Monday, June 30, 2014

BMT: PT & Top PT Award

BMT PT, Air Force BMT Physical Training, BMT Top PT Award, BMT Warhawk

It probably comes as no surprise that PT (physical training) was my favorite part of Basic Military Training. Yes, it's true, I was that trainee—my biological alarm clock would wake me up about 45-minutes prior to Reveille each morning because I was just that excited about PT. And considering my excitement, I'll advise you at this moment that this will probably be my longest BMT recap post, due to how much I enjoyed PT and how much I have to say about it!

PT at BMT is scheduled for approximately six days per week—give or take—depending on the week's activities. Some mornings you're out the dorms before it's light out and there's just literally no time for PT. Typically, there are three running days and three strength days per week. Each PT session lasts about 45-minutes to an hour from warm-up to cool-down, with about 30 actual minutes of exercise. I loved run days. Whether I was running on the asphalt with the rest of the trainees from our squadron, or off on the actual testing track by myself running my own pace (which isn't typical, but they allowed me the privilege due to my running times), I enjoyed each moment. I also did my own short 10-15 minute PT sessions next to my bed each night after lights out, focusing on push-ups, sit-ups, and other core exercises.

BMT PT, Air Force BMT Physical Training, BEAST PT
Working our abs with sit-ups during BEAST.

We actually ran a lot more than I thought we would. In fact, I had originally brought a pair of shorter-distance Brooks in lieu of my bright Mizunos for fear that they would stand out too much (see my post about that here). After two weeks of PT, I couldn't do it anymore. I had to make a visit to the pay phones to request that my Mizunos be shipped to me ASAP. I needed them... they were my running shoes, and boy—did they make the difference. They were the game changers!

To be honest, before we took our initial PT test, I really hadn't been noticed by our MTI's. I mean, I don't even think they knew I was a part of their flight. But—after our first PT test—it was all over from there. Somehow, I managed to run faster than all the females in my flight and all the males in our brother flight. Needless to say, not only did my MTI's know me, but my entire chain of command also began calling me out by name. Honestly, it was a blessing. I wasn't called out for uniform infractions or misbehavior, but instead I would hear, "Hey Rowe! How'd that run go this morning?" When you go to BMT, so many go with the desire to blend in with the crowd in an effort to avoid attention—but I have to say, that kind of attention is the kind that is worth getting. I was very grateful for it!

BMT PT, Air Force BMT Physical Training, BMT 5K Overall Female Winner
Receiving the 5K Female 1st Place Overall Finisher trophy from Colonel Liddick—"Take, shake, salute!"

During our 5th week, we were given a special opportunity to run a 5K with the rest of Lackland's trainees, MTI's, Airmen, residents, and civilians from the area. BMT hosts about four 5K's a year, so I was very lucky to be able to participate in one! Of all the individuals who ran, I finished first out of the females with a time of 19:17. When I received my trophy (which was huge, by the way!), it was announced that I was the third female in 25-years to win as a trainee... most female winners are typically civilians. So that was neat! That day was a huge morale boost and got me psyched up for our final PT test to follow two weeks later.

As the weeks progressed, so did my times. At my initial PT test, I ran a 9:30 1.5-mile time, did 38 push-ups, 62 sit-ups and 6 pull-ups. At week seven and my final PT test, I did 54 push-ups, 68 sit-ups, 7 pull-ups, and finished my 1.5-mile run in 8:42. Little did I know, but I had just scored myself the Top Female PT spot, #1 out of the other 134 trainees in my week. In addition, I had just run the 5th fastest female time in BMT history (and BMT has been around since 1946!). To say that I was honored to receive that award would be an understatement! Not only did my achievements bring a cool plaque and special coin (which are awarded to every Top PT recipient), but I was also given a Commander's Coin from Colonel Liddick for marking my place in BMT history. The neatest part was that Colonel Liddick retired the Monday after we graduated, so I was the last one to receive one of her Commander's Coins... what an honor!

BMT PT, Air Force BMT Physical Training, BMT Top PT Award
Receiving the Commander's Coin—and trying to keep my bearing—from Colonel Liddick.
BMT PT, Air Force BMT Physical Training, BMT Top PT Award
My name on the 322 Squadron's Top PT board.
BMT PT, Air Force BMT Physical Training, BMT Top PT Award
With my 5K trophy & Top PT plaque—the humble-brag, if you will.
BMT PT, Air Force BMT Physical Training, Airman's Run
Leading the pack at the Airman's Run.
BMT PT, Air Force BMT Physical Training, Airman's Run
B—M—T... in the lead! 

Though I developed many strengths throughout my time at BMT, it was clear that my greatest strength was found in PT. Not only did I make significant personal gains, but I was able to help and encourage several of my flight-mates through their own PT journeys. Some of my favorite PT memories involve finishing my PT tests and running back around the track to find my wingman so I could finish with her (love you, Funkhouser!) or doing sit-ups next to my other wingman Cummings after lights out each night. I was so grateful for each experience that PT brought with it, and the opportunity to train and push my body to the limits. PT was by far my favorite part of BMT.

See my other Basic Military Training experiences here: I am an American Airman │ BMT: Retreat, Parade & Graduation │ BMT: Graduation Weekend in San Antonio │ BMT: PT & Top PT Award │ BMT: Highlights & Final Thoughts

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Air Force BMT Fitness Standards

Air Force Basic Training Female Fitness Standards

Last time I mentioned my fitness routine and talked about how I was switching it up from just running to getting back into the gym, I didn't include the fact that I was joining the Air National Guard the next day. So yeah, little detail... I kind of left it out. Anyway, the biggest reason why I've backed off from the long-distance running—besides for trying to heal my body after the marathon two months ago—is to get better in shape for Basic Military Training (BMT). In Basic, it's not just running—it's push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, squats, flutter kicks, calisthenics, sprints, obstacle courses, and exercises that I don't even have any idea about... I have to be ready for anything.

