Running is fun again!

Prior to moving to Colorado I loved running. I did it everyday, down to the beach and along the boardwalk. It was my stress relief during a very rough period of my life, my confidence builder during times I was shaken and one of the only things keeping me healthy. I channeled that love in to training for half marathons, excited to move to a town that was a running mecca.

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This was all before I learned what elevation did to my lungs. My first day here I burst out the door on my first run and barely made it half a mile without gasping for air. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am very sensitive to altitude and moving a mile up into the sky wrecked my endurance. Instead of pushing through it, I allowed myself to make excuses for not training and running fell to the wayside.

About 8 months after moving, I decided to try to pick it up again now that I was adjusted to the altitude, but then I broke my ankle and was benched for 5 months. Ever since then, I would sporadically get the urge to run, strap on my shoes to pound the pavement and find myself so discouraged that my mile splits were almost two minutes slower per mile then when I left LA that I would stop.

Recently I’ve gotten the itch to get back into running and searching for races online. The past week I ran everyday, trying to focus on enjoying the run and not constantly staring at my watch to see what my pace was. Today I went for a trail run, forgetting until I arrived at the trail that it had recently snowed meaning the trail would be icey and muddy.

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This meant that there were portions where I had to tread lightly, balancing over icy rocks and splashing through mud to get to the free space where I could stretch my legs and burst through the woods. My mind was focused on my steps and enjoying the beautiful snowy landscape around me.

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I loved it. I didn’t care about my time, I didn’t care about the distance. I was running for the pure joy of running, for probably the first time in over 2 years. Sometimes its good to leave the watches and measures behind and remember why you love doing something in the first place. Simply because it makes you feel alive.

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Denver Rock N Roll Mini Marathon

Five weeks ago my work sent around an email saying they would pay for anyone to enter the Rock n Roll 1/2 marathon or Mini Marathon. Five weeks wasn’t quite long enough for most of us to train for a 1/2, but a good number of us signed up for the Mini Marathon, a whopping 3.75 miles 🙂

The 1/2, Full Marathon and Mini Marathon all started at the same time and I have only one word for this race: CROWDED.  Let’s start with the bathroom lines. This picture was taken as the horn went off for the people in corral 1 to start running. I had already been waiting FIFTEEN MINUTES.  Yes, you are right that you can’t even see the port-a-potties because the line curves around and continues another 10 people or so. Oof.

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I somehow had been placed in corral 13, but snuck into corral 7 near the front. The first 1/2 mile wasn’t too bad, but then it started bottle necking. I went up on the sidewalk and ran there for a bit and, while looking around to see where I could squeeze back into the pack and then nearly flipped over a wall/bridge barrier that seemed to come out of nowhere in front of me. I stuck to the road after that. This race also had some of the worst race etiquette I have ever seen, with people stopping to tie their shoes in the middle of the road instead of moving to the edge. I was very glad when the mini marathon broke off from the 1/2 and Full, because I could not imagine running a full 1/2 like that.

I didn’t go out there trying to PR anything, especially with such a random distance, but I wasn’t too disapointed with my times. Definitely would have been nicer to have a bit more free space and less running into people.

Image We were rewarded with delicious Michelob Ultra’s at 8am. Because that’s exactly what you want at 8am, right?

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Overall, it was a great way to start my sunday morning with some people I like hanging out with ( I’m pretty lucky to have some awesome coworkers). I think doing a physical activity together is a great way to bond with people. I also love the fact that my company was encouraging people to be active and fit. My kinda place!

Do you like being active with friends?

Has your work ever sponsored some type of race/physical activity?

Winter (Running) is Coming!

Confession:  I have never seen one episode of Game of Thrones… but I am still familiar with way too many of the phrases/characters due to nerdy friends and coworkers. This morning I woke up to a brisk 35 degrees. I was going to go do CrossFit, but I checked the WOD and it consisted of a lot of hand stand push ups. I don’t have too much interest in that type of CrossFitting, so I decided to hit the trails instead.

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It was grey and chilly, so I bundled up. I usually only wear long pants and gloves unless its under 40 degrees, so it just barely qualified today. Especially since I’m not used to this cold weather. Winter is right around the corner. I’m sure it will snow soon enough.

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You could definitely see how the floods that racked Boulder a month ago had eroded the parts of the trail that went by the creek.

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I’m sure most of this will take a year or more to even begin to be repaired, especially with winter on its way.  I usually love trail running during the winter, so I’ll have to be on the look out for trails that haven’t been destroyed so I can enjoy some winter wonderland trail action when the snow hits.

How did you spend your Tuesday?

