Nailed the workout, with help from a stranger :)

I was nervous about my workout yesterday.  20 miles total with 40 minutes of marathon pace, 1 mile of tempo, 30 minutes of MP, and another mile at tempo.  Doing it solo. This is a pretty crazy long workout this far out from the marathon.  Ouch!

I decided to do this indoors, as the treadmill keeps me honest (and I feel like it helps push a little harder and I'm less likely to stop? I know I need to man up and try these outside soon... but I'll wait for warmer temps and the sun :)).  Plus, I just really like working out at Anytime Fitness.  It's a fun place, great treadmills, and an atmosphere that makes me want to push harder.  Plus, I always do more stretching and strength when I'm there. 

After a 3 mile warm up, I stopped to get a drink and stretch a bit.  I met Cody on my way to the drinking fountain who asked if I was training for something.  Because, he said, "I see you in here a lot!  Sometimes sprinting for like, 10 minutes!".  Ha, guess I do stick out, doing these crazy hard workouts.

Anyway, fast forward through the workout.  Cody cheered me on throughout the entire workout.  How absolutely cool is that?!?  Not only that, but during the last 30 minutes of marathon pace segment, I stopped after 15 minutes for 30 seconds.  He saw and started cheering from across the gym.  You can do this, he said!  I restarted immediately.  Those 15 minutes took FOREVER to pass, though.  Just 10 to go... then just 6... and guess what?!?  Cody hops on the treadmill next to me, cheering me on the entire way.  Just a minute and a half to go, he cheers!  (And he has one of those great coaching-type cheering voices!)

Wow - seriously, that was the NICEST gesture, and honestly the best possible thing for my workout.  I typically struggle big-time through these long hard sessions, and I honestly think this is the first one of these in a long time that I feel like I "nailed", didn't stop multiple times, and felt like I was in the right "zone (HR-wise) the entire time (i.e. not pushing too hard too early and then having to stop, slow way down). I'm super pumped, and very proud of myself!  If I can do this 12 weeks out... imagine what I can do 4 weeks out... or at Fargo! :)

Actual workout:
3 mile WU
40 mins at MP (6:18 pace) w/ 1 min break half way through (6.3 or so miles?)
1 mile tempo (5:50)
30 mins MP (6:20 pace) w/ 30 sec break half way through (4.8 or so miles?)
1 mile tempo (5:54)
CD for remaining miles
=20 miles
+ 45 minutes of stretching and strength

Note:  HR for MP was in mid 180s, creeping up to 190-194 at end (I think at the end of the 30 minutes I was in high 190s, maybe 198 or so?)
Note 2:  I went by effort for the MP miles.  I would like to be sub-6:10s for the marathon pace, and eventually at 6:05s, but this is where I'm at right now.  I really like being able to use my HR monitor to give me additional feedback (i.e. when you think you're hurting but see that you're at 185 bpm, I can easily tell myself that I can hurt WAAYY more than this).  It also helped reel me in during the last 30 mins of marathon pace when my HR jumped into more of a "tempo" zone when I tried to do anything faster than 6:20-6:22.
Note 3:  Obviously, a big thank you to Cody.  Here's hoping I see him at the gym for other hard workouts!


Runnin' Happy!

Gosh, where to start?

U of MN Race
17:55, 1st place (lapped the field).  Not much to say about it other than I absolutely need to learn how to "hurt" in a short distance race!  Yes, I was uncomfortable, but I can hurt so much more.  I also need to find some speed.  I tried to pick it up those last 6 laps, which was my goal, but I'm embarrassed to say there was no change in pace :(.  Grr.  Guess you have to just keep trying, working on those weaknesses, right?

The good that came out of the race:  I can run a sub 18 5k without too much trouble.  I was solo from the gun, so to run that without anyone (17:52 indoors in 2011 was with a few people the entire time - which obviously helps a ton) is great.  I also just felt strong & fit.  It's also good to know I have more in me & that 17:55 is my starting point!

Next race won't be for another month, so plenty of time to work on things, get stronger, and get faster!

Training in General
Since leaving Red Wing, I have realized just how much work I need to do in order to get back to my 2:44 days, much less my upcoming 2:42 days!  While working I was still putting in the miles, but many were just junk miles, just getting them in and getting the workout done.  I was often skipping strength, stretching, etc.

