Category Archives: doubts

Week in Review 9.15.14 to 9.21.14

There’s a saying about a bad dress rehearsal indicating that you’re ready for a great performance. Here’s hoping that applies to running too, because it has been a disaster of a “rehearsal” week! I came into last week assuming it would be a normal schedule, so I took Monday really easy following my big workout on Sunday which put me behind on miles with the intent of making them up easily later in the week. Then I had a crazy day in clinic on Wednesday which meant that I missed my run entirely, a workout that got cut short on Thursday and insane wind on my race shakeout on Saturday. To top it off, I had a shitty race yesterday. Woof. It was a frustrating Sunday and I would not say I’m heading into the final 3 weeks with a whole lot of confidence.

Monday: Recovery 6 and yoga. Feeling pretty good post-workout.

Tuesday: Early morning 10.2 miler with Carl plus striders at the end. Feeling great.

Wednesday: Off, unscheduled and really mad about it. Lifted arms in the evening.

Thursday: Rushed workout. 7 by 5 minutes at T pace and 2 by 200 at really-effing-hard pace. Jumped in the car and drove to my meeting without a cooldown. Brilliant.

Friday: 10 mile recovery run through the Intervale.

Saturday: 7 miles of a laughable run. Convinced Will that we should go to the Causeway. Not too bad on the way out, but turned around to a 40 mph headwind. Because we didn’t want to trash my hip flexors, we walked for a mile before jogging back. Striders after.

Sunday: Downtown 10K in 40:27 thanks to a 24 mph headwind and 60+ dewpoint. Felt fine on the warmup and during the race (besides weather conditions) then spent 45 minutes post-race with my head down on Church Street with heart palpitations. Was in serious Sinus Tach until 10:30 (laying down on my bed racing at 140 bpm) and felt off for the rest of the day even when I got back in normal rhythm. Total of 10 miles and total frustration.

It’s hard not to have a week like the last one and not have a total meltdown, get in your bed and decide to scratch all future races. I’m resisting the urge to do that, running full volume until Friday of this week and going into taper with the hope that all my hard work this summer will come together in three weeks.

Turns Out, I’m Not Supergirl

Most of the time, my schedule seems totally doable and I go through my day feeling like even though people stare at me like I’m crazy for trying to coach, train and survive medical school, I generally have my shit together. My house is usually (mostly) clean, I get where I need to be on time, my team runs well, my workouts go well and they keep letting me come back to school. This week was an exception. We hosted two home meets (Tuesday and Friday), I had clinic on Wednesday and an exam on cardiology on Friday. In the midst of this, I missed my first run of the cycle on Wednesday. There were just not enough hours to see patients, study for the exam and get a run in. I beat myself up for a decent number of hours but then had to ask myself the question: What are you? What is your priority? I am a runner and I love running, but the world doesn’t end if I miss a run or don’t run well in Albany. The world gets a lot more expensive and closer to ending if I fail an exam.

I won’t hit my miles this week but thankfully, I did pass my exam yesterday and we didn’t lose anyone on our home course yesterday (which is a feat on that course). I’m going to work on accepting the fact that I’m not made of steel over the weekend…

LT and I a couple of Halloweens ago, just before Philly.

LT and I a couple of Halloweens ago, just before Philly.

Week in Review 8.25.14 to 8.31.14

I was having a hissy fit when I started to write this up. Truly. I was sitting at my desk half in tears and debating whether I should even attempt my fall marathon. My race this morning was THAT bad. Then I looked at my training log to write this post and realized I capped a 78 mile week off with a race, which capped off a 331 mile month. What precisely did I expect my legs to feel like? Anyway, hissy fit almost resolved and I didn’t do anything stupid like pull my entries.

Monday: 11.25 miles recovery paced. Hip core routine after.

Tuesday AM: 8 miles on the 15K course. Arms after. All done by 8 am and feeling really accomplished.

Tuesday PM: 5 miles with the girls followed by beach abs routine.

Wednesday: Scheduled off day, prorated at 10.3

Thursday: Monster tempo run. 3 by 2 mile at T pace, for which I used a heart rate monitor and kept it at 168-170. What a low stress way to get a workout done!!! Definitely doing that for the remainder of this cycle. 13 miles.

Friday: 8 miles recovery pace.

Saturday: 7 miles through Hinesburg before coaching at the CVU Relays all morning. Girls kicked ass. I need to bottle some of that get-up.

