Wednesday, March 25, 2015

38

Yesterday was my birthday. :)  I am 38 years old/young now! I didn't do anything special, but a quiet day at home is perfect. It was a really nice day and I am so grateful for the people who went out of their way to let me know that I am loved. That is the very best gift.

It is kind of fun to be 38 years old and to be in the best shape of my life. My plan for this year is to continue to try and be the best "me" I can be…mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. It is going to be a great year.


It has been a busy week as usual around here. Here are some of the things that have been going on…

- My poor Noah got SHINGLES. He is only six years old! He had chicken pox as an infant in Ethiopia before he was adopted. The poor kid had an awful (painful and itchy!) rash and was feeling pretty terrible for almost a week. He just finished the anti-viral medication today, his rash is all scabbed over, and he is acting like his normal self. Thank goodness!

This was from before he got sick. He was stealing Shane's hat and thinking it was very funny. :)
- Ryan (17) is going to Europe TONIGHT! He is going with a high school history class. He signed up for the trip over a year ago and worked hard to pay the $3200 almost completely on his own. They will be going to Poland, Germany, France, and Italy and in 10 days will see a huge list of historically significant places. My grandfather came to the U.S. from Poland and fought in WW2 at the beaches of Normandy so it is extra cool that Ryan will visit those places. We are excited for him!

Ryan and me 
- Ben (14) made the high school soccer team and has his first game on Friday! Ben loves soccer. In fact, his first English sentence (when we adopted him at age five) was "Dad kick ball". He has worked super hard for the past few years to be a great player but was still nervous about making the high school team. Last week he found out he had made the team and he has been working even harder ever since. I am excited to get to watch him play and to cheer him on doing what he loves. Lots of pics coming soon.

-  I was profiled in a newspaper in New York! I will be running the Suffolk Marathon on Long Island in September and they are doing articles on some of the runners that will be racing. It is a first year race which I usually avoid, but it goes right through my parents' town and it fit into my schedule perfectly, so I had to sign up. :)


- It snowed more. Bleck. I had a block workout scheduled for today (workout in the morning, followed by a second workout later in the day) and the roads were just way too icy and snowy this morning to try and run fast. So, block was rescheduled for tomorrow. The sun came out today, it stopped snowing, and the roads are clear now, so I will be ready to roll in the morning. Big training day ahead!

My street. It's hard to run fast when the roads look like this
Training has been going super well though. I have been taking it one day at a time and "staying in the present" as Coach Ray always reminds me to do. I am a little tired overall, but that is how you feel  during marathon training, and I feel really strong and fast overall. Speaking of fast… I got some fast-looking tights for these fast legs for my birthday. I always stick with plain old black on the bottom when I run, so these are pretty fun! Love me some Oiselle. :)


- Two more days of school until Spring Break! We have a weekend in Utah planned and will do some little fun things here and there and enjoy the time to rest and relax a bit!!

And that covers the highlights from here.  More soon. :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Three Cheers

Let's talk about some good things!

I love this time of year and especially this week. St. Patrick's Day, first day of Spring and my birthday, all in one week. :)  Is there anything better than running in spring? The temps are still chilly but so much better than last month. ("Warmer" up here in the mountains is temps in the 30's this week in the early mornings). And you have the knowledge that the days are getting longer and temps are going to keep getting warmer. (I love running in the fall temps but hate that feeling that the days are getting shorter and temps are dropping!!) The last week or so I have seen a couple of gorgeous sunrises and heard lots of birds. Yay for spring being almost here!

Dear Treadmill, Thanks for helping me get through the winter, but I hope not to see you for many, many months now. Enjoy the break. :)

I also love St. Patrick's Day! I celebrate it every year (Erin Go Bragh!) and it also marks "one week until my birthday" so I have always gotten excited for this week.

I don't love to cook, but one of the few things I make SUPER well and enjoy making is traditional Irish Soda Bread. I make one loaf the real way, with raisins and caraway seeds, and one loaf plain for the picky kids.


The breakfast I do on St. Patricks' Day for the kids is "slightly" less traditional…. but hey… I figure they enjoy this more than they would blood sausage! One bottle of green food coloring to one gallon of milk makes for some fun but funky looking cereal. One of the teenagers told the little kids that a leprechaun peed in the milk and they thought that was awesome. Haha!


