Tuesday, December 31, 2013
A week ago I found last year's wrap-up and goals blog. And I attempted to write something. And days passed. Concrete goals work for me. I love checklists, numbers, charts, and my sticker workout calendar. I met many many 2013 goals. I ran another marathon, I got the 1:49 HM that I'd been chasing for over 2 years, I completed an Olympic distance triathlon in the small town my mom grew up in. Cousins and aunts cheered my dad and me on. A major fitness highlight of the year.
So why was I struggling to put in print my goals for 2014? That's not like me.
Yesterday I took my kids to an obstacle course at the Y. It was a special event promoting family fitness. My daughter ran right in, but my son needs a little more encouragement. I picked him up and went over to the area where hula hoops were taped to the ground. I held him and jumped around. We giggled and hugged and nose nuzzled. My daughter saw us and chased after us and we all hopped around together some more. Then they both tore off around the gym like young children should.
30 minutes later a man approached me and said he was from the local paper. He took a picture of us and wanted to use it. When he showed me the candid shot, my immediate reactions was, "I look huge!" And as I gave him the spellings of our names with a fake smile on my face, all these ugly, negative thoughts raced through my head.
Is that how I really look in these leggings?! My chest looks huge! Uggg, my thighs are so big.
No. no no no no no. That is not what the picture shows. It shows a happy mother laughing with her healthy children. It is a picture of quality time. It is a picture of fun, physical activity inside when it is -30 degrees outside. I know what my husband would say if he saw it. He'd see the beauty and the joy.
That picture is not about my thighs.
My goal for 2014 is to be kind to myself. Think good things. And maybe that's too abstract and not SMART goal enough. But I know that's OK because the other goals will come. My race calendar is loosely mapped out. Fingers crossed that if Chicago goes with a lottery this year, that we get in. Time goals will be established. Challenges will come. And I'll love it all.
I'll put the stickers on my calendar. I'll over analyze race calculators, I'll make charts and graphs of my training plans. I'll actually do speedwork! I will stick with my ST. And throughout it all, I will see the beauty and happiness and tickle monster crazy mama that my kids and my husband see.
Happy New Year Spark!
Sunday, November 03, 2013
Reading over my old race recaps helps get me ready for races. It reminds me of what I've learned, how I felt at certain points, what my goals are, etc. This race was a week ago and it's already a little fuzzy.
I read my marathon blog. And the lesson from that was: START SLOW, START SLOW, START SLOW. I read HM #s 6 and 7 and the lessons there were: start slow. And then run fast! You want that sub 1:50. You know you can do it. Get under 1:50!!! I read HM #5 where I was in such a zone and had an incredible run on a very tough course. I visualized myself feeling that way again.
And at the starting line last week, I pictured myself at #5s starting line. I channeled that energy. Get. in. the. zone!
One concern was that I hadn't trained for this race. I was just trusting that coming off a marathon 4 weeks ago was enough. I hadn't run over 6 miles since the marathon. Not ideal training! But, whatever.
This race is almost all downhill (until mile 11). It's known as a speedy and beautiful course. We couldn't have asked for better weather. 40 degrees at the start. The sun was out, leaves were golden and every shade of red imaginable. My personal runner's heaven!
But, another concern was starting with 2 friends and DH. I was worried because I really wanted to run my own race and not try to keep up with anyone else. But then I looked on the bright side, and realized this would force me to start slow because I would have to chat and be aware of my breathing. I was honest and told them my plan. They are all faster than me and agreed to get me off to a good start.
And it worked:
8:04 (This was a huge downhill so easy to run speedy)
By this point we all broke apart. I put my earbuds in and picked it up.
Whoa! Slow down, sister. Too early to go that fast. My goal was 8:05s-8:25s because I figured that would get me the average of 8:19s I needed for a 1:49.
So when mile 5 is 8:03 I really did say aloud, "Seriously! slow down." I reminded myself not to make this same mistake again. I gave myself a little lecture for the entire mile. And was pretty happy with the next Garmin vibration:
But then there's that delicate balance of slowing down too much, so I had to pick it up a bit.
