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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Foodie Friday: Whole 30 Ramblings

When I was posting regularly, I used to try to post something about food on Fridays – recipes, or for awhile I was obsessed with those meal delivery services and reviewed a bunch of those. My most recent food obsession? Whole 30.

I’ve been “paleo-ish” for the past few years, and it seems to work really well for me. The “ish” comes from the part of the week where I still mow like four slices of pizza on Friday nights and eat ice cream on the weekends. I like how I feel and look when I do the Paleo thing, but let’s be real: life is too short to completely cut out pizza. And ice cream. And icing. And fries. (I think I might actually be a twelve year old trapped inside the body of a 34 year old). Besides, I’ve never really been one for labels so I’m certainly not about to label my diet.

After the Atlantic Pole Championships and Boston last year, I “opened the trap”. Meaning I spent the rest of April and all of May living on junk food- specifically icing (so many work parties with cake, so little time) – and whatever else I could get my hands on. The real low point for me was the last day of school. I host a party each year that my friends and I affectionally call “Teacherpalooza”, and last year was a rough school year. I drank all of the drinks and like any classy woman would do, I ended up puking in the arborvitaes that line my driveway (I know better than to mix all of the alcohols but I just couldn’t contain my excitement that the year was finally OVER). I woke up the next day and was ready for a reset. Enter Whole 30.

There are lots of little rules, but the basis behind Whole 30 is that you cut out all sugar, dairy,  alcohol and anything processed for 30 days. Even though my end of the school year shenanigans would lead you to believe that I regularly enjoy adult beverages, I don’t drink that often. So the no alcohol thing was the least of my worries. I have a big sweet tooth and the no sugar thing seemed insane. I love my pizza Fridays and all of the cheese on everything so no dairy? Eeek.

I went to Whole Foods to try to find things I could eat. Even going to Whole Foods proved to be challenging – I learned just how many things have sugar in them – including bacon, mayo, etc. I mean, I knew these things before but when you are Paleo, you can eat things like coconut sugar and maple syrup and honey so you sort of forget. But I was determined to give this a shot and detox myself from the diet of sugar and grease that I’d adopted over the past month.

After the first week, I realized I didn’t crave anything. At first, I would have probably killed for a brownie or some goat cheese, or a slice of pizza. But once I had a full week down, I was determined to last the entire 30 days and see how it went. I went to parties (including the Fourth of July) and didn’t cheat. I didn’t go out to eat too often for lack of options, but when I did, I stayed true to the plan.

At the end, I was actually super sad it was over! I really only lost about two or three pounds doing it, but I LOVED how I felt. I had so much energy, and I didn’t crave sugar. I learned how to perfectly poach an egg without any special tools, and I found out that unsweetened, dried organic mangos might be better than candy (well…that might be taking things too far). Homemade may is super easy, and I could probably eat it right out of the mason jar with a spoon – and I don’t like regular mayo. Ghee is easy to make and is basically brown butter, but with the milk solids removed. I could probably put that on just about anything (also would be great on a spoon). I found out that grain free granola and hot cereal is a thing (Wildway is an amazing brand!). I absolutely LOVE EGGPLANT in any capacity, and here I thought I only liked Eggplant Parm and my Eggplant Lasagna.

When it was all over, I decided that I would stick with the Whole 30 thing from Monday-Friday, and cheat on the weekends. Well, Monday-Friday afternoons. One thing I never stopped missing the entire time was my Friday night pizza fix. I have to say, this absolutely works for me and has really helped to control my sweet tooth. I’m running half what I was when I was training for Boston, but somehow hit my target race weight (after the strict 30 days was over, not during) – and I wasn’t even tracking much in Fitness Pal like I did religiously for years! It’s funny because with pole becoming my primary exercise, I think my goal race weight looks totally different on my frame.

My first round of Whole 30 ended back in July, and I have been able to maintain my diet and weight since then. I plan to do another full round with no cheating after the holidays, another time of year where I like to “open up the trap”. It was a huge commitment to stick to the plan without cheating, and I liked the challenge. I still see the benefits by applying the rules to my diet during the week and letting loose on the weekends. And really, doing that way is really my style – now I can say I’m “Whole 30-ish”.

Have you ever done a round of Whole 30? Do you ever “open the trap”? What’s your junk food weakness?

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?

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!

Foodie Friday: Paleo Perfected Conquests

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I mentioned in my monthly wrap up that I found this gem at the grocery store checkout, and didn’t think twice about purchasing it. Cook’s Illustrated is my absolute favorite resource for all things food related. Their cookbooks are more like textbooks, and the test kitchen chefs try hundreds of versions of each recipe before coming up with their own, perfected version. I enjoy reading about the process and the methods they use to design their recipes.

