Training Check In – Week 9

Training Check In – Week 9

Its been 1 month since my first training check in!  This training month has been interesting.  I’ve been traveling 3 out of the last 4 weeks, which makes scheduling my runs and workouts seem like a jigsaw puzzle to say the least.  As a result, I’ve been pretty lenient on my strength and cross training.

Badger and I got to run in the hot, hot heat & humidity of Georgia on vacation:


Did I mention it was really, really HOT!  I just had to let Badger jump in the fountain to cool off.  By “had to” I mean, I couldn’t really stop him from jumping in!  My sneaky little boy.


Our last days in Georgia were spent with friends in Athens.  Badger was a big hit there, not just for his general awesomeness, but for his resemblance of the university mascot.


More importantly, I was able to spend time with this beauty, she lives on the other side of the globe and I miss her soooo much!


After a week of vacation, it was time to go back to work. My first week back, we were out at Stanford University, so I had a few great runs in the beautiful CA sun, with some HILLS!  Yes!

Last week, I went to San Diego.  It was a VERY short trip and I had a lot of work to do.  I managed to get a short morning run in before hurrying off to meetings.  I didn’t get to snap a photo on my run, but I had some time before my flight home, so I went to the bluffs to watch the sunset.  Even now, looking at the sunset pics almost brings me to tears.  I miss the ocean (the one that the sun sets into).


Each week, I’ve surpassed my goal mileage anywhere from 2 – 10 miles.  Some of my cross training days were converted to easy run days for convenience.  I’m cutting back on extra runs and putting cycling back in this week.  My shins have been sore again this week, so I’m letting them take a little extra time.  Although my mileage is up, I haven’t been happy with my speed.  I wanted to run a 1/2 marathon this year under 1:45:00.  I don’t think Nike Women’s is going to be that race. I haven’t had many hills to train on.  The only thing going for me is that I will probably be faster in the ideal running conditions (50s-60s deg F, as opposed to 90sF and high humidity) and high adrenaline.  So, I’ve decided just to push myself to my limit and be happy with my performance.  I will try to find another race in November or December to go for my goal time.  …Perhaps I should really make time for my strength and cross training!

Checking in – 5 weeks into training

Checking in – 5 weeks into training

Check in time!  I’ve been training for the Nike Women’s 1/2 marathon for 5 weeks now!  I can’t believe how time flies!

I’ve been building my mileage, finding parks that double as 1/4 or 1/2 mile markers, all with my buddy Badger.  Overall, he’s a good running partner, although sometimes he loses motivation.  I thought that we were hitting his maximum mileage, but today he was still pulling the leash when I tried to start walking after 9 miles (on our 8 mile endurance run)!


Lesson learned: trails keeps Badger motivated!

I’ve been keeping up with my scheduled runs, but have been a little relaxed on my strength training workouts.  I typically put them off until the weekend (+surrounding days).  I need to find some balance (errrr, motivation) to get them in.  I’ve substituted my ‘recovery run’ days as prescribed by the NWM app, with riding my bike to work.  Initially, I thought this would be good to get in cardio without stressing my shins.  Well, the extra cross training has been great because my shins don’t even hurt anymore!

In a nutshell, every week has 2 cycling days, 2 quality run (i.e. hills-if I can find them-, interval, tempo, or fartlek), and one long run day.  I should also add 2-3 strength days as double days.  This allows me to get in my rest days (2/week 🙂 and prepare my body for multiple workouts in a day, which it will need to do for Ragnar.

I am slower than my goal time, which sucks.  I am think that I should be faster and should be stronger.  I know this is not the case.  The reality is I would like to be faster, but there I took some serious time off.  I will be faster when I get there.  Its hot. Its humid. I’m worried about my dog. I often try new routes, which often ends with me being lost.  Except for the absence of hills here in DC, I think my race will be much better- a planned/obvious route, and cooler weather.  I am most grateful because my body feels strong.



I have a few philosophies that I apply across my life.  I’ve listed them below, with a brief explanation as to how they apply to running.

