Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What I Did Over the Summer

It's been a while since I've posted here... starting a blog is hard work and during my summer vacation I took a lot of time to myself to just run, relax, and enjoy my time off from school but now I am ready to get serious about this blog.

This summer was a huge one for me in terms of running. I upped my mileage to 35-45 miles a week, ending with 55 miles during my preseason week of cross country. I ran two 5ks- and set two new 5k PRs of 21:12 and later, 21:02. Nebby and I ran a half marathon together for the Puppy Run virtual race- her longest run ever! I tried a Duathlon (relay) and ran 2 different legs of 2 miles while J biked 11 in between. It was SO much fun and we ended up placing as the 2nd female relay team. If you've never tried a relay event I definitely recommend it! It was so exciting to share the experience with someone else; handing off the timing chip, cheering for them as they complete their leg and also hearing them cheer for you during yours... so fun.

The main event of my summer was a sprint triathlon. A lot of my time, effort, and money went into multisport this summer. After a few sessions in the pool, I decided I wanted to get a swimming coach to help me get started. I just had four half-hour lessons and they were exactly what I needed. my coach corrected my swimming form and taught me some helpful techniques for distance swimming, as well as some strategies for building my endurance. From there I just practiced regularly and slowly built up to the 400m distance. I am certainly not a fast swimmer but it felt so much better to actually have some tools in my belt (including confidence) when it came to race day. Another huge investment for this race was Trixie. I splurged and finally bought myself a road bike. I had been using a hand-me-down bike that was very old and not comfortable in any way. After some smart shopping, I decided to buy a Trek Lexa C. Having my own, new bike that was fitted to ME made a drastic difference. I immediately felt more confident on the bike- no longer afraid to brake or turn- and also took considerable time off my mile splits. The bike was rather pricey for a college student, but I am so glad I decided to make that change and I know I will get my money's worth from Trixie.

The race went AMAZING. I went in feeling prepared, confident, and excited. I trained hard all summer- physically and mentally- and was totally prepared for anything race day could throw at me (except a flat tire... still need to learn how to fix those...). With my family there to support me, I shaved 22+ minutes off my previous Sprint time, finished 4th overall female, and took 2nd in my age group. I had an absolute blast that morning and I know that my confidence- from having the right bike, taking swim lessons, etc. really played a role in how much I enjoyed the event. I am totally in love with the sport of triathlon but right now I am focusing on collegiate running while I have the chance. I have the rest of my life to do triathlons and that makes me incredibly happy.
adventures in babysitting

Outside of running, I spent a lot of time with my family, babysitting, and eating ice cream. My mom is a teacher so she is also home during the summers and I really enjoyed having her around more often. I got into the habit of biking with her as she walks every morning, which is a time that I think we have both come to treasure. I babysit for my cousins (ages 7 and 2) often, even sleeping at their house and taking a few short trips with them. My summer job was babysitting for a neighbor-- which included a lot of trips to the park, rollerblading accidents, and pool days. J and I broke up in the beginning of July and it was hard on me-even though we both knew it was coming- but I didn't let myself slip away. I focused hard on my running and triathlon-ing, did small things that brought me joy, rekindled a few old friendships, and ate more ice cream than I probably should have ;)

School started last week, along with the official cross country season. Classes are great so far and I have FINALLY decided on a major, which makes everything so much easier. XC has been amazing- so many new friends who share my crazy passion for running. Stay tuned for more about some of our races and workouts this season!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Summertime Stride 5K Race Recap

This past Tuesday, my dad told me about a 5k race taking place in the town where he lives, about 25 minutes from my house. He asked if I would be interested in running with him and my stepmom and I said of course. We ran it together (okay, not exactly together but we were both in the same race...) last year and it was a lot of fun. I set a then-PR of 21:52 and finished 3rd overall female. Why wouldn't I want to do it again?

Biking to the race
To allow myself a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning, I slept at my dad's on Friday night. We had pizza for dinner- my typical prerace meal, along with a bottle of Nuun- and then watched a movie until bedtime. I had trouble sleeping but was in bed by 10pm and asleep by 11. I woke up around 6:30 and headed to the kitchen for my regular breakfast, PBJ toast and a banana, and then went to the bathroom (phew) and got dressed.

Since the race was so close to my dad's house, we decided to ride our bikes there. It was a quick little ride but we saw part of the race course and panicked about the hills I noticed. We picked up our bibs and goodie bags, and then I got started with my regular race shenanigans like a bathroom break, stretching, and fixing my shoelaces.

