Back At It: How it Feels to be an Out-Of-Practice Runner

Two weeks ago, I decided to commit to get back into the habit and lifestyle of being a Runner again. I found a marathon training program and another for a 50k, which I intend to work through, back-to-back.  And you know, as an experienced runner, you know you’re supposed to ease back into running if your mileage is not up where you “need it to be” for your training.

Last week’s view at the start of last Saturday’s run: My first 8 mile run since last year.

… So of course (as an experienced runner) I decided to jump right in.  Head first.  I ran seven miles to work with a friend Thursday for the first time ever (pretty cool to get to run to work), and went out yesterday for my first 10 mile run since … Well, honestly, sometime last September.

Now here I am, beginning Week 5 of 18 in Marathon training (I skipped the first two weeks because I’m already a runner, after all), making an all-natural and organic home-remedy from Simple Green Smoothies of lemon, ginger and honey, hoping with all hopes that this will kick the sore throat I am beginning to develop before it becomes a full-blown-sickness-thing.

I am overdoing it, and it is showing up in my body.

photo credit:
www.simplegreensmoothies.com

The classic conundrum now begs my attention: how do I make the choice to slow down, scale-back, and let my body heal when I have goals to meet?  

I am registered for the 20 mile race at the Peterson Ridge Rumble happening April 12th.  I’m excited, nervous, and thrilled to have a goal distance to train toward.  And now I’m afraid I’ll fall behind.  Because I started behind.

The past two weeks have been … stressful, to put it lightly.  I moved two weeks ago, I’m looking for opportunities to move forward in my career, and I am feeling my way through a transition in perspective in life, and finally learning what is really important to me.  

And believe me, it has been one heck of a long haul.

I find myself experiencing moments of jealousy.  People that I work with that are really happy doing what they love: how did they find their path so quickly?  The entrepreneur friend who has opened a coffee shop, or a boutique, or is a designer creating art and making a living: these people are my heroes, and it is incredibly inspiring to see them succeed at business they passionately worked toward.  

How did they manage to do these fantastic things so early in life? 

And why do I feel so behind in the game?

I have always been successful at what I put my mind to, and I am immensely grateful for this ability.  In college it was easy because you had to choose one thing to study and get your degree. And I’ll admit, after graduation and landing a “real job” I didn’t feel the need to pursue anything in particular besides enjoying life in that moment.  Now I find myself unable to find my focus;  to choose one thing to put my energy toward and tackle.  Except…

I know I want to run.  And race.

And putting my mind and body out there in the elements, asking it to perform like it did last summer post Newport Marathon, pre-Siskiyou Outback, without a proper gradual increase is causing a mild rebellion.  So, despite my brain yelling at me to get out and run, I am going to sleep in tomorrow, have an easy morning, and head to the office.  Drink tea instead of coffee, and eat wholesome foods to nourish my body and soul back to health.

Sometimes it is hard to listen to that little voice in your head, urging you to do what is best for you.

Right now, I choose to listen to the murmurs, and hope to all grace and goodness that soon I’ll get the message that all is well and I’m free to run circles around my currently un-trained running self.  With any luck, whispered tidbits of wisdom will float through my mind and begin guiding me, providing a sense of focus for my soul to settle and commit to a purposeful pursuit.

Letting go of the anxiety of not knowing and using the logical brain to think everything through, and beginning to allow the guidance of feeling to take over is my new objective.

I would love to hear from you, your thoughts and what is working for you on your journey through life:

How do you feel your way through life?
How do you know when you are being guided?
When did you discover your greatest desire and passion?

Thanks so much for taking the time to ponder possibilities, share successes, and contribute to this magnificent conversation about life and the pursuit of passion.

with love and light,
Alaina

Let the Training Continue: On to the 50K Ultra-Race!

Lovely Newport Beach-y clouded skies.

Twenty-one days ago, I ran the Newport Marathon.  With joy in my heart, and a skip in my step, I moved my way over those 26.2 miles with a smile.

After returning from my little vacation to Vegas and LA, three days later to driving to the coast to spend the weekend at the beach running the Newport Marathon, I was completely prepared for a calm, quiet week (and weekend) at home.  Monday and Tuesday passed uneventfully, I even signed up for an online workshop on Creative Visualization for Wednesday evening.  Much to my surprise, I received a text from my sister – she was at the hospital… and going to have a baby!  And there went my quiet, relaxing week…!

After a long evening, and an even longer morning, watching, helping, and cheering my sister on, my niece came into the world at 5:55am.  She is amazing.  The most adorable newborn I have ever seen – and her mother was incredible.  I did not know what to expect watching her go through this process, and beyond being one of the most amazing experiences to be present for – watching a life coming into the world – I saw strength and bravery in my sister that was simply awe-inspiring.

