need for speed

I still can’t believe I ran 10:15 minutes miles on Friday.  This is a minute and a half faster than what I was running the week before.  And no, I’m not juicing!

stay away from the juice honey boo boo!

I’m going to back up a little… as I mentioned, my calf has been really bugging me.  It has been super tight and definitely causing pain when I run.  During my run last Saturday, it was hurting so much I shifted my form to compensate.  Of course, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise!

I have no idea when or how it happened but I haven’t been picking up my feet when I run – at all.  I’ve  heavily depended on my calves for all of my running power.  It’s like I’ve just been shuffling.  Lately, when my training plan called for speed work, I just couldn’t imagine how I was going to get faster when my feet/legs couldn’t GO faster.  Then I (physically) realized the concept of turning my feet over faster and was amazed.

this was my reaction too

This realization along with actually using my quads/hamstrings to run culminated into some speed.  On Tuesday, I went for a run and I could tell I went faster than I had in FOR-E-VER.  Lately, my pace has been hovering around an average of 11:50, maybe 11:30 if I felt good.  Friday, I accidentally found a setting on my garmin where I can set the pace I want to hit and then it tells me when I am on pace or ahead/behind.  What a great feature!

not my image but when this popped up on the second hill, I *may* have called my garmin some nasty names…

I set it for 11:15 since this was going to be my first run with my garmin and using this form.  I knew I was running faster, my garmin told me so, but it didn’t say how much faster.  There were times when it said on pace and on one hill it said behind pace.  My first mile was 11:07 and I was surprised!  Two long hills dominate the first part of my route, so I was happy.  I did four miles total and my splits were 11:07, 10:15, 10:17 and 10:22.

I’m still in shock.  My legs were fatigued yesterday in that “whoa, I put in a good work out” kind of way.  My plan was to run a few miles but an upset tummy restricted any bouncy behavior.  But as I tweeted, my spirit is renewed!  I wasn’t sure I would see these speeds again, despite my running coach telling me it was possible.  It’s weird because I figured I could do it but I didn’t know how.  Nor did I really believe it.  Now I have hope and evidence!

There is a month to my 25k and a month and a half until my next half marathon.  One of the reasons my legs are as tired is because my quads are not as strong as they need to be – why would they?  I’ve barely been using them!  I don’t know what to expect from these next two races.  I have some goals naturally but I’m going to keep them at bay and focus on training.  OH!  And no calf pain on Friday’s run!

“It may not be fast and it may not be pretty but it’s going in the right direction”                         – Eric Simonson

my internet connection went on strike

For those of you who are new to these parts, I have lots of issues with my internet.  I’ve been put in “internet detention” more times than I like to count and sometimes the connection isn’t reliable.  However, I thought most of these first world troubles were behind me.  Insert evil laugh by my router.

this is my version of “foreshadowing”

The router’s shenanigans have been going on for days.  I did all I could to fix it (with my limited techy knowledge) and I read completely confusing directions on how I might be able to reboot it.  Umm… nope.  Finally, yesterday I bit the bullet and ordered a new one.  Naturally, when I got home 2 hours later it magically started working again.  I may have called this inanimate object some not-so-nice names.

Oh well.  Life has been moving along here.  Get this, yesterday it was in the upper 40’s and the sun was shining!  It was pretty amazing.  People were out in shorts and short sleeves.  Now, I don’t think it was quite warm enough for this but it was positively wonderful.  Everyone was in a much better mood too which was nice.

I’ve also been running.  Last Thursday I did 5 miles with some speed work.  You know how runners write they did 10×9309235 and this makes sense to people?  It has never made sense to me.  I mean, I got the overall theme but I didn’t understand how to put it into practice.  On Thursday, I just decided to run hard for a certain time length.  I picked 2 mins and pushed it.  Whew!  I think I did this 5 times?  Well, once I looked at the distance, I had gone .25 of a mile suddenly I understood!  So I did 5×200.  I think.

this is how I felt!

Friday I hit the treadmill again for 4 miles.  My goal here was to run each mile without a break in between.  When on the ol’ ‘mill, I have to pause and/or walk a lot more than when I’m running outside.  Or maybe it’s because there aren’t any natural stops on the treadmill, i.e. a stop light.  This was a good challenge for me!  I proved to myself I can run further than I anticipated and I got into a decent rhythm.

Saturday my legs were fatigued!  I decided going to Red Robin for french fries and campfire sauce was a much better option than running.  Sunday I accomplished 8 miles.  In order to get the miles in around campus I had to back track a bit and run up and down ALL OF THE HILLS.  I wish I was exaggerating!  Oh and then the headwind was really helpful.  I felt very pleased with myself when this was run was said and done.  There was one point at mile 6.5 where I pushing it up another hill.  My mind started screaming “uncle” and I started to halt.  But I kept trudging up that hill.  I wish I could say it was pure heart and determination, however, I’m certain it was muscle memory.


