Monday Motivation

The week before last was pretty routine and uneventful in my running/pole fitness adventures, but I was busy with work so I didn’t get much time for an update. Last week, we hit the two month mark until the Northeast Pole Championships (NEPC), which was already nerve wracking. Pole Sport Organization (PSO) sends you the list of competitors and the category they will be competing in after the registration deadline closes. Well, it closed on Monday, September 18th and the very next day, we received an email from PSO with The List.

I feel extremely out of my league for this competition. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel just a little crushed when I saw some of the names on the list. I expected some big names, but a handful of the women that will be competing are my pole role models. I save their Instagram videos and try to copy their combos and tricks – and now I have to compete against them. I generally don’t care about what people think of me, but when I saw that list I felt like my name didn’t belong on it.

I’m not usually someone who is negative or self-doubting, so those feelings passed after a few days. I still feel like I’m way out of my league, but I’m determined to show up to NEPC with a killer routine. I HAVE a killer routine, I just have to work on cleaning it up so the execution is flawless. I know I won’t win, but my goal is to look like I belong in that division. There are 13 people in my division. To give you a glimpse of the amazing talent I get to share a stage with, here is a video of one of my competitors from when she won the pro division at APC in 2016. You might want to fast forward until about the one minute mark if you want to just see the pole tricks and not the performance stuff:

Seeing that list might have been the motivation I needed, because I felt like I was at a plateau with my routine and it just wasn’t getting any better. It still needs soooo much work, but it started to feel a LITTLE bit better last week. Training for a pole competition is so much like training for a marathon. You have days where it feels effortless. You feel light and agile and everything seems to be coming together. Then, the next day, you feel like you put on a hundred pounds,  your muscles feel like lead, and you feel like you’ve never touched a pole (or laced up a pair of running sneakers) a day in your life. The highs and lows are tremendous and much like marathon training.

I’m really struggling with the pole training aspect this time around because my routine is much more challenging (for me) than my previous routine. There are more tricks, most of them harder and it’s actually packed into a shorter amount of time. My last song was a little over four minutes, but this one is just shy of three and a half minutes long. I can’t take the same training approach to this routine or I will get injured. I was so obsessed for awhile that I realized well over a month went by and I hadn’t taken a day off of pole – on top of running six days per week. So I did what I know how to do best and what running has trained me to do. I made a spreadsheet. I translated my pole workouts it into running terms. Yep, I’m a huge nerd.

In a successful marathon training program, I wouldn’t do a track workout, tempo run, and long run back to back. That would be physically impossible for me – especially if I expected to produce results, show improvement, and complete quality workouts. In theory, this is what I’ve been doing to train for my competition. Every single day is a hard day. If I saw a marathon training plan built like this, I’d never choose it because I’d know that I would never improve and there would be a high risk for injury.

While the effort is different here, with pole being a more strength focused workout and running being more cardio focused, the theory and approach is almost the same. Your muscle groups can only take so much before you need to take it easy or rest completely. It’s harder for me to pick and choose when I do my harder days at pole since I’m at the mercy of the studio schedule (and work schedule, boo!). I can plan my rest days and ensure that I actually take one, so I’m forcing myself to take one per week. This week, my brother is getting married and I’m going to have a lot of company at my house, so it’s likely I’m taking three whole days off. Of course I’m stressing about it, but I know my body will probably respond really well to the extra rest.

So last week ended up looking a bit like this:

  • Monday – AM 4 mile run, PM pole conditioning class and competition  prep
  • Tuesday – AM 5 mile run, PM competition prep and booty class
  • Wednesday – PM Level 3 Pole class and competition prep
  • Thursday – 4 mile run and competition prep class
  • Friday – 4 mile run; OFF of pole
  • Saturday – 6 mile run, pole conditioning
  • Sunday – 5 mile run with one mile at marathon pace (6:45); competition prep

Oh yeah, side note: I decided to start slowly getting some speed back in my legs so maybe I have a shot at sub-3 in Boston or at a spring marathon (I’m eying up the Eugene Marathon, any takers?). The drive to run a fast marathon is starting to return, so lets see if my legs will agree with my head. That one marathon paced mile felt pretty good, and it was the last run of the week so my legs weren’t exactly fresh.  It’s a small victory, but it’s one mile closer than I was last week! I really hope to run a few local races around the holidays to test my speed and motivation, so this might be a step in the right direction.

