Dear Fall Marathon: It’s Not You. It’s Me.

Based on some of the responses I got from my Rut post last week, it seems I’m not the only runner-in-training who’s in a bit of a funk right now.

Which got me thinking about the downsides of training for a fall marathon.

Sure, spring marathons have their own winter training challenges: ice, snow, polar vortexes, to name a few.

But training in the summer brings its own special sort of hell.

1. Heat. I know there are people who dream of running Badwater. I’m not one of them. I can barely stand to sit by a pool in the heat, let alone do something to raise my VO2 max threshold.

2. Humidity. Even worse than the heat. Truly. Lately, I may as well have been running on a treadmill in a steam room. While smoking.

3. Schedule. It’s been many moons since I last sat in a classroom, but there is still a part of me that sees “Summer” and wants to take a vacation from everything “Schedule.” Even if your training schedule is as half-assed as mine, it is still a schedule. Screw schedules. I want to be a Grasshopper in the summer, not an Ant.

4. Exhaustion. Summer training kills my sleep. If I want to get a solid run in on a weekday, I’m out the door as the raccoons are heading off to bed. I like to get up early, but there is a difference between getting up early and having coffee in bed vs. getting up early and doing intervals. No rest for the weary during summer marathon training.

5. Social Life. Because I have to be careful of what I eat and drink so I don’t puke on my hot, humid run at dawn, marathon training sure does put a damper in those Summer Nights. No midnight margaritas on the deck the night before a tempo run. If you have my stomach, there is also no: beer, wine, Mexican food, pizza, dairy, salad, anything spicy, or anything that ever touched a vegetable or fruit. I can stomach pancakes or scrambled eggs the night before a long or intense run. With water. Not exactly standard fare at summer soirees.

6. Chafing. When it is cool, I have an idea of where you will chafe, and can glide up properly before you head out. All bets are off when it is hot and humid. I can glide the hell out of every area that touches a waistband, bra strap, pocket – you name it – only to find (when I hop in the shower – Youch!)  that there was a random seam on my singlet that got soaked with sweat and chafed my shoulder blade. I developed a chafing rash on my sockline a few weeks ago. WTF? Short of gliding my entire damn body and slip-sliding all 19 miles, summer long runs are hard lessons in the odd places one can chafe.

7. Sandals. I’m not vain, but I also don’t like scaring people. Which is why I hate baring my marathon training feet to the world. Honest truth: every time I go to my local nail salon, they send a guy over. Apparently, my feet are a man’s job. (???) Nothing worse than putting on a cute pair of sandals and realizing that beneath the dainty straps, all you can see are callouses, healing blisters and missing toenails. At least in winter, no one knows what lurks beneath my Uggs.

8. Dehydration. I am either dehydrated, or recovering from being dehydrated, or worried about being dehydrated. All. The. Damn. Time. I am sick of carrying a water bottle everywhere I go. I am tired of Gatorade. I don’t want to add chia seeds to everything. I don’t want to check the color of my pee. I am still a little confused by salt pills. I want a beer. I want more beer.

9. Outdoor time. In the winter, running gives me a good reason to head outdoors. What other excuse do I have for getting some fresh air and Vitamin D when it is 8 degrees? In the summer I have lots of reasons to be outdoors, many of which involve shade, a cool drink and a book. I don’t need the lure of a 3 hour run through the rainforest to motivate me to leave my house.

10. Performance Depression. No matter how hard I run, how much water I drink, how well I fuel, if I look at my pace on my Garmin, I know I will not be impressed. I know, I know – training is more about effort than pace. Even Hanson says so. BUT, there’s something a little thankless about running your heart out only to find that you actually are moving at a snail’s pace.Almost backwards at times. Say what you will about cold temps, but they at least make you zippy.

Two of my bucket list marathons – New York and Chicago – are in the Fall, so I’m probably not done with the fall marathon yet. And the truth is, the fall is a GREAT time to race.

I just wish the summer was a good time to train.

How do you feel about training in the summer? The winter? Ever? Which races are on your bucket list?

Running, Riding and Celebrating with Drunk Otis! 

