Monday, December 28, 2020

Twelve Days of Yeti

Do you remember a few months back (Oh my goodness, I CANNOT believe it's already been over EIGHT MONTHS at this point! #COVIDTime) when I was supposed to be running the SoCal Ragnar but then it was cancelled and I decided to tackle the Yeti Ultra 24-Hour Challenge?! Well, if you don't, you can read all about it HERE. If you do (whether that's because you know my running calendar just as well as I do or because you read about it five seconds ago), you probably have an idea of my affinity for the Yeti Trail Runners {#NotACult}. So, I'm sure you can guess that when Jason, the AMAZING race director, announced a fun challenge during the month of December I was ALL IN!


The Twelve Days of Yeti was a virtual challenge put on by the Yeti Trail Runners. The premise was every morning for 12 days (starting December 14th) you'd wake up to a SURPRISE in your inbox (think of it like a present under the Christmas tree). The email would contain the mileage "requirement" for the day. With all of my races being postponed or cancelled, I thought this was a clever idea (and a great way to mix up my running, since I can get into a routine and go on auto-pilot very easily). SIGN ME UP AND TAKE MY MONEY! (FYI: The registration fee covered a surprise holiday package.)


If you've been around my corner of the InterWebs for a while you know that although I do the majority of my running solo, I L-O-V-E the running community and have a tight knit crew of running friends. Well, let's just say that having all of the races cancelled was not only a hit to my running but to my social calendar. Thankfully my best running friend, THEE Pavement Runner, not only wanted to sign up for the Twelve Days of Yeti but he also wanted to coordinate clothes! YUP! We love matching our gear when we run together, so we wouldn't let a few hundred miles stand between us and twinning!

A few of the many, many pictures we have together at races.

I know... the anticipation is killing you... but that's how it felt having to wait until the morning to see what I'd be running every day ;) But, don't worry, I won't hold you in suspense any longer... let's get into the challenge, shall we?!

Day 1 :: Twelve Days of Yeti

One of the secret weapons that most Ultrarunners have is a great walk! Training to walk is key in any race plan. Right before a big race, I always add walking to my training. Your gift is that of a fast walk! Walk a 5K.
Yep, you read that right, the first day of our running challenge was actually a walk ;) Since during the week I leave my house by 8:45am and don't get home until 7:15pm from work, I've gotta get my workouts in during the wee-hours of the morning. I didn't necessarily have the "time" to walk 3.1 miles, so what I did was jump on my stationary bike (after having run 13.13 miles on Friday, 18.18 miles on Saturday and 15.15 miles on Sunday) for 90 minutes and then went out for a quick 3.1 mile run around the house. I know, I know, it said "walk", but since I walk to work and that commute is about three and a half miles, I figured I was covered there (but I needed to snap my pics before work, so I did what I had to do). 

Oh yeah, and I'm sure you wanna see how Brian and I were twinning, right?! Well, let's just say we may have NAILED the outfit, but we deserve a little forgiveness since it was the first day and we were still working out the photo layout - HA!

In all fairness, he asked me for a peace sign shot and he was showing me an alternative idea
but then collaged them together... it was too fun not to share, so this turned out to be Day 1 ;)

Day 2 :: Twelve Days of Yeti

Run a 5 mile progression. Make sure every mile is faster than the previous mile. Start at the number you feel comfortable with. If you miss making a faster mile, you must start back at Mile 1.
I normally love running progression runs... BUT if I don't hit them exactly I never 'force' myself to start over again... so this one had me a little anxious. Like Jason mentioned in the email, the trick is to START SLOW! I decided I would go out for a 10 mile run, then, if I didn't hit one of my splits I still had wiggle room to work with. I am STOKED to report that I was able to do a perfect progression on my first five miles {9:29, 8:50, 8:31, 8:17, 7:49}. Well, since I was five miles away from the house and I had to run home anyway I figured I might as well go for it again. I mean, it was day TWO after all, let's do it (or at least attempt it) TWICE! And, BOOM, I nailed it! The second set had splits of 8:22, 8:16, 8:15, 8:02 and 7:43. 