The Cutest Baby on Earth.

Needless to say, after a sleepless night, I slept a little that morning, worked the afternoon, and crashed Thursday night.  Friday they went home, and I spent time each day this past weekend with my sister and brother-in-law and my little niece.  Sunday morning, I woke up thinking “why does it feel like I haven’t had a weekend at home in weeks…?”  Well… three weekends, not at home, Alaina.  That’s your answer.

And somehow, three weeks after my last race, without missing a beat or losing my stride, I am continuing on – training for another race.  A bigger race.  An Ultra. 50 Kilometers somewhere up on some mountain in Southern Oregon.  I might die.  But chances are, if I train enough and don’t hurt myself, I’ll end up having a lot of fun on the Siskiyou Outback.   And I’ll get to see my friends from the Newport Marathon!  As well as see my very good friend Cass, whom I have not seen in so long (and I am sure she will totally kick my butt in this race).

Today was my first ever 26 mile training run. TRAINING!  It is so weird to think that today, I ran a marathon… and it wasn’t a race.  Ha!  Who knew I would ever reach this point.  The cool thing is, if it had been a marathon, it would have been a PR!  I clocked in at 4:40 for today’s run, and after a marathon three weeks ago that was 5:02, that feels pretty good.  Oh, and it was beautiful.  And I am sunburned.   (oops, forgot sunblock…)

Geese! Adult and fluffy! – I had to detour around a couple of very protective Momma’s who did not want to let me pass on the sidewalk…
Convention Center silhouette at the Steel Bridge

My run was perfectly lovely – 10 miles solo to start at 6:15, the next 5 miles with my girlfriends, peaking around garage sales in the neighborhood, another 4.5 miles solo, and the last 6.5 with my Mom.  We finished with brunch at a little breakfast diner in Sellwood, and then headed back to garage sale for good deals!  This day leaves me feeling extremely satisfied… and exhausted!

Tomorrow I have the pleasure of running with a friend from high school – I anticipate great conversation which should make 10 pretty easy…   (Can 10 miles be easy the day after 26?  Here’s hoping…!)  Then it’s a baby visit day.  So excited to snuggle that little one again!  I still can’t believe I’m an Auntie!!!

Have you ever trained for something more than a marathon?  

How did you keep up your pep on the “difficult” (aka VERY HIGH MILEAGE) weeks?

Happy Running, everyone!
~Alaina

2014 Newport Marathon Race Recap

The Newport Marathon was fantastic.  Arriving at the start line, it was great to be in a “small” crowd of 1,000 people.  I don’t think I have ever participated in a race with such a cozy, community feel.  I came across a fellow blogger at Move Eat Create at the start.  She has been training so hard, I knew that I would see her on the course later (and that she would be passing me on my way out, while she was on her way back). And I did, and she did coming in with a truly great time.  Congratulations, on a great race, my friend!

I always start a race on a cool day with a long sleeve on, but despite the cloud cover and the slight breeze, Saturday morning was warm.  So, throwing caution to the wind, I left my long sleeve with my jacket in my drop bag. . .

Thank God that I did!

The clouds burned off about an hour and a half into the race.

And it was beautiful…!

A short while into the race, about half a mile after the maze of neighborhood that was the first three miles, I met a few new friends, and quickly discovering that they will be running the Siskiyou Out & Back (the 50K) in July!  I got caught up talking with them, and decided to keep pace.  I knew it was a little faster than I could probably maintain for 26 miles, but I thought I’d give it a shot.  My lungs were content to keep the pace, but my legs… my legs need more training.

By mile 12, I let my new-found friends take the lead, and kept moving forward solo.  Looking for my Grampa the whole way, especially after mile 13.   He started the race at 6am with those walking the marathon, so he had an hour lead on me.  I did not cross paths with him until the turn around at mile 15!  We had a Big Hug moment, and stuck with each other and chatted for a little while.  A few minutes into conversation, he said “It is such an honor to run with you, and to be passed by you!” and encouraged me on.  So, I did go on.  In the end I only beat him to the finish by a few minutes, as I walked a lot of the last six miles.

So, I learned I need to stretch.  Stretch more.  Stretch at all.  I’ve been neglecting my muscles, and it shows.  Lesson learned.  

Have you ever experienced an unexpected slow-down during a race?  I’d love to hear your story.

