Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012: Week 4

Monday: Hill Repeats. Planned to run the "Runner Stone Hill" in our neighborhood six times. Ran a two mile warm up, then the six hill repeats and then a short cool down. 4 miles.
Tuesday: Ran a 3.5 mile tempo from the house. Met some girls at the Y where I did another 2 on the treadmill and took a Cross Training class. 5.5 for the day.
Wednesday: Wild Wednesday trail run. Started down Lake Trail which is kind of like 'my' trail as I ran it and only it when running trails the last five months of my pregnancy. 9.5 miles.
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest (though it was an Easy 3 day I never made it out for the easy 3...must get better about this!)
Saturday: 1.5 warm-up. Ran Arctic 5k race. Went back out at 8p.m. and ran our usual 6 mile course with a few girls. ~10.5 for the day
Sunday: Another trail run! Ran with a group for 8 on Candler's including a hike up Lone Jack Mountain.

Miles for the week ~ 37.5

Much better week which included four trail runs. I would rather run trails than ANYWHERE else. Took an extra rest day that I wasn't planning on so I clearly still have commitment issues with my training log. Ran the Arctic 5k. Whether or not it was a job well done is still being mulled over in my brain...race report to follow...soon, I think.


Monday, January 23, 2012

2012: Week 3

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Cross-training class at Y
Wednesday: Ran our Wild Wednesday run but made a 'rookie' mistake of eating dinner right before heading out, so we called it quits after 6.7 miles though we'd planned to run a solid ten.
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Long run, 15.5 miles. Was downright dreading this long run in the rain even though we were going running with a group. However, it was a great run. Ended up running a sub-8 pace from miles 11-14 which made it an even more fulfilling run.
Sunday: Planned to preview a new 5k course for which I have a race on this upcoming Saturday. Ended up only getting in 3 miles.

Miles for the week: ~25.2

This was a rough week. I'd planned to bring my mileage back in, but then I got lazy and took several extra, unplanned rest days. Sunday's course (which for those of you familiar with the Terrapin Half, imagine if you may, it being a 5k) was brutal and it left me wondering where I was headed, because I felt ultimately aimless. After some reflection I realize I need to schedule my training better, making it more about areas of improvement than just mileage and work on getting my but out of the door when I am running alone.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Return of the Soggy Bottoms, Boy

So, every Wednesday evening I go running with a group hardcore trail-runners on some of the toughest trails in town.  We've been meeting and running like this for over a year now.  You may think by Hardcore that I mean we are really fast or something.  But that's not what hardcore means.  Hardcore means that we run every Wednesday night.  In the hot sun, in the cold wind, in the freezing rain, in the pitch black darkness, through the impenetrable fog,  and even in the occasional freezing-cold-bitter-dark-windy-torrential-downpour!

And by occasional, of course, I mean that it seems to rain on us every other week.  Now you may be thinking that I'm prone to exaggeration, and that may well be the truth, but that doesn't change the fact that we have run through a disproportionate amount of inclement weather on Wednesday nights this winter.  On no less than three occasions in the past two months, we have run through bone-chilling-saturating-monsoons.

But being the Hardcore runners that we are, we trudge on.  Saying things like: "At least it's not terribly windy," and "It could be worse, at least it's not icy," to try to keep up morale as we slog up hill after hill looking like a gang of wet cats.

"Why do we do it?"  I figured you would ask me that.  I guess we have different reasons.  The camaraderie of running with a group that is as crazy as you.  The need for the training.  The love of running.  The knowledge that most people, even runners, aren't out there doing it.

"At least we're not being chased by a pack of wolves."


Close Encounters of the Running Kind

Part of the post-run pampering dream team.
Last year I ran the Holiday Lake 'loop' four times before race day. I ran it the first time late December where I had some stomach issues probably from nerves, in 3:17. Not particularly fast but I signed up for the race anyways. A week later I ran it again, getting lost even, in 3:17. Two weeks later I went out for one of Dr. Horton's training runs on the loop and ran somewhat hard for the entire 16 miles running my fastest loop to date in 2:34. I ran the loop once more before race day in 2:40. 

