Be a mighty downpour: TNF 50 Cancelled.

“God’s asking me to be the thing that he’s already created me to be. And he’s asking you to be the thing he’s already created for you to be”- Shauna Niequist

I would have never guessed my season would end in my taper week, days before the actual race at The North Face 50 Mile Endurance Championships. It was the race I set my heart on back in July after a scary finish to my spring marathon. After time off, blood tests, lots of rest, and prayer, I really felt like the Lord had a new season for me, outside of preparing for a marathon. I spent months preparing on the trails, winning my first 50k at the San Luis Obispo Ultra. And, in so many ways, my body is refreshed, but also, my heart and spirit.

Being from California, I am well aware of wildfires. From living in Mammoth Lakes during the dry seasons, watching ash rain from the sky blowing over the Easter Sierras on the Kastor’s treadmill, to watching our beautiful mountains in Santa Barbara burn, lighting the sky on fire with deep oranges and reds. And, when it felt like the whole town was finally starting to come back to life and rejoice over rain, the most devastating mudslide came pouring down the bare mountains, plucked dry from the fire, to ruin and devastate homes and lives. Working in real estate, I recently showed a home off of Olive Mill. Time and time again, I was reminded of the devastation, looking across the street to a beautiful home now gone. The house I rented only stands because it sits high on a hill. But, slowly, I’ve watched Montecito rebuild and repurpose and renew. I deeply believe, the Lord intended this season for me. He has refined, repurposed, and renewed me. In many ways, this season wasn’t about lining up and competing to place at TNF 50, but to spend hours on trails praying, thinking, taking in the gift of my life the Lord has given me.

"God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding. He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’”-Job 37:5-6

I knew in my heart that the race was off and shouldn’t happen in the midst of devastation. I felt completely at peace, and quite honestly, relieved when the race was officially cancelled. Of course, there was disappointment, but at the same time an overwhelming peace. As many scrambled to find another race to capitalize on fitness, I chose to be still and listen for the Lord’s voice. While validating my hard work with a race seemed like the natural course, I really felt like taking time to be still was the actual fulfillment of this season. As I re-read Job 37:5-6 this morning, I am reminded to be who the Lord has called me to be.

This season wasn’t about just racing or completing 50 miles; it was so much more than that. In fact, it’s been one of the richest seasons of my life. I raced my first 50k and experienced something entirely different in a race setting. After back to back marathon build ups since 2013 (2 a year), I felt completely out of my comfort zone in many ways. What a beautiful thing; don’t ever stop learning. I explored trails in Santa Barbara that I never touched as road athlete. I watched my husband, Seth, qualify for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Dublin, Ireland, running a stunning 2:14.28. I am so richly blessed and filled. Success can be defined in an infinite amount of ways. While on paper, I didn’t accomplish much, I feel like I’ve accomplished far more than I thought I would this season.

 One of the many homes destroyed in the mudslides in Montecito, CA (via Daily News)

One of the many homes destroyed in the mudslides in Montecito, CA (via Daily News)

 Camp Fire Devastation (via NBC News)

Camp Fire Devastation (via NBC News)

 In the tent post-marathon.

In the tent post-marathon.

 I have never been more proud. What a special day!

I have never been more proud. What a special day!

 Guiness Factory

Guiness Factory

 The most beautiful Ballymaloue House.

The most beautiful Ballymaloue House.

Vinegar & Oil: Skyline to the Sea 50k

In one of my favorite books, Present Over Perfect, by Shauna Niequist, she describes what her friend, Geri, taught her about prayer:

"…Picture a bottle of oil-and-vinegar salad dressing, a cruet like you’d find on a table of the old-school Italian restaurant, with a plastic red and white checkered tablecloth and a shaker of hot pepper flakes.

The vinegar, probably red wine vinegar, rests on top of the olive oil, softly red, flecked with oregano. The green-yellow is at the bottom of the bottle, rich and flavorful. Geri said that when you begin to pray, pour out the vinegar first — the acid, whatever’s troubling you, whatever hurts you, what is hard and hanging your nerves or spirit…

Then what you find underneath it all is the oil, glistening and thick…This is the grounding truth of life with God, that we’re connected, that we’re not alone, that life is not all vinegar—pucker and acidic. It is also oil, luscious, thick, heavy with history and flavor.

