Race Week and the Taper Blues!

It’s race week and I haven’t felt such a mixed bag of emotions since I was pregnant with T & C!  One minute I’m feeling on top of the world and ready to conquer anything, the next my mind is filled with doubt and I’m crying at the drop of a hat. There is a reason they call it the taper crazies and boy do I have a raging case!

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Aside from my intense emotions, a few things about this week:

  • The boys ear infections have finally cleared (fingers crossed they don’t come back!)
  • K scored a huge account he has been working on for the last 2 years! So proud of him!
  • Living on the foam roller at night while catching up on episodes of  Silicon Valley (how awesome is that show?!) and the new season of The Bachelorette. Santa Clause made the first cut? What will they think of next?? Definitely a guilty pleasure, but I can’t stop watching. haha.
  • Race outfit selected and stocked up on fuel after multiple visits to my favorite local running store Santa Barbara Running.
  • I actually got some chores done and even had time to paint my nails and put on a little makeup!
  • Staying well hydrated thanks to Nuun.
  • It’s shaping up to be a beautiful weekend with great racing weather.

All that is left to do is create my playlist (ideas welcome!) and oh yeah run 26.2 miles AT ONE TIME!

XO

Christina

 

Marathon Training: Week 16

Bib numbers are posted for Mountains to Beach Marathon. I’m #785! It’s suddenly getting very real and very exciting that this marathon dream I’ve had for so long is close to becoming a reality! If you are interested in tracking me live during the race, sign up here 🙂

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This last week felt like a roller coaster ride, filled with highs and lows. The week started out with a trip to urgent care on Monday (with T) and then Tuesday (with C) who both have ear infections. Wednesday they were doing better and K was home from his trip, so we headed out for Nite Moves week 2 where I earned a new 5k PR. By Friday I was back at the doctor with T who was put on a new antibiotic. Thankfully the week ended on a high note with an awesome last long run before M2B and a great day at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History with two happy boys on the mend!

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I think one of the greatest things I’ve taken away from marathon training is that it has taught me I’m so much stronger than I thought I was.  In training and racing there are highs and there are lows, just like in life. We all love riding that high of nailing a workout and meeting our goals, but the real key to finding happiness and success is how we handle ourselves during the lows. Do you fall apart? Or keep pushing forward? There were some definite low points this week in my training and life that made me question why I was doing this. Then I realized the tough things happen to teach us something. To remind us the best things in life don’t usually come easy and without the lows we could not experience the fullness of the highs.

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As my first marathon nears, I’m excited for the challenge that comes with doing a marathon, but more than that I’m excited for the opportunity to learn more about myself. I’m going to do my very best to embrace those lows that are bound to come during the race just as much as the highs.

13 days to go time!

XO

Christina

Marathon Training: Week 15

I made it through peak week! Man oh man was it a tough one. I’m not one who looks forward to tapering, but I am so relieved that it’s here.

The plan was to hit 50 miles last week, but I fell a little short at 44.4 (no accident on the 4’s). 4 is my lucky number. After I cut Thursday’s run short and realized I wouldn’t hit 50, I went for 4’s across the board. The week started great with my usual easy 4 mile stroller run. After Tuesday’s track workout felt tougher than it should have I started to get the feeling I was in for a long, hard week.

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Wednesday was supposed to be an easy run day, but since it was the Nite Moves season opener, there really was no chance (as many times as I tried to tell myself not to go guns a blazing) I would go easy. Note to self: Not a good idea to follow up a track workout with a race the next day, even if it’s only a 5k (5 miles total with warmup and cool down).

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Nite Moves is a weekly 5k race that occurs each Wednesday all summer long followed by food and music on the beach. K and I both had a blast (or at least he tells me he did) 😉 running all 18 weeks of Nite Moves last year trading off the stroller pushing duties. I was soooo looking forward to this opener until T came down with a fever that morning. K insisted I go anyway while he stayed home with the boys since I needed to get a run in one way or another. I went and ran fast enough for 5th of 45 in my age group, but my heart wasn’t really in it without my family there.

Thursday morning K left on a work trip to New Orleans at 7am. The plan was to get up extra early so I could still get a full 8 mile run in with time to spare before he left. Plan failed. Alarm went off at 4:45 and I promptly hit the snooze button. I did get out shortly after 5:30 and got in 4.5 miles. I probably could have squeezed in 6, but that would have required me to go faster than my legs were willing to move that morning after the previous days hard efforts.

Friday was a MUCH needed rest day. I treated myself to a massage before picking T & C up from school. That evening I took them out to Taffy’s with my mother-in-law for some major carb loading.

