Running a New Stroller PR – 38:15 for 10K

Running with my empty stroller to the start at Pioneer Square in downtown Portland before I met up with my rent-a-baby Ruby Schares and her family, gave me a feeling as if I was one of those people with Reborn Dolls (they look real but are obviously not). With my own daughter almost 3000 miles away on a rare trip with dad, I was sad but empowered by our 25 minute FaceTime session just before I exited the car to take on the 10K stroller challenge. After hearing the consistent “No” from race directors about running with my stroller, the only “Yes” I got that fit perfectly in my schedule was the one time my own baby would be gone. Run Like Hell 10K would have to be it, and my awesome friend Steph was more than supportive in making it happen.10Kstart

The race morning weather said “No” after the long summer had finally officially ended. The rain was coming down hard, the sun had only been out once for about an hour the entire week and 50 degrees didn’t make it any more comfortable. I reassured Ruby’s mama Steph that I had a great rain cover and Joanie actually does better running with that because its like a little cocoon to protect her from the elements and usually puts her to sleep. I was bummed though, because I didn’t want 7 month old Ruby to miss the experience of seeing the race. Once you start running, the cover fogs up and inside would be similar to sitting in an airplane seat without a window.

My major concern was not Ruby’s performance but my tires. I am far from being anything mechanical and can boast I inherited my skills from my dad “Mechanical Pete” – sarcasm there- as he would frequently take days to do a shoddy job in what other dads could accomplish in an hour. (Take the Pinewood Derby car for example – my dad would spend endless time only to present my brothers the car that would likely place last). Just before bed the eve before race morning, I had a great victory in getting the PSI in each tire to the recommended “20” using Alan’s bike pump.

Weeks ago I noticed that they could likely use more air, not only by visibility but by the heavy strain of each stride. I put my fingers on them and it squished down at least an inch. I tried using my special Mountain Buggy pump ferociously pumping for almost 30 minutes mid-run, with my frustration building as the squishiness would not go away. Later that night my friend Adam noticed the air tube was cut in half, with the massive leak giving me zero chance of getting the job done. Somehow I had likely been running with tires with maybe a max of 1 PSI for months and months. The last time I had pumped them up was when Sara Vaughn let me borrow hers, and she moved away over a year and a half ago. I guess that definitely explained some of my frustration as I thought Joanie was just getting too heavy nearing 28 lbs. That wasn’t completely the case. In hindsight, that definitely helped add to my strength training in making this run not nearly as challenging as I’d imagined. (Just weeks ago I ran a practice mile with 14 pound Ruby on a track and hit 6:25 -thinking that would be my max race pace. Thankfully my aired up tires gave me about a 20 sec per mile boost!)

During this whole process I was beginning to feel like a triathlete with the thought of “your tire literally could pop and you’re done”. With Alan having tire issues at 2 of 3 at his triathlons, I could relate. His issue stemmed from my failed attempt at trying to ship him Zipp wheels over the border to Kelowna in Canada so he didn’t have to drag them around his family vacation in Toronto. With 6 days to get the job done UPS and the customs got in a fight and somehow Alan’s Zipp wheels were lost for almost a month. This meant using his regular wheels in 2 big races. Finally we got a call from UPS saying they found them in a warehouse and we received them back just in time before Alan headed over to his final race in South Korea. To my understanding it would be like running in regular trainers vs flats. Runners are not used to these technical issues, and I was praying my lack of tire pumping skills wouldn’t cause any race day trouble.

To explain further my deficiencies in machines I’ll share this story- my dad once told me to add more oil to my car. I couldn’t ask him to do it since I was in Virginia and he was back in Wisconsin. I ignored him for weeks not having a clue where this would go or how it would happen. Finally one day after my car was making weird noises and the check oil light had been on for now 3 months, I bravely pulled over, asked some clueless UVA student if it looked like this was where oil would go. He was as dumb as me and didn’t offer any advice. I took the bottle of oil and poured it into the hole with the “blue” cap. I didn’t happen to look close enough to see there was also a picture of a windshield wiper – I had poured oil in the wrong place, and when I put on my wipers, oil oozed out onto my windshield. That cost me a good $200 to flush out.  I have skill in the industrial arts and could have used some “shop” classes back in my day. Somehow I do know how to drive stick so back off.

billymadison

Back to my race, Ruby gave me the game on smile, her parents Steph and Eric ready to cheer us on with big sister Rosie (Joanie’s 2 year old pal). I had set a goal of sub 40 to get under the current official Guinness World Record of 43:07, but didn’t really have any workout evidence to base that on. The start was freezing, so Ruby was hidden in the cocoon and I was still wearing my rain jacket and ear warmers when the gun went off. I noticed my Hood to Coast teammate Carre Heineck next to me at the front. The rest of the competition was thinned out with Bridget Franek’s uncle reintroducing himself as he passed me around the mile. For most of the race I could see the lead pack of 3, followed by a guy who I tried to match (until I got caught up in removing the rain cover and then facing the final .2 mile uphill to the finish).RLH10K

The previous year the Run Like Hell course took a different route going over train tracks, this year they rerouted it creating some exciting turns. In the 2013 races, somehow a train was stopped a full 39 minutes blocking runners with only a mile to go. This may have deterred more people from returning to this year’s competition, but I had an amazing race experience from start to finish. The race director was fully supportive in my “World Record attempt” not to mention flawless logistics you’d expect from a top notch organized race. This included:

✔An abundance of bathrooms (no peeing in a bush or in-between businesses!)
✔On-time start (I didn’t have to freeze an extra minute or 20)
✔Accurately placed mile splits (didn’t have to question running a sub 4 minute mile then running a positive 9 minute the next!)
✔Supportive crowds along the course (only one deranged Burnsider lady yelling weird stuff around mile 5.5)
✔No bottle-necking with 3 races going on at the same time (people actually recognized I was a top finisher and no one got trampled by my stroller!)

RLH10KMap

The course – lots of turns, which seemed to be helpful for an ADD steeplechase runner like myself. It flew by. The variation helped in someways to keep me from being blasted by the wind or going up a hill for too long. It was relatively flat, but small ups/downs with less than 50 feet til the final stretch (100 ft incline here). I was also a fan of crossing paths with a good portion of the 5K race- I have never in my life experienced that much cheering and love from other mom runners!10Kstart2

My splits  –

Mile – 6:00 (took off my jacket/slowed to put in the bottom- didn’t want a homeless guy to pick up my fav BTC jacket!!)

2 mile – 5:58 (with a slight wind; mostly flat, not too many turns)

3 mile – 6:08 (heading into the twisty section with lots of bumpy uneven road- was cautious not to shake up baby Ruby too much!)

4 mile – 6:21 (definitely felt some wind and my hips/butt starting to really work!)

5 mile- 6:19 (feeling strong, more turns, like “I’m working hard but never feel this good at mile 5 in a real 10K race”)

6.2 miles – 7:27 (6:12 pace-threw off my rain cover, got dropped by 3rd overall male at the 6 mile mark, also likely because we were heading uphill and he did not want to be chicked/strollered, the double sentence.. was worth it because I wanted RubRLHcertifiedy to get some face time!)

