The Race that Changed Me

I know, I dropped the ball a bit on posting this. To be fair, I did begin this post the day after the marathon, but as we all know, life happened. So here I am, not quite two months later revisiting my favorite race I have ever run…

So many people told me that it would change my life forever. They told me I would be hooked, and I would immediately want to do more. That crossing that finish line would be the beginning of something amazing, not the end. They were right.

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Somewhat hard to tell, but the hubs and I crossed hand-in-hand!
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What an incredible victory.

I can now call myself a marathoner, and to say it has changed me would be an understatement. It’s been an emotional, time-intensive, not always pretty roller coaster ride. The amount of training, cross-training, food and time that went into this one day is almost comical to think of now. Did I mention food? Was it worth it? Ten thousand times yes.

To say I was lucky would be 100% accurate. To say I was well prepared would also be absolutely true. May 15th was the combination of both elements: a solid training plan and preparation, perfect weather conditions, ideal speed and pacing, incredible support before, during and after the race (both on and along the course), a wonderful and exciting home-town course, and the list goes on. The 2016 Colfax Marathon, for me, was the perfect race.

I know there are a lot of factors outside my control on race day. As runners, we know that every run is different and you absolutely cannot predict how you will feel throughout the race. I have thanked my lucky stars over and over again that I felt great, set a great pace that I was able to maintain for almost the entire race, and I experienced no real pain. Occassional discomfort is a given when pounding the pavement for over 26 miles, but I am grateful for no pain.

The week leading up to the race was amazing. I got in some last great miles, focused on toning and strengthening through Core Power Yoga Sculpt and Tone It Up workouts, tried to get more sleep and stayed on track with a good diet. The nerves definitely set in throughout the week, and by Friday it was all I could think about.

Day of the Week Cross Training Miles Run
Monday, 5/9/15 Yoga Sculpt 3.25 mile run
Tuesday, 5/10/16 Yoga Sculpt 3.65 mile run
Wednesday, 5/11/16 TIU Beach Bod, TIU K&K Slay, TIU Tush it Real Good, TIU Toned Arms 3.77 mile run
Thursday, 5/12/16 Yoga Sculpt 3.71 mile run
Friday, 5/13/16 Rest Rest
Saturday, 5/14/16 Rest Rest
Sunday, 5/15/16 RACE DAY BABY Colfax Marathon: 26.43 mile run

Thankfully my boss let us leave a bit early the Friday before the race, so I dashed over

Inspiring women and great friends make packet pickup even better!
Inspiring women and great friends make packet pickup even better!

to the Health and Fitness Expo, housed at none other than Mile High Stadium!! I met up with a few amazing Oiselle ladies whom I met through Instrgram to comemorate the event.  Their first marathon experience was the Colfax Marathon in 2015, so they have been amazing guides and friends to me throughout this process. I’d never been inside the stadium until that day, and the expo was located on the United Club Level. Walking through the expo felt like a dream. I sampled some awesome items from Clif, purchased a Colfax Marathon hat and half-zip, and claimed mine and the hub’s bibs and tech shirts.

SO delicious, and just around the corner from Mile High.
SO delicious, and just around the corner from Mile High.

After the expo, we of course took some epic photos outside the stadium, and then meandered over to Strange Brewing Company for a couple of celebratory beers. The Grapefruit IPA is absolutely delicious and I highly recommend it. This was just what I needed to calm some of my nerves, before heading off to Patxi’s for a delicious whole wheat salsiccia pizza and a glass of Meiomi.

The next day I did very little, which was absolute perfection. I started my morning with a relaxing breakfast and puppy cuddles. I sat down to watch

I am so lucky to have been able to surround myself with such an incredible group of runners!
I am so lucky to have been able to surround myself with such an incredible group of runners!

the highly recommended “Spirit of the Marathon” documentary, which follows the training journey of 6 inspiring athletes as they prepare for the Chicago Marathon. What I loved most is that the documentary focused on both elite athletes as well as regular runners of all ages, races, backgrounds, and experiences. Talk about a major motivator. If you haven’t watched this before a race, it’s a complete must-do.  I spent the afternoon doing a few quick errands, and then I met up with an incredible group of runners for a delicious dinner at Firenze a Tavola in the Highlands. The Pappardelle con Cinghiale with their homemade pasta and wild boar ragu was to die for, and made for the perfect carbo-load pre-race dinner.

Race day started at 3:45am for my morning wake-up call. I was able to sleep fairly well the evening prior, in spite of some seriously weird dreams (broken legs… yikes!). I had everything ready to go: my outfit, my water bottle and accoutrements, my shoes, my throw-away, and our gear check bag. The hubs and I awoke and assembled our items with groggy acceptance, and left the house at 4:35am.  Thankfully we live about 15 minutes south of the starting point at City Park, and could park easily on the south side of Colfax so as not to be caught up in the road closures.

Thanks Gary for such a great shot, and being an expert selfie-taker!
Thanks Gary for such a great shot, and being an expert selfie-taker!