This year, I am not, despite what you may have heard, running Holiday Lake. I want to. Badly. But I know, just having a baby some months ago and just returning to what I term real training, that my body is just not up for the mileage, not the way I would want to run. I would like to return to Holiday Lake with the confidence in myself to improve on my time and this year I would not likely improve my time and quite probably come away injured. So I'm trying to be smart and sit this one out. 

However, I still like to run the 'loop' whenever I can. Honestly I just want to run with others whenever I can and most of my friends and my spouse are in training mode for Holiday Lake so it just happens that a good long run spot is currently the 'loop' in Appomattox. This past Saturday Todd and I both got in good mid-length runs in the morning. He ran trails with some guys really early and then I met him in a parking lot where we swapped cars and kids and went for an only somewhat early run with another group. I got in a good steady 9.5 miles. I felt strong when I was done. I finally felt as though the old me were returning to its pre-partum ways. I got a text to run with some girls that night that I only occasionally get to run with these days. Knowing that we were already committed to running the loop on Sunday I said 'heck, yes' to girls night out as long as we could run conservatively. My weary legs didn't really want to meet them by the time 8 p.m. rolled around but I was so glad that we did when the run commenced. I felt even better. Confidence growing further. 

Sunday I had planned to run with my husband at Holiday Lake keeping up as best I could. However, as soon as Dr. Horton basically unleashed us I had a series of malfunctions that resulted in my falling way behind the pack and losing all sight of my husband.  Once I was all together and ready to really run I found myself alone on the trails. I just turned my iPod on and set to work on catching up. I ran a really good pace, feeling strong and steady when at 10.5 miles a certain runner who had arrived late flew past me. I can't quite explain it, I mean I know the guy and he's an awfully strong runner but seeing him fly past me sort of took the wind out of my sails. In a moment of weakness I let the negativity settle in and I took to walking on what is a most runnable section of trail on the loop. 

I am not a terribly weak runner, either in terms of physical or mental strength, but if I had to say what is my greatest weakness it would be negativity. I can run through pain. I can run long distances. I can face cold weather. Rainy weather. Hot, humid weather. But if I allow myself for just a second to think I can't do something, that I'm not strong enough, those thoughts will spread like an infectious plague so quickly that I don't even realize it. Having finally identified this threat I am learning to fight these battles, but sometimes, like this past Sunday, it can come on so quickly I don't even realize what's happening. Fortunately, two runners came up behind me and I was able to muster up the will to continue on though not at the same pace. 

I ran contentedly the rest of the loop. I was not particularly pleased with my performance, mainly because of the negative episode along the power lines between miles 10 and 11, but I did finish out the loop in about 2:38. Not my fastest, but not all that bad for ten weeks postpartum. Feeling possibly over-confident at this point, I agreed to go out for another 6 miles with Todd and another fellow runner. OK, honestly I didn't want to do these six miles but I knew the guys did and I have a hard time telling people I'm not up for something. 

So after 16 miles, of which I didn't fuel but only drank about 6 oz. of Fierce Grape Gatorade, I agreed to go back out for a partial loop. Not my smartest move. As my husband likes to point out, if I'm not over-training and injured, what am I?  I did eat a handful of gummy bears those last six miles but by the time we made it back to our cars we'd been running for four hours, my stomach was completely empty and my calves were awfully tight. Then we had the almost hour long car ride home. 

By the time we got home and I took my still wet shoes off (you run through two creek crossings in the loop) my left calf was tight and painful and the pads of my feet were swollen and aching. A few minutes on the couch snuggling the children I had missed all day and I was a complete stiff mess. As I attempted to maneuver the stairs I began to worry that my big mileage weekend would haunt me, as it could possibly do. Would I be able to run our weekly Wednesday trail run? Is this an injury or just the pain of improvement, I wondered. After putting the older kids to bed I instantly set to work on pampering my weary legs. I iced my calf while I nursed the baby. Then I took a warm, Epsom bath accompanied by a gargantuan glass of water and two ibuprofen. Then pj's and some Ironman muscle cream for the calf. Bed by 9:45 p.m. 