Final time - 38:15  (6:09 per mile average)

Click for official results (courtesy of Athletepath)

Note – Course is officially certified – should help make this legit for Guinness

Wide eyed Ruby definitely didn’t want to miss out and was far from asleep when I peeked in at her after the finish. Just like our first run, she took it all into stride, alert and intensely sucking on her binky, only to pass out from exhaustion once she returned home from her running adventure.

ruby

I felt great and finished with more left in the tank which is a good thing. Honestly Warrior WarriorDashCalDash was 3x as difficult  and most workouts my coach Jon Marcus subjects me to trying to keep up with speedy Kristen Rohde can be much tougher. See photo evidence of me looking like I am going to cry at about 2.75 miles in to the 3.2 mile Warrior Dash- ha! Run Like Hell thankfully I felt awesome, was definitely having a lot of fun and happy to easily beat my sub 40 /top 5 female goal. I also know I need to have something to put on the line next week at my last Stumptown XC race before we head to AZ. Here I’ll once again get to face incredibly fit teammate Olivia Mickle. Let’s just say I want to have more than my last xc race where I basically was cashed out at 1K mark. Next Saturday-time to muster up all my strength and fly in the rain and mud to inspire my Westview boys who will be running at State later that afternoon!

Until I find a stroller friendly race to run with Joanie, I’ll gladly accept my 38:15 with baby Ruby as my new 10K stroller PR and (hopefully official soon) Guinness World Record!!!! My next realistic goal/time you may see me racing with a stroller- could be possibly getting after this…… 1:30:51 for the half marathon – 6:55 pace.

I’m still waiting to hear from Mountain Buggy (the Terrain -my fav stroller!!) on my request to host a championship race. I will gladly accept any challenges or be a witness to other legit fast mama’s out there who want to thrash my time. My ego is not inflated, I still remember getting beat by Emily Infeld at last year’s Tufts 10K by 4 minutes…..so yeah, I’m human too ;) So no, I don’t think I am on any of the same ground that true World Record runners walk on. I basically am just an above average Joe mama who can’t get paid to run professionally but loves to take on random physical challenges involving running at her highest personal level possible.

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Let’s Get Ready to Rumble…My Fall 2014 Plan

It’s fall which means my favorite season is here. As expressed by previous blog posts I am extremely passionate about cross country!! My ultimate running goal before I exit my prime of racing is making a world team and wearing USA. I realize that is a pretty “out there” for a goal and sound ridiculous stating it, but not so much when I witnessed my teammate Carrie last year get it done. It’s not a complete pipe dream such as “making an Olympic team” which is a non-goal in my life, but something that if all the cards fell into the right place, I could possibly make it happen given my DNA and desire. My first outing for the 2014 season started out right this past weekend at the Stumptown Cross Series hosted by Red Lizard at the Portland Meadows venue.

Stumptown1Bowerman Track Club women bought the heat and swept the team competition on the Nike Pre National 5K course with our 4 girls at the front with a 29 second spread – only a certain 2012 Olympian/ stud steepler Bridget Franek in the mix – her first return to the grass in years.

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My “intense” battle wound a week later

The co-ed race brought an exciting and fun element of having lots of testosterone filled men start out way too fast and fade due to their lack of mom-endured toughness for when the pain starts to kick in and the real race begins (sorry to say but true!) The number of male bodies the BTC women passed must have done something to boost our mid-race morale because we dominated! I even received my first spike wound (finally after 14 years of being envious of my husband’s constant wounds he brought back from prestigious track races).

TweetPreNatsI somehow felt comfy going through the K in 3:22 on the challenging terrain and decided to go for it shortly after by surging to the lead. My teammate Olivia “the Pickle” Mickle could not accept that and retook the lead while I narrowly trailed her til she pulled away in the final stretch. I couldn’t have been happier with 2nd – Olivia took the title by 5 seconds- the young-in (33:29/16:22 recent PRs) looking fit and fast, not messing around. The haybales and whoop-di-doo’s allowed me to flex my steeple guns while I successfully executed my pre-race strategy of the 4 D’s and an H. My 17:19 beat my 2014 on the track time by 2 seconds and proved I can likely run faster on the oval if I get my mind right and visualize grass and sweaty men in the distance.

DestinyPrenatswin

Destiny celebrates her huge win at Nike Prenationals (and beats my time)

Unfortunately my spirits were crushed to witness the high school championship race being won in a faster time (17:09 by Destiny Collins – a 40 second victory). I jokingly challenge her to beat that time in the year 2029 as a 31 year old mom. No for real- she crushed! This chick is legit!!

Stumptown XC #1 Results
1. Olivia Mickle 17:15 BTC
2. Julia Webb 17:19 BTC
3. Bridget Franek 17:25
4. Carrie Dimoff 17:35 BTC
5. Anna Connor 17:44 BTC
6. Carre Heineck 18:08
7. Renee Gordon 18:32
8. Amanda Phillips 18:38

Why is cross country so great in my book? It’s raw, exciting, unpredictable, muddy, sloppy, the slow-you-down footing, killer hills, wide open space where distance and time are not the bottom line of success. It’s all about competing and not letting the variables shake your confidence. 

preraceStumptown

When the skull patch comes out you know I’m serious…

The unfortunate part is that I have never been as gifted on the track as in a cross country race, because the times and distances don’t really mean much. One obvious exception is that man created the steeplechase, where you get a little elements of a tough cross race on a track…but the downfall means confusion and a lot of explaining to the John and Jane Does of the running world. “What is a steeplechase? You mean the horses? You jump through water? Where is this – like in a field? What part of a track?” VS. explaining you run the 5K . “Oh, not yet up to the marathon yet?” At least they understand what race you’re talking about and can comprehend the pace.

If my 2nd place appearance was at all a fluke, we’ll soon find out. Stumptown Series has 3 more local races with a Ms. Franek expected to be on the starting line for all. I may have lucked out picking up another daycare cold the week prior and cut back on the mid-week workout. My next go will be October 11 in Lentz Park.

All of this cross country/off track love has brought me curiosity in exploring the Warrior Dash series. I’m not about to convert to be an obstacle racer, and know I’d get my butt whopped on in a Spartan Race or anything involving extensive upper body strength.. but the 3.2 distance Warrior Dash offers a complete parallel of cross over for success in harrier/steeplechase specialists.

JWWD2KimberWDMy first one was back on September 7 (Oregon) where I went head to head against Kimber Mattox- usually my tough competition in the steeplechase the last few years. I took advantage of my savvy lake crossing and cargo net scaling skills and made it a good race til about mile 2 where Kimber, looking sharp and extremely strong left me in the dust on the steep uphill climb to the final set of obstacles. The day prior Renee Metivier Baillie made her WD debut having no skill on the obstacles themselves (proof in photos below), but let her running do the talking by easily taking the win over professional Spartan racer Rose Wetzel. (For anyone who doesn’t know Renee is a beast with US titles in her name on and off the track- not only boasting 15:15 5K, sub 9 3K PR, but also a recent a 2:27 marathon debut). Alan has known her since his high school days at Footlocker. Rumor has it she was one of the girls in the boy’s room keeping them up way too late the night prior.

Renee’s time for her first Warrior Dash outing was about equal to Kimber’s and about 45 seconds faster than mine. In 2 weeks I’ll be heading to California to face all of these girls again (and more surprises I’m sure) to compete at the “World Championships”.reneeWD4

Currently, I can’t complain in the training department but know I walk a fine line of crashing with a lot on my plate right now. I will error on the side of caution, especially in the big race weeks to come. The spring taught me valuable lessons I have been learning over and over, only now I’m really starting to listen. I’m less about the spontaneity of going with your gut if you happen to feel good on an off day, and more about being lame running a forced 8 minute pace on my recovery runs… but not all the time (see below). Life is getting easier (we’re talking sleep department here!) but I’m trying not to soften up too much or forget the edge motherhood has given me. My running pal Joanie is still there for me to get my weekly butt kicking with the stroller running. She makes for great company but always a challenge to coordinate the timing with her explosive energy levels and tolerance for being restrained. That leads me to my final fall racing goal….

