Cross Training Like A Boss!

I’ve been a busy busy girl this past week. Thank goodness because I definitely needed a boost in endorphins from not being able to exercise for the past few weeks.

By Monday, I began to get nauseous. Two weeks of no exercise made me an unhappy camper and my body was not pleased. I’m not sure if the nausea was brought on due to stress or lack of movement. All I know is that after I exercised on Tuesday, the nausea disappeared. Hallelujah!

Tuesday evening I took it slow. Like slower than slow. Forty-five minutes on the elliptical at a thirteen minute pace per mile. It felt good to be moving, but I was being cautious. I could not imagine finally being able to move again only to overdo it and be out of commission even longer.

Wednesday night, I hit the elliptical again. This time for thirty minutes, but higher intensity and resistance. My knee didn’t bother me at all, not even a teensy bit. After the elliptical, I went over to a muscle mix class to get some strength training in.

It was good to be back!

I didn’t work out on Thursday due to a social event. Though, I broke my personal rule of “no exercise Fridays” due to the missed workout. Friday evening I spent an hour on the elliptical going as hard and has fast as I could for an hour. My pace matched my running speed. A lovely workout to kickstart the weekends festivities.

On Saturday, Chris and I went into DC. We walked somewhere between four to six miles all over the city. More on that later.

Sunday morning I went to two gym classes: Body Step and Body Pump. I used to go to Step all the time before I started running. The up and down motions of the step had me concerned about my knee but luckily, no problems! Doing Pump after Step is not always the smartest decision. My lower body was so fatigued from Step, but I pushed through the workout. The only issue I had occurred during the lunge track. My left knee was done and it hurt. I spent the song stretching out my leg.

Monday I went to Spin class. It has been a hot second since I went to spin. I always forget how much I like spin until I’m sitting the class increasing my resistance.

Tonight I did a Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred DVD and it kicked my butt.

This week has been consistent and I love it. It is so amazing to be back in the gym.

I am only slightly (okay, majorly) upset that I haven’t been able to get outside as much. I feel like if I go outside I will be too tempted to run. And that would be no good. Unfortunately (for me), the weather has been ridiculously beautiful this week. It’s not fair. I spent all summer training in the humidity and the heat to be cheated out of the beautiful Fall weather. But I’m trying not to focus on that. Cross training will make me a stronger runner… just in time for Winter.

How did your workouts go this week?

Did you try anything new? How’d it go?

Did you eat anything particularly yummy over the week? Share the recipe!

Stop Beating Yourself Up. You’re Amazing!

After talking with quite a few people following my race recap post, the main comment I received was ‘stop beating yourself up, you are amazing!’

And you know what? I am.

There are millions of people who live in and around Washington, D.C. Many who probably claim to be runners. But, how many people signed up for the Leesburg 20K? A little over six hundred.

And I was one of them. And I finished.

I finished a race most people wouldn’t have even put on their radar. I finished a race that most people ask me ‘why do you even want to run that far?’

Because its special. It makes me feel special.

Not a lot of people tackle races longer than a 10K. Those who do usually reach for a ten miler, maybe a half marathon when they think they are ready.

And even then the amount of people who attempt and finish those races is a significantly smaller pool than the masses who do 5K and 10K.

If running long distances was easy, everyone would do it. It is hard. It takes a lot of time to train and prepare for this. It’s taxing on your body and your emotions and even your relationships. This takes time and effort (unless you have Forrest Gump abilities).

So instead of beating myself up over being on the slower side of the curve, I want to celebrate the fact that I am doing this. I am running distances I never imagined were possible for me and I am finishing races.

Slow and steady isn’t something for me to be ashamed of, it is something for me to celebrate.

I feel like in my race recap I came off a little snarky with my finishers medal graphic.

So, instead of hating on myself for not being a faster, more seasoned runner. I think its necessary for me to celebrate the fact that I finished that race in a respectable pace. I was slow and steady, like the tortoise, but I finished and am proud of that.