Anyone interested in the Eugene Marathon? Have you ever done something where you know you are in way over your head, but decide you’re going togive it your all anyway?

 

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What I’m Working Out to Wednesday and a Week in Review!

Totally meant to publish this on Monday, but got busy and never had the opportunity. Since I’m trying to get back into a routine for the school year, I might as well start with regular weekly updates – whether it ends up being about pole, running, food, or just ramblings is yet to be determined! If you don’t care about any of it, scroll down to the bottom and check out the tune I have for you!

  • Monday 9/4 – Easy 3 miles, Pole Competition Practice
  • Tuesday 9/5 – Easy 3 miles, Pole, Booty Work Class
  •  Wednesday 9/6 – AM Conditioning, PM Pole
  • Thursday 9/7 – Easy 3 Miles, Competition Prep
  • Friday 9/8 – Easy 3 Miles, Competition Prep and Flexibility
  • Saturday 9/9- Easy 3 miles, Weekend Pole Project from Power Pole Sports (if you follow me on Instagram, you can check it out! @alliemarie83)
  • Sunday 9/10 – VIA Marathon Relay, Competition Practice

So, the only day worth really discussing in depth was Sunday! I ran my first race since I ran the Belmar 5 Miler in the beginning of July. I haven’t done any speed training since then and had low expectations for myself. As the day got closer, I realized one of my teammates expected us to be blazing fast so we could break three hours and win our division. I was a late addition to the team because I was filling in for someone who was injured and agreed to do the relay thinking it would be just for fun and didn’t realize it was super competitive. Had I known this, I probably would have not joined the team. But it was too late to back out and I’m not one to go down without a fight. I was running leg two of the relay so when my teammate came blazing through the exchange point, I took off and gave it my all.

My leg was 5.8 miles and I averaged a 6:42! My miles were pretty consistent and I felt really good. I didn’t feel like I was working at my max but I wasn’t sure when I would burn out so I ran cautiously. I was pleasantly surprised by the result considering my low key approach lately. I feel good about where I am right now pace wise, and it makes me excited to train for Boston. I got accepted into the 2018 Boston Marathon on Monday, so it was the perfect time for a little confidence booster and motivation to start building my base up again!

Our team won our division – it was the mixed masters division, which is weird because I’m only 34. But it was the average of our ages so I could be part of the team since a few of the people were well over 40 and it all averaged out fine. We ran a 2:55 marathon (collectively)! If only I could do that on my own…

Sunday was also super exciting because right after the race, I headed down to the studio. I tried a super hard trick that I’ve never attempted before because it just looked so damn hard, and got it! It’s called a Chinese Phoenix. It’s pretty sick and the video is also on Instagram.

And now, without any further rambling, I bring you a song to brighten up your Wednesday! It’s not new but I think its pretty and catchy and I like spinning on the pole to it.

Lord Huron
The Night We Met

Anyone run any races last weekend? Ever run a marathon relay?

 

What I’m Working Out to Wednesday!

Hey guys!!

Back in the spring, I tried to start writing in my blog again, but just couldn’t get back in the swing of things. I never published a recap of Boston, and left everyone hanging (once again). I think it was because my heart wasn’t really into my running, so I didn’t really know what to write. I’m feeling the urge to write again so hopefully, I can be a bit more consistent. I’ve got lots to say but not sure who will want to read it at this point. My blog has always been called “Inverted Sneakers”, and it used to be because I had a love for both yoga and running. These days, my life has been about all of the “inverted” things, and a little less about the sneakers.

