Life and running update

citymarket5kTime for bullet points!

 

  • I ran a trail 5k today and felt really good. The heat in August really kicked my butt but I am super proud I modified and still stuck with the training so I could feel the rewards now. I squeaked in under 22 min but was mostly just happy with how it felt, strong and relaxed. I didn’t push into the ‘pain cave’ that will come in the next training cycle I think. But the slow progression of fitness and constant training over the last year is really working. I did a 10k too two weeks ago (pictured below) that was seriously one of the best races I have ever run, not the fastest ever but comparing myself with the 21 year old D1 College running Tessa isn’t fair so F-it, it was a blast! One more half marathon and a 5k in November to round out the year.
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  • (Its funny, I remember thinking “smile for the camera” but this is what came out ha!)
  • The morning routine with the kids has improved so much. No TV until after breakfast and they are dressed and then only if there is time. They don’t seem to mind at all and will play or we just read a few books to wake up slowly. I havn’t gotten Lily off the bottle yet, thats next, or maybe I just don’t care so much about that anymore, ha! .
  • We are doing a “Spend as little as possible” month this month and its really fun. I love finance challenges. We just made our entire weeks meal plan with 75% items we already have in the house. We did go to the dentist for the first time in 3 years (eeeek!  Too long I know, part of this simplifying is doing the necessary things I have been putting off) and I managed to go out to dinner with a gift card I had. I want to see what a low end of our monthly budget should be. Its changed so much since we have had kids but we are working to get it back down.
  • We have a goal of using something totally before we buy anything new. I had a bad habit of getting another something ‘just in case’ and it means we were basically buying things we didn’t need. Extra food, extra beauty supplies, extra socks, clothes, shoes, you name it. Time to use up all the stuff we already have.  Now we try to go as long as we can and either substitute something else or think outside the box a little before we just buy more. I am also looking for more USA made, locally made, handmade, or used products before buying new from big sketchy corporations.
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  • We have taken 2 car loads of unnecessary items to the thrift stores, it really is helping with the day to day cleaning and maintenance of the house. Even getting rid of extra storage bins too! Have less stuff, less stuff to clean up! Its also weirdly and not so weirdly given me more time, energy and patience to say ‘yes’ to the kids. My ‘have to do’ list is smaller (on purpose, I say ‘no’ a lot to work/friends/extra stuff). Like wandering to visit the trains when we were near by the other day or strolling to the playground in the afternoon.
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  • Fall is my most favorite time of year, its Torrey and my 7th anniversary tomorrow and the best time to celebrate how far we have come! A business, two babies and a life built together. I love everything we have made!

Breakfast Experiment with young kids

 

kidstvCan I tell you the truth? This is how our weekday mornings look…

One of the children wakes up, and wakes us up, between 6 am and 7:30. Its like they trade off early duty. Once in a while they both sleep until 7:30 but most mornings someone wakes us up before then. No alarm necessary in this house.

One parent (we trade off mornings) stumbles out of bed and settles the child on the couch. That child asks for a snack and a show. The parent is too tired to resist and their brain isn’t working yet (coffee? Tea?) so that is what happens.

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The youngest child has a complete breakdown if milk is not in a bottle (she is 2 and too old for this) and if snack isn’t pretzels and goldfish crackers in a bowl (that she usually doesn’t even eat). When we have tried other things in the past she turns into “rubber baby, my body has no bones” toddler melting onto the floor with tears and tantrum that wakes up the whole house.

The show is turned on, the kid zones out and the parent dozes off on the couch or starts coffee or just stares at the wall trying to wake up.

By 7:30 both parents are up and showering and we try to then get the kids to eat something more reasonable, get dressed and out the door. Sometimes we eat eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, cereal, yogurt, muffins, fruit…who knows. Lately we have been making some tasty green smoothies that three out of the 4 of us will drink (better than nothing!).greensmothie

 

The part I hate is the crappy snacks and TV right away. Thats the part that I just don’t think helps us out in the long run. Non nutritious food and zoning to the cartoons (even if it is PBS) means when it is time to get ready to go there is whining and resistance. Also the couch really needs a break from all the eating that is happening on it. Thank goodness I can wash the covers.

