well, hello!

i’ve been away for a while and i’ll explain all of that sometime soon, but in the meantime – here’s a bit about a woman, an ultra runner, a #sisterhero runner that i just learned about this week. so really, hello!

take a read here of an interview with her on iRunFar.

and checkout her blog, too: http://larisadannis.wordpress.com/

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my favorite treadmill workout.

between my run streak and the weather lately, i’ve recently become reacquainted with the treadmill at work. i love that my office has a workout room – even though i don’t utilize it 90% of the year. in fact, in 2012 i tried to absolutely not use it at all. and i think i probably kept my use of it to less than 10 times that year. wow.

nonetheless, while trying to squeeze in at least one mile as the weather turned truly into winter during the month of December, i hopped back on. and while the first run there was just a mile, i think the next time on was two and then i decided that i had a half hour (our TM’s at work have a 30 minute limit) so i’d better use my time wisely.

it brought me back to a workout we had done in college when i was rowing. well, we would frequently do something like 3 X 10′ – 4/3/2/1 (minutes). each time that interval was up, you would change speed/effort.

on the treadmill, so far, my workout has gone something like this: 1/2/3/4/5/4/3/2/1 minutes. i start out usually, at about 6.5 mph and bump it up one each time the interval changes. i realized that gets me just about a minute short of exactly three miles. not too shabby.

yesterday, the weather was like this:

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and ok, that’s not even “the weather,” just a photo of how cold it was outside (before the windchill) on my way to work. oof!

so midday today, i hit up the ‘mill again – my boss was in the workout room getting his sweat on, too. i still can’t decide if that’s awkward or not. i am so used to talking to people when we’re working out in the same space (ex: running together) that i think i found it awkward. anyway, our department wins today for working out.

yup, i made that up.

nonetheless, i digress. i love this workout and i was thinking today that i should start trying to bump up the intensity a little – either by starting a bump or two higher or by having back-to-back 5 minute intervals in the middle (rounding it out to exactly 30 minutes of work). what do you think?

do you have any favorite treadmill workouts you do to save your sanity? oh, and up next, lifting…stay tuned!

 

#RWRunStreak. <– I did that.

so my running in 2013, in terms of my say, past 4 or 5 years of running, to put it into context…it kinda stunk.

in the end, i almost made it to logging 600 miles. almost.

but instead of spending this entire post talking about my feeling about what may or may not be shortcomings in my running year past, I want to talk a little bit about the highlights.

last may I headed to the east if Madison a bit to run the Ice Age Trail half marathon. it was a kind of chilly day, but i ran hard and finished 3rd in my age group. i came in well under 2 hours (1:51 and change) and was in the top 10 women overall.

i also raced my first 5k. ouch!

oh, and in April, I did the MadCity 50k relay with a bunch of my favorite run buddies as a part of Team Unicorn Apocalypse. with that name alone, we are totally winning, guys.

but then I mostly laid low, trying to run for fun, not running a ton, in general – besides ultimate frisbee, and trying to heal this (sometimes literally) pain in my ass injury.

for the most part, i know what work i put in and what i didn’t so i understand why i am where i am physically…and i also want to get back to where i was.

in November i was supposed to run the inaugural fall version of the Madison Marathon, but unfortunately i had to drop to the half a few weeks out. it was an ok day and when i finally took a minute to really reflect, i realize that I ran a solid race – that it was my second best time, and while i didn’t feel awesome, the race also didn’t make me feel worse.

oh, and flash back to october….i ran the relay version of the Fall 50 with Krista and Jenny…again under the moniker “Unicorn Apocalypse.”

but turkey day rolled around and some of my aforementioned running buddies (Krista and Mel) mentioned that they were going to try to complete the #RWRunStreak and i decided to join them.

so, i saddled up. i accepted the challenge. and i completed it.

for one, for me this seemed like a HUGE accomplishment in the world of running. i had a goal and i accomplished it. i had some structure for exactly thirty five days. hallelujah!

