Sunday, December 22, 2013

Follow Your Heart!

Change is scary.

Kara Goucher wrote in her blog recently about following your heart. She is leaving her current coach and training partners to return to Boulder to finish her elite career with her CU coaches. Much of her decision was based on what felt right.

I read her post a few days after I had signed a contract to work at the International School of Panama. Leaving my home of 22 years and moving to a place where I have only seen pictures of on the internet is a bit overwhelming. It helped to read the words "follow your heart".

Living abroad has always been a dream of mine; then it became a goal for our family.  So all four of us are packing up and moving from the cool Rocky Mountains to the tropics of Panama.

Some days when my youngest child expresses his fear over the move or I get overwhelmed at the amount of work we need to do on our house, I remember we are following our hearts. I am excited for the change to our routine of life, to learn a new language and culture, work in a new school, and leave our comfort zone.

As a runner, I will need to embrace the humidity (easier said than done), switch my mind to kilometers from miles when coaching high school runners from different countries, create a bucket list of road and trail races, and to "run happy" away from the familiar and amazing trails of Colorado.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Racing in 2013

During a race, I think of things that are "post worthy".  I even start drafting a post in my mind. Then, I never follow through. So here is a recap of races in photos.

Black Canyon Ascent
Colorado May 2013
3rd Woman overall, 1st Master
Jemez Mountain Trail 1/2 Marathon
New Mexico May 2013
5th Woman, 3rd Master
William O'Brien 10 Miler
Minnesota June 2013
4th Woman, 1st Master
Barr Trail
Colorado July 2013
6th Woman, 3rd Master
La Sportiva Tablerock 27k
California July 2013
4th Woman, 1st Master
Jupiter Peak Steeplechase
Utah 2013
4th Woman, 1st Master
La Sportiva Mountain Cup Series
3rd Place overall, 1st Master
I loved my summer of racing! I was blessed to be able to race in 5 different states on amazing trails. Each race wasn't perfect; a few were down right ugly. As a whole, it was an incredible spring and summer of running!
Unfortunately, I was unable to compete in my two fall races due to a funky ankle injury, but 2014 looks promising with a new challenges and races in mind.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Back to the Basics

Sometimes, I need to get back to the basics. Training above 8,000 feet can be taxing on the mind and body. Although, I have benchmarks on different trails around my home. I needed to go to the track to evaluate my fitness--both mental and physical!

Hello old friend!

So, I woke up, drove 25 minutes (1000 feet lower in elevation), and got to work. After I warmed up on a trail near the track, I ran a 400 to shake out the cobwebs. I jogged a 200 then ran 2 x 1600 with a 400 recovery run in between the intervals. After the miles, I added another 400 then 4 x 200. My Brooks Racers ST felt great--light and fast! I was tempted to add another mile, but decided not to since I race on Sunday.
Workout--3 miles of intervals
Warm up run
1x400 (200m active recovery)
2x1600 (400m active recovery)
1x400 (200m active recovery)
4x200 (100m active recovery)
Cool down
I love the track and don't have the chance to train on it as often as I would like. This workout could have been done on the roads, but I needed the consistency of the track. Besides turnover, I really worked the mental component of this workout especially on the 3rd lap of each mile. I was happy with my splits and the overall times for each interval. Now, I have a benchmark for the different distances when I return to the track.
This workout gave me a boost of confidence as I tow the line on Sunday at the Barr Trail Mountain Race.
How do you boost your confidence before a race?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lupine and Sunshine!

Amazing what a little sunshine and wildflowers can do to change your life! I have been logging consistent mileage through March, April, and May. I mean super consistent.

Monday = 6 miles.
Tuesday = 8 miles
Wednesday = 6 miles
Thursday = 4 miles
Friday = off
Weekend runs = 8-12

Week after week after week.

The time it took to run each run was within a minute of the week before. Pace was the same. Routes were the same (except weekends, I could mix it up). 

With that said, I was in a rut.  I would think about writing in my blog, but I there was nothing to say.

Then earlier this month, I ran 12 miles on the Deer Creek trail.