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The next morning my mother-in-law came over at 5:15am to babysit the boys so I could head out for my last 20-miler. My marathon training has really been made possible by her and my wonderfully supportive K. We try to do as much training and errands as possible while the boys are sleeping and she is always happy to come over for baby monitor duty and playtime with them until we get home.

In the beginning weeks of my training, I would start my Saturday long runs after the boys went down for naps around noon. As the runs got longer and it started heating up, I decided it would be better to start them early in the morning. That made a HUGE difference in how I felt during and after the runs.  It must be my Swedish blood. My body does so much better while running in cooler temps.

Even with the early morning start, this last 20-miler felt much harder than the first 20-miler I did just weeks prior. I knew almost immediately I was going to have to dig deep for this one. My legs felt heavy and I had to will them to move the first few miles, but then they loosened up and I was able to do 10 miles at goal marathon pace  (8:45ish avg). The next eight miles at easy pace were much harder, but I pushed through the thoughts of quitting and finished strong.

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Sunday I took the boys out for an easy 3 mile stroller run (again didn’t feel so easy on sore legs) followed by play time at the park. It was the best way to celebrate. The only thing that would have made it better was if K was with us. He was still gone on his work trip (I’d like to talk to the person who thought it was a good idea to schedule a conference Mother’s Day weekend). He didn’t forget to send flowers and delicious treats though. My most precious gift were the flowers T & C made for me at school. This blog and my social media accounts are largely devoted to one aspect of my life, training and racing, however my boys are by far my greatest accomplishment. My biggest goal in life is to make them happy. I’m not perfect, but so far I’ve managed to balance it all pretty well.

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Although it wasn’t my best training week, it wasn’t my worst either. I am beyond happy to have come this far and to have made it through the toughest weeks of training. On to the taper!

20 days until I’m a marathoner!

XO

Christina

 

Marathon Training: Week 14

It’s marathon month! May came so fast! Seriously, these 14 weeks since I officially began training  really have flown by. Cliche to say maybe, but true! I feel prepared and ready, but the butterflies are starting to set in as I enter my final peak week of training before starting to taper for the race. I ran a total of 183 miles in April. My highest mileage month ever, by a lot.

This last week was a “step back” week, meaning a reduction in mileage, but not intensity. I focused on making every run count and added speed work to my long run. The highlight of the week was watching T & C run in their school’s Jog-A-Thon. They are already such good little runners!

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Here is a recap of the week:

Monday – 500 meter swim, 3.6 mile stroller run. Although the plan I’ve been following called for complete rest, I was feeling good after Saturday’s 20 miler and was jonesing to get in a swim so decided an easy 500 meters was in order. It felt so amazing to get back it the water. Later that afternoon I took T&C out for an easy stroller run, but the hurricane strength winds (at least it felt that way pushing with the double BOB) made it more of a test of my strength.

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Tuesday – 8 mile track speed session. Started with the usual 3 mile warm up, followed by (1×400 + 1×1200 meters) x4 and a 1 mile cool down. This one was tough, but felt great!

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Wednesday – Another stroller run battling the winds. I almost turned around after a mile. Pushing 80 lbs+ in the wind is no joke! The boys seemed to enjoy it so I pressed on for what seemed like the longest 4 miles of my life. 😊

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Thursday – HRT Run – 7 miles. I love this group run in my neighborhood. It’s hilly and challenging.

Friday – Scheduled rest day. Had a blast at T & C’s school Jog-A-Thon! T ran 17 laps and C did 15. They both ran/walked the entire time, even when some of the other kids in their class stopped to take breaks. At one point, we stopped to get water and T wasn’t having it. He got right back in the loop and kept going! I try to be conscious about not forcing my passions on them, but I think they just may be natural runners. 😉 Later that day we headed to the Santa Barbara Fair for some fun rides and funnel cake!

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Saturday – 12 mile long run. Instead of slow and steady, I decided to add some speed work to my long run this week. 2 mile warmup, 7 miles @ tempo (7:58, 7:49, 7:49, 7:52, 8:08, 8:12, 8:17) and 4 miles 30-45 seconds slower for an 8:24 avg pace. Completing this workout gave me more confidence that I can actually “race” the marathon.

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SundayEasy 4 mile stroller run. Best way to end a great week of training!

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This week is peak week. Mileage goes back up to 50+ with one last 20 miler before taper time! Let’s do this!

Happy training!