But you have to start with the vinegar or you’ll never experience the oil.”

When I think about Skyline to the Sea 50k this weekend, this resonates with me. I’m still digesting the race, but like Seth and I both believe, sharing our ups and downs and life in training & racing can help our sport and lift up others. Instead of not sharing what happened, I’ll share.

I was incredibly excited to race Skyline to the Sea 50k, heading out of Saratoga down into the gorgeous and lush redwoods. I felt ready, prepared, and the morning went seamless, as we stayed nearby at my closest friend, Hayley & PJ’s home. As we walked toward the start, the race director counted down and said go, and in a blur waived at Seth as he cheered, knowing I wouldn’t see him until mile 15.

I was in a good position, right off 5 men, including two friends who took off quicker, as the large group ran quickly to grab a spot on the single track. We reached the first road crossing and I was in a pack of my own, running across the street and through the pink flags. About a mile later, a man behind me wanted to pass. We switched on and off the next few miles as he blazed the downhill and I ran much more steady on the uphill. We passed park rangers who seemed confused we were running that way. I didn’t question in until we realized no one else was behind and we started coming to multiple trail splits without markers; we hadn’t seen a pink ribbon since the road crossing.

As we stopped and talked, tears began to fill my eyes and I said, “This is my worst nightmare.” We decided to run back the 2.5 miles we had run out, only to see the pink flags bearing a sharp left directly after the road crossing. I made a call to Seth with tears in my throat and he didn’t pick up. Leaving a message, I told him I might just run back to the start. The man with me pushed me to continue on. Not hearing from Seth, I decided to, spending the next 14 miles admiring the beauty of the trails & dealing with all the inner dark thoughts and disappointments. I ran in a state of shock that today wouldn’t be what I wanted or what I had prepared for. By the time I caught anyone, I weaved through all those walking in the back of the back, passing at least 30-40 people along my journey back into the race.

I frantically looked for Seth at the couple of aid stations that there were, hoping he would have driven back or gotten in touch with someone. (Not realizing he had zero cell reception) I stopped at another aid station, making another phone call to tell him I would just run until I saw him. As I ran miles over rocks and roots, weaving through the terrain, I couldn’t help but feel so happy to be on the most beautiful trails, unfazed by the rocky terrain, and also, deeply saddened, choking back my tears and emotion, stuffing it down before it all came out. At points, my tears wanted to come out on any challenging rise, or remembering again of all that had taken place within 1 mile of the race.

As I passed through mile 15, they notified me my husband was looking for me. I could see our car, and him walking slowly to it, with his head down. I yelled at him, relieved to see him. As soon as he turned, the tears welled up and I took off my pack, feeling completely defeated. As I explained what happened, he asked if I wanted to run to the finish. Then, the sobs came as I exclaimed, “All I wanted the past 14 miles was to see you and be done.” He gave me a hug, I notified them I was dropping, and we walked to the car. I spent the drive home sobbing. I called my mom sobbing. I’m writing this now and my eyes are welling up. I’ve had disappointing marathons and races in my career. The only race I’ve ever dropped out of was at 2016 Philly half, where I had a fever. The disappointment from this race runs deeper than I thought it would. I’m still working through the vinegar.

As we made the drive home from Campbell yesterday, I finally found the results. The female winner ran 4:39 (I was shooting to run 4 hours + or minus a few minutes). I gave up about 40 minutes on my out & back at the beginning of the race. I looked at Seth and said, I should have kept racing. We both realized I wasn’t in the mental space to do that, but we talked about needing to grow in my mental dexterity, not just mental toughness. I’ve long had an ability to suffer and push myself, but in that moment in the race, I needed to see the bigger picture and realize that there was a chance to still run back through the race.

