Tuesday, December 31, 2013

so long 2013...

2013 was a year of mixed up motivation.  I’ve said this in previous blogs but I found myself struggling to figure out what I wanted to focus on this year.  I started off feeling a bit burnt out in the stairwell, most of my races ended up being around the exact same times as last year with the exception of Hancock where I blew up mentally and came in sluggish and a minute slower than 2012 but is it what is is.  I was happy when the season was over and I could re-evaluate my training.  

I was searching for new challenges so I took on the Mt. Washington Road Race in New Hampshire in June.  7.6 miles up Mt. Washington with an average of 12% grade and 20+ towards the top. The summit has recorded the most severe weather on the planet, were talking 230+ mph winds and wind chills so far below zero that I cant even fathom.  I dont do well in cold weather nor do I do well when theres a strong wind yet a slight breeze for that matter.  My plan was to target this race, come out strong.  I was running at 11% incline on the treadmill for an hour at the time trying to prepare myself.  But i started to lose my focus and I dont think I took the race seriously enough, I didnt really taper and within the first mile, I could tell that my legs were toast.  I set out with a goal pace and I quickly realized that wasnt gonna happen.  Before the race, I told myself that I wasnt going to walk.  People around me were walking but I stuck to what I told myself, I didnt want to give in yet I never seemed to pass those “walkers”, perhaps they were on to something.  After the race, I thought about how stupid and stubborn I was, I dont really run the steps, why would I run up this whole gosh darn mountain?!?  Maybe if I wouldve tossed in some walking breaks, I wouldve finished up a bit faster.  The weather that day was in the 50s at the start and up in the 20s on the summit with 30+ mph winds, geesh, lucky I didnt blow away.  I was proud of myself for taking on something new but at the same time I was disappointed because I was much slower than I thought I would be.  Oh well, it is what it is.  

After that, I decided to get back into running.  I thought qualifying for Boston again and maybe running the 2014 Boston would give me something to shoot for.  I was obsessed with my training and hitting my mileage but I can tell my body gets worn down, starts getting nagging aches and pains.  Thats what happens when I focus on running, I forget about cross training and just pound the pavement for miles.  I was trying to be smart about giving my body enough rest and recovery, I started doing my easy runs at a slower pace and was enjoying it.  By the time my fall marathon came around, I was no longer interested in racing it.  Racing just didnt appeal to me, I needed something more so thats when I took on my first 50 mile ultramarathon.  After that whole experience, I wanted to focus on ultras and trail races.  I wanted to discover myself out there on the trails and over the course of running for hours on end.  

In November, we started to get back into stair training, which is great cross training and builds tons of leg strength.  I still wasnt totally interested in doing any races in 2014 but I was enjoying the training although not the speed stuff because when it came down to it, Im much slower than I was previously!!  

Here are a few things I’ve learned in 2013:

1. Follow your own dreams, set goals for yourself and get after it!!  Theres no sense in setting goals that arent challenging.  At times, I found myself kinda going with the flow of what others were shooting for or what I thought people expected me to do.  I now realize that I need to follow my passion and stay fierce and focused

2. Trail races and ultramarathons are much different than road racing or stair climbing, you experience so much more

3. I love stair climbing and I am grateful for all the opportunities the sport gave me, I had some amazing adventures but I see myself going in a different direction, at least for the time being

4. When running extremely long distances, make sure you always have snacks with you and that your arm is strong enough to carry your water bottle

5. Compared to last year, I’ve gained some weight but I think I’m healthy and I enjoy not obsessing over the number on the scale.  Its better for me mentally and my body is adapting to the physical challenges that I’m throwing its way.  Leaning towards ultra running instead of stair climbing lets me be happy with the weight I’m at and the muscle I’ve put on, I dont have to stress about being super incredibly tiny so I can hit my fastest times in the stairwell

6. Homemade energy bars made of oatmeal, honey, PB, chia, flax, raisins and nuts are great fuel during long runs

7. Dont be afraid to step out of your comfort zone in all aspects of life, this year I took on several new challenges ranging from running up a mountain, running 50 miles, backpacking in Glacier National Park and giving a speech at a leadership conference in front of over 100 high school students and faculty members

8. Let those around you encourage and motivate you, share your goals with them so they can make you feel accountable

9. Music during the last half of a 50 miler is a major boost, especially when power songs or crazy songs come on, can give you that extra boost you need or make you laugh when times seem rough

10. I still love my pre-workout and race coffee routine.   I still have a love / hate relationship with nut butter and bread

11. Cheering on and pacing family / friends can feel even more rewarding than racing for yourself

12. Olympic National Park is one of the most incredible places.  We started off a trail run where we were surrounded by lush green and it was kinda drizzly.  as the run progressed, that drizzle turned to snow and the ground was covered in white with the bright green peeking through, just amazing

13. Run fast, climb high.  stay fierce & focused, strong & positive

Good luck setting big goals and challenges in 2014!!  I’m starting off the year by running a 50k (31 miles) trail race out in the San Francisco area on my 30th birthday.  Seemed like a good idea to run 30 miles plus 1 for good luck.  After that, I’ve got my sights set on the Ice Age 50 miler thats on May 10th.