One of the most remarkable things about my experience at this marathon in Newport was that I had no head game.  I had no doubts about finishing, no moments of dislike that I was still running.  I enjoyed myself through the pain.  Regardless of the tightening of this band that made me limp, hop, and walk more times than I could count, I would keep breathing, countdown, look up, smile, and run on again.

Two days past race day – I’m a little sore, but  I have a smile on my face and I am still lovin’ life!

Happy Running!  🙂
~Alaina

Running to the Beat of My Own Drum

This quote arrived in my email inbox from Runner’s World this Thursday evening, and at first made me chuckle… Then I thought, you know, this is really true.  I love getting out and running and looking at the world around me.  I people-watch, see wildlife, photograph this beautiful city I have the great pleasure of living in, and sing songs in my head to my heart’s desire (or out loud, depending on how many miles I have covered and if I’m getting that runner’s high … There’s a possibility that I can pass for a crazy person after 12 miles; a happy, smiling, singing crazy person, but … a little different nonetheless).

It’s funny to sit here and know that in about 36 hours I will be on my way running 26.2 miles.  I feel like I am in denial that I will be doing this race at all this time around.  Maybe because the circumstances surrounding last year’s St. George race really did not start off well (story here: Marathoner), and this time my Grandpa is going to do the race with me.  Which is fantastic!  The weather in Newport will be a perfect 50 degrees, not raining, cloudy with sun… What more could a Portland girl want?

I know with everything that I am, that I will run faster than I did in Utah seven months ago.  I still claim to not have a goal pace, although I do think that 4:40 finishing time is my new target.  And while this clocks in at a whole half hour faster than my previous marathon (I think) I am pretty sure I have it in me.  Regardless, I go forth into the unknown of this race, without expectation or need for a specific outcome.  Because I still want to have fun (and take pictures!).

I run to finish with enthusiasm and joy for the sport!  I do think that there may be a turning point when my ego is inclined to begin racing rather than allow me to run and enjoy, and I am grateful that I have not yet reached that point.

Do you run in organized events to race?  Or is it a run for fun with thousands of your peers?  Has your point of view changed?

Happy Running!
~Alaina

Running and Travelling; Balancing Vacation and Training

As I was packing to go on my first vacation since the Christmas/New Year’s Holidays, I realized I need to run four times while I am out of my city.  In unfamiliar territory.  Out of my comfort zone.  In cities where I won’t know North, East, South or West like the back of my hand, and frankly, it’s a little intimidating.

Fortunately, this will not be a super long distance weekend for me.  With the Newport Marathon only a week and a half away, this Saturday I only need to run 8 miles, and tomorrow, I happen to be lucky enough to get to run with my Grampa – a nice, short four mile run (I’m learning to love the short).  I am especially grateful that it is short because I am no longer in the cool, breezy northwest, having taken up residence slightly further South in Las Vegas for a couple of days.  This run may be in 75 degree heat, and I am trying to mentally prepare myself to feel too warm.  

The lights of ‘The Strip” this evening, and the Luxor pinpointing it’s location on the cloud-map.

On Saturday, I will have the good fortune to be spending time with my best friend in LA, who tells me she knows the perfect spot for me to do my 8 mile run (possibly – or quite likely – also a warm run).  I am looking forward to exploring some unknown terrain over the next few days.  A change of scenery will (hopefully) bring some great photo ops!

How do you prepare for travel when you are training for a race?  

Happy running!
~Alaina

The Last Long Run – 20 miles, Done!

My plan for this weekend was to run 20 miles on Saturday and take it easy on Sunday… and, due to baby shower madness, I delayed my run to Sunday (Mother’s Day).  This was my last long training run before the Newport Marathon – I needed to get these miles in no matter what, and I was not sure when I would be seeing my mother who is in from out-of-state.  So just as I started to worry that I was either going to have to sacrifice the run, or sacrifice seeing Mom, everything fell into place.

I hit the road at about 3:15pm, knowing I would be running for about three and a half hours.  Fortunately for me, my Mom is also a runner, and she was game to meet me for the last 8.5-9 miles and spend some quality time together.  We planned a meeting place, time, and ran into each other on the South Waterfront a little after 5:20pm to complete finish the back-half of the 20 miles together.

On normal run days, I run in the morning, and today was bright and sunny – and warm!  I have not run in such warm weather in about a year, and I noticed a marked difference in how my body reacted.  I was thirsty every half mile, sweating after only a half mile, had sausage fingers starting around three miles, and overall just felt a little hot, especially when there was no shade to help me out!  Obviously, it was a beautiful day!!!

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful person to spend time with running (and incredibly grateful for the genetics she has passed on to me!).  Supportive, realistic, fun, strong, encouraging, and everything that Moms are supposed to be.  We finished the evening with a great dinner at Dick’s Kitchen.  … and dessert, Yum!!!

