Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Dream + A Plan = A Goal

I changed my mind.  On my last post I said I was going to talk about fueling on a long run.  Since I didn't get a chance to blog over the weekend, this topic seems to have lost some of its luster for the time being.  I'll cover it at a later date.

Tonight I want to talk about my big, holy cow goals for running.  These goals started out as just dreams for me, but I'm starting to think that I can truly achieve them with some hard work and dedication... and more importantly belief in myself.

Its just a matter of setting the goal and making a plan to get there.  The plan has to be realistic, because if I set milestones with expectations that are unreasonable, that gives me a way out.  An excuse to fail.

I have 3 goals for 2015/2016.  They all are completely achievable.

Run a 5k race in 27 minutes.  This is a "loose" 27 minutes.  If there is a plus seconds involved, I wouldn't be broken hearted at all. My best race time now is 33:30 but I have done 28:50 in training runs. A 9ish min/mile is only about 30 seconds faster than what I can do now when I push.


Finish the Run to the Pub 1/2 Marathon in 2 hours.  This is a lofty goal, but not out of reach.  My best half marathon race was this very same course this year and I did it in 02:20:22 (give or take a few seconds).  The half marathon before that was around 15 minutes slower.  If I can improve that much in those 6 months, I'm sure I can take off another 20 minutes in the next 6.  My best half marathon training time is 02:18:28.


Run the Missoula Marathon in under 5 hours ~ 04:50:00 ideally.  My Bozeman Marathon time was 05:18:34 (by my Garmin).  Under 5 hours is less than a minute a mile difference and I was unusually slow that day due to IT Band issues.  The key will be to get to the marathon healthy.

BTW.... registration opens for Missoula TOMORROW!!!  I'll probably be sitting on the website over lunch tomorrow, waiting!  It would be hilarious if I got another #1 Bib, but I have to admit I would love it more if I got number 2 (for my second marathon...LOL).


My BIG runner's goal is to get to the Boston Marathon.  In January of this year, I said I wanted to make it there in 5 years or less.  Current qualifying time for my age group is 03:45:00.  This year, runners had to have an official marathon time of 2 1/2 minutes faster than that to get in.  The competition gets better and better every year.  So my personal goal at this point is 03:40:00.   That's much faster than I am now so it will take a ton of dedication and hard work to get there.  This year and in to next is a step in that direction.

I will be incorporating a speed work day, a hill workout day and a long run (as always) each week. Then one or two easy runs and cross training.

I've already started the hill workouts.  It's going to be the hardest change to make so I will have to go back and read my last blog post OFTEN.


And with that I leave you with my very favorite running quote:

Friday, September 25, 2015

Hills, A Wise Friend & Physical Therapy

I love hills.  I love hills.  I love hills.

True story.

Okay... the truth is, I only love DOWNhills.  I really struggle with uphill workouts.  It's not a good thing because I live in a very hilly neighborhood, so unless I want to drive somewhere I have to tackle them.

My friend at work (hi Cathy) just finished her first marathon last weekend.  Mitch and I took a drive along the course the day before the race.  The first part of the course is rolling hills.  Not my favorite thing.  Today we were talking about her race and I mentioned that I didn't like the first half because of the hills.  Cathy smiled big and said, "I love hills." Followed by, "I eat hills for breakfast!"

Oh how I want to embrace that mentality!

Cathy said that she puts her butt and thighs to work and just tackles them.  I'm so ready to learn this!
I have to thank her.  Somehow, I'm going to love hills.  It's mostly a mental game.  I just need to be tougher than my head.

Training for my first marathon was fraught with IT Band issues.  My right hip down to my knee was in a state of constant, nagging pain.  I lived in KT Tape (which is awesome, BTW) and visited my chiropractor at least every two weeks.  That helped a little, but never completely.

My regular doc suggested a couple of visits to a physical therapist.  So, I bit the bullet and started to see Evan Jones at West Billings Physical Therapy.  She set my hip in place and put me to work doing some exercises twice a day to strengthen the muscles that support my hips and insisted that I use the foam roller I that I usually avoid like the plague.