After the running, I’ve been stretching, foam rolling and doing a bit of ab work.  The ab work isn’t enough to make a major dent but I need a gateway to something more substantial.  The stretching and foam rolling are quite helpful with some twingy areas.  About 5 years ago, after a bad break up, I decided to see how many days I could go without a rest day (I also wasn’t eating much or sleeping – it was a great/healthy time).  I made it 20 days.  Back then, I hadn’t incurred any injuries yet which was only because I was a new runner.  I had no idea how to care for my runner body and never stretched.  My body looks back at those days and curses my silly ways!

And here is a cute gif of a pig

Hope your Monday was a good one!  Welcome Tuesday!

happy it’s thursday

Whew!  What a week!  I feel like this thought crosses my mind every week.  Last week, I really struggled with the thankful thursday post.  This week it’s been much easier…

1.  My “little” bro’s birthday was this week!!  I love it!  He and I are only about 18 months apart so when he catches up a bit, it cracks me up.  Why?  Because it seems like he got old while I haven’t!  Yes, well, in my mind at least…

yes, this is exactly the look he would give me after this comment

He and my dad are still hanging out together on the other side of the world.  My brother, Kevin is one crazy cat.  He is fiercely ambitious and is an incredibly hard worker.  Kev is a freelance photographer and has been published in the likes of National Geographic, Time and plenty of others.  He is super talented and works tirelessly.

my dad and kevin hangin’ in sunny cali

One of my favorite stories about him, is for his 30th birthday he climbed to the highest base camp of Mount Everest.  I know… I went to the bar for mine!

kevin climbing mt. everest – you know, just at 17,000 feet… completely normal

2.  My speed work – I was pretty pleased with my mini speed work session yesterday.  Why?  My time wasn’t earth shattering or anything but it was quality, CONSISTANT effort!  I typically have this thought in my mind that I need to be careful because I will never be able to sustain whatever pace I am shooting for.  But I proved myself wrong yesterday!  Yay!

3.  Tyranena!!  So excited to travel to the exotic land of Wisconsin to hang out with my lovely Ragnar teammates this weekend.  We are having a slumber party tomorrow night AND Saturday night with some half marathon fun Saturday morning.  Yippee!

4. Ummm… this picture of Kevin

godzilla baby!!!

5.  Just overall grateful… I know this has been a tragic week for many and I feel damn lucky.  It’s so easy to forget to  recognize the positive in our everyday lives when we get bogged down by deadlines, issues, traffic – whatever.  I’m not saying these situations don’t warrant stress because they do!  But the more I remember to be grateful for the good things the better I am able to handle the rough stuff.

Oh and a run always helps!

i’m a runner

I will do a race recap in a day or two but I want to give my “photographer”, a.k.a. Emily time to post some pics.  At the race, I discovered a pretty awesome talent for relay photography!  I caught a couple of great shots of our high-fives, which was how we did our runner to runner exchange.

But let’s back up to Friday.  I wrote my “crisis of confidence” piece and then decided I needed to run to prove to myself that I was a RUNNER.  I hit up the treadmill for 4 miles and then did one mile of walking.  It went much better than I hoped for

why yes, those are sweaty bangs plastered to my forehead!

I still wanted to stop and even felt like I couldn’t keep running but I told myself not to quit.  So while it wasn’t fast it was much better than the last few runs.  I also had a self-therapy session while I was running.  Does anyone else do this?!  I asked myself why I felt like I couldn’t keep running – what was holding me back?!  Then I figured it out… or at least some of it.  As I have chronicled on this blog, the last several months have been HARD.  Sometimes I have felt that everything I care about or have confidence in has fallen to pieces – like the rug has been pulled out from underneath me. I care about running.  It has become part of my identity.  But I just felt like it has been taken away from me too.

Then yesterday happened.  A couple of hours before my leg, I got a facebook message from my former running partner:

“Amy – I have run many miles with you, and you are a runner!  Good luck today, have fun, and believe me – you can do this – Rob”

As you can imagine, I was truly touched.  Rob and I talked again later and he said he had been thinking about my confidence issue and how this isn’t unique to me; all runners go through this.  Rob explained it as “Bad Rob” on one shoulder and “Good Rob” on the other and each one has their say about what he is capable of.  I laughed when I read this because it is so true!  Haha, then I knocked out 6.5 miles, all because I BELIEVED I could!