I wore my "Kiss Me I'm an Erin" hoodie and got kisses from my favorite Ethiopian Leprechaun. :)


I actually spent the day on the road taking two kids to the children's hospital in Utah for routine appointments (7 hours of driving and 3 hours at the hospital makes for a LONG day) but we made it as fun as possible.

Two more good things…

- I had a killer, awesome, amazing, break-through run on Sunday. The run was 18 miles and the plan was to run 6 miles slow, 10 miles uptempo, and a 2 mile cool down. I ran the 10 mile uptempo portion at a 6:44 average pace!! I ran it very progressively (first mile was 6:57, last mile was 6:27) and felt really strong. It was such a great run and I really feel like it was a break through. Early on I was worried that I was starting off too fast, but I felt great and kept getting faster as the run went on. It was a blast. :) I have been steady at 85-87 miles the past few weeks and all is going really well. I have a half marathon on April 4 and the Ogden Marathon on May 17. I am really excited to race!!

- I am also excited to announce that I have been added to the Ambassador Team for EnduroPacks!!!



I wrote all about EnduroPacks and how and why I use them here. 

EnduroPacks is a daily system of vitamins and minerals that are designed for endurance athletes to help keep us healthy and to help us recover faster from our training. EnduroPacks include four products which are sold as a set in one month supplies. The four products are a liquid multi-vitamin, a concentrated electrolyte spray, Essential Amino-Acid patches, and L-Glutamine Recovery Complex. All four products are all-natural, gluten-free, and GMO-Free products, manufactures in the U.S. with only Organic and 100% Vegetarian ingredients.

I have been using EnduroPacks daily since November and definitely have seen a difference in how I feel and handle my training. This is a company and products that I am excited about, believe in, and happy to represent. If you want to try EnduroPacks you can use the code "FULLHOUSEMOM" for a 15% discount on your orders.

So three cheers for spring time, a super breakthrough run, and EnduroPacks!

What are you cheering for this week?

Friday, March 6, 2015

March, Movies, and Sunshine

Yay for Friday! And yay for March! I love St. Patrick's Day, it is the beginning of spring (at least in theory),  and my birthday is this month, so March is one of my favorites.

Tonight, Josh and I are going to see McFarland, USA. We live in a small town and it sometimes takes a couple of weeks for our theater to get a new movie. McFarland, USA is playing here starting tonight. Yay! I have been so excited to see this one. I can't wait. :) I love movies, and it goes without saying that I extra love running movies.

It has been a good running week (87 mile week), although the weather has been mean. I stubbornly headed out on Wednesday morning for a run that was scheduled to be 16 miles with the last five miles uptempo. I had gone to bed with clear roads and was expecting single digit temps but there wasn't any snow at all in the forecast. When I woke up it was 3 degrees and there was 4-5 inches of fresh now on the ground. The idea of 16 miles on the treadmill was just super icky for me, so I decided to head out anyway and see how it went.

I slipped and slided and trudged through snow for 11 miles at a slooooow pace and then gave up and did my five uptempo miles on the treadmill at home.  This morning's run was the warmest morning of the week at 9 degrees, but at least the roads were nice and clear. THANKFULLY things are warming up today and we should be having highs in the upper 40's and lows in the 20's, which sounds awesome. It's sad that temps in the 20's sounds awesome, but it does. Today is a double day and I am looking forward to heading out here in a little bit for run number two in some sun.

My street yesterday
I have a 20 miler this weekend and am excited for the warmer weather. I had a great 20 miler on Sunday morning (7:40 average pace) but it was COLD. My face was numb for a good half hour after I got home.

Something I am NOT looking forward to is stupid daylight savings. It is finally getting nice and light in the mornings by 6:30am, and now with the time change this weekend I will be back to running almost completely in the dark, dark, dark in the mornings. Argh.

Sunshine. I need more sunshine. :)
Shane and Ryan are competing in the Wyoming State Indoor Championships this weekend. Shane is running the 1600m, the 4x800, and the 3200m and Ryan is doing the 800m and the triple jump. I am excited for them and their team. They sure do work hard and are an awesome bunch of kids.