It’s been a long week, Poodles. Between running my legs off, stressing about NOT riding as much as I should be with the Pan Mass Challenge a mere 26 days away and drinking like a FIEND this past weekend with Drunk Otis, I’m pretty spent. I’ve got no one to blame. I know. I totally did it to myself. 

AND I’D DO IT AGAIN.  

I slacked slightly this past week. In my defense, I will say it was for a good reason. As has been the case for the past 10 years, the PMC is sneaking up on me. So instead of completing ALL of my Hansons Marathon Method approved runs,  I substituted one of my “easy” runs for a ride. There. I said it. I can not tell a lie. Christ. It’s not like I sat on my ass and guzzled delicious beers, pita chips and sriracha hummus while watching the last season of Entourage on Netflix or anything. Note: I did that AFTER my ride

AND I’D DO IT AGAIN. 

Here’s how Colby’s Week in Running went: 

It’s a sign!

 Monday: 6 “easy” miles. On trails. With Drunk Otis! Before I launch into our trail run, let me state for the record that none of these miles were/are “easy.” Sure. I wasn’t running at break neck speed, but on tired legs ANY speed faster than “crawl” is fast. Cumulative fatigue is real. I will admit, it’s either getting better for me or I am becoming the David Blaine of running. Total voodoo mind trick shit right here. Pain? What pain? Who’s the endurance artist now, Blaine?!?! As for the actual run with Drunk Otis, it was EPIC. He had a blast running intervals with the local girls high school cross country team. He may have even scored a gig as their mascot. Such a ham. 

Tuesday: 7 miles. INTERVALS. Just when I think I couldn’t possibly sweat more, Tuesday rolls around and I float off of the goddamn slip and slide treadmill. 8 x 600. Plus warm up. Plus cool down. Plus an ice cold shower. 

Wednesday: Rest effen day. No words. Just laziness.  

 Thursday: 6 miles. If someone didn’t eat garbage, dead critters and/or a Mavic cycling sock (cross your paws) and was up all night out on the lawn, I would have been able to do my tempo run before work as planned. Yeah. I’m looking at YOU, Drunk Otis. Instead, I switched my tempo run to Friday and ran 6 after work. And it SUCKED. Drunk Otis is now back to himself. The sock however, is still MIA. To be continued… 

Rub my belly.

 Friday: 8 miles. The dreaded Tempo Run on my day off. It was awful. I was able to keep my target pace for 4 of the 6 tempo miles. The last two were 20 seconds slower. I couldn’t get out of my own way. My warm up mile was too fast and my cool down mile was too slow. Nothing about this run was just right. Gah. 

Saturday: 44 miles on the 4th of July! No running. Cycling! Frankly, after the tempo sufferfest, I needed a change of pace. My Other Half and I had a great ride. It’s our 4th of July Tradition. I love it. And of course we cruised down Liberty St. #murica  

#murica

  

Photobombed by Mater.

 Sunday: 10 miles. Gorgeous day. Great run. Nailed my pace. The ride did me good. Legs were tuckered, but the day was so beautiful I didn’t even notice. Until I stopped. And plopped myself poolside with a fresh, delicious mojito and ate like it was my job. Drunk Otis even spent the day rolling around in his kiddie pool, totally nonplussed by the fireworks. That was until he peed in it. Then shamefully flipped it over, mortified.  

*hiccup*

 AND HE’D DO IT AGAIN. 🙂

Total miles run: 37. 

Total miles ridden: 44

Total number of mojitos consumed: 4

Do you stick to your training program like glue or do you mix it up from time to time? What’s your favorite poolside drink? Does your dog pee in kiddie pools, or is it just mine? 

MMMbop. It’s Training Time!

ermahgerd hernserns mahtherd

How fitting that Marathon Training Kick Off week coincides with National Running Day! Or should I say MAHRERTHERN TRERNIN! EMG is right. I just got nauseous. That kinda snuck up on me. It’s time to get my Run Face on, lace up my Newton’s and get real. This time I mean business. This is the year I will give it all I’ve got. Yeah, I’m looking at you Boston. I’ve got my eye on qualifying.  And I’m mixing this shit up a lil’ bit. I’ve decided to use Hansons Marathon Method. Unorthodox, I know. Crazy? Maybe.