Down at BMT, before you are able to graduate, you must perform a fitness test. There are three levels you can achieve, the Liberator (the minimum graduation requirements), the Thunderbolt (honor graduate minimum standards), and the Warhawk (the highest fitness standard). If you guessed I'd go for the Warhawk, you would be correct. Here's a breakdown of the standards you have to meet for each category (as of 18 July 2014).

Air Force Basic Training Male Fitness Standards, Male BMT Fitness Standards

Air Force Basic Training Female Fitness Standards, Female BMT Fitness Standards

This past Saturday, I put myself to the test, doing the push-ups & sit-ups inside, and then heading outdoors for the run—I had to run in the snow and it was cold and icy! I was able to do 55 push-ups, 65 sit-ups, and I finished my run in 10:53 (I did the pull-ups at the gym last week and was able to get 4). One thing is for certain, I may be right on the bubble of the Warhawk standards—but I need to keep working hard to maintain these numbers and decrease my run time! I am very excited that I have this measurement guide to train towards, because it's giving me some good inspiration to get in the best Basic Training shape possible.

At the gym, I've been mixing it up each day. I tend to stick to more high-intensity workouts that involve each of the above exercises, as well as jumping rope, jump squats, lunges, mountain climbers, burpees (and burpee pull-ups!), triceps dips, planks, crunches, and honestly... anything I can think of. It changes every time.

I'm looking at these fitness standards like any other goal I've set for myself. Train, train, train and make it happen.

  • As of February 12, 2014, I can now do 50 push-ups (my number is less but my form is better!), 60 sit-ups, my run time is 10:13, and I can now do 10 pull-ups. Little by little, I'm improving!
  • As of March 2, 2014, I tested and completed 46 push-ups, 66 sit-ups, my run time is 10:00, and I achieved 6 pull-ups.
  • As of April 6, 2014, I tested at Student Flight and completed 43 push-ups, 62 sit-ups, my run time is 9:32, and I can now do 10 pull-ups. Basic Training, here we come!

  • I ended up finishing BMT with PT scores of: 54 pull-ups, 68 sit-ups, 7 pull-ups, and a run time of 8:42—BMT's 5th fastest female time in their history! I achieved Warhawk and the Top PT award. It was an honor! You can read more about my final PT scores and the Top PT award here!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Running & Fitness Update

Bright running clothes

Do you know my favorite part about running lately? It's the fact that I haven't been running. Honestly. After our last half marathon three weeks ago, and all the injuries I was recovering from due to the full marathon we just ran a little over a month ago, my body has just been in need of a break from the pavement. Plus, when it's 20 degrees in the mornings here in Boise, there's no way you're getting me outside for a little morning jog. No way.

I've been hitting up the gym every single morning and working on lifting and high-intensity interval workouts instead. The change-up has been really nice! Instead of focusing on mileage, I'm working on decreasing my mile time on the treadmill, trying to churn the fastest mile possible—though I'm 100% sure that I'd run a faster mile if I was outside on the road versus in the gym. I've also been working on upping my basic fitness standards by focusing on push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and general weight lifting.

I didn't think that the change would affect me too much, but I have noticed that I can't eat absolutely everything in sight anymore. Well, scratch that—sure I can—I just can't eat quite as much as I was before. I have noticed a slight gain on the scale (5-6 pounds) but my clothes all still fit the same so let's just go ahead and say I'm gaining muscle, shall we? That makes me feel better, anyway.

So, not much running these days except for a warm-up on the treadmill in the mornings, putting myself to a test with a mile or mile and a half run, and an occasional sprint interval to finish up my workout. It has felt great and once the weather warms up just a bit I can't wait to get back out on the open road.

What's your training routine like these days? Am I the only one who feels like a normal—though fast—running pace on the road (say a 7:00-minute mile) feels like an absolute sprint on a treadmill?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Zeitgeist Half Marathon

Zeitgeist Half Marathon

We did it. We did it. We did it. We did it. WE DID IT!

I'm so relieved to say that my official training for races in 2013 is finished. Thank goodness. This weekend we ran our fourth race of the year, the Zeitgeist Half Marathon (we also ran the Famous Idaho Potato Half Marathon in May, the Sawtooth Relay in June, and the City of Trees Marathon three weeks ago in October), and I'm just so relieved that it's all finished. I will still run now and then... but only if I want to, not because I have to.

To be honest, with all the training for the full marathon we just did, I thought we were going to kill this race. Seriously, I thought, "Oh, it's only half of what we just did... this will be a breeze!" Boy, was I dead wrong. Let me tell you what—there's a BIG difference between running a marathon on an almost entirely flat course and then trying to run a half marathon that is uphill for the first 8.5 miles. BIG DIFFERENCE. It was rough!

Mom and I started the race together, but instead of staying together the entire time, I ran ahead just after the two-mile mark because I was feeling really good. This was the first steady uphill portion of the course, and I normally am able to cruise through uphill inclines, so I high-fived mom and wished her the best of luck with her race and took off to find my pace. I was chugging along the steady uphill until about mile six when I realized that I wasn't even halfway and that my ankle was killing me (still hurting from the marathon) and that sheesh—I was tired already! It was at that point that I regretted departing from Mom, but hey, what could I do at that point? So I kept on going and pushing ahead, crawling up the last steep hill at mile 8.5. I did run the whole thing... but it was a slow run.

As soon as I hit the downhill portion of the course, I started going fast—too fast—and within a couple miles I had lost the feeling in my legs and knew I was close to fainting. I'm such a wimp, guys, I tell you what. I went from cruising through the downhill at a 7-minute-mile pace (I was on track to PR with a finishing time of 1:45) to barely being able to keep up an 11:00-minute-mile. All those people who I had passed in the beginning were now streaming past me at what felt like lightning speed, and I was just trying to stay on my feet. I was dead. I kept looking behind me, hoping that Mom would catch up to me and we could finish together... but before I knew it (and after what felt like a lifetime), the finish line was in view and I found my kick to finish strong. I crossed the line at 1:56. As soon as I finished, I felt just fine—figures, right?—and I ran back to the start of the flags so I could cheer Mom through. She came over the hill just as I got to my cheering spot, and I cheered her right through the finish. Mom crossed at 2:01 and we both rejoiced at the fact that we were finished!