This is a pic from last year but it's too good not to share again. :)
32 degrees = heat wave in Wyoming :)
I have a post coming up soon for you filled with my favorite running things (and some of my favorite foods).

Hope you have a great weekend! Good luck to everyone racing or doing a long run. Have you seen McFarland, USA yet?


Saturday, February 28, 2015

All the other stuff

I believe that if you are committed to becoming the best runner that you can be that the most important thing that you can do is RUN. The law of specificity teaches that to get better in any activity, you must precisely practice the skill that you wish to develop. So if you want to be an excellent singer, you have to sing. A lot. If you want to be an accomplished painter, you have to paint often. And if you want to be a great runner, you have to run. There is a reason that the elites run 100+ miles a week. 

That said, there are a lot of other things that go into being a good, healthy, strong runner. There is no way to completely avoid injuries (even for elites and pro's) but there is a lot that you can do to minimize your chances of injury and to be as strong of an athlete overall as possible. 

Here are some of the things that work for me. :)

- Strength and Core Training - When you run, you are moving over and over in a very specific movement pattern. Us runners usually have fantastic calves and quads from all those miles. But to run the best you can, to maintain good form throughout your races, to have the most efficient form, and to ward off injury, you need to have strength and stability in all of your major muscle groups, especially your core, hips, glutes, and even your feet. 

I am not going to give you a list of "10 magical exercises" to make you bullet-proof, because I don't think there are 10 magical exercises and I think that mixing things up regularly is important, but here are some of the exercises I recommend.

- single legged squats
- full squats
- jumping squats (I call them "rocket squats")
- lunges (forward, backward, side to side, jumping)
- calf raises and drops on a stair
- lying bridges (single legged once you can - these are great for glutes)
- side planks (with movements once you can)
- front planks (with movements once you can)
- push ups
- bench dips
- donkey kicks
- clamshells

Some videos I like are Coach Jay Johnson's awesome Myrtle Routine,  this KILLER core routine (also from Coach Jay), and this great strength routine from Nike (shared by Runner's World)

My coach sent me one of these Ab Carvers and this thing is EVIL yet effective. It really works your full core (front and back) and it is a lot harder than it looks. It is hilarious to hand it to a teenager and watch them suffer and crash after just a few reps (and not be able to sit up the next day). 

I also really recommend Jay Dicharry's book "Anatomy for Runners".  This book is super and very user friendly. It gives you simple tests to do to determine where your weaknesses are as a runner and then detailed exercises to do to strengthen the areas you need to strengthen. It's a great resource for runners.

I have a few different routines that I do and I mix them up with the videos I mention. I typically do core and strength work 3-4 days a week. It is easy to slack on this when you are running a lot and are busy and tired, but getting to done is important.

- Dynamic Warmup - If I am just running easy miles then I usually just use the first mile or two of my run to warm up gradually, but if I am going to do any speed work, then I like to do some dynamic warmups. Also, if it is super cold out, I often do a little bit of dynamic warmup before I head out the door. Dynamic warmups are great for getting those muscles awake and firing and ready to go before running fast. Leg swings, toe touches, high knees, butt kicks, super skips, walking lunges, carioca (FOR THE LOVE people… stop calling it karaoke. Karaoke = singing), and then some strides are usually perfect for me. 

- Rolling and Stretching - There are plenty of people who swear that you don't need to stretch and some that even think stretching is bad for you. On the flip side, there are many runners and coaches who believe in the benefits of stretching. As in all things in life, do what works for you. I believe in stretching AFTER a run/workout (never before).  For me, doing some calf, hammy, quad, and hip stretches after a run feels fantastic. 

I have a pile of "tools" that I use for self massage. (I don't live somewhere that I have the option to get regular sports massages but I think you can do a great job on your own if you need to). I have a "stick", a lacrosse ball, a Roll Recovery, a Foot Rubz, and a foam roller and I use all of them daily. I have found that certain tools get certain areas better than others. For an example, nothing helps work out a tight piriformis in my opinion than a lacrosse ball, but the Roll Recovery is best on my hammies and quads. So I use all of these tools.  :)


I have found that doing some light stretching and then rolling/massaging my muscles once a day keeps my legs feeling good. It helps with tightness and soreness. It also helps me notice any areas that may be starting to get a little tight or sore before I would notice them on a run. Finding little niggles while they are still little lets me give them some extra attention with massage, stretching, etc. and get them resolved before they turn into a big niggle or injury. 