Around mile 9 I noticed that familiar slump in most runners around me. Head down, shoulders rolled in. My dad calls it the survivor shuffle. Oh, how I know that feeling. Mile 9 is usually a very ugly place for me in a HM. But this time I felt strong and amazing. 8:05! Yes! yes! yes! I felt so good.
And then... this is where the race gets cruel. There is also a 10 mile event. You have to run right by their finish line. And! Then the very few hills on the entire course start here.
Don't slow down anymore, I tell myself. You need another 8:20. But suddenly I feel the fatigue.
The mile 11 marker is half way up a hill. My watched buzzed 8:30
Nooooo! Not again. I knew I was slowing too much and I didn't have all that many seconds to spare. And I was only halfway up a monster hill and I knew there was one more coming.
mile 12 is 8:58
NOOOOOO! I kicked it into high gear. I wanted to finish strong. In August I gave up a little at the end and I refused to feel that way again. I ran as hard and fast as I could. And it hurt. A lot. Most painful 8:12 mile I've ever run.
Turns out 13.1 miles is really far and it's a bad idea to go in with a marathoner's over confidence. I really thought it wouldn't be as hard as it was at the end. Another lesson learned! Respect the distance.
ha! Nothing like cutting it close.
A few of my favorite race things: a PR, a fun medal, and chocolate muscle milk!
Saturday, October 19, 2013
I have been in love with racing since I lined up at the start of my first 5K. I don't think I even liked running then. I liked the racing. So I signed up for another race and then another and somewhere in the mix I feel head over heels with running.
My first HM was Monster Dash 2011. I didn't even sign up. I ran the Twin Cities 10 miler in the beginning of the month and then a friend offered me her bib for the end of the month. No real half training plan, no fuel, no idea what pacers were, wore new socks, no app, no Garmin and ran a 1:55. Not bad!
Since then I have learned a ton and raced lots more. My halves range from 1:51 to 2:00. I really really want to get that 1:49. I think I have s good shot next Saturday at this year's Monster Dash. (Last year I was a spectator at the event and really wished I had run. By that time i knew it was a speedy course, almost all downhill!)
The only problem is that I haven't run over 6 miles since the marathon 2 weeks ago. I rested and ran easy the first week. Last week we were supposed to run 8 on Tuesday, but we ran into a dog at a busy intersection and took him home a few blocks away and then had to get going so only managed 6. Worth it! It was a good adventure and we got the dog home safe and sound. But not enough mileage. Yesterday I could've done 10, but went to an apple orchard with kids and friends instead. Obviously, a way better choice. But again, only ran 6.
I know I'll be fine next week. This just all has me thinking. I have never followed a HM training plan. I have raced them during marathon training. I have added in a 10 or a 12 mile run to my normal running schedule a few weeks before a race. Maybe if I really want that 1:49 (or 1:47 if I feel greedy!) I need to actually put in the work and follow a plan. Crazy idea, huh?
I dug out a calendar and printed out Train Like A Mother's Own It plan. Get Lucky HM is 3/15/14. So... training begins end of December??! Not sure I want to commit to that. I am very type A and I like to check things off lists. When I commit to a plan, I am hard on myself when I miss a workout. Not sure that I want to be that intense all winter.
But then I flip flop and think: you need to challenge yourself. You should try out this intense plan now so you know if you can handle it for a full. We're thinking Chicago 2014. Training would start in June.
I gotta put the work in if I want results. But I also don't want to burn out.
This is the ultimate goal after all. But still, my wheels are turning. What would you do?
Take it easy?
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
Since Sunday's marathon, I have experienced intense moments of pride. And equally intense moments of disappointment. And that is exactly why I will do it again someday. The range of emotions makes me feel alive.
These pictures capture those feelings better than any words ever could:
I passed the man in the last photo. On the back of his shirt was a sign: 80 years old.
Isn't life beautiful?
Monday, October 07, 2013
I have learned a lot about running & racing from Spark blogs. When you read that no race will be like your first marathon; they're right. When they say to start slow; they're right.
My first marathon experience was magical. And I really did soak it in. But how can you tell something is so special while you're living it? Part of me thought marathon #2 would be just as incredible.