Guinness Book of World Record (Stroller 10K) with my name on it. Time to beat: 43:07

I’ll admit I’m trying to break one of those World Records that’s pretty easy only because not too many people do it often enough in an official setting. I am certain Deena Kastor, Paula Radcliffe, or plenty of elite mom runners have ventured out and ran under the current world record stroller 10K pace (6:56) for more than that distance.. which includes me. I am not saying however, that a 43:07 10K pushing that beastly cart isn’t impressive.  My “Joanie PR” happened on a regular run day. I was not even going after a PR til I found myself semi-hammering while feeling good and thought, why not just keep it locked in at 7:00 pace checking my Hollister trail splits. Eventually I was under that and held 6:50 for 7 of the 10 miles (overall time 70:30). This was completely unofficial and I had a few brief stops for a traffic light on the Nike campus.

After that run, I began visualize myself competing against some of the other running mamas out there in a big championship setting and then got sad knowing that one does not exist. Then I begin to wonder if there was some sort of a record? I did some Googling and found an article about Allison Tai breaking the record in 2012. She lives nearby in Washington -her focus being an obstacle race competitor. I will actually meet her and compete against her on October 18 in the California Warrior Dash race. I have challenged her to come race me for the record, but understand she’s already got different fall plans of her own. So Mountain Buggy, BOB, USATF… ANYONE in the market for creating an exciting race opportunity: Please host an annual Stroller Running Championship. With prize money. People will come and the record could get crazy fast. Optimal distance would be between 5 and 10K to prevent hip flexors from falling off. That’s all…

Here’s my timeline for my World Record Quest…

The challenge: finding a race (optimal would be local) to accommodate strollers up in the front. Got denied by quite a few over the last few months
Success: Found one. Run Like Hell 10K in Portland Oct 27. The race director was AWESOME and supportive – I can’t begin to express my gratitude! Any Portland runners come challenge me stroller-less! My goal is to crack the top 10 in the female division. With approval I’ll be up near the front for the start.
Challenge: Joanie’s one time she will be out of town when I’m here alone that weekend. (Dad’s giving me a break and taking her back to Virginia for a 5 day trip).
Challenge: Recruit a new baby.
Success: Found one. She is a little over half of Joanie’s weight. This might end up being a win-win situation. Sorry Joanie…  :)
Challenge: Training with this baby (Ruby Schares, age 6 months) She has never been on stroller runs. Thankfully her mom is ultra supportive in my endeavor as a former track athlete at Iowa State and local high school coach. My first training run today was a huge success ! She made it 6 miles in about 45 minutes. She’s ready to roll. rubystrollerrun

Final announcement and non-racing goal for my fall – Move our family temporarily to Scottsdale, Arizona by mid November. USA Triathlon is graciously supporting our family’s quest to stay together and support Alan’s push towards success in Triathlon. We’re all heading there for the winter months very soon… In the mean time so much is going on and I am just enjoying one Oregon day at a time before we pack up the car and head on a treacherous trip in 2 cars with 1 Joanie. Any willing family/friends or friendly hitchhikers with a passion for 2 year olds are welcome to connect with me and undergo a screening to join me on the 1,300 mile journey to save my sanity.

alanBrobee

The point of moving – have a lot more of these moments

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Hood To Coast – Mixed Open CHAMPS!

WDh2c

@WD_H2C – DA CHAMPS!

Here’s my recap from my 2nd year running Hood to Coast. The whole division thing sounds lame, but basically my team – Willamette Dental – was the fastest team that included some girls. 6th overall out of 1050 teams- only 5 teams (all men)- beat us. We beat all the corporate teams (aka Nike).. and other studly teams which included beefcakes Alex Lohr, Derek Scott, Carrie Dimoff and teams lead by Olympians such as Lopez Lomong. After last year’s physical beat down that Hood to Coast left me with, I swore I wouldn’t do it again (at least for 2014). Yet somehow I responded with the words “I’m in” 3 days prior to race day- as a late addition to replace an opening on Willamette Dental (runner up by 3 minutes to Hood Rats in 2013).

Overall Results 
1 BTC Men’s              17:32:17      ave pace 5:18   division- corporate men
2 Google1                   19:13:01     ave pace 5:48                  corp men
3 BLACK FLAG         20:00:03                  6:02                 master’s men
4 Univ of Portland     20:01:34                 6:03                  open men
5 Extra Virgins           20:02:50                 6:03                 master’s men*
6 Willamette Dental  20:03:38         6:03                   mixed open
7 Hood Rats Jr           20:11:44                  6:06                   mixed open
8 Equipe Sauvage       20:17:02                 6:07                   open men
9 Bullseye Running     20:23:54                6:10                    open men
10 Nike Tarahumara   20:38:33               6:14               corp mixed open

*I know for a fact most of these guys were NOT 40! Either way they were dudes and they almost got chicked

I am confident participating this year was a good decision and I will definitely take credit for executing my race strategy perfectly (by not going out in 5:30 pace) – and holding off til leg 3 to get the best of myself. My pathetic #1 goal going forward is to prove that I have something left for the months ahead and have a successful cross country season. This is unlike last year- which I came into the 2013 relay with trashed legs from my “crash course training for Hood to Coast” in 1 week post-run break, sleep deprived and untrained for true endurance. That paired with a far too competitive mindset in the toughest leg Hood to Coast had to offer (Leg 5) ended in a terrible fall/winter with a long string of illnesses that didn’t clear up til early spring… Which lead to my crappy finish to my short lived track season in 2014 and no big PRs which I should have easily attained (I still have yet to run faster than a 16:45 – 5K in my entire life!- and only 17:22 in 2014!!!!)

h2clegsThis year’s catch was – I had Leg 10 – ranked 9th of 12 for difficulty (see chart above). Only 2 miles of climbing ending with a 5K. The other appeal – I had fresh wisdom from my recent mistakes and nothing to prove. I had put in 4 runs over 12 miles the last 4 weeks and have been feeling great. Van 2 didn’t meet til 6pm – which meant I had all day to rest up. It was also stocked with awesome people – it included my coach Jon Marcus, 2 of my BTC teammates and close friends Kristen Rohde and Anna Connor, former teammate at Run Portland Carre Heineck and team leader Dan Bartosz (husband of Erin Skourtes- another former teammate in Van 1). I knew this team was experienced and knew how to get the job done (aka – people came in trained, willing to sacrifice pain through minor injuries – and wouldn’t blow it on logistics of getting the van in the right place). It was also fun knowing we had a shot to win, but we wouldn’t be so serious that I had to go all out at any point. My coach in the van would not allow that! (He was so supportive in that- he even came out to meet me with a K to go in my first leg to ensure I would not be “racing”).

van1

Van 1 – way better capturing the moment – Chris Schafer (leg 5!!!!), Erin, Laura Cadiz, Aaron Nodolf, Chris McGuiness and Torrey Lindbo

I also had my mother in law Kathy visiting – amazing with Joanie, supporting me while I was away, and doing the extra mom work while I took naps in the days leading to my 3 legs of hard running and 36 hours without sleep. I didn’t even bring a sleeping bag or blanket, because I knew in a competitive team, that stuff doesn’t exist! As soon as my husband Alan said yes- which meant him sacrificing his normally structured morning of training – working around a trip to the beach on Saturday – I was in. (Yes he still got his training in… he also got to meet up with his World Team Vision team post-race which was pretty sweet).

So here’s how my experience went down –

Leg 10 – 5.12 miles – difficulty “Medium*” – 10:30pm Friday -along Springwater Corridor from Gresham heading toward downtown PDX, perfect 60’s Oregon early night temps

*medium? If you consider running 5 miles a challenge? This was as easy as it could get. Why I gladly picked this leg!