In Seth’s wisdom, he said, “Lauren, I completely understand why you felt how you felt at that point in the race. That’s how I would have felt, too. Sometimes we can’t learn the lessons we need to learn until they happen.” Meaning, I didn’t realize in that moment that I even had the opportunity to continue on and still run onto the podium in a field that wasn’t necessarily competitive for me. I was mentally and emotionally tired, but physically I felt really good. On a different day, when something goes wrong in another race, because it will, inevitably, I’ll have a deeper tool bag to pull out of. I gained valuable wisdom from a really hard lesson. Getting lost or making a wrong turn happens often in trail races. It’s just a part of it and learning to not miss turns, taking the time to pause more often.

I’m still getting to the oil of this race, still uncovering the vinegar that I’m pouring out to the Lord in my prayers and thoughts. I’m still feeling deeply disappointed, and rocked a bit to continue training for TNF 50 in a month. But, what I do know is: there’s oil at the bottom. I will get there. Sometimes, the lessons we need to learn come from deep disappointments.

“You cannot taste the oil until you pour out the vinegar. And it’s okay to admit that there’s vinegar—all the small hurts and enormous fears. You pour it all out, letting the all-powerful God who knows you and loves you see you as you are, the scariest things any of us can do: allow ourselves to be seen.” -S. Niequist

On a much happier day: 30 miles on Ojai Trails:

IMG_3322.JPG

Sometimes, the best things are unplanned: My First 50k

By nature, I love to plan. In fact, doing things last minute makes me panic. When it comes to racing, I've always been calculated, most likely tapered, and armed with a plan of attack. When Seth & I decided I would race a few ultras this season, we weren't sure what it would look like. I planned on racing one 50k & one 50 mile race. Just a few months in, I've raced my first 50k, and, not the one I was planning on (Skyline to the Sea 50k in October). Seth has poured over my training from workouts to long runs. With a three day weekend, he suggested I race Pier to Peak, a half marathon in Santa Barbara that goes from the Pier all the way up to the top of Gibraltar. It's a climb! But, it didn't get me excited. I want all the experience I can get on the trails. So, I started to poke around & found the SLO (San Luis Obispo) Ultra with the options of a half marathon & a 50k. Not wanting to jump the gun, I asked Seth about racing the half marathon & he said, "What about the 50k?" I jumped on emailing the race director & finding a place to stay. Two days out, I had made the decision to race my first 50k in SLO. Friday, we made our drive up to San Luis Obispo, picked up my bib, and ate an early dinner at  Flour House where we ate pesto pizza & enjoyed some Syrah with focaccia beforehand. I usually don't drink wine before races, but hey, going with the spirit of less planned & more adventure, it was the perfect meal.

 

We slept early & easy at a long time friend, Rachel, family's home. We entered with a key into a home where we were guests, which felt funny. But, I felt at home instantly. It was warm & filled with family memories from pictures all over the walls, to childhood rooms still decorated as they once were years ago. It reminded me a lot of my dad's home in Oregon, which gave me a sense of peace. Plus, the kitchen had all we needed in the morning from a toaster to a water heater for pour over coffees (& even butter!! I find it's hard to find butter sometimes at homes because people believe it's bad for you. Everything in moderation. And, butter on toast is a must most mornings for me.)

Before hitting the lights, I made my bottles, one with water & one with Matcha & Lemon  Skratch then double checked my pack to make sure I had put all my Spring gels (my main source of fuel! Check them out!!) as well as a homemade rice cake made with Jasmine rice, butter, coconut oil, salt, and a hint of nut butter for a savory kick. I also planned on taking one or two snacks off the aid station if I needed it. 

I then prepared my outfit (of course!) Since I'm a marathoner & road athlete, I don't have the current trail PRO rabbit kit. Thankfully, my sponsors told me to wear a new trail t-shirt as well as my favorite rabbit shorts. I had zero chaffing for the first time with my pack, so I've decided a t-shirt is my go-to on the trails. As far as my shoes, I wore the new Altra Lone Peak 4.0 which I'll be racing in for my next two Ultras as well. Both rabbit & Altra have been incredible sponsors in supporting me on both the roads & trails. I might be biased, but their gear is the BEST!