Sunday: Labor Day 15K. Fricken disaster. Felt awful from about .5 miles in and just slogged through. 1:02:55, 19th place. Race report tomorrow when I’m done being so dramatic.

78 miles.

Arm lift.

Hip core and beach abs.

Today marks 6 weeks from race day, which means about 3 more weeks of really hard work. When Will can count off my workouts on his fingers, it starts to feel real. I wish it felt real in a more positive sense today, but one way or another, October is coming. Here’s hoping this insane humidity decides to leave the area soon so I can have some kick ass workouts and race simulators.

Warning: Posts in Blogosphere May Be Rosier than Reality

MirrosI love blogging and even more, I love reading other running blogs. There’s something about reading someone’s first hand account of training, of racing or even of life as a runner that makes the running community feel even more tight knit. Increasingly, however, I find that reading other blogs causes me to compare myself to other runners and not always in a positive manner. For example, with so many people in my speed-clique running Chicago this year (which is the same weekend as Albany), I’ve found myself anxiously comparing workouts and progress. When I have a bad workout or rough run, it’s not many steps to a total running meltdown. Granted, this can happen on in-person teams too (I see it as a coach all the time), but sometimes I suspect the digital component heightens anxiety and comparison because we just have to believe what people are writing.

I went on a big unfollow streak this week after reading one too many disingenuous and borderline dangerous blog entries from a fairly big name blogger. I never should have followed that blog as long as I did; she complains about extreme exhaustion but keeps hammering 10 miles a day, runs through stress fractures and serious injuries and generally sets a horrible example of what it’s like to be a runner. After unfollowing her blog, I started to go through my Reader and remove other blogs that didn’t feel like brothers or sisters of the road. If you truly love running every single day and always have perfect workouts, my assumption is that you are either lying about them or you aren’t actually doing them. Everyone blows workouts once in a while. Everyone has days where they just really don’t want to fucking run.

Laurel has written about this before, as have others. It’s not that most little bloggers like ourselves try to be cheery all the time, it’s just not as fun to write about bad runs or races and no one wants to be the Debbie Downer of the Interwebs. The reality is, however, that running is hard and sometimes not that fun. We still get out there and do it every day, but we’re not exactly skipping down the sidewalk. As I go forward with this blog, one of my goals is to find the balance between inspiration, motivation and reality.

In the spirit of honesty for anyone else who finds themselves playing the comparison game, last week SUCKED for me. My mid-week workout was slow and I felt like I was dragging concrete pins and on my Sunday long run, I only did one section of tempo running when I was scheduled to do two. At 7 weeks out, it was disheartening and terrifying and I cried to Will more than once that I didn’t know if I wanted to step on the start line in October.

Am I alone in this? Anyone else find their perspectives swayed by what they read on blogs?

 

Inside Out Underwear

Truth.

Truth.

Believe it or not, this post is running related. It’s also underwear related, although I try never to run in the underwear in question. Anyway, at least once a week, I find myself with underwear inside out and laugh every time. It’s never not funny to have to flip your underwear while wearing business clothes and standing on one foot in a bathroom stall. Because why would you ever find out before you left home…

Anyway, about 2 years ago, I made a life decision that that markedly improved my quality of life, challenged my general insistence on perfection and made me far more likely to find myself with inside out underwear. What was this decision? I stopped folding my underwear. There. I said it. My mom is almost definitely disappointed in me, but at some point while working full time, training, coaching, taking pre-med classes and studying for the MCAT while doing laundry at the local laundromat, I found myself unable to fathom spending 20 extra minutes to fold my underwear. So I didn’t. I headed home and threw them in the drawer where they lived anyway and life went on. If it gives you any impression of how wound up I can be, it was one of the most freeing experiences of my life. I haven’t folded underwear since (unless I’m traveling, let’s not get insane) and it is a similarly amazing experience every time I realize I don’t have to fold underwear for 20 minutes.

So what do my laundry habits have to do with running? Letting go of perfection is really, really difficult for me. This quest for perfection spills over into my running. Of course, some elements of this are part of why I’m successful at running. Other elements, however, self-sabotage me out of workouts and races. If I have a bad repetition or mile, I’m prone to starting the downward spiral towards “I suck and will never reach my goals-ville.” I react to missing assigned paces almost the same as I would react to missing a workout. Bad runs can trip me up for the week to come because for me, not being perfect is unacceptable. I’m literally never happy with a race and barely make it across the finish line before I start picking apart what I could have done better.