The baby, Brodie, woke at 2:30 a.m. After nursing him I took another Epsom bath, followed by more cream on the tight left calf. Monday morning I was still a bit stiff but already feeling much better. A few sessions with the foam roller and I felt almost completely back to normal. Other than the foam roller I took a day of complete rest. 

Today I am feeling good. The plan is a few miles, very easy and a Cross Training class at the Y tonight.  I am so thankful for the advice of my running friends and that my high mileage weekend didn't result in injury. I am taking the mileage a step down this week in hopes of keeping any injury at bay. I am hoping that the only lasting effect of this weekends string of runs is a growing self-confidence in my growing strength. There is no room on my training schedule for injury though, so I must play it safer and smarter. 

Chances that I'll turn down a group run whenever asked, however, are still low. 


Monday, January 16, 2012

2012: Week 2

Monday: Finally ended my many-months-long YMCA hiatus and did a good 40-45 minutes of strength training.
Tuesday: Took a Cross-training class at the Y with some friends. Was supposed to run 4 but I got lazy, decided to add it to Wednesday's run.
Wednesday: Ran our usual 6 in cold, rainy weather at Candler's Mountain. Continued on with a few of the guys for another 4.5 where it poured rain on us. Definitely a good mental workout. Days total: 10.5
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Ran at 8:30 a.m. with a group at Candler's Mountain. Got in 9.5 on hilly roads, fire roads and some trails. Decided to meet some girls at 8 p.m. for another 6 miles. All of these miles felt great. Days total: 15.5
Sunday: Joined a group to run the 'loop' at Holiday lake. Felt really good and averaged a 9:30 pace until the last part which is hilly single track. Went back out with Todd and another guy for another almost 6 miles for a total for the day of 21.6.

Weekly total: ~46.7

I did get in some cross training at the beginning of the week but still need to work on a more well-rounded training regimen. Must be careful not to overtrain!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

First Race of 2012: Mountain Junkies Frozen Toe 10k

In an attempt to adequately measure and adjust my training I plan to, as soon as time allows, write a post race or event recap. I think it's best to write down all the events and emotions as quickly as possible before the mind begins to transform them into something else.

When compiling my 2012 race calendar Mountain Junkies RNUTs (Roanoke Non Ultra Trail series) was top of the list. Last year I was most looking forward to this series, and had already run the first race of the series, when I got pregnant. I did end up running the series in its entirety but I didn't do as well as I had originally hoped, obviously running slower and more cautiously with a baby on board. This year I plan on using the series to help me return to my pre-pregnancy level of fitness and to help me build a solid base on which to eventually train for longer endurance races and series such as the LUS which I hope to tackle all or part of in 2013.

So early December I registered for what I considered my first real race since having baby Brodie in November. As soon as I hit confirm I felt the nervousness start to set in. It's amazing how tormenting a race on the calendar can be for me, it surprising that I race at all. However, it's also amazing how motivating a race on the calendar can be for me, so I continue to do it. I didn't change my training any but I did practically beg my husband to let me come back out with him and 'the boys' to run Wild Wednesday trail runs on Candler's Mountain. I stopped running trails at 34 weeks pregnant and knew I needed to get back out there to find my trail legs before I ran a race on trails. He hesitatingly agreed for me to come one cold and rainy Wednesday in December. I hoped they would take it a little easy due to the temps and rain, I knew I would have to run at or near race pace to keep up. It was a great run. I loved the rain and being back out there with the guys running on my favorite training grounds. I haven't had to run quite race pace to keep up every Wednesday since but it has been great quality training to go out there each week and run with strong trail runners. Seeing as these are headlamp runs due to Winter's short days I always pick my legs up a little easier as I fear being left out there in the dark. So for four weeks I got in Wild Wednesday trail runs of about six miles each week. Definitely not as much time on the trails as I would have hoped but enough to make me feel a little more equipped for the distance and terrain of my first race of the season.