We waited in the car for about 15 minutes before making the 15 minute trek to the northeast corner of City Park, near the Nature and Science Museum. We dropped off our gear check bag and met up with one of my runspirations and some of her incredible running friends, with whom I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to meet.

We were in corral F this year, so it didn’t take too much longer after the first wave to set off. Oddly at that moment I felt incredibly comfortable and sure of my journey. I knew the destination, and all that was between me and victory was 26.2 miles. Over the past 18 weeks I had put in over 400 miles, so this was just a drop in the bucket. I started off feeling great, though quickly realized a bathroom break would be in my near future. I’d been very determined to hydrate all morning, but the nervous bladder wasn’t feeling that.  So at mile 2 I dashed to the porta potties for the quickest bathroom break of my life while the hubs traversed onward.

So focused at the starting line up - Gary (aka the Hulk) was ready to go!!
So focused at the starting line up – Gary (aka the Hulk) was ready to go!!

The first 10K took us out of City Park and onto Colfax up until Speer Boulevard, at which point we ran through the firehouse and made our way onto the Cherry Creek Trail. At the base of the trail I experienced my first sighting with my best friend Tessa and her roommate and equally amazing friend Kristin. Kristin, I should mention, is a beast and a HUGE source of inspiration for me. She has run Boston twice and is a truly an incredible runner, and person. Seeing Tessa and Kristin there cheering me and all the other runners on at 6:30am meant the WORLD to me. After passing them I definitely teared up with love and excitement.

This section of the first 10K took us along the Cherry Creek and Platte River, and is my weekly training path. It felt like home, and was just the boost I needed. A little familiarity can go a long way. Tessa and Kristin biked down the other side of the trail to meet us again as we turned left from Cherry Creek to the Platte River. Best cheering squad EVER.  After passing Elitch Gardens theme park, we turned left towards the Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Running through major sports stadiums might be my favorite thing ever (um, hello Homerun for the Homeless 5K and Bolder Boulder 10K), and is just such an amazing feeling.

135895-503-020hAfter this point we ran out of the stadium, wrapped around the parking lot, and turned right onto Colfax again (appropriately named marathon, I think). This section was up-hill, but I was still feeling great so I kept on running. We eventually turned right to head towards Sloane’s lake, a great trail surrounding the lake on the edge of the Highlands. The west side of the lake has a perfect vista of the Denver skyline, which I first experienced my first year running the Rock ‘N’ Roll Denver Half Marathon in 2014. Around the lake they had the Chinese Dragon dancers performing for the runners. Tessa and Kristin popped up yet again, and it was at this point I started pacing Jared, a dentist from Florida who is also a Denver transplant. He and I ran together for quite a while, so we chatted it up.

After returning to Colfax for a short stint, we entered into Lakewood and again turned right to run through the Rocky Mountain School of Art campus and some Lakewood neighborhoods. Some hills reared their ugly heads, but thankfully Tessa and Kristin appeared just in time! At about mile 14 Jared and I parted ways so I could run up the hill into the quaint Lakewood suburbs. I walked for a bit to partake in my Vanilla Bean GU, and heard my name by a passing runner. My friend Dana was running the relay, which tracks the same course as the marathon. I was able to catch up with her for a short time and chat about her recent engagement and puppy, before dashing off as we turned east on Colfax.

The next section from mile 16 through 19 was spent fairly solitary but completely peaceful. The city was just beginning to wake up and there were plenty of people cheering along the sides of Colfax. And thankfully this entire section is downhill! Little victories. I flew down Colfax in a blur, and turned back towards Broncos Stadium. Prior to running into the stadium, the race team errected an actual wall just prior to mile 20 that you can literally hit.  Needless to say I did just that, and can thankfully say I didn’t hit any figurative walls the entire run.

Yeah, I was really happy... I couldn't stop smiling!
Yeah, I was really happy… I couldn’t stop smiling!
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Sam and I running through Mile High!

Finally we reentered Mile High, and it was here I met Sam, who was running his first marathon in 24 years. He and I ran together through the stadium, and after exiting Tessa and Kristin greeted us one more time (THEY ARE THE BEST). We turned back onto the Platte River trail and chatted about our motivations and what gets us through. His daughter was graduating that day, and he had determined to run Colfax for her.

After departing the Cherry Creek trail, Sam and I separated and I ran onwards up Lawrence Street to then make the final major turn onto 17th street. This would essentially take us back to City Park, where the finish line awaited. After crossing Broadway, 17th boasts quite a nice hill. I ran up half, walked the rest, and then kept on running. Honestly I could walk the hill faster than I could run it, and it was a fantastic stretch for the hammies. By this time I had less than a 5k left to go.

