Summary: After running the NYC marathon in November, I'd spent most of December just kind of running with no real goal in mind. It took a while to recover mentally. While I was home I spoke to Bob Rothenberg, who was my coach at the time. We decided on two spring halves (six weeks in between): New Bedford on March 18th and Iron Girl on April 29th. My mileage was around 55 but I was limited by an ankle injury. I went to a podiatrist (specifically, one Bob recommended) who gave me custom orthotics and did a gait analysis. I tried to introduce make some form changes slowly. While home I did a little bit of quality but could not handle much because of my ankle. I also started doing long runs around 7:30 pace (part of the plan), but had to cut down the distance a little to do that.
Highlights: Getting over my post-marathon slump and coming up with a plan.
Summary: I kept my mileage about the same as it had been in January. My ankle did not act up very much. I did one quality day each week in addition to my long run. I think I'd wanted to do two, but I couldn't handle it without getting hurt. Apparently, I did lots of 800s. I felt good for most of February. I took a week back toward the end.
Highlights: Feeling strong and staying healthy for the entire month.
Summary: The New Bedford Half-Marathon was in March. I did some of my best running ever in early March and was feeling very confident. I did some work at half-marathon pace. I did some of my long runs stupidly fast (one of them was at 7:00 pace, so basically I ran what was then a half PR during a normal long run) which was probably not the brightest idea. I ended up running New Bedford in 1:31:07 (PR) which was a three minute improvement over my previous best (but not much faster than I'd been running some of my long runs at, whoops). The race was pretty good but I got overconfident and went out too fast. I definitely felt it at the end. Soon after New Bedford, I went to Seattle to look for places to live. I took a couple of days easy but did lots of running once I got out to Seattle. I started poking around and trying to find a club with a coach.
Highlights: Running a big half-marathon PR, even if it was a stupid race.
Summary: April was focused around Iron Girl, an all-women's half-marathon. I really, really wanted to get under 90, and since it was a women's race I also thought it would be fun to see how I could place. Bob told me that I still had to run my own race. I got a couple of weeks in at 55 with two quality days and apparently managed to stay healthy. At the end of April I brought the mileage down but kept the quality up leading into Iron Girl. I ran a 1:30:55 (PR) which I was happy with, but it was not a great race. I hadn't gotten any sleep the night before because sleeping on-campus on a weekend night is really difficult. During the race itself, I got really excited at the beginning because I could actually see the lead pack for once since there were no men, and I really wanted to be a part of that pack. So, yep, I went out too fast again. I was doing pretty well until I pretty much lost it at this one giant hill and spent the rest of the race hanging on. I got 12th overall and 1st 20-24.
|Bustin' ass trying not to get passed|
Highlights: Running another half-marathon PR, doing an all-women's race, racing Joan Benoit-Samuelson, and not following another woman who went off-course at Iron Girl because I actually took the time to learn the course before I ran it.
Summary: I took it easy after Iron Girl. A couple of weeks later I did a 5K just for fun to break up my finals week. I ran a 20:04, which was only 8 seconds slower than my PR (although based on my half I should have been able to run faster). It was decent for a race I did "just for fun," and more importantly since I won I got a free steak dinner. I was pretty low on money so free steak was seriously awesome. Shortly after, I graduated college and just kind of ran aimlessly. I had a sweet graduation party and lots of my friends came to visit. Running was really not my focus in May.
|Me with Bob Rothenberg at my graduation party|
Highlights: Winning a free steak dinner, graduating college, and learning that eating birthday cake before a morning run is the worst idea conceivable.
Summary: I went to Japan, came back to Rhode Island, and then went to Israel. So needless to say, I did not run very much. This was a planned break. I basically ran when I felt like it. That ended up being about 30 miles per week of easy running. It was definitely fun to run in new places. Sort of. Israel is really freaking hot. After pretty much every run in Israel we dove right into the Mediterranean to cool off. Sometimes we had to do this mid-run.
|Does this count?|
Highlights: Running in three different countries during the same month and running with my best friend, dad, and sister.
Summary: Back in Rhode Island, it was time to really think about what I wanted to do with my running when I moved out to Seattle and started the whole Real Life thing. I brought my mileage back up and did some practices with RMHP. Bob and I decided that it'd be best for me to keep focusing on the half for a while. He told me that he would keep coaching me if I wanted him to, but that if I found a good coach and club in Seattle and no longer needed him to coach me, he'd be fine with that and it'd probably be best for my running. As long as I kept in touch with him.