So I am going to start an experiment.

The Breakfast Schedule and Morning Rhythm

Influenced by the Simplicity Parenting book

Here is the list I wrote up.breakfast

 

Hopefully this will take the brain work off the parent and make that part easier. Plus these kids loooooove predictability and routine. It might be a little rough at first but usually if we explain to them simply what is going to happen and let them in on the experiment then it helps. There may be some epic morning meltdowns but we tend to have those anyways and getting some decent food in them should help. But they will have to wait longer for their solid food and we are going to hold off on TV shows too at least until they have eaten and gotten dressed. Also, food at the table.

Side goals: Get Wesley to dress himself and wean Lily from the instant milk bottle to a cup of milk…

Also Im not sure what to do if one kid wakes up way before the other. Only milk until they are both up and can eat together? Start breakfast for one and just give the other one some when they are up? I also think the days/food choices might change on this list, but after a few weeks we should figure out a variety that works and can repeat it weekly.

I’m kind of scared but also really ready to change our morning rhythm …wish us luck! Also anyone have any tips for what seems to work for them?

 

The good and the ugly – slowing it down

 

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Its been one of those weeks. For so many silly and legitimate reasons the runs didn’t happen. What was supposed to be a 6 mile run and strides, 4 mile jog and 8 mile workout over three days ended up turning into two slow 4 mile jogs. It wasn’t nothing, but it wasn’t what was supposed to happen. I was solo parenting for part, hiking for my birthday for part, my street was SHUT DOWN and loaded up with COPS with guns and bulletproof vests (We were not involved personally but it was a wild day) and just overtired for part. One of those weeks. Other than running I kept my stuff together and had some really good moments in the week, the runs just didn’t feel right and they just didnt get in. I still am figuring out why I have a little feeling of shame and guilt when runs don’t happen. I’ll blame it on all those years of coaches who were tough (but great coaches!). The reality is, it doesn’t really matter that much if I don’t get in a run or two.

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(Birthday hike! Mt. Abe )

But heres the deal, in the past I would be like “F-This, I am done” and stop running for a week or two or three. Its the ‘all or nothing’ mentality that I am trying to recover from. So instead I emailed my coach, modified my week, then fell off the wagon anyways, and still feel okay about it. I am able to get my weekend runs in and I am moving on and starting fresh. I’m not trying to cram in the missing workout, I am just MOVING ON.

Life is full right now, I have been really into learning about living a slower, more simple life lately and it gives me lots of hope. I have been hooked on this podcast, The Slow Home Podcast. Its hard to put into words the mind shift I have had these past few weeks but I feel it in my gut. I have taken the need for bigger and better out of my life, less is more folks. De-cluttering drawers, toys, closets and basements. Working with these two mottos “If one does the job why do I need 2+?” and “Is there a need for this?”

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Embracing moments like slow outside dinners with the kids, not thinking about what I ‘should’ do and just do the task at hand, staying off social media a bit more, running into a friend I hadn’t seen in ages and just chatting, journaling, taking baths, taking stock of the things I really truly enjoy and maybe even saying no to outside activities and events. When I feel the stress of a rushed mind I take a second to shut it down and breathe. Slowing it down. It is seeping into everything and maybe into running a bit. My drive is a little less right now, mostly because my plate got a little too full.

But to bring it back full circle I know running is one of those keepers, one of those things I do really need and love in my life. One of the priorities. So I wont step away totally this time. I will just dial it down a bit, and maybe thats what my body wants anyways.

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Loved this! From the @womankindmag on Instagram

Trails

 

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This past Sunday I ran a trail “5k”,my Garmin said it was 2.7 and I think it was not accurately working in the trails because some fellow runners said the race is 3 miles. If I hadn’t worn my watch I would have been pumped with my 22:30 finish. Because I would have remained ignorant to my mile pace and ignorant to the shortness of the race, and just less in my head about ‘pace’ according to an outside source.

Its one of those times that running with a GPS watch is such a bad idea. I knew the park well, I had run there many times but I never really knew my pace inside the trails, I don’t think I have ever run there with GPS. I assumed maybe they were 30 seconds or so slower per mile because of the dirt/hills. So knowing those mile splits really hurt during the race and made me come away feeling unfit and disappointed.

