Six Point Two to Get Me Through

It’s hard to imagine that the Colfax Marathon is in 16 days – just two and a half weeks from now. It feels like the last 15 weeks have simultaneously flown by and trudged slowly on. My 18 week plan is nearing its end, and I never thought I would really make it to this point.

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After finishing 20 miles, I felt like I could conquer the world!
Last weekend, one weekend off of my original plan, I completed my longest run to date – exactly 20 miles. What an incredible sensation to see double digits starting with a 2 on my Garmin. To say it’s been a long road would be incredibly accurate, and also quite literal. When I first began running in 2013, I could barely run a full mile without stopping, and it was well over a 10 minute per mile pace.  Now, I can easily run a 10k in less than an hour. To actually see and feel that kind of progress is just mind-boggling and humbling. Every step I take brings me one step closer to my goal.  And after May 15th, who knows what new goals I will set for myself.

Over the past two weeks I might have been a little overzealous. The weekend I was originally supposed to run my 20 miler Denver got a lovely spring weekend snowstorm. While the city itself didn’t get much accumulation, where I live we had 8 inches of snow and slushy-icy roads. At this stage of the game, I absolutely don’t want to risk it, so I had to forgo running that weekend. Instead I planned to fit it in the following weekend. Here’s the challenge: I had already planned to run the Cherry Creek Sneak 10 miler and was participating on behalf of CU Denver, my employer. It wouldn’t be good to back out, but how could I fit in 20 miles?

The rational answer would be to run the race, and fit in another 10 miles that day. Of course, it makes sense. Your body still gets 20 miles in a day, so it applies towards the mileage you need to complete. Well, why would I do something that makes sense? When I asked the hubs what he wanted to do, he said simply, “Why don’t we run 20 miles on Saturday and then the 10 mile race on Sunday?” 30 miles, one weekend. Challenge accepted.

There is something about hitting your longest run before the race that seems so surreal.

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 I’m really bananas for bananas… It’s a problem. A delicious problem.
It’s absolutely a mental game by that point. If I can run 18 miles and feel amazing, I can absolutely run 20 miles. It’s not much further, and what’s left is proper fueling, rest, stretching, and mental preparation. Going into the run, I knew I wanted it to be done, but more importantly, I wanted to feel good. I have been using Gu Vanilla Bean and Clif shot bloks during my runs, and that seems to get me through. I still daydream about bananas by mile 12 (if you don’t know, I have a banana obsession…), but it could be much worse. Thankfully I also have a great training trail, the Highline Canal Trail, which spans 71 miles across the front range and has an entrance conveniently 0.8 miles from my  front door. It’s also a great trail as it has very few street crossings, and some conveniently located bathrooms en route (wow have those come in handy). I won’t ever say that 20 miles is easy, but I completed those twenty miles with a respectable 10:34 pace, and generally felt good.

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Cherry Creek Sneak time!
Now waking up the next morning and realizing I had to do half of that was another story.

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Last year’s race was significantly soggier.
The Cherry Creek Sneak is an awesome local race that features a 1.5 mile fun run, as well as 5k, 5 mile, and 10 mile distances. When I signed up I assumed this would be the beginning of my tapering, so 10 miles made the most sense. The 10 mile race began first at 7:30am in the Cherry Creek area of Denver. I ran this race last year, and thankfully, there was no rain and the weather was true perfection. I arrived about 10 minutes before we were set to begin, which was perfect for this type of local race. Just enough time to get psyched, but not enough time for my legs to get cold and tight.

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A runner on a mission.
I really love this course. The race begins just off of 1st Avenue in the heart of Cherry Creek, heads to the east towards Colorado Boulevard, and then veers back towards 1st Avenue to then connect with Downing Street.  The 10 miler takes runners through Cheeseman Park and has a decent stretch along 7th Avenue, before heading back down Downing and ending along 1st Avenue. The race went smoothly enough, and I finished in 1:41:33 with a 10:09 pace, which included a stop on course to take off my long sleeve cover up. In less that 24 hours, I ran 30 miles. The real victory? I can still walk (and run!) and I am not sore. I will take that, and dare I say, run with it.

 

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Don’t you just love that feeling?
All that’s left at this point is another 10k between me and my (current) ultimate goal of finishing my first marathon. I really never imagined I would ever do one, nor could I have imagined the incredible work that goes into training for one. But here I am, a mere 16 days away. Just me and another six point two to victory.