We quickly tossed on our finisher t-shirts for a photo, grabbed a warm slice of apple crisp, and shivered until our lips were blue as we took forever and a day to hobble back to the car. The weather had been a perfect and sunny 40 degrees (though very, very windy) during the race, but just as we finished the clouds and rain set in.  We warmed up our bodies underneath the chilly rain in Stephen's hot tub, stretching our legs and laughing about our ugly runners' toenails and how this race was just not what we had expected. It killed us!

Zeitgeist Half Marathon

Lessons learned for us in the past couple weeks: 1. Don't sign up for any races after just running a marathon. 2. If you're feeling good at mile 2 but the whole rest of the race is still uphill, that's probably not the best time to "see what you can do." 3. NO MORE MARATHONS.

I've been running non-stop since the middle of May, and for once I'm looking forward to kicking up my feet and taking a day (...or thirty... or forever) off.

Mom, thanks for being the best training partner over the last 6-months. Though the long runs were sometimes painful and terribly, well, long, I wouldn't have traded one mile for our story-swapping, laughs, or time spent together. How many moms get to spend every Saturday for 6-months running for 2+ hours with their daughter? I'm not sure... but I hope they enjoy it as much as we did. I love you, Mom... here's to some awesome races together, some killer matching outfits, and to no more marathons! Woo hoo!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Zeitgeist Half Marathon... Tomorrow!

Half Marathon Training

Sunday marks three weeks since we finished the City of Trees Marathon, and tomorrow we're running our last race of the year, the Zeitgeist Half Marathon. We signed up for Zeitgeist a week before we ran the City of Trees—and to be honest, I think we were in a little over our heads. Note to self: don't register for any races prior to running a marathon... wait until a week or so after the race to see how you feel. Because guess what? I'm still aching from that marathon. And I didn't even think it was that hard!

After the marathon, I didn't have any injuries, but my entire body felt as though it had been put through a meat grinder. I was just so sore! My feet and ankles also felt as though I had run the entire race without shoes at all—I don't know how barefoot runners do it. My ankles still have been flaring up and giving me a hard time when I've gone out for a run.

Speaking of running... I haven't been. I thought that I'd go run the marathon and hop right back in to running 3-4 days a week and achieving the mileage that I'd been running pre-marathon. What a joke! Maybe I'm just a big sissy, but I couldn't run for a full week after the marathon. My body just wouldn't let me. In the last two weeks, I've gone for maybe two runs a week, maxing out at no more than 3-4 miles each time. I simply haven't been able to run like I was before... I just don't think I've fully recovered yet and my aching ankles and terribly slow pace are proof that I'm just not ready to get back to it yet.

But then there's that half marathon tomorrow that we already signed up and paid for, so we will go do it... but to be honest, I'm just so excited to get it over with! I'm definitely a fair-weather runner and do not like running when it's below freezing—and that freezing weather is coming faster than I'd care to think about—so I think after this race, I'll probably be shelving my running shoes until early spring. I may hit up a run here and there... but I'm looking forward to getting back to some HIIT (high intensity interval training) routines in the gym.

Anyway, keep up with us on Instagram to see photos (and our matching outfits!) from the half marathon tomorrow. Zeitgeist & all your glorious hills... here we come!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

We Ran a Marathon, May as Well Run a Half Marathon, Right?

Mom and Daughter Marathoners, Bright Running Outfits

We may have just finished a marathon, and call us crazy, but we signed up for a half marathon in two weeks on November 2. Boise's "long race" season (half marathons & up) is about to come to a close, so we couldn't miss one of our favorite half marathons in the area. It's called Zeitgeist, and it runs from Garden City up to Hidden Springs, and up and down several of the surrounding Boise foothills. The course is on pavement and dirt roads, and it's best known for it's elevation changes and scenic valley views.

We ran Zeitgeist back in 2009 and finished with a time of 2:02. I was recovering from a nasty case of the flu virus, so it wasn't our best time, and we're excited to run it this year to see how much we can improve. If we can hold a pace faster than that for an entire marathon (which we did, since we finished in 4:03), we know we can run faster for a half.

It was actually pretty funny—Mom and I got the Zeitgeist email reminder at the same time just a couple days before our marathon. She emailed me "Let's do it!" just as I was leaving her a voicemail asking if she was up to do it with me. As soon as we heard/saw each other's messages, we signed right up!

Considering that I'm not actually able to walk without pain yet, I know that I'll probably be feeling it this and next week during the last bit of training, but I'm just excited to round out the year with one more big race under my feet. Here we go again...

Monday, October 14, 2013

City of Trees Marathon

City of Trees Marathon, Mom and Daughter running a marathon together

We did it! After 18-weeks of training, we finished the City of Trees Marathon! And not only did we finish, but we ran the entire race, talked the whole way, high-fived and thanked every volunteer we could, and enjoyed every little moment—even the ones that hurt!

We began running at 8:00 am sharp right in downtown Boise and traveled all over the city, from Southeast Boise to the North End. We even ran by the zoo and got to see the giraffes as they ate their breakfast. Daniel and his parents were along for the ride and met us every six miles or so—taking photos, cheering us on, and giving us high-fives. They were the best cheering section! We also saw some of our friends at mile 4 (thank you, Kari & Gregory!), and we had a big cheering crowd at the end to cheer us across the finish. What a blessing it was to have each of them there... it really helped the time go by faster and kept us in good spirits to know we would see familiar faces every hour or so. I can't even begin to tell you how much it helped. It's what kept us going!