And although you'd think we would have gotten better at our "duo" shot, well, I messed up again... You see, I didn't have my phone and was asking the hubby to snap a quick photo and forgot what side I was supposed to be facing... OOPS!

Day 3 :: Twelve Days of Yeti

1200 ft of gain. If you don't have access to steep hills, a treadmill or stairwell, you need to run 1 mile at 100 percent PR! After you complete the 1200 ft or PR mile do one legged step up mountain legs - 50 per side.
There was a slight bit of panic for Day 3. You see, the Yeti Trail Runners were also having a vert challenge at the same time {12 Days of Vert} and when most of us opened the email we were 'hoping' there was a mix-up and this "Vert and Hurt" email got sent to the wrong group... but no! We needed to either climb 1,200 feet of elevation or run a mile personal record. Let's just say I think I will always pick 'summiting a mountain' over trying to run a PR... Running fast HURTS! Sure, don't get me wrong, your quads burn when you are doing all that climbing, but your WHOLE BODY burns when you are pushing the pedal to the medal. Most folks probably assume living at sea level means it's flat, but it's not. We have quite a bit of elevation around us, but because I do a decent chunk of my running in the dark I need to run where I (and my hubby) feel safe - which is not necessarily where there is a ton of elevation gain... so in comes our stairwell! I found this helpful equation that allowed me to measure the height of one of our stairs (7 inches), count the number of stairs in the flight (17) and put in the elevation I needed (1,200 feet) so it could calculate the number of sets I needed to run (121). I was worried my watch might not calculate it correctly in the stairwell, so I figured I would have 6 rubber bands on my wrist and after each set of 20 (which I would count on my fingers, adding one every UP) I'd take one off until I had finished the 120 (plus one) reps. I wasn't sure how long it'd take me, but I was hoping not more than an hour (guesstimating I could climb at least 2 flights a minute). In the end the 121 flights took me 37:17 (plus a couple minutes for the single legged mountain legs {#RealTalk - I had to do them in two sets of 25 because my legs were trembling}). As I suspected, my watch GROSSLY underestimated the elevation gain (it had me at 410 feet - HOW RUDE!), so I'm very thankful I did the calculations beforehand or my legs might've fallen off. This workout reminded me that I wanted to start adding stairs to my weekly workouts (we have a HUGE set by work - maybe four or five flights tall - that I think I'll try to do on my lunch breaks once a week). PS We live in a second floor condo and apparently my neighbors must have heard the up and down because one of them came out, smiled at me, shook his head and went back inside. #WeAreCrayCray


And this time Brian and I actually got a photo with a coordinating pose... and it only took three days to finally nail it, hehe!

Day 4 :: Twelve Days of Yeti

Remember that little 3 mile walk you did on your very first day? You need to repeat the same walk and beat your previous time! If you fail, you must walk 1 mile backwards. This will help your brain and body realize going forward is much easier!
Well, if you remember, I actually ran the 5K on Monday (after 90 minutes on the stationary bike). Since I usually run somewhere between 8 and 13ish miles before work, I decided I would knock out 10 miles and THEN try to best my Day 1 5K time. My time earlier in the week was 26:50 (averaging 8:39/mile). I'll be honest, my quads were definitely a bit tight due to the stair workout the day before, so I was a bit nervous about hitting the paces I needed after finishing up the first 10 miles. Also, in the back of my mind I was thinking that there is always a possibility that Jason may add this same workout in a few more days so I didn't want to go too much faster than the original run in case I still needed to shave off even more time in a future workout. #Strategy ;) In the end I was able to knock out the 5K in 26:32 (averaging 8:29/mile). 

PS Normally I would've also walked to work (attempting to beat my previous walk commute time, seeing as the task was "walking a 5K"), but the hubby was out of town on a last minute photo shoot for work so I had to drive to work (that way I could walk the pup on my lunch). {I didn't want to mention this when I was actually doing the challenge, in real time, because I don't like people knowing I'm home "alone", but now it's okay to explain why I didn't also do a walking option.}

Video chatting while we are on separate coasts for a few days.