SpoiledLeg10I felt like a science experiment hooked up to LED lights, headlamped, reflective vested, GPS signaled and heart rate monitored (the GPS/heart rate were unnecessary but since I was borrowing Alan’s for the first time ever I figured why not check out some interesting data)! I was jacked up on almost 3 shots of espresso, completely overcaffeinated for my tempo effort. I definitely ate too much and stomach pain would be my greatest complaint for this leg. I kept glancing at the GPS every so often to make sure it would not go under high 5:40s. I stopped around mile 2 for a hug from super-fan of the night leg-nanny Jan (who lives along the course). Jon suspected I’d be going all out- so he came to meet me 1K to go- proving him wrong with the pace on lock down being completely spoiled with a slight net downhill, smooth surface and no turns. Since we were the last of the teams to start, I only passed 6 runners, offering encouragement, giving them fair warning that I wasn’t one of the non-LED lit hobos they had passed earlier …

Result - 5.12 miles – 30:08 – ave 5:51 pace (heart rate ave 170- I attribute this to high intake of caffeine and carrying 5 lbs of equipment)  ;) my first “workout/race” of that duration in a LONG time.

Leg 22 – 6.81 miles – difficulty “Hard” -5:00am – middle of nowhere heading toward Mist and a large traffic jam – cool; 50’s – could have used a shirt but trusted my reflective vest would provide adequate warmth

Leg22

This leg reminded me of a mini version of the Portland Shamrock 15K.. and I pretty much averaged the exact same time as my March ’14 race result. I didn’t need any caffeine before this leg to get me jacked up.. I was fearing some intense pain and lack of training hitting me hard but also worried I would go too out too hard and be fizzled before the long downhill. Once I got the slap bracelet, I relaxed and used the dozens of people I was passing to energize me and 1.8 miles came sooner that I thought. I used my old lady maturity to forget my times up the hill and run by feel. Cresting the top, I felt like flying but I kept it in control since I had 5 miles. Like Shamrock, it was not breathing here that limits you, but your muscles. I had some hip pain and other random aches, but it was really enjoyable and not steep enough to slow me down at all. I love running downhill, so NO real complaints!

Result – 6.81 miles – 40:34 (ave 5:57 pace) – splits- 6:48‘s first 2 miles; 5:35‘s last 5 miles . GPS/heart rate monitor fail! I saw a few mile marks on the road

I saw my van zoom by with a few miles to go – just as they were slowed to a stop a mile out from the next exchange.  Carre made it just before I arrived- only by running fairly hard almost a mile. The 5:30pm  start time ended up screwing everyone who was really competing, and our Van 2 (like most top teams) ended up moving a total of .25 miles in over an hour.. no breaks – 3.5 hours of  continuous drive time to make it to the final exchange from Van 1 final legs to ours.  Thanks to van jumping and extra running by my teammates- our leg 6 guy only had to wait 25 minutes (it could have been worse)! Poor Dan had retrace his entire 4.5 mile leg just to get in the van. This essentially cost Willamette Dental a shot at their PR (19:29- this team’s been around since the late 90s).

Leg 34 – 3.36 miles – “Gift from God” … still “Very Hard” at this point - 12pm Saturday – Astoria heading to Seaside, sunny, 80’s, no shade

Leg34I had slept 0, but my stomach was feeling great, and I had energy to burn. I was able to eat normal meals after both my legs and the noon starting time is (in Alan’s words) my jam. I could not be anything but excited knowing I had the shortest leg in the entire relay and it happened to be the last I needed to run! The rolling hills were perfect to mix it up and the pressure of knowing our fellow ‘Rats (7th overall) were chasing us gave me plenty of incentive to get after it. Going into the final bout from Van 2, we heard we had 3 minutes on them. When traffic stopped they went an alternative super long route and it paid off – gaining almost 10 minutes on our previous lead.leg34

I took off in my red sparkle skirt along hwy 202 in the blazing heat, with my goal to say something of encouragement to every single person I passed. At this point, the roads were pretty thick, which was also great to try to pick people off. About 400m in I spotted my first “fast looking dude”. I came up next to him, and found he was looking to hit 6:30s. My next victim was a UP alum who took a while to catch. I was deep in true race pain and yelled at him to stick with me and get after the next guy about 50 m ahead. That guy (Mike from the 5th place team Extra Virgins) glanced back and basically said “It’s on”. He wouldn’t give an inch when I got within a few seconds. UP guy was far behind and I was kicking hard the final mile to match his pace. He finished a few seconds ahead, but I outran him with his head start. The catch: he was on his 4th leg to help a teammate out and had already done all of Leg 5 – the really tough one mentioned earlier. Still, it was great to finish so strong, with my last mile in the 5:20s. I almost threw up in the car ride to the next exchange (mostly due to heat and being in a van way too long) but we pulled over in time for the nausea to subside. (I was a little disappointed)

Result – 3.36 miles – 19:29 (ave 5:46 pace)- splits 2.4 miles – 14:06, last .96 – 5:12; heart rate monitor in the van

H2Caward

The most coveted plaque in the entire world!!

Total Relay – 15.29 miles – 90:13 (ave 5:54 pace) in flats. I am sore.

h2cAshtonWithin an hour of my finish I was at the beach in Seaside meeting up with my family. Bonus highlight – Joanie finally got to meet Ashton Eaton (team captain for Team World Vision). She vaguely remembered him when she watched him win Gold during the 2012 Olympics. Mostly because she must have somehow remembered some crazy parents making her (at 6 weeks) do her “practices” …Video here:   http://youtu.be/R1t3KJOH6OY

 

 

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Game Changer

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Actual photo Alan received via text to alert him of his upcoming life change on October 14, 2011

It’s been almost 3 years since I received an important notification in the tiny apartment bathroom in Charlottesville. We’re talking positive pregnancy test here. At the time, it was like “Holy cow, I’m actually gonna have a kid. I hope she’s cute, and ummm, I hope she’s cute”. That and “Can I still run pregnant?” since I had a race coming up in 3 hours. No thought to what real 24/7 childcare was all about. I knew what the later stages of having a family was like as the oldest of 5 kids, but didn’t realize that as the first, my mom had experienced with me, the same shock I am going through with Joanie. If I had been wise I could have invested a little more time to earn some knowledge in 8th and 9th grade when my sister Molly was a baby, but I had other priorities. Deep in my Snoop Dogg phase, I didn’t want much to do with newborns especially if that meant hanging out with my mom. (Poor mom, I love her now!) So when this pregnancy occurred, I knew a baby would be the result, but what this really meant- I had no clue.

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Suspecting pregnancy feeling way off.. Competing at Tufts 10K a few weeks before I found out pregnancy status was official.

2 years into being a mom myself, I can’t believe how my life has changed and in a sense forced me to grow up. I’m not really a young mom, but even at age 29, I hadn’t put any real thought into what it would take to be a parent. Now at 31, with a 2 year degree in Advanced Baby and Toddler Care, with a minor in Traveling Solo with an Infant, I am feeling like I’m fitting well into the 30s. I am amazed at all the things I didn’t know or even foresee coming. During the pregnancy, you kind of just focus on “you” and making sure the baby you’re carrying around is safe and eventually gets out healthy.