I began looking around at the people left around me, a mixture of the Urban 10 milers, relay participants, and the determined marathoners. Suddenly I looked to the right and there was the hubs! I arrived at the right time for us both, and we were able to finish those last few miles together. This, for us both, was perfection. Coming into City Park, I heard a shoutout and turned around to see my friend Perri, Dana’s sister, a transplant from the East Coast like me! She had finished the half marathon like a champ and gave me the last boost I needed. After turning a corner, Kristin showed up one more time on her bike, and just ahead was the finish!!

Crossing that finish line was one of the best moments of my life. Immediately a rush of emotion fell over me. I had never before had such an incredible race experience. I had never run this far in my life. And better still, I was able to cross the finish line with my best friend and love of my life. The culmination of thoughts, emotions and knowledge of success made all of the miles, all of the struggle and self doubt, and all of the times I wanted to quite worthwhile.

The best feeling ever.
The best feeling ever.

Throughout my journey, my girlfriends from the east coast continued to text me and virtually cheer me on. They were all tracking my time and sending me words of love and excitement. My family, too, texted me with notes of encouragement. The support I received throughout this entire process is undeniable and something I don’t think I will ever fully be able to express. When I think about what got me through, it was because of the love and dedication from each and every one of them.

As you know, food had become a major priority to me during my training. Honestly, it

Green chili smothered burrito... mmmmmm....
Green chili smothered burrito… mmmmmm….

also became a major thorn in my side. I had, however, been imagining for months my first meal post marathon. I really wasn’t sure how I would feel once I was done. I definitely was looking forward to food, but wasn’t voracious either.  After we picked up our drop bag, Robbie and I slowly moved towards our car. Tessa and Kristin met us at Benny’s, our favorite local Tex Mex restaurant in Governor’s Park. To say I ordered a burrito bigger than my face might be an understatement. The sad part is that I have CRUSHED this burrito in the past, but that day, I was only destined for three quarters of it. Oh well, it was delicious all the same.

After we drove home, the hubs and I got cleaned up and promptly passed out on the couch. The day ended with some incredible Cuban food, and an early bed time.  Recovery over the next few days was actually easier than I had imagined. By Tuesday I was completely back to normal and actually went for a short jog on Wednesday.  Since then I have participated in the BolderBoulder 10K, the Liberty Run 4 Miler, and the Sand Creek Half Marathon and still feel amazing. Is another marathon in my future? Absolutely!!  I am just not sure which one yet….

 

 

And Now We Wait

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Ready to run – can we go now? Please? Why must I wait??

Patience is a virtue I could probably do without. Waiting is definitely one of the hardest parts. I am probably particularly bad at waiting, given that I am a ridiculous planner. I have the next four months planned out, and probably some key weekends in the months following that. It’s what I do and who I am, and I love my calender for that reason. But having to wait for something you’ve been anticipating greatly for the past 18 weeks is especially hard. And I am growing more impatient by the second!

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My last few runs have felt really great leading up to the Colfax, so I am hopeful race day will be more of the same! I’m so thankful for the Highline Canal – my favorite training trail!

The Colfax Marathon, Denver’s currently only marathon, takes place this Sunday. Come 6:00am MST I will be (hopefully) ready and raring to go! Since January when I committed myself to training for this race, it’s seemed like such a distant dream, and almost unattainable. With my longest training runs behind me, and the longest run of my life ahead of me, I just want to be in it and doing it.

The past two weeks have been a huge whirlwind of events and excitement.  Two

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We always discover new places when my parents visit – Sanitas Brewing Company was so good!

weeks ago my parents were in town while my dad attended a conference in Broomfield, Colorado. Work has been picking up with the semester ending and new student orientation sessions. I spent this past weekend celebrating one of my bestie’s birthdays by participating in the Homerun for the Homeless 5K, and I also celebrated one of my running buddy’s upcoming nuptials. Thankfully these have all combined to be nice distractions, but now that it’s the week of the race, it’s all I can think about.

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The Homerun for the Homeless 5k ran right through Coors Field, the home of the Rockies! This weekend I’ll be running through Mile High Stadium – home of the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos!
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Feeling good and cannot wait to crush Colfax!

I suppose it’s not a matter of whether or not I can do it at this point. I feel good, my body is strong, I am fueling it well, I could always use more sleep, I’ve incorporated cross training, and I have the miles in me. Now it’s just putting all the pieces together on race day. You never know what each race day will be like, but all you can do is prepare yourself as much as possible and stay positive. That of course doesn’t mean I won’t hit a wall or think about stopping. But it does mean I have to push myself beyond those negative forces and know that I can do it.

I am so blessed that I have had so many amazing people cheering me on throughout this process, from my closest friends and family, to complete strangers. Some of my favorite moments included a mid-week lunch run high-five from a random passerby on the trail, to finally meeting one of my Instragram runspirations for a weekend run, and all the moments in between.

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And to think this is what I said to myself 18 weeks ago…

As I pick up my packet (and hubby’s too) later today, I think it will finally hit me that this is real. I’ve been a bundle of nerves all week, but knowing it’s happening will likely make me feel better. I cannot guarantee this Sunday will be the best race of my life, or even in the top ten. What I can guarantee is that I will try my hardest. I will strive to endure and cross that finish line. And no matter what, I hope to become a marathoner.