My goal is to cook every single meal in this magazine in order to continue to develop my paleo cooking skills. I’ve mentioned before that I like to call myself “paleo-ish”. About 90% of my week (when I’m not cheating, like last week!) is paleo, with the other 10% is the “ish”. I can’t get down with subscribing to just one dietary label, for starters. I believe everything is good for you in moderation. I truly love paleo foods, so I don’t have a hard time following the lifestyle. But I still love my pizza, so there’s that. I feel better in general and have lots of energy when I’m on the paleo wagon, and it works for me.

This week, I tried the following recipes:

Garlicky Roasted Shrimp with Anise

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I love anise, my husband doesn’t. It tastes a lot like licorice or fennel, but anise isn’t fennel – anise and fennel come from different plants. In this recipe, you butterfly the shrimp and make a brine. While it’s soaking in the brine, you create a mixture of ghee (clarified butter, but I just use Kerrygold butter since it comes from grass fed cows), extra virgin olive oil, garlic (six cloves, YAS!), anise seeds, red pepper flakes, pepper, and fresh parsley. After draining and patting the shrimp dry, you coat the shrimp with the butter/spice mixture, and broil on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.

It’s a super easy recipe, and has a ton of flavor. I used shrimp that was already peeled and deveined, but they recommend leaving the shell on. I love red pepper and thought that it was a little overpowering, so next time I’d adjust that slightly. I’d also consider serving this over a salad. I was boring and just made some roasted sweet potatoes, and really could have used another veggie on the side. But lazy. My husband loved it and had no idea that the delicious flavor he tasted was, in fact, anise.

Stir-Fried Sesame Pork and Eggplant

imageEveryone always says stir fry is soooo easy, one pot meal, blah blah blah. I do agree that it’s easy, but it makes a freaking mess! There was lots of chopping for this one (which I enjoy) but I was a little hangry when I was cooking so it seemed to take forever. In reality, it probably took me 35 minutes to get this on the table, which is totally fine.

It called for toasted sesame oil, which I thought I had – but I was out and just used plain old sesame oil. This dish was fabulous anyway, so I suspect it would have a richer flavor if I had the correct oil. Toasted sesame oil has such a bold, distinct flavor. Next time I make this, I’ll make sure I’m less hungry and have my pantry stocked with the correct ingredients. I LOVE eggplant but hardly ever make it. As an italian, I often think the only use for eggplant is to make something with lots of cheese, breading, and tomato sauce. This was a delicious use for a fabulous veggie.

Leek and Prosciutto Frittata 

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There’s a breakfast chapter at the end of this magazine, and I’ve been eating pumpkin custard for like the past three months. I was ready to switch it up, and this was perfect. I love leeks and prosciutto, and I love eggs for breakfast. I was concerned that the lack of cheese would make me dislike this, but nope. It was excellent, and really easy to make. It makes six servings, so I was able to put the leftovers in the fridge for a quick breakfast the rest of the week.

Latin-Style Chicken and Cauliflower Rice

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I like all of the ingredients in this dish individually, but normally I’d pass on a recipe that uses them all together. But I want to try all of the recipes, and this looked like a simple, one pot meal. It was easy, but it also required a lot of chopping/prepping. I wasn’t as hangry, so it was fine.

I’ve made cauliflower rice many times before, but this had a little twist – after searing the chicken, cooking the onion, blooming the aromatics (garlic, oregano, smoked paprika, cayenne, tomato paste), cooking the “rice” and finishing the chicken, you add chopped tomatoes and green olives. I LOVE green olives but would never think to mix them in with cauliflower rice on their own. It gets finished off with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. My husband hates cilantro, and I love it. This recipe was great since you add it at the end, so I just didn’t add any to his. This dish was bursting with flavor, the chicken was cooked perfectly.

These are all recipes I would absolutely make again. I already have my eye on a few dishes for next week that I’d like to try. It’s nice to have a little extra time to cook at night and try new recipes – it’s the perfect way to spend my recovery!

Do you enjoy cooking? Have you tried any new recipes lately? 

Just Move

trail_raceSometimes, the hardest part of running a marathon comes after the race. This is especially true if the race went the way you’d hoped. You’re partially on a high from the experience, but you’re also in this weird place. You need to recover and will likely lose a bit of fitness in the process. It leaves you wondering if you’re ever going to be able to repeat that performance again – let alone top it. If it didn’t go your way, some part of your existence was devoted to marathon training for the past few months, so it’s almost like losing part of your identity.