I ran an easy hill workout the day before the race. I say hill workout because our neighborhood is a four mile run of constant ups and downs. I ran it as easy as I could, knowing a run the day before wouldn't hurt me unless I hurt myself. Friday evening I made a list of all the things I thought I would need and checked the weather for the following morning. I laid out my clothes like an excited pupil before their inaugural day of school and forced myself to hit the sack at 10 p.m. promptly.

Brodie did have me up at 2 and 5 a.m. but I felt like I got decent sleep when I woke up the next morning. We were a little late getting out of the house with the four kids in tow and we did stop for coffee and donuts on the way but we still made it to New Hope Christian Church with about a half hour before the start time. I quickly checked in and pinned my race number on my shirt and hit the trail for a slow but steady warm-up mile before the race briefing.

I usually have a set of goals for any given event. There is the goal I set out for myself that I make public, this is the more attainable goal that I am confident I can reach if I do well. Then I usually have a second goal that is usually kept private that I believe if I give it my all I may be able to reach. Last year I was in pretty decent shape when I ran the Frozen Toe 10k. I started out fast but feeling good when I completely fell apart shortly after the halfway point. I mean I quit, started walking, gave up. It was not a high point for me and I regret how quickly I shut down. Fortunately after a few minutes walk break I picked up my weary legs and finished in 53:03. This year my goals were simple, to not shut down at all. I vowed to take walk breaks if need be, or slow my pace down, but to not give in to negativity or quit. Tell yourself you can do this and do it, was my mantra. My goal was to run it in an overall average pace of between 8:45-9:45. I wanted to definitely do it in less than an hour. My more private goal was to hit 54 minutes.

I was reminded during the race briefing that I needed to go out fast while all of the racers would be on open road so as not to get stuck behind people running slower than my anticipated pace when the crowd bottle-necked onto single track trail. I hate going out fast, it's just not me, I need to warm-up even if I've already warmed-up, but I just followed the crowd. The first couple of miles I felt good. I didn't really remember this part of the course from last year, probably because last year it was covered in snow with snow still falling. This year there was no snow in sight. I was keeping my pace just under 9 at this point and thought I would just pick it up the further I went as I warmed up even more. I was happy when I reached the aid station almost halfway in and I was still under a 9 minute pace. I stopped, gulped some Gatorade at the aid station and was back on trail before I lost any positioning. This I remembered was where I fell apart last year. I'm happy to say that this year this section of trail didn't overwhelm me as it did last year. I am not necessarily any tougher this year, in fact, I'd probably say the opposite but I was prepared enough having run the loop last year to know that a quick hike or a slower pace might just be unavoidable at my current level of fitness. I was able to run all but one steep switchback where I followed the majority and hiked. At this point my pace had dropped to over 9 minutes which the day before had been just fine in my head but in race mode I was becoming disappointed. I gave it everything I had but still had to hike once or twice for a count of 30 but was able to bring my overall pace back down. The last mile was the toughest and I was thankful to have my ipod with me, I skipped over a few songs to find an upbeat one to help bring me in to the finish. Then it wasn't long until I heard the cheering and sounds of the approaching finish. I pushed even harder with the finish clock in sight and finished in 54:26.

Overall, I loved the course, it was a beautiful rolling trail which is my favorite and in better shape I think I could easily run the course in its entirety. I am content with my finishing time but not as pleased as I thought I would be, perhaps because there were several times on the course when I wanted to speed up and my body just couldn't keep up with the demand. It's only the first race in the series and I knew going into the series that I would be using this series of races to return to and then hopefully surpass where I was comfortably a year ago. I just have to keep reminding myself this fact. I know, as others have pointed out, that I had a baby two months ago. I guess I'm just not sure what to expect from myself, which is why racing is so vital to me. I need it to analyze where I'm at, how far I've come and where I might be headed.

