This blog post is WELL overdue… but, nonetheless, here it is. Things have been pretty busy as I have been focusing on the whole job thing, and officially graduating. Yet, I have still been doing the best I can to find time to train, and have even thrown in a few early season races. Those turned out, well… as expected for early season I suppose you could say. In all honesty, it has been tough to train like I want. My internship at the paper has been taking up a LOT of time, so it is hard to get in good workouts during the work. But, I am doing my best and that’s all I can do. I have been really trying to take advantage of my weekends to get in longer workouts and double days, and then squeezing in the shorter stuff like intervals and strength during the week. I guess you could say that as I am transitioning into a new season, I am also learning to transition into a new way of balancing training with “real life,” or at least a real job. I’m sure I can only get better at it.

Besides some of the struggles with time, training has gone well so far. I really feel like I am in a good place for early spring. I know I am far from my prime shape in the sports of these coming seasons, and certainly not the shape I am hoping and expecting to be in. But, I think I am well on my way there, and happy to be getting things going earlier in the year than I have in the past. I feel like everything I am doing now is helping build strength for later, when I really get in to the competition season.

I have done a few races already, though. They were races, of course, in that I was pushing hard and giving it my all to cross the finish line as fast as possible. But, in essence, the competitions so far have been “training races,” in that I have trained through them, and ultimately not expected much in the way of super fast times or great condition, because I am just not ready for that yet. And, I have pretty much gotten what I have hoped for out of my races so far: mediocre times, but feeling increasingly stronger and getting some “race base” under my belt.

My first race was April 11, the U.S. Other Half in San Fran, which I did with my good friend Taryn. This is EARLY for me for a running race, so I knew I couldn’t expect too much out of myself. But, again, I think getting an earlier start to the season will be a good thing, if I let myself progress in time. Ultimately, I was pleased with how the race turned out. It was very tough — I felt like I was in the end of a marathon the last few miles, rather than just a half. Tougher to get through 13.1 than I remember feeling in a long time. But, also made me that much more satisfied to finish at the end. I ran it in 1:39:41, which is about 8 minutes off my PR, and 10 minutes off of my goal, but I think a fine, and even encouraging place to start, especially for a pretty tough course. My legs were shot afterward. I could really tell they just need some more time to get stronger and adjust to the impact of running on pavement, and then it won’t be so tough to get through those last few miles. Overall, an encouraging race, a chance to be proud, and a lot of fun racing with a good friend, who also had a great run in only her second half marathon!

A couple weeks later, I decided to jump into a local 5k as a warm-up for the next half marathon I had planned on my docket, and it ended up doing that job just perfectly. Again, I wasn’t expecting a terrific result, especially in a short event, since I have done virtually no speed training yet. But the race turned out really good, and I was really happy I did it. I think it is good and really important to keep a variety of distances in your racing schedule, and to challenge yourself to become better at them, because it primes you to improve in your best distances. Again, the race was tough, despite being short. I am not used to pushing quite that hard and seeking so much speed. I felt good though, and most importantly pushed super hard, so it ended up being just the perfect hard workout I needed. I was well off my PR for a 5k — though the course was fairly hilly — but still satisfied. I knew I had gone all out, and that was the most important. I was totally exhausted after the finish, but my legs were not nearly as drained as I had expected, didn’t end up with any pain, and even recovered super quick afterward, so that was VERY encouraging for me. I ended up second place for the women, and got a sweet prize: massage certificates! Those will come in handy 🙂

Finally, just last Sunday I ran the Rock-N-River half marathon in Reno. It was my first time doing this race, and I have to say it was wonderful. I will definitely do it again. It is great to have a local race, but especially when it is such a nice course and so well organized as this one. Right along the river, lots of aid stations, and lots of fun! Unfortunately, I had some minor issues that I think ended up having pretty major effects on my time. Namely, some pretty significant stomach problems that started just before 10k, and then a wicked blood blister that started developing about halfway through and only continued to rub more and more and get more and more painful. The sight was not pretty when I took off my shoe. So, I think these things held me back quite a bit in the second half, especially the stomach issues, which were difficult to ignore. This was a bit disappointing, because in terms of my body physically, I felt surprisingly great. I thought I had good speed, and my legs felt really strong, and again stayed pain-free even in the last miles. Super encouraging. So, overall a disappointment because I think it could have been a really great day, and I could have at least brought my time from the San Fran race down to a 1:35, but in the end I guess it wasn’t the day. Nonetheless, I feel really positive about how much potential I felt on the day. Just need to get the shoes and food issues worked out, and hopefully I am on the rise for some good races! Finished with a 1:38:40, so I am working my way back down, but I hope the decrease is a bit more significant next time!

All in all, it has been a good spring so far… if you can call it that! It is fully dumping outside my window right now… on May 10th! Just nuts. But, I know this will be a good thing when summer finally does come, for the plants and the trails, and for my enjoyment of them. I am getting excited for all that is still to come. I know I still have a ways to go just with development of my running, riding and swimming muscles again — mostly running. I am still working my way up to longer distances, and know I am a ways away from a marathon at this point. I am also hoping to add in some more speed sessions so that I can start improving my raw speed as well. This weekend, I am heading down to SF for Bay to Breakers, and I am stoked! I didn’t get to do it last year because of WAC Champs for track, so it will be great to get back in that race. It is always a lot of fun to be there during such a big weekend, and it will also be great to run a 12k — such a fun distance! Really looking forward to it, and hope I get some sunshine!!

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