The Deer Creek run filled my soul. The trail was in prime condition, the flowers were blooming, and it was crazy green due to all the rain and snow we had in May.  Running became an adventure again not a duty. The miles clicked by. I have run the trail as an out and back the last few summers, but it was the first time in years that I had run it point to point. Challenging hills and views the entire way!


I am revitalized! Last year, I set the goal of running new trails mixed in with my old favorites. I am making the list and excited to start crossing out the different trails that I will run this year!

How do you revitalize your routine?

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Where do you find you inspiration--externally or internally?

My motivation and inspiration comes from both places. Lately, I have had to rely on external influences to get me out the door or run longer than usual.
  • blogs
  • articles
  • race reports
  • race websites
  • other runners
All of these things have motivated me to run a bit longer or harder or to get out the door. I am back on track with my training. As I look ahead to my week of family and work commitments, I plan my run. Will it be in the early morning or can I run in the daylight after school?

Looking ahead to my season of races gets me fired up. It also holds me accountable to my training. Despite my competitive intentions, I love my daily run. It balances me. Keeps everything in perspective and brings me joy.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Batter Up!!

If runners had stats like baseball players, my batting average would be horrific due to the “slump” I have been in the past few weeks. 

Runs have been slow.
Low weekly mileage.

After this week, I am working my way up the rankings. I had a great tempo run on Friday and consistent mileage throughout the week even though it was parent/teacher conferences.

Most important, I am zeroing in on my racing season. A few favorites were taken off my list due to conflicts. So I couldn’t commit to what I wanted my season to look like.  I wanted to choose a brand new race and I think I may have found it in California!

I read somewhere that many authors can’t write their story until they know the ending. I decided to start with my ending(s).

August—Pike’s Peak Ascent
I have some unfinished business on that mountain. My last 2 miles were hard last year. So I want another crack at it.

 September—Lead King Loop 25k
Love, love, love it. The scenery & atmosphere of the race. Low key, challenging, and overall incredible!

November—Project Athena Moab Trail ½
Last year, I did the marathon which was challenging coming off of High School CC season.  It was another incredible event for an amazing cause. I am excited to take a right at 10 miles towards the finish instead of left to head out for another 16 miles!

The beginning of my story will consist of a lot of great training races scattered through May, June and July!
I can't wait to sketch out my training. I just finished planning my friend Stevie's training. She will competing in the International Skyrunning series plus many incredible trail races around the world. It was challenging and inspiring to create a plan for a World Champion.
Here's to longer days and melting trails!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Tearing Down Roadblocks

During my run today, I came to terms with roadblocks that I have been allowing to stop me in my tracks or diverting my energy elsewhere.

Identifying the roadblocks is the first step.

Tearing them down will be the next step.

The roadblocks are present in my running, professional life, and personal. They are tricky. They are disguised as potholes, large barriers, and small detours.

I am creating a list of my immediate roadblocks and creating a plan to take them down (or make them smaller so maybe I could hurdle over them).

Dr. Seuss's birthday is in a week. So in honor of the good doctor...I have chosen a mantra for the week!

So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 1/4 percent guaranteed.)
                                           --Oh, The Places You'll Go

Maybe not mountains, but at least I'll move a roadblock or two.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Turn that Frown Upside Down

I decided not to run my winter goal race due to family conflicts. I could have juggled and juggled and juggled to make it happen, but it felt to contrived. So I am not racing.

This is one of my first DNS in recent history. I allowed myself a pity party for a day, because my training was pretty much on track with last year's training. I felt confident that my race would go well.

Now I have been surfing race website after race website to find a trail race...this is not easy as it seems during winter in the mountains. I have a few options, but now I need to commit.

As my "race" is about to start, I look at the positives to my training this past winter.
  • My January mileage was consistent even though the temperatures dipped below zero (a lot)!
  • My 18 miler was a mental challenge. 3 times up and down a steep dirt road. I ended up loving it because I would climb the road in an average 11 minute mile and zoom down in close to a 7:30 mile! The variety of pace was fun.
  • Each week, I ran 1-2 quality workouts.
Once I made my decision not to race, I took 3 days off! It helped me shake the lingering cough. I am ready to ramp up the mileage as I look at a March race.