I am surprised at the things I notice now - I'm not strong like I should be, my balance strength is non-existent, and I really need to focus on my VO2 max, speed, and pace changes.  I'm glad now to know all of this, and have the time to actively work on all of those weaknesses!  I honestly think that if I would have stayed at Red Wing that I would have just run myself even more ragged and not been able to get into that low-2:40 marathon range.  Either that, or ended up injured because I was trying to do too much with too little.

But, now I have every opportunity in the world to reverse that!  I've had to work on my schedule (seems silly, but I need to schedule my day every day in order to maximize my workouts, strength sessions, flexibility, massage, making meals, etc) since now that I'm not running from place to place without a second to spare the tendency is to waste a little too much time.  Plus, I need to schedule time in between workouts to maximize recovery.

The nicest thing has been doing my runs 1. not rushed, and 2. not half-asleep!  The other day I went for a 10 miler in the morning and marveled at the snow on the rooftops coming into Northfield from a country run.  It was beautiful!  Previously, I would just have run those 10 miles with a mission - to finish quickly & get back to my desk/meeting as quickly as possible.  I don't think I've taken the time to see the beauty around me, appreciate how I feel running in a LONG time.  Secondly, I am not incredibly sleep deprived every single run.  My head is clear and I can concentrate on the workout SOO much better.  Amazing.  Ohhh, how I remember some of those lunch-time runs when I tried to do repeats with a head that just wanted to lie down for a nap.  I'd struggle to start repeats (you know that feeling, when your brain isn't working properly?).  Gosh, it's SO nice to actually be sleeping enough.

The other thing is that I have time to spend with Nathan and family.  Seriously.  It is amazing, and I am so thankful for the opportunity and time to actually enjoy a movie, date night, or general family stuff now!!

So, as you can tell, this move has been so much for the better.  Running happy, that's for sure!

Oh - also tried this Protein Apple Bake recipe today and really liked it!  Great warm post-workout recipe (and very quick, too), but also great as a healthy dessert!  Need to find more filling, sastisfying, and warm post-workout or snacks.  I've been using Sunwarrior protein powder and really like it - making things like protein pancakes (see recipe tab), Kristi's protein shake (need to work on it a bit, I think), but I'm sure there are a lot of great ideas out there!

Coaching updates
It has been super fun to start this process!  I took an online "Running for Women" webinar the other day, which was super informative.  I've signed up for a physiology online course that starts this upcoming Monday and a few other coaching courses throughout the year (check out MOOC!).

I also met with Donna at Carleton and will start to become more involved with the teams there.  She is SO great & I am very excited to learn under her (and Dave, the men's head coach).

Also, I have to gush about Claire - I started coaching her in January and she is honestly kicking some serious booty, improving quicker than should be humanly possible.  It is so rewarding to get fun emails on progress and improvements!! (Now just have to keep her and the other athletes I'm working with HEALTHY!)  Again, I haven't gotten around to setting up a coaching tab here on this blog, and not sure if I want to right away since I only want to work with a handful of athletes, coaching more hands-on/quality vs. quantity, but if you have considered working with a coach and think I might be a good fit, send me a note at nichole (dot) porath (at)

All for now!  Run happy, friends!


Racing at the U of MN tomorrow!

This should be interesting - 5k on the track tomorrow morning.  10:45 in case anyone wants to come watch/cheer!

I am looking at this as a chance to see where my fitness is at. 

I ran a 17:52 here in 2011, the year I qualified for the Trials in June.  I'd be pumped if I was there.  IF my legs are feeling really good, it'd be awesome to see if I could grab the meet record, 17:47 (by an Ole!).  The 17:52 year I had someone to race against and had done a lot more shorter speed work.  This year it looks like I'm seeded first, and by a bit.  It's always so much harder to race a 5k fast by yourself.  I am also in the middle of two big weeks (110 miles ea.), and have done some speed work in the last few weeks, but not a ton.  I know I'm pretty strong, though, so we'll see where that gets me!

I think I'll start around 44-5/lap for the first lap or two and then warm into something faster.  I'm hoping something will feel "right" (hoping that might be 42-3s or so a lap!).  I have two speficic goals: 
1.  To make the first mile feel "easy".  When I'm racing alone on the track I have a habit of tensing up and trying too hard that first mile. 
2.  I'll try to concentrate on that last mile, making sure I just don't coast in.  From lap 6 to go until the end, I'd like to try to push down a second a lap.  I know I don't have finishing speed, but I will die trying to find it!