I haven’t given up on running and still lace up my running shoes almost daily. I aim to get out there six days per week, and I’m happy running easy in the 5-8 mile range. The past two weeks was a little less because somehow, I managed to upset my right Achilles tendon. My best guess is that I was running easy all summer, and suddenly the temperatures dropped. It finally felt good to pick up the pace, and I busted out two back to back days of blistering paces. My achilles ached a little, so I backed off the pace in the following days. I ran with a group a few days later. We didn’t run crazy fast but it was enough to aggravate things. I was in a decent amount of pain, so I only ran four days last week, three miles each time. It’s funny – with the absence of big races in the near future, I’m not that upset about it. As long as I get out there for a few miles to get my fix, I’m good. I’m not worried about missing workouts or being unable to hit paces. I am supposed to run the VIA Marathon as part of a relay team this coming Sunday, but my leg is only 5.8 miles. I’m not going to get stressed out over it, and if I have to take it easy that day then so be it.

I’m pacing the 1:45 group at the DL Half marathon on November 5th, so that is my current “goal race”. As far as running goals go, I’d like to spend the fall running easy getting my mileage back up so that when it comes time to train for Boston, I can hit it hard. I’d like to tell you that by then, I’ll be in the right mindset to try for that sub-3 hour marathon. I just feel like it’s going to be such a big goal to tackle. I am confident that I can do it, but I know it’s going to take everything from me – mentally and physically – and I don’t know if I’m quite ready for that commitment. I think forcing it will lead to burnout so right now, I’m doing what feels good. If I feel good in November, I might sign up for some holiday races – but as of now, D&L is the only other race in the foreseeable future.

Part of the problem is that my strength training hobby, pole fitness, has become a bit more than just some cross training. If I’m being honest, it’s almost like my running is cross training for pole. I know I blogged about training for a competition last year, but I don’t think I ever wrote about the actual competition itself. Back in the beginning of April, I competed in the Atlantic Pole Championships. I competed as an amateur, but in the highest level an amateur could compete in – the Championship Division, Level 4. I had a routine that I worked on tirelessly and I knew I was more than ready to compete. On the day of the competition, I performed my routine better than any of my rehearsals. Other than a few seriously minor details (like I forgot to point a toe, etc), it was nearly flawless. I’ve never  been a dancer of any sort – as a matter of face, in high school drama club, the director could never cast me in dancing roles because I sucked THAT BADLY at dancing. Somehow, I won my division. I never shared my routine here (but if you follow me on Instagram you probably saw it):

In winning my division, I found out that if I want to compete with Pole Sport Organization (PSO) again, I have to “level up”. If you win your category, you can’t compete at the same level again – which is totally understandable – but for me, leveling up means that I now have to compete in the pro division! So, on November 18th, I will be making my debut as a professional pole dancer at the Northeast Pole Championships in Boston. Yep, you read that right. BOSTON.

Do you see the irony in this?!?! I feel like no matter what I do, Boston is always the place where big things happen in my life. Running Boston has always held such significance in my life since becoming a runner, and now I get to compete as a professional pole dancer in the same place I’ve crossed that iconic finish line over the past seven years. I don’t know, maybe I’m weird for making that connection. The promise of that race and what it holds for me brings me strength, and maybe I can remember that and draw from that strength when I stand on stage on November 18th.

As for the actual competition, I have a song. I have a routine that I spent all summer choreographing, and it’s pretty cool. It’s a LOT different from the routine I posted above, which both excites and scares me. Excites me because it’s super challenging (for me) and has SO much potential, but scares me because I really loved my last routine and in my head, I keep comparing them to each other and I want my new one to top it. I loved all of the tricks and combos I used last time, and I hope I can polish this routine and love my choreography just as much – if not more. I hope I can perform it the way I see myself performing it in my head. As of now, I can run the whole thing without stopping, but its a pretty big shit show. I have two full months, so if I could do my routine perfectly right now, that wouldn’t be ideal either.