While I struggle to get 2 times a day in, I make sure I do these EVERY night.  Its amazing how quick I began to get better.  My nightly routine looks like this:

Clam Shells - Two sets on each side until I feel the burn.  Sometimes I add a resistance band, but I hate how it makes my hands smell so not very often.

Reverse Clam Shells - Again, two sets on each side until I feel the burn.  The pic doesn't show it very well, but there should be a gap between your knees of about 4-6 inches.

Bridge - Two sets of 15.  Squeeze the glutes when lifting your butt off the floor.

ITBand Stretches - Each stretch for about 30 seconds

Foam Roller - About 2 minutes rolling up and down the IT band, avoiding the outermost part of the hip bone.

The more you do the foam rolling, the easier it gets.  I wanted to CRY when I started doing this.  My roller is NOT forgiving, so I recommend starting with a softer one.  I think the colors tell you how firm they are.  At the PT office, I used a pink one and it was quite squishy.  Very nice.  But mine is black and I'm pretty sure that means death.

If I knew in May what I know now, my marathon training would have been so much better and I would have missed a lot less days of running.  It's kind of maddening when I think back on it. But I'm glad I feel better now and I have hope for a better marathon time in the future.

Tomorrow is long run day.  We will go to Red Lodge again and I should get around 12 miles.  I'll talk about fueling for long runs this weekend.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Run for a Purpose

Before I get to the part about running for a purpose, I just have to say:  OUCH.  That's what I get for following up a weights cross training day with an 8 mile mid week run.  My legs felt like stiff logs for the first couple of miles and a good part of that was downhill even.

Yesterday I went to the YMCA for my cross training day.  I did start with a two mile run on the treadmill because they have new equipment and I wanted to see.  The new treadmills have video routes.  I did my two miles in New Zealand.

I ran today's 8-miler on the local marathon course... or partly anyway.  I started at my usual long run parking spot and cut through a new neighborhood for me.  I found out about it when we stopped at the marathon to see my coworker this weekend.  I've been trying to figure out how to cut the part of my normal route that isn't very safe.  No shoulder, lots of traffic and a blind corner.  This neighborhood cuts that from the route and takes me right to the bike trail.  Sweet!  And it even keeps the mileage pretty close.  The view isn't bad either.

I have a confession to make.  I'm not the most charitable person.  I rarely get involved in fundraising and I'm very skeptical about what charities I donate money too.  Don't get me started about handing money to street corner sign-holders.  But that doesn't mean I'm without empathy.

Many runners raise money for charities and run races for them.  I've seen some very creative fundraising techniques!  I'm not good at asking for money or organizing events.  So, for those of you that want to run with a purpose, but struggle with your standard fundraising skills this post is for you!

Charity Miles is an app you can download on your smart phone.  There are many charities to choose from and you can run/walk/ride for just one every time or pick and choose.  Yes, you have to carry your phone.  It doesn't link with any tracking devices unfortunately.  The miles you log are sponsored by various companies that donate on your behalf based on your distance.  I pick one charity each month and do every run and every work break walk for that charity.  Since it is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, I am logging miles for St. Judes this month.

I am a member of the Gryffindor House team of Hogwarts Running Club.  Yep... I'm kind of a nerd like that.  #gogogryffindor   My Charity Miles count towards my house team for club competitions.  It's kind of cool!

I have the perfect shoes.  I love, love, love my Brooks Pureflows (4s are the best!!).  But I've been on the hunt for the perfect socks.  My local running store turned me on to a pretty great pair and then quit stocking them.  Now I can't seem to find them anywhere.  So, I let myself be swayed by a sponsored blog post on my favorite runner blog Hungry Runner Girl.  I just got my first two pairs of Bombas.  Incidentally, for every pair of socks you buy from them they donate a pair to a shelter.

I will let you know how they work out.  They are super comfy, but I haven't had a chance to test them on the run yet.  They don't have the seem in the toes (or the heels), so I have high hopes.

Any other Harry Potter geeks out there?

Do you run with a purpose?  Tell me how.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

My Favorite Place to Run Long & I'm not ready yet!

Red Lodge = LOVE

About 70 miles from home, Mitch and I camp at Red Lodge every summer.  We got married there. We ride/run there as often as we can when the weather allows.  The Beartooth Pass provides a great hill climb ride for Mitch and I can get a 12 mile run if I park at the campgrounds at the base of the pass.  The run is awesome!  A solid downhill for the first 4 miles and the rest has rolling hills, but ultimately a net downhill.