My entire family will be up in the cities and are coming to watch, including my sister and her two little girls.  It's rare that they get to watch me race, so I'm excited!  "Way to go, Cole", right dad?!?

And, such runner problems :) - Brooks sent me racing buns along with shorts.  Is it bad that I looked at Nate, in the outfit, and said, "But what will my dad think?"? I just have to remember that this is what the "fast" girls wear and that I've earned the outfit.  Still a little self-conscious about showing up to a college meet bearing my mid-drift and donning black undies, though!


I'm bringing the shorts along as well :).  I also had to decide between the two new racing shoes they sent - new flashy spikes that match the racing outfit or flats.  Spikes are lighter (just 3.2 ounces WITH the spikes in, holy cow!), but I think I'll go with the flats (3.7 ounces) as I'm not sure how my feet will hold up in the spikes yet.  I'm lucky to have such "dilemmas" :).  Go ahead, shake your head. 

Mach 14 spikeless.  LOVE these flats!  I thought it'd be tough to beat the weight of my Nike flats, but these did it!  Just wish they came in a wider width as they're a bit narrow.
The Wire 2 Spikes.  They fit PERFECT!  I've used them on cut-down 200s to practice moving FAST and getting up on my toes and powering forward.  Unisex sizing, so fit wider than a narrower women's version.


Week 16 & 15

A short recap:

Week 16:
84 miles (recovery week)
5x1000, 5x200m cut downs
Long tempo workout that I nailed (did alone, and didn't even stop! Yeah!) - recap here.

Week 15:
109 miles
24 mile run with 3 cut down miles (20, 21, 22) at 6:30, 6:15, 6:00.
4x2 miles MP with .5 mile recovery (20 miles total)
3 doubles

I experienced a definite "fatigue" last half of week 15.  I can tell it's just my legs responding getting back to more significant mileage.  I am getting stronger and more fit, but it just takes time - one day at a time, right?  I knew toward the second half of the week that I'd struggle with the 4x2 mile workout (the easy runs Thurs and Fri were really slow and I sometimes even stopped to walk up hills - my calves were very tired, felt swollen), and I did.  I couldn't move my legs fast enough to engage my lungs.  I think most miles were slower than 6:30?  Ug!  Brenden was in town to do the workout with me and I couldn't remotely keep up.  Oh, well.  Have to break myself down in order to become stronger, right? 

I nailed the 24 mile run, which is a confidence booster.  I am strong enough to handle long runs like this and bring paces down toward the end of the run.  Granted, the faster miles were indoors on a treadmill since footing around here isn't great, but still.  I'll take it!

The only other update would be that I decided not to pursue the CA course.  I just had a day to pull everything together, trying to arrange a decently priced flight, trying to contact coaches to shadow, etc.  Plus, I'd ideally like to meet coaches like this after I've shadowed a lot of other local and regional coaches, have had more experience with my current athletes, and GAC and Carleton training plans so I can come with very specific questions and applicable experiences.  I'd also want to book a lunch with the speakers to pick their brains on training programs and feel like at this point I just don't know enough to make the absolute best out of that opportunity (it has sped up my studying of my new coaching books, though!  Although that Martin/Coe book is quite daunting...).

That's it for now.  Hard workout on tap for tomorrow, eek!


Anyone live in the Los Angeles area?

I just saw this today - and will need to register by this evening in order to get the pre-registration discount. I think it looks just awesome (Thanks, Nik and Nate for sending me the link!), so it might be something just crazy enough to try to chase to make happen.

Anyway, I'm curious if any readers out there either live in/around the Costa Mesa (Los Angeles/Santa Ana/Huntington Beach) area that might be interested in a roommate for a couple of days.  I may also reach out to the track/CC teams at Orange Coast community college (or others around that area that would fun to shadow for a few days - ideas?).

Thought I'd throw this out there, in the off-chance I could make this work!


Big - no, HUGE - changes!!

No, I'm not pregnant.  (Every call I've made, that's what people have assumed! :) )

I've decided to make a leap.  A giant, scary leap.  As of this Friday, I am a professional runner.

I am very thankful for the opportunities I had with Red Wing Shoes.  I learned so much there, and was surrounded by brilliant, hard working, and great people.  I will truly miss working there. But had come to the realization in the last few months that I was stretching myself too thin and I was not able to be as successful in either my career or my running as I wanted to be.