Day of the Week Cross Training Miles Run
Monday, 4/25/16 Rest Rest
Tuesday, 4/26/16 Yoga Sculpt 3.1 mile run
Wednesday, 4/27/16 Yoga Sculpt 3.14 mile run
Thursday, 4/28/16 TIU Band Workout, TIU String Bikini, Zumba N/A
Friday, 4/29/16 N/A 3.2 mile run
Saturday, 4/30/16 N/A 3.2 mile run
Sunday, 5/1/16 Yoga Sculpt 6.2 mile run
Monday, 5/2/16 Yoga Sculpt N/A
Tuesday, 5/3/16 Yoga Sculpt 4.1 mile run
Wednesday, 5/4/16 N/A 4.17 mile run
Thursday, 5/5/16 Zumba 3.64 mile run
Friday, 5/6/16 Rest Rest
Saturday, 5/7/16 N/A 6.7 mile run
Sunday, 5/8/16 N/A 9.94 mile run

Anyone else running a marathon this weekend? Any recommendations for a first time marathoner? What do you do to prepare for race day? What is your favorite post-marathon meal (can you tell I am always hungry?)?

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!

Runger: The Struggle Is Real

Why did no one ever tell me about real runger? I admit, I should have known that marathon training would require significantly more sustenance to keep me going, and fueling is always really important when training for any athletic endeavor.  But I am hungry. ALL. THE. TIME.  Don’t get me wrong, I love food, and I especially love good, nutritious, and well-balanced food.  I am simply not used to eating this much food out of necessity.  I have been doing a lot of research recently to understand what I should be doing to manage my hunger and ensure I am still fueling properly and thoughtfully.  It is true, I did indulge in a donut last week, but otherwise I am really trying to maintain and healthy balance between good carbs, fueling proteins, healthy fats, and lots of fruits and veggies.  I have to accept the fact, however, that marathon training isn’t designed for weight loss. Maintenance, sure, but not weight loss.  At least I will be toned all over!

No really, I feel like I am always hungry.
No really, I feel like I am always hungry.

In my quest for runger enlightenment, I stumbled upon Amanda Brooks’ blog “Run to the Finish,” in which her “Ultimate Guide to Managing Marathon Hunger” has been a huge life-saver and healthy reminder.  In it she provides her top 10 tips for managing marathon training hunger, which is exactly what I was needing.  I’ll list them below, but please check out her post – it’s hugely helpful!

  1. Amanda recommends refueling immediately after a run with a recovery drink. I am a huge fan of green smoothies, so this has been a really useful reminder for me that I need to intake my smoothie sooner. If you haven’t heard of “Simple Green Smoothies,” you should check them out now.  They have tons of free recipes on their site and through social media, and their book is outstanding.  The book provides smoothies for all different purposes, including recovery.
  2. The post-workout meal should include a slightly higher amount of protein,
    Did I mention that these GF oat muffins are also great with Perfect Fit?
    Did I mention that these GF oat muffins are also great with Perfect Fit?

    whether through eggs, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas/hummus, etc. One of my favorites is cooking an egg and preparing half a cup of Love Grown Foods’ Simply Pure Super Oats, which incorporates quinoa and chia seeds.  I also sometimes top the oatmeal instead with a banana, half cup of blueberries and 5 strawberries, or you could even mix in your favorite nut butter.  I also love smoothies with Tone It Up’s Perfect Fit Protein, a great plant-based vegan protein powder.