XO

Christina

Marathon Training: Week 13

It was a week of milestones in my training. On Saturday I completed my first 20 mile long run and hit 50 miles total for the week. When I signed up for Mountains 2 Beach marathon last summer, I honestly wasn’t sure I would make it to this point. I consider myself a fairly confident person and I definitely don’t lack the drive. In the five years I have been racing I have never failed to complete a race I have signed up for, even if that means doing it while sick (like recently at the Santa Barbara Half…yeah probably not the smartest idea), yet just before marathon training began a few months ago I came very close to dropping down to the half and it has always been in the back of my mind that could be an option.

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With 5 weeks left to go until race day, I’m still nervous about the race itself, but that little voice of self-doubt that crept in my head is gone. I have a loose time goal, but no matter what the end result is, I’m so incredibly thankful for this journey.

Each week of training I gain more and more respect for my body and it’s abilities. Before running came into my life (and at times after), I struggled with body image issues and definitely didn’t have a whole lot of respect for it. In my 20’s I drowned it in alcohol and junk food. No matter how much I abused it, it never gave up on me. I’m still in no way perfect, but I’ve come to appreciate this great vessel God has given me in a way I never have before. It carried and birthed twins and now it’s carried me through my longest run yet. I think I’m close to truly embodying one of my all time favorite quotes:

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not
to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is
against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.”
George Sheehan

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I’m not saying I’ve totally stopped comparing myself to other athletes similar to me or stopped looking (stalking) at their stats on Strava, but I have let go of the thoughts that I can’t do this.

This week is a recovery week (yay!) which means a little reduction in mileage to about 40. No big deal, right? 🙂

Happy training!

XO

Christina

 

Chardonnay 10-Miler Race Report

Saturday was a beautiful day for the Chardonnay 10-miler, a scenic race along the Santa Barbara waterfront. This race fit perfectly into my marathon training schedule since I had a shorter long run/test race scheduled. I ran this race once before back in 2012. 2012 was a year of breakthroughs and PR’s. There were many highs for me that year (qualifying for the USAT Nationals), but also some lows (struggles with getting pregnant). In 2013, I tapered back from the heavy training and put all my energy into my dreams of starting a family. Since that dream came true in 2014, I have been working hard to get back to the level of fitness I had reached in 2012.

This year, in addition to the new goals I’m chasing of completing my first marathon and 70.3 Ironman, I thought it would be fun to do a few races I ran previously. The first was the Santa Barbara Half Marathon, followed by Superseal Triathlon.  I beat my previous course PR in both races. Next up was this race.

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I started the morning with a Clif bar rather than my usual peanut butter banana toast. I woke up late and didn’t want to eat much so close to race time. The boys being, well, boys don’t sit still for long periods of time in the stroller anymore, so K dropped me off at the start, went home to get T&C and was back in time to watch me cross the finish line.

I was able to get in a quick 1.5 mile warmup which was nice since I usually don’t get to a race early enough to do much of a warmup these days. The race started at 8:00am with the 10 milers and 5k runners starting at the same time. The plan was to start out conservatively, but I hate running in crowds and lets face it, still get overly caught up in the excitement of the start and ended up going out faster than I should have. The first mile was uphill which I didn’t mind. It’s a hill I run weekly with the boys on our stroller run. Easy peasy.

Mile 2 was all downhill after the turnaround. It crossed my mind that I was probably going faster than I should at under 8 min/mile pace, so I eased up a notch and stopped at the mile 3 water station, but no water or volunteers in sight! Okay no big deal I thought, there’s another one at mile 5. It was a warm morning and I don’t carry fluids for most races if it is advertised that there will be water stations and an electrolyte drink of some kind. Mile 5 arrived and all the cups of water at that station were empty! There were two volunteers putting water into the big empty containers, but a lot of people just kept going. I stopped to wait because I was already so thirsty. I must have lost close to a minute waiting for them to fill the water!

Hill #2 was just around the corner and as I started up my beats wireless headphones started blasting a super loud static noise. Nice. I stopped again to fiddle with them, but decided it was best to just take them off and run without music. The funny thing is I was contemplating not wearing them for this race. I have been doing most of my training runs (with the exception of long runs) without them. Although music can really help motivate me, especially a power song in the last mile, I have found I enjoy running without music more and more lately.

At this point I was starting to lose steam. I took the one GU gel I had on me and powered up the hill. Around mile 6 my pace slowed and I was feeling the pain, but I dug deep up the last hill after the turnaround point. It was a huge relief knowing it was downhill and pretty flat from there.

I managed to keep a steady pace from mile 7 to the finish, but not without a hefty amount of pain. I was hot, thirsty and all I could think about was guzzling water at the finish. I crossed the line in 1:27:28 which was 2 minutes off my 2012 time. Although it would have been nice to beat that old time, I’m happy with the result. It was a faster time than the 10 miler I ran back in August and according to the McMillian Running marathon pace predictor I’m within reach of a sub 4 hour marathon.