As far as the race goes, we finished in 4:03, in 80th and 81st place overall out of 250, and 33rd and 34th out of the women. My mom even got 3rd in her age group! We had some killer-fast (for us, anyway) miles, completing them in 7:45, 8:00, 8:15... they felt great. Our average mile was about an 8:45, which is much faster than the 10:00 minute-mile we had trained at. But ouch... our last 2-3 miles were just dreadful and we clocked them in at around 10:30 minute-miles. We were so tired! We talked & laughed all the way through mile 16, and around mile 18 my feet started to hurt. By mile 21, we were both pretty tired but kept churning through the miles, and I had lost pretty much all feeling in my feet at this point. At mile 24 we were both just done. We wanted to be finished so badly, but still had 2 more miles to go. When we saw the finish line, we held our hands above our heads in a "We did it... FINALLY!" expression of joy, and we didn't care about one single thing except for the fact that it was over!

Post-race, I drank more little cups of Gatorade than I ever though possible, Mom got stung by a bee (of all things... seriously) while waiting for a free massage, and we joked and laughed with the friends and family who came out to support us. When we finally got to have some lunch, I downed a giant hot chocolate (it was heavenly!), and barely choked down 1/3 of a cheeseburger. I was not hungry at all... I just wanted a nap! And let me tell you... that post-race nap was the most glorious nap. Oh, it felt good!

You know, I don't know if I'll ever do another full marathon again (half marathons are where it's at!). I enjoyed the experience... but not that much. But it was definitely something that I am glad I did & I'm even more glad that it's been checked off my bucket list. One and done, right?

Here are some fun photos from the race, with captions underneath. Enjoy!

City of Trees Marathon
Staying warm before the race.
City of Trees Marathon
Heading to the starting line. Our outfits were BRIGHT! 
City of Trees Marathon
Ready to run!
City of Trees Marathon
And we're off!
City of Trees Marathon
All smiles at mile 6... this was right after the biggest "hill" of the race. What an awesome course it was!
City of Trees Marathon
Cruising through mile 12 on the greenbelt.
City of Trees Marathon
Mile 18—we started to feel it here, but you couldn't tell based on the smiles we had for our cheering section.
City of Trees Marathon
High-fiving Daniel's dad through the pain at mile 21, overlooking Boise.
City of Trees Marathon
It didn't matter what mile it was, I was excited and dancing through all of it. This was mile 21.
City of Trees Marathon
THE FINISH! 26.2 miles in 4:03... we did it!
City of Trees Marathon
Daniel was the biggest trooper the whole day. He was so proud & gave me many sweaty hugs and kisses afterward. I think he was just as glad that we had finished (and that the training was finished!) as we were.
City of Trees Marathon
Our post-race support group. Thank you Sean & Sydney, Daniel, Adam, Dan & Michelle, and Alan for coming out to cheer us across the finish line!
City of Trees Marathon
Reppin' our official City of Trees medals & sweatshirts.
City of Trees Marathon

THANK YOU AGAIN to Daniel, for being there through all the training & for coming and supporting us through the entire race—I love you so much! To Daniel's parents, who were the best darn cheering section I've ever had! For all of you readers & friends who encouraged me & sent sweet prayers for the race—I didn't feel my two injuries once during the entire race! And most of all, thank you MOM, for being my training partner and for giving me an 18-week experience I'll never forget. It's so special that we share this hobby together. I love you, Mom!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Marathon Training Update: THIS IS IT

Mom and Daughter Running a Marathon Together, Matching Running Outfits

18 weeks of training, 402.5 miles run, $247 in new training gear (shoes, shirts, hats, etc), 49 days of 5:00 am runs, a $73 registration fee, and 5 massages for sports-related injuries has all brought us to this... the City of Trees Marathon—26.2 miles! I'M SO EXCITED!

In the beginning of this training, I estimated that we would run 470 miles over the 18-week training period, but I came short and ended up running 402.5 miles (my mom ran 510 miles). Due to vacations, injuries, and days when I just didn't feel like running, I'm totally OK with that number. When we cross the finish line Sunday, none of it will matter anyway.

If you're interested to see the break down for what I had originally planned to run over the 18-weeks (adapted from this Hal Higdon training schedule) versus what I actually ran, check this out:

18 Week Marathon Training Program

Not only did my calf strain throw me for a loop, but those days when I just "didn't feel like running" really added up. My mom was a rockstar, though, hammering out 510 miles over the training period compared to my 402.5. I don't know how she does it—I had 2 injuries over the 18-weeks and she didn't have a single one! Mom, you are awesome.

As far as the actual race goes, we hit the pavement Sunday morning at 8:00 am sharp, and should finish anytime around 12:00 pm. 4 hours of awesomeness. I actually have no idea when we will finish... I've never run a marathon, so I'm not sure what our race pace will be, though we're reaching for 9:30 or 10:00-minute miles. We don't really care about our pace, we just want to finish.

Here's the City of Trees Marathon course & elevation profile:

City of Trees Marathon Route in Boise, Idaho

Compared to most marathons out there, this is really mild. And thank goodness—that's half the reason we chose it for our first one.

Anyway, I can't believe Sunday is the day. FINALLY! We've got our matching outfits ready (can you guess what we're wearing?), we will be carb-loading tomorrow with spaghetti, and I plan on trying to relax as much as possible to keep my tummy and nerves calm. I'll see you back on Monday for photos and stories from the marathon, and if you don't want to wait that long, you can also check in with us on Instagram. We will be sharing race photos all weekend.

OK Mom... this is it! LET'S DO IT!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

New Running Shoes

Mizuno Wave Elixir 8

I finally did it, I ordered a new pair of running shoes! After my last post about my running shoes, I thought that maybe I didn't need a new pair quite yet. I mean, they only have about 400 miles on them... I thought maybe I could push them a little further. This weekend, I gave my shoes a good look—and I didn't think they looked half bad. I mean, they didn't have holes, the soles didn't seem to be too flattened out... they were still treating me great. And then I ran 8 miles Saturday and after feeling like I was running on the concrete in practically bare feet, I knew it was time for a new pair.