I had a little prerequisite training as a nanny of 2 young toddlers, but it really was only a tiny smidgen of what real parenting is like. For instance, as a nanny, you get to go home before dinner. You skip the entire 7pm-7am shift which can be very complicated and unpredictable and completely break you down if you don’t have your PMA (positive mental attitude). One or 4 nights in a row it can be a complete treat when your kid (we’re talking post age 1) actually sleeps 12 hours straight, or it can be an exhausting brain wrecking puzzle piece to figure out how to get the kid back to sleep so you can function as a normal human the next day (Samuel Jackson curses a lot here, but its excused as he has a valid point – “Go the F to Sleep“.) Not a fan of the swearing, but even if you rarely catch yourself doing it, it would likely be at 3am when your kid is awake, as he is expressing himself in this poem. 

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Step 1. Made it into world Step 2. 18 years of fun and games trying not to mess it up

I heard about this no sleep type thing and wondered how the hay I’d ever survive. The truth- I did it only because I was able to nap occasionally when she did. If I would have had to return to work, I’m sure I would have crumbled, and definitely not have had any successful running performances. But even then, there is nothing worse than the sound of anything coming from the mini tv camera next to your bed when the sun is far from returning to the surface. Looking at it from a runner’s perspective -there’s a reason why it takes women a while to return to training after childbirth.. not just so your body’s hips can return to their normal position, but so you can realistically think about if it is even worth training as you did pre-baby when you can’t get more than a 3 hour stretch of sleep at a time (at least for the first 3+ months). I was in rough shape like most parents, and still occasionally (usually bi-weekly) I get slammed once again. Even after I think she’s comfortably coasting in the 12 hours a night phase, just like that she’s up 2-5am rearing to go, wishing I could get Samuel Jackson in my room to talk her out of it. Thankfully biology makes you stay sane by continuously sending you vibes of “aww she’s really cute” or “wow she looks just like if the guy I love the most in the world and I had a kid”.

Even outside the loss of sleep category, there are/were constant realities that kept hitting me as I went through the new parent stage. The main one that kept coming up was “How do people have 2? or 3? or 6?” “Did I really think I wanted at least 3?” “How did so many humans make it to adulthood?” Now I get why there’s problems in the world. Being a parent is hard!! I didn’t give my parents nearly enough credit and most people likely don’t get why some parents chose to “stay home” until they have one themselves. The job is endless, and the credit is so little, unlike a prestigious job where you can likely go home at 6pm and not worry about it til the next morning* (ok -my experience being a tech rep this is not the case- and I realize not all jobs you can really just leave out there.. some never end) – but great parenting gives you no paycheck and if you do find work, a severe cut of that paycheck goes right back into someone watching your kid.

Why I don’t work more – if I got anything less than full time – I get paid say $15 an hour- a sitter takes a minimum of $10. This is the true cost of having a child. I never understood when Alan explained the Simpsons intro – as they ring up Maggie at the checkout – a massive $$$ pops up – the average cost per year of raising a child at the time of the show. “How could diapers and baby food be that expensive?” Duh. Not to mention flying. Joanie is now a minimum $400 to get back to see any of her relatives. You can skip shopping at designer baby boutiques – get all hand me down clothes and still fork over mass quantities of cash anytime you need a break or get work done as a parent. 

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$847.63 – the monthly cost of infant-rearing in 1989 (original price tag on The Simpsons). Obviously that # keeps going up!

Running. Wow. I never knew the “+” essentially meant – you think running pregnant feels hard? Wait til you have to push a heavy cart of wheels basically at all times (especially when your husband’s career involves heavy travel). Not only the actual pushing/running but calculating the best time it can fit into your child’s day so they don’t fall asleep and ruin their real nap/have a meltdown because they don’t want to be restrained, etc- The cost for stroller free running – $20+ for an outing getting a sitter, max of an hour on a treadmill (once I discovered a gym with childcare), bribing people in which I now feel I am in great debt. I was thankful to be a part of the coaching staff at Westview High school last fall. Part of that deal it was agreed that Joanie was team baby, as head coach Rebecca Martin (one of the most amazing people on planet Earth) watched Joanie as I went off to run with the kids. Of course when Alan is home, we do swap shifts, and I run Joanie free, but this usually means he takes prime time (AM) and I go 2nd shift (usually lunch time), but I’m not complaining here!! Thank you Alan- please come back home (next return is in 8 days!!)

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Day 1: Alan entering the unknown of parenting

Then there’s getting sick. It’s easy to forget the trauma of how a simple cold can wreck havoc on your family when its the heart of summer and her last one was in June. It basically can turn the sweetest, cutest, most well behaved baby into a basket case and complete meltdown crazed wildebeest. During her first 4 months of daycare, she went from one sickness to another, constantly coughing, snotting and let’s just say double the work adding to the exhaustion of parenting. It’s all part of life though, daycare or not, kids are destined to be sick til the immune system is built up. 

So what tips would I give first time pregnant mamas?

- Soak up the quiet nights and sleep as much as possible to the point you are tired of sleeping. Use that for ammo as you charge into the first year of your child’s life and reflect on how boring it was to get long stretches of uninterrupted sleep.

- Go on as many dates as possible. They are free for now! Even if you feel fat and unattractive, go out to some place without any mirrors near by, and live it up with your husband!! Same with hanging with your friends. Do it now before “past her bedtime” and being highly distracted becomes an obstacle.

-Offer to babysit or watch a friend/relative’s baby for free. Sounds like a rip off, but this will be life as you know it very soon. You won’t get paid, so do it with love and take notes on what these parents do that work, or do not

-I never really read any baby books but if you’re bored during the pregnancy, it couldn’t hurt. I would say its more important to know about taking care of a baby, rather than spend the time reading endless pregnancy books. If you have ever seen “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” show you’ll quickly understand that energy wasted on knowing exactly what to do during this time, matters very little, outside the basic – take care of yourself. I have yet to see a show with a handicap baby, although many of the unknowingly pregnant women did zilch for prenatal care (although I obviously would recommend it – just not stress on every little tidbit of pregnant wisdom there is out there). Yet, I would imagine even if you read every book on infant care, you’d still find moments where you pretty much have blown it. It’s all about experience. 

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The art of swaddling/restraining for maximum sleep potential

-Take advantage of the midwives, nurses, or extra care you get in the hospital/birthing center/ wherever you gave birth during the hours/days after the baby arrives. I arrived back at my apartment about 3 hours after giving birth and my reaction “wow she’s tiny. Like a lot smaller than I expected. Now what do I do?” My instinct – don’t let her die. Stay close. Very close. Make sure she’s breathing and get up to check various times of the night. And day.  I was super attached and nervous even when she was asleep that something would go wrong if I didn’t watch constantly, which became me sleeping an inch away from her bassinet. I never left my baby’s side, which caused some fear about being on constant watch and not really leaving the responsibility to someone else. It wasn’t til she was about 2-3 months, and she could roll over, that I lost that phobia. It could have stemmed from having no relief/trust in anyone from hour 1. Take advantage of all the help you can before the newborn phase passes and you’re really on your own!

-When you end up lost, find someone who knows their stuff. I was so thankful to find the “baby whisperer” Jan Weeks. We connected when I did a nanny search for one of my best friend’s weddings back in Portland when we were still in VA. She showed me the light as someone with great experience and knowledge for anything and all things babies. Plus she just showed me how to do this “job” having more fun. If it wasn’t for her sleep training around 5 months, I would have never experienced the joy of a baby who finally fell in love with her crib and zero nursing from 9-6am from that point on. Jan is available in the Portland area for anyone in need!!!

 

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Me getting handed over newborn baby Joanie- the equivalent of Billy Madison getting the company handed over to him before he won the Academic Decathlon.”I don’t know. Don’t think about it. Just hand it over”.