Rolling and stretching is something that I slacked on last training cycle (and I believe I would have caught and resolved my tight hamstring earlier had I been more diligent). When you are super busy it is something that is easy to skip but I really believe it is well worth the little bit of time and effort that it takes. I typically do my stretching/rolling/massaging routine after a run, and if I have any sore spots or am extra sore, I do it again at night while watching TV. 

- Diet and Nutrition- What you eat and how much is an important part of training. If you eat too little you will be under-fueled and will underperform. If you eat too much (regularly) you will carry extra weight, which isn't ideal. The "what" you eat is even more important than the "how much".  I recently wrote a post about what works for me in regards to my diet and fueling and this is very much a "find what works for you" topic, however, there are a few solid truths.

Eat/drink within 30 minutes after a run or workout. Eat real food. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, legumes, proteins, healthy fats. If you fill up on good stuff, you won't have a lot of room for the less than good stuff. :) Eat from all the food groups. Drink lots of water. Don't make anything off limits (unless you have allergies). Remember that food is truly fuel for you body, so give it the good stuff. Runners ask a lot from their bodies, and therefor need to feed them well. 

refueling after a run with hot cereal mixed with fruit, nuts and a few dark chocolate chips :)
Also, since as athletes we do ask so much of our bodies, some may want/need supplements. I take iron along with my EnduroPacks, both of which help me be at my best physically and to recover from the hard training I do.

Mental Training - Last but certainly not least is the aspect of mental training. We talk a lot about how much of running, training, and racing is mental and yet most of us do not put much (if any) time into our mental training. Three books that I recommend on this are The Gold Medal Mind by Jim Afremow,   Mind Gym : An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence by Gary Mack, and Running Within by Jerry Lynch and Warren Scott. All of these books have really great information and inspiration, along with exercises to do to help you develop your MENTAL strength and toughness. It is good, good stuff. This is another area I slacked on last training cycle and am recommitted to. I have been reading/using Mind Gym this past week and it's amazing how powerful it is.

Sleep - Ok people… this is one area where you are going to have to just "do as I say, not as I do." Sleep is important for everyone. Sleep is super important for athletes and runners. You should get a full night of sleep. Naps are good too if you have the option (I don't). 

Most nights I get six hours of sleep. I got to bed just after 10pm (when I make my teens be in their rooms on school nights) and I get up at 4-4:15am. I know it's not ideal, but the wake up time is required to be able to get my running done, and I don't like to go to bed before the kids since that is often the only time of the day I have with the big kids since they get home so late with school, sports, work, etc. I do try to at least rest for a little bit throughout the day if/when I get the chance and I am always laying down on the couch with a blanket shortly after 8pm (once the little kids are in bed). Many nights I catnap on the couch while the older kids watch TV, do homework, play on IPADs, etc. I can fall asleep anytime, anywhere, as long as no one needs anything. :)

You can almost always find me in "my spot" on the couch, with my blanket and my puppies (I don't know where Peanut is in this pic but she is usually there too) any night after 8pm…sometimes awake, sometimes not so much. :)

So, that is what I do. I run a lot. I do my core and strength work. I roll, stretch, and massage my muscles. I pay attention to my diet and nutrition. I am putting time and effort into my mental training. And I sleep as much as possible. Is it easy fitting it all in around everything else I have to do in a day? Nope. But I wouldn't change a thing. :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Braggin'

I know I said my next post would be about my strength, core work, etc. but please allow this mama to brag a minute.

All of my kids are awesome. And with 12 of them, we have a HUGE array of talents and interests. I am not the kind of mom who pushes her kids into anything… I don't make them all take piano or make them run… I just want them all to find something to pursue. I want them all to have something that makes them feel alive… something they are passionate about… something that excites them… something they are willing to work hard at. Sports, music, art, science…the "what" doesn't matter.

I could brag on all of my kids, but that would make for a REALLY long post. So today I am going to brag on two. Ben and Shane. They are my two freshman and they both have been working really hard lately.