but seriously, it was a big offing deal.

the thing is – and i think i could ask any yogi (as an example) who does some sort of intensive training how they feel during and after and i think they would feel similar. i think they would talk about how they discover something about themselves. and about something outside themselves.

so while there were days (quite a few) when i ran just over one mile. there were also moments of mental toughness to be earned on the treadmill. a seven-miler on a beautiful december day. runs with company. traditions. and also solitary, and eye-opening runs everywhere in between.

i wanted to keep my streak alive, for at least 50 days, but with today’s temps and it being a monday and other responsibilities made it pretty hard to get done. so, i decided it was in my best interest to get my feet under me this week – this first week of january. and then to get back into a swing.

tomorrow’s going to be colder than…well, it’s freaking freezing here. but i’m hoping i can sneak away from my desk for a bit to get a run in. and if not, i’ll deal and try again on wednesday.

in the end though…i am so glad i decided to run-streak.

it reminded me why i do this. it reminded me why i run.

and that is priceless.

cat’s outta the bag.

well friends, you heard it here first…

actually, you’re hearing it right now for the first time.

just before my head hit the pillow (the pillow it barely left all weekend as I was laid up with some awful virus) on sunday night, I did it. I registered for the Madison Marathon.

ok, no gasps, really. I love this city. I love it in the fall. and truth be told, I needed a little kick in the ass ahem, motivation to help me find my running groove again.

the past, let’s say 6 months or so….have left me straying ever so slightly from my original love. and honestly, I want her back. I am not too proud to say I missed you, running. I’m not too big to admit that I left you hanging. I knew it all along and while I’ve given you just enough attention to keep this flame we have flickering going, I realize now that I’m not the same without you. Nope, I guess distance really does make the heart grow finder. Oh, and relationships like ours, why yes, they take work. and running, please remember this: you are worth it.

it was funny that I was lying in bed all weekend ill. ok, funny in a “this is a sign, shay, to get your @$$ in gear and to treat your body better and to start prioritizing the most important things.”

all funnies aside, on sunday night, I recommitted – to running and to really being the best me there is.

oh, and some gorgeous new Mizunos showed up at my door friday afternoon and I haven’t even gotten them out for their maiden voyage yet. embarrassing.

I really do know how to rub salt in a wound….

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looking ahead.

i’ve been itching for a goal race for a little while now. yes, it has been fun getting recovered over the last 6+ months – running when i wanted, as far as i wanted, and as hard as i wanted (or really, could…i pushed that last one a bit at times). that said, with friends gearing back up into their racing seasons, i’m getting the itch. and, i’ve been feeling pretty darn good lately, so i think it’s time!

a while back – maybe a month or so ago a few things happened. 1. i ran a trail half marathon (in newer shoes, no doubt) and thoroughly enjoyed it, despite being a little undertrained. 2. my littlest sister, Jordie – she mentioned that she wanted to start running. and 3. i saw that Mizuno was offering an(other) opportunity to run-test some of their new shoes.

that combination lit a spark in me.

first, as i mentioned earlier, the running itch is back. second, i want my sis to re-discover running. (i say re-discover because she was a high-school trackster, even though she hasn’t run in a while) and i thought new shoes – for both of us – might be the perfect storm!

today i got an email from Mizuno that we were selected (i signed us up) to try out their new Wave Sayonara shoes. they’re slated as Mizuno’s improvement on the Wave Precisions (which are going away) – and the Precisions were my FIRST pair of Mizunos. i loved them. they helped me to find running again and soon thereafter, i snatched up a pair of Elixrs, too, so i had some options within the same family.

Elixr's on the left, Precisions on the right.