  3. I am going to quote Amanda here, “Don’t fear fats”! And it’s true, but choose healthy and hearty saturated fats, like coconut oil in smoothies or when making eggs (which also helps enhance your energy levels) or avocados, also in smoothies or with lunch or dinner.  I am going to try this shrimp and avocado salad tonight for dinner, so you know that other half of avocado is going in my morning smoothie tomorrow!
  4. Do not wait too long to eat after your run, because this can lead to overeating. There are some days where I will grab a big bottle of water and make my recovery meal right after I return so I don’t get too rungry. Amanda also mentions incorporating 2-3 snacks throughout the day, so in essence you’re eating about 5 or so “meals” on a daily basis as needed.  Often I will go for bananas with nut butter, carrots and hummus, or a smaller green smoothie.
  5. Carbs are friends, not foes, as long as incorporated properly. Complex carbohydrates are the key, which you can get from veggies and whole grains.  Quinoa and oats are some of my favorite things, and even in baking I am turning to whole wheat and gluten-free flours, like oat flour.  Amanda provides useful links to carbo-load correctly, so it’s worth checking out.
  6. Controlling your sugars is essential. Although last week’s chocolate frosted donut was a real treat, I was aware that it was not adding any value to how I fuel my body.  Sugar has a sneaky way of making you feel hungry even if you aren’t, which can cause overeating.  When you’re already consuming more calories than normal, this is a very slippery slope you want to avoid.
  7. What else can I say? Sleep is so imperative for everything, really, and even more so when training. This is definitely an area of improvement for me.  Sleep can help balance your metabolism as well as give you the recharge your body so needs after intensive athletic exercise.  The standard 7-8 hours fall somewhat short when training for a marathon, and really we should be aiming for 9-10 hours.  My goal for the next 2 months – more sleep!
  8. Focus on the nutrients in food as much as the food itself. Fresh fruits and veggies are a runner’s friend. I know we all fuel differently before a race, and I admit that I cannot eat anything that is more challenging to digest (like raw foods), but the recovery benefits are incredible.  It is recommended to have about 5 -7 services of fruits and veggies a day. Thankfully I love green smoothies and probably should have stock in Chiquita bananas for as many as I consume daily…
  9. Electrolytes provide the power you need to carry on, and running causes us to sweat them out. Lack of electrolytes can cause fatigue and cramps, which no runner wants to experience during or after a run.  NUUN hydration provides fabulous tablets that dissolve easily in water, do not include sugars, and provide a great natural boost of electrolytes.  Post-run coconut water is another wonderful and natural way to replenish your body with electrolytes.
  10. I love Amanda’s last recommendation the best: “listen to your body.” If you are in tune with what your body is telling you, you’ll refuel properly and timely, avoiding the snowball effect of incredible insatiable hunger, overeating, or not eating enough.  She also recommends to drink water before refueling. You may just be dehydrated rather than craving more calories.
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Yeah, that’s pretty accurate. Source

These are definitely some of the guidelines and recommendations I am going to hold

Saturday's 10K is a great local race on a nice flat course.
Saturday’s 10K is a great local race on a nice flat course.

onto for the next 9 weeks of my training plan.  On a side note, last week’s training went incredibly well!  I ran more than normal because the hubs and I had the Lucky Laces 10K (finished in 59:36, 9:36/mile!) on Saturday and a long run planned for Sunday.  Thankfully it was a good warm-up for Sunday’s run.  We completed 16.15 miles on Sunday in 2 hours, 40 minutes and 19 seconds.  It is great knowing I can run that far and under a 10 minute/mile pace!  Here’s hoping 10 more miles won’t bog me down too much…

Day of the Week Cross Training Miles Run
Monday 3/7/16 Yoga Sculpt N/A
Tuesday 3/8/16 Yoga Sculpt 4 mile run
Wednesday 3/9/16 N/A 3.55 mile run
Thursday 3/10/16 Zumba N/A
Friday 3/11/16 N/A 3.55 mile run
Saturday 3/12/16 TIU Bikini Arms 6.27 mile run
Sunday 3/13/16 N/A 16.15 mile run
Lucky Laces 10K was a success - nice, easy miles to prep for Sunday!
Lucky Laces 10K was a success – nice, easy miles to prep for Sunday!

I gave myself a nice running break yesterday, but I will be back at it this afternoon, with 17 miles planned for this weekend – eek!

What recommendations do you have for fueling during marathon training?  Anyone else experience some major runger?  How is your training plan going?

What Goes Around Comes Around

Everyone loves a comeback story.

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What a difference a year makes.  Imagine all the possibilities and all the experiences that can occur within 365 days.  I guess even more considering we just had a leap day.  This past year was a personal challenge for me, and while we all face challenges on a daily (sometimes even hourly) basis, it was a year that really tested my values and my passions.  I spent much of this past calendar year working two positions at work, and although I am not in a position to complain about financial stability, the gift of employment, and colleagues who helped keep me sane, it was a real struggle.  I am a perfectionist, sometimes to a fault, so not being able to give 100% to either job upset my equilibrium, and ultimately forced me to realize that I had to prioritize.  Unfortunately that meant giving up something I love – writing.  My blogosphere wasn’t the only thing to be left by the wayside, but at that time it wasn’t adding to my life.  Rather, it became a burden, an additional obligation, and that’s never what this platform was meant to be for me.  I knew it wouldn’t be a permanent change, yet I had to reach a point where I had the time to dedicate and the satisfaction of writing and sharing my thoughts and experiences.  Long story short, I think I am back.

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The gorgeous estate at Robert Mondavi. My favorites, however, were Quintessa and Schramsberg!

Many things have changed over the last eight months since my abrupt absence.  I am no longer working two jobs (HOORAY!!!), the hubs and I travelled to Napa, Maui, Las Vegas, Vail, and Naples, Florida, we kept on running (my love of running returned full-force this past summer), I completed 16 races in 2015, and this past weekend I completed my 10th half marathon with That Dam Run Half Marathon (and had my best official time of 2:09:18!!).  I am finally sub 10-minute miles on a regular basis, and running has never felt so good.  The summer was a whirlwind of visitors, yoga, sunshine and celebrating engagements and weddings.  Fall settled in

There's nothing better than a Maui sunset. Absolutely nothing.
There’s nothing better than a Maui sunset. Absolutely nothing.

nicely, and the winter so far has been beautiful and mild.  I’ve been baking like crazy (shocker), and have taken up photography (still a lot to learn but I am loving it so far).  The biggest news, I think, is that I officially signed up for my first ever MARATHON! There, I said it, the “M” word.