When you start to feel down about how you performed in a race or a training run, remember that you stuck with it. You are special because you’re doing something that not a lot of others consider doing. You may be slow and steady but you’re winning the race.

And you deserve an award.

So, stop beating yourself up. You’re amazing!

Guest Post: From a Half to an Ultramarathon

Seriously. I really did just go there.

Today’s post comes from one of my best friends, Kristen. She is a simple, 25 year old who isn’t passionate about much besides cats, Christmas, craft beer, Disney, food, and running! (And some might say making alphabetical lists!) When she’s not pounding the pavement with me, you can find her at Dogfish Head or at home with her cat attempting to cook. I wish I was joking. 

She has been my biggest influence in running and I could not thank her more. She is patient when I am moving ridiculously slow and when I want to walk. She encourages me to keep pushing, to keep moving, and to sign up for more races than I can count. I remember when I saw on Facebook that she had completed her first half marathon and thinking there was zero chance I would ever be able to do that. Little did I know that her finishing a half marathon would inspire me to compete in my own.

A big hello to Sarah’s readers! I was seriously stoked when she asked me to write a guest post! My first thought was, yes, someone is *finally* asking me to talk about my love of running instead of just putting up with it (hi mom…and my coworkers…)

If you told each one of my gym teachers spanning from kindergarten to high school that I’ve just finished an ultramarathon, they’d collectively blink their eyes, look at you in disbelief, and insist you have the wrong person. “Kristen isn’t a runner,” they’d say. “The furthest we’ve seen her run is from the gymnasium to the school buses to go home.” The girl who feigned mysterious stomach aches, her period, chicken pox (without the rash, of course), ebola, mad cow disease, and any other off-the-wall illness to get her out of running the dreaded mile around that quarter-mile track, is now the girl who runs marathons. What?!

In May 2011, one of my best friends and I were so stressed out at work, so we said screw it, let’s run a half marathon. I had never run more than a mile before this point (and begrudgingly at that). For the record, I do not recommend this approach! Despite the lack of training (and my giant Chipotle feast a mere three hours before the start gun), we finished the race in 3:10:09, which is nearly a 15-minute per mile pace. Even after three-hours-ten-minutes-and-nine-seconds of straight huffing, puffing, and death crawling to the finish line, I was willing to do another race just to prove I could do it and wasn’t a fluke.

I immediately signed up for the Disney World Half Marathon to be held in January 2012 and the DC Rock n Roll Half Marathon to be held on St. Patty’s Day (And yes, green beer was served at the finish line!) I trained intermittently, but not seriously for these events and was able to finish the DC Half in 02:32:43, a 37ish-minute improvement over my first time. Not bad. *Now* I was hooked. Despite salty sweat stinging your eyes, shivers, hunger pains, and cramps and aches all throughout your body, nothing can touch the feeling of accomplishment you get after crossing that finish line.

My race day gear!

Running through Cinderella’s Castle at Mile 6 and a Post-race Mickey bar

I ran a few half marathons after that (including re-running my first ever race exactly a year later in May 2012 and coming in 42ish-minutes faster at 2:28:35!) I also completed my first marathon. Barely. However, thanks to that addicting feeling of accomplishment, adrenaline, and major life stressors such as a new job, new apartment, and nasty breakup, I truly committed myself to running. What better way to demonstrate this commitment than by signing up for an ultramarathon. In the desert. At midnight. Under a full moon. At an elevation of 6,000 feet. Right outside the ominous and mysterious Area 51. Done!

Cheesin’ in the elevator at my hotel. Ready to do this thang!

At the “Black Mailbox” before the start!