Hot Chocolate 15k (1:25.22)

I’ve been waiting to post this until pictures from the race came out so I could add one of them. Turns out all the ‘hands up victory’ poses I did got missed and one of me dying was nicely captured. Isn’t that always the case? Needless to say, there will be no actual race pictures.

Sunday I decided to go run 9.3 miles with over 2,000 of my closest friends for the Hot Chocolate 5k/15k Denver Race. I was incredibly nervous, as I have only ran over 6 miles about 5 times in the past year… and that includes the Tough Mudder last year.  I was scared I was woefully undertrained and my stomach was in knots during my early drive down to the Denver. The 5K started at 7 am, with the 15K starting at 7:50. It was a bit of a chilly start.

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Some people went as far as to stand over the sewers so the steam would heat them (I was not that desperate). The first mile went by really quickly as we ran through the Downtown Denver area, including past my office! I saw a man in front of me running with the strangest stride. The best way to describe it is that he looked like he had moon boots on, with his feet super wide and bouncy. But he was around the same “pace” as I was,  so I decided Mr. Moonboots and I were going to be pace buddies.

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This lasted until mile 5, when I tried to be super cool and look like a pro runner, grab a gatorade, and drink it mid-stride.  I then proceeded to choke, stop, sputter and cough When I looked up Mr. Moonboots had gotten quite far ahead. So, I took up following Ms. Peacock-Tights instead. This is how I entertain myself during long runs. I know, it’s weird.

Half way through mile 7 I started dragging, thinking how much I wanted to stop and walk. A long hill didn’t help. I kept thinking about Janae’s slogan “It’s rude to count people as you pass them… out loud” . This was not because I was passing people, but because I kept getting passed and wondered how many of them were counting me. Mile 8, I decided to pick up the pace a bit, I thought I had more in me and I wanted to finish strong. I started pumping my arms, stretching my legs, felt myself getting a little faster….and watched a 90 year old man, half bent over, breeze on by me.

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I had tunnel vision by the time I entered the shoot. I didn’t even look for my boyfriend and coworker (who had run the 5K and had stayed to cheer me on with a sign her adorable daughter had made me!). I was a little bummed I didn’t break the 9 minute mile barrier (my tracker said 9:01), but I hadn’t expected to even get that with my lack of long run training. My GPS recorded the course as 9.49miles, but that was probably due to my bobbing and weaving. Afterwards we got hot chocolate and chocolate fondue, with pretzel, crackers, a banana, and marshmallows to dip in it!

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The race was SUPER well organized, with a wide open course and digital clocks at each mile marker for those who didn’t have a GPS. They had water stations every mile, and I three or four bathroom stations too. I think it may have been the best organized race I have ever done.  My coworker and I are already trying to decide which one we want to do next!  Race fever, baby!

Double Trouble: Tips for training for a Lifting Comp and 15K at the same time.

I’ve learned three things about myself over the past couple months. (1) That I have way too many fitness/sport related things I want to try (2) That I have a tendency to spread myself thin and (3) that I’m stubborn. From running to lifting to swimming to hiking to climbing, the list of things I desperately want to get good at goes on and on. Currently I am training for my Oly Lifting Comp on November 16th and the Denver Hot Chocolate 15k on October 6th. Two events that require very different training methods and conflicting body types, all while trying not to flunk out of law school, keep my friends, and succeed at work.

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I’ve been having a hard time balancing training. Days after I lift, my legs are too sore to run.  If I devote too much time to running, I start leaning out and don’t make gains in the lifting.  While it’s not an ideal situation at all, I’ve finally managed to strike a small balance with these tips to get through double training:

1) Get enough sleep. I get made fun of for never doing anything in the evenings past 9, but I have actually come to love this lifestyle and rarely feel like I’m missing out on anything. (Hi, I’m secretly 60).  It gives me time to go to dinner/movie/happy hour with friends, while still getting home to be in bed by 10:30. Sleep is necessary to build muscle and will also reduce bad food cravings during the day. It also keeps me from drinking a lot, which leads me to point 2.

2) Don’t drink alcohol more than once a week.  Alcohol keeps you from making gains by dehydrating you (bad for muscle growth), lowering testosterone (bad for muscle growth), and slows down protein synthesis. Depending on how much you consume, it can also make you feel like you are going to die the next day, which is not conducive to training. As I have mentioned before, my body type is not one that naturally puts on muscle. So I want to prevent anything from getting in the way of my muscle growth. (My boyfriend jokes that I am always bulking, because I chow down on food in hopes it will help me grow).

3) Drink at least a gallon of water a day. Water aids in protein synthesis and helps your muscles recover.

4) Don’t get frustrated if you aren’t improving as fast as you want to.  This one is particularly hard for me. I want to be good at everything and improve on things right away(who doesn’t??). I have to keep remind myself patience is a virtue and if I keep going the gains will come.