It’s been three years since I began my running journey, and I don’t know if I ever thought to myself when I started, “Hey there self, let’s start running so we can eventually run a marathon.”  But what motivated runner doesn’t at least once consider the possibility?  After two of my running inspirations (including my best friend Ms. BakeNBurn) ran the Marine Corps Marathon this past October, I knew it was only a matter of time before I succumbed.  During the month of December I simply couldn’t stop thinking about it, and finally, by mid-January, I committed.  I will be running the Colfax Marathon, Denver’s (currently) only marathon, on May 15th!

Get ready Colfax! This year I am coming for you with full force!
Get ready Colfax! This year I am coming for you with full force!

 

So now comes the fun part, the training plan.  My initial plan was a bit, well, ambitious.  After consulting my experienced friends and reading as much as I could find, I am settled halfway into my 18 week training plan.  My typical week consists of three runs during the week (usually between 3 and 4 miles), three yoga sculpt classes for cross training and leg work, one Zumba class for funsies, and a long weekend run.  I have incorporated a number of races throughout this time to keep me on track and in race day mode.  At this point I have run 15 miles, with 16 planned for this upcoming weekend.  Below are my weekly totals for the first eight weeks of my training plan:

Date (Monday) Week Total Miles
1/11/2016 1 22.23
1/18/2016 2 22.61
1/25/2016 3 23.53
2/1/2016 4 19.19
2/8/2016 5 13.27
2/15/2016 6 36.32
2/22/2016 7 24.27
2/29/2016 8 27.91
Two of the amazing women and runners I met through Instagram - also both signed up for Colfax!
Two of the amazing women and runners I met through Instagram – also both signed up for Colfax!

Over the past few years I have connected with some amazing people through the blog, Instagram, Facebook, etc. and have been lucky enough to not only meet them, but also train with them.  I am constantly amazed with the connections you can make and how those connections are made.  Thankfully there are so many people with a world of experiences, suggestions, and incredible stories to help me along this journey.  My biggest supporter, however, has been my husband. He didn’t even hesitate when I told him I wanted to sign up. He simply looked at me and said, “Well then, sign me up too.”

This guy keeps me going. I am so blessed to have the best hubby and training partner!
This guy keeps me going. I am so blessed to have the best hubby and training partner! (The handsome one, not the beaver!)

So here’s my hope, for myself and for this blog: to keep writing, to chronicle these experiences, to take whatever inspiration I can find, and to keep this party going.  Who’s with me?

Colfax Half Marathon Race Recap

A month ago I took part in my first ever Colfax Half Marathon.  The Colfax race series is an institution in the state of Colorado, and has apparently been featured in Runner’s World.  Other than the BolderBoulder, it’s the one “local” race that has really become nationally known.  I had been hearing about it since joining the running community three years ago, but hadn’t thought to sign up until this year.  The Colfax has five different options for distances and participation: a 5K, 10-miler, half marathon, full marathon, or team relay.  I still have not committed myself to the idea of a full marathon, so I happily signed up for the half.

The weekend of the race was a really exciting weekend – my boss graduated from CU Denver with her MPA (the same degree I have) and I could not have been more proud!  I rose early Saturday

What a gorgeous setting in which to graduate.
What a gorgeous setting in which to graduate.

morning to attend graduation and volunteer for commencement services.  Commencement is truly one of the most exciting days on any college campus – the air is thick with accomplishment, promise, and aspirations for the future.  It was the perfect day and I was thrilled to be a part of the day.

Coolest race expo venue ever!
Coolest race expo venue ever!

After graduation, I drove out to Denver’s air and space museum (who knew they had one??), Wings Over the Rockies in east Denver for packet pickup. This was BY FAR the coolest location for packet pickup.  You entered and immediately picked up your bib and race reminder information, then the expo led participants through the massive hanger lined with planes from all eras.  It was incredible.  My aeronautics-loving husband would have loved this place but I graciously offered to pick up both of our packets on my way home.

I stopped by a few booths, including the Run Colorado store (I got the hubs a shirt that read “Run Commando” which he and I both got a kick out of), Bani Bands for some adorable headbands, and a local yoga mat vendor which infuses their mats with essential oils – I got a gorgeous purple mat that smells like lavender!  At the end of the expo, I picked up our tech shirts and Colfax 13.1 stickers, and headed back home.

The next morning arrived terribly early. Our race start was 6:45am, but it was recommended we park by 6am… oof.  Because we couldn’t cross Colfax (I mean, it is called the Colfax for a reason), we parked on the south side of Colfax, about a 15 minute walk to City Park.  Denver has apparently had a monsoon season as of recently, so Saturday and Sunday were the first nice days in over two weeks.  It was definitely a blessing, because running 13.1 in the rain isn’t ideal… I have already done that once before.