As always, the event as a whole was terrific. A thorough race briefing had me fully prepared and remembering things from last year that I'd forgotten. There was also wonderful post-race food, especially the coveted pumpkin bread and fellowship with other Mountain Junkies. The whole family came along to support me and I loved hearing their cheering voices as I crossed the finish line and later watching them 'race' back and forth in the grass while we waited for race results.

Next up, the Arctic 5k a brand new trail race debuting at the end of the month on the trails of Candler's Mountain.


Monday, January 9, 2012


With four kids at home, a small business to run, a list of upcoming Ultras to run, and a wife who wants to run just as much as me, it is an understatement to say that finding the time to train properly is difficult.  Sure, we own a treadmill, but when was the last time you tried to run 10 miles or more on a treadmill?  At 10 O'clock at night?  At 5 O'Clock in the morning?

So I end up doing most of my running on the Weekends, the only point during the week I can really get any quality time on the trails, sacrificing quality time with the family unfortunately.  And even then, with the company of some willing but begrudging companions, I hit the trails at 5 or 6 am and run as long as my schedule and my tired body will allow me.

Trying to maintain 40+ miles per week primarily on the weekends is exhausting, to say the least.  During a typical week I'm lucky if I can get in 20 miles during the work week, and all of that is either short road runs or tedious treadmill workouts after the kids have gone to bed.  Never more than 6 miles during a run.  So I'm left with a sizable training deficit at the start of every weekend.

A couple of weeks ago I managed to get in a total of 37 miles in two days, split between 5 weekend runs.  This Sunday I ran twice, 12 miles the first time and 10 on the second run, all of which were on the technical up and down trails of Candler's Mountain.  I'm hoping that these multiple run days are making me stronger, as they are definitely making me tired, but there are also a few other lessons I'm learning along the way.

The most important thing that I have figured out is that the longer I run the more fuel I need, and that the need increases at a seemingly exponential rate.  I can run the first two or three hours on the energy provided by a pre-run cup of coffee and a doughnut, but after that if I don't start eating and drinking it going to be ugly.  Crash and burn!

The second lesson I have learned is that once I start to crash it's hard, and I mean damn near impossible, to eat or drink enough to recover on the run.  Which means stopping.  Which I can't do on race day.  Which means I have got to start learning to eat preemptively during my running.  I'm much better about Hydrating than fueling, and it's easier (for me at least) to notice when my hydration level is falling into dangerous territory.  Unfortunately, my body likes to pretend that everything is fine until it completely runs out of gas.  At which point I am usually struck with a sudden of wave of extreme exhaustion and lightheadedness.  And unfortunately, the workout is all but over.

So I am trying to work on my fueling during a run.  Training myself how to eat, if you will, on the run.  One of the biggest problems I am faced with is how to carry all of my needed nourishment into the woods with me, and still remain unencumbered enough to run efficiently.  One of my running friends fuels exclusively with Gels, and she carries them (up to 15 at a time she says) stuffed into her sports bra.  As that is not an option for me, I will be experimenting with different packs, pouches, and pockets over my next few long runs to see what works best for me.  I'll let you know how things work out.


2012: Week 1

Monday: Ran from home with Max (our Golden Retriever) following along, 4 miles.
Tuesday: Planned on 3 but took a rest day because Seaner was sick.
Wednesday: Ran 6.25 with our usual group on Candler's Mountain then another 6 with my sister.
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Ran our neighborhood with Todd, 4 hilly, easy miles.
Saturday: Warm-up mile and then first race of the year, Frozen Toe 10k.
Sunday: Planned a 2 1/2 hour run on Candler's but only got in 10.25 miles due to Todd having some hydration needs.

Total miles: ~37

Goals for the upcoming week: Cross-train! Get in some strength training with a somewhat focus on core.


Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 Goals and Resolutions

Updated Januray 2013.

With a race calendar a mile long and a strong will to return to my pre-pregnancy fitness level I have compiled a list of goals for the new year. These are all hopefully within reach, as all goals should be, and I may alter them as the year goes by depending on how I'm coming along.

1. Run a sub 23 minute 5k (road). My current 5k PR is 22:23. I was hoping to break 22 minutes last year when I got pregnant so at this point I just want to get back to where I was Fall 2010. Ran 21:32 at the Turkey Trot, Thanksgiving Day 2012.