Brian has been NAILING putting together our daily collages. I am usually running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to get everything done before having to go to work all day, and he's been super accommodating... especially when I screw up the pictures (forgetting which hand to do the peace sign with or not being creative with "other" poses).

Day 5 :: Twelve Days of Yeti

By now your legs should be a little sore. So for Day 5 , it's time to quiet our minds and help those sore muscles. It's time for YOGA! I know what you're thinking, I thought the same thing also, but I'm here to tell you a weekly yoga routine does wonders for any runner. Don't worry, you need not be flexible to get the benefits from all the moves. Trust me - when yoga studios were open, they checked me in under the name Tin Man but weekly yoga added incredible benefits to my running.
I know what you're thinking... another non-running day during a running challenge (#RealTalk - that might have been what I thought at first as well), but this challenge isn't about racking up the miles. It's about having fun, connecting with the running community, becoming a better, well-rounded athlete and reminding us of some of the important non-running activities that we should be adding to our regular routines. The email we received included a link to a Yoga for Runners video, so I tackled the 55 minutes of movement that kept runners (and the repetitive movements that we endure) in mind. 

A tree pose with my Christmas tree, get it?!

And seeing as it was #NationalUglyChristmasSweaterDay, obviously Brian and I had to kick it old school with our (old logo) Pro Compression socks for the occasion (and pose with our respective Christmas trees after our indoor yoga sesh). 

Day 6 :: Twelve Days of Christmas

7 mile BONK run. Each mile gets slower. This is called a bonk run - it should be done in the morning before breakfast. Don't eat anything before this run and only carry water. No calories. DO NOT run this at your PR pace. The goal here is to train your body to use alternate fuel sources. Mixing this type of run has helped me feel better in those 50Ks that take me way longer than they should.
I’ll be honest, in races, I have no problem getting slower throughout the run (I normally start too fast due to excitement/ adrenaline/ fresh legs and pay for it later ;)), but I never set out to do it on purpose, especially not during a "training" run.⁣ I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. I mean, hypothetically it sounded "easy", but I also know I'm a numbers gal and have a hard time seeing "slower" paces without it freaking me out a bit. Not to mention, when I started it was set to be 39*, so I figured as the run went on and I was slowing down, I'd probably get colder. My thought was to start off going as fast as I could and then let fatigue and nature run its course ;). My first mile was faster than normal, which I was very happy with because it meant I could let off the gas a bit without having to go "too slow" (whatever that meant in my crazy head). The next few miles ticked off rather uneventfully. I was having to look at my watch much more than I do on my traditional runs to make sure I was dialing it back enough, but other than that it felt fine. Well, by the time I hit Mile 4.5 or so I no longer had to remind myself to take my foot off the gas because my legs felt pretty heavy and my stomach was growling. The hubby and I live on a hill, so I told myself I would walk it (justifying it to myself that it would slow down my pace, like I was supposed to do, but, first off, I never have to justify walking and secondly, I don't know that I could have run it faster than I walked it at that point in the workout). In the end my paces were 7:19, 7:40, 7:57, 8:09, 8:21, 8:28, 9:25 (averaging 8:11/mile - BOOYA!). I don't know that I'll put this type of workout in my standard rotation, but it definitely was something interesting to try. (PS I normally eat a PROBAR Protein Bar for breakfast {sits well in my tummy before my run/ workout}, so you better believe that once I got back I scraffed one down immediately before jumping into the warm shower.)