Fast forward to August 5th after a spring and summer of training, and I’m toeing the sandy, desert-y start line of the Extraterrestrial Area 51 Midnight Marathon and 51k. Oh crap. We had just made the 2.5 hour trek from Las Vegas to Rachel, Nevada and everyone was pumped! It’s midnight under a full moon with clear skies and stars for miles when the race director yells “Go!” Quite a humble start with zero pomp and circumstance. Just a sea of runners with their headlamps, glow bracelets, reflective tape, and Camelbaks.

Days earlier, I had met up with an incredibly nice group of fellow runners online where we decided to follow the Jeff Galloway method of running and do 2:1 splits. (This means two minutes of running for every 1 minute of walking. This would give us an 11-minute per mile pace. Totally respectable for a midnight marathon held at high elevations!)

Our fearless leader, Dave, hit the lap button on his watch and off we went, exchanging nervous glances and hooting into the night! We were ready to conquer this:

Source

After only a mile had passed, I naively yelled out, “This is so much fun!” Laura, another member of our 2:1 clan replied, “Let’s see what you say at Mile 26.” But see, it *was* so much fun. Despite the almost literally neverending hill, cramps, elevation, and night sky, I was happy. The girl sitting in the nurse’s office with a fake stomachache during gym class was running an ultramarathon­ and actually holding her own!

As we slowly took down the miles, we began to gain and gradually lose members. People would stick with us for awhile, but would eventually fall back and walk. Dave and I stuck together the whole time, running most of the 13.1 miles up to the halfway point. Along the way we spotted cows, heard coyotes, gazed at countless shooting stars and rocky canyons, and talked about our families, cats, and post-marathon dining (and drinking!) traditions. Why run if you can’t eat?

At Mile 20, we started to approach the finish line at the Little A’Le’ Inn. (Literally the only business in a town of 54 as of 2010). But before we could cross that line, the marathoners had to run 3 miles past and 3 miles back, and ultramarthons would run 6 past and 6 back. Ouch. I held it together until about Mile 26 and then started walking. My aching legs just couldn’t keep up with the 2:1 splits anymore.

But then around 5:30am, the sun started to rise over the canyons and rocks and for the first time, I could see the road ahead of me. Incredible! I got a jolt of energy and was able to run a little more, enough to get me over the finish line.

Scenery from the race!

Mile 30. 1.67 to go!

I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face at 7:39am. 31.67 miles in seven hours and thirty-nine minutes for a 14-something minute per mile. Ouch.

Crossing the finish line!!

Iconic!

As I was beating myself up, I realized several things:

1- I had run 13.1 miles straight uphill. I could now tell people I ran an entire uphill half marathon!

2- I had PR’d at the marathon distance. My previous time was 6 hours; I was at the marathon point for this one in 5:50.

3- I ran all night. Literally. And had been up for nearly 27 hours by the time the buses brought us back to Vegas.

4- I didn’t get attacked by a rattlesnake or abducted by an alien. I win!

After arriving back in Vegas, I took a cold shower (it’s good for your muscles!), assessed my wounds, ate a miraculous Kind bar (oh, that is a post for another day!), finished the last few chapters of Christopher McDougall’s “Born to Run,” and slowly drifted off to sleep. For the first time in a long time, I finally felt like myself again. I might have started the summer running away from something (everything!), but had now run my way to irrevocable happiness. From now on, as long as I have my sneakers, I know I’ll be able to confidentially outrun whatever life throws my way.

My two new favorite things…

The Kristen I knew ate McDonald’s or Taco Bell everyday for lunch. Funny enough, she still does this quite often. And she is an ultramarathoner. Wow! 

I am so lucky that she chooses to run alongside me. 

Who inspired you begin running? How so? Do you know anyone that has completed an ultramarthon? Which one? What were their thoughts? Let’s discuss!

High Fives All Around

Friday night after writing about my fears, I went to sleep. Shockingly, I managed to do this with little issue. The nerves were ridiculous, y’all.

