Wednesday, July 31, 2013

100 Miles in July

At the end of June I decided to accept a challenge to run 100 miles during the month of July. To hardcore marathon runners this is a normal number, if not a bit lower than usual mileage, particularly when training.  However, if you have read my blog for the last year to year and a half, you know I have not been the mileage junkie I used to be. So this was the perfect challenge for me to accept.  I was ready!

The idea came from my good friend and co-worker Jenny (Jenny Bou) who ran her first half marathon earlier this year and has made consistent progress in all aspects of her training. She thought up this challenge as a way to better her running and hold herself accountable to increasing her mileage. A couple others jumped on board so we had a little #100milesinJuly challenge team that would provide extra encouragement, motivation, and accountability. Even though I was in and ready to go, I was still a bit unsure I would actually do it at first, especially the first weekend in July when I got sick and missed two or three days of running, but I kept going and said, "if I get it, great, if not, that's ok too." So I kept running, and the mileage started adding up. Some days the run was pretty bad because my legs have not been used to this much of an increase in mileage in quite some time, but the legs began to respond and remember what lots of miles felt like. And they started to like it.

I had a set-back about midway through the month. In addition to running I do quite a bit of cross training, and this year took on strength and conditioning work in addition to my cycling (and teaching indoor cycling). The cycling has usually been enough to give me dead legs every now and then, but adding in squats, lunges, dead lifts, sprints, etc., well, you can image the soreness. Jenny and I were talking how these workouts made our challenge that much more difficult due to the amount of training we do outside of running that not only throws in fatigue and soreness but also takes up time when we could run.  In our conversation we said, "well, not only do we have runs, we have guns! Runs and guns!" From that #runsandguns was born. We both love our strength and conditioning cross training so the super early morning runs we squeeze in before a workout and the heavy legs are definitely worth it! Anyway, these workouts also include jump ropes, and I have never had much success with that skill. One morning we had to do a lot of jumping rope, and, long story short, I had a breakthrough. Not only was I able to jump rope pretty much the entire workout, I also was able to throw in a couple of double-unders! That's a BIG deal!  But that breakthrough gave me incredibly sore calves, like to the point I had significant trouble walking, so I missed a Saturday long run and the next two days were pretty pitiful. I pushed through, and the next week I was able to get almost 40 miles, which is really what helped push me to the finish line.

It was fitting that I ran my last 2 miles last night with Jenny (and her husband Brad who also did the challenge). It was perfect to finish with the one who started it all. It's a great feeling to have achieved 102 miles in July alongside some great running friends who helped push me to the goal. I overcame a lot of days when I didn't want to run or thought I was too tired. Since the injury, running has been less than exciting for me and getting motivated has been a struggle at times, but this challenge was what I needed to get my mojo back. I plan on continuing with 100 mile months, and I think this just might be the spark plug to get me ready for marathon training this fall.

I can't end this 100 mile challenge without giving some credit to a few folks. First, my main running partner and one of my closest friends, Vicki, who has trudged through mile after mile with me over the last eight years of running. She has been there through lots of marathons and has seen me succeed and fail all while being my biggest cheerleader (and making me laugh a ton). I owe a lot to her. Again when I needed her she muddied through the rough days of this challenge with me without once getting annoyed. She's a trooper! Then there is Thu, one of my indoor cycling participants, who is always eager to get up at 5 a.m. to run! She's nuts, but a great friend that's always ready and willing to run and does it with a positive attitude and a smile on her face. She has now become one of my running partners and a good one at that! Last but not least is Jenny, who is now more than my co-worker, she's an awesome friend. I have seen her transform herself through hard work and discipline, and now I'm seeing her do the same thing with her running. She encourages and keeps me motivated, and without this challenge, I would have had another less than stellar month of running. I'm grateful to her for this push, and I hope to have many more with her as we add up the miles on our journeys!
#runsandguns #100milesinJuly

The official 100 mile photo! #runsandguns
The training logs