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Bucket List Item #29: Run 13.1 Miles (Half-Marathon)

Who would have thought, one month ago today when I still had TEN items on my list, that we would be here at the penultimate post on my birthday eve-eve?!? I didn’t know how much of a procrastinator I was until I gave myself 365 days to complete 30 things…..and I saved 33% of them for the last 30 days. It has been a VERY busy month. The cleanliness of my house has taken the toll. I have a deep-cleaning day scheduled for myself next week 😅

Running the distance of a half-marathon (13.1 miles) would have been just a normal Sunday for me, back in the day. I spent the better part of a decade in running shoes. I truly LOVE running (long distance. No sprinting here haha). After all, this blog began when I was a NCAA Division 1 athlete for Northern Arizona University’s Cross Country, Indoor Track and Outdoor Track team. (Anyone been here since race recaps…? ☺️) That was the time in my life that I look back and am most proud of. I’m so thankful to have had that experience!

Though I never saw myself continuing to run competitively after college, I do see myself as a lifelong recreational runner. And I know that it’s totally natural to have peaks and valleys in everything so I will openly admit that I’ve been in quite the valley when it comes to running lately. Particularly since becoming pregnant and now having a baby for the past 11 months. I run here and there but not as consistently or structured as my past, which is a goal of mine going into spring.

This was another item I prolonged til the deadline, and Idaho isn’t particularly known for its “ideal outdoor running weather” in February. Looking at the forecast, I decided this afternoon was my best shot this week. It would be sunny and upper 40’s, though windy. At this point, I have to take what I can get!

I was able to start my run around 2:30pm. Zeb was home until 4:00pm and could watch Brynnley while I ran outside for the first chunk. At 4:00pm, he had to get to work and I would have to come inside and use the treadmill while Brynnley snoozed for her afternoon nap. There was a good chance she would wake up during this portion and we could log the remainder of my miles outside again with her in the stroller. I had a plan!

After attending my MOPs meeting in the morning, I came home and meal-prepped for Zeb to take something healthy on his work trip. I made a Greek salad with tomato, cucumber, lettuce, green onion, feta, a creamy dressing and delicious pan-fried pork patties on top with a little cup of hummus for each container. I fed Brynnley her lunch, wrote a blog post for my regular job and then changed into a weather-appropriate running outfit.

The key to getting into the long-distance zone for me is MUSIC! I could not imagine running to a podcast or an audiobook. I HAVE to be listening to really good music with a beat that fires me up. I have my go-to playlists on Spotify, which include 1990s punk, 2000s hip-hop, current country, lots of Daughtry, some Avril Lavigne, a random Linkin Park song. 😅

I ran 5.5 miles straight without stopping at an 8-minute mile average. To be perfectly honest, that’s the longest I’ve run since fourth of July! I took a short walking break to blow my nose because the wind was really getting to me. I took this picture of a random house just to show the wind in the flag:

When I started again at the 6-mile mark, I thought “uh oh. I should not have stopped.” My legs immediately felt SO HEAVY after stopping. From mile 6-12, I ran as much as I could but stopped to walk when I needed to. I never went more than a mile without running. My butt, thighs, shins and calves let me know that I would regret not training more for this haha. Here is another random snap from my run of a dead frog that really freaked me out…

At the 9-mile mark, Zeb needed to leave for work. So I returned home. Brynnley was still asleep, so I grabbed the baby monitor and hopped on the treadmill. It is so much better to run outside than on a treadmill!

She woke up 20 minutes later. I’d gotten in 2 miles, so my grand total was 11 miles.

I needed 2 more, so I got her cozy in her stroller and went back out into the neighborhood.

We made it through the remaining distance, but I did end up walking the last mile because my legs were practically THROBBING. I just know that I will not be able to walk tomorrow. I’m really surprised that my lungs weren’t more of an issue though because I expected my breathing to be more out of shape than my leg muscles. I also didn’t sweat very much at all even though I hydrated quite a bit for this, and I’m assuming the wind just helped to dry it all off pretty efficiently.