I woke up at 4:30am the next morning to make our coffee & breakfasts. I had my usual two pieces of sourdough toast with butter & two medjool dates with peanut butter. I heated up a pumkin Superhero Muffin from Run Fast Cook Fast Eat Slow for Seth. We ate, I stretched, and we were off!

We parked, then walked up to the start of the race, where I dropped a bag with a re-fill bottle of Skratch, my rice cake, and a few other just-in-case snacks, then we waited around for 30 minutes. We laughed about how I wouldn't need to do a warm-up, something that's usually vital to a race morning or workout. After a few walking stretches & praying with Seth, I got on the line. Off we went!

The course elevation map wasn't completely accurate (or else the first 2 miles would have climbed a whole lot). Instead, the steep climb didn't come for about 1.5 miles, which was the most  difficult terrain to run up over the whole course. Past that section, it was a lot of fire roads, and only a few single track trails running through a thick layer of fog; it was so beautiful & the perfect running temperature. The first hour flew by & I ran for a few miles with one of the male leaders. After he dropped back a bit, I ran the rest of the race solo. I won't bore you with too many mile by mile details, but I'll give a few highlights:

Mile 17 was the first time I stopped to fill a bottle & grab an orange slice. By then, the sun was shining bright and the trail was exposed. I started fueling 50 minutes in and took a Spring gel every 35-40 minutes beyond that. My thirst level also went up significantly. I still can't believe how much I drank during the 4.5 hours I was out there! It wasn't until a few longer climbs starting around 18 that I started to feel the race a little bit. Keeping my head down, I pushed on. Mile 21 was where I picked up my rice cake & refill bottle of Skratch.

Miles 23-27 were the hardest. There was a steep 3.5 mile climb where I weaved through half marathoners walking up the climb. In fact, I was the only one running up, trying to maintain a tempo & only walking a few times to catch my breath, and finish my rice cake. I was thrilled when that section was done! When I reached the top, the ladies at the aid station exclaimed, "You look as fresh as a daisy." I smiled and laughed, stating, "That was hard!"

Once I came to the last station at mile 30, I started to think, "When am I going to see the finish line?!" In a road marathon, the final stretch is when every fan is screaming how far you have left, "One mile to go!!" "Only 800 meters" "One more hill!!!!" Instead, there was encouragement & asking if I wanted anything. (I wanted to say, yes, the finish line, please?) 

After another short stretch, I saw the golf course & knew I was close to the finish. Running over a few lumpy grass hills, no longer on the trails, I could see the finish & smiled. I had done it. As I came to the finish stretch, I saw them stretch the banner across & I pushed hard, feeling the depth of my breathing & tired body. "FIRST FEMALE! RRCA 50K STATE CHAMPION!!!!"

With a finishing time of 4:35 & lapsed time of 6 minutes, I was close to about 4:29 for 30.5 (if I were to actually stop by watch when I stopped). Cutting that time down will be a learning lesson, but I felt really good about my first one. Beyond that, I'm learning so much about myself & how to be successful even when there isn't an exact plan weeks before. I've really enjoyed this season so far. Mentally & spiritually it has been rejuvenating. 

Post-race, we got coffee (I had an iced coffee with vanilla bean & a lemon pistachio shortbread cookie) & lunch, where I got a kale salad, lemon soda & ate an entire bag of Siete lime chips (I'm sure Seth couldn't believe how few chips he got out of our "shared" bag). Seth even gently gave me deodorant & told me I could smell up a room. (Noted:  t-shirts maybe hold onto that race smell longer, if you know what I mean). After awards, we made the journey home to Santa Barbara, I, happy & content with finishing my first 50k, and Seth, proud, but exhausted. It's a lot to get your person through a big race!