Saturday morning, I woke up at 5:45am. Seriously. I ate some cheerios and hung out for a little bit. Decided that watching a little bit of TV was a good idea so naturally I turned on my favorite channel, Investigation Discovery. The show on at 6am was Cold Blood. The plot… was about a woman that gets raped and murdered on a run. No joke. I can’t make this stuff up. So there I am chomping on my cheerios in my gear scared out of my wits that this could be me. Like the universe telling me to not go outside. I waited around for a little bit for the sun to really come out and then I was off.

And off I went. Just running. And running. And running.

For TEN MILES. Actually, 10.18 miles. I successfully ran 10.18 miles. And I am just as shocked as you are.

I achieved so many personal records during this run. I PR’d in distance (obviously), pace, and just overall time. When I ran eight miles, I had to stop and walk after six miles because of a leg pain and I ended up finishing in an hour and forty minutes. Last week when I did nine miles, it was a painful overall time of two hours and twenty-three minutes. For 10.18 miles, I completed it in an hour and fifty-eight minutes. REALLY!! Before Saturday, I had a tough time finishing five miles in under an hour and here I am doing ten miles in under two hours. And I ran my fastest [recorded] mile EVER.

Honestly, when I stopped, I cried. I was so overcome with emotion and accomplishment that I couldn’t control the few tears that sneaked out. If you had told me in April that by the first week in August I would be able to run 10 consecutive miles without stopping, I would’ve laughed in your face. In April, running this distance was not even on my radar, I just wanted to get back up to being able to run two miles without stopping to walk.

If you’re wondering why mile six was a little faster than the rest? I ran to the closest place I knew that was open and had a bathroom for a much needed bathroom break. Definitely running for a greater purpose at that moment.

Right now, I am continuing to enjoy the mass of endorphins from the ten miler. I am also a little [only a teensy bit] concerned about how the runs this week will go considering I seem to suffer from performance inconsistency.

The biggest question I need to ask myself right now is does this double digit training run make me a runner? Woahhhhh.

Up She Goes!

Shortly after sunrise on Friday morning Chris and I took an hour-long flight in a hot air balloon! Definitely one of the coolest things we’ve ever done.

Until October of last year, I had never been on anything that could fly. Including airplanes. Yes, I said it. It wasn’t that I was afraid or didn’t want to travel that way, I had just never been anywhere before that it was necessary to take one. So this hot air balloon ride was a pretty big deal.

I was all set to go. Bright and early. Very early.

Since it was at sunrise, we had to arrive relatively early. For me, waking up at 4:30am is never an option. But, everything has an exception and this was one of them.

The crew was pretty hilarious, especially considering its about 5:30am at this point and everyone is sleepy. They were all really excited because this was the maiden voyage of their newest balloon — Gracie II.

Gracie is the name of the owner’s puppy.

Once they were all set to go and everyone boarded, we we’re off!

Some shots from the air. We only went about 1500 – 2000 ft.

It was really lovely to see the rolling hills and mountains of Pennsylvania and I imagine in the Fall it will be even more magical. I thought it was hilarious to wave to people as we passed.

Shadow of the balloon on the ground. Pilot said we measured about 9 stories tall.

We actually ended up landing in someones backyard. All of a sudden a bunch of kids under the age of seven ran out excitedly. They could hardly believe that this thing was in front of them.

Once we arrived back to our meeting spot, we popped open a bottle of champagne and discussed the history of hot air ballooning. The folklore behind the champagne says that back in the 1800s people on the ground thought the ballooners were demons/aliens (flight hadn’t taken off yet! *cue drum noise*) so pilots brought champagne to show proof they were civilized since there was a possibility of a language barrier and people understood alcoholic labels.

If you ever have an opportunity to take a hot air balloon flight, DO it! Seriously! I was shocked at how gentle landing is and just how it really felt like you were floating through the air. Hot air balloon rides are offered all around the world, imagine the various types of scenery you can take in and how unique each experience would be. Take flight!

Have you ever hot air ballooned? If so, where? If you havent, would you consider doing it? Let’s discuss!