The Hansons Method eliminates the Uber-Long Run and the Uber High-Mileage weekend, two age old staples in marathon training. Training for a marathon without an 18, 20 or even 22 miler kinda makes me itch. It would really make me burst out in hives if this were my first marathon, but it’s not. It’s my 8th. And quite frankly, if I am focused on my goal of a running a Boston qualifying time, I need to re-focus my training plans. If I hadn’t seen how well my Other Half’s marathon training had gone using this method, I probably wouldn’t have considered it. He was super ballsy doing this plan for his first marathon. I was worried he would lack the pre-requisite mental confidence that is gained with a 20 mile run. (Uh, no. He didn’t.) Hold on to your butts, Poodles! Here are the cliff notes to the Hansons’ radical marathon training method!Jaw Drop Wreck It Ralph

  • No Weekly Long Run. You max out at 16 miles. Pick your jaw up off of the floor. It’s true.
  • No Back to Back Super Long Runs. That doesn’t mean you won’t be running your face off, your just not following your 20-miler with another doozy the next morning. ‘Cuz there’s no 20 miler. *Gasp!*
  • You will run 6 days a week. Consistency is key.  It’s about the quality of miles run and not necessarily the quantity of miles run. But believe me, you are RUNNING.
  • You will run speed, strength and tempo workouts that are focused on your goal pace. Goal pace is key with this plan. And if I want to run a particular qualifying time? Duh. It’s time to focus on my pace. No slacking, Colby. Strap on your Garmin. See this oval thing? It’s a track. You’re gonna remember how much you loved each other.
  • Other than prescribed workouts, your runs will be grouped into Easy Runs (1-2 minutes slower than goal pace) and Something Of Substance Runs (SOS). Keep your eyes glued towards the heavens. You will see me sending up SOS flares from time to time. I am sure of it. Gah.
  • Fresh Legs? Forget ‘em. You’re not going to have them. And that’s for a reason. This method’s focus is on the last 16 miles of the race. Bonking? What bonking? This plan emphasizes Active Recovery, hence your Easy Runs.

What does all this mean for you, Dear Reader? Fasten your 5-point harness, because you’re going to be getting Colby’s Hansons Training Updates with frequency! Aren’t you lucky!  I apologize in advance. But it’s true. At least they might make you giggle. I think I need to put ’em out there to keep me honest. I am locked and loaded. I’ve been running for years. Enough. It’s BQ Time.I run

I would be remiss if I didn’t say: Happy National Running Day! Remember to hug another runner! Why do you run? I run to overcome! I run because slapping people is frowned upon! I run because it keeps me whole! I run to experience The Thrill of the Done. Giving it all you have. During that run. On that day. In that moment. There is simply nothing better. Happy Running Friends! 🙂

God, I love running.

God, I love running.

 What marathon training method do you use? Would you be comfortable training for your next marathon WITHOUT The Long Run? Am I nuts?

She Believed She Could, So She Did

believeshecould

Like many in the Northeast training for a spring marathon, I’m waving the white flag.

Snow. Ice. Freezing temps. Nonexistent pavement. School cancellations. More snow. More ice. Less pavement. More cancellations. They have all made training really, really difficult.

I have had the added benefit of running a mini-hospital for the past few weeks. (Poorly, I might add. I’m no nurse. But I have Lysol’ed everything in this GD house that doesn’t have a beating heart and gotten used to delivering meals on trays.) We went to Mt. Tremblant for our February vacation a few weeks ago. I highly recommend it to anyone who is healthy.

My youngest got a fever of 103 the first night we were there and then we all fell like dominos. I spent a week with fever and chills in a lovely condo with a stunning view. As did the rest of my family. We cut the trip short when my two boys started coughing like lifelong smokers (they’re not) and headed home for antibiotics.

In the 2 weeks since we returned, we have had TWO DAYS where no one in the house was sick. They were just finishing up their antibiotics when someone brought home the stomach bug going around school. The past week has involved a lot of laundry.