Ben is my soccer kid. We adopted him from Ethiopia when he was five years old, and soccer is practically religion to many there. His first full English sentence was, "Dad kick ball!" as he moved chairs around our hotel room in Addis Ababa to create a makeshift goal. This is Ben's first year in high school and he is SUPER excited for high school soccer, which starts in just a couple of weeks. He has a lot of natural talent, but also has been working super hard. He played in a travel league over the winter even though it involved an almost two hour drive each way for games (he carpooled with friends), he gets up at 5am twice a week - once on Saturdays- for early morning soccer, and he has been staying after school every day for weights in the gym and scrimmages with his teammates. He competed (and did really well!) in cross country in the fall to build his strength and endurance. And oh yeah… he has a 3.954 GPA.

I will be getting some good soccer action shots of Ben SOON, but here is one of him with Noah (he is Noah's most favorite person) from this summer, and one of him doing his second favorite thing after soccer… eating. (YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH FOOD MY TEENAGED BOYS EAT.)

photo bomb by some kid I don't know :)
photo bomb by Marcus :)
brownies and ice cream. Lots of it.
Shane is my other freshman this year. I have posted about his running success before, both in middle school and in cross country this fall (he won the freshman race the Footlocker XC Regionals race in California). This is his first year of high school track and his first indoor season, and he had a killer week last week.

The team went to Simplot Games, which is a huge meet that brings in teams from all over the country. Our team is super strong and is full of kids with state titles, and yet Shane was the only kid on the team to qualify for the finals in any event as a single athlete at Simplot. He was also the only freshman in the 1600m finals and he ran a big PR of 4:28!!! Then with less than an hour to recover, he ran on part of our school's 4x800 team with three seniors, and they smashed our school's indoor 4x800 record and took THIRD place at Simplot with a time of 8:14.

Shane gets up on his own at 5am to get in an extra run a couple times a week and then practices with the team after school every day. He works hard day in and day out and has his head focused on some very big goals. He also is a really talented cellist. He told me the three things that make him happy are running, cello, and long boarding. (Long boarding however leads to frequent loss of skin). He practices almost daily on his own accord, sometimes for hours. And… he also has a 3.954 GPA. (How hilarious is it that the boys have the exact same GPA??)

yeah - he is awesome
A super group of kids. 3 seniors and the freshman. I am so grateful for how wonderful these older boys have been to Shane.
Watching these two work hard at their passions and talents and having success is very rewarding as a mom. And, they are a whole lot of fun and really great people. :)

I will do some more bragging on the other kids soon too. This post would be more of a novel if I did them all at once. But trust me when I say I am overflowing with pride and love for each one of them.

I am back to structured training. I have been fighting a cold, but besides that I feel pretty fantastic. 76 miles last week and 79 this week, and I get to do a full workout tomorrow which I am looking forward to, even though it is going to be COLD out on the track (single digits). I just can't make myself choose the treadmill over a clear track for a workout.

It was single digits over the weekend, and on Sunday I just could NOT warm up after my run, even after a shower, hot drink, warm clothes, etc. I found some sun and it felt amazing…and yeah… I dozed off… standing up….soaking up the sun. It was more comfortable than it looks. :)


and here is a little inspiration to share.


Ok, now I promise a post about all the things I do (besides running) for my fitness coming in the next day or two. :)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The beginning, not the end

Sometimes it feels like life is doing it's best to drag you down and discourage you. Being honest, I struggled with feeling that way a little bit lately. I am not one to get discouraged or give up or be pessimistic, but we all have our moments, right?

I would never stop running, but my mind toyed with thoughts about just running for fun... not "training"... not racing. I never truly believed I might go that direction, but I let myself pretend that I was considering it for a bit. I thought of all the people who have suggested (or flat out told me) that I should give up and that I am not cut out for this and wondered if maybe they were right. I had a wee bit of a pity party.

When I started this blog I never imagined so many people would read it. I have put myself "out there" and shared my story and journey because I truly love being a part of the running community and because I get so much inspiration and strength from other runners who share their stories, and from those who care about mine. And because every time I get a message or an email from someone saying that my story has inspired them, it far, far outweighs the annoyance of the few negative voices.