I'm still processing the distance & soreness. I also look forward to being in a competitive field, since I know I have lots to learn & I love to compete. I took yesterday off & today off. Then, this will be a down week with less mileage & no intensity. What I'm finding is, the more I sink into enjoying a new season & new challenges, the more my spirit is at peace & I can hear the Lord clearly. Seth & I know we won't get to do this forever, so why not race last minute 50ks & races that get your heart pumping? I think, the best is yet to come. 

 

Pesto Pizza from Flour House
SLO Ultra 50k

Grandma's Marathon: Your Success is Mine

Marathon build ups always require a lot. They require a lot of time, mental energy, and early mornings when you're not a full-time athlete. Dedicated to the process, Seth and I both prepared well for Grandma's Marathon (I for the full and he for the half). Each marathon build up is different & filled with unique ups and downs. During this build up, I started two new jobs. I took a stressful position that wasn't a great fit where I wasn't set up for success, and made the tough decision to step away. It was taking too much out of me and taking a toll on both Seth and I. Still, it was a hard season for both of us. Then, I took a new position only a week & a half before Grandma's. Talk about change!

But, I truly believe the Lord has enabled me and us to handle change. It's something I've had to grow in. I find comfort in routine. But, I'm learning and growing to be more flexible, to be okay with things not turning out how I hope. Grandma's Marathon was the ending of a changing and sometimes stressful season. I'm so thankful for all the support of family and friends who were concerned for my fading finish. We still don't have all the answers for what happened. I prepared for this marathon well. I took in plenty of fluids and calories, just like I have for my other marathons. We had beautiful weather & were so thankful for the thunderstorms holding back for a day. Thank you for all who prayed; the Lord heard & answered us! Miles 22-26.2 my body started to shut down, and once I saw Seth at the finish, tears started to roll down my face. I almost wished I had dropped out to not get passed by 16 women during the last 4 miles. But, I needed the med tent & I also decided I could tough out a very slow last few miles safely. Blood tests have now shown I'm 100% healthy with high iron, B12, etc. My coach believes I was slightly hypothermic. Sometimes, you don't have the answers; my body just didn't have it.

After spending an hour in the medical tent and having blood work done, they released me to see Seth and give him a big hug. He had raced the half before I even started, then he sat outside the tent for an hour with a special coffee that was cold once he handed it to me. My sad tears of disappointment and embarrassment turned to happy tears when Seth told me he ran a 3 minute PR of 1:04 in the Half. He's worked so incredibly hard & it has been a beautiful thing to experience joy with him in this season. 

The joy of marriage & competing together (often on the same day), is that we have been able to celebrate each other's successes even when we might have not experienced the same. My athletic career won't be defined by good or bad marathons, but by the Lord's grace to allow me to continue to do what I do, and now, Seth and I together. Seth and I have known for a bit that it is time for me to step away from the marathon for a period of time. I don't have a race schedule yet or even know what it will look like, but we are continuing to dream together & have new goals.

We continue to do what brings us joy in competing and racing to glorify the Lord and build relationships with people. I'm seeing glimmers of what's next & I'm excited to enter into a new season with new challenges and new ways to grow!  

As always, our post-race season has been filled with just as many pre-race farmer's market veggies but also plenty of wine, adventures, and travel. 

Here's Seth and I cheering at Western States 100 (mile 99):

 

IMG_2757.JPG

Bay to Breakers

This season has been so full. In fact, I think I've raced more than I have in years. Or, at least, combined with Seth's track races, I feel like I have. And, what a blessing it has been. In marathon training, often times, staying put and diligently working away at miles, recovery, routine, has been the theme of my marathon build ups. This one has been different. I've cheered at more track races, driven more miles up and down the CA coast, and felt more full of life. A few years ago, I would have never committed to the US 25k Championships then also to Bay to Breakers 6 days later. But, I'm so glad I did. Seth decided he wanted to race, and since I would be there to support, why not?

