Oozlefinch 10 miler- race recap

I earned my beer yesterday at the Ooozlefinch ten miler in Hampton, VA. Although, I must admit I didn’t go into the race super confident. The aerobic capacity training I have been working on recently has affected my mental game. I have been doing a lot (70-75 miles/week) of slow miles with no speed work. In the past, I have done at least 20% of my training at or above the lactate threshold (the pace you can maintain for about an hour) when leading up to a race. Until two weeks ago, I haven’t done any. For me, it has been hard to go into a race without having run any goal pace miles. I understand and believe in the 80/20 principle, but I haven’t been doing any 20 (speed). However, I made a commitment to myself when I signed on with my coach at the end of November: I was going to try whatever he told me to do for one year. I want to break three hours in the marathon this year and I have nothing to lose by trying things a different way. Really applying myself to my marathon training this past fall, I was able to improve my marathon time by 18 minutes. Getting a taste of my potential, I decided to hire a coach and see what was possible. And thanks to him, things seem to be moving in the right direction. Trust the process. Believe in it. And yourself. And you may just be amazed at the outcome.

Race recap

I showed up at 6:30am, anxious as usual for any race. I wanted to pick up my race bib and have time to warm up and go to the bathroom without feeling rushed for the start of the race. I decided my goal pace would be a 6:50 min/mi. I like starting slow. I hate feeling dead in the second half. I warmed up two miles and stretched out, ran to the bathroom and hung out in the car until I started seeing people heading over to the start line. It was cold and windy and I didn’t want to tighten up. We were alerted the race was going to start off ten minutes late. I started running again to keep loose for I was wearing shorts (brrr). The gun went off at 8:15am and people sprinted off the line and it was hard not to blast off with them. I tried to maintain a steady pace at the 6:50 min/mi mark and ended up falling behind a man and a woman by the second mile. I like pacing off of other people in the beginning to help me sort of zone out and relax. But the course was two five mile loops and some people only ran the five mile. And the woman I was trailing was done after five. Dangit. At mile 6, two girls pass me and I make an active decision: to give it everything I have left in trailing these girls. The headwind was really bad from mile 6-8.5. I knew if I could hang on until the last 1.5 miles, I may have a chance of kicking it to the finish. We round the corner and the wind was at our backs. The pace picks up from a 6:50 to a 6:30 min/mi. Just hang on until the last quarter mile I told myself. At this point, we were running a 6:00 min/mi. At 9.5 miles, the #2 girl and myself started breaking away from the #3 girl. With a quarter mile left, I gave everything I had. My legs started burning and I felt like I was going to puke. I can’t wait to see the pictures of me at the finish line (haha, not). But I kept pushing, sprinting, pushing with every ounce of energy I had. Nothing to lose and everything to gain. And I won.

Chesapeake Bay views along the course

I am proud of myself. Not for winning, but for pushing myself past the limits my mind had set for me. When everything told me to “give up”, I kept going. My mental game is something I have struggled with in my last twenty years of running and its something I need to continue working on. But today, I can proudly say, I left everything on the course.

Official time for the Oozlefinch ten miler
Mile splits for the Oozlefinch ten miler. Forgot to stop my watch at the very end 🤷🏼‍♀️

I must truly thank the #2 and #3 girls. There is no way I could have run that fast or pushed myself that hard, without you. Amazing job ladies!

I look forward to practicing more mental game strategies before the 60k. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Ultras are an unknown territory of mine! Look for that in my upcoming blog posts!

-S

Just what is my ideal “Racing Weight” supposed to be?

I woke up at 4am last Saturday to get my 18 miler done ( which turned into a 19 miler) because apparently I can’t do math. I had a glass of water, sprouted wheat peanut butter toast and a big cup of coffee. I definitely never skip out on my coffee. I packed a bunch of raisins for the run and I was off.

It was a frosty start because I hate being overdressed, but I quickly warmed up , with the exception of my hands. Despite having hand warmers, my hands were freezing ( and it wasn’t even that cold! upper 20’s?). Note to self: Wear real gloves this weekend. For the most part, the run went pretty smoothly , but I just felt off. I couldn’t figure it out. My legs weren’t sore and I was well rested, but my body just felt tired and hard to move. I felt like I was running with a weighted backpack, not just a fuel belt with a few raisins in it. I got home with enough time to eat a few peanut butter protein pancakes some water and I was rushing off to take the boys to their basketball game.

Virginia Beach Oceanfront sunrise views on my long run Saturday

The week progressed and I didn’t think much more about my run until I was at the grocery store yesterday. I picked up a bag of 5 pound carrots and realized how much it actually weighed. And then I remembered reading Matt Fitzgerald’s book “Racing Weight” a couple months ago (highly recommend for anyone looking to tweak their nutrition aspect of training, by the way). Specifically, the part where it talks about the two ways to get faster: 1) increasing speed and/or intensity of workouts, or 2) losing weight. Trying to do both at the same time is a bad idea, because calorie deficits reduce ability to perform during workouts. And better performances in workouts, in turn, make you a faster runner (done in small amounts, as based on the 80/20 theory, or Lydiard training). Since I am working more on my aerobic capacity and less (or none) on speed, I am going to focus more on weight loss during this training cycle with hopes of decreasing my race times .

No, I do not think I am fat. No, I do not think weight loss is the key. But, I am curious to see if this works and would like to experiments a little on myself. I am going to aim to lose 5-7 pounds in two months. My baseline is going to be my time at the Resolution 5k, which was on January 1, 2019. My time was 19:49 and my weight was roughly 136 (that’s what it was today). I will compete in another 5k a couple weeks before or after the 60k in order to see if there has been any improvement on my time (providing the fact I have lost weight and not any other factors have changed). I must say that I’m excited to see the result for I am a true scientist at heart. I have a number of years of immunology research behind me, but then I had my three boy babes and life had other plans for me.

