Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Marathon Training

   A few weeks ago I decided that I may upgrade to the full marathon on August 8th. Since then I've been training as such. I know that some folks are worried that I could be in way over my head (and perhaps I am). I have looked back over the last few months of workouts though and I feel fairly confident that I can finish a marathon. Please take note that I mention nothing of a pace goal.
   Last week between running and mountain hiking I tackled over 60 miles.
At the top of Mt. Verstovia with some #runsitka friends.
This included a 21 mile long run
I may have borrowed this photo from Susea who completed her 1st ever 20-miler. Woot!
    My body is tired. That's okay, it should be. My mind is focused though. On Sunday (the day after my long run) my friend Amanda convinced me to go for a shakeout run. I was thankful for her encouragement. I jumped in and ran 2.6 miles with her. The legs felt surprisingly decent. I was half expecting to start running and then face plant a few strides in. It was nice to run, chat, and catch up with Amanda. I can hardly believe we'll be heading to Kansas City together in about 14 weeks to run a marathon. EEK!
   Yesterday I was downright exhausted. I have had a lot of house guests this summer and I think all the running and all the guests finally caught up to me. I will NOT do that to myself next summer. It has been fun but I realize now that it's hard on me and Joe to have to share our space for extended periods of time. I am happy we'll have the house to ourselves for three whole weeks. We should be well-rested for our final summer visitors. So yesterday..... I slept. I slept a lot.
    When I finally awoke from my slumber I complained of having no motivation to workout. I was a bit taken aback when Joe appeared downstairs in workout clothes and asked me to run with him. He is not a fan of running and it meant a lot to me. So off we ran together. I needed to run 5 miles and I ran just 3.....but at least I ran.
    Today I'm hoping to knock out 7-8 miles between running solo and the #runsitka group run. I am less than 4 weeks out from marathon day and I need to hunker down and get 'er done. I am also trying to be mindful though that I am running the Alpine Adventure Run on Saturday. It's a treacherous 7 mile mountain run that will take me at least 2 hours to complete. Last year I ran it on fresh legs. This year I'll be running it on very tired legs.  So we'll see what happens. I'm sure I'll be moving more slowly since it's not my goal race.
     My plan this week is to complete the rest of my scheduled workouts. To run the race and maybe do a few chill miles after. To mentally begin prepping for my 26.2 mile run. To begin to feel out what pace I should realistically shoot for on race day. The route is a two looper. I hope to not have flashbacks to the Hyannis Marathon. The goal is to FINISH but I don't want to start out too fast on accident....so I need to find a pace to stick with. I also need to figure out how I will be a good tour guide to my friends while still resting my legs for the marathon that weekend. Hmmm....
      It's been awhile since I ran a marathon....can I still do it? Will I be able to complete it? I sure hope so. No matter how much I run, I still respect the distance. A lot can happen in 26.2 miles and I hope I'm ready for it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


I have never had to DNS (that means "Did Not Start") a race.
I am sad to say that I will be DNS'ing my 50k in August. Gahhhh!
Excuse me if this post reads a bit disjointed, but here goes.

    Last month...
my lower right leg started hurting. I greatly feared it was a stress fracture. I ended up taking several weeks off of running. Thankfully it was not a stress fracture. However it was very painful and resting was necessary. Due to the injury I ended up missing far too many essential workouts. I feel I will not be prepared to tackle 31 miles in the mountains.  

So, now what?