When you're training for a marathon—or any race for that matter—it's so important to be conscious of how your shoes are taking the training. Has the padding on the soles (especially under the ball of your foot) flattened out and compressed? When you press on the cushioning, does it bounce back into place? But most importantly—since you can't judge shoes by how they look—how do you feel when running? Are your feet sore after long runs? Do you have shin splints? Do your knees and hips ache? These aren't always signs that your shoes need to be replaced, but if you've run anywhere between 350-500 miles, general runners' guidelines suggest it's time for a new pair.

I love my Mizunos, so Sunday evening I ordered a new pair. I had been running in the Wave Elixir 8 in Electric/Lime Punch/Anthracite, but this time I picked the same shoe but in Blue Atoll/Blazing Orange—because it's fun to change it up, right? I selected 1-day shipping—since I was ordering them later than I should have and to leave enough time to break them in—and they arrived yesterday. I went for my first run in them this morning and man did they feel good. I have two more runs before the big day Sunday, so I think they'll be broken in just fine. Oh, and remember how I didn't originally think my pink Mizunos looked half bad? Now that I have the new shoes, I can see that it was definitely time to replace my old ones—they look warped, stretched out, and the soles are totally compressed... there's hardly any cushion left!

The only thing I have to do now is put in my race-day laces. My pink Mizunos originally came with black laces, and I put in the neon yellow laces for the Sawtooth Relay. Can you guess which color I picked for the blue Mizunos and the City of Trees Marathon?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Marathon Training Update: Week 17

Marathon Training

As of this post, there are 11 days left until the City of Trees Marathon—race day is October 13. Eleven days. I can't believe we've been training for 17 weeks! How does that happen? Saturday during our long run, I said to my mom, "Isn't it crazy that we've been training for four months? Four months! Just for a run!" It's pretty darn exciting. You can see our 18-week marathon training schedule here.

So, a couple of updates. The calf strain I was nursing two weeks ago after injuring it during week 13's 22-mile run is not fully healed, but it's well on its way. I don't have anymore sharp pains, nor do I feel any pain while running, but occasionally it's tight in the evenings after a morning run and working all day. I modified my running for two full weeks (weeks 14 and 15), running only half of what I was scheduled to run and icing my calf daily. I have also drastically slowed down my midweek run pace—before I was doing some fun speed training, running anywhere from 6:45 to 7:30-minute miles—and now I'm back at a steady 9:00 to 10:00 minute-per-mile pace. My legs keep longing to pick up the pace, but staying healthy and caring for this injury is more important than how fast I'm running right now. I can't finish a marathon if I'm not even able to start it due to an injury, right? So slow and steady and without pain I go!

The other thing that's been interesting is how dark it's been in the mornings. The sky used to begin lightening up right around 5:45 to 6:00 am, and now that hasn't been happening until close to 7:15 am. It makes for a very, very dark morning run. I've changed my routes to stay more in neighborhoods, because if I'm out on the road—and since we live so close to open farmland without stoplights or street lights—I can't see where I'm running. So neighborhoods it is for now, just to be on the safe side.

I am so excited that there are only 11 days left. We are ready. I could have run this race a month ago, I know that for a fact. It's crazy to think that now a 12-mile run is short for me. While training for our half marathons before, I just about died anytime I did over 6-miles. It's amazing how my body has adapted to the long runs and how I don't even second guess it anymore. I just do it, no matter the distance. 8 miles? Piece of cake. 15 miles? No big deal. 26 miles? BRING IT ON.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Marathon Training Update: Week 15

Marathon Training

Only 3½ weeks until our marathon... I can't believe it! We're on week 15 of 18 (running schedule here) and I'm so excited, but also a little discouraged. Two weeks ago, we ran 22 miles for our long run. I felt great during the run—we were right on pace and besides for a little knee soreness, I had no pain anywhere else. I finished the run feeling like a rockstar, knowing I would have had to run only 4.2 more miles to have completed a marathon. That's crazy awesome! The only thing is that later that night, I had some major right calf pain and soreness, down by my peroneus and achilles. I thought it was just sore... but it turns out I was mistaken.

I ran last Tuesday and my lower calf was still really sore. On Wednesday, I was about a mile into my mid-week 8-mile run, when I felt a big snap (not a tear, thank goodness) and immediately began hobbling due to the pain. Of course I started crying too... crying while still trying to run down the road at 5:30 in the morning in the pitch-black darkness. Awesome. I thought I may have just tweaked my calf, so I kept on running, but about a mile later the pain was pretty severe so I turned around and ran (slowly) home. And again, I cried the whole way.

I think the tears were less about the pain and more due to the fact that I was upset because I thought I might be injured. I didn't think I had seriously hurt anything—I mean, I was still able to run, so nothing was torn—but the idea of training for 14 weeks and not being able to run this marathon was really getting me down. As soon as I got home, I called my physical therapist. I went to her house for an appointment, and we didn't have any fancy equipment, but she believes I have either a grade 1 soleus strain or a stress fracture in my fibula. To be honest, when I heard that news I breathed a huge sigh of relief. BOTH of those are things that can be healed, and both are also something that I can continue to run on while treating with care. I took the rest of the week off from running, but biked the weekend 12-miles with my mom while she ran.

Yesterday, I ran for the first time in a week, and while my calf was tight, the pain was not significant at all. Looks like my resting, icing, compression, elevation (and ibuprofen!) are helping do the trick. I'm keeping my running slow and not trying to do any speed training like I was before. Bummer... I was having so much fun with trying to set new training PR's, but that in itself may have been the thing that tipped off this injury in the first place... dumb, dumb, dumb—all my fault. My new goal is just to be able to actually run the marathon.

So here's to healthy legs, less than a month to the race, and a big HOORAY for no more long mid-week runs (our last one was last week, now our mid-week distances max out at 5-miles). Come on legs... you can do it!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My Running Shoes

Mizuno Running Shoes

I've gotten quite a few questions lately about which shoes I'm wearing for my marathon training. You've seen them in all my training update posts... they're Mizuno Wave Elixirs—and I swear by them!