Pre-race smiles all around!
Pre-race smiles all around!

We made our way over to the far edge of the park near the Natural History museum for the starting line. On our way, we passed a large group of marathoners making their way out of City Park and turning west onto Colfax – that was really exciting to see, but also mildly tiring knowing how much further they were going than I.  We were randomly placed into corral N, although we were never asked to provide qualifying times so I am not sure how these corrals were sorted.  The first group started at 6:45am on the dot, but by the time it got to our corral, we’d been waiting over 20 minutes, with no space to stretch, and standing on cold pavement.  Starting a run cold isn’t really fun, but you persist!

Once we finally got going, we looped around City Park, and headed north toward the entrance to the Denver Zoo.  I can’t lie, this is one of the reasons I was most

And so we run!
And so we run!

excited for this race – you get to run through the zoo!  The volunteers held amazing zoo-related signs throughout the zoo, as we snaked around the winding pathways.  It was a little tough this early on in the race, as people were still fairly clumped together, but we got to see camels, flamingos, an elephant, and a sleepy cheetah, along with a number of other animals lazily waking up before the day’s excitement.  Once we headed out the facility entrance, we ran east toward the Natural Science Museum, and looped in front of the front doors.  Finally the race made its’ way onto Montview Blvd., which is where we would spend the majority of the time running.  While the marathoners were heading west towards Sports Authority Field at Bronco’s Stadium, we were heading towards the Aurora Fire Station.  After about 3 miles on Montview, a fairly flat, not overly exciting road, we turned right before hitting Havana and loopped into the fire station.  Fire fighters and EMTs were waiting there to cheer us on – coming through the other side of the station was an awesome backdrop of the Colorado flag and photographers waiting to shoot.  You know I posed for this one.

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What a good spot to pose – almost like they planned it that way…
This was a good way to do an out and back, and at least I can say I ran on Colfax!
This was a good way to do an out and back, and at least I can say I ran on Colfax!
This is my intense face.
This is my intense face.

Shortly afterwards was a Clif gel shot station, water, and a line of policemen and women cheering and clapping.  Finally, we emerged onto Colfax – the entire race series’ namesake!  Colfax was wide open, and people stopped along the road to cheer and encourage runners.  It was nearly 9 miles in at this point, and the time of the race when you need a little more pep in your step, so the enthusiasm was truly welcome.  After a good stint heading west on Colfax, we turned right and made our way onto 17th Avenue.  Shade was seriously needed because the day was warming up and I hate disrobing in the middle of a race.  On 17th, you pass by gorgeous, stately homes, families in their yards with sweet signs, half dressed firemen from the Denver Fire Fighters Calendar, and a whole lot of shade.  It was the best last 3 miles a girl could have hoped for.  This stretch takes you all the way back to City Park.  Coming up on the park was so exciting. You turn right and follow the loop around the western edge of the lake, hurtling towards the finish line, with the marathoners finishing next to you.  I *barely* had a half marathon PR, literally by 6 seconds, and felt amazing running through that finish line.  Would I do this one again?  Heck yes I would!

Don't you love that feeling of victory?
Don’t you love that feeling of victory?
Another half in the books!
Another half in the books!

The hubs met me at the finish line, and we waited in the amazing post-race vendor area to find a friend who had participated in the relay of the marathon.  It was a gorgeous day, and a great way to start the summer.  I am so lucky to live in such an amazing city!

Wahoo!
Wahoo! Gotta love some bling! And it spins!

Cherry Creek Sneak: The Race That Brought Me Back

I cannot lie to you, the internet, or myself.  The past few months I, for some unknown reason, loathed running.  It seems odd as running was the activity that really brought me into the world of fitness to begin with, but I just didn’t have the desire or drive to hit the pavement or trail.  My running shoes were feeling severely neglected as I sought other means of fitness.  Granted, it is always good to switch up your routine and workouts, to help balance the toning of all of your muscle groups and to make sure you stay committed, but this was getting a bit dire.  Especially because I had signed up for a race through work, and needed to commit to doing it with coworkers, and my boss, as other race participants.  You can’t tell the Vice Chancellor you didn’t feel like representing the university because you haven’t wanted to run.  Well, technically I guess I could, but I surely didn’t want to.

Probably my last good run before the race was early April, and it was only 5 miles!
Probably my last good run before the race was early April, and it was only 5 miles!

Earlier in the year I had heard about the Cherry Creek Sneak through a chain of work emails sent out to fellow running colleagues.  This is a local race that boasts 4 different distances for the runner in all of us: 10 miles, 5 miles, 5 kilometers, and 1.5 miles.  The event takes place each April in one of my favorite areas of Denver, Cherry Creek.  It’s an old, established area of Denver with gorgeous stately homes and quaint, older cottages.  It’s eclectic and charming, and a gorgeous area to run through.  Being that I had signed up for the Colfax Half Marathon, which would take place less than a month later (AH! This Sunday!), I thought it best that I register for the 10 miler.  Once the hubby said he’d join me, I was committed.