The plan usually involves me dropping Mitch off in Red Lodge. He will ride up to the pass and then to Vista Point, a lookout partway up the Pass.

Then I drive up 12 miles and park at the Parkside campground parking area.  After riding up the pass, Mitch rides back as far as the campground, picks up the truck and meets me back in town.  It's a good set up.

I get some pretty great views on the way back to town.  Today I got to see a Bull Moose.  He crossed the road in front of me and took me by surprise.  Being on foot and without any defense, I backed away several feet before I even considered taking out my phone for a picture.  Unfortunately, this meant that I missed the great shot.  He's in this picture, but he's REALLY hard to see.

Rock Creek is one of my favorite views along the run.  Sometimes I stop and soak my hat.  And sometimes I will brave the freezing water for an ice bath at the end of a hard run.  Not today though.

It was a gorgeous day!  Can you tell? Truthfully though, the wind was brutal.  I had a strong head wind for the first half of my run and I wanted to quit all the way until about mile 8, I think.  I kept telling myself that I would jump in the truck if Mitch caught up with me before town.  He caught up at mile 10 and by that point the wind was calmer and I was determined to finish out the last 2 miles.

 I am totally not ready for THIS:

Autumn is a beautiful time of year, but to me it always means winter is much too close.  I love the summer.  I even love the fall as long as it stays nice out.  I do not enjoy snow.  I don't like to drive in it.  I don't like being cold.  And I don't like having to find ways to get my training indoors.  But everything is changing colors already and I will have to suck it up.  Seasons change in spite of me.  So not fair.

Today way also the Montana Marathon in Billings.  My friend from work ran it for her first marathon.  Before we drove to Red Lodge, we found her and rang a bear bell for her as she passed.
Congrats Cathy!

Goodbye weekend.  Time for another week of work.  Tomorrow will be a trip to the gym (cross training... blah) and I'm sure it won't be worthy of blogging.  So, until the next run...

Saturday, September 19, 2015

How a Marathon is Like Having a Baby & Back to Running

Training for a marathon takes months.  I spent days of every week and hours of every weekend getting ready for the Bozeman Marathon.  Like being pregnant it has joy, pleasure, excitement, pain, frustration, insanity....

After months of preparation, it all culminates to a place in time called waiting.  The last weeks of training are for tapering - where mileage is cut way back to allow the body time to recover before the big event.  This is a CRAZY time.  Feelings of inadequacy, fear of injury and illness, lack of trust in the training... these things are all part of it.  "I should get one more 20 miler in before the race."  "I wish I hadn't taken those extra rest days."  "Maybe I should pick something different to wear."  It goes on and on.

THEN it gets worse!  The dreams!  No... I don't mean hopes and ambitions.  I mean crazy dreams.  Several nights I dreamed that I woke up late and missed the start of the race or that I got to the start line without any shoes or that the race was cancelled after I started running.  A good nights sleep was fleeting.

At last the big day arrives, full of excitement and anticipation.  None of those bad dreams come to fruition.  All is well.  The experience is everything I hope for and a box of chocolates.  Five hours of effort to close the months of training.  Beautiful.

Then like Christmas, its over.  Just a happy memory.

Two days after the race I felt like I was walking in mud.  The blues settled in deep and took me by surprise.  Nobody mentioned that this would come with post-partum depression.  It was over.  Now what?  After spending the day feeling sad, I took a good look at my dilemma and decided I needed a plan.  I needed to know what is next.

I could have bought new running shoes.  That always helps.

But instead, I went race shopping.  Joy!  I already have a race schedule on the books for 2016:

* March - Run to the Pub
* June - Yellowstone Half Marathon

Plus whatever smaller races fit in to our busy life.

But the next big race.......

I love Missoula and this marathon is mostly flat.  I'm pretty excited about this new plan.

On another note....

I got back to running yesterday.  I only took 3 full days off.  I feel pretty good and a day without running is like:

Yesterday's 4 miler was good.  Today's 3.5 was pretty much awesome.  I got my fasted 5K time.