In addition to being wrapped up in competition training, I started teaching pole classes. I teach a level 1 class every Thursday night, and it’s super fun. I have my RYT 200 for teaching yoga, but I haven’t taught in a long time. Over the summer, the owner of the pole studio went on vacation and left my sister in law and I in charge. I taught her flexibility classes in addition to pole classes, and it felt good to use my yoga certification again.

As for everything else, the new school year started two weeks ago. It’s so weird being back. This is the first time in my entire teaching career where I feel like I actually lead two lives. Running is one thing because I can hang posters of it in my classroom and if the kids ask what I did over the weekend, telling them I ran a marathon is completely acceptable. It’s not the same with pole dancing – the stigma attached to it makes unacceptable to say, “Well, I learned this really cool new pole combo…” While my Instagram is public, I don’t follow my  students and I don’t want them following me.  I am not ashamed of what I do, but it’s not something that they need to know about me. I’m sad to be back at school and sad that my summer freedom is over, and I’m really trying to figure out a way to balance doing all of the things without burning out.

That’s all for now. In the spirit of it being Wednesday, here is something that I was jamming to all summer long that you probably need on your playlist!

What’s new with you? Upcoming goals/races/etc? Any new music on your playlist that you’re loving?

2017 Boston Marathon Training, Week 12: 2/27-3/5

Seriously though. It was a rough week last week. It’s getting close to the end of the 3rd marking period at school, and that sums up my thoughts lately!

Had some really weird stomach issues last week, combined with a Saturday race. Hanson’s schedules long runs every other weekend with the option of doing one every weekend if you really want, so I opted to not do an official long run this week because of the race. I’ve been doing long runs every single weekend regardless of whether they are on the schedule, with the exception of last week because of my work trip and this week due to the race. Last year, the race and the work trip fell during the same week so it wasn’t as big of a deal. Actually, it wasn’t really a big deal this year either – I didn’t do a long run. Such is life.

Monday: AM pole competition practice + abs + MYRTLs, 10 miles easy, PM pole class
Tuesday: AM pole competition practice + abs + MYRTLs, 13 miles w/4 x 1.5 miles @ marathon pace – 10 seconds per mile (goal marathon pace is 6:45-50 someday, so I shot for 6:35. All were on pace and my last one was the fastest, averaging somewhere in the 6:20s) Highlight of the workout? I did it in shorts and a sports bra. On February 28th.


Wednesday: AM 6 miles easy, Pole Flow class, Pole Competition Practice class
Thursday: AM pole competition practice + abs + MYRTLs, 4 miles easy – was planning to do 8 but had some weird stomach issue that started Wednesday night and felt crappy after one mile so called it a day at 4 miles).
Friday: AM 6 miles easy, Abs/MYRTLS, Pole Competition Practice class – was planning on taking a rest day from running but I felt better when I woke up, so I went to the gym to do the remaining 4 miles of my Thursday run. I had a pretty good playlist going on Spotify and I was actually early for once in my life so I did 6 instead. My outfit for my pole competition shipped!!! I will at least give you a glimpse of it:

It should officially be here soon!!
Saturday: Quakertown 10 Miler (14 miles total with w/u and c/d), Abs/MYRTLs, Pole Competition practice
Didn’t run a PR but this happened:

I’ll get a race report out soon! I celebrated by going to dinner with friends to a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try, Grain. I ate the best Chicken and Waffles I’ve ever had. Actually, I think it’s the only chicken and waffles I’ve ever had.

Sunday: 9 miles easy, Abs/MYRTLS, Pole Competition Practice
Had to do something, because it was my birthday and I knew I wanted to eat as much of this as possible:

My speedy friend, Cassie, is a pastry chef and she made me my cake. I loved it. She is so talented!

= 62 miles

Overall, it was a really good week. I really think I was fighting off a stomach bug or something because from Wednesday night through about Sunday, my stomach felt terrible! I’m hoping I kept it at bay and that I’m past it now.