    I started cranking my mileage back up when June hit. It's pretty crazy how quickly you can lose your running fitness. It felt kind of tough at first. At least I had awesome people to run with.
On June 6th I logged a hilly 9 miler.
The following week I ran an organized half marathon, The Medjevie Solstice Run.
Photo by Charmaine B.
I decided to run it and enjoy myself. That meant not going easy but not trying to prove anything either. My leg was still a little bothersome at times. I finished the 13.1 miles with Janell by my side in 1:59:39. That was much better than I expected, especially for a course with hilly and rugged terrain.
While Janell was in town she had me training like a beast. She wanted to see ALL THE THINGS and keep up with her triathlon training schedule. This meant long days of hiking, biking, running, and swimming. I developed a bit of a cold and missed out on 2 of her workouts but otherwise I managed to somewhat keep up.
On June 20th I ran 11 miles in the morning and then ran a 22:58 at the Midnight 5k. To give a little background, I did NOT plan on racing the 5k. We actually had a late salmon dinner and then drank 22oz of hard cider. For some reason though, we started running relatively quick and we just stuck with it.
Some #runsitka folks after the race
So that got me thinking.....
even though the 50k is out of the picture, maybe I can still train for the
Sitka Cross Trail Marathon. ????
 I'm currently registered to run the half marathon. Now IF I switch to the full this doesn't mean that I will be running it fast (which is a relative term). It just means that I will be hoping for a 26.2 finish. It could be my slowest marathon ever. That's okay. I will at least have completed an Alaskan marathon.
This past week....
I ran a 5 miler, a midweek 10 miler, went up and down a mountain, and on Saturday I unexpectedly ran 20 miles. I felt strong during it. It was 'slow' but I had a good time along the way. YAY!
Photo by Charmaine B.
Then yesterday....
I ran 6.2 miles and unexpectedly swam 2000 yards. That was my furthest swim to date.
I'm feeling fairly good lately.
My *New* Plan
Train Hard.
Act as if I'm running the marathon on August 8th.
Wait until late July to officially make a decision.
I don't know if my body is going to hold up through the training. I feel it's best to wait and see. I've still got an insane 7 mile mountain race to run in the meantime.
If nothing else this training is good prep work for the Kansas City Marathon in October.
Final Thoughts
I'm disappointed that the 50k won't be happening. It is a big goal of mine and maybe someday I will accomplish it. Until then, I will keep training and hope for some fun adventures along the way.
Have your goals ever been derailed? How did you deal with it?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Crazy Runner Girl

    I cannot believe we are fast approaching summer of 2015. I am calling it "Epic Summer of Awesomeness" [be searching that hashtag because it will contain epic, summery, and awesome things. ha!]. Are you ready for summertime? I know that I am.

    The other day someone said to me,"...of course they know you. You're the crazy runner girl around town." It made me giggle to myself. This town ahem, island is very small. I'm usually brightly dressed and have my hair in a long braid.

Exhibit A
It probably doesn't help that I am a bit eccentric and very energetic.
So I am sure these qualities help folks to identify me.
I was jumping in photos before it was even a thing....
    Anyways, I've been thinking about that a lot this week. I've also been thinking about the times people say they're 'afraid to join' me on a run. You see, they are under the false impression that I am speedy. Due to this they also fear that I'll leave them in my dust if a bear crosses our path. I try to silence those fears because I'm definitely a "middle of the pack" runner. Also because I am a chatty running partner, I am sure I scare the bears away. Add that to the list of perks! I am absolutely convinced that if a bear crosses my path I will accidentally sacrifice myself for them by passing out (having a heart attack, freezing in place, or having any other generally awful reaction)....and hence allowing those running with me to make a great escape. If this happens, please talk about my bravery in the re-telling of the story
    These last two weeks- ok, perhaps the last few months- have been ba-nay-nays. I have been working full-time, running, swimming, lifting, biking, hiking, and playing softball. Some days I have been leaving the house at 6 a.m. and not returning until past 8 p.m. It's been awesome, fun, stressful, and exhausting.
    I think back to just 4 years ago and I cannot believe the difference in my life. First of all, those that only recently know me probably would barely recognize me.
Mr. T and Me circa March 2011
   Secondly, I was just in an entirely different place in my life. During that time period I wrote about rarely going out and doing stuff. I spoke about lacking motivation. One of my goals was to celebrate life more.

      I am thankful to have this space to write. I am also thankful to have this space to reflect.

     I remember when I just wanted to lose weight. I wanted to be able to fit into my size 10 pants again. Oh what a glorious day that was when it finally happened. I cried when I swiftly pulled up those 10's and secured the button.

    I remember when I wanted to run my first 5k and then 10k. Those seemed like insurmountable distances. I did it though!!!
My first(ish) 5k circa March 2012
    Then I somehow was convinced I could run a half marathon. I did that too!!After that I somehow got tricked into training for a full marathon. Guess what? I did that too....during a freaking blizzard.

    I don't write all this to toot my own horn. I write all this because here I am four years later completely transformed due to all the small steps and goals that got me here. People know me now as the "crazy runner girl". Back then I was just a girl that looked in the mirror and disliked what looked back at her. I didn't envision ever living this active lifestyle. Somehow though, my healthy daily choices kept piling up. Each day I took another step towards better health and overall wellness.

    I love a good transformation photo. However, I'm here to tell you that the "after" is NEVER complete. I still have to wake up each day and make choices. Granted, it's slightly easier now that I know and have experienced the positive benefits. Back then I didn't know just how awful I felt, physically and mentally. Feeling tired, bloated, sad, and hopeless to lose weight was all that I knew. Now if I'm lacking motivation I am able to use that knowledge to kick my rear into gear.