I can’t even put down in writing how lame my training for Boston has been because I will have a panic attack on the spot. ON THE SPOT. I almost feel like I need to write a letter of apology to the BAA for not taking their race seriously enough. But I have! I swear I have been doing my best, but this winter has been tough. Weather, kids’ sports schedules, illness and the short days have not been kind to my training. See, I’m already writing my letter.

Illness and snow this week made my midweek runs shorter than I had hoped. I had plans to run 20 on Sunday to gain a bit of confidence, if nothing else. And then I was grazed by the stomach bug on Friday-Saturday. And then I spent most of Saturday night awake with a vomiting child. Watching Nick at Nite during the wee hours holding a bucket is not how I usually prepare for a long run.

I woke up at 6:15 on Sunday (which I quickly realized was 7:15 thanks to the F&*%*&% time change) and decided just to go for it. It would be slow. It would not be my finest long run. But I believed I could make it through.

Got dressed, ate, put on my Garmin and it crapped out on me. Fully charged. I have long suspected that my Garmin hates me and now I’m convinced.

Now it became a quest. I thought I knew a route that should end up being around 20 miles, and rather than screw around trying to fix my Garmin, I decided just to go.

I’m so glad I did.

The first mile was a little shaky. I still didn’t feel 100%. But I kept “I can do this” at the front of my mind and tried to push all the other stuff to the way back.

Around 2 miles in, I relaxed. I literally felt the tension leave my body. What was I stressed about? I love running. When I’m sad or tense, it makes me feel better. When I’m happy, it makes me happier. Getting ready, I was thinking of it like a chore. It’s not. While every second might not be easy or comfortable, I LOVE running. It’s what I do.

The roads were still pretty snowy and icy but the air – the air is changing! Spring is coming – I can smell it and feel it. The temps were really comfortable and it was nice to run with less layers. I felt so light. So happy to be outside.

And I did my 20. Slow, but steady. Got home and mapped it, and it was 20.25. Right on the button of what I wanted to do. Was it my fastest run? No way. Was it my strongest run? No. But I did it. And I felt pretty freaking happy about it afterward.

I believed I could, so I did.

It’s the same mantra that carried me the last 6 miles of Philly, and hopefully will carry me through whatever Boston throws my way. I believe I can, so I will.

Do you ever dread a long run only to start it and wonder what the hell you were stressing about? Anyone else tackle anything they’re pretty proud of lately? C’mon, Brag to us. You know you want to.

Spring Training

So…who else is training for a spring marathon?

I know you’re out there. You’re the ones with the frozen hair and eyelashes. Chapped skin. Blue Lips. White fingertips. Permanent chills. Crazy eyes from looking around to make sure no cars are careening toward you. Yup, I’d know you anywhere.

This is my first time training for a spring marathon. (Colby is an old pro.)

It ain’t easy.

And it’s not the cold. I like running in the cold. I sometimes even love running in the cold. And I’ve even made my peace with running in the polar vortex/arctic blast/whatever those fools are calling the crazy bitter freezing cold these days.

It’s the damn snow and ice. IT IS KILLING ME.

And I feel bad complaining, with most of my family and many friends up in Boston, where they have gotten 70+ inches of snow in the past month. No joke. Maybe you have seen the memes below measuring the snow in ”Gronk’ s” and “Big Papi’s.”

After the next snowstorm, Gronk may be buried completely. Or at least too buried to spike a snowball.

After the next snowstorm, Gronk may be buried completely. Or at least too buried to spike a snowball. Sorry for poor image quality – it was the best I could find. You get the gist.

This was taken after the first snowstorm, when we thought there was a lot of snow. So young and naïve! I'm pretty sure Papi would be buried now.

This was taken after the first snowstorm, when we thought there was a lot of snow. So young and naïve! I’m pretty sure Papi would be just about buried now.

At approximately 3 and 3.5 apples tall, respectively, Colby and I would be fully buried. BURIED!

People have started joking that the snow will probably still be there for the Boston Marathon. But no one is laughing.