Seth was under the weather leading into the race, right as I returned from Grand Rapids, MI. The US 25k Championships were a little tough. Racing without fresh legs is always humbling, but I was disappointed to not place higher. Still, I look at this season and this time in our lives as a blessing. I had a wonderful time in Grand Rapids. I got to spend time with close girl friends like Sarah Crouch and Allison Cleaver and Esther Erb. I went to one of my favorite coffee shops, MadCap. I practiced contentment with iffy weather. And, I ran a great 16 mile tempo, despite it not being the race I had hoped it could be. Running & racing is a blessing. In the ups and downs, I've tried my best to focus on the Lord's faithfulness and I've learned to enjoy racing and training in a new light. I feel incredibly fortunate to enjoy training and racing with Seth. 

Now, Bay to Breakers. The race recap. We visited my best friend, Hayley and her husband, PJ, in Campbell right before the race. We arrived Friday evening. While I rested and caught up with Hayley, Seth ran a shake out. By this time, I was starting to feel under the weather, too, and a little discouraged. I didn't want to race sick, but I feel deeply committed to races once I give my word. I decided to take it day-by-day. When we woke up on Saturday morning, intuitively, I knew I needed to rest. We watched the Royal Wedding (so fun!!!) and Seth went for a short run while we went on a walk. We spent the morning walking around Los Gatos and grabbing coffee & bread at a local shop.

Once Seth and I made our way into the city, we checked into our hotel & said hi to a few friends, including Danielle Domenichelli, who was the elite coordinator for Bay to Breakers. Once Seth's parents arrived, we went to a pizza spot for dinner called "Zero Zero." Seth & I love good food. There's tons of it in the city, so we chose a michelin stared restaurant. While we both wished we could have enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner, we choose to not drink very often in our racing season. It would have to wait for after the race! Seth enjoyed a pizza & I had a spring panzanella. When we got back to our hotel, we were both a little nervous about our exhaustion. I could barely stay awake at dinner &  I worried we had too full of day, when I would have spent the day on the couch if we had been home. We slept soundly and I didn't even hear Seth wake up to grab us coffee!

I woke up feeling a little better and we were excited to race! We were prepared to see lots of costumes (and, errr...no costumes at all) and lots of interesting people. Most people were surprised to hear Seth and I were racing such an eclectic race, but we LOVED it. We warmed up on the Embarcadero with a few friends. I was actually a little excited to run a race that would feel short! After a warm up, strides, and putting on nose strips, we were off!! With a mass start, I felt a little buried at the beginning and ran conservatively. But, once the big hill came (about 1k long), I passed 3-4 elite women. It boosted my confidence, and once I came over that hill, something in my mind switched and I started to run quicker.

As I passed a few more women, I started to focus on running hard and the final bend came so quick! Happy to look up and see the clock, I was also happy to hear I took 6th despite not knowing how I would feel. My last couple of splits 5:20, 5:20, 5:13 (.5) were also a shock; I haven't run those times even in mile repeats. Sometimes, doing something out of your comfort zone can be a blessing! Instead of being nervous about the wind or the hill or the competition, I raced with the joy of racing!! Seth also took 6th and we both really enjoyed racing and competing & cooling down with friends. 

We enjoyed the afternoon with my in-laws and had fun going to a local coffee shop, Andytown. Seth & I said goodbye to his parents and we got cleaned up then walked down to the Ferry building one last time to grab some food & treats before another road trip home to Santa Barbara. We loved Bay to Breakers and we will definitely be back!!!

 

 

IMG_2587.JPG

The Coaches Who Shaped Me

I didn't receive any memorable training tips as a young runner, run lots of mileage, or, even do workouts for that matter. Since I started our cross country team and knew little about what cross country was, I definitely didn't produce extremely fast times that would get me recruited to a Division I college. I can tell you, though, that my running has continued and grown because of my coaches. I still remember, as a sixth grader, my track coach told me if I worked hard enough, I could earn a scholarship to college. Suzanne was the same woman that decided to coach my cross country team three years later despite having basketball coaching commitments; I'm sure coaching a tiny cross country team wasn't what she thought she'd say "yes" to. But, she said "yes" to being on my team, to pouring into me as a young athlete.  To this day, I attribute my success to her belief in me. 

