Note-Worthy Runs of April 2016

Note-Worthy Runs of April 2016

April has been one of the most hectic, stressful, most beautiful, wonderful, and amazing months of the year.  April for me has brought high mileage leading up to my 1st ultra in the beginning of May, new adventures with friends, and new beginnings as my internship concluded.  In one word, April has been crazy.

Through all the chaos though, April has made me a stronger runner and a more mindful individual.  I’ve come to appreciate the people who make me who I am today and who I want to continue to spend time with in the future.  These are the people that understand my stressors, who can relate to my own little mind games, and who can push me to become the best possible person I can be.  And I am forever grateful for these people.

These note-worthy runs are runs that has left an imprint on my mind and will come creeping into my mind during the rough parts of my upcoming ultras.  I will have to remind myself of these runs to fight through the pain in order to get one step closer to that finish line:

April 1st – This was a night run that I did with Angela.  We had gotten back from a long second day representing SparklySoul at the Hot Chocolate Philly 15k expo.  Meteorologists had warned people of potential thunderstorms but we needed to get a run in. So we started on our run at around 8:30 PM with thunder booming in the distance.  We wanted to run at least 5 miles but ended up only doing 3 at tempo pace because the storm was moving faster than we were.  Although we ran negative splits during this run, we were literally sprinting around Angela’s block at sub-7:30 pace trying to avoid bolts of lightening.  In a nutshell, this was a fun and comical start to April.

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White Clay

April 3rd – This was my first run ever at a place in Delaware called White Clay.  I was accompanied by my best trail running buddy, Josh, who runs this trail system at least twice a week.  He knew the trails inside and out, and could probably run the trails with his eyes closed.  Sundays are typically our long run days so we aimed to do at least 16 miles.  This day was also extremely windy with wind gusts approaching 50 MPH (another comical start to April, right?).  We ended up doing 18 miles, averaging 10:15 pace.  Considering the rolling hills, the weather conditions, and my 1st time ever running on these trails, I was quite pleased.  It was a great run with great company!

 

April 10th – Josh and I went back to White Clay and the weather was much better than the week before!  I started liking White Clay more and more this second time because the trails are slow, rolling hills instead of the steep inclines like Brandywine.  We ran 16 miles, averaging 10:09 pace.  This day we also planned to meet up with my parents and mountain bike at Brandywine.  I’m not nearly as strong on two wheels as I am on two feet, but I was rather impressed by how I managed to pedal up the steep sections and maneuver the downhills.  Our group mountain bike ride ended up being 12 miles.  Josh and I had ran 16 miles, then biked 12, so we rewarded ourselves with a pizza.  This was an awesome day!

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Single track

April 13th – Every week in April I’ve tried to incorporate at least one longer run.  Today’s run was an easy 10 miles.  I was feeling anxious to run fast and had every intention of making this 10 mile run a progression run.  But due to the warmer temps, my four-legged running buddy, Gwin, couldn’t maintain a fast pace for the first 6.2 miles.  After I dropped her off, I set a new goal to run at least one of the next 4 miles under 8 minutes.  Turns out, all four miles were sub-8 (7:50, 7:33, 7:33, 7:38).  This run left me feeling more confident than ever.  I was so shocked to see consecutive 7:33s on my watch – especially for miles 8 and 9.  I was hitting my stride and my ultra was in a little over a month!

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with Gwin

April 15th – A few weeks before, I had signed up for a 1-mile fun race hosted by a nearby running club I am a part of. The mile race was on the track with a laid-back group of runners.  I was nervous though because I hadn’t ran a race since my marathon in November and I didn’t particularly like running fast (especially an all out sprint for one mile).  I was nervous all day but luckily when I got to the race, Angela calmed my nerves during our warm-up and I was surrounded by people I knew and felt comfortable around.  My parents, granny, and Josh were the only 4 spectators and everyone else there was in the race.  I ended up running a 6:24 which I am extremely happy with.  I was the 2nd overall female (Angela won! – read about it here!) and 6th place overall.  Considering I haven’t ran a race in 6 months, haven’t done any speed workouts in about 7 months, and have been training specifically for this ultra, I was more than thrilled by my time.  It hurt but it was a lot of fun and I’m glad that I did it!

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One mile

April 17th – Another long run Sunday with Josh!  We opted to go to Batsto in the Pine Barrens for a nice soft and flat 20 mile run.  I felt awesome during this run and ended up pushing the pace for the 2nd half of the run.  We averaged 9:40 pace which I am more than pleased with.  This was an absolutely beautiful and warm day!  Another great run with great company!  I was loving everything about ultra training on this day!