While the snow here isn’t as bad as Boston, it is here. And we have had 2 separate ice storms in the past few weeks, which is 10 times worse than snow. How the hell do you get a long run in when the days are short, the sidewalks are buried, and the roads are icy and narrow? Ugh. Yaktrax are great for traction, but even they don’t help if there is nowhere to use them.

What’s a runner to do? Improvise and strategize, I guess. I have seen some people taking their runs indoors.

That, my friends, I just can’t do.

Or won’t do.

I hate saying can’t.

BUT, running long on the treadmill might push me over the edge into complete insanity, and I don’t want that. I’m hovering on the edge as it is.

I was supposed to run 18 tomorrow, but the forecasted combo of subzero temps, wind gusts and snow squalls made me revise my game plan. Instead, I got up and made a last-minute decision to run 18 on Wednesday, with the first 10 miles being laps on my dead-end road to avoid having to run in morning traffic. That’s 5 complete loops of my road before the traffic died down and I headed out into the big, wide world. And if I had to do all 10 loops on my road to get my 18 in, I would have. Despite the strange looks I got from neighbors.

One silver lining is that I ran the Philly marathon in November, so I never really fell out of “long run” mode. If I ever run a spring marathon again, I will be sure to sign up for a marathon the fall before so I can build a good running base before winter fully hits.

Already being used to longer distances has kept me from completely freaking out. Emphasis on “completely.” Because, rest assured, I am still kind of freaking out. Oh, yes, I am. And did I mention that more snow is on the way?

Are you training for a spring race? How are you getting your runs in (Floridians need not answer)? How deep is the snow by you (Floridians, don’t you dare answer!)???

Sir Isaac Newton, Laverne and Shirley

L&S

 

“What on earth do they have to do with running,? you may be wondering.

Well, they all were a part of my long run Sunday. A beautiful 20-miler on a gorgeous fall day that I perfectly timed and mapped out to end at my daughter’s softball tournament.

Marred only by my spectacular, agony of defeat-style fall at mile 14. Sir Isaac was right: What goes up, must come down. Or to put it another way: Gravity is a Bitch.

I skidded across a pile of wet leaves to find that a rock was underneath. How did I find out? By faceplanting. Hard. Barely had time to put my hands out. My right shoulder and right knee took the brunt of the fall (was I attempting to Stop, Drop and Roll? Isn’t that for fires?), followed closely by the right side of my face. Ugh.

The fall did have a few casualties: my beloved and now-discontinued Oakleys and my headphones. My stupid $10 water bottle holder, of course, never even left my hand. My Garmin has a tiny scratch but is otherwise fine and I’m not proud to admit that I remembered to stop the timer when I fell so I wouldn’t mess up my pace tracker. Maybe I deserved to fall.

I was lucky, though. Much luckier than Colby in her Spring fall, and I think I even fared better than she did in her VT50 fall. As for my own record, I place this is slightly worse than last year’s wipe-out – I definitely got a little more banged up on Sunday. Are you sensing a pattern here? Suspecting that there is a good reason Colby and I do not perform on the balance beam? More on this later.

Anyway, I took a quick assessment of the bodily damage (starting with my teeth, which were all intact and still in my mouth, thank god) and concluded that all of the cuts that I could see were gross but not dangerous and I didn’t appear to break anything. Phew. I couldn’t see my face, but since I don’t use it for running, I figured I’d deal with it later. I dusted myself off, attempted to restore my dignity and equilibrium, and finished the rest of my run.

It wasn’t until I got to the softball tournament that I realized how banged up my face was. Before I was able to look in a mirror, I looked into the horrified face of my daughter and realized that I might have more than a few facial scratches. I ran up to the fence to wave at her, high on the adrenaline of a 20-mile run, epic fall and more than a few caffeinated sports beans, only to see her recoil in horror. I quickly was informed that I had a shiner, was bleeding from my chin and had road rash on the right side of my cheek.

My poor tween. She was mortified. All the other moms were there on time, appropriately clad in lululemon and sipping chai from recycled paper cups. I know the bubble over her head was asking how she ended up with the fool who came late in sweaty pigtails, off-brand running shorts, bleeding from the face and sporting slightly crazy eyes. She doesn’t yet know that you are always better off with a Quarter Horse in your corner than a Show Pony. But she will, someday. Until then, I feel her pain. I was 11 once, too. I did my best to fade into the background for the rest of the game.