5) Do short, but faster runs more often. I know I have the muscle to get me through a 15K, but it’s really the cardio aspect I need work on. I’ve been trying to squeeze in shorter (3 miles), but faster runs to build up my lung capacity without cutting into study time, work and without making my legs too sore to lift. So far it’s been working to improve my long runs I do once a week.

6) Find people with similar goals. It can get lonely if all your free time is devoted to activities you do on your own. Try to find people to run/lift with who can help push you through the times you want to give up and who understand the discipline you need to have to succeed. They also can understand that aspect of your humor and provide a lot of laughs to get you through training.

7) Stretching.  Foam roll. Foam roll. Foam roll. Don’t just sit and grab your toes. That’s like taking a knot in a shoe lace and pulling it tighter. Foam Rolling/Active Stretching helps untangle those muscle knots for faster recovery.

8) Supplements.  I don’t usually use supplements, I don’t even really use protein powder. However, today I bought BCAA’s (branch chain amino acids) for the first time. They are supposed to help muscle recovery. We will see how those go and I’ll let you know.

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So those are my tips to how I’m getting through this strange period of pushing and pulling at my  body in hopes of not having to cut one of the things I love out of my life. I truly get so much pleasure from both lifting and running that I can’t imagine not doing both. I don’t want to get to my competition knowing I could have given it more and wasn’t disciplined enough to reach my full potential. It’s just a matter of training smart, not doing things that will harm my progress (staying up late or partying) but giving myself enough of a break so I don’t get burnt out. It’s a fine line to walk, but I’m slowly starting to find my balance.

How not to run smart

Today I was an idiot. I will be running in the Denver Hot Chocolate 15k (somehow I thought 5 weeks would be enough time to get in shape) and decided today was my first training run. I proceeded to have the least smart run of my life. So in case you ever were curious this is how not to run smart, please continue reading….

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1. Wake up 3 hours after you planned to get started, so that your run occurs right around the hottest part of the day on a day predicted to be 90 degrees.

2. Even though you know it’s gonna be a hot one, you decide not to bring a water bottle.

3. You also decide you don’t need sunscreen, bc you won’t be out THAT long.

4.  You wear super dorky high socks, so that when you do end up getting a sunburn it’s totally attractive.

5. You go out into the middle of nowhere cow land in the hopes that your Garmin Forerunner can actually get a GPS signal.

6.  That means that you won’t have any tree protection, but instead lots of sun shine and no places to stop and beg for water. 

7. Then not even have charged your Garmin properly so when it does finally find a GPS signal (woo woo!) it dies, so then the fact you are out in the hot waterless sun country doesn’t even matter.

8. When you finally see an apartment complex in the middle of no where, sneak into their gym to try to steal some water. When the water cooler doesn’t have cups, literally stick your mouth under the faucet because you fear you will faint if you don’t get a couple drops in your mouth. 

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9. When you finally get home collapse on your couch in front of the air conditioner and not properly foam roll/stretch it out.

Ya. Don’t do any of that. Unless you enjoy feeling like you are slowly melting into the ground and keep thinking that soon you will be able to identify with people lost in the desert.

Tap N’ Run 4k – Time to get Tapped

This past Saturday I got tapped. 4 times actually. It was hot out, it lasted about 30 minutes and by the end all I wanted was more.

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Of course, I’m talking about the Tap N’ Run 4k event, a fun run event that involves beer, “running” and may be coming to a city near you soon (definitely not Paleo, but good for the soul nonetheless).  I had told my friends our theme should be jungle animals, but then proceeded to make a cow costume. What, you’ve never heard of the rare jungle cow? Yah, me neither…

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Good thing they were adaptable. They showed up dressed as cowboys, complete with cattle prods, and without even realizing it we had worn the perfect Colorado wild wild west costume.  The costumes at the race were amazing, ranging from a group dressed up as Pacman and blinky/inky/whatever the rest of them are called to sharks from shark week.  When the countdown finished and we were signaled to go we drank our 1/2 a beer, dramatically threw our cups on the ground and were off! To give you an idea of the type of “running race” this was, take a look at these two guys who rented bikes half way through from the lovely bike rental stations in Denver that lined part of the course.

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It was definitely very clear that this was an event that was solely to have fun with your friends, not to really attempt to race. I was perfectly fine with that and enjoyed the two “tap” beer stations along the way. When we reached the finish line there was a DJ and an after party, which we only ended up staying at for about 25 minutes due to the ominous rain clouds in the previous picture finally breaking.  It was definitely a different and fun experience. If you like beer, costumes, and running I would recommend trying it if it comes to your city. PLUS, they give out bottle openers as medals. win!Image