That’s all for my ranting on learning to be a parent for now! All the negatives never outweigh the positives. The rough stages always pass and make you enjoy what previously could be seen as “dull moments” . Your 2 year old becomes your best friend and you can’t imagine life without them. Having Joanie has been a game changer, but for the best and is it basically means never a dull day. Now that she’s basically saying every single word in the English language, it is even more entertaining to hear what’s in the mind of a 2 year old! Good luck to my sister in law Chen expecting her first this November !! Also a note to please excuse my constant tweets and blog posts on stroller running. Each run, I feel a great accomplishment has happened with mass amounts of effort, especially as the weight continues to increase (maybe my tires are a little flat too…) I’m just trying to give myself gold stars of encouragement so I keep my miles up!!! :)

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Wisdom to Change and Secrets to Success

My last blog I summed up why I crashed and burned at the biggest meet of the year. As I was relaxing in the hotel that afternoon before I was headed to the track I had endless, “I wish I would have done it this way” ideas pop into my head. Most of these are no brainers, I’d like to share what I learned from my experience. Finally I’d love to contribute to the world some of my personal “secrets” that have continued to help me succeed.

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Mid hard workout with Kristen Rohde. You need lots of these bad boys to succeed on the track, but timing is everything

The attitude -“Act like a horse. Be dumb. Just run.” “Pain is temporary, pride is forever”, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. These quotes are great when you are mid-race and need to gut it out, but dangerous if you take it to heart daily and just ignore red flags. Being stone cold and trying to stick to an ideal plan on paper while disregarding all reality of a given situation is a recipe for disaster! Sometimes that dumb horse’s leg breaks and they have to be shot. Don’t let it happen to you. Thankfully I haven’t been shot yet, but that’s only because I’m disguised as a human. (Besides my broken leg occurred during a soccer game, no stress fractures to date!)

What I Need to Improve On/You Might Too

😣 Communicate with your coach!! Pretty much a given, but even when you are ashamed of how you handled life’s challenging situations or embarrassed by how you’re not able to recover, the only way to improve your situation is honesty and speaking up. I was just trying to be submissive. I wanted to suck it up and not cause any more drama saying I needed another day or 3. I had taken endless days off in the winter from my illnesses, so I had made up my mind that somehow I HAD to hit every workout or I would be subjected to more feelings of “you are always missing workouts, you are not going to hit any goals” from thoughts and voices of others.

😣 Listen to your body! It doesn’t matter how tough you are, if you are constantly pushing through brick legs, it is telling you- “You are ridiculous. No, a 3 day taper at the very last second leading up to your race is not going to solve your endless dead legged/energy zapped problems!” Once again, even if it looks terrible on paper to have another random day off, it’s better than showing up and barely getting your legs to come off the track. Besides, you also look ridiculous, especially around actual professional athletes getting their workouts in on the same track.

😣 You can’t cheat distance running. I cheated last year and got away with zero long runs and pretty minimal mileage– I would imagine in the 50’s at the max but I didn’t even keep track (that is also my next goal-keeping track without obsessing). This season I rushed into speed work again without the standard “base training phase”. Once you get past the year mark, especially when your pregnancy hormones have dissipated; there is a law that states your previous years and years of long run base are gone. Good luck trying to walk normal on your recovery days, you will NOT handle the high volume workouts so well this time around.

😣 Cross train! To runners it seems terrible to have a “0” miles day in your log, especially if you sweat for over an hour and even worse- you didn’t even get to workout outside. It can be pretty heartbreaking to see your weekly mileage suffer as you still are putting work in… but it does feel pretty dang good to use different muscles. Even better if your right side is way more sore than the left from favoring it in the steeple or turning left way too often. It can be so much more effective than “recovery runs” when even 9 minute pace makes your legs feel like they are actually screaming so others can hear.

😣 Forget your past seasons and trying to measure up to them. You are in a constant revolving state as a human, and it is unrealistic to think that just because you did something last year, it will automatically mean you can do it again or better. Try to be in the moment and respect life’s constant changes. Stop obsessing about PR numbers and splits- remember its more about competing. If you compete well, the numbers will come.

Post PR Season Syndrome- noun. The belief that you will run each important race in any future season as fast or much faster than your PR and anything less is failure. Leads to impatience, unrealistic expectation, rushed fitness, obsession of splits, forgetting about racing. End results: frustration and severe disappointment. Athletes who have struggled with it: See Alan Webb and Julia Webb.

Another separate fact related to my event-

The women’s steeple has evolved. The days of sub 10 being a wow factor are over. The US Women’s level of competition has finally caught up to the men. Men have been competing since 1900, women are only in their 14th year since the NCAA offered it (and only 2 Olympic Games opportunities). It took a 9:48 to qualify for the finals this year, and there wasn’t even a World Championship team spot on the line. Compare this year’s final to the Olympic Trials only 2 years ago (even tougher and not all of the top US competition even showed up!)SteepleTrialsUSAs

For this year- Letsrun.com preview pointed out that a quarter of the field (7 women) had a 12 second PR or faster in the 2014 season going into the race!  Emma Coburn just set the American Record a week ago with a 9:11.42. Back in 2001 when I ran a 10:50 as a freshman at the D3 national meet, I remember getting an email stating “you have ran the 63rd fastest time in the world”. That time now ranks 900,293 (jk). This is all a good thing, but a reality check for myself!

Back to my own journey training/competing-I obviously had multiple areas to work on. The good news is that I was highly success in many areas that have previously been a struggle- and I have made a habit to solve a few of my other training mysteries this year. Here’s what I have to share.

My Successes and Wisdom 

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Running for Nuun Hood to Coast Team was very beneficial – met the people behind an awesome company and got me hooked on their products

👍Hydration with a coffee addiction I am in love with Nuun! I use it when I’m headed into a longer run or dealing with hot weather.  Great when I get that need to hydrate, but the more water I drink, the more I pee. I have tried Pedialyte for severely depleted states (but a miracle can’t be bought for $5.95). I have cut back my coffee consumption down to once a day-12 oz max and ONLY if I have a run planned within the next few hours. 

👍Iron levels Proferrin is awesome- a heme source that is highly absorptive in which you can take at any time! My ferritin levels used to be terrible- we’re talking max high teens even while supplementing. Now they are comfortably over 30. I also take advantage of any sleep disturbances (3-5am) with an extra dose of ferrous sulfate and vitamin C. This is the only point during my waking hours I have an empty stomach.

👍Eating “Bad” Food - I have to constantly remind myself in training that when the intensity and duration increases, you need some mega calories to keep the fire burning. It can be tough when you’re appetite is off or you’re finishing a race late at night. Many runners can get caught up in eating way too healthy (guilty). The best solution to unknown fatigue (when you visibly have not been gaining weight) is a day of pigging out. I usually feel the best in workouts or runs the day after I thought it was unnecessary to add on a late night desert with zero “healthy” ingredients.

I struggle with eating enough when I’m not working out. I am not at all inclined to eat a lot if I haven’t earned it. I cannot stand being tanked up on energy knowing I don’t get the outlet to move. I believe it’s from the irrational fear I’m going to turn into the size of an average American overnight if I start enjoying the feeling of laziness associated with eating (sorry Jim Gaffigan- view “LAZY” here).  I’m always at my healthiest weight when I’m running the most – I have no restrictions and feel good about eating cookies and ice cream.

👍Being lazy When and if at all possible the choice is to do something strenuous (aka taking your kid to the zoo) vs non (laying on the ground while you’re kid gets high quality entertainment walking on top of you). If you are deep in training and/or there is an important race coming up- choose non. I love rollercoasters and rides. Yet I have only been to a theme park on 2 occasions since I started running 14 years ago (that’s pretty sad!) I associate that with standing in line all day in the hot sun eating funnel cakes and having dead legs for about 2 weeks. I’ll take up my thrills of going on the monkey bars and swings at the local park, saving myself 10 hours of exhaustion. I have to add another Jim Gaffigan clip – Disney Land – he is so wise.