That said, when you fail publicly, everyone has advice for you. You should run less. You should run more. You should train slower. You should train faster. You shouldn't train on the treadmill. You should should lose weight. You should cross train more. You should stretch more. You should stretch less. Your mind is weak. You are too old. You should race more. You should race less. 

You get the idea. 

Luckily I have an awesome coach (who I have been working with for one year tomorrow!) and he is the one I listen to. Otherwise I might go nuts trying to sift through all the advice on what I "should" do. Advice from others is appreciated (and I have gotten some great nuggets!!!) although it can be overwhelming too. So I listen to coach.

I also listen to my heart.

Yesterday I had THREE moments of support/encouragement that spoke volumes to me and today I had another. First, a dear friend posted this on my wall on Facebook.

Can I get an amen??
Then awesome Oiselle and the incredible Kara Goucher shared this, along with an article written by Kara about how she has struggled with confidence and self-doubt but ultimately chooses to ignore the critics (especially the one in her own head) and follow her heart and go after her dreams.

Powerful.
Then another friend shared this and there aren't words for how much I love it -

YES!!!
And last but certainly not least, yet another sweet friend sent me an email this morning with the link to this great post by Susan Loken. If you don't know of her, Susan started running at the age of 35 and has had incredible success as a Master's Runner, with a marathon PR of 2:41 in 2006 and many titles and marathon wins. In her recent post she writes about how she had so much success and joy in 2010, and then has struggled ever since. Her current goals are to set the master's course record at the Boston Marathon and to run the 2016 Olympic Trials at the age of 52, but she is dealing with another significant injury and was faced with the decision to give up or keep going after her dreams. In her words, she chose to fall down seven times, get up eight. She also talks about how she loves waking up every day with a goal, a dream and a purpose. She writes, "I love the journey and my heart will not let me give up or back down."

YES!! 

With all of that encouragement in less than 24 hours, it is hard not to get the message. :) Ultimately though, the message that matters is the one from my own heart and my own mind, and that message has been loud and clear the past few days. I am all in. I can do this. I am good enough. My journey. My goals. My dreams. My life story. Let's go!

I am almost 38 years old. Six years ago I was still almost 70lbs overweight (down about 10lbs on my journey to get healthy). I had never run a mile. I know in my soul that becoming a runner and going after my goals and dreams is something I am meant to do... part of who I am and who I am supposed to be. I have come a long way on this journey, but this is still the beginning of the story, not the end. Stay tuned, there is lots more to come.

This morning I had scheduled 8 easy paced miles but one of the women I coach had five miles with a three-mile tempo in the middle that she needed some support/encouragement for, so I offered to meet her at our high school track at 5am to pace her and help her through it. I had not run anything that wasn't super easy pace since the hammy got tweaked, but it has felt 100% the last few days, even when stretching, rolling and massaging it, so I decided to test it a little, figuring since I was on the track I could stop the second I felt any tightening.

We did a one mile warm up and then I ran L's three mile tempo miles in 7:39, 7:17 and 7:05 (I ran two laps further out on the track than her and pulled her along. It was fun!) Then we ran a mile easy together and she left, and I decided to repeat the workout but run it at my paces since I felt so great. So I did a mile in 7:51 to "warm up", and then did 3 tempo miles in 6:47, 6:40 and 6:23 and then a cool down mile in 7:56. IT FELT AWESOME. It felt so, so good to run on the track and be free from the treadmill. The hammy felt 100% before, during and after. It was just a fun, fun run.

I am back into my "game on" routine. I got a little lazy with some things last training cycle and I think that contributed to the hammy tweak. No more laziness. I have been rolling and stretching twice a day again (this works for me, so I am doing it). I am back to doing my full core and strength work every other day. My diet is on target. My head is in the game. My heart is believing. 