I felt like being "sparkly"

Then Mitch took me to the winery and I enjoyed a lovely glass of Summer Blend (I helped bottle this a few months back):

I much prefer red wine, but sometimes you just gotta be different.

And I just feel like bragging a little right now.....


Medals from Left to Right:  Women's Run (maybe 2011?), Bozeman Marathon (1/2) 2014, Run to the Pub Half Marathon 2015, Yellowstone Half Marathon 2015, Montana Island Challenge 2015, Bozeman Marathon 2015 and the Hogwarts Running Club Platform 9 3/4k virtual race 2015.


Ok... I need a better pic of the truck window.

Until next time.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

My First Marathon ~ Bozeman Marathon recap

This is a tale of a girl's first marathon.  Beware, it's lengthy.  

I have been signed up for this marathon since January.  It's hard to believe it's September already.  I have trained for weeks upon weeks for this and now it's come and gone.  Just like Christmas.


Bozeman is about three hours from home, so we planned to spend a couple of days there. We booked a room at the Ramada for Saturday and Sunday night so I could pick up my race packet the day before and get a good night sleep (haha) the night leading up to my big day. First big thing to happen to me on this weekend was picking up my packet and finding out that I got the #1 race bib!! That's what I get for sitting on the site waiting for race registration to open in January! Once I decided that Bozeman would be my first Marathon, I got pretty impatient about it.


The race packet was not very exciting. Last year it had a pair of Bozeman Marathon logo socks. This year was a plastic cup. I was kind of sad. But on the bright side, the gear bag is pretty awesome and included the logo which it didn't last year. Also, our bibs had our names on them. Pretty Sweet!


 We took a drive and previewed the course. The course elevation chart showed the first half as uphill mostly. But after the preview, I felt better. It was a very gradual climb. We took a nice walk along the Main to the Mountains trail. The fairies live in Bozeman.

 Saturday night I laid out "Flat Angie."


My fuel plan was simple. I took a couple of Montana Huckleberry Gu packets, a pack of Jelly Belly Sport beans and a Honey Stinger Waffle. Mitch would bring extra Gu packs since I wouldn't be carrying my hydration belt (Yay!). Water and Gatorade were scheduled about every 2-3 miles on the course so there was no need to add the extra weight. My little SPIBelt is big enough for a phone and a Gu and then my shorts have a pocket. I also carried a little baggie with ibuprofen and preworkout supplements.

My race day outfit: Brooks Pureflow 4s (my favorite shoes), Saucony shorts, WriteSocks, Moving Comfort sports bra, my Women's Run hat and a shirt I made special for the occassion.

Race Day Morning

OMG! Mentally I was not nervous. My stomach on the other hand would not stop doing flip flops! We got up at 3:50 a.m. and thankfully I was able to scarf down one pastry before the jitters set in. There would be no more solid food after that! One cup of coffee and an hour of preparation and we were out the door.

Mitch had to get me to the Bozeman Running Company early enough to catch my bus to the start line. The plan was to drop me off and he would take a bicycle ride up the Bozeman Pass and meet me somewhere around the half way point of the course. I would need all the support I could get for the last half of this race, but the first 13.1 miles I expected to be a breeze for me.

On the bus I sat next to a gentleman who has done about 80 marathons! He's a 50 stater (meaning that he was out to complete a marathon in every state). Montana was the last state to accomplish his mission. It was fascinating to talk to him on the trip out to the start line.

The bus dropped us off.... about 1/4 mile past our start line. WTF? We were all confused as we trekked back up the hill to where the porta potties/start was. Did they think we needed a good warm up walk? It was still mostly dark out and the wind was whipping through the canyon - a tail wind for the run, thankfully. The wait was about 45 minutes.

As we gathered at the start, the MC from Competitive Timing warned us that someone had tampered with the course markings over night. Many of the cones had been moved and/or stolen and there were arrows pointing in the wrong directions. Haha! Funny pranksters!

I had intended to put a bottle of water in my gear bag to wash down my honey stinger waffle and a couple of ibuprofen, but somehow I managed to forget it. So I couldn't eat anything while waiting and I had to remember to take the ibuprofens at the first water station.