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My favorite time to bond. Laying on the ground time.

I learned from the pro – Alan Webb. He’s got this covered and goes to great lengths not to move when/if at all possible between training sessions. True story- during his achilles injury we went to the Holocaust Museum in downtown D.C. and he opted to be pushed around in a wheel chair. Since my daughter loves the swings, last trip to the park he brought a stool.

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The master staying off his feet – waiting for the Max downtown PDX with portable chair

👍 Music amazing addition to your run to boost your mood. Especially those days when you don’t feel like moving. I finally upgraded my playlist and I can’t tell you how well running with one good song can change your day. The key is to not overdo it as the “amazing” factor takes a dive after each consequential use and you get sick of your fav songs.

👍Treadmill (vs stroller all the time)- Finding a gym with cheap childcare has been life changing (Check out 24 Hr Fitness)! For non parents, finding a treadmill surrounded by mirrors is also very helpful to monitor and correct form flaws.

👍Low Fiber Diet – We’re talking right a day or 2 leading up to race day. I had huge success with keeping my time in the bathroom minimal on race days and what shouldn’t be- is a big relief to me! I completely back off from excessive fruits, vegetables and the dozens of weird ingredients they put in “healthy” energy bars and foods. (Flax, chia seeds, inulin fiber…) So much easier not having to scramble to find a portopotty for the 5th time in the past hour just as you’re about to line up.

👍Nerves I really enjoyed each race day and had another successful year without the race day dread/nerves to waste my energy on. The combo of fiber and nerves have been historically the worst thing to sabotage my race day potential. I credit maturity and the reality check that my running results don’t really mean much to anyone except me. Yet I can be very hard on myself, so I do fear how I’ll react when a race doesn’t go well!

👍Painful track sessions did not scare me. I used to get anxious all day if I knew a tough one was coming. Worse with racing. Another reason why my nerves have subsided. I somehow seemed immune to gut wrenching pain of the hard sessions. Doesn’t mean I didn’t have to hide near the bleachers yelling obscenities  at myself to toughen up before I appeared to toe the line before the next. Thanks Chappelle Show! My theory – when you’ve grinded out workouts for so long, and you are getting older, you realize that pain in that format is a gift. It won’t be long (relatively speaking) til you are forced to retire and someday you will eventually even die. I still had the fresh memories of not being able to workout in the winter months. That pain is way worse!

👍Laughter and Love- You need it to survive life during hard training (or being a human).  I am so lucky to have my family and friends! I love you Alan and Jo Jo! I also need Portlandia, Jim Gaffigan, and all ridiculous comedy without swearing every line (or I start cursing too). Think Dumb & Dumber, Billy Madison, Napoleon Dynomite and preferably edited versions of Chappelle Show.

👍Alcohol – Another one in the feel good category. “I will never discourage you from a drink” – Alan on the subject of me consuming it. Basically I am much more mellow and likely way more fun to be around. It only takes a pathetically small amount. We’re talking like 4-5 oz of wine a couple times a week. If I get through the whole glass or a single beer, I’m past the necessary point (which makes sense based on weight). You get the desired effects and you’re good to go the next day without hangover symptoms. I have yet to do a beer mile, and would probably take 45 minutes.

👍Jesus – He’s right there with alcohol (only kidding). My personal promotional stance on God’s only son is that you need Him. You can have the longest, most successful career, do all the things right without self destructing like I do, and in the end, it won’t really mean much if you don’t have something to bridge the gap between here and the afterlife. When running fails you, it leaves you feeling empty. I know it has done that to me and I know there’s a purpose behind it. I accept that as God calling me back to reprioritize my life. Alan has influenced me heavily- that walking the walk is way more important than talk. Still it doesn’t hurt to mention it. There are so many people who don’t put much thought into concept that faith could/should (in my opinion) be something to be taken seriously. I just want to send a reminder that maybe it should matter. In that regard my role models in the professional running world would be Nick Willis, Meb Keflezighi, Josh McDougal and the Halls (Sara and Ryan).

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Cool fact- Mass is essentially the same in any country, only a different language. This was in the Netherlands.

Those aren’t all my secrets but a large sample of what I have found to be working. I’m hoping there is a next time for me to get a quality track season in so I can use my new found knowledge toward PRs, but I have to look at reality. I’m at the point in my life where I’m ok with taking a step back and focusing on what’s necessary for my family – finding my place and putting my energy into a new career. In the mean time, I’m living each day to the fullest and taking advantage of all the running I can get in while being ready for a life altering/ necessary change for overall good.

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Season Recap

“SERIOUSLY? Did I just RUN THAT?!” Yeah, in perfect conditions, optimal race situation to PR, at the biggest meet I could possibly hope to qualify for, a chance to prove I deserved to be there, no nervous breakdown, mindset of a champion and I had NOTHING.  I’m finally addressing what my last blog had hyped up- US Outdoor Championships- the steeplechase in late June. We’re talking 10:16 here- 20 seconds from the minimal time goal and 12 spots away from the place goal I had set. (Without shame: prelim results. Women steeple seriously dominated this year and I have much respect and appreciation for the true pros in the sport. Final results – all 13 women under 10!)

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With my Bowerman Track Club teammates Carrie Dimoff and Kristen Rohde- representing in the 10K

It wasn’t a total surprise after the physical symptoms of feeling zero desire to move forward had set in during the past 3 weeks. Yet I still thought by default of inspiration and a few days rest I could at LEAST improve on my 10:02 at Portland Track Festival (in the middle of that 3 week phase). My mind was right on par for success, with belief and knowledge on what and how to do it. At about 300m in, it was clear that I was in the real life version of the dream where you are running in slow motion. I know I just run for fun, but part of me really wants to be 100% productive with each race and take advantage of setting new PRs (especially since many of my track PRs are relatively weak)… It didn’t happen in my final race and it should have been obvious I was headed for a crash.

My final mega volume, mind-blowing (for Julia Webb) workout result occurred the final Sunday in May. I had dug so deep in the final 2 mile “tempo” after legitimately setting personal bests from 600-400-300-200m. My digestive system was a mess, I wasn’t processing foods to help my tired body, inadequate sleep (blaming that on Joanie) and other stresses all factored into why I couldn’t quite recover and by next week Wednesday’s workout I was still fried. My projectory up in fitness and moved south to down. My “get fit quick” plan from my gigantic lack of base training (missing crucial months leading up to the track season), was just not gonna cut it to survive consistent training at that level. But I had to do something. It was day 4. Don’t want to lose fitness here*.                                         (*common runner mistake thinking)

My coach was unavailable during that Wednesday workout and by rep 1 I was feeling zero pop, but able to muscle through it. Each rep I was continuing to feel the strain but able to rely on my persistence to get it done. By rep 14 (400’s over 5 hurdles which I was not too keen on anyway); I had pretty much gone deeper in that hole I had dug and eventually never got out. To make matters even worse I had to rush off, in fight or flight mode basically til I finally arrived at my parents house- 2000 miles and 10 hours later. I will never take for granted how relaxing a flight is without your kid. The direct flight to Sacramento was a luxurious experience, completely quiet, able to actually read more than one page of my book and completely zone out! I wouldn’t have minded if we ended up stuck in the air another couple hours.