In the past, this post- marathon phase was a tough pill for me to swallow. Two years ago, when I ran my previous PR, I jumped right back into training. How could I take a break and lose fitness? I was going to run another PR in the fall and run a sub-3 hour marathon. I didn’t have time for rest. My heart and mind were on board, but my body rebelled. The cycle continued over the past two years and I got the same exact result, time and time again. Further from my PR, injured, and frustrated. Finally, in November after my rough day in Indianapolis, I’d had enough. I took a bunch of time off, came back refreshed and finally capable of chipping away at my PR. So this time around, I don’t feel like I’m losing part of my identity at all.

I never truly embraced recovery before, and some may argue that I still don’t. I started running again this past week. I’m still frequenting the pole fitness studio. I’m incorporating easy strength training and got back on the MYRTL train to avoid future injuries. I’d argue that it’s different from what I did over the past training block. It’s active recovery, and it’s all on my own terms.

I’m not beating up my legs Hansons-style, and I’m only doing whatever I feel like doing. But I am doing something. I can’t help it – I’m not one for sitting still. Sure, I can camp out on my couch for days like a boss and set some serious PRs in a Netflix Marathon, but I don’t feel good after doing that. I did a lot of that from November through the beginning of January. When I started training again, I was miserable. I treated my body like shit, therefore I felt like shit when I got back “on the wagon”. This time around, I’m not following any kind of schedule but I am embracing “movement”. I’ve vowed to do something everyday, but it doesn’t matter what it is. I’ve decided that my theme for May is to “just move”. I can decide what that means everyday. No solid plans.

In the midst of active recovery, copious amounts of cooking, and couch time, I also began planning. I don’t think too much about fall races until my spring season has ended, but I have a good idea how I want things to go down. When I began my 50 state conquest, I started with small goals. Make it to double digits – check. Make it halfway – check. My latest conquest is to check off all states east of the Mississippi River. That means I’m looking for marathons in Wisconsin, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida.

I’ve weighed a bunch of options, and I’ve come up with a rough schedule. There are lots of shorter distance races planned as part of my training, but as for the marathons…the Southernmost Marathon in Key West in early October, followed by the Madison Marathon in Wisconsin in November! It’s still in the planning phases and I’ve got to make all of the necessary travel plans – but it’s looking like I’ll hopefully be checking off those two states next. Anyone interested in joining me? I’m traveling with my mom to Key West (we plan to visit some family in Ft. Lauderdale while we are down south) and with my friend/training partner, Kathy, for Wisconsin.somokw-logo-copy

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In the meantime, I do have a few late spring/early summer races on my schedule. First up is next weekend – but it’s a trail race! It’s the Jacobsburg 10 Miler. I’ve never run it before and I’m excited because I truly enjoy trail racing. I’ve stayed off the more technical trails (like the game preserve that I love dearly) to avoid falling, but now I’m ready to get out there again. I love trail running for building strength, and I run a few low key trail races each year.

I’m going into this race with a “race for fun” mindset. I really just want to get out there and run the trail. A friend asked me to do this race with her and I couldn’t say no. She ran her first race last summer before her wedding and loved it (the Race Street Run, remember that one?). On her honeymoon in Costa Rica, she was white water rafting and a tree fell on the raft (real life) resulting in a fracture in her tibia – which was the easy part of the injury. The blow caused compartment syndrome in her leg and she needed a double fasciotomy (literally sliced her leg open on both sides) to relieve the pressure. She could have lost her leg.

This happened in August, and the entire fall was a very difficult time for her. She started out in a wheelchair, then crutches, then one crutch – until she could walk slowly with no assistance. She returned to the gym in late fall, and began running again this spring. She ran six miles (the furthest she’s ever run – even before the accident) and wanted to do this race. There’s a five mile and ten mile option – she chose the five mile. She asked if I would do the race, so of course I signed up. I always wanted to run at Jacobsburg but don’t know the trails, so figured this would be a good way for me to explore. I’m not the best trail runner and this race is about my friend overcoming a significant injury and moving on. I’m looking forward to the change of pace!

What’s up next for you? Who’s recovering from a race right now?

Goodbye April, Hello Recovery!

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  1. Total run miles for April: 207
  2. Miles run, year to date: 1000.3
  3. Number of races in April: 5 (wtf)
  4. Longest run in April: 26.42 miles (too much weaving in Boston)
  5. Highest volume week in April: 58.1 miles

My mileage was almost 100 miles less in April due to tapering, racing and recovering. I was excited that I crested the 200 mile mark at all, and I’m on track to meet my goal of 2,500 miles for the year. I need to be at 1,250 in June. I expect to have a low volume month for May, but to start increasing mileage again in June. My mileage wasn’t as high in April as it was the over the past few months, but this month might go down as my best month of racing ever. I raced (or paced) every single weekend during this month. It began with winning a 10 mile road race, and ended with winning a marathon. I don’t think I could ever top that.