So where do I stand now?  Today, I met up with a friend to go for a run.  We had made plans on Thursday and today I wanted to bail so badly!  My legs were tired and when I got to the track my friend said, “So, are you ready for speed work?”  Ummm… what?!  I decided what the heck?  It went really well and my non-speed miles were 10:26 warm up and a 10 min cool down.  My 400’s were a lot faster than I thought I could do.  My friend told me I had good fitness and I just needed to learn to control my pace better.  We are going to meet up again either Tuesday or Wednesday and I have a feeling now that he has seen what I can do, I’ll be crawling away from this weeks meet up!  My friend also said that all of this “I can’t run anymore” business is in my head.

Tomorrow I have yoga and trust me, my body is so ready!  After three days of hard running, I need a good stretch.  But I do love how fatigued I feel.  I worked really hard this week and am pleased it has paid off!  Of course it did, I’m a runner!

speed work is painful

So speed work.  Hmmm… HOLY CANNOLI!

I decided I wanted to do speed work so I could work on my whole “go long and fast” thing.  Even though I read a bunch of running blogs, I didn’t really get the lingo.  Like what really is 4 x 800?  With rests?  So, I caught up with my running friend Adam and asked him to fill me in on what I was missing.

Turns out I just didn’t get the math of the whole thing and really didn’t understand the length of the track.  Silly?  Probably but in retrospect, how would I know this?  I have never had any type of running coach and before reading blogs, I would just go out and run – pure and simple.

yep, this is what it looked like

So, yesterday I was set to do some speed work.  I have read that Yasso 800’s are a good indicator of what my marathon time could be so if I want to run a certain marathon time, I should try to run my splits in this time frame.  Ok, got it.  I would say, right now, I am hoping for my first marathon time to be a 4:15 or 4:20.  I think this is fairly doable since my current PR for a 1/2 marathon is 2:04.  Not to mention, I get faster the longer the distance I run – yes, I am totally built for distance NOT sprinting!

I swear - this weather is FREAKING me out!

I got to the track around 7 pm because the MI weather has been like early summer not early spring.  For instance, today is 86*.  I kid you not.  I ran a mile at about 10:30 pace to get me movin’ and then set out – fast.  I got to my desired time but could only keep it up for one time around.  LAME!  Since I hate reading owner’s manuals I just took my current pace of my garmin and started doing some math (I know, super accurate and scientific).  I did 3 x 400’s and they were definitely speedy-ish, at least for me right now in my training.  As I was writing this, I decided to read about Yasso 800’s to make sure I was doing them correctly and that my math was on target.  (Don’t worry – I do realize I was only running half the distance!)  Umm, I wasn’t and it isn’t!  Read the above article and you will realize how much work I need to actually do!

Essentially, my 400’s need to be faster, since I want my 800’s to be at 4:15.  Not to mention, I actually need to be able to run the whole distance fast!  For some reason, I figured each time around could be 4:15 but nope, that would be incorrect.  And who knows, maybe my times were actually closer than I realize but all of the numbers are getting mixed up in my head.  So, a few things I am sure of

1.  I will do track/speed work outs each week

2.  I WILL be able to do Yasso 800’s in the very near future

3.  I need to buy a dorky lil’ stopwatch because clearly math is hard (anyone remember this doll?!)

haha, dumb idea for a doll!

I can feel it today for sure and last night I was a sweaty mess.  I ran a little over 4 miles total and each time I finished doing a speedy 400, I realized I was running the recovery faster than normal (as of late) without as much effort.  This is definitely a WIN!  It also means, again, mind games.  They are a beast ppl!  I can’t believe how much my head tells me I can’t do something and my body just blindly goes along with it!  Seriously body – put up a fight!

Tonight will be some recovery mileage.  I am thinking 4 miles sounds like a nice number and maybe I’ll push it a bit.  Again, I’m totally whiny about how hot it is, even though everyone else is rejoicing.  It is pretty typical for me to ONLY concentrate on how the weather is going to effect how my run goes.  Selfish?  Absolutely!

BUT even more importantly than everything above… HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!  This is my blog shout out to my amazing dad!  I wrote a few posts ago about how proud of him I am.  He had been walking every morning and is up to almost 5 miles!  Before he started walking, he was taking two pain pills a day for his knee.  Now?  He has maybe taken 7 or 8 in the last month!

so true!

He also has some shoulder issues (when you work in a paper mill, your body goes through A LOT!) and he was taking these other pills.  But dad felt these were making him kind of dizzy.  My mom had been taking them too and we both wonder if this is what made her fall.  Dad was determined to quit taking these and has started lifting weights 4 times a week.  He was able to take the last pill last week!!  Again, I am so proud of him!

me and dad on the subway in NY

Happy Birthday Dad!  Love you so much!