21:12. 2nd place AG. 18th overall
Gun went off a few minutes late around 8:35am and I was in the front from the start. I ran the first mile- almost all uphill- in 6:37 but felt pretty good. I was passing a lot of people and thought I was catching up to the lead women, but I never did. I started to feel tired around mile 1.4 and focused on just moving my feet and holding the pace. I crossed mile two in 6:55, a little slower than my first but still rocking it. Mile three I was just holding on for dear life. The race was much hillier than I expected but I felt like I handled it well. My last mile was 7:09, much slower than I wanted, and I took off for the finish as I turned the last corner. I saw the clock reading 20:xx and ran as fast as I could, knowing a PR was quite attainable at this point. I crossed in 21:12, right in front of a 9-year-old boy who had been with my the whole time. (uh... AMAZING!!). I was pretty stoked about the PR, don't get me wrong, but I was disappointed that my pace dropped so much in the last mile and that I never caught up to the lead females.

Family after the race
Overall, it was a pretty good day. The race is well organized and the volunteers were all helpful, and the post-race refreshments were awesomesauce. The only downside is they run several heats of a kids dash after the 5k so the awards ceremony started over an hour after I finished. After claiming my medal, we biked to a cafe for breakfast and then rode home. My shoulders are severely sunburned (oops) but my legs are feeling surprisingly good. Taking a rest day tomorrow to volunteer at Girls on the Run 5k and planning to run 13.1 miles with Nebby on Monday.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Running with Van Gogh

If you have looked around on this blog at all or follow me on Instagram @letyourcolors_run, you know that I love to run with my dog, Nebby. My family recently rescued another dog, Van Gogh, and I have started bringing him with me on my runs.

Van Gogh
Van's first run was a short 2 miler, and he did pretty good. He has no trouble keeping up with me, and his Great Dane instincts get him super excited to run fast. Since then, I have ran a 3 mile run with Van and, yesterday, 6.1 miles. He is okay but we have lots of work to do. He tries to run way faster than me and ends up pulling me so hard that my arms are sore by the time we finish. He goes crazy if there is another dog around, so much so that I have to stop running to settle him down and keep him from yanking me in every direction. Finally, he is super uncoordinated on the leash and often trips me and cuts me off when we turn corners. Van Gogh is deaf, which makes communicating with him somewhat difficult, especially if he is a few steps ahead on the leash. Our runs are not pretty and not always fun, but we get it done. Hopefully with some more training and lots of practice on the leash, Van Gogh will soon be as good a running buddy as Nebby is.

Final stats from our run
Yesterday was the day I ran 6.1 miles with Van. I had planned to take Nebby to our favorite trail and run two loops for 7.2 miles. As I was putting Nebby's leash on, my older brother said he was planning to take Nebby for a hike and would prefer if I didn't take her. Trying to be a fair (he had to work later, I didn't) and good little sister, I grumpily said okay and let him go. At first I just considered skipping my run entirely, but I knew I would be unhappy with myself and wanted to get my miles in. I didn't want to drive to the trail to run alone, and Van isn't ready for 7 miles. I decided to stay in the neighborhood and run 5-7 with Van depending on how tired he seemed.

Forced a smile after the run from Hell
It was miserable. Van pulled me so hard my shoulders ached by mile 1, he goes nuts when there is another dog around, and I was constantly tripping over him, especially turning corners. I wanted to drop him off and continue running without him, but no one was home to watch him so I just powered through. We finished with 6.1 miles, I cried for a while, and then showered and moved on with my day.

Today I ran completely solo. It felt good to be on my own and pound out some of my leftover frustration from yesterday's run. I am also stressed with final exams this week, and some other things in my personal life are bothering me. I was grateful for the chance to be alone with my mind and run as hard or easy as I needed to at any given moment. Hopefully with lots of practice and maybe a little organized training, Van will become a much better running buddy.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

I am back running after 8+ days off!! My track coach wanted each of us to take 1-2 weeks of complete rest to allow our bodies recover from the intensity of the season before starting summer conditioning for cross country. My legs were grateful for some time off and it was nice to finally stop feeling sore, but I sure did miss running. The day I was supposed to start running again, I ended up having strep throat (NOT fun) and was forced to take an extra two days off. I was disappointed for several reasons. First, being sick just sucks. My girlfriend had strep the week before so I knew I was at risk, but it's still no fun. Second, I missed the run. We were having gorgeous weather during my recovery week and I was so anxious to throw some shorts on and lace up for some sunny miles, but I used my will power and stuck to walking. Finally, I was nervous about my fitness level. I am no longer in racing season and won't be until late August, but it's still sad to watch those fast miles and PR times slip away. But, now is the time to build a strong base and get easy miles in to prepare myself for new PRs this fall during XC season.