Summer 2011
    I'm proud to be known as the "crazy runner girl". I'd just like you to be fully informed that just four years ago I HATED RUNNING. "Crystal-2011" would scoff if you told her the daily routines of "Crystal-2015". She would not even be able to wrap her head around running a marathon someday. In fact, she'd probably have to ask how far a marathon is. She would be eating Taco Bell, sipping on a Dr. Pepper, and be unable to correctly pronounce the word "quinoa". "Crystal-2011" would laugh in your face if you told her she'd someday be waking up at 5:30 a.m. willingly and paying for someone to train her with strength and endurance workouts.

    Take each day at a time. If you're not feeling motivated to workout then use the "10 Minute Rule". Force yourself to workout for 10 minutes. Most of the time, I find the motivation within that 10 minute timeframe to continue. Don't be afraid to workout with people! I have found strength, accountability, friendship, courage, and belief in myself due to others belief in me. If someone is encouraging you to join them, DO IT!!!Allow them to be your tour guide into a more active lifestyle. Who knows, maybe you'll soon be crazy like me.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Better Late Than Never

In January 2003 I married my amazing husband Joe. We were both 19 years old and money was not exactly abundant. We were married at the court house and spent the weekend in downtown Kansas City (our hometown area). We told each other that we'd go on a honeymoon when we had the money.

Life happened.
School happened.
The Coast Guard happened.

We celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary this January and a few short weeks ago we were walking, running, biking, hiking, swimming, and stand-up paddle boarding all over Oahu, Hawaii. Better late than never, aye?

I never thought it would take 12+ years to have a real honeymoon. It was worth the wait though. It came at a time that we would absolutely appreciate the sunshine, warmth, and relaxation. Our first Alaskan winter was a bit rough on us. Having this trip to look forward to greatly helped our moral.

Everyone we spoke with was friendly. The weather was spectacular. After living in a rain forest for 10+ months it was awesome to be in dry, warm, and sunny weather. We didn't want to be inside at all. One of our favorite parts was a bike tour we did with our guide Kelly. We had such a blast. Kelly knew more about the area than anything I could have researched online. If we return than we will definitely go on one of the other Pedal Bike Tours.

I am lucky to have been able to take this trip. I am thankful and overjoyed that it was with my ol' man. It's never too late to enjoy a honeymoon. Hawaii is gorgeous and rich in culture. I would love to live there someday. Until that day arrives (ha!) I will treasure the memories we made and the time we spent together.

Although 2015 has definitely had stressors, it's already showing promise of being one of my best years yet. 

p.s. scratch Hawaii off the "states I've ran in" list.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

It's Not You, It's Me

First let me start by saying I LOVE RUNNING! Running gave me back control of my body and my life. Running has given me countless unforgettable experiences. Running has allowed me to discover and experience so much earthly beauty. 

Lately though, we've been having some squabbles. It's one of those times where "it's not you, it's me". Some days I find myself amped to lace up and race out the door. Some days I find myself having to talk myself into it for awhile. On those days, I'm often lucky and find the joy in running within a few miles. Today though, I found myself standing under a shelter, as the buckets of rain fell from the sky, and questioning why I even began the run in the first place. I finally willed myself home.

I've decided that I'm most happy running when accompanied by a friend or group. It becomes a social event. I get time to catch up with friends and/or meet new people. I don't have to talk myself into it. It's fun. Even as the miles tick by and our conversational pace slows down I feel blissful. 

Recently I haven't been able to run with many other people. It's just been me and the almost endless rain that Sitka has to offer. There have been reports of bears wondering the trails again. Although I'm brave enough in a group, I often am too fearful to run solo into their home. This leaves me with the option of running roads alone. The same 14ish miles of road I've already ran hundreds of miles on. This island is closing in on me. 
It's amazingly beautiful and I love it here.
It's just mentally tough to run the same exact routes again and again.
I know that in training one often mentally (and physically) ebbs and flows. I have been finding myself loving my morning workouts, biking, and swimming, then often dreading a run. This is unusual for me. It's got me contemplating my goals and wondering which ones I'm really passionate about. I find it difficult to imagine even being slightly prepared for a mountainous, trail 50k if I can't even get on the trails much. 

For now, I vent to you. I ask you if you've ever found yourself feeling a little lost. 