Day of the Week Cross Training Miles Run
Monday, 4/11/16 Yoga Sculpt N/A
Tuesday, 4/12/16 Yoga Sculpt 4.2 mile run
Wednesday, 4/13/16 Yoga Sculpt 4.2 mile run
Thursday, 4/14/16 Zumbathon! 3.64 mile run
Friday, 4/15/16 N/A 3.61 mile run
Saturday, 4/16/16 Rest Rest
Sunday, 4/17/16 Yoga Sculpt N/A
Monday, 4/18/16 TIU Beach Bombshell, TIU Sunkissed Abs 3.2 mile run
Tuesday, 4/19/16 Yoga Sculpt N/A
Wednesday, 4/20/16 N/A 4.1 mile run
Thursday, 4/21/16 Tone HIIT Up, TIU Bikini Body Routine, TIU Bikini Arms 4.1 mile run
Friday, 4/22/16 N/A 3.69 mile run
Saturday, 4/23/16 N/A 20 mile run
Sunday, 4/24/16 N/A 10.07 mile run

How many miles has been your major goal? Ever attempted back to back long runs? What are your favorite recovery tricks? How is your marathon training going?

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I cannot get over the crazy hair!

Capital Campaign: Run the Monuments

A few weekends ago I found myself in the heart of my old “hometown,” if you can call D.C. a hometown, of course. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Or when in D.C., run around the monuments and pretend you’re in Rome. Whatever works, right? I had been really looking forward to an amazing 18 mile run around Washington D.C.’s scenic National Mall, the tidal basin, and all the monuments along the way.  Of course I am incredibly stereotypical and love the Lincoln monument, with the views across the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and the National Monument standing majestically in the distance.  It really does feel like you’re on the set of “House of Cards” or something, and I can’t get enough of the history (however short our nation’s history is in the grand scheme of things).

Ameri-cuh! Source
Ameri-cuh! Source

While I lived in the D.C. metro area, I really wasn’t in to running. It seemed like a chore rather than therapeutic. What’s the point in running if you aren’t running to or from something? Well, obviously I have matured from that point. Or something… But regardless, I feel like I may have missed an awesome opportunity, minus the humidity, propensity for rain, and incessant bug population. Oh, and lots of tourists.

The main problem with continuing marathon training in another place, however, is you don’t really know where you’re going.  Before travelling to Naples, FL, I meticulously mapped out numerous run options before hand and checked in with my in-laws for recommendations.  With D.C., however, I had built in trainers (thank you, Ms. BakeNBurn and Justine!) with extensive knowledge of the area, terrain, and mileage.  Literally I just had to follow along (which can be dangerous when you resolve to do 10 miles and your friends want to push you to at least 12, it’s because they love me, I know…).

The morning started grey but turned into perfection!
The morning started grey but turned into perfection!

The morning of our run was windy and rainy, and I had worried that thunderstorms or excessive wind would prevent me from venturing out. Thankfully the skies magically cleared up just as we got into D.C. from Northern Virginia. I started my run expecting it to be chilly, rainy and overcast, and instead it was gorgeous! We parked along West Potomac Park, on the edge of the Lincoln Memorial. From this point you can run in so many different directions – towards the National Mall, the other monuments, the Tidal Basin, or everyone’s favorite: Hains Point.

We began by running (and Samantha biking) directly to the Lincoln Memorial. From there, excessive touristy photo-taking inevitably occurred.  We then continued along the outside edge of the Reflecting Pool (no bikes allowed on the main pathway), and made our way along the roadway surrounding the National Monument. What I didn’t account for is that because it was spring break for much of the country, and the cherry blossoms were in bloom that week, there were people absolutely everywhere! Sometimes I forget that D.C. is actually a tourist destination.

It was really the perfect day for a run around D.C.
It was really the perfect day for a run around D.C.

 

As we neared the Washington Monument and crossed over 14th Street, we veered

New grass could do this mall some good.
New grass could do this mall some good.

towards the National Mall. This is possibly my favorite spot in D.C. (stereotypical, I know), nestled between the National Monument and the Capitol Building, sprinkled with some of the world’s best museums (all of which are FREE!).  It’s hard not to fall in love with this city when you are walking through so much history. The mall itself is currently being renovated, with a new type of turf and drainage system – a long overdue repair, in my opinion. The mall was fittingly littered with sight-seers and tourists, as well as plenty of fellow runners and fitness enthusiasts.  I was naturally in my element.

Just cycling through the cherry blossoms. NBD.
Just cycling through the cherry blossoms. NBD.

