My First Ultra Race – Christmas in July 12-Hour

Crossing the finish line with Esteban, Natalya taking our picture

Doesn’t that picture just exude excitement and accomplishment?  Between 11pm Friday night and 11am Saturday morning I ran 50 miles in my first ultra.  It’s unbelievable to me even as I write this.  My goals for the Christmas in July 12-hour race were to be able to finish the full 12 hours and to make between 40-50 miles during the event.  To know that I achieved my goal on all fronts in my first ultra almost makes me crazy enough to think I could do another.  These things are addicting….  Read more »

Taper Time – Christmas in July

how I feel about taper week. source: Pinterest

Last Saturday I went for *only* a 7 mile run.  It was taper week (or really weeks, but leading into my last week), so I found myself saying weird things like “I only have to run for an hour today.”  As of when I originally started writing this, Christmas in July 12-hour race is just less than a week away – July 14th – and I am nervous, excited, and ready all at once.  I’ve been on vacation from work this week over the July 4th holiday, just relaxing at home with the kids and taking full advantage of this taper.  The following week is a series of 3-ish mile runs that feel way too easy given all of the mileage I’ve been putting in for countless months.  To avoid getting a full blown set of taper crazies here’s what I do to take full advantage and embrace this period of training.

5 Things I do During a Taper

  1. Embrace sleeping in.  Even if sleeping in is only 15-20 extra minutes in the morning, I take advantage where I can instead of trying to fill those minutes with extra “stuff”.  This is the period of time where you need to let your body absorb all of the training you have been doing and getting enough sleep is a big part of that.
  2. Keep up with Yoga.  I am convinced that yoga, as well as regular monthly to e/o monthly visits with my chiropractor, help keep me from getting injured.  On scheduled rest days, I take them as active rest by doing yoga that is truly restorative.  Runner’s World Yoga for Runners videos and Jasyoga are both great options and ideal for athletes.  As runners we get all of our hard workout via running and strength so we don’t need to add more of it with intense yoga.  We need relaxing, restorative yoga to stretch out our muscles and keep our mobility in tip-top form to avoid overuse injuries.
  3. Foam Rolling.  I admit I’m not that good with keeping up with a regular foam rolling routine.  See above for yoga, so I feel like I’m keep my mobility where it needs to be.  Taper weeks are where my mind seems to imagine all sorts of aches and pangs where there were none before, so I foam roll those areas that are yelling at me.  Kills 2 birds with 1 stone – healthy happy muscles and calms the mind.  A general routine will only take about 5-10 minutes so it can easily be done after a run or even at night while watching TV.
  4. Plan for Race Day.  I use some of that extra weekend time, with my runs cut almost in half, making lists of what I need for race day so that I’m not scrambling at the last minute.  This is even more important for an ultra because there is just SO. MUCH. STUFF. that you need to bring!  It’s helped me figure out what I have versus what I need to buy so that the morning of race day (my race starts at night) won’t be filled with errands.
  5. Hydrate.  I make a point at keeping up with my hydration, making sure I’m getting enough water each day.  I’m a coffee drinker so I will easily choose a couple cups of coffee in the afternoon, making it easy to forget to get water.  During this time I make a point at filling up a large water bottle (about 20 oz) at work and trying to make sure I have to refill it once.

Ultra Training Nutrition & My Longest Run Ever

I had my longest run ever yesterday – 27 miles!  Getting to that point has taken a much greater focus on ultra training nutrition and doing all the “extras” besides running that are needed to make me ready.



I thought I was doing pretty good on the nutrition front, but after watching a couple webinars from my coach, it made me think that I still have quite a bit of work to do.  Read more »

Race Report: 2017 Illinois Marathon

Cecelia didn’t want to take a group picture, but she did go ahead and help herself to cake

I had high hopes for this year’s race.  This would be the year that I hit 4:30:00, or at least I would make a significant PR over last year’s 4:41:37.  After running for almost four years I still feel like a newbie and with this being only my 3rd marathon I know that there are still so much opportunity for improvement.  My first marathon was the Chicago Marathon in 2015 and I ran the Illinois Marathon in 2016 with just under a 9 minute PR, so understandable how I had high hopes, right?  My official time this year was 4:42:15.  I didn’t quite make my goal though I came within 1:30 minutes of last year’s time and have learned a few things that I hope will make my next race better. Read more »

Entering the World of Ultra Running

I was 7 weeks away from my spring marathon – the Illinois Marathon on April 22nd – and for some reason, searching through possible upcoming races, the Christmas in July ultra kept sticking in my mind.  I somehow convinced my husband that he and the kids can be my “crew” and registered before I could change my mind.  I’m now combining the tail end of my marathon training with a new adventure – entering the world of ultra running.