Oh, and I thought I'd share some funny outtakes. Remember how I said the hubby was out of town for a last minute photo shoot? Well, that means I was using my self-timer on a selfie stick zip-tied to a tripod (very high-tech around here, HEHE). While I was taking these photos one of the letters fell off on my board and the burst caught my disappointment ;)

Thankfully I was still able to get a decent picture snapped to send to Brian so he could collage us together. I was thinking "Who's awesome?! THIS GUY!" And it seemed to be thinking "Who's awesome?! Everyone else!" ;)

Day 7 :: Twelve Days of Yeti

5 Miles -- First 2 miles at conversational pace. Mile 3 needs to be at 100 percent effort! Miles 4-5 back to conversational pace and, if you need it, use that last mile to completely cool down.
If you follow me on social or check out my weekly recaps on the blog, you may notice that my "short" runs are usually around 8ish miles a day, so when I saw there was a 5 mile workout I wasn't sure if I wanted to do it at the beginning of a longer run, at the end of a longer run or just do the workout as the only run. I ended up going through and tallying my miles for the year (I have a note in my phone with a running tally, usually accurate up to the prior few weeks) and noticed that if I could average 8.8 miles a day for the rest of the year (12 days) I'd hit 2,400. That settled it, I'd be doing more than the 5. I decided I would do the prescribed 5 miles at the beginning of my overall run so hopefully I'd have more giddy-up in my legs... I ended up getting in 10 miles total and doing my 2 warm-up miles, 1 mile at 100%, 2 cool-down miles at the beginning of the run. The first two miles were slower (mostly because they contain the majority of the uphill on the route I was running and because I had two long traffic lights I had to wait for) and then I "let 'er rip". I was on the bike path near our place (paved, fairly flat and pretty straight) so I was able to push it without having to worry about vehicles, stop signs, etc. I told myself that I couldn't look at my watch during the 100% mile because I didn't want to get discouraged if I wasn't further in my run than I wanted or saw a pace I felt like I should have been running faster than. Once my watch beeped I looked down and saw a sub-7 minute mile {6:56}.  I've gotta say, I normally don't clock those paces unless I am running downhill ;) Also, when I am doing speedwork, the longest interval I usually do is 800 meters (half mile), so holding on for dear life for a full mile felt very rough, but it was still cool to see what my body could do if I pushed it. Not sure if this is surprising to anyone else or not, but my second set of 5 miles was actually faster than my workout, but that's mostly due to the fact that I was holding back on the first two miles to try and "warm up properly" {whatever that means ;)}. 

Brian and I were texting about how the run went once we both had finished. We were both pleasantly surprised at the paces we saw for our middle mile {faster than we had seen in a while}. Dare I even say we even felt strong?! ;)

Day 8 :: Twelve Days of Yeti

Very simple day but highly rewarding. Trust me on this one. You choose the miles but there is one small simple rule. Do not wake up and check your email or social media before you go for you run. If you have any anxiety about this, I can assure you it will disappear.
Let me say that I don't think I am "addicted" to social media... but there are definitely times in the day that I find myself scrolling through it consistently... and one such time is pretty immediately after I wake up. The reason (or justification I tell myself) is because I am giving myself time to get things "moving" so I can use the restroom before heading out for my run. It is normally around 4am (yep... EARLY!) so I don't want to turn on lights (to do something like read), make a lot of noise (if I was to do housework or watch TV), etc. It's easier for me to sit with a blanket on the couch and scroll through IG or check my email while I wake up fully. Well, when this no longer is an option, it means you hit the road to run earlier than normal (don't worry, I was still able to "handle business" before I left). I tackled 13.31 miles and was home before the sun woke up. {And, yes, once I got back I did reach for my phone and open my social apps... #MaybeIAmAddicted}

Oh yeah, and Day 8 happened to line up with the Winter Solstice - the shortest day of the year. Obviously that meant Brian and I had to bust out our reflective gear for our respective runs. Seeing as we had the fewest hours of sunlight AND I was starting earlier than normal, it's a good thing I was prepared to look like a lit up Christmas tree ;) #SafetyFirst