So March rolled around, I kept on running, but was just not happy with it.  March turned into April, and my mood hadn’t changed.  Part of it, too, was that I was so in love with Core Power Yoga and the Tone it Up workouts, that running didn’t seem quite as appealing.  So finally the weekend of the Cherry Creek Sneak arrived, and rain was in the forecast.  If you haven’t kept up with Denver weather (let’s be honest, it’s a fascinating and ever-changing subject here), it rained for over a week straight, with about 3 inches of snow by the end), and I was truly dreading the race.  Sunday morning I woke up feeling groggy, tired, and just not in the mood to run.  But I am not one to back down from a commitment.  So with a sense of foreboding, I dressed for the race and hoped for the best.

You just gotta fake it til you make it!  Pre-race and pre-rain...
You just gotta fake it til you make it! Pre-race and pre-rain…

The hubby and I found a spot to park and walked a few blocks towards the starting line.  The 10 milers started first at 7:30am, so we arrived with about 20 minutes before the start.  I searched around for my colleagues, but didn’t see anyone.  Eventually we just readied ourselves for the race, lining up in our time corral, and prayed for a decent 10 miles.  This was not my most optimistic start, to be sure.  After one of the best race-day national anthems ever, we were off!  Luckily the rain had held off to start, and we made our way from the east side of the Cherry Creek Mall toward Colorado Boulevard, and then looped back toward University Boulevard.  We ran to the northwest corner of the mall and turned left onto 1st Avenue.  We’d already gone 3 miles at this point, and I was feeling pretty good.  Time was passing quickly, it was the perfect temperature for running, and I was actually enjoying myself!

Before the rain descended upon us, the race was going really well!
Before the rain descended upon us, the race was going really well!

As we ran past Denver Country Club, we turned right onto Downing and made our way up the first real hill of the course.  Overall it’s a fairly flat course, which typically makes for great running

times (and happy runners).  We got up the hill and turned right onto 6th Avenue before making our way toward Cheeseman Park.  Any Denverite knows that the city is spattered with local parks, trails and greenbelts. Given my race history, I am most familiar with Washington Park, City Park, Central Park, Confluence Park and Sloane’s Lake.  I had never before been to Cheeseman Park.  The park includes an outer trail which loops in an oval around the perimeter of the park.  It is a gorgeous space with a beautiful pergola and amphitheater along the eastern edge of the park and large trees all around.

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Once we made our way out of the park, we hit the 10k mark, and the drizzle began.  Rather than turning back the way we came, we headed further east on 6th avenue.  Mile 7 was possibly the

Feeling damp, but still happy!
Feeling damp, but still happy!

longest mile of the entire race, because this is when it really began raining steadily.  The temperatures dipped and it felt like we were never going to turn around.  Police officers lined the streets, and truly I felt for them, having to stand out there until all the 10 milers ended.  At least I was moving!

Making it to mile 8 was a huge feat, and at that point I realized my legs still felt great and I could make it.  The cold rain was not ideal, but two miles is a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things.  We made our way back to 1st Avenue, which led us straight past the mall and toward the finish line.  My only complaint is that the 5k participants were finishing at the same time, and were primarily walking in large groups, which made running around them very difficult.  The finishing area, as a result, was rather bottle-necked and confusing.  Robbie and I sprinted the last tenth of a mile toward the finish and were instantly slowed by walkers.  I was hoping for a much more triumphant finish, but I did it.

YAY THE END! It's always the best part of every race.
YAY THE END! It’s always the best part of every race.

Immediately afterwards we grabbed water, a half a Panera bagel, and delicious banana, and made our way straight to the car.  It wasn’t worth trying to find folks.  The 5 milers were set to begin at 9:35am, and their whole five miles ended up being rainy and cold.  I’d prefer 10 miles with 3.5 miles in the rain, than 5 miles entirely in the rain.  Thankfully the hubs is BRILLIANT and brought towels to wrap around ourselves in the car, and turned the seat warmers on high.  Rain and cold aside, this race was fabulous, and I am happy to report it was just what I needed to regain my love for running.  I am SO excited for this weekend’s Colfax Half Marathon, and I look forward to the BolderBoulder the week afterwards.

This month I got my running drive back!
This month I got my running drive back!

It just goes to show you, sometimes you need to step away for a little while to rediscover why you love it in the first place. The hubs is so wise, and at the beginning of April he told me to just take a break from running and focus on my other pursuits.  I did just that, and after the Cherry Creek Sneak, I have been running almost every weekday during my lunch hour and feel so refreshed.  So here’s to the next run – no one run will ever be like another, so take the time to appreciate the journey!

Ever just have a running slump? What did you do to get out of your running rut?  Anything you recommend to keep your runs happy?