This past year has been full of major life changes for me. Perhaps I need to stop pressuring myself to run when I hate it. There's been times that right when I feel like I've lost my love for running forever, it returns with fervor. I hope that's the case. It may just be that I need to escape this little Alaskan island for a few days and be reminded of the rest of the world. 

I plan on biking and swimming later today. I also have plans for a group trail run tomorrow and some more biking. 

What do you do when your mental and physical training don't line up? 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Hello Again!

I thought that I would catch you up real quick.
 I have been enjoying time with my husband as much possible. We've even been lucky enough to hike all though the winter. I cannot believe the lack of snow around here!
     I am thankful that I packed my Yaktrax in my hiking bag that day. They really helped me towards the top of Mt. Verstovia. Yaktrax sent me a free pair to try out and review. This winter has been so mild that this was the only opportunity I had to use them. This is
the "RUN" version and they were great for trekking through some snow and ice.
I think if conditions had been any worse
that I may have needed something with larger spikes.
They worked good for snow with a thin layer of ice though.
 You really can't beat the views around here.

 Or the seafood.....
 I've been running....and running....

     I've been trying to get out and enjoy life as much as possible. I've also been putting a lot of my energy into work and therefore I haven't had as much time and energy to devote to this wonderful blog. I was amped to be recognized as Employee of the Month for January though.

I am excited for our upcoming vacation. I haven't been off this small island since we moved here in the summer. I'm definitely ready to get off "The Rock" for a few days. I'm thankful to have awesome friends here to look after things for me.
Our pup has been doing surprisingly well. When she was diagnosed with cancer in December they said she wouldn't make it past January. She has continued to act like her usual self and definitely still enjoys her walks and hikes. We are thankful for every day that her good health
continues to amaze us.

Last week I took the entire week off of working out. In the past when I've been forced to take some time off it has been awful for me. I obviously really needed this break because it flew by and I didn't get that stir crazy feeling. Now I am feeling so refreshed, mentally and physically.

Today I laced up and ran out into the rain and fog. The goal was to have fun and remind my body how to run. It went great. I'm amped to jump into a legit 50k training plan soon.

Now that you're caught up on me....
How are you?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Thrilling Run

The weather here has been dark, windy, and very rainy. YES I live in a rainforest. This recent (and never ending) weather trend has been trying. You either have to hit the treadmill, cross train inside, give in to the comfy couch, or just say f--- it and run off into the doom.

This is my first winter in Alaska. This has been the first year that I've worked a consistent 40 hour work week since around 2008. I love working with young people but it can be exhausting. Ya know, because I am SO OLD!!! That's what they think. ha! This is the first time I've done consistent strength training and ran most of my miles on trails. I'm sure all these factors have slowly been wearing down my body and/or mind.

Don't fret I have a sunny vacation planned in a few months. Woot! Plus I (along with a couple of my siblings) surprised my parents with plane tickets to visit me in June. Woot Woot! Between these two trips and all my friends that will be visiting this summer I have so much to look forward to. I just need to get through the next couple of months.

I'm pretty much over this weather but it has seasoned me. When I lived on Cape Cod I was constantly checking the weather and trying to figure out when to run. Now I have no choice. It's either run at _____ or don't run at all. And really, I just assume it will be dark, cold, rainy, and windy.

The other night a few #runsitka folks decided we'd run on some trails after work. Why I thought this was a good idea.....I do not know. It was right after we'd received over 4.5 inches of rain in 24 hours and it was still raining hard.

By the time we were ready to run it was down to just Geof and me. I was not going to wimp out. So off we went into the woods. (Into the woods to fetch the Cooooooow....sorry I'm a musical geek. I digress.) 

The Run:

Geez, this is scary. I'm sure I will adjust soon and this will be fun.
There is a moving light up ahead. Wonder if it is someone that wants to hurt us?! Oh my gosh, a second light just appeared. They are trying to be tricksy. Get ready to fight.
      "Good evening"
Okay, it's just two nice hunters packing out. Whew.
I can't see. I can't see. This headlamp is useless. Really it's just reflecting off the raindrops and not helping me at all.
       "Geof tell me a story....a happy story. It doesn't matter what it's about."
Focus on his words. This is not that bad.
AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! A bear is in hot pursuit of us. I know they should be hibernating but maybe all the rain has them on the move and our bright colors and lights are enticing them to chase us. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
This was not a good idea.
I will not let the woods win. I am brave.
I am fairly certain I am running 6 minute miles. (I wasn't)
         "Is this our out?"
Freedom!!!!!! I am so happy.
 The point of this post? Sometimes life is crazy but freedom and happiness await.