2. Run a marathon. Planning on running a trail marathon in early June. Then another in September (also on trails) and then, if all is going well, to run the Suntrust Richmond Marathon in November. Ran 4:05, a course record, at the Carvins Cove Trail marathon in June.

3. Run an average of 25 miles a week. Sounds easy enough but I have a problem with consistency. I would rather be consistent than all over the place. Ran an average of 36 miles a week, not sure they were all that consistent though.

4. Cross-train. If I'm realistic this will be the first of these goals to fall by the wayside. I need to cross-train, I'm just not as motivated. I'm hoping fear of injury will help me with this goal. FAIL!

5. Keep a training log. I think this one will be pretty easy because it's like journaling and I love to journal. I am going to keep track of miles, where I trained, how I fueled and how I felt pre-, during and post-run. I also plan on logging my runs here weekly in the form of a post. Kept several different logs throughout the year but didn't keep up with the weekly blog log.

There are several more smaller goals, some having to do with particular races, but this is a good start. Every two or three months I hope to reevaluate where I'm at and make any adjustments at that point. There is still so much I want to do, so many goals big and small. This year I want to work on a return to speed. Not that I was all that fast before, I was just getting to a place where I thought I might get fast when I got pregnant. I'm going to start introducing track nights at least every two weeks and try and add more speed-play in some of my other runs. Other than that I would like to build a good base over the course of 2012 so that I can run the LUS (Lynchburg Ultra Series) in 2013.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 Race Calendar

I just finished compiling my race calendar for the new year. As I am going to take this year and work on speed and building up my endurance I have a pretty full list mostly consisting of 5 and 10k races. As the year progresses I plan on working up to half marathon, then marathon distance. If I'm feeling well after the summer I may do a 40 mile race mid-September. This list also includes all of the Lynchburg Road Runners club series that I may or may not do all of, but I included it in case I decide to do the whole series which I've said I would like to do at least one year.  At the end of last year Todd and I discussed having a fourth child and what that would mean to our training and racing for the upcoming year, with that in mind we decided that I would get the Mountain Junkies RNUTS and he would run the LUS (which I am nowhere near trained for) so that we wouldn't need worry about babysitters or help with the kids. Unfortunately, there were still several of our races that overlapped but hopefully we will still both be able to do our races. If a race is listed it is assumed I will be racing it unless it specifies Todd.


1/7/  Frozen Toe 10k
1/28  Arctic 5k


2/11  Holiday Lake 50k (Todd)
2/25  Liberty Mountain 5k


3/3 Explore Your Limits 5/10k
3/24 Terrapin 50k (Todd)
3/24 Montvale 5/10 Miler
3/31 Monument Ave 10k


4/7  Point of Honor 5k
4/14 Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k
4/21 Godparent Home 5k
4/28 Promiseland 50k (Todd)


5/5 Trail Nut 10k/Half Marathon
5/26 CVKA 10k

*Wild Wednesdays every Wednesday in May


6/3  Carvin's Cove Marathon (Todd and Alexis)
6/16 Presbyterian Home 5k

*LRR Track Series every Tuesday in June


7/4 Academy Mile
7/21 Percival's 5 Miler


8/11 Lynchburg Half Marathon
8/18 Annual Fab 5k
8/25 Downtown YMCA 5k


9/8 Trail Running Rampage (Todd: 40 Miler, Alexis: Marathon)
9/29 Virginia 10 Miler


TBD Deep Hollow Half (Todd & Will I finally get to run this race this year?)
10/20 Into the Darkness
10/27 I am Woman 5k


11/3 Masochist 50 Miler (Todd)
11/3 Apple Valley 5k
11/10 Valley View 5 Miler (a maybe for Todd)
11/22 Turkey Trot 5k


12/1 Peaks of Otter 5k

This is a very optimistic, all encompassing list. I don't necessarily think I will do every race on this list but included all of the races I would like to do if possible.