Ogden Marathon. May 16. 12 weeks. Let's go! :)

"When you're a dreamer, heartbreak and failure come with the territory. But I can tell you it's worth it because it's a way of living that is both moving and memorable." - Lauren Fleshman

(A few of you have asked me about what I have been doing for strengthening my hammy and my all around strength work. My next post will be about what I do besides running and what works for me. If you have any questions, ask away!)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Getting over the disappointment

I got home from Tallahassee late on Tuesday afternoon, just in time to make dinner, drop kids off at a church dance, and take Marcus to his basketball game. Wednesday had eight parent-teacher conferences, grocery shopping, and a choir concert, and yesterday was a more normal day with just the usual mom work, coaching work, and errands. Poor Noah has been sick since I got back, so there has been lots of puke cleaning (glad that wasn't going on while I was gone). The kids have a four-day weekend now so I finally feel like I am coming up for air a bit and able to get caught up on things.

I have definitely gone through a range of emotions since my DNF on Sunday. Sadness, doubt, anger, discouragement, frustration... round and round. To put in 85 miles a week for 10 weeks feeling healthy and strong (and then taper), and to feel like you are in the shape of your life, and to have put in SO much work and mental energy into a race, and then have something go wrong with a week to go and NOT be able to reap the rewards of all the work... it is frustrating. Disappointing.

I went over things with Coach to see what we should adjust and do better next time, and we both agree that the strained hamstring was most likely a result of a combination of five big, tough workouts in 17 days. Coach thinks (in hindsight) that they were just too much, and should have been spread out a bit more or toned down a little bit. Lesson learned, and we adapt and adjust moving forward.

Thanks for all of the comments. I know other runners "get it" a lot more so than most people. I already do lots of strengthening exercises for strengthening hammies, glutes, quads, etc. regularly, but I need to be better about the massaging/rolling and stretching after workouts. In regards to the mileage, I do think that I found my "sweet spot" in mileage this time around. I averaged 85 miles a week for 10 weeks and then had a two-week taper. In the past I have had similar mileage averages but with higher "highs" (over 100 mpw) and lower low weeks. This time my highest week was 94 miles, and most of the weeks were in the 84-86 mile range. At that mileage I feel like I am training hard and running a lot, but it is very manageable and I am not dragging or worn out overall (as I have felt at a bit higher mileage). It felt super good this cycle.

The hamstring is improving. I can still feel a tight/sore area when I roll/massage/stretch but it no longer feels tight moving around and I can run on it just fine at easy pace. I would say it is back to where it was this time last week before the race... when I was hoping that marathon pace would be manageable. I am not going to try anything faster (or increase mileage) until it is 100%. I was lucky enough to see a fantastic sports massage therapist (twice!) while I was in Tallahassee who travels to treat Olympic athletes and trains other massage therapists, so I am doing what he told me to in regards to treating the hammy.

Originally Coach and I talked about finding another marathon soon to get to since I only ran 10 miles in Tallahassee and don't need to recover from racing a marathon. My training went SO well and I was SO ready to race, and it is awful to feel so tapered and ready and not be able to do anything with it. But then we decided that the smartest thing to do is to let this hamstring heal 100% without rushing it, and then focus on the Ogden Marathon (Utah) on May 16. I also have a half I will be doing on April 4.

So, that's the plan. Having a plan and looking forward helps me to feel better and get past the DNF.

And a little bit of perspective always helps. This time last year I was coming off a miserable year of over-training and injury that resulted in this -


Now I have had almost a year of overall fantastic training. I keep reminding myself that these things happen to athletes of all levels and it is a part of being in sports.  I have to wait a little longer to reap the rewards on race day, but this hammy strain is minor and I know if I am smart and patient that I will have another chance soon to show what I know I can do.

Despite the terribly disappointing race, the trip to Tallahassee was great. I got to spend lots of time with my Jennifer and her "people" (her boyfriend and his daughter, grandmother, brother, nephews, father, friends, etc.). Time with your BFF, especially when she lives so far away, is priceless. I love her so much and am so grateful for all that she does for me.

Here are some pics from the weekend. Surprisingly I managed to get a decent race photo out of the day...

stupid hamstring
Jennifer made this on the wall in her condo. She is truly the best.
relaxing the night before the race
race morning
Waiting for the start
mile 2 - courtesy of Jennifer
Drinks, dinner, and a Vince Gill concert. Wonderful night!

"Disappointments are just God's way of saying: "I've got something better." Be patient, live life and have faith."

"Your success is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way." - Robert Kiyosaki