  1. Work smarter, not harder. There’s no use expending more energy than you need to to accomplish a task; when running, faster is better right? I’m a busy woman and I don’t want to spend more time necessary. This doesn’t mean slack off or half ass. I have allotted time to run, I’m going to make the most of it. For my running, I want to find the most efficient way to move. I’ve explored different ideas here: long, heel-stoking strides, pose, chi, yeah. I’ve come to the conclusion that a mid/forefoot strike, with my feet beneath me works best for me. My form is a mix between Budd Coates’ description from Running on Air, and The Science of Running by Steve Magness.   I use the queues to ‘put my foot down now,’ to keep from overstriding.  I use my GPS watch for recording my runs, but don’t have the heart rate monitor so I can tune into how I feel and associate that with a pace.  Running by breath helps me prevent/overcome side stitches and know how hard I should be pushing in my workouts. Conclusion: work hard when its time to work, tune into your body, move efficiently to get there faster.
  2. Remember to breath. When I forget about breathing, I typically forget about form.  Recipe for disaster.  Your breath is the key to how fast and hard you should be going for your workout.  Although I have decided the training plans aren’t for me, I highly recommend Running on Air.  Running in odd breaths will help asymmetry from forming or injury.  For most of my runs, I run 5 strides per breath- 3 strides for inhale, 2 for exhale.  Fast intervals, I break it down to a two stride inhale, 1 stride exhale.  In addition to helping prevent injury, this links your breath to your movement.  If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you know that there is a benefit to this.  It turns your run into a moving meditation.  Studies have shown that brining mindfulness to exercise result in more positive hormones, and better satisfaction performing exercise.  Remember to breath. You can’t run without your breath, and you might actually like running a little bit more.
  3. See things from a different perspective. I used to hate out and back runs. I would do anything to create a loop so that I wouldn’t have to see the same scenery.  When I travel for work, I often run. It is the only time that I have to myself, and the only time that I can explore whatever city I am staying in.  My hatred of out and back runs changed on my recent trip to Alaska.  I ran out and back on a coastal pedestrian trail.  IT WAS GORGEOUS! Looking at the city backlit instead of front, city vs trees.  Since then, I have appreciated the differences between the out and the back.  A great way to remember that every path has its own perspective.  What you see, is not what someone else may see.  Either way, enjoy the view.
    2015-06-23 07.01.21 2015-06-23 07.02.35
  4. Find your balance. Literally.  Engage your core, be able to balance on your forefoot, be able to balance on one foot.  The strength and stability from your lower leg muscles will save you from injury!  Your balance is not possible without engaging your core.  WORK YOUR CORE!  You’ll feel and look stronger and better.
The beginning: my training journey

The beginning: my training journey

This week is the beginning of my training journey. When I entered the lottery for NW-SF I started ramping up my weekly mileage and building a base. After being accepted into the race, I began to look for a race specific training plan. Now, 13 weeks away from race day, I’ve settled on a plan. I’ve modified the recommended Nike training plan that is associated with the race.  Since I still feel like I am on the verge of shin splints, I’ve decided to exchange ‘easy run’ days with bicycle commuting to work, and I will have 2 double-days per week to keep up with my Alaris strength training. This gives me 2 rest days, 2 cross training days, 2 quality runs (speed or hill intervals), and 1 long run each week. Strength training will be added to either quality run day or cross training day. 

I think that this is a sustainable, yet challenging schedule to keep. It’s week one and I’ve already had to rotate a rest day with a quality run because I planned to run after work, but it was far too hot and humid. Luckily I was able to disciine myself to running 400m intervals in the morning. 

I have started a long journey. It will be hard, but I’m up for the challenge!

I Made It! I will run Nike Women San Francisco

I Made It! I will run Nike Women San Francisco

In a few short months, I will be putting my 2015 goal to the test!  I will be running the Nike Women’s 1/2 Marathon, San Francisco with two of my best sisters in sport.  

We entered the random draw as a team back in May, and found out a few days ago that we were selected. I’ve ramped up my base training and will begin race specific training next week. Stay tuned for updates on my journey! 

Race Report: Blue Crab Bolt 10k Trail Race

Race Report: Blue Crab Bolt 10k Trail Race

At the beginning of the year, I set some race goals for 2015.  So far, I’ve been avoiding racing.  I’ve been struggling with shin splints (even more frustrating because this is the first time they’ve bothered me in 20 years) and motivation.  The opportunity to take a bib in a trail race came up, so obviously, I took the chance.  I should mention here that the last time I participated in a trail race was in high school cross country, and I hadn’t been running for a week because of my shins.  I don’t know why I said I would do it, but I did, on Thursday for a Saturday race.  Needless to say, I did not properly prepare for the experience.  But I took it for what it was, an experience.  An opportunity to test my baseline on something like this.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I promised myself that I would listen to my body, slow for pain, push through discomfort, and focus on form.  So I pack the family up, wake them super early to make the trek to Clarksville, MD and get ready to go.

First things first, we are not off to a good start.  I try to feed Badger right when he woke up, but he wouldn’t eat.  So I take him for a short walk around the block. He does his business and we go back home. Now he scarfs down his food and we’re ready to go.  We typically play “jump in the car Badger,” (this is where a 4 door car would have been a better choice).  After a few minutes we realize we’re not getting anywhere so Ian picks him up and puts him in.  Right as we’re about to pull out, we realize he’s been sick and is now trying to eat the by-product of his sickness. Stop, clean, make sure the doggy is feeling okay, and finally we’re off!