I have been a runner since I was in middle school, and I've worn every kind of shoe—Nike, Asics, Brooks, New Balance, Reebok, Adidas, Avia, Pearl Izumi—every major brand but Saucony. My Mizunos are my favorite yet. These are the first shoes I've ever picked that didn't give me blisters or shin splints after just a couple miles. In fact, these shoes are also the ones I've had the best luck with in reference to my toenails (if you're a runner, you know what I'm talking about).

In the past, I've always worn specific styles for support and over-pronation—I wore the Brooks Adrenaline for years—but shoe models made for support have always seemed so bulky to me. When I went in to my local running store (Shu's Idaho Running Company), I asked for something a little more low-profile and fast, but a pair that could still handle all the miles I was going to be running in them. Their associate had me try on several different pairs of shoes and the Mizunos fit the feel I was looking for. They're low(er)-profile, super-lightweight and really quick shoes. I plan on buying a new pair soon so I have a fresh pair for the big race in October.

I think the biggest thing when it comes to running shoes—not gym shoes, but running shoes—is do not buy them because you like the way they look, buy them based on how they feel when you run in them. And don't guess when it comes to running shoes—go to a local specialty running store (not a general fitness shoe store in the mall, so yes, they might be more expensive) and speak to a running specialist who can fit you into a pair of shoes. Tell them what you're looking for, have them measure your step & stride and analyze your foot. They will know what shoes to put you in. Once they bring you a couple pairs to try, put them on and GO FOR A RUN. Literally. Go outside the store and run around the block, around the parking lot, wherever... just run in them for a few minutes. If they don't feel right, they are not the right pair. Once you narrow down what feels right, that's your shoe. And you know what? They might not be pretty. Truly. But if they save your feet, keep your legs shin-splint free, provide support for your knees and ankles, don't give you blisters and don't make your toenails fall off, don't you think that's worth it? I sure do.

Anyway, that's my running soapbox for the day. I've lost one too many toenails and had to pop one too many Ibuprofens for sore knees after runs to not want to share. And just because the brands I listed above didn't work for me, that doesn't mean they won't work for you. Do you have a shoe you swear by? I'd love to hear!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Marathon Training Update: Week 13

Marathon Training
MY RUNNING GEAR: Marathon Training Shoes: Mizuno, Training Bra: Old Navy, Hats: Nike, Green Running Shorts: Nike, Black Running Shorts: Nike, Pink Top: Under Armour, Orange Top: Fila, Tie-Die Top: Nike

Throughout the past 13 weeks of training for the City of Trees Marathon, I have made some big, big changes. I think the one that I'm realizing most these days is my new level of fitness. My mom jokes that I'm a "machine," and while I'm no bionic woman, I sure am running faster. Much, much faster.

When my mom and I began training for this marathon back in June, we were running a 10-minute mile pace. I ran 10-minute miles no matter what distance I was doing, whether it was our short 3-milers in the beginning or the longer 8-12 milers on the weekend (here's our marathon training plan). That was simply as fast as I could and/or cared to go. A couple weeks into our training, I began running with one of my mom's friends, Teri, and boy did she push me. She's a rockstar and her pace is usually around an 8:30-minute mile, so the days when I would run my 4 miles with her, it would kill me. Literally. I struggled.

As the weeks have progressed, I've noticed that I'm getting faster. The distances have been getting longer, the runs getting earlier, and my times have been dropping and dropping. I can no longer go out for a 5 mile run and expect to go for 50-minutes (I don't run with GPS, so I would just go based on time before, estimating that each mile was taking 10-minutes). These days, my 5 mile runs take more like 40 minutes—or less. Just this morning, I ran 5 miles and my average pace was a 7:35-minute mile. That's almost 2½ minutes that I've shaved off my average mile time.

Now, I won't be so bold to say that I'm going to try to run a marathon at a 7:30/mile pace, because despite the fact that I can hold that for 5-8 miles, that definitely doesn't mean I want to attempt that for 26.2 miles. No thank you! When my mom and I do our long training runs on the weekend (22 this week—my longest run yet!), we usually still average 10-minute miles or just a fraction less. We are really consistent and don't intend on trying to break any records. We just want to run it together as mom and daughter.

Anyway, training is going great. We have 5-weeks left and some intense weekly mileage to look forward to, so all I can say is that this training is a lot of fun, I'm getting faster, I'm getting leaner, and I just really, really enjoy it. Will I do another? That's still up for debate... I have to finish this one first!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Marathon Training Update: Week 10

Marathon Training
MY RUNNING GEAR: Marathon Training Shoes: Mizuno, Orange Top: Nike (similar), Hats: Nike, Pink Capris: Nike, Tanks: Nike (T-shirt version), Shorts: Nike, Running Skirt: Nike << Alas, Nike is clearly my running clothing preference.

We did it! We made it through the halfway point in our 18-week marathon training schedule! Last weekend marked the halfway point, in which my mom and I were supposed to run a half marathon. There weren't any 13.1 mile races in town, so we hit the mile-marked Boise Greenbelt and pumped out our mileage at race-pace. I Instagrammed a shot post-run, and considering that we weren't actually racing anyone—or even trying too hard for that matter—our time of 2:03 was great!

I mentioned in my last update that my hips were having a really hard time with this training. I'm happy to report that with regular therapeutic massages and lots of foam rolling, my hip pain is almost non-existent. My massage therapist has taught me several great at-home techniques, stretches, and even things that Daniel can help with to release my hip-tension. In addition, last time I weighed in right around 130 and have since dropped another 4 or so pounds, bringing me in at 126.2. That means I've lost 10.4 pounds since beginning training, and—though I don't enjoy my loose & ill-fitting bras now-a-days—I'm enjoying this new level of fitness that my body is taking me to.