When I got out to Seattle I got active in the running scene immediately. I did a group run (The Monday Night Run) at the local running store to get to know people. Everyone told me about Club Northwest, a club I'd done a single long run with the year before but that was kind of strangely secretive about their practices. When I asked about coaches everyone said Tom Cotner. Do you know any good coaches out here? Tom Cotner. I want to become a national-level runner; who will take me seriously? Tom Cotner. I had no idea who the hell this Tom Cotner guy was and nobody really gave me anything else to go off of. I emailed Lauren Matthews and Ed Haywood (both of Club Northwest) and Ed was still super secretive about the practices, but Lauren told me she'd talk to me in person. So I entered a night race jet-lagged as hell to find out what the hell was going on and Lauren said "just email Tom." So I did. I sent probably the most detailed email ever about my background and goals and what I was willing to do to get there. I got a call on my birthday and Tom said to come the next day.
Highlights: Joining the club that has pretty much changed my life since I've gotten out here.
Summary: Both Tom and Bob told me not to take it too hard at first during practice. I listened to them. My mileage was 50-60 most weeks. I was healthy. I was tired and practices were pretty hard at first (even though I ran with a slower group than I wanted to), but I really enjoyed them. By the end of the month I started to feel strong again.
Highlights: Actually listening to two coaches telling me to hold myself back, something I'm notoriously bad at.
Summary: At some point at the end of August, Tom had said something like "there's a half this weekend, want to run it?" and I had been like "maybe" which had later turned into "why not?" So on September 3rd, 2012 I ran the Labor Day Half. My race plan was something like "as long as I'm not stupid I should be fine" which I executed as 6:45-6:55 for pretty much the entire race. It was really helpful having teammates around me and I ran with a few of the master's men for a good deal of the race. I ran an 89:31 (PR) which I was very happy with. Later in the month I decided I wanted to run XC. I was absolutely terrified because of how horribly I raced XC in college, but everyone said it was fun and I knew it was a good opportunity to work on some of my weaknesses.
|The face of pain|
Highlights: Running a big PR on a whim, actually not going out too fast in a half for once, and deciding to run XC.
Summary: For most of the month, I ran consistent 60 mile weeks with two practices and a long run. On October 6th I ran my first real XC meet since college. It was going pretty well until I fell going downhill on a gravel trail. It took away any rhythm I had, but I got up and kept racing because what the hell are you going to do? It was excruciating but I still came in a good minute faster than I'd run in college (but not fast). I still have scars from this fall. But something was really fun about this. I drove people to the meet, got to know some of my teammates, and afterward we all went to a BBQ where we ate delicious food and drank delicious beer. A week later I ran at another XC meet. It was still hard. I was still bad at it. It was still fun. I had some knee problems after and Tom pointed out the strength exercises I should have been doing (that I was slacking off on) to prevent those problems and from then on I was on top of my strength stuff (as well as injury-free). Practices were fun. I was running better than I ever had before.
Highlights: Getting over my fear of the XC 6K and falling for a runner dude (and actually having the guts to pursue it).
Summary: At the beginning of November I ran in PNTF Championships. It was back on the same brutal XC course as Emerald City Open. It was really not a good race and I was pretty hard on myself afterward. I was really frustrated at the discrepancy between how I had been running in practice and how I had been racing. I decided to move on and race at regionals. This time I actually backed off a little beforehand. I drove three teammates all the way out to Spokane to run for twenty-something minutes and then drove back to Seattle in the same day. For some weird reason, it was a ton of fun. I actually ran a race I was somewhat happy with (a still-pretty-slow 24:41 (PR) that will have to stand as my best XC 6K until next year) and we all got cheesesteaks after. There were very few women running but three of us was just enough to score and win, and I got two shiny medals. When I went home for Thanksgiving I ran a 5K Turkey Trot "just for fun" and walked away with a 19:07 (PR) which was better than my old time by 49 seconds. I was very happy to see that I really was in good shape like I thought I was even though it hadn't really fallen into place during XC season. I won the women's race and got $100 cash and lots of other free stuff which was a nice bonus. I took a short break after the race.
|Me with some of my old teammates after the 5K|
Highlights: Running a huge 5K PR and actually being happy with my performance at an XC meet for once.
Summary: I got in a couple of my first 70 mile weeks with two quality days and a long run. Practices have been pretty easy so far since it's early in the season. I felt good and ran really well. I thought out my goals for next year, made a basic plan for Eugene, and signed up for some races along the way. I'm excited!
Highlights: Getting up to 70 with two practices and still feeling healthy and strong.