Thank you, Mom, for spending your evening with me.  I really enjoyed our time together.

until tomorrow… Happy Running, and Happy Mother’s Day to all you Moms, Aunts, Grandmas and Great-Grandmas!!!
~Alaina

Saturday Evening Race to the Top

Saturday morning I awoke to the most colorful, layered sunrise sky I have seen from my new apartment (I apologize for not capturing that gloriousness in a photo – will do next time!).  For some unknown reason, I sat up with a start early-ish this lovely weekend morning. Perhaps because the time was 7am and my body usually experiences the 6am wake-up alarm of the M-F routine, or because Saturdays are reserved for the group run, which commences promptly at 8am, and a little worry may have crept into my sleeping brain that I might soon be missing something important.

Last weekend, Saturday’s agenda took an unusual path.  I was meeting my sister for breakfast in the suburbs, and going to a baby shower a little farther yet from home.  And I was nervous.  Why, you ask?  Because I was driving outside of the city…

To most people, this will seem a little dramatic.  But to tell you the truth, I was a little terrified.  I have only had my driver’s license for a little over a year, and a car to drive for less than three months.  (Yes, I am a grown adult and nearly 32 years of age – I’m just a little late to jump into the vehicle game).

and I had NEVER driven on the freeway alone…

I knew the easiest, and most time effective, method of getting to my destination meant driving on one of those multi-lane, 50 mph and faster highways with crazy people speeding, merging, and darting around me.  I was…

TERRIFIED!

My morning progressed slowly, meaning by the time I walked out my door, I was running late, and since the back roads were going to take about 26 minutes, I needed to save myself ten minutes and take the highway.  So I sucked it up, got in my car, and drove right onto the highway ramp.  I drove my little car down the big, scary road, and you know what?  It really wasn’t that bad, after all.

Also, I am eternally grateful for the little voice in my phone that tells me where to go.  (Thank you Apple!)

I had a lovely breakfast with my sister, we discussed baby shower details – Yes, I am going to be an Auntie! – and then we decided to wander and shop at a surprisingly nearby mall.   (There is a possibility I have missed this from my teen years).  It’s incredible how close things become when you can drive to different locations in mere minutes.

New adorable flats in hand (the Jeffrey Campbell “In Love” flats – a la Miss Meers, my favorite shoe boutique from the college years), I hugged my sis and was off to a friend’s baby shower.  We played games, munched on some delicious food, and guessed if the baby was a pink bow or a blue bow.  They had been keeping their little one’s gender secret for many weeks… and the reveal came just three and a half weeks before baby is expected!  I picked a pink bow to pin to the board, and … I guessed right! Woohoo!  (Yes, I am very proud of guessing correctly – two of three recent births… one still TBD).  I am very excited for this little person to join the lives of my good friend and her husband, and can’t wait to meet her!

After all the congratulating and asking to be notified of when and how it goes, we all left in our vehicles… I was excited to get home and get to my run!

I really wanted to catch the view of Portland before the sun set, and since I was heading out the door after 5pm, I knew I had little time.   Choosing to take the most direct route to my favorite overlook of the city, I went straight up the hill… as fast as I could without making myself sick, that is.  And the view was lovely, of course.

On my way back down the hill, and toward the waterfront, the sky turned red…

Once I reached the waterfront, the sun was fading from the sky, and night began to envelop the city.   A blue hue fell over the water and clouds.  I was greeted by a very large flock of birds floating near the water’s edge.The night was beautiful.  Dry, quiet, and water so still; a mirror reflecting the city back upon herself.  Dazzling even to those who hadn’t just run eight miles, I’d wager.

In the next few weeks, I will be increasing again, training for the Newport Marathon.  It’s crazy how quickly these dates catch up to us – this marathon at the end of May will be my “longest run” (or one of my longest runs) in preparation for a 50K in July – The Siskiyou Outback.  Part of me can not believe I have chosen to challenge my mind and body in that race, the other part is thoroughly excited.  🙂

A shorter race is upcoming before these two long races. In March, I’ll be tackling the Shamrock with a bunch of friends, running the 15K.  I have never actually run in this race, despite having registered on two separate previous occasions.  I look forward to finally running amidst all the green attire and silly Leprechaun get-ups.  Thinking about this race, I’m wondering if I should have some kind of strategy for race day.  I’d love to hear from you – how do you plan for race-day?  What is your strategy?

All my best to you out on the trails, roads, puddle jumping, and sliding through snow…
Happy running!
~Alaina