My first run back after this week of recovery was short and sweet. It was my contribution to the Run With Your Dog Day Virtual 5k, hosted by Lea. It was raining, windy, and incredibly humid but we didn't mind. I was just so glad to be back running, and especially to be participating in such a fun virtual event with Nebby.

Run with you Dog Day Virtual 5k- in the rain!
I took the next day off because my quads and glutes were literally sore (hello! that's been a while) from the short run on Monday. Wednesday I was back at it with a nice 5 mile run (41:58) that felt decent. I met with my coach that morning to work out my summer running plan; we decided that I'll be starting at ~40 mile/week and work my way up safely throughout the summer. With a triathlon scheduled for July, he also told me that it is okay if my running mileage falls since I will be logging activities from biking and swimming as well. I also snagged a cheap running shirt from him that was leftover from last season, which I wore on my 6 mile run the next morning.

Thursday's run-- wearing my new Bluejays XC shirt
Thursdays run was tough. I was reminded of how difficult running can be and was so upset by how out-of-shape I felt after just a week+ off. I had to stop a few times for a side stitch and my ankle/hip were killing me when I finished. I babysat the rest of the day, and was practically limping to the park with my nugget because my right leg was in such pain. I took a hot Epsom salt bath that night and let my body rest Friday.

On Saturday, J and I decided to go fishing because the weather (mainly: the wind) looked better than it had been. Some of my favorite trails are right near our fishing lake, so of course I asked her if I could run while we were over there. 8.3 miles of pouring rain but holy cow, it was beautiful. I had to stop a few times around miles 3-4 for a side stitch and my pace was incredibly slow compared to what I usually run, but it felt great. My longest run since before track season and longest trail run ever!
8.3 rainy miles on the trails before fishing
This week, I am feeling much better. I ran 6 miles (3 with each dog) yesterday and 5 today. My hip and ankle feel good; I have been icing them after runs and they feel fine. I am focusing on adjusting to the heat and humidity we are having lately. My paces are slow and my body feels tired, but I am certain this is more to do with than weather than anything else. My fitness is slowly coming back and summer training for XC season is in full swing!

Sunday Runday- 3 miles with each pup

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Recovery Week in Pictures

As per my coach's instructions, I took this past week off from running entirely to let my body recover from track season. Here's how I spent my week:

Lots of walking:
WalkMS with the family on Sunday

Walked to the "big park" while babysitting my cousin

A little bit of yoga:
75 min vinyasa flow on Weds

 Stretching and foam rolling. Every. Single. Day.
Van naps while I roll my legs out

Soaking in Epsom Salt baths;
I love soaking in a hot bath to relax my muscles
Spending time outside: 

Pretzels and hummus on the porch
 And lots and lots of ice cream:

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Running Goals

"A goal without a plan is just a dream"

June 2013- shaved a minute from my previous 5k
When I first began running, I had absolutely 0 goals. I wasn't training for a race or trying to acheive a specific time, or even a certain distance; I just loved to run. However, after a few months of running and racing, I realized that I was improving every so slightly. I watched my 5k time fall from 26:48 to 24:07 in just over a month and my goal then became to simply PR in each race I ran after that.

In August 2013, I started training for my very first half marathon and set a goal of finished under 2:00:00. I didn't do much training in the speed department, but I consistently ran my weekly long run and knew the paces I needed to hit to achieve this time. I finished that race in 1:55:30, almost 5 minutes earlier than my goal, with a huge smile on my face. For my first half marathon, I was estastic to be crossing the finish line with an 8:49 average pace/mile and was proud that I pushed myself to achieve my goal.

Beat my goal time by 30 whole seconds!
The first time I set an actual time goal for a 5k was in October of 2014, training for the Turkey Trot 5k to be held in early November. I remember writing "22:50 7:30 avg pace" on a post it note and hanging it above my desk- partially to motivate me and mostly so I wouldn't forget ;) It's easy to say "I want to PR this time", but without a definite goal time and plan to get there, your body doesn't know how to make that happen. I worked hard during that training cycle. I did speed work at the appropriate pace to meet my goal, I ran hill repeats to prepare for the hilly course, and I even ran my first-ever tempo run. My hard work paid off when I finished in 22:30, winning my age category and placing 5th in the female division.

Having a goal and a definite plan to get there was my driving force for this race. Knowing what needed to be done and training to do it enabled me to look beyond limitations that I or anyone else had set on me and just focus on the outcome.