Elixr’s on the left, Precisions on the right.

i loved both of these pairs of shoes. as a sidenote, i lost the Precisions when my apartment building had a fire two summers ago. but i did slip on the Elixrs as i ran out of the burning building. they got me through summer running – the only thing that kept me sane at the time – and eventually, a pair of each later, i’ve run countless miles and distances ranging from 5k to 50 miles.

so, i love Mizunos.

and recently, i decided that my end goal for this Fall is too run my fastest marathon. i’m not sure which race that will be yet – i have a few ideas – but i know the new Sayonaras will be a key to getting me to that line healthily and happily.

and perhaps the most important part of this post is that i hope that looking ahead also includes a race (a 5k, maybe) with my little sister.

she was there when i ran my first marathon in 2010…

Jords and me after the Chicago Marathon. 10-10-10, baby!

Jords and me after the Chicago Marathon. 10-10-10, baby!

she wrote me a note for every 10 miles i ran of 50 a little over a year later…

and you better darned well believe that i’ll be there for her – no matter how many miles she decides to conquer.

i’m looking ahead and it looks good!!!

long run recovery.

maybe i’ll never really learn – though after last saturday’s race, i felt pretty good. yesterday i met 5 great running buddies at the UW Arboretum at 8am to run two loops. for those of you who don’t know, the “Arb loop” is a perfect 10k, if you stay on their marked course.

anyway, i was, admittedly, a few minutes late. i hadn’t set an alarm and was hoping to sleep in – but i guess when you’ve been getting up before 6am most of the week prior, sleeping in on saturday means 7am. ok, i’ll take it. i pulled up to the Visitor’s Center parking lot at about 8:05 and jogged over to where Krista, Mel, Tim, Pat and Ryan were standing and they quickly greeted me with, “WHICH DIRECTION SHOULD WE RUN?”

i laughed and suggested we do a one loop in each direction. they all laughed and agreed and before we knew it, i think Tim and Ryan were off – choosing the first direction. we separated, rather quickly, into three pairs and Pat and I kind of took off. we chatted the whole way around and then joined the group and ran in a pack for the second loop.

i loved reading the write-ups from everyone on Dailymile afterwards. you can probably read them all through the links on my own review, so i’ll just link to that here. nonetheless, it was great to read and appreciate that we’re all on different levels and that we stuck together for that second loop despite our differences. it kinda made me feel like this:

so today, i actually did sleep in. until 8:30!!! but as soon as i rolled out of bed, i realized that i was a little less recovered than i thought. and as i type this, i realize though, that i’m not sore. maybe not at all. just fatigued and the heat isn’t helping me feel any less – umm, swollen? oh, and drinking my regular amount of coffee is making me feel a bit – well, wobbly. but i’ve got compression on and water at arm’s reach and i’m beginning to think that maybe a little shakeout run is in order.

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i love running. i love how it unites as it did yesterday and how it’s humbling me today. i love the doors and connections it opens and all the growing it allows. so, while i still might not be the best at figuring out the whole recovery thing, i’m glad for the reflection this day after a long run provides.

have a wonderful sunday!

the difference.

this post is one part race report and one part inspiration. i woke up at 6am saturday morning ahead of the Ice Age half marathon. the race was slated to begin at 9am, so i figured i would hop out of bed, grab a little food and coffee and hit the road by about 7am to get there with just under an hour to start time.

the morning went off, pretty much, without a hitch. i actually rolled out of bed and into the running clothes i had laid out the night before. surprise, surprise…i was prepared. within minutes, my things were packed and i decided that with the 40 minutes before i wanted to leave, i’d quickly hit up the Madison farmer’s market. i narrowly missed it the week before and i wanted to grab some ramps, asparagus, and the most important thing – bacon! so, i made a quick loop, grabbing what i came for – plus a few more things, saying “HI” to some friends along the way, and jumping back into my car just before 7am. i swung by my house to drop off my goodies and was on my way!

the drive was easy. i grabbed my timing chip and bib in minutes and while relaxing in my car before warming up and deciding what i’d ultimately race in, i saw that fellow former-Badger, turned professional triathlete Gwen Jorgensen had won her second WTU race in Asia sometime in the last 12 hours. i got pumped up watching the highlight video and was really ready to go. my own silly goal in my mind was that i’d better beat Gwen’s finish time in my measly half marathon.