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Just like the past few months, I can truly say that each and every mile brought me a lot of joy. There were a lot of huge breakthroughs for me this month. The biggest breakthrough was running a marathon PR: a target I kept shooting for, but missed for the past two years.

While it goes down as one of the best months ever, April was a funny month for running. We had everything from snowy winter weather, to almost summer temps. The first week, I ran a 10 mile road race in the pouring rain. It was a minute off of my PR from March, but I won the race and ran on effort. It was a huge confidence boost just a few weeks out from Boston. The following week was spent pacing a half marathon in a snowstorm. It was my first time ever pacing the 1:40 group and I was nervous with the weather conditions, but it went really well and I enjoyed pacing that time. When Boston finally rolled around, it was way too warm. It resulted in a course PR, but still not the 3:05 goal I’d set for myself.

The Sunday following Boston, I paced the St. Luke’s half marathon. The weather was ideal, and I got to pace the 1:45 group. I really enjoyed pacing 1:40, but 1:45 is my favorite time to pace. St. Luke’s was my first ever race, so it makes me happy to be able to pace it and give back to the running community.

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I spent the week after St. Luke’s running easy miles in preparation of my final marathon of the season. I’m not going to lie – I felt a little burned out and was ready for some recovery. I didn’t look at my calendar closely enough when I was committing to these events and didn’t realize how close they all were to each other.

It was a rainy day in Kentucky, but I finally did it. After two years of trying everything I could possibly think of and failing, I broke my PR. I ran a 3:02:19 at the Kentucky Derby Marathon, and I was the first overall female! It was one of my most favorite days to be a runner, ever. Not just because winning a marathon felt pretty freaking cool. I poured my everything into training for the past two years and I finally had my day. I am still on such a high from that moment.

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With the racing/tapering/carb loading, I gained about two pounds back of the 13 I’d lost. I anticipated gaining a few pounds back over these past few weeks, and I felt really good racing at the weight I got down to. I also realized how much better I feel when I eat a certain way. I really love junk food, but over the past few months I’ve learned that I might like feeling better more. It’s a lot easier for me to have a cheat day, but get right back on track the next day. Moving forward through my recovery, I will certainly be more relaxed about my diet but I plan to continue my eating habits. It’s not even really a question anymore – it’s become my lifestyle. That was my ultimate goal from the start of that conquest.

Moving into May, I plan on still running easy miles but I’m giving myself some “rules”. Nothing over 10 miles, and no speed. Maybe I’ll pick up the pace towards the end of the month to get my legs moving, but there will be no track workouts or pace specific work until June. I’d like to get back on some real trails to do some trail running, and I’m eyeing up a trail race in late May. Mostly, I don’t want my focus to be on running. I want to spend a lot of time in the pole studio and work on strength. My pole competition is on May 21st, so I have the rest of this month to prepare for it.

In the pole world, I didn’t learn many new moves since I’m still preparing for the competition. Busting up my big toe right before Boston scared me a lot little, so I’ve been a little more intimidated of pole class. And rightfully so – it is a dangerous sport, and while I’ve benefited so much from building up that kind of strength, I also have to be mindful of the consequences. I’m not planning to back off or stop doing it, but I don’t have quite the fearless attitude I’ve had since I began the sport.

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I continued my ❤️ StrongBody Streak through April, but I did take a few days off surrounding Boston and Kentucky. I can see a huge difference with just a little bit of strength training. Although I plan to be relaxed with running throughout May, I will be focusing on strength training. Without racing, I can do actual “leg” days with weights and build some additional strength and balance.

Moving forward to May, I have a few goals – but mostly recovery goals!

  • Strength training – stick with my 15 minutes each day. Keep the emphasis on core/hips/glutes, but really pay some extra attention to legs now that my mileage and intensity will ease up.
  • Diet: Keep up the healthy eating, and cook every single recipe in this:
    imageCook’s Illustrated is my most favorite cooking resource. Their cookbooks are like textbooks. They don’t cater to any diet or lifestyle, so if I wanted to make a “paleo” version of their recipes, I end up tweaking it on my own. They came out with a magazine full of 73 Paleo recipes, and I almost passed out from excitement when I saw it at the checkout line in the grocery store. The authors realize that there are different definitions of Paleo, so they designed the recipes by adhering to the most strict paleo guidelines they could find. It might take me the whole summer, but I want to cook my way through it, cover to cover.
  • Pole Fitness: Compete in my first pole competition!
  • Cross Training: I want to get on my bike and get to some yoga classes this month. Maybe, if I get really motivated, I’ll get back in the pool.
  • Instagram some more fun pictures as the weather gets nicer!

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How was your month? Any goals for May?