Now, 2 years later, it is time for me to start making new running goals. I have tried new events, from the 1500m to a triathlon to a 10 mile race, and all of them have been a unique and exciting experience.

Since I joined the track team at my school this past spring, I have placed my running into the hands of my coach, and no longer have the flexibility that I had when I was self-coached. For this reason, my running goals (for the time being) are not exactly mine and are rooted more in the success of my team rather than individual performance. That being said, here are a few of my long term running goals:

  • Break 20 minutes in the 5k. I have brought my time down from 26:48 to 21:26 in just 2 years and I want to keep pushing myself until I am able to knock that number down to 19:xx.
  • Learn to pace myself. I can nail negative splits in practice workouts, but in race situations my lets get excited and always start off too fast. Someday I hope to be able to start slowly and speed up throughout the course of a race instead of the other way around.
  • Run a marathon. 
  • Qualify for Boston. After a few marathons to acclimate myself to that long distance, I would love to set some time-oriented goals and train for a Boston Qualifying time.
  • Become more accquanited with trail running, maybe even try a few trail races
  • Finish an Ironman triathlon
  • Complete the Dopey Challenge. This seems like such an outrageous feat, but I would love to challenge my body with the task of running 4 tough races on 4 consecutive days. 

These goals will change over time, I'm sure, but this is where I stand right now. First things first: collegiate cross country and track! After college I will have more time to plan my own race schedule and create new goals for myself. 

What are some of your running goals? How do plan to achieve them? Do you have a running bucket list?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Track Season Recap

Towards the end of this past March, the track/cross country coach at my college called to see if I would be interested in running with the team. I took almost a week to think it over- I had never ran track before and joining the team would mean sacrificing my spring half marathon for which I was already reigistered. However, I decided to join the team on the basis that I have the rest of my life to run half marathons but only a few years to run as a collegiate athlete. I started in the off week between the indoor and outdoor track seasons, and was incredibly nervous about meeting the other girls and joining halfway through the season.
Warming up with my team

All my anxiety was for nothing though, as all the girls were so nice and supportive of me, even
though they just met me. We did mile repeats at my first practice with the team and I didn't have any trouble keeping up with the other girls. As a commuter student, I am only required to be at Monday and Wednesday practices and my coach sends me a workout for the other days, usually an easy run for a set amount of time. I ran my 30 minutes on Tuesday and returned to the track for 10 x 500m repeats on Wednesday. Our first outdoor meet (and my first meet ever!) was that weekend, where I was set to run in the women's 5k race.

First meet!
I woke up that day with a stomach full of butterflies and a mind full of uneasiness. I had no idea what to expect at the meet, much less in my specific race. The 5k race was the last event of the day and although the bus left at 9:15am, I didn't run until after 5pm. It was a long day; I was nervous, cold, anxious, tired, hungry, and homesick. The race was less than ideal. I got lapped by the lead runners and finished dead last with a time of 22:39, not even a PR for me. I was embarassed leaving the meet and got home around 8pm starving, exhausted, and disheartened.
5k done, cheering on my teammates

Things did not improve the next week. We ran 20 x 200m repeats on Monday, and my long-distance legs did not like that sprint distance. My calves hurt so bad that even walking was painful the next few days. On Wednesday, my coach stopped me halfway through the workout and told me to hydrate, ice, and stretch to help ease the soreness. Every single run that week was painful and I feared my race would be awful that weekend. It wasn't. The 5k race was the first event (thank goodness!) so I was able to get my run overwith before changing out of my uniform and enjoying the rest of the meet. I ran a PR by 2 seconds, 21:47 and even beat a few girls.

This meet was a game changer for me. I realized that I was capable of more than I thought and that the hard work I was putting in during practices was finally starting to pay off. I tried some new events, like the 1500m and the 3k, and continued to make progress in the 5k, setting a new PR each time that I ran it this season.
Crossing the finish line at our last meet

Our season ended this past Saturday at our conference meet. I ran the 5k with a 13 second (!!) PR of 21:26. I had a good race and passed a girl in the final 50m, where I really pushed myself to finish strong.

Reflecting on the season, I am glad I chose to join the track team. It is a whole new experience for me and even though it started off rough, I really enjoyed being a part of the team. I am currently taking an entire week of recovery (no running at all, as per my coach's instructions) before I begin building my base for cross country season in the fall.

Monday, May 4, 2015

First Post!

Hello and Welcome to Let Your Colors Run!

Thank you for taking the time to visit my page. If you follow me on Instagram (@letyourcolors_run), thank you for supporting me as I get this blog up and running. Be sure to check out my About Me page to read my story and my intentions for this blog. More posts coming soon!