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Then I went home and my coach correctly reminded me that trails are a whole different beast. Running on flat roads/paths around my house and using my GPS watch all the time has made me annoyingly tied to pace. Recovery pace 8:45-9:30, steady pace 8ish, tempo/GHMP 7:30-7:40. Not always tied to effort or true feeling. I sometimes do easy runs with just a time watch and enjoy the break from knowing too much. I wistfully think of the old days in HS and College where every mile was an estimate.

Anyways, today I went back to those same trails to do a run that I would normally go around 8:15-8:25 pace on. And guess what my pace was? 10+min per mile. So that made me feel better about the race. I’m sure my effort was equivalent to under 7min mile pace in the race and it was good to get some soft surface hills in for strength. Who knows what the distance really is in there, and who really cares. I am a bit proud of myself for not being so bummed that I just said F-U to trails/hills, instead it makes me want to get stronger and run them more. Maybe more trail races are in my future? Next time I will go watchless and really enjoy the hard effort for what it is.

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Anyone have trail race tips? Any favorite races? Anyone have strong feelings about always knowing your pace?

Testing it all out

oiselleVT

This is just a quick post to say, hi! Im still here and am testing out a new blog format over on wordpress. I am sure the visual aspect of this blog will be tweaked and changed from time to time as I get to know it. But I am glad to be writing and sharing again.

I have been busy working and running and enjoying my family. I just started a new three month training plan with my coach that will take me through a few 5ks, 10ks and one half this fall. I love fall running so am looking forward to the cooler temps and fast times!

I have also been appointed the VT Oiselle Volee team leader! This means I will be coordinating a bunch of fun Vermont meet ups as the year goes on. There are twenty or so of us Oiselle Volee ladies in the state and I can wait to meet everyone. I will have to chat more about what being on the Volee team means to me in another post.

We had our first meet up last night to wish Whitney off to travel/work with her family to the Dominican Republic for two years! She is such a bright, fresh, fun person and we will miss having her around but I cant wait to follow along on social media to where her adventures, and runs lead. About 7 of us meet at the UVM outdoor track to do a fun workout.

Mile W-up

3x400m at 5k pace (for me this was around 1:45) 200m jog rest in between

1x1k at 5k pace (4:20) with drink/rest break before and after

3×400 at 5k pace

Then Dani and I jumped on for a hard effort 400m (1:27 for me) and it was so much fun. Dani and I raced in college and as she said I used to lead her on the track and this time it was her turn to keep me going. My goal is to get more speed back in this next year and keep up with her more!!

We had a cool down and popsicles and lots of fun chatting. We joked that all but one of us had kids at home so maybe that is why we were all there, for the break, ha! I cant wait for the next one.

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Unplugged Half Marathon Recap

Writing has been a little distant lately. I am the type of person to take time to internalize big events before I let out my thoughts and feelings. I may not even mention some of the biggest things happening in my life at any moment, sometimes when things get too ‘personal’ I tend to clam up and keep it all in my head. Its not good or bad, its just the way I process the world.

