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When Life Gives you Lemons, Plan an Altitude Trip

It's crazy that my last blog post was 3 months ago and SO MUCH has changed, yet SO MUCH has stayed the same.

Quick recap:

My last blog was after a very, very, VERY disappointing Spring. Low ferritin reared its ugly head in Feb/March, I was making a good comeback in April, and then the virus that knocked out half of Indy struck me and I was completely out for 2 weeks - unfortunately including my goal race (25K US Champs).

But, as all setbacks provide, I had time to reflect and make changes. Moving forward I knew I needed:

-a new plan

-to be more intentional in training

-to get faster

-to be proactive about blood work

After Philly the plan had been for me to get on the track in the Spring to work on my speed. I was going to spend the early months building a base, then post-25K hop into some track meets and hopefully run a US champs qualifying time in the 10K. This plan was derailed a bit when my ferritin was low, but come May I was rounding out into frighteningly good shape. I truly believe my ferritin had been low for much longer than I realized, likely leading into Philadelphia.

After being out of commission for basically all of May, the original plan was scrapped and plan B was developed: June - August would be about speed (mile and 5Ks) before building up to the bulk of Trials training. After some plotting with my coach we talked about how I have felt most fit when I am doing short track work and longer sustained tempos, which has been much of my focus these past few months.

As much as I have been trying to deny it, being intentional in my running - particularly on workout days - isn't my strong suit. I like to think that I'm a very intentional person in life. But, my greatest weakness as a runner is that I have the flexibility of a college kid on summer break. Therefore I procrastinate workouts. Since I didn't have a training partner for a long time, there have been MANY speed workouts that haven't started until 4, 5, 6, or 7 PM. When I don't finish a workout until 8 PM, it's very easy to then put off lifting because dinner is more important. I didn't want this to happen anymore.

I also knew I was nearing a point where I needed some help, if only for the accountability, in speed work. I was sharing this sentiment with my Friday run partner (someone who had also run in college but hasn't trained competitively for a few years), and she offered to help - even if that meant only running the first 100 or 200 m of each rep. As it turns out she can pretty much run 5:00 pace all day and training with her and having a consistent, intentional time that we meet for track work has been a game changer. Every Tuesday at 6:45 AM we leave my house for the track. There's no talking myself into doing my shake out in the morning and my track work at night, no watching "just one more" episode of Golden Girls Monday night before bed, and now I have zero excuses to not lift weights immediately after. I can see and feel the difference. Having Tuesdays be so intentional has led to the rest of my week being more intentional. A perfect week of running this summer looked something like:

M: AM run w/ Dave and/or PM run with a friend T: track AM, shakeout PM (usually with a friend)

W: AM w/ Rhi, PM with Run Club

Th: tempo work with Dave

F: AM w/ Katie, PM w/ Dave

Sat: run with Dave or Rhi AM, PM run solo or with Dave

Sun: long (usually 12ish mi w/ Dave)

In June I jumped into a very fast road mile race and was extremely happy to run 4:54 on a hot night. My only other road mile was a 5:24 in 2016, so it was definitely a huge improvement (my track PR is 5:04).

In July I ran a 5K (USATF IN 5K champs) and truly believed I was in 16:30 shape (my PR is 16:58 but that was en route to a 15K - I don't run a lot of 5Ks!). Race day ultimately had pretty slow conditions: 75 degree dew point, 96% humidity, 85 degrees at the start, and I ran 17:15. Those conditions call for ~5% adjustment, which is 45 seconds if 16:30 was my goal, so I strongly believe that's where I am right now.

I believe I partly have an RD to thank for my improvements this summer. In early June I made an appointment with a sports dietitian because I was beginning to miss periods, yet I hadn't lost any weight (and in fact was weighing a little more than normal). After tracking my typical food intake for a few days it became obvious I wasn't eating enough carbs, protein, or overall calories (I'm a good German/Polish Midwestern girl though and have no problem getting enough fat in my diet :)). A couple small adjustments and everything is back on track and I feel like I'm training and recovering better than before.

At the same time, though, I'm not far from where I was when I wrote my last blog post 3 months ago. Right now I'm recovering from another illness - this time food poisoning or a stomach virus [I'm leaning toward stomach virus because it took me a full 5 days to feel normal, and that's with me being very proactive and getting IV fluids 12 hours after I started throwing up]. Unfortunately I probably haven't been able to gain a whole lot of fitness these last couple weeks, but unplanned downtime can sometimes be a blessing in disguise because it allows you to absorb the work you have done and rebuild before tackling harder efforts. I want to feel anxious that training hasn't been the best these past two weeks, but something deep down has reminded me to be calm.

Maybe it's maturity [side note: Becki and I calculated today that between the two of us we have 45 YEARS of racing experience. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?!] because I know I can't control most things that happen so the only course of action is to ride it out. Worrying about my fitness doesn't gain any fitness, so I let that shit go. If between now and the Trials the absolute worst thing that happens is that I have a couple down weeks 6 months from race day then, um, I will call that a massive win.

Speaking of controlling the controllables. What did I do while I couldn't control not running and feeling like absolute death? I planned a 4-week altitude trip to Flagstaff. I'll be in Flag from mid-November to mid-December and I'm pretty excited about it. Dave is going to visit me in the middle of my trip and we'll head out to the Grand Canyon for a day. I have a 1 bed/1 bath bungalow that is a 3 min walk from a grocery store and located at the base of miles and miles and miles of trails. It is also close to a couple different tracks. I have a washer and dryer (v v important) and maybe daily blogging will make a resurgence #goingbigorgoinghome2020 (?)

My biggest two worries about being away are a) my dogs (particularly Lucy - I'm her person and 4 weeks is a long time in the lifespan of an already very old dog, and b) I don't want to go crazy from being alone for that long.

Otherwise, a bit of a down week (I ran 6 miles Monday, felt like death on Tuesday because 6 miles Monday was too much, 4 miles Wednesday, 6 mi Thursday + some pickups, and 8 miles today) has given me some time to focus on other areas in my life. Dave and I have gone for some fantastic walks:

I also have focused a little on "work." Part of my push for more intention the past couple years has been to do more things that I enjoy and fewer things I don't. Coaching, R+F, and BAnna Camp have been so fulfilling. Right now Becki and I are in the middle of a big planning block for 2020 camp, and things have been falling together really nicely. The great thing about working with Becki is that we have completely opposite interests. She can do paperwork all day and, um, if paperwork were left up to me there would probably be no camp. I get to do all the really fun-to-me things like social media. Today we worked a bit on programming:

So, that's where I'm at. I'm excited that I have definitely gained some speed, although bummed that the 5K I was going to race this weekend isn't going to happen since I was sick. I'm hoping I can find another race in the next few weeks before my legs get tired from bigger workouts. Soon I am going to transition into longer workouts and will race a couple half marathons this fall in Indy before I head out to AZ. To keep me from going crazy I have other runners to enable, which is basically the best of all worlds!

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