Day 9 :: Twelve Days of Yeti

As runners, we're creatures of habit and our daily routes are like comfort blankets but I do believe the legs and mind get excited when they get to run in a new place. A place where we don’t know what kind of hill awaits us around the corner. Today's Challenge: Run Somewhere New.
I'll be honest, this one had my anxiety a bit through the roof. You see, first off, I am TERRIBLE with directions. Like literally! If you've read some of our recent adventure posts (Tahoe, Mammoth, etc) you are probably familiar with short videos of me going out for runs, missing turns and running much longer than expected because I've gotten lost... EVEN WITH GOING OVER TURN-BY-TURN DIRECTIONS BEFOREHAND! So, sure, I was a little nervous about not knowing where I was going, but the main reason this challenge had my heart racing was the fact that I do the majority of my runs in the dark so I need to take safety into account. {I have been waiting to open the email until the morning of the run, but it did get sent out in the morning of the previous day. I'm thankful that Brian "spilled the beans" about the challenge the day before so I was able to discuss with the hubby where we thought would be a well-lit, highly-trafficked, but still new-to-me place to run.} Had this challenge been on a day I didn't have to work and could've run in the daylight hours I think it would've been much "easier", but the point was to push us outside of our comfort zones/ routine and this definitely did! 

And the reason Brian was "spilling the beans" the day before was to check and see what mileage we wanted to tackle. I told him that I had picked the day before (Winter Solstice Half Marathon) so he could choose for Day 9. He picked 4.44 miles and although I normally don't run less than 5 miles for a workout, with the "new location" twist I was thankful for the shorter distance (especially since I had to account for drive time to and from the new location in my morning).

In case you were wondering where I ran, the hubby and I found the Encinitas Community Park which is a 44-acre open space with a skatepark/ dog obstacle course/ sports fields/ playground/ etc. They have a lit path around the perimeter of the park, which is where I ran the 4.44 miles. There were a few folks walking their dogs when I first got there, but by the time the sun started to rise it was a hip, hoppin' place to be (socially distanced of course).

Day 10 :: Twelve Days of Yeti

6 Miles. You must walk the first 3 miles at your new fast walk speed that you’ve developed by now and then run the final 3. The final 3 miles can be a casual pace. The goal here is when you start a walk in a race it’s hard to get the legs motivated to run again. This will help your legs and mind know that it can be done. Remember - runs and races are 99% mental but you use your legs 100% of the time.
Similar to the "walk days" earlier in the challenge, I cheated changed it up a bit. I must confess, I did end up running all six miles, but I'm giving myself a bit of a pass because I walk to work (~3.4 miles) and then walk on my lunch break (between 4.5 and 5 miles) so I get in plenty of walking throughout the day {plus the one mile doggy walk that we do daily with Walt [currently on streak day 824!]). With that said, I do love the sentiment, because I have definitely been in the paincave during a few races when it has been beyond difficult to get up the energy and momentum to go any faster than a shuffle. 

Did you know December 23rd is Festivus? If you didn't watch Seinfeld you may have no idea what it is, but it's a secular "holiday" that acts as an alternative to the pressures and commercialism of the Christmas season, a day to air your grievances ;) I thought the PRO Compression smiley face socks were ironic to wear on a day where you are supposed to share ways others have disappointed you throughout the previous year. No "feats of strength" were performed (because wrestling is not a social distanced approved activity ;)) but I would say that a warm shower after a chilly run may have been a Festivus miracle ;) {PS I couldn't find an aluminum pole to celebrate, so a pole + aluminum foil would have to do ;)}

