Monday, May 07, 2012
This week has been pretty amazing. It started out badly. I was feeling really down after my failed second 20-mile run, and the first couple days were rough. I was full of self-doubt and convinced that I was completely stupid for ever thinking I could run a marathon. Not productive with only a month before the race.
The reason this week has been so amazing is that when I was at my lowest I found a lot of really great support from my friends. So many people have told me that I can do it. I got a really sweet e-mail from a fellow runner who told me to just be proud that I chose to run, which made my worrying about how slow I am seem pointless. Then I had a great talk with my trainer, which I blogged about earlier. Having someone tell me to stop sabotaging all my hard work was exactly what I needed to get out of my head and refocus.
Further awesomeness came on Friday when I taught a Zumba class for a local high school's Wellness Day. I was nervous. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I decided to go into it with confidence. It ended up being the best class I've taught. I had over 15 kids in my class, and their energy was fantastic. Several of them kept saying they loved the songs, and they were laughing. I felt great and confident, and it was the best I'd ever felt as an instructor.
I did 2 back-to-back classes that day even though I was sick. It made me nervous for Saturday's run. I had decided that I had to do at least 20 miles but wanted to leave myself the option to do 22 miles if I felt good. My husband drove me 22 miles from our house and gave me the best advice I'd gotten all week. He told me to relax and enjoy it.
So, I did. The weather was perfect. Mid-fifties, sunny, with a light wind. I really felt great as I ran. I didn't go fast. If I felt myself getting out of control and stressing about speeding up, I reminded myself to relax and enjoy it. I thought about all the support I had and kept my thoughts positive. It made a huge difference. I didn't get achy until around mile 18 - farther than I got in my last attempt at 20 miles. I walked a couple times, but I managed to run the last mile and a half. It felt pretty good. I was sore and tired, but I felt confident that I could finish the marathon.
I am still a little concerned about my time. There is a 6 hour cut off, and it took me 5:45 to do 22 miles. I may not make the cutoff, which means I won't be listed in the paper. I'm okay with that. I will know I finished and so will everyone I know. It will give me something to beat the next time I attempt this - I've said I won't do it again, but I know me, I'll try it again in a couple years. I'm also hoping that the adrenaline rush, the crowds, and the excitement will make me run a little faster. :)
I'm really getting excited about this. One more 22 mile run, a 10 mile run, and then Marathon!!
Thursday, May 03, 2012
Yesterday I had a great lifting session with my trainer. It wasn't great workout-wise. It was good, but I've been taking it easy until the marathon is over. Both of us are ready to switch up the routine and can't wait to start lifting heavy once I'm done training for the race. Only (gulp) 24 more days...
My lifting session was great because we got to talk, and I always find new inspiration from talking to my wonderful trainer (she's also one of my best friends). Her advice throughout this training program has been invaluable. She's taken me through everything step by step and doesn't let me get away with anything. I was feeling pretty down after my last long run, and she was the only one who didn't coddle me and tell me it was okay.
She wasn't mean about it. She gets it, but she also knows me and how I like to hide in my head after I've "failed" at something. That's not okay, and she doesn't mind telling me so. She listened. She related to what I went through, but she didn't tell me it was okay. Instead, she told me to use my feelings as the drive to complete my run this week. She said that I had come so far and worked so hard and I couldn't mess it up now.
That's why she is awesome. Because that was exactly what I needed to hear. I don't think I realized how much I was self-sabotaging until she said it, and it was the kick in the pants I needed to get me out of my head. I swear the mental part of this is by far the most difficult. I'll run 26.2 miles - it'll hurt and suck, but I'll do it. The struggle with believing in my abilities has been so much more difficult.
The mental aspect of weight loss is just as difficult. I spent a long time after I lost the weight feeling like I was still fat. Even now, I often find myself amazed that I can fit somewhere or put on a certain pair of pants. It's hard to see myself as I truly am. I really started thinking about this again after my lifting session yesterday. I thought I was mostly over the major disconnect between how I perceived myself and how I actually am, but another conversation with my trainer made me realize that it is still a battle.
She called me an athlete. I was talking about how stressed out I've been lately, and she said, "welcome to being an athlete". It kind of floored me. In my mind, I am not an athlete. I was never an athlete, and I still often feel like nothing has really changed since I was a kid. But, it has. It's kind of crazy to be running 20 miles and not feel like an athlete, right?
So, I'm going to try to embrace this newly realized piece of myself. I can be an athlete. I may be a slow one, but I am one. I really need to start thinking of myself this way and believing in myself. My head is what I need to work on the most. It's where I need to have my next breakthrough. I'm wondering if completing the marathon will do it. Maybe it will, but I'm going to start working on it now.
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
I usually try to keep my blogs positive, but honestly, Iím having a hard time doing that this time. This weekend was messed up, and my training did not go well because of it. I planned to run Saturday morning, but when I got up it was snowing and incredibly windy. I decided to gamble and see if Sunday would be better.