Did you ever eat chicken and waffles? What was the best birthday cake you’ve ever had? 

♥♥♥

February: That Time I Remembered that I Actually Like Running

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I didn’t track too much of anything mileage wise in the month of February. Since I really started my training for Boston after the holidays, I can tell you that I’ve put in the miles and the effort but if you want to know mileage totals and paces…maybe stay tuned for next month. I had a rough time in January because it just felt so hard, but February was a turning point.

  1. I ran my first race since July and didn’t die.
  2. Running/training became a habit again, rather than a chore.
  3. My tempo runs started feeling less like an activity designed to inflict endless torture/frustration, and more like a solid workout.
  4. I used the treadmill entirely too much earlier in the month, but I got to finish the month running in shorts and a sports bra. In February. In Northeastern PA. Shorts. Sports bra.
  5. I got back on track with being Paleo-ish and got close to my racing weight again.

I run the Super Bowl Sunday 10K every year. this year, it fell on February 5th. I was just getting my legs back and didn’t think I could come close to the time I ran last year, which is my 10K PR. My good friend, Kathy, and her husband Darin were also running. Darin told Kathy that he wanted to beat us at the race. He even sent me a screenshot of his Strava with proof that he was averaging 6:50 pace for his own 10K time trial. I was shit talking right back, although I knew the reality of my fitness at this point. It’s a pretty hilly course, and I’m not much of a 10K runner, so I knew my PR was somewhere in the 41 minute range – only slightly faster than what he was averaging on his training runs.

My personal goal was the same as last year’s goal. Run this as a tempo run (especially good use of this race since it’s hilly and I tend to stick to flats for tempos) and average goal marathon pace, 6:45-6:50/mile. I also wanted to beat Darin, but I wasn’t willing to go out too fast and blow the workout. The race began, and I felt fantastic. I ran comfortable and relaxed, and I didn’t work too much harder than I had to. I ended up averaging 6:41/mile and running 41:34 – four seconds slower than my 10K PR. If I’d known I was that close, I would have picked it up. I’m not disappointed because I never expected to come close to a PR, let alone feel that good. Kathy finished a few seconds behind me (41:46) and Darin finished a few minutes after us 🙂 🙂 43:41! He ran a great race, but it was even better since we were able to remind him about how we beat him.

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(Darin is in black, and his twin brother, Derrek, is the one in blue!)

Since last spring ended and I got burned out, I was having trouble getting out the door to run regularly. I would find excuses not to go or to just do it another day. I kept remembering how last year it didn’t matter what the situation was – I got the run done. It was like I was on autopilot. There were weeks where my shortest run was 10 miles and I never once thought, “ugh, can I just do this another day?” Once I got back on the training horse in January, I had that thought that every single time I laced up my running shoes. The week after the 10K, that changed. I was getting ready to do a tempo run. As I headed over to the trail I use for those workouts, it dawned on me that I wasn’t thinking about the tough workout ahead, or trying to figure out a way to push it off. I finally felt like I was on autopilot again. Even yesterday, when I was leaving work and totally exhausted and had a long strength/track workout to do, I just got out of my car and did it, no hesitation. I like that feeling. I missed that feeling.

Another January/February habit I developed was using the treadmill (or should I say, overusing). I started to become a real baby about going outside. We’ve had pretty much the mildest winter of my existence, and somehow I found reasons to not run outside. We got one snowstorm, so there was that – but I always found a way to say it was too cold, too windy, too cloudy, too whatever. In January and the beginning of February, I think I ran more miles on a treadmill than I’ve ever run on a treadmill. I just went with it. If it was the thing that got me motivated to run again, great.