My WI trip had been the 2nd of that duration and intensity within 2.5 weeks. Not great timing when you are trying to keep your life stress free and consistent in training. The intensity factor= solo with Joanie. And no she doesn’t fall asleep on any flights. From the 14×400 track workout with 70 hurdles- all well under my goal pace- I rushed home to shower, shoveled some food in while driving – over to pick up my toddler heading into the LONG night ending in Wisconsin.  Unfortunately Joanie did not have the chance to get her equivalent of running 12 miles in. She had been loaded up on a steady stream of carbs and sugar all day at daycare (like she always is)- ready to give mommy the ultimate test of endurance.

The following day on my first run back to the Midwest, the humidity added to my insult. It had just stopped snowing less than a few weeks ago, but now it was back to 85 degrees and 90% humidity. Pacific Northwest runners are spoiled. The following 3 days I struggled heavily through the brick of hot air in what was suppose to be “recovery” runs, willing myself to take steps forward. It was so bad I seriously had to say “step forward” at some points. I looked for any excuse to stop mid run to stretch to ease the suffering. Seriously an 8 mile run was that difficult. Why I didn’t take a day off I don’t have a flippin clue. I got a much needed massage and thought that would solve my problems. Instead I just ended up with $100 less in my bank account.

After witnessing my brother Jake get happily married on Friday, I planned a medium intensity track session to happen on Sunday. My old friend, head coach at UW-O Eamon McKenna and sister Molly Rudd joined in the festivities. I requested to begin the intervals at 1pm so I could get ready for any heat I may face later this summer. As I churned out one flat but on pace interval after another with Eamon’s sweat flying into my face, I knew continuing that pace for more than the rep required was a joke. How I was going to run the 9:50 I was imagining just 10 days ago was becoming more and more a no-longer-possible feat. Upon my return, later that week I pulled it together at Portland Track Festival, but to me at the time, it was a failure finishing well off my personal best. Unexpectedly I put my name into the USA entries on the last possible day and got into the US meet (ranked 23 of 26). I would not pass that up. For a non-pro runner like myself to qualify for that, competing is a no brainer.

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A rare moment of calm at the Marco Polo Motel in Seattle -post Monroe Triathlon

From that point, despite my rough workout just before “hell weekend” with Joanie in Seattle to watch Alan’s race, I was constantly telling myself upstairs I was going to do great (even though the legs had other plans). Poor Joanie was not feeling 100% and I had dragged her around to watch one of the few opportunities to ever see Alan in person compete (Monroe Tri). It was collectively the worst behaved Joanie I had ever seen 3 consecutive days in a row and it was just enough to destroy me emotionally and physically. Alan kicked butt and was amazing to watch, so I don’t regret my trip!

Then came the rough workout the day after Alan’s race. It was ugly. Oiselle coach Dr Lesko and Lauren Fleshman who happened to show up just as I was getting started, likely thought I was a very sad sight/joke. My entire right side was locked up from restraining Joanie on the train and sleeping on the bed at the Marco Polo Motel. I had struggle written all over me. The “feel good tune-up” was more like “standing still running all out as Kate Grace was literally doubling my distance in that amount of time”. I cut the workout from what was suppose to be 2 more sets of 800/300/400 to a single 400. And mistakenly tried a few more. Alan showed up with more crying from Joanie and I got in maybe 6 minutes from my cool down feeling the need to punch someone in the face.

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Running into Lauren with my positive attitude (before the workout began)

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Thankfully I found some hurdles I could assemble with sticks before my  final workout began!

And that was the last effort on the track before I flew into Sacramento to finally get a breather the day before my race. I really needed at least 1 more mom-free day and maybe I could have strung together a Portland Track Festival. Either way, I was in no place to compete at that level, but decision to race was made and I was going to at least give it my best shot. The weird part – I did zilch to take care of myself post race (complete with the largest beer sampler for $8 I have ever seen at 11pm) – and the days following the race, I had zero soreness. I was unable to use any of my speed or strength in that race. Just blah running in slow motion after gassing my engine the first 800m. It was a sad sight. By Saturday actually felt like I had pop in my legs playing frisbee. Seriously the first time all month I could remember thinking I had anything to do with the word “pop”. I can contribute most of this to the amazing 5 day vacation I was just finishing, with Alan easing my mind as super-dad during Joanie’s birthday.

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Highlight of my trip- extended quality time with Jena Winger and other homie runners.

Immediately following the race, I decided to take a mandatory break from running to regroup and start fresh to do things right. During this time is when my thoughts turned to learning from mistakes and owning them. I didn’t want to end on a negative note…but this is getting way too long for one blog post. Coming soon- What I learned and wisdom to share on recent life changes that did work!

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Alan was killing it back in Dadville while I was in Sacramento. Joanie’s handmade cake for her 2nd bday.

 

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Time to Get Tough

In about 24 hours I am privileged to toe the line with the nations top steeplechasers with my mediocre sneak in of 10:02.64 (A standard was 9:55.00). Originally I was intending to compete only if I “deserved” to be in with a PR (set 2013 – 9:55.36), but hearing the field would not fill, I was not going to pass an opportunity up. Firstly, because I get a 4 day vaca from the kid with a supportive husband to take over, and secondly because I do work my butt off and do believe I can mix it up in the field! My 10:02 left me waking up at all hours of that night reliving why I didn’t get more competitive with my eyes looking straight at the ground and why I didn’t make it hurt more. My attention was all over the place, reflecting on the downside of being a mom- being an excellent multi-tasker. I also had some guilt holding me back with the actual thought, “If you run really well, that means you’re gonna have to go to USAs”, (which meant the opposite of what being a mom stands for.. going on a trip focusing completely on myself). With the guilt removed from convincing of my family, my flights already set- I am holding nothing back! My mantra for this race is FOCUS! 

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Running my 10:02 in la-la land as the race gets away from me

Most people will count me out as a threat for taking anyone’s spot in the final, but people don’t know what ammo I am bringing. My secret weapon isn’t a seed time or gift of speed, but an endless ability to endure and push myself to my ultimate limit. By coincidence it is Joanie’s birthday on Friday, which is kind of crazy because exactly 2 years ago within the exact hour the gun to my race will go off (7:50pm Pacific Time), I went into labor (10:45pm Eastern Time).

Sadly I don’t remember much of the pain from the last few races but I DO clearly remember the agony of labor which appropriately started exactly 2 years ago (to the hour) to the time I will race tomorrow in the prelims. What made the difference? Labor lasted 1080 minutes (18 hours) where as any good steeple should be over in under 10 minutes (~.2 hours). Just giving myself a friendly reminder as I write this!

 

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Counting on Alan to repeat his cake performance for a 2nd year in a row

I really want to make the finals not because I have a shot to win, but because I saw the forecast for Saturday (94 degrees) and the time of the final (1:56pm). Am I heat trained? Not really. But this is good news for someone who thrives on less than ideal circumstances. If you see me in Saturday’s race, I will try to duplicate my same strategy as last year which lead to a 9th place finish. This is likely going to be sitting in the back, suffer to the best of my ability, then hopefully not fall off the pace, picking up the casualties (if I myself do not become one). I am one of those runners who rejoices when time isn’t on the line and you have awful conditions, which is why true cross country races are my favorite and the only comparative event on the track is the steeplechase.

Let’s see what I got! As you can see I’m excited to make my 3rd appearance at USA’s with 3 of my Bowerman Track Club teammates (Kristen Rohde and Carrie Dimoff in the 10,000; and Lindsey Drake in the 5000). I am humbled to line up next to truly talented U.S. distance runners and ready to give whatever I have using my God given talents. 

Tune in live at USATF.TV free and watch the finals on NBC! (Broadcast info here)

The last time a Webb stepped on the Sacramento State track:

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Alan winning the 2004 Olympic Trials -exactly 10 years ago!!!

 

 

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