(read that with sarcasm, please. heck, it least it put a time to beat in my mind)

soon enough, i changed into shorts, deciding i would be warm enough wearing my MS Run Athletes kit (top and shorts) along with arm sleeves for the race. i warmed up and headed to the start line area with just under 10 minutes to 9am. when i arrived, the race director noted a discrepancy in start times posted on various online outlets and shared with us all his decision to postpone the start to 9:30 to allow for the mistake. so, i relaxed a bit more. took in some more water. and took the opportunity to stretch and warm up again.

one thing i’ve learned throughout my running ‘career’ is that for me, a warm-up is an important game-changer. i seem to get better as i go, as a general rule of thumb, which is probably why i enjoy ultra running. but more on that another time.

so, we started promptly at 9:30. the only thing i’ll note about the start is that there was a woman and about six men who took off like rockets right out of the gates. somebody made a comment about the woman in the group – which i find particularly funny because was the eventual overall woman! HELLS YES! i never saw her, but went out mildly aggressive to get away from the crowd a bit and gave myself until the first aid station to try to get settled into a rhythm. it was ok, but the first section of the loop was hilly so i eventually settled in, probably around mile 4ish. i had a bit of company for a mile or so which helped break things up – and i love having a brief conversation here and there. i think that helped me feel settled.

near the last mile i notice my friend Kristin who was doing the 50k up ahead. i didn’t have enough juice in me to sprint, but i caught up to her and we chatted for a bit. it was REALLY good to see a familiar face on the course and seeing Kristin, whom i admire greatly, lit a spark in me. we parted ways, but i told her i’d see her at the finish later and i took off again. at that point, i was near the half-way and noted my time, primarily so i could work to stay steady on the second loop.

i had another buddy for a bit of the first loop and then sort of got into my groove and just went. the second loop was good because i knew it would be hilly and also had some flats that i knew i could look forward to. there were also lots of 50k runners joining onto the course which was just the perfect amount of distraction. i loved running by them and telling them “good job.” this is one of the best things about trail running! anyway, i hammered away steadily and probably about halfway through the second loop i noticed a man who had passed me at about the same point in the first loop up ahead. he hadn’t disappeared and i decided i would work to chase him from that point to the finish.

i eventually caught and passed him with more than 1.5 miles to go and finished in 1:51.20. that was good for 6th woman, and officially 2nd in my age group – though they handed me a first-place plaque – which i realize today is incorrect, though the real #1 woman in my age group was the woman who won overall. anyway, i’ll take it! i’ll take it because i went out there and put out an effort that i was truly proud of. i remembered my motto, “constant forward motion” and that kept me pushing on, even when the hills seemed endless. oh, and i did beat Gwen’s time.

but another reason i brought up Gwen and also Badgers is two-fold. first, a great coach that i looked up to while at the UW had some media availability last week and he said something that really hit home. you can watch the video by clicking this link, but his wisdom that prevailed in my mind was, “the difference between the first eight and the second eight is simple. the first eight pulls harder, pulls longer, and is more determined….” (the specific comment is at about the 1:50 mark in the video)

and then today, this morning, in fact, i read Gwen’s race report which touched on a similar note. she says,

“Bobby McGee once told me, “Do you know what the likelihood of you feeling great at the Olympics is?” I shrugged as I had never thought about it.  “Zero percent,” he said. And he is right. The chance of feeling great on the one day you work towards for four years is pretty slim.”

and this is true, wherever you are in your sport if you’re trying to reach the next level. you’ve got to show up, do the work, and realize – the truth of the greats isn’t that they’ve trained so that their best race doesn’t hurt – they’ve trained to have the determination to push through no matter how hard it gets.

so on saturday while i was out there, when it felt particularly tough, i reminded myself that the best i could do was to keep going – to persevere – to not give up. i may never compete at the elite level but i do know what makes the difference in getting me from where i am to where i’m going.

it’s as true for running as it is for every facet of life.