While I don’t like to use a treadmill often, I think I relied on it because I felt like I could control my pace and force my body into working harder than I wanted (dumb idea, I’m sure). This was especially helpful with the tempo runs. I had a rough time getting started with these. I couldn’t even touch the goal pace from last year, let alone try to go faster. I found if I used the treadmill, I would at least do it and not stop – because God forbid I accidentally reset the treadmill before it hit the one hour mark. It would be like the run never happened. This past week, not only did I do my tempo run on a different trail, but it was at a different time since I had to rearrange my schedule to accommodate a work trip. It was outside, and it was my best one yet. Ahhh, finally. I think making myself force the pace on the treadmill helped get my confidence and speed back (probably not the smartest strategy, but whatever).

I gained a few pounds over the holidays (as usual, but not as much as last year) and started to get closer to my racing weight again, which feels great. I spent a lot of time training for my upcoming pole competition (Atlantic Pole Championships in DC on 4/2!) both at the pole studio and on my home pole, but that’s all I’ll say about that for now 🙂 By the time I do a March recap, I will be able to share much more about that experience because the competition will be over! But here is a picture of my new pole in my spare bedroom (we haven’t renovated that section of the house yet so it looks a little scary):

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Other fun, non-fitness related things…I got my orchid new to bloom! I bought this little guy in July and I’ve never had any luck with orchids ever in my life:

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My husband and I cook Valentine’s dinner together every year, and this year was wonderful:

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Homemade crab cakes (I need to get that recipe out because they were freaking amazing), homemade tarter sauce, homemade mashed potatoes and seared strip steaks, asparagus, and homemade chocolate creme brulee with homemade creme anglaise. I usually do all of the cooking around our house but I love when we do a meal together, and we usually do this for Valentine’s Day. So fun.

We also finished our pantry, which is an addition off of our new kitchen! So much room for activities!!!!

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How was your month? Do you ever feel like you’re on autopilot with running?

2017 Boston Marathon Training, Week 11: 2/20-2/26

(I swear weeks 1-10 happened.)

These weekly workout posts used to get a little lengthy, so I’m going to give you the abridged version this time around since basically, I’m doing what I did last year. Except instead of a color coded spreadsheet where I have everything carefully planned and then logged post workout, I just carry my Hansons Bible around and whip it out when I can’t remember what I’m supposed to be doing. Instead of worrying about, “am I running more miles than I ran last week?” I focus on running the minimum mileage on my easy days and only tack on miles if I want to, not because I feel like I have to.

This week was GREAT because of the six times I ran, five of those times WERE IN SHORTS. OUTSIDE. I live in Northeastern PA. Is this real life? It was also good because I had Monday off of work for Presidents’ Day, but challenging because I chaperoned a three day trip to Hershey. I do this every year and I’m able to get a decent number of miles in but can’t count on getting pace specific workouts in. There’s a great trail right by the hotel that I can log some long miles on if the kiddos aren’t too needy:

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Monday – 10 miles, easy + pole competition training/core/MYRTLS
Tuesday – 14 miles, Track/Strength – 6×1 mile at marathon pace -10 seconds/mile + pole competition training/core/MYRTLS: Although I don’t think sub-3 is in the cards this season, I’ve been using about a 6:45-6:50 pace as my “marathon pace”, so the goal here was to hit 6:35-6:40 for these. I can’t remember what each mile was, but I remember that I kept them all under 6:35 (because I am a head case). I did a 3 mile warm up, 6×1 mile with 400 recoveries, and 3.5 mile cool down on the Saucon Trail. I felt pretty great until the last mile, when I really wanted the steak I had waiting for me in my fridge at home.
Wednesday – 6 miles am + core/MYRTLs & 5 miles pm, easy pace: I don’t usually do two-a-days but I ran before we left for the conference and when we got there and got settled, I had about two hours to kill so one of my co-workers and I hit up the trail for an easy run.
Thursday – 10 miles, easy
Friday – Rest day! I always schedule the final day of this conference as a rest day. Lack of sleep from chaperoning 172 kids for three days + travel day = no bueno. I did eat an entire bag of BIRTHDAY CAKE HERSHEY KISSES though! Did you guys know that was a thing? They taste like Funfetti icing and I’m pretty sure I’ve never been happier.
Saturday – 6 miles, easy + pole competition training/core/MYRTLS
Sunday – 14 miles w/8 @ marathon pace + pole competition training/core/MYRTLS: 
No long run this week so I saved my tempo run for Sunday. It was a good call. Felt great, shot for the 6:45-6:50 range. No idea what every single mile split was but I know that my slowest one was 6:51 and my fastest one was 6:27. This was the first week that my tempo run felt like it should feel. Thank GOD because I was really starting to think my legs forgot about tempo runs.