As the Moab race is going on, I will be mapping out my 2013 races trying not to think of the amazing red rocks of the Utah desert.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Taper Time

"Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan."  Tom Landry

Taper time. I have been looking forward to these weeks for awhile. Training during the school year can be tiring. The weather (the topic or subtopic of many of my posts this past month) has been difficult. But I am wiping that slate clean & focusing on my taper.

Some runners hate the taper.
I embrace it.
I have learned to trust it.

The mental aspect of a taper is as important as the physical. Last week, I squeezed in my 18 miler before my son’s hockey game and I ran 10 miles the day before once my youngest son was finished with his Nordic race.  It was as mentally taxing to plan my runs around my family’s schedule. This weekend worked well and the balance of runner & mother was achieved.

I enter this weekend with an open slate and only have 2 runs to fit in with the longest is 90 minutes. Whew!

Physically, the taper allows my body to absorb the miles and my hard work. I love race day when I feel fresh, no tweaks, and anxious to run.  The initial days of a taper, I will feel flat. Last Tuesday was that day. It took a lot of mental will power to stay present in my intervals and push through each one.

Most runners will stick to their training plan and mess up the taper. Stick with your plan. Decrease volume & maintain intensity. A mistake that is commonly made is “jogging” through your taper. Intensity needs to be maintained with tempo and intervals.

One week to race day. Can’t wait!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Getting It Done

Some days, I need to be creative to fit in my training. Sunday was one of those days. Fortunately, I was able to run my 16 miler on Saturday so all I had to do on Sunday was a 6-7 mile shakeout run. My original plan was to wake up early to run before we traveled to Telluride for my son's hockey game. I woke up to 9 inches of wet snow and the roads were yet to be plowed. So plan B.

The snow was a lot heavier than usual!
Living in the mountains, balancing work, and family commitments, it is important to have a plan B and a plan C and sometimes a D!

I dressed in my running clothes, and we drove to Telluride. I had my husband let me out of the car before we hit town so the dog and I ran 4 miles to the rink, I dropped Jackson off at the car, and I tagged on an extra 3 miles towards Bridal Veil Falls. Luckily, I have run in Telluride frequently (usually between youth hockey games), so I knew where I needed to go. Once I was done, I could focus on my family and enjoy the games.

Here was my view as I ran towards the rink and during my extra bit.

To use the Brooks motto, I run happy in Telluride. The box canyon is dramatic and I have such fond memories of racing the Imogene Pass Run a few years back. IPR is a bucket list race. I run mountains all the time, but the San Juan Range is one of the most fantastic areas to run in Colorado.

Planning my week of training, I usually look for any roadblocks that may come my way, and tentatively have another plan. Having a back-up plan has allowed me to be more consistent in my weekly mileage.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I love my job! One of my students brought this into class today. I have very thoughtful and kind group of students and parents. In my next race, I may have to visualize myself breaking the tape like the picture on the cake!

Saturday, January 26, 2013


The long run I took today was almost 40 degrees warmer than last weekend’s long run.

This was taken after last week's run
I am thankful that January is coming to a rapid end. It was a cold and lonely January. Over half of my morning runs before work had to be cancelled due to extreme wind chill and temperatures way below zero. I had to be creative and flexible to keep my weekly mileage where it needed to be as the Moab Red Hot 33k approaches quickly.

To compensate for the lack of mileage, I have been committed to quality. At least once a week if not twice, I have been diligent with vertical runs, hill repeats, and intervals, both outside and inside. On the treadmill, I have been playing with the elevation setting. I have been setting the incline at 4% during mile repeats or running 3 miles at 7% with the last 400 set near 10%.

I try to imagine that I running here when I am on the treadmill:

Especially when I feel like this:

How do you deal with setbacks or changes with your weekly running plans?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Winter Running

Whew! This topic can take days to talk about--appropriate dress, temperature, and footing to name a few.