April 21st – This was yet another 20 mile run because Hyner weekend was coming up and I had to re-organize my normal weekly training schedule.  I opted to do my long run on a Thursday.  I ran consistent 9 minute miles for the first 11.6 miles and then Angela tagged along for the last 8.4 miles in which we started averaging closer to 8:45 pace.  This was an awesome training run that left me feeling extremely confident in my training thus far.  I was excited to be accompanied by Angela for the last 8 miles – she kept my focus away from any fatigue I may have been feeling which I greatly appreciated.  20 miles, averaging 9:00/mile.

April 23rd – aka #Hyner weekend.  I travelled up to Hyner, PA to cheer on my dad and some fellow trail friends during their respective 25k or 50ks.  I was told to go to the top of Hyner View to cheer everyone on which included traversing up the infamous Humble Hill.  I left the starting area at 7 AM, one hour before starting time, in order to give myself time to get to the top which was 3.5 miles up a mountain.  Turns out, I needed that full hour to get to the top.  It took me 57 minutes to get to the top.  My elevation gain read a little over 1500 feet.  This race was going to be no joke for these guys and I felt lucky that I wasn’t torturing myself on the course that day.  I waited at the top to see all the guys come through with my cowbell in hand!  I traversed down another trail called Huff’s Run Trail to get back to the bottom of the mountain – another 3.5 miles with 1500 feet of descent again.  I liked the descent way better than I liked ascending.  I tacked on another 2.5 miles at the end of my run to reach my goal mileage for the day of 20 miles.  The rest of my day was spent cheering on Josh, Aaron, Chad, and my dad as they finished their races.  Our night was spent celebrating with some drinks, good food, and a bonfire.  And we ended the night stargazing into the crystal clear sky surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges.  This was just an all-around great day – I love spending time with trail runners!

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Hyner View

Although there is still a week left in April, I felt due for a blog post updating on my ultra training.  This blog post has allowed me to reflect on the great runs of April that have left me feeling stronger and more confident on the trails.  I’m happy with how my training has been going and I am looking forward to one last week of quality training before I start tapering for my ultra!

Learning to Love Your “Imperfect” Running Body

Learning to Love Your “Imperfect” Running Body

For the month of June, my Believe journal have been focused on body image – a topic all too familiar with many runners.  It has taken me the entire month to come up with the perfect way to present a blog post about this sensitive topic, and I honestly don’t believe that there is a perfect way to discuss it.  Why?  Because “perfect” doesn’t exist. Instead, we must all focus on accepting our “imperfect perfections”.  There is not a single person in this world that has the “ideal” body type we see on magazines, the “flawless” skin disguised by make-up, the beautifully chiseled muscles of our athletic idols, or the frizz-less hair of celebrities.  Instead, we are made up of many unique body traits that make us individuals – our uniquely shaped extremities, our natural skin, our free-flying hair style, and our uniquely developed muscles.  This is who we are.  This is who YOU are.

As runners, it has been instilled in our mind that the best runners are the thinnest, the ones with just the right amount of muscle, and the ones who still look flawless after a race.  But is that realistic?  If you haven’t been to a 5k in awhile, I ask you to sign up for one now.  Go to this race and look around.  Look at the person you’re standing next to at the starting line.  Then look at the fifth person behind you.  Do you all look the same?  Do you have the same hair?  The same amount of arm muscle?  The same shaped thighs and calves?  Most likely each one of you looks different.  And this is what we need to learn to accept – there is no “perfect” body type for running.  As long as those feet come off the ground, those legs are moving forward, and that heart of yours is beating, your body is perfect for running.

While brainstorming for this post, a particular video, titled “Size 26.2”, I watched a few months ago came into my mind. If you haven’t watched the video before, I encourage you to do so because this woman reminds you of why runners should appreciate their body.  I don’t think I’ve met a runner yet that hasn’t complained about some part of their running body.  The most common complaints are:

  • “My calf muscles are too big and I can’t find a pair of jeans that fit”
  • “I have thunderthighs”
  • “My arms have no muscle”
  • “I still don’t have six-pack abs”
  • “I have a pancake butt”
  • “My boobs are basically non-existent”
  • “My feet are absolutely disgusting”
  • “My hair is always so frizzy after I run”

The list goes on.  But as mentioned in the video, these are all complaints we should be proud of.  Without those calf muscles and thunderthighs, how would you reach the finish line?  Yeah, your arms may look like chopsticks, but how would you pump those arms during the final stretch of a race if they were bulky?  And honestly, six-pack abs rely heavily on diet, not just those ab-workouts you’ve been doing religiously.  That flat butt and those nearly-invisible boobs are just your method of aerodynamics.  Your feet look disgusting because they travel hundreds of miles per year – you can replace tires on your car, but you can’t replace your toes!  If your hair is flawless after a run, you must have some seriously strong hair product keeping those fly-aways from (yup, you guessed it) flying away.