= 65 Miles 

I got some new kicks on Monday – first running shoes I’ve purchased since JULY. My shoes all but had holes worn through the soles. Partially because I was on vacation from running for so long, partially because I forgot to buy new ones, and partially because I was lost since Brooks discontinued my beloved Pure Connects. HATED the Pure Flow 5, was trudging along in the Launch for most of my runs and the Hyperion for track/tempo runs. Launch just feels like too much shoe for all of the time, and the Hyperion is a glorified racing flat so not very comfortable. BUT THEN THE PURE FLOW 6 HAPPENED.

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It was love at first run. If you were in the same predicament as me…get these on your feet yesterday. LOVE THEM.

In the world of farmhouse renovations, we are currently finishing up an addition off our kitchen that includes a laundry room, and my husband laid the tile while I was away. We went with cement tiles through a company called Lili Tile – their Instagram is ridiculous and a gorgeous addition to your feed if you like to drool over home renovations like I do. It’s not grouted yet, and literally took this after he laid the final tile so it isn’t even clean, but I can’t even handle how much I love it:

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Everything in my house is very monochromatic and plain – lots of gray and white everywhere – so choosing a pattern was huge for me. The patina of cement tile is to die for. I will take some more pictures after it is cleaned, sealed and grouted but OMG YOU GUYS.

How was your week? What shoes are you currently running in? What’s the longest you ever went without buying new running shoes?

♥ ♥ ♥

If miles were run but they weren’t blogged about, did they actually happen?

Hello!!!!!

I didn’t really know how to start this post. Just diving right in seemed kind of lame. Like oh hey guys, sooooo, this is what I did last week…and the past eight months…

Yesterday, I posted a picture of my new running kicks, and I was overwhelmed by some comments and messages I received from some of you who missed hearing from me. It truly warmed my heart and motivated me to get a post out there. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write – I have – but I just didn’t know what to say. First of all, I am really really really sorry I left you all hanging! That was pretty shitty of me.

Usually when you get radio silence from me, it’s because I’m injured and pissed off. This is not exactly the case this time. I came off of my Kentucky race on a HUGE high. I thought I was “recovering well” because I took like a week off and then started running some “easy, low, mileage”. I signed up for “just a few short distance, local races” and jumped almost immediately back into round two of Hansons in June. A month away from structured training was enough, right?

Looking back, the months that followed don’t surprise me in the slightest. I spent two years chasing a marathon PR and doing whatever I needed to do to make it happen. I suffered through countless injuries and heartbreak. I hired a coach, and then I stopped working with him when I got slower. I tried my hand at writing my own training plan before finally finding my jam with Hansons, which was an integral part of my success last year. It not only taught me to push limits and run harder than I ever have before, but it taught me to back off and understand what it truly means to run easy. This lesson alone has become invaluable to me this time around.

The catalyst for this whole hiatus was in early July. I ran the Belmar 5 Mile, and ran a PR for the distance (I had to look it up, 32:04) but I could have run it much faster. I felt outstanding, but my stupid calf cramped. If you’ve followed my blog for long enough, you’ll know that I’ve battled calf strains before and it never usually ends well. Luckily, a cramp was as far as it went physically, but it triggered some serious mental burnout.