I think my favorite thing about training for this marathon is that sure, I'm a runner, but I'm not a professional. I'm just a normal person who set a goal and now I'm chasing after it... literally! I'm in my mid-20's, and I'm training with a bombshell of a mom who is—sorry Mom, about to tell everyone your age—totally killing it in her 50's. We don't train super-fast (normally a 10-minute mile), and we don't have spot-on diets or 6% body fat. We are normal people. I just love it.

This morning I completed 8 miles in preparation for our upcoming weekend run of 17-miles. That's the longest distance I've ever gone, and we've only got longer runs from here on out. Until next time... Run Forrest, Run!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Marathon Training Update

Marathon Training
MY RUNNING GEAR: Marathon Training Shoes: Mizuno, Training Bra: Adidas, Hats: Nike, Pink Capris: Nike, Running Skirt: Nike

It's been 7-weeks since I started training for the City of Trees Marathon in October, and I have 11 weeks left to go. If you'd like to see our 18-week marathon training schedule, click here. I also Instagram photos of our long runs, so catch up with me there to stay on track with my training schedule. To be honest, I can't believe how fast the time has gone by. I feel great so far and I'm really enjoying it, and I thought I'd give a little update as to how the training is going.

Since beginning marathon training, my appetite has increased slightly, and I've noticed that I'm much more hungry in the morning and during the day—especially on days that I have early-morning runs. On those days, even after breakfast and a snack, I'm usually famished by 10:00 am and ready for lunch! Daniel and I often split meals in the evenings when we go out, and if we eat at home, we don't cook large portions. Having a husband who used to be a personal trainer is great for me because we both keep each other's diets (as in "what we eat," not actual "diets") in check. However, on the days that we do splurge and split a giant burger or go all-in on a pizza, it's not a big deal.

I have also noticed that my hips do not enjoy this training. Before, when I've trained for half marathons, my knees usually gave me a hard time. This time around, my right hip is very painful after my runs. The pain generates between my hip bone and my glute (butt), right in that little indentation back there, and radiates forward to my hip flexor. It's been so bad that after a couple of the really long runs, I've had to lay down for a couple hours. To remedy this issue, I've started getting physical therapy massages—which sound great—but are actually rather painful. The good news is that after the massages, the kneading of my muscles, and the trigger point annihilation, the pain usually subsides for a couple weeks. At this point, it's something I can handle, though I'm crossing my fingers that it doesn't get any worse over the next 11 weeks.

The biggest change I have seen & felt is that I've lost weight. Back in April, I wrote a post in which I mentioned I was 137 pounds. These days, I'm right at 130 (update: I guess I hadn't weighed myself in a while, because as of 8/4/13, I am now down to 126). Seven pounds might not seem like a big weight drop, but it's not the weight so much that I've noticed, it's the way my clothes are fitting. I'm able to wear things that I haven't been able to wear in years. In addition to the seven pounds, I've lost over 6% body fat. The last time I took my body fat was when I was about 132 pounds and it ended up being 18%. I should mention that I'm not trying to lose weight with this training program, but the way my body has responded has not disappointed me. However—as you can assume when females lose weight—the spot I've noticed the most loss is in my chest... and heck, that wasn't big to begin with. So that's a little frustrating, not because I'm getting smaller, but because I keep getting comments (from family only, of course) that I'm looking a little... "flatter." Bummer.

So, 7 weeks down, 11 weeks to go... and lots and lots of miles in between. We're up to 15 miles for our long run this weekend, and since my mom will be out of town, I'll be running solo (and probably jamming out and dancing the whole way... typical me). This whole experience has been great (so far), and I'd be curious to know if any of you have trained for a run—any distance—and if so, what you noticed about your body and how the training went for you.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Marathon Training

Marathon Training
^^ Taken during our last half marathon.

If you've been noticing, running has been a constant topic around here lately. I've mentioned it before—I have always been a runner. I took some time off from running from mid 2011 to now (because life kind of got in the way), but recently it's been something that I've really enjoyed again.

Ever since I was little kid, I told myself I wanted to run a marathon with my mom. She is ultimately inspiring to me in every way... not just in the fitness realm. She's run three marathons (including Boston), and countless other races. After years and years of saying, "Mom, someday we're going to do a marathon together,"—this year we are going to make it happen. In fact, on October 13, 2013, we are running The City of Trees Marathon. It's a local Boise marathon that runs through our little city, and from what I've heard, it's a great race.

Now, I've trained for half marathons before using a tried-and-true program online (by Hal Higdon), so when Mom and I decided on this race, I went back to his site for a marathon training schedule. I selected his Novice 2 program because it is designed for someone who has experience running long-distance, but may or may not have run a marathon before. The other novice programs are for those who don't have experience running, and the intermediate/advanced are for those who have run multiple marathons and who are looking to improve their time. Overall, Novice 2 seemed like the best approach. Here's our 18-week marathon training schedule:

Marathon Training Schedule

It should be noted that I did modify weeks 11, 13 and 15, which were originally 18, 19 and 20 miles (respectively). I understand that most people can run a max of 20 miles during a training run and then just go crank out 6.2 more on the actual race day to get to 26.2 miles... but for me, that's a whole extra hour of running, and I want to have a higher max-distance under my belt before the actual race. Also, if you're wondering the difference between a "run" and "pace," the "run" is just a normal training run at whatever speed you wish (for me during training it's usually a 10-minute mile). The "pace" runs suggest you run the miles listed  (ex: 5 m pace) at "race pace," and since I usually run races between an 8:30 and 9-minute mile, that's how fast I would run those 5 miles.

By the end of our training & after the race—if we stick to this schedule exactly (we usually end up running more than this)—we will have run 496 miles. Holy moses.

As you can see, our start date for this 18-week program was this last Monday, so we're already 5-days in. My mom and I will be running our mid-week training separately, and then getting together for our long runs on the weekends. It's going great so far, and I think this next 18-weeks is going to go quick, quick, quick! Let's cross our fingers for zero injuries along the way and lots of good conversations (my mom and I talk nonstop during our runs)! City of Trees, here we come!