I had a few different coaches in high school, one of them being Scott Sorgea. While he had little knowledge about the sport of running, he had a dream and vision for our team and worked hard to learn all he could. Scott agreed to let me train with a bigger high school near my home and when it came time to apply for colleges, he made me write to all of the schools I was interested in with a letter, picture, times, etc. What I thought was a silly and embarrassing idea actually got me highly recruited by those schools. Scott didn't know much about running, but he knew a lot about recruitment, and even more, he believed in me. To this day, he's still in my corner.

Scott Abbott. While he might laugh that I mention him, his belief in me from high school until a professional and now, has been a big part of my continued running success. He helped get me into invitationals as a young high school runner, as well as encourage me to pick APU as my school instead of Sac State. (Most college coaches don't help you pick another school, but most college coaches aren't Scott).  He was the coach at Sac State at the time and now, the Executive Director of Sacramento Running Association. He has been in my corner and a sounding board since, from choosing a college to my professional team.

preston.jpg

My college coach, Preston Grey, recruited me at the Division 5 State Championships my senior year. Azusa Pacific University wasn't on the top of my list, but I had the goals of attending a Christian university that was still competitive and that happened to be APU. I can honestly say that I wouldn't be the athlete I am today without the coaching of Preston who helped shape me as an athlete and lead a successful team. He was the first coach I had with running knowledge and he pushed me to become my best. If I can be even close to the kind of coach Preston was to me, I would be proud.

When I took a leap and moved to Mammoth Lakes, CA, to join ASICS Mammoth Track Club, it was really because I chose Andrew Kastor to coach me. Andrew helped shape me into the marathoner I am now. From encouragement to belief to dedication, his coaching helped me qualify for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials and really helped start my career as a professional and marathoner. Andrew is selfless with his time and coaching and his deep commitment to excellence pushed me to do the same.

15326171_10210022922063603_7318008940281245304_o.jpg

Fast forward almost 14 years since I started running and I'm currently coached by Irv Ray, my husband's college coach and former coach of UC Riverside. It's a bit of a coaching combo of my husband, Coach Ray, and myself for my training and what has/hasn't worked over the years. Coach Ray, more than anything, has prayed for and encouraged Seth and I as young married athletes. He's helped me in my transition from a full time professional runner to a working professional runner. He's also been incredibly patient. Coaches need to be patient, because, sometimes athletes (i.e. me) go through rough patches. You need a coach to pick you up and tell you how much they believe in you. 

Seth and I hope and pray that we can be the kind of coaches that we have had in the past. Coaches have been incredibly influential in our lives and have helped shape who we are. Really, we want to coach because coaches have helped shape us. We hope, in a small way, to do the same.

-Lauren

Totten Tuesdays

Originally published on runinrabbit.com

Training with the Tottens

If you are like us, you are pretty darn amazed with rabbitPRO power couple Seth and Lauren Totten. We wanted to know a little more about their daily life, including how they balance training, working, and maintaining a strong married life, and so we asked them! Hear more about how the Tottens prep for, and crush, a workout and manage to balance the rest of their busy lives in the blog: 

IMG_1938_large.JPG

The night before.

Seth and I tag team with dinner plans. Since I took a more full time job, he’s been helping with groceries, dinner prep, and farmer’s market hauls. We try, as best as we can, to buy all of our veggies and bread locally. We also look forward to Bread SRSLY shipments, a gluten free sourdough company that has sponsored me for 4+ years. When I get home from work, I typically prepare dinner or finish up what Seth started. His help has also allowed me to go for a double after work or, frankly, lay on the couch a few minutes before cooking. We’re a team.

Typically, a pre-workout meal includes: smashed potatoes, kale salad, gluten free or local bread, and maybe some other greens, or a small amount of fish. Sometimes Seth has started or made the kale salad on his lunch break and I might finish by setting the table, cooking whole garlics, or smashing potatoes and drizzling them with avocado oil and flaky salt to get them crispy in the oven. We eat a lot of vegetables and a whole lot of carbs. It’s fuel for what we do!