Logically, I know that perfection is unattainable in almost any pursuit and most definitely in running and medicine. Emotionally, however, it’s still a daily struggle to realize that giving it the best I have on any given day and getting close enough is the best most of us can ask for.

What silly life “rules” have your broken over the years? How do your personality traits show up in your approach to running?

Week in Review (A Little Late): 6.23.14 to 6.29.14

First, today is the last day to enter the Sweaty Bands giveaway. Thanks for all the great entries and pictures thus far!

This training block has been the definition of “almost.” Like many people, I train in four week blocks, where I do three weeks that build and then an adaptation week to absorb that training. I’d intended this block to be at about 70 miles per week and every week, I’d be on track to meet or surpass that and every week something came up. Ended up at about 65 miles this block and I just have to let it go.

This particular post is a bit late because we moved yesterday! Four years in the same place + wedding + med school = SO MUCH STUFF. I’m so grateful we’ve moved into a bigger space because man did we need it. Still, my legs and feet are exhausted today so I’m glad it’s an adaptation week.

Monday AM: 8.5 easy in the heat

Monday PM: 4 miles with the team plus drills, hip core and lifting arms! Woot!

Tuesday: 9 miles including a minor run in with a car.

Wednesday AM: Rainiest.workout.ever. Did 7 by 800 at flooded-track I pace with 2:45 recovery in between. Lane 1 was totally under water so I just attempted to keep turnover up. 2:58 for the first before the deluge, rest were 3:04. Total of 10.5 miles

Wednesday PM: 3 miles with the team plus drills, circuits and legs.

Thursday: 7 mile trail run with Will at Catamount. Total blast.

Friday: 15 miles in 90 degree weather. Didn’t plan to get my long run in but since I was at 10 when I got home, I went for it. Glad I did, wouldn’t have had time with our weekend.

Saturday: 6.7 miles before the day trip to Boston. Legs tired from the long run in 90 degree heat.

Sunday: Moving plus 20 minute spin on the new spin bike. Ankle toast after being on it all week.

I’m admittedly a little frustrated/anxious that this cycle just hasn’t gone well thus far but trying to remain positive that this adaptation week will give me time to get the new house unpacked and refocus for the next block ahead.

How do you keep your optimism after a tough training block? Anyone else run in the deluge or scorching heat this week?

Write One Page and Then Another

“When I face the desolate impossibility of writing five hundred pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all I can permit myself to contemplate.” John Steinbeck

As far as I know, Steinbeck wasn’t a long distance runner but the above quote makes me think he could have been. Like Steinbeck, when I face the impossibility of racing 26.2 miles at 6:14 pace, I know I can never do it. When I think of running another 70 mile week or sometimes even another 9 mile run, I also know I can never do it. But day by day, I lace up my shoes and get myself out the door and take it mile by mile.

Anne Lamott is one of my favorite authors and wrote a phenomenal book called Bird by Bird. The book starts out with an anecdote about Lamott’s brother, who had left a book report on bird until the very last minute. As her brother melts down over the task at hand, her father claps him on the shoulder and advises him “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” If you’re a reader or a writer, I highly recommend all of Lamott’s books, especially that one.

Steinbeck and Lamott are right in their wisdom about approaching huge tasks. If you look at the whole distance, at the whole training cycle, it seems so huge that you want to turn around, get back in bed and give up altogether. I know that one bad run (or workout or week) does not a marathon ruin, but try telling that to me last week when I stopped in the middle of a repeat in the middle of a workout because I couldn’t take another step. I was so upset that I threw my sunglasses across the track. True story. I don’t think my husband has ever seen that side of me but I was so frustrated in that moment with my legs and myself and all I had to throw were my sunglasses. It turned out that I was about an hour away from a stomach bug and by the time we cooled down and got home, I was so dizzy I’d lay down for the next 36 hours. By 48 hours later, I felt fine, got a long run in and moved on.

There are no shortcuts in running. We get lucky sometimes but if we want our best performances, we have to get out there and gradually pick away at our goal.

What quotes or thoughts do you lean on during tough training weeks? Best running hissy fit?

Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can’t Lose

I’m not sure where all this introspection is coming from this week. Maybe it’s a few solid weeks of training under my belt. Maybe it’s this weird feeling I’ve had lately that things are about to pull together for me athletically. Anyway, one of the scariest things to do is to put yourself out there and admit your goals. When Katie and I were getting ready for VCM the other day, she started hedging her goal. “Well, I’d like to run under 1:27. I should be able to. But I don’t know…” She blew her goal away, running well under 1:27. Sometimes the biggest part of the battle is admitting what you want from a race.