For the first time in who knows how long, I started skipping runs. It was too hot, too hilly, too fast, too early, too late, too busy, too <insert any excuse here>. School started and I was in a wedding in the middle of September. I didn’t feel like juggling it all, so I just…didn’t.  I wasn’t logging zero mile weeks, but it was a big milestone if I racked up over 20 miles in any given week. Coming off of 85 mile weeks at the end of my previous cycle, this felt strange…and really, really nice. I didn’t miss it, even when all of my friends started posting about their fall races all over social media. I was hitting the pole studio almost every single day, so between running intermittently and frequent strength training, I felt good.

In the beginning of October, it dawned on me that I was scheduled to pace a 1:45 half marathon in early November. I spent the month of October “training” for this – running 3-5 miles a few days during the week, and a long run on the weekends. Race day came, I got the job done and had a blast. I went right back to my newfound slacker ways the next day, even though my intentions were to start ramping up my mileage in preparation for Boston training. As the weeks of minimal mileage passed by, I wondered if I would ever feel like training for a race again. The excuses to not run continued to pile up – including a bout with strep throat over Christmas week. I want to say I felt worried about my lack of running, but really I was more worried about my lack of interest in it.

But then, something happened. I still don’t know what it was. One morning, I packed my gym bag with running clothes, and somehow packed my lunch box full of healthy food, and it began. I don’t know what shifted my mentality, but since January 2nd, I’ve been “back”.

At first, it was a struggle. Every mile hurt. Every workout hurt even more. I took the focus off my pace and just focused on getting my endurance back. I started following the Hanson’s Advanced plan, but I’ve been much more casual about it. I don’t skip runs, but I’m not as neurotic as I was last year. I couldn’t tell you how many miles I ran last week – I haven’t been tallying them. I couldn’t tell you exact times from my mile repeats from last week, but last year I knew each one by heart, down to the second. I’ve been following it, taking it one day at a time. One mile at a time. One step at a time. And you know what? It seems like it’s working. I ran a 10K a few weeks ago and my time was almost exactly the same as last year (four seconds off), but I know I felt way better than I felt running that same race last year.

As far as my goal for Boston…well, of COURSE I want to nail a sub-3 marathon. Physically, my legs feel fresh and rested but my extended vacation from running left my endurance a bit shot. I mostly feel that my relaxed mentality towards my training means expecting to run a sub-3 marathon is both unrealistic and undeserved. People pour their heart, soul, sweat and tears into achieving this feat – the way I poured myself into my training last year. Physically, I am going through the motions but mentally, I haven’t been gearing up for such a big hurdle. My primary goal for Boston will be to run a PR for the course (sub 3:11), should all of the stars align that day.

So what else? In terms of our farmhouse renovations, we finished our kitchen and just finished our new pantry, and are almost finished with the laundry room. It’s been an exciting project, and having a new kitchen means I’ve been spending lots of time cooking. I’m back to my Paleo-ish ways for now, but I’ve incorporated some carbs (particularly since my recent obsession with homemade sourdough everything).

I got my very own pole for Christmas (you had to see that one coming from a mile away) and I’m currently training for the Atlantic Pole Championships. I will be competing in the “Championship Level 4 Senior Category” (apparently, being 33 is old in pole dancer years!). It’s the highest category you can compete in without competing in the professional division, which scares the absolute SHIT out of me. Compared to the little local pole-athon I participated in last year, this is a pretty big deal. My sister in laws are competing together in the doubles category. The competition is in DC on April 1-2. I compete on April 2nd! So, you know. 15 days before Boston. (What the actual fuck was I thinking.)

I probably won’t post too much on here about the competition until after it’s over because I don’t want to post too much about my routine (do you sense my competitive nature?). But I will tell you that I LOVE my song, and love what I’ve choreographed. The problem now is actually getting through the whole thing without stopping. The struggle is so real.  I am really excited, and I truly hope I can do it well because it is something that I’m really proud of and excited to share.

Sooooo…what about you guys? How are you? What are you training for?! Update me on your lives!!! I missed you!