As we critique our “imperfections”, we need to be reminded that without those “imperfections” we wouldn’t be runners.  And not every runner has the same body image “imperfections”.  Some runners have long legs.  Some are short and stocky.  Some have broader shoulders.  Some wear their hair in a ponytail.  Others prefer to keep their hair down. Some runners like to run in sports bras.  Some runners like to run without socks.  Jeez, some runners don’t even run with shoes!  So what are we even comparing ourselves to if every runner looks different?  How can we come up with this image of the “perfect runner” when every runner we pass by looks different?

Lastly, I’d like to comment on one other controversial topic among runners.  Eating.  I’ve met plenty of runners who say they run just so they can eat their dinner at night or drink some beer on the weekends.  They run to prevent weight gain. And this is where we get the common running quote of “I run so I can eat”.  But what if “eat” and “run” were swapped in that sentence?  I eat so I can run.  Read it again slowly:  I eat…so I can run.  I fuel my body so I can cover the mileage in my training plan.  I carbo-load so I have the energy to endure the run that lies before me.  I consume nutrients so I can finish a race with a new PR.  I eat so I can run.

So I ask you to answer this today:  What makes your body strong enough to run?

Respect your strength.

Embrace your imperfect perfections.

Be proud of your body.

Be proud of who you are.

Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you are unique.  You are beautiful.  You are perfect.

And during your next race tell yourself that your legs are strong enough, fast enough, and powerful enough to bring you to that finish line.

Love your body – you only get one of them.

Highest Weekly Mileage of 2015!

Highest Weekly Mileage of 2015!

Due to the fact that last week I ran my highest total weekly mileage of 2015, I decided it deserved a blog post! It was an especially special week because this past Wednesday was National Running Day!  I think I celebrated all week though and my mileage showed it!  😀

weekly goalsMy Believe journal (which is, by the way, the best running journal you could ever invest in), held me accountable for my weekly goals.  I was able to run more than 40 miles.  I went hiking this weekend.  And my dad and I tried dehydrated food for the first time to prepare for our hiking trip.

So here’s how the week went:

Monday – 3 miles fast.  My dad and I had to race a thunderstorm – this is a common occurrence for us in the summer.  We were almost 1.5 miles away from home when we heard a (way too close) boom of thunder.

Tuesday – double day!  3 miles with my friend John who was just coming off his 2 weeks of recovery.  Then just a mere 4 hours later I ran another 6.3 miles with my Dad and our ultrarunning friend and it felt easy!  I was very excited that my first double of 2015 seemed easy!

Wednesday – (AKA NATIONAL RUNNING DAY! – make sure you read my blog post about this wonderful day worth celebrating!)….I ran a mile with my mom, another 2 miles with my dad, and then 4 more miles by myself (total of 7 miles).  I decided to change the pace after mile 5 so I picked it up and my 6th mile ended up being a 7:26….it seemed like an appropriate way to celebrate National Running Day!

Thursday – this was my night run of the week which I also blogged about (check it out here!)  My dad and I ran 4 miles with our headlights on and lightning bugs lighting up the trail.

Friday – another double!  I ran 3 miles in the morning with my dog, Gwin.  And then ran another 5.4 miles with my dad later in the day.  I was feeling a little tired but I knew that I would give myself an easy Saturday to adequately recover.

Saturday – I hiked 4 miles in the morning with my mom, dad, and 2 dogs at a state park in DE with loaded backpacks (mine weighed in at 18 lbs) so that my dad and I can get used to wearing a big pack for our hiking trip in July.  Then in the afternoon I ran an easy (and slow) 3 miles.  I was feeling tired.

Sunday – LONG RUN DAY!!!!  (my all time favorite day for training runs as described in yet another previous blog post)…somewhat last minute long run plans with Angela (aka TheRoadLessRun)…we ran 11 miles and averaged 7:52 pace.  Mile 7 was the fastest (at a 7:41 mile split) due to getting a tad bit carried away with our conversation topic.  We’ve decided this is a common issue because whenever we start ranting about something the pace picks up…oops.  Long runs with friends are always so much more enjoyable and more effective for training purposes than if you do them alone – so next time you do a long run, find a buddy!

Total miles = 45.4.  It was a GREAT week of training spent with numerous different runners of all speeds, styles, and goals. But that’s what makes running amazing – no matter how fast or slow, long or short, runners who train together understand each other, and everyone can make one another the best possible runners they can be!

total mileage