The course was beautiful, the sunrise was awesome and I couldn't have asked for better weather. Even the huge wind that came through the canyon was a perfect tail wind for 4 miles. For the first 6 miles I kept a steady pace and only slowed at the water stations. I averaged about 10:20 min. miles for those miles. At mile 6 the course begins a slow, steady rise in elevation. It's much less than I had anticipated, but I did begin to feel the drag.

Somewhere between there and mile 13, my IT Band acted up. It only hurt once in a while, but when it did it would take me by surprise and I almost lost my footing a couple of times.

Mitch caught up with me exactly where we had hoped: right before the Half Marathon start. I was elated to see him.

Each of the aid stations was like a boost of confidence for me. Everyone noticed that it was my first marathon and that I was the #1 bib. The attention was great for motivating me to move on. I loved it! Race volunteers are the best!

 At mile 20 I passed the guy wearing the #2 bib.

For the whole race I felt happy. At no point did I ever feel defeated even though the miles were taking 12-14 minutes and I knew I wouldn't hit my goal of finishing in less than 5 hours.

I had a few miles where my IT Band spasmed so bad I was worried I would have to walk the whole way. For some reason, putting a sport bean in my mouth and sucking on it seemed to make it go away. Whether it was a great placebo or really had something to do with the carbs in them, I will never know. But hey... it worked. And that means I will forever carry Jelly Belly Sport Beans when I run a marathon!

Mitch was the greatest wingman a girl could ask for. He carried extra gels and water and cheered me on over and over again. He put on 70 miles of riding that day. This picture is not from race day. I wish I had someone get a pic of us together in retrospect. Hindsight is 20/20.

At each aid station, I took both a water and a gatorade. Double fisted drinking!

The last 5K

The end of the race is so vivid in my memory because there were lots of volunteers and spectators.

Every block had a cheer squad. One family had a sprinkler set up in the street. These people were my heros! Mitch said they had a cooler of beer too. Funny people.

My IT Band quit hurting.

As we approached the end right before the last turn, Mitch is telling me that I had done it. I did my first marathon. The words were music to my ears but I had to tell him to shut up. Crying was for the finish line. :-)

On the last turn I expected to see the finish line right there. Nope. It was WAY down the street. I looked at Mitch and said "I thought it would be closer!" I admit... I walked a little on that street too.

But when I got the wind in my sails again, I ran. I ran over the finish as the announcer said my name and jokingly asked me how many marathons I'd done now. I got my medal and my bottle of water and to my surprise, no tears fell. I was elated.

I felt AWESOME! I did it! All those months of training and I did it! I earned this medal!!!

I made sure to wait around and cheer in some of the runners I had spent time with on the course, or passed along the way. They had all been great companions on the journey, even if our visits were very brief.

The Aftermath

Things get a little fuzzy for a while after the race. The adrenaline high was pretty intense. But the shower... that was the big eye opener. It was like Purgatory. Almost Heaven, almost Hell. It felt so good to wash away the sweat and salt... until it hit the chafing. Oh the pain! My poor arms! That cute little shirt that I made wasn't so cute any more. I paid for that big time. I even used an old shirt I had worn on runs many times. For some reason (and early on in the run), the seam under the armpit began to wear a raw spot on my under arm. My battle wound.

Physically, I felt pretty amazing most of the day. I was understandably sore, but not as much as I expected. We celebrated with Dinner at the Montana Ale Works. Amazing food. Great service.


So, I have heard many tales of how a runner gets across the finish line with "I will never do this again" on their lips. Of course, this often changes and they are signing up for the next one soon enough.

I knew the minute I crossed the line that I will do it again. In fact, I already know which one it will be.... maybe I'll sit on the registration site and get #1. I don't think that I will do the Bozeman Marathon again... at least not 26.2.

There will never be another FIRST marathon. The attention I got from volunteers and runners alike was special. My feelings of awe will probably never be duplicated in future marathons. It was an amazing experience, made extra special by the love and support of my husband and by all the well wishes I received from friends and family via social media.

I hold this experience dear to my heart and it is a memory I will cherish always. I can only hope that as I continue to run and take on new challenges that each will have something special and worthy of remembrance, even if it's not like this.

I EARNED this!

And that my friends, concludes this race recap. Thank you for reading!