Forty-five minutes later, we arrive at Little Bennett Regional Park.  I have never done a trail run, and especially not one that is organized by a small, local group.  I can’t believe that how few people are in attendance.  I’m glad that the crowd is not overwhelming (especially since husband and doggy will be alone for about an hour). I fill out the liability form, get my shirt, and make use of the porta-potty (a few times, I’m getting nervous now). I do a small warm up, mostly a dynamic stretch routine that I pulled from The Run Experience, tell my man that my goal is to finish under an hour, and make my way to the pre-run brief.

Standing in the small crowd, the organizer explains the course, cautions us to watch for slippery mud (from the rain yesterday through early that morning), and then tells us the course is actually over 10.5 kilometers. Hmmmm. At 8 AM sharp, he releases us for the run.

We’re off! It looks more like a chase than a race. The race begins with a wide dirt road, a short out and back before we head into the woods on a single lane track. I take off at an unsustainable pace. I want to make sure I’m in front of the slower folks before the trail narrows.

Trail running, at race pace, sandwiched between strangers is quite an experience! You don’t know what is really happening in front of you because you can’t see the trail more than one or two strides in front of you, and you don’t want to slow down or change abruptly because you don’t know the people behind you by a stride or two. Then, the person in front of you takes off and now you are behind someone going substantially slower. You must pass. Look at the trail, look ahead, and plan your move. “On your left!” And quickly move ahead, making sure there is room to dart back to the trail from the shoulder without cutting off the dude you just overtook. Eventually, after about 1.5 miles, the crowd thins. Unfortunately for me, my shoe comes untied and I have to drop from the pack. I try my best to catch up, but I’m not in race condition (and am sore from strength training Friday) so my sustained increased pace gives me 2 massive side cramps. Oops. Slow it down and focus on my breath.

Aside: I’ve been working on Budd Coates’ running on air method. So I was at a 52 when my shoe came untied, ramped up to a 32 to catch up, which forced me to a 51 to recover.

Here I came upon the first aide station. WATER! YES! Shortly after the 10k splits away from the 5k. After this, I can comfortably keep my pace, despite being passed two more times.  I watch my breath and think about my core.  A few more miles and we begin to climb again.  Here, I start taking off the pack that dropped me, one by one.  They are spread pretty thin and passing is easier on the wider trail.  I push on the climb and open up and let gravity do its work on the descent.  My polar M400 beeps for 6 miles and I return my focus to my breath.  “Breath. Watch the trail.  You can do this.”  My mantra repeats in my head, over and over, “Almost there!” From behind, someone comments on my watch.  Then we continue to talk about work.  He recommends I give up my office job for serving. I give a fake laugh (really? why would I ever serve tables?!?) and then continue to focus on my form and finishing without tripping.  The final obstacle (last .25mi of the course) requires traversing a 10m wide, 18in deep creek.  Well, I guess my feet are getting nice and wet.  A few more switch backs and I can see the runners corral.  This is the que to open my stride and finish strong.  I’m pushing at a 2-1-1 breath, finish! I finally cross the finish line at 1:01:34, second in my (and the bib I’m running as) age group!  My watch tells me the course was actually 6.75 miles, so I’m proud of my time.

Overall, the experience was great.  The run was fun, the people were nice & polite, easy for even an introvert like me to small talk with.  I would have signed up for the next race in the series, but I’m traveling that day.  I look forward to pushing myself in a trail race again.

Check out the event photos from Swim, Bike, Run Photography:

The Beginning.

The Beginning.

“Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door” -Emily Dickinson

Sunrise in Santa Barbara, CA
Sunrise in Santa Barbara, CA

Good morning and welcome to my blog!  For those who don’t know me, I’m Kari.  I’m a young professional living and working in Washington, D.C.  My husband and I moved here when I finished grad school in 2012.  In grad school I studied mechanical engineering, specifically MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS) and parametric resonance (nonlinear dynamics).   You can read about that here, if you feel so inclined.  In addition to studying, I spent a lot of time developing hobbies and cultivating amazing friendships.  My interests, errr passions really, include running, roller derby, cycling, strength training (outside, in the gym or crossfit), and yoga.  I’ve spent much of my free time over the last decade learning, experimenting, and trying to become the best version of myself that I can be, at this point in time.  Over the next week or so, I’ll write about my experience in each sport and link them as they come online.  I don’t want to bog you down on this first entry, if you’re like me you’ll appreciate short, concise posts and organization.

I’ve started this blog to share with the world how I apply my critical thinking to my personal interests, in a quest to be the best me that I can be.  Most of what I’ll be talking about is fitness and lifestyle.  I’ll be reviewing the books and articles I’ve read, sharing my goals, and explaining my current self-exploration/experimentation.  I’m also participating in the April writer’s U, so I will probably post some of my assignments here too.  I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts and trials with you!  Feel free to comment here or on social media (links on your right).