Sunday, May 29, 2016

Rough Runs .... Make Us Stronger

Man, this run was rough. REALLY rough. Last week's 3 miles wasn't easy, but it wasn't rough. This one jut plain hurt. It was more than the hills, my legs didn't want to cooperate. Portions that were suppose to be easy were so difficult, I couldn't even slow my running pace. I had to walk. I don't want to walk on a training RUN.

I was demoralized.

What do I have up my sleeve for next week? Add on to weekly mileage and hill repeats in Mount Lee on Saturday. I'm also doing something this race- I'm weight training and cross-training. I had started weight training in the winter to build strength and definition. Finally, after months of prodding from friends "what's your next race," I found this one. There are easier halves for sure, but I kind of like
doing something that scares me a little bit. 

It was so rough, I was running 100-200 yards before I had to walk 50 yards. Bleh.

I'm better this. 

Well, I wanted to be better than this. Not every run can be great and I've had my share of rough runs, but man. This was not fun. I want to get back to where 10 miles feels great.  These training runs can't keep feeling like this. 

In training, you don't want to increase your weekly mileage more than 10%. But, at some point, often early in your training, you're going to have to make more than a 10% leap. That was going to be this week. It was my goal to run 4 miles... jumping a mile from last week's 3. A 10% jump would put me at 3.3 miles. I ran 3.5 with a 3/4 mile cool down. (The cool down was up a quarter mile from last week to compensate for my shortcoming.) I also rationalized that .5 is .2 more than a 10% jump, so really I was doing okay.

Part of me is wondering how I'm going to accomplish the 5,000 feet elevation gain in my trail half this November. The course looks a little something like this:

The other part of me, the wArrior part tells the worrier to simmer down. I'm 25 pounds lighter than I was at my college heaviest. I might not have the cardio stamina after my first marathon, by I'm the fittest I've ever been. Hell, I SURVIVED BRAIN SURGERY (and recovered so well because of running)! Logically, I know I can do this. There are 5.5 months to train and prepare. And, on days like this Saturday, on the slow days, I'm becoming better at reading a trail... looking out for potential hazards and learning how to move my feet. (Yes, you can't do a fancy road race shuffle/grape vine thing to dodge objects). FOCUS ON CORE. Core strength and solid low arms  (where I don't scrunch my shoulders) will help get me through the 13.1 miles. "Running on tired legs is good," I remind myself. "You'll certainly be tired by the end of any race.... and this race in particular."

At this point, I'm not training for time; I'm training to finish. (Looking at the history of this particular trail half, most finish times are north of 3 hours.)

I did get an ego boost when I was half way done with my run and turned around to go back to my car. Running was easier because I was running DOWN HILL! That flat I was running on was not flat at all. It had a grade that was slight and un-forgiving. Then I remembered; I was running in Reseda. I was on the portion of the road that would take me to the Nike Missile site. One of the many Nike Ajax projects that was defense during the Cold War. This particular location contained ground-based radar that was designed to detect and track hostile aircraft, and to guide the anti-aircraft missiles that would be launched from nearby Sepulveda Basin.. So yeah- If it's high enough to launch missiles, you better believe there are hills.

Granted, the hills I was on had a low grade and weren't as steep as the ones closer to the site. These low hills are nothing like I will face in November, but as mileage and endurance increase, you better believe I'll be taking advantage of the merciless hills on the way to the site and all that The Santa Monica Mountains Conversancy, Topanga Park and National Parks offer. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Beast Mode

I feel like I’ve switched to beast mode.  It’s a term you don’t often hear in polite conversation, unless people are discussing Fantasy Fiction and Werewolves. If your around people that want to show off, (like I did when I was in college) they may even reference Humbaba the Beast.

But, I’m not trying to impress anyone with this near-obscure reference to the Epic of Gilgamesh and I’m often in this state alone. Beast mode is most often used by people training (for something) and is used to describe a mental or physical state in a state of serious training or at a level of high effort.

I gave high levels of effort when I was on the Track & Field team in high school… it was never beast mode. I was running 40+ miles a week when I was deep in my training for my first marathon; that was never beast mode. I didn’t even switch to beast mode training for my first post-brain surgery half marathon.

I was not here last week. Last week I was pre-gamming like I do for an endurance race. Rest, stretch, nourish. Then, show time. Last week’s ballroom dance competition I was in the endurance race head.