PS> Hey Marnie (yes, Sister, I'm talking to you), you know you want to join us, right? Come on!

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Sawtooth Relay

Sawtooth Relay

After 62 miles, 12 legs, 6 runners, a team name of "Hit The Ground Runnin'" and 9 hours and 40 minutes later... we did it!

Friday after work, my mom and I drove the 3-hours up to Stanley, Idaho. When we arrived, we drove over to the start line to check it out. The evening sun was glowing on the mountains and it was just beautiful! When we got back to the cabin, we chatted for hours with the rest of our teammates and finally all got to sleep around 11:00 pm. And I tell you what, when my alarm clock went off at 2:15 am, it was not enough sleep. We were all up and moving by 2:30 am, and had ourselves loaded into the van by 3:15 am, heading down to the start line for our 4:15 am start. Teams began at midnight and started every 15-minutes, so we were so fortunate to get the start time we did!

It was a chilly morning, and the only light was from the stars and the little bobbing headlamps of the runners. Since it was so early, our first 3 runners were required to wear headlamps and reflective vests. We assembled at the start line to cheer on our first runner, Tracy, who literally "hit the ground runnin'" right at 4:15 am. I was the second runner (and totally nervous), so I was already getting ready for my run even though I had about an hour to wait. We drove down to the first exchange, and while it was still dark out, Tracy finished up her leg (and she rocked it), and I was off and running just before 5:15 am.

It was about 40 degrees out, and felt really cold. I'm so used to running for about an hour on my usual training runs, so I wasn't concerned about my 5.83-mile leg. However, when I hit about 3-miles, I realized I had started a little too fast, so the rest of the slight uphill caught up to me more than I would have liked. I finished my leg with a strong kick, and passed off to our next runner, Teri. My average pace for my leg was 8:45, so I was pretty pleased with that! Teri killed her leg, passed the bracelet off to Amy, who also did really well, and then my mom was up. She cruised through her leg at the same pace I did, though she had more of an uphill to pass over. My mom handed the bracelet off to Lori, our 6th leg, who had THE uphill. Man, she worked it. Her leg traveled 5.53 miles and gained 1,331 feet of elevation. To say that it's an uphill is an understatement. She was totally our MVP of the day. We pulled our van over every mile or so and turned up the music and danced and cheered her on to keep her motivated. We also cheered the other runners who went by us, including a guy who must have taken 5-minutes off his time because he always sped up, smiled and danced along with us when he passed us. It was definitely the most fun leg of the trip because of all the dancing we did (and there are plenty of Vine videos (not mine, though) to prove it)!

After Lori finished, we had all run our first legs and we were onto the downhill portion of the course. Everyone did really well, though the second half of the run gave us 80-degree temperatures and lots of wind, which wasn't so great for running... but we all made it through just fine! My second 5.09-mile leg averaged 7:45 miles, which was way faster than I felt like I was running... but I guess the stopwatch doesn't lie! Our final runner, Lori, came around the finish just a little before 2:00 pm, and we all raced through the finish line with her. What an accomplishment. We wanted to finish under 10-hours, and we did with an unofficial time of 9 hours and 40 minutes! Everyone did so well, and it was so incredible to be cheered on and then to turn around to support everyone else as they ran. I've never done a relay before and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

And now, here are some of my favorite photos of the trip! There are captions under each photo that tell a little piece of the story.

Sawtooth Relay
Our awesome van! Sawtooth or Bust!! 
Sawtooth Relay
Team van with all our names on the day before the race.
Sawtooth Relay
Checking out the start line the evening before the race. Of course we had to do a jump photo!
Sawtooth Relay
The mountains behind the start line. Just gorgeous! 
Sawtooth Relay
It was early early at the start line. We loved our 4:15 am start time! 
Sawtooth Relay
Tracy finishing her first leg and handing off to me in the orange. 
Sawtooth Relay
1st leg of 5.83 miles finished just as the sun was coming up! I averaged 8:45 miles.
Sawtooth Relay
In the van to our next exchange.
Sawtooth Relay overlook
Mom and me at the overlook during leg 6. I photoshopped us onto a photo just like this on my pre-Sawtooth post!
Sawtooth Relay
Getting ready to run my 2nd leg (leg 8). The weather was warming up!
Sawtooth Relay
And I'm off! Cruising up the road...
Sawtooth Relay
The ladies snapped photos along the way. We had the best time!
Sawtooth Relay
There wasn't anyone in sight when I started, but I ended up catching up and passing 2 people. It's awesome to be just out by yourself on the open road.
Sawtooth Relay
Finishing my leg and handing off to rockstar Teri for her 2nd leg.
man running in a bikini
The Little Mermaid ran by us! He was priceless... his whole team dressed up as Disney princesses. I understand running in matching outfits... but costumes? That's hardcore!
Sawtooth Relay
Mom smoked it on her races! She ran an 8:50 pace for her first leg and 8:00 for her second. She did amazing!
Sawtooth Relay
Crossing the finish with our team (and the one man who was determined to beat us, despite leaving his own teammates in the dust).
Sawtooth Relay
Our team (Lori, Tracy, Teri, Mom, Amy and me) and our amazing volunteer Rosie (in red—she was going to run my legs, but I took her place), and our wonderful driver Suzie (in black). This was the most fun group of ladies!
Sawtooth Relay mom and daughter
Mom & me after the race! Mom, you're the best running buddy!

A big thanks to all the fabulous ladies who helped make this run a blast! Our whole team was so fun. We laughed, danced, made funny jokes, and cheered and cheered and cheered each other on. It was the most amazing feeling to be supported by this wonderful group of women, and it was even more fun to finish my legs and dance along the side of the road while they ran! I would definitely do Sawtooth again. Thanks again, ladies. I am so thankful that you guys asked me to join at the last minute. It was such a fun day!

And just for fun, is this the most hilarious jump photo or what?! SAWTOOTH OR BUST!

Sawtooth Relay