One positive about this choice was that I was able to go to GOTR practice and brought my daughter with me. Everyone is great about letting her participate even though sheís not old enough to join, and she loves it. We did our laps around the soccer field (in freezing, strong wind), and she did 8. She was so proud of herself, and I couldnít stop thinking about when I was in school and our class ran the mile. We had to do 4 laps, and I couldnít even complete half of one without walking. Iím so glad sheís healthy and active, and I think the GOTR message is great for her, too. Self-confidence is so important.
So, Sunday morning was sunny and slightly warmer. There was wind, but it didnít seem as strong. I was feeling pretty good when I started. I did a lot of exercise this last week, probably a little too much, but I didnít feel tired when I started. I was breaking in new sneakers and using my new iPod this run. The shoes were awesome. Iíve been having a lot of shoe issues and bought this newest pair on sale. It figures that the cheapest ones are the best for my feet.
I bought an iPod shuffle for running. Itís smaller and clips onto my shirt, so I donít have to deal with an armband that keeps falling off or chaffing my arm. There is an option to play a playlist straight through, but I thought Iíd try the shuffle setting and see what happened. Turns out my iPod really likes Tom Petty. I do too, but not for running. I was going pretty slow by the time I got into town and saw the time. I wasnít very happy about it. I wanted to cut some time, but it didnít seem like that was going to happen.
On my way into town, the wind picked up. I was probably a mile into my run when I found myself running against a very strong, constant wind on my right side. I was working hard to climb the hills, and I was worried because I knew I would be turning into the wind for the next 5 miles.
Those next 5 miles sucked. The wind was right in my face, and it never seemed to let up. At times I felt like I was barely moving, and when a large truck passed me, the wind was strong enough to stop me in my tracks. Andy and kids met me at my halfway point, which was another indication that I was going SLOW. Usually Iíve got 13-14 miles under my belt before I see them. I drank some Gatorade, complained about the wind, and grudgingly started back.
The next 5 miles were better. The wind was at my back, and I felt like I was going faster than before. However, when I got into town the wind shifted and was again blowing in my face. Iím not sure how that happened, but I was angry. My run home was supposed to be easier, but now I was battling the wind again and completely exhausted.
I fought my way up another couple of hills and stopped at the top to stretch. Everything hurt. My back had been aching since mile 5, my hips were way too tight, and my knees were screaming. I didnít want to start running again, but I did. My knees were so painful that I started to cry, which is pretty embarrassing when cars are passing by. I can only imagine how I looked to them as I hobbled/ran along crying. I was completely exhausted, and the wind would not stop. I still had 5 miles left.
So, I started my usual head games of why I should stop and why I should keep going, and you know what? Stopping won this time. I thought about it for a long time. Was I just making excuses? Did I have it in me to finish? What would it mean if I did stop? In the end, the pain won out over my pride, and I called Andy. I walked along the road until he came to get me, and I cried some more. I started having serious doubts about whether I could actually finish a marathon. I started feeling like everyone else was right Ė I was crazy to think I could do something like this.
Iíd like to say that the feeling is gone now, but itís not. A small part of me still doubts that I will cross the finish line Ė or even race. Thatís the scared part. The logical side of me knows that running into wind is a lot harder than a normal training run. I know that I have already run 20 miles and will be able to again. I also know that once I am actually in the race, I am going to finish it even if it takes 8 hours and I have to crawl across the finish line.
Itís hard to go into something without complete confidence. Itís hard to prepare for something that is so foreign to anything Iíve done before. And, I am dealing with a lot of doubts. On Saturday morning, I was talking to the other GOTR coaches about training because some of us are training for the marathon and others have done it before. I felt good. I felt confident. I was ready for Sundayís run to be a great one. I hit the wall the time before, but this time would be great and I would be properly fueled for it. And I didnít even finish. It just goes to show that you can only prepare so much for something. The rest is just dealing with what youíre given. I just hope itís a lot less windy on race day.
On the positive side, I did finish 17 miles.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
This past Saturday was a milestone in my training. I ran 20 miles! It started out really well. The weather was perfect Ė 50 degrees, overcast. I was feeling good about the run, and my knee wasnít bothering me as much as before. I tried different shoes this time after my last 18 gave me huge blisters, and they were comfortable, though not as supportive as I wanted.
I ran basically the same route as my 18. It took me through town and out to a farm stand 10 miles away where I turned around and ran home. I kept switching between the road and the Rail Trail because there were a lot of cars, but my legs didnít notice the change in the terrain as much as they usually do. It was a pretty good run.
I couldnít think about the distance while I was running. Whenever I did, I would start to think about how much longer I had to go and reasons why I should stop, call Andy, and just go home. Hitting the 20-mile mark was what got me through. I wanted to hit that milestone. I knew that if I could do 20, unless I break my leg, I will complete a marathon on May 27th.