This week, a big mental shift happened. It could have been the two hours of boxing and kickboxing I did with a friend last Saturday. It might be that whole you need to do something a month before it becomes a habit. (I’ve been on a new exercise/eating plan for a little over a month.) It might be that this month of solid exercise, sleep and nutrition I’m seeing results… not only physically, but with my cardiovascular system. I’m enjoying this perfect storm that got me here. There were a lot of ups and downs. Now, I just need to stay in this space.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Competitive Cross Training in the Ballroom

Last week was awesome! I was present in every difficult and easy moment, enjoying it all. It was a state of training, friends, performance and competition.

I love performing. Aside from the several showcases I’ve done since taking up ballroom in January 2013, I haven’t had a scrutinized performance since I did standup comedy in 2008. 

The Emerald Ball Competition is one of the biggest ballroom competitions in the country. Preparing for it was a physical challenge and I knew it would be a big mental challenge. Big challenges call for big guns. I broke out the CD my hypnotherapist, Brennan Smith, made for me in 2008 to have a first successful comedy set. I mentally adjusted the comedy-specific suggestions to a ballroom competition. I had one last listen before driving to the South Bay to spend the night with running friends so I could sleep in until 4:30am for my 6:15am hair and makeup appointment.

All the comp prep was similar to race prep. Friends. Food/Fuel. Bed (at a reasonable time). Like usual, I set several alarms and triple checked them, convinced something would go wrong. I changed only one thing: I put my own sheets on the bed, so the ballroom-dark spray tan I was rocking wouldn’t come off on their sheets. I woke up several times in the night (like normal), convinced it was 4:30am and I had to go get my hair and makeup done.  All of a sudden, I heard an alarm that wasn’t mine.

Holy smokes!

Thank goodness, the husband is the kind of guy that wants to walk a lady to her car. He set an alarm so he could wake up and escort me out.

I prep as quickly as I can.

I forgot I brought breakfast and went out to find food.

Foraging for food at 5am is not an easy task, and if you’ve stayed away from fast food for years, you’ll be very disappointed. I eventually found something and modified it enough, (asking for no bacon and throwing out the bread) and made something reasonably palatable. More importantly, there was coffee.

Hair and makeup was going to be at LeNique, the dancewear shop where I (and so many dancers) get their dresses. It was so early, there was even parking by the Culver City Steps, which never happens. I was breathing easy. Jim (my coach)and I were going to meet at 8:30 and my first heat wasn’t until 11. Endurance racing mentality wins out again. Biggest difference. You need hair and makeup for a ballroom dance performance.

The hair and makeup Snow Urbin gave me was spectacular. I rarely feel super girly, but Snow made me feel the most girly I’ve ever felt. The amazing thing is she did it all in an hour.

I changed into my dress so that way I could jump out of my car and run into the ballroom. I met Jim, my instructor and the other dancer who was competing. 

The ballroom was not intimidating. I had been there before, last year supporting friends.

Besides, I like preforming. It’s easier than standup. And, it’s certainly easier than walking from your hospital room to a gurney to get wheeled to brain surgery.

My heats came up. Pre-Bronze Rhumba, Swing, Salsa... quickly followed by Newcomer Rhumba, Swing, Salsa. There were other styles peppered in, so it gave me time to relax and work on dance combinations. The bonus is my ankles didn’t get tired because I’m dancing in heals that are .5” taller than what I normally do.

I ultimately finished with two 2nds in Pre-Bronze Rhumba and Swing. A 1st in Pre-Bronze Salsa.  And, firsts across the board for Newcomer Rhumba, Swing and Salsa. 

I was happy with how I did, but naturally, I want to do better. There’s always room for improvement, with everything. I like chasing that next P.R. (in whatever it may be).  So while working to get in marathon shape, I’m now working towards being able to do more styles without my ankles giving out while really getting my arms and hips to move.

I took Wednesday off, and resumed workouts on Thursday. Friday became my long run day since I had plans with a friend Saturday morning.

 How else does one cap off a week of being one of their most girly? A little boxing and kickboxing at LAKO. Between the weight training and running I’ve been doing for the past month, I didn’t die. And, the bonus is that the ballroom dance adds a great element of stability and hip action.  I was so excited, I tweeted out that I felt like Paige VanZant. As of this post, Paige is a UFC fighter and on this seasons Dancing With the Stars. I was excited to have this commonality with a supreme athlete. I didn’t expect her to respond.
Yes, it was a good week. Now, to jump back into a training schedule and add hills so I can have a successful trail half marathon this fall. I feel like more and more I’m stepping into my athletic prime.