We ran the perimeter of the mall, crossed back over 14th Street, and turned to the right side of the monument’s encircling pathways.  Finally we found a grotto of nearly perfect cherry blossoms! Most of the trees had shed much of their blooms by the time I had arrived, but this group was perfect. So of course Samantha rode her way through them and I got my photo op. I feel like each time I have returned in the month of April I miss the blossoms, so this pretty much made my day.

It's hard to beat this view (obviously I focused my attention on the monument...).
It’s hard to beat this view (obviously I focused my attention on the monument… Whoopsies!).
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The cherry blossoms in our little hidden grove were so spectacular!

We finally made our way back to the reflecting pool and met up with Justine at that point. I might have guilted/coerced/begged her to come run with me. Whatever the case, she joined along as we finished the run. We got a little side-tracked and ended up along the tidal basin overlooking the Jefferson Monument, but got back on course to begin the final stint of the run. And at this point, we had saved the best for last (do you sense a hint of sarcasm?): Hains Point! YAAAAAY!

Here’s my perception of Hains Point – it isn’t so bad. It’s a long narrow point in the middle of the Potomac and is wrapped with water on both sides. It’s scenic, flat, and a golf course runs through the middle of it. People either hate or love Hains Point. For me it was enjoyable because it was, as I mentioned, extremely flat, and offered gorgeous views with a nice, hefty breeze. Those who are on the loathing camp typically dislike Hains Point because in some circumstances it can seem rather boring. Almost every major race in D.C. uses Hains Point because it is easy for zoning purposes and gets more mileage with little hassle. I personally like that there aren’t that many people, significantly less traffic (almost none), and it really is an easy way to fit in more miles. Samantha, my fearless leader, feels the same way, while Justine could do without it. At Samantha’s suggestion/mandate, I ran down Hains Point and back, Justine begrudgingly yet oh-so-kindly came along for the first half before heading to the car. So what I thought would be about 10 miles turned into 12.31, and I am better for it. I tip my hat to you, Hains Point.

Okay, so I didn’t get in my 18 miles that day, but I did last weekend. Not quite the scenic 18

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I love running along the Highline Canal trail – the mountain vistas are fabulous.

I was hoping for, but my view isn’t all that bad either. With snow clouding this weekend’s forecast, I am not sure I will be able to fit in my longest run (I am hoping for 20-22 miles), so I may have to be flexible and move it to the following weekend. Thankfully I have 4 full weekends left of training, and that should give me a bit of cushion before the marathon on May 15th. EEEEK!  ONE MONTH!

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Classy ladies celebrate in the classiest of ways, with lots of wine!

The weekend itself was a wonderful success celebrating Christine, the beautiful bride-to-be! Saturday we spent much of the day meandering through Virginia wine country, with stops at Sunset Hills Vineyards, Notaviva Vineyards, and Breaux Vineyards. The wines were wonderful, and the company even better. Sunday we hosted the bridal shower, which was a gorgeously themed bridal tea brunch! Anytime you put tea and brunch together, it’s got to be amazing, right? We made lots of scrumptious goodies, had mimosas, and of course, tea. But nothing is better than celebrating an amazing friend as she nears her wedding day!

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The lovely bride-to-be!!

 

Here are the details for my training plan for the past two weeks. After returning from Virginia I listened to my body and took a much needed break. I was pretty tired after a busy weekend of celebrations, so it was nice to have time to focus on me. And getting plenty of rest didn’t hurt either. I think it helped make my 18 miles last Sunday so incredible. I felt pretty amazing throughout, which I am hopeful is a good sign for the road ahead.

Day of the Week Cross Training Miles Run
Monday, 3/28/16 Yoga Sculpt 4.01 mile run
Tuesday, 3/29/16 Yoga Sculpt 4.02 mile run
Wednesday, 3/30/16 N/A 4.03 mile run
Thursday, 3/31/16 TIU Band Workout x 2, 100 jumping jacks N/A
Friday, 4/1/16 N/A 12.31 mile run
Saturday, 4/2/16 Rest Rest
Sunday, 4/3/16 Rest Rest
Monday, 4/4/16 Rest Rest
Tuesday, 4/5/16 Rest Rest
Wednesday 4/6/16 Yoga Sculpt 4.1 mile run
Thursday, 4/7/16 Zumba 4.14 mile run
Friday, 4/8/16 N/A 2.52 mile run
Saturday, 4/9/16 N/A 3.12 mile run
Sunday, 4/10/16 N/A 18 mile run

Where is your favorite place to run? Have you ever been able to run around D.C.? Who else loves running during their travels?