A few posts back I mentioned that my trainer wanted me to hit the wall during my training so I would be prepared in case it happens during the race. I thought I was close at the end of my last 18, but I didnít get there. So, this time I decided to not take the GU that I usually take for the last 3-4 miles and to see what happened.
I hit the wall Ė HARD.
I had no idea what it would feel like. No one ever described the feeling. They always just got a certain look and tone of voice when they asked if I had hit the wall yet. Even my trainer couldnít describe it, and she is usually not lost for words.
I canít describe it, either. I definitely knew when it happened. Itís strange to feel your body completely run out of fuel. I felt like I couldnít lift my feet, and though I was moving, I didnít seem to be getting anywhere. My run turned into a hobbling kind of shuffle, which in my glucose-deprived state I started calling the Hobbit Shuffle. I felt like a hobbit. My feet felt gigantic. It took all of my effort to move them. I hit the wall about 1.5 miles from my house, and I figured out later that it took me an hour to finish it. It was a completely strange and extremely frustrating experience, but I survived. I hope it doesnít happen during the actual race (or in any more training runs), but at least I know I can push through it if it does.
I canít wait to try 20 again this weekend. Iím going to properly fuel myself this time and hopefully cut a lot of time off my last run. I keep thinking about how much easier the actual race will be. There will be water, Gatorade, food, and toilets all along the route. No worrying about dehydration, hitting the wall, or finding some bushes or trees. Iím getting really excited about it. Now that I know I can do it, I am feeling a lot more ďbring it onĒ as opposed to terrified.
Last year, I would have laughed at the idea of me running a marathon. Now, itís becoming more and more realistic. I can actually see myself finishing. Itís hard to believe that just a few years ago I couldnít run for a minute. I could barely walk a quarter of a mile. I run past a place on the Rail Trail where we used to walk when we were overweight and unhealthy, and I think about how different everything is now. It was so hard to walk to that bench. Now I stop there to stretch after my first 3 miles. I can run for hours. My entire life is different now, and I donít ever want to go back.
Iíve been pretty stressed out about running this marathon. I was worried I wouldnít be able to do it. Iíve worried about so many stupid things. I beat myself up over the smallest things. But, taking a step back and looking at how far Iíve come has really made me appreciate where I am. Iíve worked hard to get here, and I deserve to finish this. I donít know if I have ever committed to something so consuming and stressful for so long, but I am pretty proud of myself for getting this far. Itís close now, and I am excited to get there.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
On Sunday I ran my second 18-mile run, and it was everything I was hoping it would be. This past week has been stressful. Lots of stuff going on and my grandmaís funeral was on Saturday, so I spent the week on a strange emotional rollercoaster while trying to keep up with all of my usual responsibilities. It was pretty draining, but throughout the week, I was determined to view my next long run in a positive light.
I was actually really looking forward to it. I knew I needed some time to be by myself and reset. I needed to deal with my emotions without using food. More and more I am trying to remember that food is fuel and emotional attachments to food are no good. Not for me.
The weather on Sunday was perfect. The morning was sunny and mid-sixties. I initially wore a sweatshirt but took it off after a mile because it was so beautiful outside. I chose a somewhat flat route that took me into town and out a main street. Sunday mornings are great for running because there are a lot less cars on the road. I felt great and knew it was going to be a good run.
I was almost to mile 11 by the time I felt any kind of discomfort. I was getting pretty thirsty and looking for my husbandís car. I need to mention how awesome Andy is. He not only watches the kids while I run and recover, but he also drives my running route to make sure Iím doing okay and bring me Gatorade. Marathon training is a huge commitment for a runner, but I think that spouses of marathoners do not get nearly enough credit. It puts a lot of strain on the whole family, and Andy has been nothing but supportive and wonderful.
I met up with him and the kids around mile 14 and took a moment to stretch, drain my legs, and guzzle more Gatorade than I probably should have. Andy told me later that the kids love their magical journey to go find mom, and they get really excited when they finally see me :)
The last four miles went pretty well. My knee was doing a lot better and didnít ache during the run. The last mile was a challenge. I was really starting to struggle but did not hit the wall. I did start spontaneously sobbing (w/out tears), which was kind of weird. I saw a lot of people I know as I ran, and that really helped me keep going.
I was sore for the rest of the day, but I managed to run for 18 miles. I ended up with some huge blisters, but my recovery was pretty quick. Iím feeling a lot more confident about being able to complete the marathon. Itís only 7 weeks away!!!
Play List Confessions
*I cannot run without my iPod. Music helps me keep a steady pace.
*I have Eminemís ďLose YourselfĒ scattered throughout my long run play list. It pumps me up and somehow always comes on when I need some extra motivation :)
*About halfway through my long run play list is my ďguilty pleasure songĒ Ė La Vie Boheme from RENT Ė Yes, I listen to show tunes while I run.
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