The main takeaway from this task is: I don’t know why I don’t run more. I truly enjoy it. I have proved to myself that I can fit it in with Brynnley. Especially now that the weather will start getting nicer soon, I no longer have any excuse to stay in this “valley” of my running performance. I am here to publicly commit to making long-distance running a more regular part of my lifestyle again. It makes me happy :)

Running in Mammoth Lakes

My favorite part of vacations: finding new running paths. The best way to experience a new place is to get out into it and explore on foot, in my opinion! Whether it’s New York City, North Carolina, Montana, or Mammoth, I always do a little research before a trip to find the best running hotspots. I feel like I get to see a part of the city or countryside that most tourists don’t. And I get to combine my love of travel with my love of running, which truly feels like vacation.

Last week, my parents and their friends rented a penthouse condo at the foot of the ski lifts on Mammoth Mountain and we spent 8 solid days exploring lakes and trails and mountains. I tagged along on their adventure, but began every morning with a run by myself at 9,000 ft. elevation.

Mammoth Lakes Running (Stronglikemycoffee.com)You already know I’m more fond of running than the average person, but this trip made me more excited than ever to begin mixing up my workouts and training more seriously for my next marathon. Something about just burning off my energy, pushing my feet off the ground, hurling myself forward as fast as I can, music blasting out the sound of my own breath…I just can’t get enough. I feel so lucky to be able to run as far and as often as I want, injury-free and surrounded by nature. The fact that I’ve been safe and avoided any serious encounters with sketchy people or wild animals has not gone unappreciated either!

Running in Mammoth Lakes // Altitude Training for Long Distance Runners | Stronglikemycoffee.com

Some days I just run for its health benefits and because I feel like I need to maintain the long-distance-runner body type I’m used to. Some days I run because it’s something I know I’m good at and I need a confidence-booster. Some days I’m bummed out or stressed out over something, and I know that I seem to stop thinking/obsessing/worrying/hurting for that hour I’m striding down my path. Every day and every run is different but I almost always finish a run feeling stronger than I started.

And even though I can power through a treadmill session with a pair of headphones, nothing can ever compare to running outside. While I was in Mammoth, I ran up Lake Mary Rd. to Twin Lakes, then from Twin Lakes to Horseshoe Lake and back. I ran without music but spent every second taking in the silence, smells (I ran through a campground at one point where people started morning fires and cooked their bacon breakfasts), horse ranch, wild deer, bridges over creeks and brooks, expansive views of the Eastern Sierras, Lakes Mary, Mamie, and George, and the gorgeous massive pine trees. Hitting a plateau with views of the mountain tops make you feel pretty small :)

Mammoth Lakes Running and Hiking Blog Post | Stronglikemycoffee.com

Speed has never been my strong suit and the fact that I actually enjoy running uphills makes it obvious that I’m a cross country runner at heart <3 I just thrive off of the feeling of cresting a really steep incline and knowing that I struggled and pushed myself. After I catch my breath, I’m always ready to do it again. I’ve added a few hilly trails and hill repeats to my workouts over the next few weeks as I gear up for my next marathon.

I passed high school cross country teams every day and was honestly jealous of their running camps. I went to Runner’s Workshop camps for 2 years in high school, and my high school coach also organized his own running camp for us a couple summers up in Big Bear, CA. Running teams and elite athletes love altitude training!

From the start of the Lake Basin Path on Lake Mary Rd. (which starts as Main St.), it’s 5.3 miles up to the finishing point of Horseshoe Lake. The bike path runs parallel with the one-lane road but sits a few feet over so that trees and fences usually separate you from cars.

Mammoth Lakes Running Blog Post | Stronglikemycoffee.com

Horseshoe Lake also has a perfect 2-mile loop around the circumference of the lake basin. The trail picks up at the parking lot, narrowing down to a single-track trail with pine trees on both sides. It was the flattest run of my trip because most streets have dramatic inclines and long flat roads are hard to find.

If you are braver than me or have a bigger group to run with, there are so many more bike trails to explore but I was by myself and nervous about bear sightings so I stuck with semi-paved and heavily-trafficked routes this time :) If you’ve ever run in Mammoth or the Eastern Sierra’s, let me know where in the comments below. I’d love to check out more areas!

Mammoth Lakes Hikes and Running | Altitude training for long distance runners | Stronglikemycoffee.com

Every morning after my run, we hit up a local coffee shop. At first, we intended to find a different unique coffee shop each day, but there was a definite favorite that we ended up at 5 days in a row. Full coffee shop review will be up tomorrow because it’s Monday after vacation and this girl has to get to work. See you again soon!

XOXO.

Surviving 11 Miles on the Treadmill

Not unlike the majority of the country, our little town was hit with massive amounts of snow and freezing temperatures last week. And if you know me, you know my sun-loving-self was not too excited about the winter weather. Aside from moving my marathon-training-long-run indoors, I won’t complain about the blizzard too much because I know so many other people had it much much worse. I will admit, the thick fluffy snow photographs beautifully.

Marathon Training Long Run in Winter Blizzard on Treadmill from stronglikemycoffee.com

Marathon Training Long Run on Treadmill from Stronglikemycoffee.com

Last week I committed to a marathon and the weekly long runs that come with training. Sunday morning I woke up to at least 8 inches of snow and dark grey skies. I’d like to say I’m hardcore enough to run through the blizzard…..but I’m a snowbird at heart and take full advantage of the gym when temperatures drop below 50. The treadmill awaited my eleven-miler. First of all, I haven’t run in the double-digits since September, so I had a little bit of pre-run nerves. But the first step to surviving 85 minutes on a stationary machine:

Long Run Mental Toughness (stronglikemycoffee.com)I have repeated this to myself for years; it is a helpful mantra for any mental undertaking! When I hit “Start” I knew I would not be stepping off that machine until the screen said 11.0.

How to survive treadmill long runs:

Surviving 11 miles on the Treadmill // Marathon Training | stronglikemycoffee.com

  • First of all, set the incline to at least 1.0% grade. This helps mimic running on land rather than a moving belt.
  • Play with the speed! I always start out at a comfortable speed, but bump it up depending on what song is playing. Alternating your speed also mimics running outside when a machine is not regulating pace for you. For some reason when Masterpiece by Jessie J comes on, I hit up, up, up to 8.5 mph because that is my jam.
  • Speaking of music…Fresh new playlist made the time flyyyyyyy: 
    • Basically the entire new Florida Georgia Line album Anything Goes
    • Invincible and Someone by Kelly Clarkson
    • Goodbye from Who is Fancy (<— love that name)
    • Centuries from Fall Out Boy (not a huge FOB fan but this is a power song!)
    • I’m Gonna Show You Crazy by Bebe Rexha
    • Let Go For Tonight by Foxes
  • Mid-run fuel in the form of Tangerine Sport Beans from Jelly Belly for caffeine (studies say you should have mid-run fuel for any outting longer than 60 minutes)
  • Two nights before I had watched an inspirational running movie, which I pictured the race scenes from (runner-nerd alert).
  • A bit of an odd one…I like to do math during my runs! Since the speed on a treadmill is set to “miles per hour” and I like to think in terms of “minutes per mile,” I spend a lot of time converting different paces in my head and estimating what my marathon time would be. Buuuut if mathematics tends to exhaust you, I don’t recommend this one. ;)
  • Thinking about breakfast and/or dessert.
  • Looking out the window at this view and appreciating my warm little fitness room!

Marathon Training in Winter Blizzard | stronglikemycoffee.com

Healthy Warm Winter Breakfast / Marathon Training | stronglikemycoffee.com

And that is how I got through 85 lonely minutes on a treadmill in a blizzard. Forecasts show 50s for this weekend, hallelujah!

What is the longest you’ve run on a treadmill  & what songs do I need to add for this weekend’s playlist?!

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