This winter running got a little like that. Running and life. My step dad got diagnosed with cancer early in the winter. I wasn’t even sure I was going to share that, my extended family is usually excluded from this blog, its just too personal, and the details of everything will remain so. But I am sure most of you know how much cancer sucks, and how at a loss you can feel when someone you love is hurting and how much you want to fix it but cant. The way I usually deal with things like this, is to get my own stuff together. Keep my ducks in a row, keep my life as stable as possible so I can be there as much as I can for these people I love. I pare down my emotional energy into the few things I really need (introvert much?). This may seem like something that is not running related. But if you find personal relief and mental clarity in any hobby or passion you may understand how running can help. Running has always helped me process hard things. When my chest feels tight, when the world gets a little overwhelming, when things that are out of my control rear their head. So this was no different. And I have to say… I am so glad I didn’t give up on running these past few years. 
I have so so much momma bear love for my children, so much joy in their lives and so much wonder in their even existence. But giving birth to a human is a bit life altering. Sometimes I would think ‘why run at all?’ When I spent the last few years trying to find even an ounce of extra physical and mental energy to get my gear on and butt out the door. When my body went through the double roller coaster of two babies and breastfeeding in 3 years and 20+ lbs sticking around after my daughter. If I couldn’t give it my all, if I couldn’t be fast again, if I couldn’t race like I used to, if I couldn’t finish a long run, why even do it at all? There were weeks when I said, Im done, I will find something else. But then after a few days I just got back out there. I did, because this tiny little voice in my head said…. you will need it.
You will need to have a base. Even if its just 10/15 mile weeks for a whole year. You will need, really need, running soon and you will be so thankful you just went out a few times a week. That you kept it in your soul and body enough to be able to turn it into something bigger when it was needed.
When I started this past training cycle, my first real one since 2009 I didn’t know I would NEED it. Even during it I didn’t know. But now, a few weeks after the goal race, I realize. When the world gets messy, when my mind gets cluttered there is NOTHING like those endorphins. There is nothing like being able to set a goal and get shit done. Something about my mix of personality, body and life just really fits with running, I am sure if I physically could not do it anymore for whatever reason I would find my new ‘running’. But because I can, I will and so I do. 
So… phew, now that that is on the table here is a quick recap of the two races I did this winter:
Shamrock Shuffle 5 miler March 20th in NY

I got to visit my family and run a race. Something I like combining if I can! There are so many races all over the place I really enjoy finding them on vacation, or including them in visits to new areas. 
Goals: 7-7:15 pace for as long as I could.
I was not tapering for this at all and was pretty much in peak weeks for this half marathon training cycle. Being said I knew I could run faster for these 5 miles than I could for a 5k I did on Jan 1st right before this training cycle began and that was awesome. A good amount of improvement in 2.5 months!
Results: 36:22 – 7:16 pace. I would count this races as a success even though I was hoping for my legs to feel a bit more spunky and go just a bit faster per mile. I really mentally won in mile 3 when I stuck to a woman who went by me and really used her to help me grind it out and pull me along. I have noticed I run in ‘no mans land’ during races and I wanted to try to stick to someone when things get rough and it did help so much!
Then I got back to work for my goal race
Unplugged Half Marathon April 9th 


(I did order this pic, it just hasn’t arrived yet. I think I look pretty focused!)

Goal: Under 1:40. I had a hope that I could even pull out a 1:38 on the right day
Thankfully my friend Katie said she would pace me, she had just run a PR half marathon a few weeks before and was looking to just get out for a upbeat run (she’s quite a bit faster than me). She SAVED me. I don’t know what happened. I started out really good running 7:20- 7:30’s but from the half way point on I kept getting strong waves of fatigue and even almost dizziness. Turns out I did get a cold (that the kids had had all week) a day later and that might have been my body fighting it off. But I am so happy I pushed and gutted it out. There were points around mile 8 where I said to Katie “WHAT IS HAPPENING?!” It was like I was treading water, every slight uphill would stop my turnover. I had done lots of long runs and speed and I was very ready for this race. All I can say is 7:35 pace for that long just finally got me. I was hoping to go faster the last few miles but instead it was all I could do to not go much slower that 8 min miles. I fueled well too, taking Honey Stinger gels and Katie handed me water when I wanted it (really it was so helpful!). But I was crashing hard at the end, it honestly felt like the last few miles of a full marathon, not a half! I thought I was going to be coming in around 1:42/1:43 so when I turned the corner to the finish and saw 1:39.40+ I screamed!

(proof of said screaming)

I still had a chance to break 1:40! I pushed and gave it a final surge to finish in 1:40.00.3.  


