

 

The BAA 10K

My training partner said: Don’t puss out.

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I am a terrible test taker. I have always been that way. The first time I took my SAT’s, I was in the 7th grade. And, I pretty much bombed them. Some people may say, well, you were in the 7th grade, of course you did, but it wasn’t lack of knowledge that was the problem, it was the pressure. I felt so much pressure that after a couple of hours, I crashed and just started filling in random answers. I just wanted it to be over. As I made my way into high school, I improved in this department greatly, but it took massive amounts of preparation and focus. Nothing came easy for me. I think it’s my lot in life to not be naturally “great” at anything. The amount of post-it’s alone I used, probably took out an entire forest of trees.

Anyways, I have always felt as though this translated into racing. After a bad race, I usually have a large array of excuses as to why things went awry. Most of them were preventable. In the case of the Boston Marathon, the pressure sank me so things like the heat, the exhaustion, the hunger, were magnified. My last half marathon, I ran in a time of 2:04 and by declaring that I didn’t want to try that hard, I removed the pressure off myself and just gave my body permission to slack off. During every race, there is a point where I allow the discomfort to sink me and I eventually say: “I just want to finish.” And so I slow down to whatever feels comfortable, ruin all the work I did in the first half and coast to the end.

The BAA 10K is on Sunday and I have always had lofty goals for this years race. My 10K best last year was 55:54 and I could have done even better except the last 2 miles I sank into a pit of self despair and did exactly what I described above, coasting to the finish. My training partner had wanted to hit 54 minutes and we were on target for that but somewhere along the way I got distracted, my spirit got broken and I just gave up. My goal for the BAA 10K is somewhere around 52-53 minutes and if I don’t get that time, it’s because I didn’t work hard enough. I am in remarkably better shape than I was last September (when I ran my 10K best). I mean, I have run two marathons since then and I have tremendous training under my belt. If I don’t hit this number it’s because I didn’t want to, not because I couldn’t.

Knowing this information, I decided last night I was going to run an 11 mile, hard loop this morning with my running group. Why? Well, it would give me the excuse I needed to bitch out. I could say my legs were tired. I could say there were forces working against me. I could say: “Race times just aren’t that important to me anymore.” Even though I know damn well I would obsess over this for months and months and months if it didn’t go well. So my training partner, Allison, called me yesterday and yelled at me. Told me I was absolutely not running those 11 miles. Told me: “what are you crazy, are you trying to sabotage yourself?” And she was right, because she knows me too well. After thinking about it, I realized, it’s time to put my balls on the table and just get it done. I never want to be one of those runners who does all the shit talking but never measures up, because trust me, I know plenty of those and they’re irritating as shit. I want to prove that I am just as good. I want to prove that I can, indeed, leave it all on the pavement.

I haven’t left it all on the pavement since Nov 2013 and I would say it’s high time, I did that again.

So tomorrow, I will put aside my fear, because yes, I am afraid of the pain. I will line up with the 9’00” pace folks (I need at least a mile to get cranking) and then I will push for the 8’30″s I need to make this happen. I will run that last mile like it’s everything and I will gut it out till the end. I will warm up correctly, get enough sleep, eat properly and recite all my mantras. I need to visualize that moment when I cross that finish line and I know, I’ve done my best, and that I’m happy with my performance. I may not be in it to win it, but I am out to prove something to myself.

I’m extremely lucky to have people in my life who won’t let me just coast. It’s tough being on the other side of that sometimes, as I am usually the one with the big ideas, saying lets do it harder, but we all fall into comfortable regimens, so thank god for the Allison’s who will say things like: “Bitch please.”

I have a few friends racing the BAA 10K tomorrow and I wish them all the luck in the world.

I’ll let you all know how I do. Cross your legs, I mean your fingers, for me. ;)

My training partner said: Don’t puss out.