Today was the first time I ran since Sunday and I knocked off 8 miles pretty easily, which was great. I think that confirms that my knee is fine, despite the lack of skin. My shoulder still hurts, but as long as my knee is fine, I am fine. My face will heal (unlike my Oakleys. RIP).

I can’t help but think that Colby and I are the Laverne and Shirley of runners. Ready, Set…Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Or maybe Lucy and Ethel. Why the hell do we keep falling? Does everyone else fall and just not talk about it? Or is this just yet another way in which we are two very special snowflakes? Seriously – what is wrong with us??? Katniss would not be proud and would not want us on her team and this bothers me more than it should.

Please feel free to share your own epic fall stories. Please. Let us know we are not alone.

A Tale of Two Runs

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

I know Dickens wasn’t talking about marathon training when he penned those famous lines, but, hey, they fit.

The highs of a great run! The adrenaline boost of running huge distances! The feeling that you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to! Oh, the highs. So very, very high. And probably so very, very annoying to anyone around you who isn’t a distance runner or some other sort of adrenaline junkie..but so very, very fun for you!

The lows of soreness, achiness, fatigue – or, god forbid, injury. And the soul crushing kick in the face of a bad run. Especially a Very Bad Run. The Very Black Mood after a Very Bad Run.

Let’s start there, shall we?

Friday. Oct 3, 6:30 AM. I am frantically trying to get ready to head out and squeeze in a 17-miler before an early conference call.

NOTE: I WAS TRYING TO “SQUEEZE IN” A 17-MILER. I could probably stop here, as you can surely guess how it all went down.

It is dark. Cannot find headlamp or LED flashers. Settle for pumpkin flashlight, reflective vest and a FRIGGING GLOWSTICK NECKLACE to avoid roadkill status. (also change route on the fly to one with sidewalks and streetlights for the first few miles, until sun comes up, since my set-up is not quite up to par). I can’t tell if I’m going running or trick or treating.

Accidentally hit button on my Garmin that LOCKS THE FRIGGING SCREEN. Garmin is essential for this run, because I will be cutting it close to my conference call and I need to know time and distance to make sure I don’t stay out too long. Google how to unlock Garmin. Crisis averted, but I’m rattled. Oh, so rattled. And running late.

Realize I haven’t eaten. Stomach not feeling so great. Still, gotta eat. Make ½ a peanut butter sandwich and wolf it down. Feel worse. Head out anyway, because I have no choice.

Head out for the 17 mile run that I am “squeezing in.” Listen up, Grasshoppers: DO NOT “SQUEEZE IN” A 17 MILE RUN. Honor the long run. Do it when you can run it properly (i.e., not with your heart in your throat and your stomach churning the entire time).

Not surprisingly, this run SUCKED. I was tense and my stomach was horrible. Could barely get through 20 oz of water throughout the entire run because I was thisclose to throwing up. Ate an energy chew, gagged, and ditched those, too. My first bathroom stop (of many) was less than 2 miles into the run. Did the entire 17 miles on the energy of that stupid peanut butter sandwich and panic. I may also have cannibalized myself. By the time I arrived home (yes, I made my F%$#& call, in case you were worried), I was depleted, both mentally and physically.

It was a Bad, Bad Run.

By Wednesday, I was texting Colby asking whether she even thought I should even bother running Philly. And should I switch to another sport? THESE questions from a fool who will run 16-milers FOR FUN! Needless to say, she verbally smacked me in the kindest way possible and told me to chill.

I don’t know if I’m more ashamed of my crappy run or what I let it do to my head.

Strike that. I’m definitely more ashamed by what I let it do to my head. My body had a tough run, but it finished. There’s no shame in that. But my head should know better. If I could be even half as supportive and accepting of myself as I am with others, I’d be in much better shape.

I repeat: If I could be even half as supportive and accepting of myself as I am with others, I’d be in much better shape. I should probably have that tattooed somewhere.