I also knew my heart wasn't 100% into my position at RWSC. As much as I love finance and business (I've known that's what I wanted to do since I was 10, asking to do my parents taxes and household budgeting!), I found myself struggling to find the motivation to go above and beyond and be creative with the businesses I was managing.  This is very a-typical of me.  Anyone that knows me knows that I love nothing more than to think of ways to improve things and seek out opportunities.  I found myself exhausted almost all of the time.  Weekends were spent working and catching up on the sleep I didn't get during the week.  One recent weekend morning Nate and I had planned to go up to a ski race (I was scheduled for a 20 mile run so was going to do that while he skied) and then we were going to go to a wine tasting together.  How fun, right? When the alarm went off, I couldn't get out of bed.  I told Nate that I was just too exhausted and just needed to sleep.  Nate understood, but commented on how sad that was - how I wasn't able to enjoy things like I once was, and how truly exhausted and tired I was all the time.

At the same time, I've found myself becoming more and more interested in and excited about the prospect of coaching. While I should have been reading blogs and websites about finance, I was reading blogs about endurance running/training, strength routines, and fitness.  I went to track meets to cheer on my Gusties and found myself bouncing around, happy, talking to athletes, cheering, timing, etc.  The true Nichole.  It was natural for me, and I had a huge smile on my face the entire time :)

This is something that Nate and I have talked about for a while.  I really wanted to leave the corporate world and run professionally, but knew it just wasn't smart.  My entire life I've set myself up for the position I had - I graduated summa cum laude from Gustavus, pursued the internships I needed, landed a great job at Lockheed Martin, pursued my MBA part-time at night (was the youngest person admitted into the Carlson School program), graduated from LM's leadership program, took a job as a business unit controller at Red Wing, etc - every move that I had made was in pursuit of that next promotion and more responsibility.  So what do you do when you want to do something that isn't "smart", isn't part of that lifelong plan?  And especially, when what you want do is a huge financial change???  It certainly can't be smart, leaving a six figure income. 

I waited for the longest time, praying that something would come and help make the decision for me... but I was too swamped, too busy every minute of the day to recognize or create an opportunity (WHEN do I have time to shadow coaches? Or take the USATF certification course?).  Is coaching really what I want to do?  I've considered teaching at the collegiate level as well, pursuing a 2nd Masters or PhD in something like exercise science, nutrition, math, or business/finance).  Now I'll have time to explore all of these opportunities.  Again, I think coaching is where I will land, but I will be thankful to make the most informed decision possible.

Jerry sent me my plan a few weeks ago, saying, "This will be hard to do with full time work".  A schedule with a high of 120 miles/week, plus strength, striders, plyos, and all of the other little things;.  I've become very good at managing mileage with full time work, but knew it'd be hard.  Most of the Tuesdays were scheduled for 20-24 miles (usually a 18-20 mile morning workout plus a PM shake out run). He also threw around the idea of shooting for the A standard this fall (sub 2:37).  I stared at that for a while.  Is that even possible?!? I really don't know if I have that much natural talent - but at least now I can see where I can get, instead of wondering who I could have been. 

I am thankful for the hard work that I have put in over the last 10 years.  We have made sound financial decisions, I have so many sponsors that believe in me, that this allows me the opportunity to make such a change, which is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

I am also very excited to explore my career paths.  Over the next couple of weeks I hope to get in contact with some of the best coaches in the US to ask if I can shadow them for 2-3 days to see how they work - how they've built their teams, how their athletes view them, how the recruit - everything!  [Does anyone reading have anyone I should contact?!??]  I'll pursue a level 1 USATF coaches certification.  I'll shadow Donna and train with the Carleton team (Donna is such an amazing coach!).  I'll train my tail off, trying to learn everything I can about high mileage training, tapering, strength training and nutrition.

I'll also pursue personal coaching relationships to broaden my experience.  I've been doing some personal coaching for a couple of months now, but am very excited for the time to expand that going forward. (If anyone is looking for some help with their running, let me know!). I will build a coaching section to this blog in the next week or so with more info.

I'll also use this time to focus on my overall health, which has needed more attention.

I cannot tell you how excited this makes me!!

My schedule is obviously much more open now, so let me know if you'd like to sync up for a run!