So, so happy to be done and get a post baby PR. But I didn’t quite know how to feel after. I know I did the best I could on that day. A part of me really thought I could have had more of a miracle race. What I have come to realize is my body has gone through even more than I have realized these past few years. That I have basically taken 3+ years off from any consistency and it is just going to take more time to get really back into the swing of things. My next post is really going to be about this. About how I have found a good grove of training for races, running, time off, and the rest of my life. Or how I THINK I have figured it out a little bit, who knows whats up ahead. 
Lastly I just want to leave a few highlights of this training cycle that I look back on and really am proud of myself for. There is so much more to running than the goal race: 
* I only missed 1-2 days of my scheduled runs
* I got into a really good weekly groove of timing and planing my runs
* I didn’t drive my family crazy or miss out on too much, I think!
* I finished 4-5 12+ mile runs! I really missed those long days
* I wasn’t over tired at all. I really was gentle to myself with my sleep and recovery it helped so much.
* I felt the most mentally stable and up that I have felt in years. I wasn’t in a deep depression prior but the endorphins, being able to finally get back into something I really love and accomplish my goals really did a lot for my day to day happiness.
* I did 2 track workouts! – LOVED getting back on the track and I found a good local one I am sure I will use many more times in the years to come. 
* I got help when I needed it. When something started to hurt I didn’t ignore it, I addressed it. 
* I had an epiphany about how I can fit running into my life as an adult. (see next post for more)
* My new mantra on long progression runs or track repeats was. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going…. GET GOING”
Thank you again to Mollie from Piece of Cake running for the awesome schedule and feedback. I know the motivation I got from having a coach again is really what made the big difference this winter!

Running Progress – Stepping up to my goals

(This is from the Oiselle Flight Manual I got with my jersey last summer, I taped it on the wall then, with the hope that that window would happen in the future.)

I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. To be honest I didn’t realize I was in a tunnel until I started to see the light. I thought maybe the tunnel was just my new world.

Sound crazy? Well thats what running is feeling like right now. Last year I was honestly thinking I just might not be a fast runner anymore. Its all relative, I know my times would be fast to some people. But I had been running ‘for fun’ with no plan and no consistency for 5/6 years. To be in this place where 4 miles was not an easy run, more like a struggle buss, and 9 min pace was a wobbly floppy mess it was strange. Every year my times got slower and after 3 years of pregnancy/babies I was starting to think it was my new normal.

But then I made a leap and a promise to myself. I got a coach (Mollie), I got a good solid training plan that fit into my life. I realized when in the year I had more time to train and when I did not. I realized I would rather train hard in the winter than in the heat of the summer. I got serious about making sure I got my runs in. I haven’t done that for real that I remember since training for the Boston marathon in 2009. No wonder I didn’t feel like myself running anymore, no wonder some days (most days) I didn’t even enjoy it all that much. All the days were up to me, all the pressure was on me, and I had no idea what I was doing.

I am running smart. Now my year looks like training blocks and then planing legitimate time off. The crazy thing is this type of training is so much easier than just running ‘for fun’ and 100% more enjoyable. I am working harder, seeing much better rewards (dropping post baby middle weight and dropping times!) and am so much happier with running. I get excited and giddy for workout days to do intervals and push myself. Long runs give me nerves but when they are done I am so thrilled! Easy days I just get to go slow (and I am being good about going slow!) and off days are OFF and I get two a week and its great! I ran 117 miles last month and have ran more 20+ mile weeks in a row than I have in many many years.

The consistency with my schedule means after a few weeks I know how to work each days run in. I just think about it for 5 min. the day before and communicate with Torrey so we both know when I am planing on running. I know that Tuesdays I run from work in the afternoon, Weds I do a easy recovery run on the treadmill while the kids nap, Thursday I run in the evening when Torrey feeds the kids dinner and am home by bedtime. Saturday I run whenever and sunday its long run morning while Torrey and the kids have a slow morning. Honestly having kids works well with this because I am not partying or having random late nights (now that they are sleeping well!). Our life is structured with work more now too so I can then structure in my runs.

Anyways, its happening. I have a goal race in April, a half marathon where I am going for sub 1:40. Where I will wear my Oiselle jersey for the first time because I believe I am worthy of it (I know that is lame, that I should have always worn it to races but this is the honest truth, I knew I was better).  I know I can run that time as long as I stay healthy and that is really exciting. I know I can also see 22/21 min for the 5k again with this training and that is really exciting too. Its been so many years since speed was in my legs. But without all that down time, without all that slogging and sloppy running, without all the 23, 24, 25 min. 5ks I don’t know if I would appreciate these times as much. I really appreciate being able to run 7:30 pace again. I really appreciate being able to drop my times and improve my fitness.

Guess what : Not running ‘for fun’ is actually really really fun.