And it was. And it wasn't. I woke up Sunday and had a strange feeling. It just didn't feel like race morning. Maybe it's because I was at home and it kinda seemed like any other day.
Staying warm in the metrodome
DH and I were in different corrals so we waited until the last minute to kiss & say goodbye. He turned left to join corral 1 and I went right to #2. It was packed and I was looking around for pacers, but they were already singing the National Anthem and everything just went so quickly. Maybe my first mistake was not lining up in a good spot. My original plan was to start with the 4:15 pacer, but then I found out I wasn't even placed in the same corral as them! Yes, I could've moved myself back to #3. Yes, I could've made sure I was in the very back of #2. I didn't do either of those things. Can you see where this is going?
The first mile is through downtown and the crowd is amazing and you can breathe in the excitement. I was freezing cold and was saying to myself: slow warm-up, slow warm-up. I promised myself that I wouldn't obsessively check my Garmin, I'd only look when it vibrated with mile splits. So I was really happy with mile 1 at 9:28.
Keep calm, enjoy this gorgeous Fall morning. Rain had been predicted all week and the sun was out. Leaves have just started to change. You could not ask for better running weather. I was still a little cold, but warming up. Mile 2 is 8:33. Too fast. I was telling myself to slow down and really thought I was. And then the next few miles are: 8:25, 8:31, and 8:34.
No, no, no. Stick to the plan! Screw the plan! I feel great! The crowds are amazing and now I'm by the lakes and omg! I'm running the flippin Twin Cities Marathon! Something I have dreamed about for as long as I can remember. I was smiling and so happy. And mile 6 is 8:35. crap.
I can't explain it. I knew what I was doing wrong. I knew this course. I knew the back half was much tougher. I knew I was going to pay for this. A spectator yelled something about the 3:45s and I look ahead and see I am right with that pace group. And this teeny part of me thinks: you can do this! you can keep up with them! That is the dark side of my positive, yes-you-can attitude. Over confidence.
Mile 7 is 8:40 and my friend jumps in. "I'm going too fast," is the first thing I say and she says, "OK, let's slow down." So we do. Oh, wait. No we don't. Mile 8 and 9 are 8:36 and 8:34. We're chatting and she's telling me how great I look and sound. No heavy breathing, my heart rate is fine. I really did think I was reigning it in at this point. And then mile 10 is 8:28. And Tara says, "You feel like you're slowing down. Listen to your body, not your watch." And she jumps out to run back to her car and meet me at the finish.
This piece of advice stuck with me "No matter how good you feel on the River Road miles 15-19, do not pick it. There is a lot of race left." At the half, I made a bathroom stop because I knew that would force me to stop and break this crazy pace. I went into a porta and it had some weird lock that I obviously didn't close because some guy opens the door and I happily wave "Hello!" with my pants off. whoops! It happens.
I was happy when I saw the bathroom break mile was 9:58. I got myself into a better rhythm and knew we were approaching River Road, my familiar territory. Mile 15 was 8:54 and I saw my brother and his wife and their kids. I jumped off the path and stretched in front of my 1 year old nephew and said, "Teddy! This is hard!" and everyone laughed. Then my sister in-law jumped back in with me for a bit. Again, I was told how good I looked and that I was talking easily. I still felt good, but my legs were starting to feel the distance. She reminded me to keep my shoulders loose and to use my arms on the hills. "You know these hills! We run these hills!" and she sent me off with such a good feeling.
There are not words for how loved and supported I felt. I am clearly obsessed with mileage and paces, but I also run for the joy. And the way it makes me feel and for the relationships it has helped me develop. My running family is strong and so full of love. Seeing my big brother, the one that I competed with in that 5K three years ago, seeing him cheer for me, just that visual memory, makes me cry. And his wife, Jen, running along with me in her cute puffer vest for those blocks, will always be a highlight of this race.