I didn’t always embrace winter running. In college, indoor track season started in January so I had no choice but to brave the Minnesota winters. When I moved to Colorado, my winter runs were sporadic. As I look back on my early running logs, my monthly miles from November through March were inconsistent and low. Living at 8,000 feet, the weather can easily rule your life!

The past few years, I broke this pattern and it has made a positive impact on my overall fitness and summer racing. There are a few attributes that I can state to this change in my training.
  • Turning 40! I couldn’t take my running for granted anymore. Consistent training was the key to staying injury free.
  • Training partners! I have a few friends who will meet me at 5:30 am to run before work. Knowing that a friend is waiting for me in the dark and cold propels me out of bed in the morning (3x a week).
  • Early season race. I have run a race in February orMarch the past few seasons. This helps me focus on getting a long run in as well as moderately high weekly mileage.
Last weekend, I wanted to add a little spice to my runs. There is a mountain where the local ski area grooms the road to allow people to skin (ski uphill). Our recent cold weather had made the road pretty firm. So I strapped on my “spikes”, and headed up the road. 

Check out my Brooks! They are pimped out for a fast winter run! Once I started running, I forgot about the spikes. They are more light weight than they look.

My reason for this run was to be able to climb over 3 miles for a consistent effort. Once I finished, I believe that the main benefit was a super fast descent.  Winter running messes with my downhill mojo. The icy roads change my form and I am very cautious. Not on this run, I was able to let it rip! I focused on proper downhill form and quick turnover.

I did allow myself to look up and enjoy the views as I was cranking downhill.

I passed many uphill skiers on the way down to my car. My favorite person I ran by was a mountain biker. He had huge, fat tires that are designed for snow. I guess he is missing summer, too!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What's Your Magic Number?

Today my number was 14. Other days, it has been 21 or 3 and I am sure I can think of time when it has been closer to 45. I never start a run thinking of this number. It just happens. The magic number is the number of minutes I have been running once I am comfortable in my pace and my thoughts settle.

I wasn’t aware of the negotiating in my brain. I set out to run a recovery run of 6 miles. My brain was thinking I should turn early…the next bend, the tree, or the sign. Before knew it, my brain turned off, my stride felt effortless, and I was committed to my original run.

Do you have a magic number or a trick to keep on going when the mind and body doesn’t want to?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Brand Spanking New Running Log

I love the New Year. Not the holiday so much, but starting fresh with a new running log. As you can see, my log takes a beating as the year progresses. Bibs, race maps, entry confirmations get stuffed in the pages as the days go by. A new log symbolizes new goals and possibilities for me.

The 2012 log is sectioned off as well as stuffed with bibs, workout ideas, course maps, gift certificates, pictures, etc…

I am already stuffing the new log with important documents for this year.

Rereading your log can provide a powerful insight about your year as a runner. I had a particularly bad race this June. Nothing went right. Nothing felt good. It was a tough 14.5 miles up a 14er. At 45 years of age, I don’t always feel great in a race, but I rarely feel awful. That day was awful. The next day, I read my entries leading up to the race. There were 2 red flags that may have created the issues I had. I also know that every day will not be your day in a race, but a log provides insights into your training. My next race, I created a different week leading up to it and I had an opposite experience.

I “rearrange” my log to make it work for me. I create a bar graph that tracks mileage, a column that keeps track of races, another one for cross training (Pilates, uphill skiing, biking) as well as a column to list my longest run and quality workouts for the week. This keeps me honest and aware. I also have pages to reflect on races, I create a list of when I purchased my shoes and the mileage that I started running in them. After 2 bouts of plantar fasciitis, I am very careful with my shoes. I also use it to gauge effort for previous runs on the same trail. If I need to find a 2 ½ hour run, I look back in my log & find the trail run that works for that day.

You don’t need a running specific calendar or log. For a few years, I used the free calendar the teacher’s union gave out each fall. The space became limiting so I changed to the one I use now. I have seen other’s create a log out of a blank journal that can be bought almost anywhere. Find what works for you. It is very satisfying adding up the weekly miles, graphing the progress, and as mentioned before, keeping me honest and healthy in my training.