Here’s our favorite potato recipe:

  • 1 lb. of mini or yellow yukon potatoes
  • 2+ TBS. avocado oil (It retains it’s nutrition at high heat over olive oil)
  • Flaky salt

- Boil the potatoes on medium heat for 22-25 minutes, so they are soft, but not bursting. Wait to fully cool. When we don’t have time, we boil in the morning and finish them later in the evening.

- Gently smash each potato in a paper napkin. Generously drizzle with avocado oil and sprinkle flaky salt. Cook at 375 for 45-60 minutes. These are even delicious cold!

Seth usually gets home from his (bike) ride around 5:30pm and we eat by 6pm.

After dinner, we clean up and Seth grinds coffee for the next morning and gets it set up (coffee is a necessity for our success). I make Seth muesli every night: a combination of oats, nuts, seeds, bars, non dairy yogurt, and almond milk. Our nights usually include reading, a short show, and legs up. Lights out by usually 8-8:30pm. We are wiped by the end of the day!

IMG_5943_large.jpg

 

Workout morning:

5am: Seth typically wakes up 30 minutes before and starts coffee and puts toast in the toaster. We are fueled by a coffee roaster in Flagstaff, AZ, called Single Speed Coffee Roasters. Once he wakes me up, I prepare our toasts and coffees. Seth usually has almond butter toast with banana and honey. (Muesli is typically post-workout breakfast) I have toast with butter and a date or two with peanut butter.

We spend some time journaling and reading the Bible. Our faith is the most important part of us and being in the Word is important to our spiritual health, as well as the vital part of why we run. It’s the gift we believe the Lord has given us to steward.

5:30am: Stretching and preparing workout stuff. I typically make my bottle the night before with a scoop of Matcha + Lemon Skratch Labs. I guzzle it the second I finish a hard workout for instant sugars. Seth makes a bottle, sometimes with a Nuun tablet or just water. He saves sugars for his bike rides, unless he’s doing a long run.

5:50-6am: We head out the door and head to the trails or track.

6am-7am: Tempo Tuesday. Warm up 3 miles together nice and easy. Our first mile is usually 8:00-8:30. We don’t rush warm ups. We are usually sleepy and try our best to progress into running quicker on some strides before the workout. Post 3 mile run we do leg swings, walking stretches, and lots of strides. This week was my first tempo in weeks as I am adjusting to a new job. Seth is fit and ready to race soon! He raced a 5k in Sacramento on March 17. His training block consists of some track races and we both have SacTown 10 Miler on the calendar on April 8th in Sacramento, CA (where I’m from). 

IMG_0071.JPG

Workout stats:

Seth: 10k Tempo (31:20)--- 5:02 pace

Lauren: 6 mile tempo (35:05)---5:50 pace

7am-8am: Time to tempo! Seth and I pray together and he gives me a kiss, then we are off on our own. We typically both listen to our own tunes. I like a mixture of worship music (Bethel or Lauren Daigle) with a mixture of Kygo, Lindsey Stirling or other alternative music that most people consider too slow to work out to. When I’m getting back into shape my tempos start around 5:50 pace and hopefully progress down and Seth runs 4:55-5:05 pace.

8am: Done! I usually like to get in a 3 mile cool down, so I run a little longer and Seth finishes farther up on the bike path. We might get in the last mile together if we see one another.

8:15am: Drive home. I get Seth his muesli and eat a snack (bar, dates, smoothie). I always use Vital Proteins in my smoothies. We believe in fueling with what makes us feel good and is nutritionally dense! Seth usually makes us a pour over or another pot of coffee. I rush to stretch and shower, while Seth takes more time to stretch (his desk is a long commute....to our garage). As a  legal assistant, Seth works from home. I work in accounting at a property management company with a flexible start time.

9:30am: I leave for work and am typically gone between 9:30am-4:00pm or so.

Before we start the day, we feel like we’ve lived a whole day. (We kind of have) But, it’s always worth it! We cherish the time we get to be athletes. It’s something that is special to us and our marriage. We can’t wait for a spring of racing!

IMG_3287.JPG