It's a tough feeling when you've run 15 miles and you're tired and your legs are sore and you still have 11 MILES to go. Oh, and this is where the serious hills start. Damn you River Road! Miles 16 and 17 were 9:16 and 9:18. Right where I wanted to be. I told myself I'd keep this pace and then pick it when we got onto Summit. But then there were those hills again. At the top of the Franklin Bridge I looked in both directions. My favorite view of the Mississippi River. I said my prayer of thanks for health. I am running a marathon.
And it hurts. Of course it hurts! It's a marathon! My dad has told me that mile 20 is the halfway point of a marathon. So when it started to mist at 19, I felt OK. but when the rain hit at 20 and my legs were so sore and tired, I started to really worry. I looked at my watch and I was right under 3 hours. 10K left. All I have to do is run 10 minute miles. I will meet my sub 4 goal.
I run Summit Avenue every Tuesday morning with my running group. I thought this would help me. I figured I'd have some type of muscle memory. Or at least some mental edge. But here's the problem, we don't run Summit after 21 miles. After 21 miles, I hurt so bad.
I could feel the surge of the 4 hour pace group pushing behind me. I really gave it my all and stuck with them as long as I could. The crowds were incredible and I put on a fake smile. The rain picked up and my shoes were soaked. The crowds started to thin. But then I saw my work friends and some hugs perked me up.
This picture does not show how beautiful the mansions on Summit are or the Fall leaves or how many people really were there. I dug in and reminded myself of good form. But it was so so hard at this point. I went out too fast and I was paying dearly for that rookie mistake. And then at about 23.5 I got a side crippling cramp like I have never experienced.
I wanted to walk, but knew that would just mean it would take me longer to get to the finish. Tara saw me and I couldn't even look at her. I was trying so hard not to cry. I knew I was barely moving forward and I just said, "really bad side cramp." She asked when and I said, "right now." I can hear her telling me "You can do anything for 2 miles. oh honey. You can do anything for 2 miles." And I really didn't know if I could.
I jogged on. I heard my other SIL and waved, but didn't go hug her because I was still so focused on forward movement and trying not to cry. But then I saw my whole family way on the other side of the street. Most of them had run the 10 miler earlier in the day and weren't sure if they were going to come back. With all the rain, I assumed they were at home. I made a complete 90 degree turn and ran straight to them. My younger brother was screaming "Mile 25! Mile 25! You've got this!" When I hugged my sister I just started to sob and said "I can't do this." over and over again.
And then I saw my dad laugh. Not in a mean way. In a "I know how much she hurts" way and that made me laugh. With a little push from my sister, I managed to get going again. I knew the sub 4 was out the window. And that was disappointing. But then I saw the capitol and the huge American flag that marks mile 26 and the finish line. I saw another group of friends and ran to high 5 them and smiled like I felt great. I said "ow ow ow" the whole way down the hill after the Cathedral.
And I soaked in the cheers in the finisher's chute. I threw my arms up and pretended I felt great for the cameras. And then I made the longest walk of my life to get a medal and some food. Holy world of pain.
I found DH and sat down next to him and put my head on his chest and cried. I wanted that 3:59 so badly. I was frustrated with myself for running such a stupid race. He let me have a 10 second pity party and then gave me the good news. My phone had died, but his hadn't so he had my official time. 4:03:05 PR!! By 1 minute and 11 seconds
That cute guy? He ran a 3:22!!!
And how can you be disappointed in a PR?! I'm really not. I'm just emotionally spent. It's the marathon. It takes a lot out of you.
I am very sore and proud of myself. It felt good to add this to that:
We spent the day at my parent's house and on the way home we stopped at a gas station. I wanted Gatorade and Hot Tamales :) The check out guy was singing happily to himself and asked asked how I was doing. I thought about not saying anything, but because of his happy attitude I was honest. "I'm good. I ran the marathon this morning." And he went crazy cheering for me in this little gas station. "you WHAT?! That's so awesome!" And I love that that is one of my memories of the day.
Yep, I missed by time goal by a few minutes. But I still placed in the top 1/3 and that was a goal too.
1102 out of 3928 Females (top 28%)
206 out of 721 age group (top 29%)
I'm sure there will be people out there that think I care too much about times. But we're all different and this is what motivates me.
And I am very happy. I ran a marathon.
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