Fast forward to yesterday’s run, which was a 19-miler that turned into a 20-miler because it felt so good. Rested, stomach great, no wardrobe or gear snafus, and probably most importantly, NO RUSHING.

I felt so good yesterday I half expected to turn around and see those Disney bluebirds on my freaking shoulders.

It was a Great Run and I rode the high of it for the rest of the day.

But of course, I was no better of a runner yesterday than I was last Friday. It was just a different day with a different set of conditions. Each time I pushed myself as much as I could, and that, really what is key. Looking back, I probably am prouder of getting through the Bad Run, because that mental tenacity is what will get me through “the Wall” and any other rough spots in a race. In fact, the only thing I shouldn’t be proud of is letting one bad run screw with my mind so much. For shame!

6 weeks to go until Philly.

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times. Indeed.

See a penny pick it up…

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…all long run you’ll have good luck.

Hey. It’s my penny and I can wish if I want to.

I found this little banged up, broken down penny on my run today. I saw it glinting in the dirt under a bright September sun. It was 88 with 92% humidity, so you can believe me when I tell you that I thought it was a goddamn mirage. I snatched that little sucker up.

And made a wish.

Tomorrow morning I’m running long. Long long. It will be my last long run before My First Ultra, a 50k at the VT50. If you’ve been keeping tabs on Our Little Blog, you know the following about me:

1. The last long run before the Vermont City Marathon resulted in a trip to the emergency room, 3 stitches, Dermabond, abrasions and one Badass Shiner that lasted for weeks. It also resulted in permanent facial scarring. I see a plastic surgeon soon for a scar revision. And quite possibly a brow lift. Either that or I’m laying off of the salt. I’m beginning to look like a Shar-Pei. You can recount the horror here.

2. I ran the Vermont City Marathon, my lucky number 7th marathon, complete with shiner and shit eating grin. It was not my fastest, but it was one I was most proud of. You can re-live the glory here.

3. I developed PMWS, Post-Marathon Withdrawal Syndrome and being a blogger, documented the whole damn thing. Do you think you have it? You can check here.

4. In a moment of pure insanity, I pulled the trigger and registered for my first Ultra. You can read that death wish here.

It’s been quite the Running Trip. So here I am, Last Pre-Ultra Long Run Eve, rolling that gritty little penny between my fingers, and thinking about my journey.

We’ve come a long way, that little penny and I.

And she’s gonna go longer in the morn’.

Play Me a Slow One

Good times, Good times.

Good times, Good times.

 

About 2 minutes into my first training run with the heartrate monitor, I realized that music would be key to learning how to slow the hell down. Halfway down my road, I confirmed that it is not possible to run slowly to The Beastie Boys’ “Girls.” No matter what my mind said, my legs wanted to pick up the pace to match the beat. (The Violent Femmes “Blister in the Sun” is another one. I dare you to try and run slowly to that. Trust me, you can’t).

I usually run with music. Not always, and I know from running races without music that I run faster when I leave the headphones at home. So for my new, counterintuitive, slow running (fast walking?) regimen, I knew I’d want my tunes. But they need to be the right kind of tunes for the slower pace.

During last week’s long run, I was lucky enough to hit a rock block of Pearl Jam followed by a rock block of Pink Floyd on a local radio station. Jackpot! I had no problem running slowly for the 20+ minutes of the blocks. I also felt like I was under the influence of something pleasant and illegal. It was nice.

Since you’re running, though, you can’t have something too slow or depressing. “Unchained Melody” just ain’t gonna cut it. You also have to watch for those songs that tripped you up at middle school dances because they start slow and end fast. (You know – “Come Sail Away,” Stairway to Heaven” and the like – one minute you’re doing the dance where you basically just hug and sway, and the next minute you’re forced to do the step side-to-side and clap dance, which is just so, so, painfully awkward.) You don’t want something that tempts you to add hill repeats into a recovery run.

After a few days of scrolling through my playlist for good slow and recovery run tunes, I figured out a bunch that work. I don’t listen to these same ones over and over, but if I find I’m starting to speed up, I put one of them on to get me back in a slower groove. NOTE: This list has not been compiled scientifically (Colby is the scientist – I’m just a lawyer. Hence, everything has to come with a caveat, warning or disclaimer.). I think that there are websites that calculate bpm’s for songs, etc., but I can’t put that much research into it. Sweet Jesus, I have enough on my plate researching the law. I’m just listing songs that work for me.