Day 11 :: Twelve Days of Yeti

5K 100% effort. One thing that makes me sad is when I’m at a race or directing a race, friends will come up to me and tell me their “just” running the 25K or they are “just” running the 10K. Using a minimizer intentionally/ unintentionally discredits yourself and other runners. So for today “just” run a 5K at 100%!
#RealTalk - The 5K is one of my least favorite race distances. I have said it multiple times during this post (and on my social media), but RUNNING FAST HURTS! I would much rather run a marathon {26.2 miles} at a 8:15/mile pace than run a 5K {3.1 miles} at a 7:15/mile pace. Anywho, the nice thing about this challenge was there weren't any paces associated with the run, all I had to do was give my best. I decided to do a 2 mile warm-up, 5K at 100% effort and then a 5 mile cool-down (getting in 10.10 miles for the day - since I was needing to average a little over 8.5 a day to hit 2,400 miles for the year). The reason I broke down the run that way was because those 3.1 miles are on a fairly straight and flat portion of my route. I know it wasn't necessarily about the pace, but I still wanted to see what I would be able to do if I gave myself permission to leave it all out there. Surprisingly I was able to run a 21:55 5K - an unofficial PR! Unlike the 1 mile at 100% that I ran earlier in the challenge, the 5K is more than just "run as fast as you can and try to hold on". You have to do a bit of pacing (or at least I do because I can't hold a sprint for 3.1 miles)... and I'm pretty terrible at that, but I'm STOKED because I actually had negative splits - 7:22, 6:59, 6:54 and 6:21 for the final tenth of a mile. With doing very little speedwork (let's be real, I've done NONE), I'm super proud. I doubt I'll be doing racing a 5K anytime soon (even if there were races in the near future), but it was still cool to see I could PR at an actual race at some point... if I had the desire...

Although National Candy Cane Day wasn't until the December 26th, we decided to rock our Red and White Jailbreak socks for Christmas Eve. Obviously I also had to wear my Twelve Days of Yeti shirt (since Brian wanted to go with a red top)... even if we hadn't technically finished the challenge... which could've been a premature jinx... but hopefully not ;)

PS This is my HOLY CRAPOLY, I JUST PR'ED face ;)

Day 12 :: Twelve Days of Yeti

There are 6 days left in 2020. Do something about it! Think about something new you would like to learn. Explore new hobbies. One thing I’ve been doing over the last few years is trying new things. There is nothing like being humbled as an adult, in fact, this is why most adults never explore or discover passions. It’s hard to start at square 1 but trust me, it’s worth it! New passions await you!
Well, that was NOT how I was expecting this challenge to wrap up. I was thinking maybe it would be a 12 mile run (for the 12 days) or something like that, but it wasn't running related at all. Seeing as I was still chasing an end-of-the-year mileage goal, I decided to head out for 12.25 miles (in honor of the date) and take the run to think through what new hobby I could tackle in 2021. I had come up with a couple different ideas (organizing a clean-up of some sort every month, tackling a daily core workout, baking more, learning Spanish {better}, etc), but what I think I landed on was learning to knit/ crochet/ some type of fiber type work. You see, I love handmade items and would love to make my own awesome creations (especially super soft and comfy blankets or cute scarves). I also am very Type A (as I am sure you have figured out by now, hehe) and I thought I would like to have some goals for the coming year that are more "creative" than number or performance based. I'm thinking I'll check out some local thrift shops for some supplies and maybe search YouTube for tutorials to see where to begin - but at least for now it's been put out on the InterWebs so I've gotta do it, right?!

Seeing as it was Christmas, of course Brian and I had to bust out the traditional Christmas colors for the run - all the red and green. I was hoping some of our neighbors would have their inflatables blown up so I could snap a picture with them for our daily collage, but they were all puddles of fabric in yards, so a beach shot would have to suffice.

Obviously, before I close, I've got to say another HUGE thanks to Jason and the Yeti Trail Runners for putting on this fun challenge. I went into it thinking it would simply be a running challenge, but it was so much more than that. Not only did it push me outside of my comfort zone, running places I had never been and doing workouts I would have never considered, but it offered extra connection to the running community in a time so many are feeling isolated and alone. 

We got this "race medal" with our participant shirt. It is actually an ornament, but I
thought I needed a #MedalMonday shot to celebrate the conclusion of the challenge.

And you better believe THEEEEE Pavement Runner deserves a HUGE round of applause for not only coming up with the idea to twin for this challenge, but for putting up with me as a friend in the first place. We may be hundreds of miles apart and it has been almost 8 months since we have physically run together (normally we are running a race together every month or two), but there's no one I would have rather twinned alongside than Brian! HE ROCKS MY FREAKIN' SOCKS!


Did you tackle any running challenges in 2020?

No comments: