Fall 2015 and The Exciting 2016 to Come

from Marathons and Mechanisms

So, yeah, it’s been a while. I finally got back on my blogging game after the Pittsburgh Marathon and my minor injury, then I managed to fall off the map again. Blogging is a love hate thing. I really like this medium because it allows me to parse through my experiences, thoughts, and ideas and put them out for the world to read in an organized and detailed manner. But, I also loath the process of sitting down and putting the words on “paper.” Its like college essays all over again, but only worse because there is no hard deadline or due date. I find myself wanting to put another blog up, but then deferring it. “I’ll start it tomorrow, after the holidays, after my next race, etc. Then, my laptop got stolen out of the trunk of a car in San Francisco, so there goes my keyboard for typing up large word documents. I’ve now purchased a new laptop and have finally decided that enough is enough. It’s been a tough Fall season for me in terms of racing and I think its time I wrap up this year on here so that I can move on from it once and for all. I’ve got the 2016 Olympic trials in 7 weeks and there is no time like the present to get my mind straight so that I can go into some of there grueling workouts with nothing but focus, hunger, and determination for an incredible Olympic Trials Marathon performance.

My Fall Races, in summary:

TC 10 Mile – The field for this race was STACKED. This year it was the 10 Mile Road Race Championships. With both the marathon and track Olympic Trials coming up this year, people went to the road circuits this year to get in shape, which meant there was a lot of talent and exciting, tactical races going on. Unfortunately for me, my race did not go well. I tried to be honest with myself about where my fitness was, and I went out conservatively. Leading up to the race I was feeling fresh and good, but the minute the gun went off I felt tired and like I was working way too hard. The course is a hilly and difficult one, especially in the first five miles, and I struggled. The biggest issue I faced, though, was mentally. I found myself getting negative, down on myself and my potential, and thinking about how tired I felt and how hard racing felt. All of this was going through my head DURING THE RACE, which obviously is not where I should be focusing my attention. Of course, my finishing time was far slower than my fitness suggested. I spend the day trying to convince myself that it was “just one race” and “I have so much potential,” ” I am so young” “I can do this.” After a year and a half of telling myself this, I was starting to doubt myself.

Pittsburgh 10 Mile – I got in two or three REALLY GOOD workouts after TC Marathon, focusing my attention on pushing hard in my workouts and resting correctly. I realized the workouts are where I need to really grind and teach myself to focus when it starts to hurt. Three weeks after the TC 10 Mile, I flew to Pittsburgh to race another 10 mile. in 2014 I finished this race as the last of the elites and I told myself that I couldn’t be that person again. I love P3R and all of the people who organize the Pittsburgh 10 Mile, I wanted to show them that their investment in me as a Team USA Minnesota athlete and as an elite athlete at three of their races now was worthwhile. Mostly, I wanted to be mentally tough through the race. I again went out conservatively in the first mile, but I was able to push in the subsequent ones. I ran some of my best miles and felt so much stronger on that course than I did the previous year. Besides a few moments of doubt in myself around mile 9, running into a headwind that I really didn’t enjoy, I was very focused on how I felt, what I could control, and pushing hard. I finished with a 2 minute PR on the course and a 9th place finish. Progress is progress, even when its minute.

Santa to the Sea 1/2 Marathon: I flew home at Thanksgiving to be with my family and Ryan for the holidays and decided to stay home so that I could train in the warmth. The race was two weeks after Thanksgiving and two weeks before Christmas, so it fit perfectly in a five week warm(er) weather stint from Minnesota, which got its first snow fall one hour after Ryan and my departure on Thanksgiving day. I ended up getting a bit of a head cold that I trained through, but that lingered for two weeks and sapped my energy, and then started to have some knee pain. Thankfully, I had my PT on it quickly and he traced the tightness back to my serially-inactive right glute. I drove down to Oxnard, CA on Saturday for a Sunday morning race, and my PT and I have decided that sitting for 5 hours in the car is what did me in for the following day. The race director graciously put me up in a hotel the evening before and then had a driver to come and pick me up and get me to the start. I was feeling a bit tired and my leg/hip a bit tight, but I knew I was fit to race.

I took out the first two miles on goal pace but by mile three I felt like I was dwindling. Then, as I turned a corner I noticed a medial posterior tendon on my knee was tightening up. Then it started cramping up and almost becoming immobile. I backed off on my pace in hopes it would loosen up but overtime I tried to pick up my pace, it would happen again. I wad passed but the second place female around mile four and was unable to pick it up and run with her. In addition to my knee hurting, I just felt completely unable to hold a pace any faster that 5:50/mile. 6 minute pace felt effortless (good news for my upcoming marathon), but 5:45 feels hard. I did my best to stay focused and positive, but by the end I was wondering “how the heck did I ever run 5:40avg for a half marathon?!” I ended up in second place with a decent finishing time for a tempo run and walked away with some race winnings. It was very disappointing and still is. I know I can do so much better, but it was just not in the cards that day.

Training, in summary:

After Santa to the Sea, I took a day off, biked for two days, and had two tearful but successful ART sessions with my PT who got me back to full health. By 6 days post race I was able to put in an easy paced 22 miler. I ran easy for a few days and then began workouts. I have put together a few good workouts to kick of my marathon specific training. One big change I have made is to back off on my mileage. I was running mid-90 mile weeks for eight weeks with just one week down in the mid 70’s during a race week. I have decided that I don’t want to hit mileage any higher than 85 for this cycle, because it enables me to feel more energetic and recover better for the workouts. I would rather execute the workouts precisely than just get through them while feeling run down. I have noticed in the time following these past two lower-volume weeks and I feel invigorated, able to push paces in my easy runs I wouldn’t have even touched three weeks back. I want to find my sweet spot, I want to find what helps me race well, so I am doing my best to be conscious of how mileage and recovery relate with my body and making the required adjustments.

My mental state, in summary:

Following Santa to the Sea I was feeling really down. This has been a tough year, racing wise. I have been relatively uninjured and am getting better at taking care of myself in that respect. But I can’t seem to put together a good race. I know part of that has to do with my mental state during a race. I really need to work on thinking about positive things and about what I can control, nothing else. I spent the week following the race really feeling DONE running. I had a recovery run after my first workout back and felt like DEATH. I couldn’t hold an 8:30 pace and I stopped at 2 miles and almost walked home. But slowly, I’ve come around to all of the support I’ve been getting. I remind myself that my body will go through phases with this training and to listen to it. I remind myself I am young, I have an amazing opportunity to be at the Olympic Trials Marathon in 44 days, and that I do, in fact, LOVE TO RUN. I am now feeling a lot happier with this career, as challenging as it can be, and excited for the future.

2016! Sponsors, Races, Olympic Trial, and more!

I can’t believe its almost 2016! I am ready for a new year to start fresh and continue to give this running thing my all. My new years goal: do my glute exercises every day. Achievable and totally important for me.

Next up, Houston Half in January and the Olympic Trials Marathon in February. Then after a break, Dennis and I will refocus my training to some faster, shorter races and even some cross country!

I have also resigned with Bonk Breaker and GenUCAN as fuel sponsors for the 2016 year! I am excited to continue working with them. I have accepted an ambassadorship with San Granola Granola too, a San Francisco-based granola company that makes delicious high fiber/protein and low sugar products which help me with all of the fueling that isn’t focused specifically on my training sessions. My favorite way to eat it is on Fage 0% greek yogurt before bed, but its also totally good straight out of the bag or with milk. Check out their website to order it, there’s even a sale going on right now! (www.sanfranolagranola.com). I have also gotten word about another ambassadorship I applied for, but I haven’t gotten the go ahead, quite yet, to announce it to the world. So, stay tuned!

I am SO thankful for Saucony’s support this year, even though it hasn’t been my best racing year. They have continued to stand by me and provide me with incredible gear and shoes that help me train at such high volumes. And, look good doing it 😉

And last, but not even close to least, thank you Team USA Minnesota, Patricia Goodwin, Dennis, and all of our team sponsors for believing in me and supporting me this year. I want to show you all I am as invested in you as you are in me!

Aaaaand, the non running updates include: 

California for the Holidays: I was lucky enough to be able to come home to Thanksgiving with my family and Ryan and then stay through the New Year before heading to Houston. It was nice to start the trip off with a fun 20 days with Ryan, and it was really hard to say goodbye when he flew back to Minnesota. I was able to attend my Dad’s wedding to my new step mom Jackie and enjoy a cool night in San Francisco. I attended the Nutcracker put on my the San Francisco Ballet on Christmas eve, and then spend a day with my Dad, Jackie, and new step sister Hannah, too. I celebrated Christmas with my mom, brother, and his girlfriend today, the 30th, with small gifts and some delicious, vegetarian cookings. It’s nice to spread out the holidays a bit. I will tell you, I have been eating well here.

Houston, TX Up Next: Next week, I will be heading to Houston, TX to join three of my Team USA Minnesota teammates to do a 6 week training stint in warm, humid climate. The amazing Houston Marathon Association, sponsors of Team USA MN, have organized the Modern B&B as a home base for us, which is fully-equipped apartments for each of us and a common kitchen that has made-to-order breakfast every morning. We are close to downtown access, running paths, Rice University, and other great spots that will make this training experience exciting, easy, and enjoyable. We will be racing the Houston Half Marathon on January 17th, too! I am even extra lucky to be spending my 23rd birthday there, on the 11th, and get to have Ryan as my special guest for a week (:

Studying, again…: I am also taking this time away from my part time job at Twin Cities Running company (I miss it so much!) to begin studying for the GRE. I really want to get a job in the food industry in research and development, but a number of interviews have ended in “you need a master’s degree.” Also, I miss learning and using my brain, so this is a good time to get myself back into school and in the direction that my fancy UCLA degree was projecting me towards before this whole running thing began.

I am so thankful to be ending this year with such great friends, an amazing boyfriend, new Minnesota family and family back home, health, and ability to follow my dreams. Thank you to everyone who makes my life possible and who encourages me. I hope this year brings everyone happiness, that is the most important thing to living a purposeful and fulfilling life, I think.

Follow me on Instagram (my preferred method of socializing): @emrunygordrun

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