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Thankfully there was plenty of water (and wine!) at the finish. After I guzzled about a gallon, we headed out for a fun afternoon at the beach. It was the best kind of day!

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6 weeks and counting until Mountains 2 Beach!

Happy training!

XO

Christina

Marathon Training Recap: Week 11

I just completed week 11 of my training and reached another milestone this week: an 18 mile long run. Going into this week knowing I had an 18 miler to complete was honestly more than a little nerve wrecking. As well as my training has been going this far, I still find myself questioning my ability to cover these distances I have never run before. I was in my head a lot during last week’s 16 mile long run and almost cut that one short because I nearly caused myself to have a panic attack. I decided to take a few minutes to pause, meditate and start my long run with strong, positive thoughts yesterday. It made all the difference. I felt fantastic the entire time and had my best run of this training cycle yet.

I’m also starting to figure out the best fueling strategy for my long runs. I’ve experimented with various things including gels, shot blocks, sports drinks, gummy candy and real food. What seems to work best for me is a combination of these. My favorites are: Nuun Energy, GU Roctane gels, and Honeystinger Organic Energy Chews Orange Blossom Flavor.

Here how the week went:

Monday – K’s Birthday! 1,039 yd recovery swim. It felt amazing to get back in the pool. I haven’t gone for a swim since my triathlon two weeks ago and really missed it which is something new for me. I used to have to really motivate to get down to the pool for swim workouts. Not anymore! Later we celebrated the grant finale of K’s birthday week. K and I have a tradition of celebrating our birthdays for the entire week prior.

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Tuesday8.3 miles. Back at the track for my weekly speed session with the SBRR group. This week’s workout was 3×1 mile + 4×400 plus warmup and cool down. Coach set the pace for the mile repeats as “goal marathon pace” with each 10 seconds faster than the previous. I’m still unsure of my exact goal marathon time since I’ve never done one before, so I’m sure I went much faster than what my “mp” realistically is, but wanted to stay with my usual group of speedsters.

Wednesday 4.6 mile stroller run. I really get happy when Wednesday rolls around because it’s my weekly easy stroller run and play time at the park after with T & C.

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Thursday8 mile HRT run. The day started out with a wake up call at 5am from my MIL that my father-in-law rushed to the emergency room with pains in his stomach after throwing up most of the night. He had colon cancer years ago and as a result now has “fake” intestines that get clogged every now and then. This episode was worse than usual, but thankfully they took care of the problem swiftly in the ER and he was back home happy and healthy the following morning. I missed my usual morning HRT run, but was able to get out later to get my run done. It was raining lightly and felt so cathartic after a stressful day.

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Friday6 mile easy-paced run w/ strides.  It was still raining so I was tempted to do this one on the treadmill, but a little rain never hurt anyone and it was really refreshing. I’m glad I decided to stick outside for this one. I really HATE the treadmill. 🙂

Saturday – 18 mile long run. I was honestly pretty nervous about this run, but it turned out to be my best long run yet. I nailed my nutrition and finished with plenty left in the tank.

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Sunday – REST DAY

All in all I’m where I need to be. Only 7 more weeks to go. I’m in full on beast mode now.

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Loving my new muscle tank from Love the Pain and stoked to now be a brand ambassador. Check them out and use code 4WVRIKL for 15% off.

Happy training!

XO

Christina

Marathon Training Recap: Week 10 + a new challenge

This past week I racked up 40 miles, which is the most I have run in 5 days ever. April is shaping up to be a record month as the mileage continues to climb this week. I’m still feeling strong and my confidence continues to grow as my long runs keep getting longer.

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Mid week easy stroller run

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16 mile long run

I ran 5 days straight ending with a 16 mile long run on Friday, my longest to date. Then I took the whole weekend off to recharge and celebrate K’s birthday. Boy did we celebrate. Pizza, ice cream, cake, cookies, donuts… You name it, we ate it.

One of my favorite bloggers Katie Hart Morse posted about doing the very same thing this weekend and feeling no guilt. She wrote about how it’s important to take a break from structure and routine and not feel guilty about it. I couldn’t agree more. It’s exactly what I needed (ok maybe minus a donut or two). I know heading into this last 8 weeks I’m more commited than ever to my training and finishing this marathon strong. Katie announced on IG that she is doing a 30 day fitness and healthy eating challenge. I’m going to join her in this challenge, making mine 55 days  since that’s how many days are left to go before the marathon.

Who else is in?

Here are a few snaps from this weekend. Aside from all the endulging, we did get outside for some fun, active adventures.

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I have a little runner on my hands!

Happy training!

XO

Christina