1. Interstate Love Song by Stone Temple Pilots. Plush is good, too.
2. Pumped up Kicks by Foster the People
3. You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones
4. Brain Stew by Green Day – but beware – if you download the track that transitions into Jaded at the end, you may have a heart attack when the tempo changes. You’ve been warned.
5. Somebody to Love by Queen
6. Everyday I Write the Book by Elvis Costello
7. Insane in the Brain by Cypress Hill
8. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2
9. Praise You by Fatboy Slim
10. Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder
11. Truckin’ by The Grateful Dead
12. What I Got by Sublime
13. Wonderwall by Oasis
14. Where is the Love by Black Eyed Peas

The Sunday Six.

If I was graded on my blogging this week, I would have gotta big red “See Me” written at the top of the paper. Poor. The week flew by and now here I am, sitting on my couch, watching Nicki Minaj and Her Ass “sing” at the VMAs.

I can’t.

no

So instead, somewhere between Lorde talking to the wrong camera, Madame Tussaud’s wax Kim Kardashian, Miley’s PSA, Taylor Swift’s Red Carpet onesie and the incessant twerking, I came up with The Sunday Six. Or, Six Things that Occurred to Colby This Week. Or actually happened. Or crossed my mind. Whatevs.

Original, huh?

1. Trail Running has made me a Chicken Shit. Every crack. Every crunch. Every stick that looks like a snake. All scare the snot out of me. Creepy guys, strolling slowly along, alone in the woods FREAK ME OUT. I need a running buddy or a big vicious dog. Or minimally a handful of Xanax. The good thing is that it’s making me run faster. The bad thing is that I feel like some chick in a horror movie who runs up the stairs into the woods when she should get the f*ck out of there.

2. Hill repeats, as much as I dread them each damn week, are working. There. I said it. They are making me stronger. And tougher. And surprisingly, far more determined than I have ever been. Why this is the first time I have “officially” made them a part of my training is beyond me. Live and learn, Colby. Live and learn.

3. I FINALLY ran fast!!!!! cat jumpAnd by fast I mean negative-split-sub-8-minute-miles-for-8-miles-on tired legs-fast! I was thrilled. For me, the day after hill repeats? I might as well have won GOLD. I might also have blown kisses to my fans in the driveway too. Just being honest.

4. I ran 20 miles and realized that I need to start training my mind a little bit more than my legs at this point. Can my head do hill repeats? Fartleks? Anything? I need to start BELIEVING that I can run a 50k trail race. I am nervous. And I need to knock it off if I’m going to finish this bitch. My goal is to finish. With dignity. Anything more is all gravy.

5. I love watching My Other Half race cyclocross. Cyclocross is badass. Full tilt the whole time. Loosely, it’s like steeplechase on a bike. Sort of. Technical riding off road, hills, off camber, lots of switchbacks, hopping over barriers, running stairs then riding again. As fast as you can. This weekend officially kicked off our cyclocross season. I say “Our” loosely. He races. I cheer wildly, get nervous, freak out, ring cowbells and drink beer. I figure my job is tougher. Better him, than me. I’ve got my own crosses to bear. See what I just did there?

6. I have Super Talented Friends. My friend Craig is both insanely thoughtful and incredibly talented. He sent me this after the PMC:pmc portfoleyo designs IIHOW DOPE IS THAT?!??  Such a fantastic surprise. Oh, that’s me alright! That’s me riding the PMC wave complete with snorkel, life jacket, ribbons and smile. He saw my selfies and posts about this years’ wet ride and whipped up this awesome cartoon. He nailed it. I love his take on me and my obviously strong glutes.

All I know is Nicki Minaj better back it up.

Do you ever freak yourself out while trail running? Do you run alone, with a Run Buddy or a vicious attack dog? Do you want a fabulous cartoon of yourself? Drop me a line. I’ll put you in touch with Craig!