Stating your goals takes courage. It puts your dreams out there and makes a clear marker of success or failure for everyone else to see. Below are my goals organized into the next 18 months, someday and pie in the sky. Some are pie in the sky because although they are theoretically attainable, they’ll take a lot of things pulling together for me. Furthermore, I’ll be just fine if those remain things I worked for my whole life and didn’t quite achieve. My someday goals and next 18 month goals should be closer in reach.

Next 18 Months

PR in the marathon Mohawk Hudson, 2:54 in October of 2014

Break 1:20 in the half and 37 in the 10K

Get a shiny new 5K PR (see also, race a 5K)

Someday

Win a marathon RDC Marathon 2017

Win a national title (Masters Club Nationals for track is my best bet…)

Run a beer mile

Break 2:45 in the marathon, 1:18 in the half, 36 in the 10K and 17:30 in the 5K

Run a trail marathon

Transition to an excellent masters career

 

Pie in the Sky

Olympic Trials Qualifier in the marathon

Start in the Elite Women’s Corral for the Boston Marathon

Get invited to the USA Running Circuit

Get a mention on Let’s Run or Running Times

 

I put myself out here, now it’s your turn. What are your goals?

 

 

 

Fail Again. Fail Better.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Samuel Beckett

By and large, most of us will fail in our lives. Some failures are catastrophic and can change the course of someone’s life. Some are smaller but can still hang with us for days, weeks or even years. Medical school is one big experiment in failure, at least in my experience. Just when you think you have a grip on something, more knowledge gets layered on and the expectations and stakes get higher. Inevitably, your first try is an absolute disaster.

In the last two weeks, I’ve had two friends sustain what they deemed as failures and have had a front row seat to the pain of failure. One hit a major career bump. Over the past couple of years, they struck out on an adventurous career path and opted to choose their own adventure instead of walking along the traditional career path. To me, this takes extraordinary courage. I’ve certainly taken an unconventional path to medicine, but my paths here have all been relatively conventional. To step off the beaten path and try it your own way takes courage. And it almost guarantees some temporary failures along the way.

Another friend had a running failure. As I wrote on Saturday, Laurel was starting her first marathon yesterday. Unfortunately, her stomach had other ideas and she was seriously sick by mile 7 and made the smart choice to stop at 13. Understandably, she feels pretty awful today. The marathon is like that. You can survive a 5K or a 10K or even sometimes a half with something going wrong. The marathon, however, is an unforgiving beast. In talking to Laurel last night, I encouraged her to lick her wounds for a couple days then look at the option of trying again in 2 week at Vermont City Marathon. Perfect? No. But getting back up when we get knocked down is how we learn and grow.

Failure is relative too. By most people’s measures, my performance at VCM last year would be a success. For me, it remains a source of pain that I’ll carry until I try the marathon again. Yes, 2:58 is “good.” But when you are trained for 2:50, it stings. Bouncing back from it can be so difficult. Failure may motivate but it also introduces doubt and fear when you start to try something again. As I’m picking a fall marathon and starting to train again, the little voice still frustrated from VCM last year is back on my shoulder as I’m working through workouts that would have been a breeze a year ago, telling me that it isn’t going to go well, that my goals are ridiculous. My job over the next few months is to progressively silence that voice and strengthen the one that tells me to try again.

How do you handle failure? What is your biggest running-related failure?

Pre-Race Saturday

It’s hard to get back in the swing of pre-race routines after almost a year away from racing. Nevertheless, the day before is here and things are going as they usually do the day before a race; nervous texts to teammates (LT taking the brunt of it today), nervous foam rolling, naps, packing and repacking…

I’m not nervous for the race for the normal reasons but because unlike a “normal” race, I don’t actually know what my abilities are right now. I’m relatively fit but I have no specificity and haven’t asked my foot to do anything resembling a race pace since surgery. I’ll probably be fine but some looming doubts are creeping in.

This is why I can't have nice things. Who goes outside like this?

This is why I can’t have nice things. Who goes outside like this?

The old shake-out run. Warmup, run a few accelerations at race effort, shut her down.

The old shake-out run. Warmup, run a few accelerations at race effort, shut her down.

Refuel with the best pancakes in the world, aka Willyum's Cooking Light Pancakes

Refuel with the best pancakes in the world, aka Willyum’s Cooking Light Pancakes

And now to lay on the couch and study for the rest of the day with a break to watch a slightly more important race, the Kentucky Derby!