I don’t plan on making a lot of adjustments to my current diet (other than maybe eating a little less peanut butter). I already make pretty wholesome food choices with lots of fruits and vegetables in the mix. I will just try and eat more mindfully, stopping eating when I am a little less full. Or having a glass of water between servings of food (and drinking more water in general) to see if I am truly still hungry. And hopefully the increased mileage over the next few weeks will take care of the rest of it for me.

Another favorite pre- long run breakfast

I know this post was supposed to focus on pre-, post, and during workout nutrition, but what can I say? I’m easily distracted. I have lots more long runs coming my way, so that post will not be forgotten!

Crush those miles this weekend!

-S

To freeze in an ice bath, or not to freeze in an ice bath?

Well, the ice bath was definitely a success in terms of not losing feeling completely everywhere. I hopped into the frigid tub after my first long run of the weekend (16 miler) for about ten minutes. Drinking a cup of hot coffee may have helped keep the feeling in my hands, but I still wouldn’t call it an enjoyable experience. I didn’t feel super sore that day, or the next, but I wasn’t so sure that I would have felt much different had I not plunged into a frigid bath and just stuck with my foam rolling technique. So I got to some researching….

Cold water immersion, or CWI, is used by elite and recreational runners everywhere. I see it all over Instagram, which is why I decided to go ahead and give it a try. However, I wanted to know a little more of the science behind why it’s supposed to aid in recovery. CWI has been theorized to increase subsequent performances through decreasing inflammation, reducing production of harmful byproducts, and reducing pain associated with overly strenuous workout or long runs. A study conducted in 2014 by White et al, showed no differences in inflammatory markers following 10 minutes of CWI post high intensity sprint exercise. In 2017, Peake et al were the first to show no significant differences in inflammatory markers after CWI post resistance exercise. Even though CWI may not be proven beneficial yet in terms of inflammation, it may still have a place in decreasing muscle soreness and it placebo effect, as noted by Allan and Mawhinney. Ultimately, I think the jury is still out on whether CWI truly benefits the athlete or not in terms of recovery and subsequent performances. There may be a placebo effect, which may benefit some, but I don’t think it has me convinced just yet. Not enough to freeze my buns off electively for ten minutes anyway.

But if there are so many contradicting opinions on CWI, what is the thinking behind foam rolling or other self myofascial relief (SMR) techniques (i.e. car buffers). And while I think more research needs to be done in this area as well, Schroder et al have proven that SMR increases range of motion and decreases muscle soreness, especially when done in conjunction with static stretching post exercise. However, it does increase muscle function following use of treatment.

That being said, ultimately, I think it’s whatever works for you. If you like freezing your buns off in the tub, do it. If massaging your legs with a car buffer makes them feel better, go for it. So long as your recovering in some way, I think that’s the message to take away from all this. Personally, I think I’ll stick to my foam roller because I don’t think one method has been proven to benefit the athlete more than the other, but please share if I am wrong!

Next week I will focus on nutrition before, during, and after a long run. I have a 12 and an 18 miler this weekend and it’s important to practice fueling the way you would before, during and after a race. Nothing is worse than having to stop 25 times during a race because of unplanned GI distress! I find that lots of gels upset my stomach, and with the distance being so far in a 60k, I’m going to stick to real food. So that’s what I’ll be eating on my 18 miler this weekend! Follow along next week to see how that goes!

-S

And just how am I supposed to train for an ultramarathon?

I’m running the Long Creek 60k in Virginia Beach, VA in 11 weeks. That is roughly 37 miles, and the longest distance I have attempted to run thus far. And I am super excited! I have no idea what to expect for a race of this magnitude. And while I love to run, A LOT, I am not used to racing this kind of mileage. The farthest I have run to date is the Seashore Nature Trail 50k, which was, three years ago. I have been competing in marathons for about 5 years, but ultrarunning on trails is a little bit different. And I like that, and am up for the challenge. My goals for this race are:

  1. finish the race (because after all it is 38 miles….course is long)
  2. finish around 5 hours (approximately an 8:00 min/mi)
  3. podium finish (I have no idea if this is realistic, but I’m going for it!)

My training over the next 11 weeks will prepare me to fulfill these goals. Each week, I am going to focus on one aspect of my training to hone in on and perfect (i.e. nutrition, mental game, warmups etc.) and will address results in the following weeks blog post.

Currently, I have been working on building my base mileage. I took some recovery time after the Richmond Marathon in November and have been slowly rebuilding over the past six weeks. Recently, my focus has been increasing my fitness through mostly slow running with a few strides thrown in twice a week. I am at 50 miles a week now and increasing to about 100 miles/wk during peak. I have been doing this by increasing weekly mileage roughly 10%. Eventually, I will be adding speed work, but not quite yet. My weekend long runs are starting to increase in distance (30 miles over 2 days), so I thought this would be the perfect time to work on post run/workout recovery. I am probably the worst when it comes to recovery. Really meaning that I do none. I know this is bad, but I have three little boys and its hard for me to find time to run, nevermind do warmup stretches, drills, cool down, stretching, and recovery. But I need to make some time. This week, I am going to focus on foam rolling techniques, legs on wall and ice baths (cringe). Check back in next week to see if I lost feeling in my whole body or just my legs!

-S

Marathoning through Momlife

I have always been a runner. I can thank my parents for that. It’s in my blood. But not everyone is and I totally get that. This blog isn’t just for runners (awesome if it inspires you to give it a try), but for anyone looking to increase their performance (in any sport) and their mom game. Stick around for tips, tricks, advice and more on my own running journey as it applies to mom life, nutrition and marathoning.✌🏻

 E