Christmas in July

Source: Runners4Wellness

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Orange Theory Fitness Event

Getting ready to row

Getting ready to row

I’ve heard quite a bit of hype about Orange Theory Fitness lately and was curious… but living farther south means there was no facility near me.  We don’t get all the trendy things here 🙂  Last weekend, I finally got a chance to join my Illinois Volée team members for an event.  We went to an Orange Theory class in Chicago, followed by pizza and a talk about goal setting with haute volée Anna Weber.

We started the class by getting fit for our heart rate monitors (you’ll need to get there early for your first class).  The HR monitor fit is important as you can see your name and heart rate performance on the monitor during class, and will be using it to measure if you are working in the right range.  We were split into two groups, with my group starting on the row machines and the other group starting on the treadmill.  If you have an injury or just prefer not to run they also have striders and bikes.

We started out with a few minutes on the rowers and then transitioned to a two-exercise strength circuit, followed by 300 meters on the rowers, strength and repeat.  The instructor demonstrated each of the strength circuits as we transitioned.  This session lasted for about 30 minutes and got my heart rate up pretty well – mostly green but a little bit of orange zone (you want to aim to stay mostly in the green zone, but high speed intervals should get up to orange).  The idea is to get somewhere between 12-20 splat points, which equates to that number of minutes in the orange zone (about 80%+ of your target heart rate), in order to maximize the continued calorie burn throughout the day.

Splat Points

We then switched to the treadmills for 30 minutes of intervals.  They have “base pace” recommendations on the machines based on if you are a walker, jogger, or runner.  We started out at base pace and the instructor led us through a series of increased inclines, transition to push pace (1-2mph over your base pace), and quick bursts of all-out pace.  I was in orange and red quite a bit here.  For me, once my heart rate is up then it tends to shoot back up fairly quickly.  If I had started out on the treadmill first, I would’ve had an easier time managing my HR, but that just means I got to work a little harder.  27 splat points – not bad for a first-timer!

After OT we headed over to Fleet Feet for great pizza, lots of Nuun, and goal-setting advice from Anna.  She had some great advice and provided some insight into what training and nutrition is like for an elite runner.  One thing I learned is that I seriously need more sleep – apparently my mostly 5-6 hours a night is not in the ideal range, go figure 🙂 – and also naps.  For now I think I’ll have to settle for getting extra Zs when I can and know that when my kids group up there’ll be lots of sleep!

Giving Trail Running a Try

So I got my first pair of trail shoes a couple weeks ago – yep, this year I’m giving trail running a try.  When I ran the Happy Girls half marathon this past September it was obvious that my flatland running routine doesn’t quite build the same kind of strength that trail running does.

Christmas Eve trail run

Continue Reading…

New Year, New Goals for 2017

I may be jumping the gun a bit here, but I tend to think about the New Year’s resolution before the 1st of the year hits: New Year, new goals.  It’s been a relatively quiet year running-wise – focused on not over-racing and on training by heart rate (starting 2nd half of the year).  I PR’d in my 2nd marathon at the Illinois Marathon in April.  I ran my first true trail race at Happy Girls Spokane Half Marathon in September.  I learned what a easy pace run was actually supposed to feel like and kept myself injury free.  It’s what I didn’t do though that has me thinking about goals for 2017. Continue Reading…

Heart Rate 102 – 1st 4 weeks

Whew, it’s been a while!  It feels like all of 2 days since beginning of October, but time flies when busy life takes over.  I’m not in week 5 of AMR’s Heart Rate 102 plan to get me through this winter. 1276 miles in for this year so far!

Since the Happy Girls race in September, I’ve been battling chest congestion turned cold/sinus infection. 6 weeks!  Moms never have time to be sick right?  It wasn’t until my eldest got a fever and I realized my youngest still had her cough for going on at least 3 weeks, that I decided to take 1/2 sick day and take us all to the doctor. Sinus infections all around plus bonus ear infection for Cecy.  No wonder my pace had taken a hit.  I’m really glad that I decided not to try for that half marathon PR and listen to my body by taking it a bit easier instead.  Continue Reading…

AMR Running Retreat Recap

AMR Shakeout Run

Group shake out run (I’m back row, 2nd from left)

Taking some time off after a race sounds great (and easy) in theory.  In practice, however, it is hard work.  After 20 weeks of running considerable mileage I just feel so lazy.  So on the last day of my rest week following the Happy Girls half marathon, I’m reminiscing about last week’s retreat and looking forward to getting back on the saddle (or treadmill as the case may be).

In the weeks leading up to the AMR (Another Mother Runner) Run + Refresh Retreat, work was getting crazy, kids were getting crazy, and I could NOT WAIT to get away for the weekend!  I had gone to last year’s retreat in Little Rock, AK so the bar was set pretty high.  The weekend did not disappoint. Read more »