Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Last summer I swam, biked, and ran through my first Sprint and then Olympic distance triathlon. I was a competitive swimmer when I was little and my running girls convinced me to get a road bike and give this whole multi-sport thing a go. Of course I loved it.
Then September happened: I'm a teacher so the endless hours of summer workouts came to an abrupt halt.
I told myself I'd find a good spin class. I never did. I didn't even really try. A friend gave me her trainer to borrow. (fun little contraption tool to set your bike up on to spin at home, on your own bike.) I used it twice. It sat and collected dust. I gave it back.
And as much as I love swimming, pool workouts take a lot of effort and planning. Getting myself to the gym, into a swimsuit, and all cleaned up after the workout. ugggg. Major effort. Major motivation needed. My naturally curly hair soaks up the chlorine like a sponge and I smell all day. And my skin itches. And and and... Winter swimming is not for me. I managed one swim a month and felt that was a success.
Now running. I can run. I'd rather run. Lace up my shoes and go. I make time to run. I don't make excuses. I am a runner.
I am a summer triathlete. Or maybe I'm a runner that likes to cross train. whatever. Summer vacation officially started yesterday. My Ironfriend designed a training plan for me. All my races are scheduled. The plan started in the beginning of May and I've been following it loosely. Now I can get serious. And I'm so excited! I spent hours combing through training plans and tri blogs last night. I don't follow what the tri experts advise. I don't focus on my weakest sport (bike). I don't pay much attention to my HRM. I run way more miles than any tri training plan says. And I'm even known to break up my long bike.
That's DH pulling the kids on the beautiful Gateway Trail. We rode from St. Paul to Stillwater a few weeks ago. Spent the day there: kids running around at a great park, went out to lunch, stopped in the candy shop for some fuel, and then biked home during nap time. 50 miles! Not what a true cyclist would call a 50 mile ride because of the 3 hour break in the middle. But I'm gonna call it a huge success because it was an amazing day for our whole family. Because, first: I am a mom, a wife, an individual who likes working out for fun. Second: I am an athlete that races.
This summer I am going to make training work for me and my family. I am not going to overdo it these first few weeks and lead to burnout like I did last summer. My goal for 2013 was/is balance. I feel that I've been doing a pretty good job so far.
I am a happy mama.
Monday, June 03, 2013
I should just leave it at that. I finished. That's it.
But, really, how fun is that? Let me whine for awhile about how miserable 13.1 miles can be.
Quick backstory: The Minneapolis Half is part of The Team Ortho Series. Great organization that is known for their gear and fun races. They offer a package deal that is basically 4 HMs for less than the price of 3. Sign me up! Well, because of my schedule there were only 3 I wanted to do and I added in this one.
A friend said she would buy the bib, but then realized she had a conflict. I thought, what the heck? I'll do it!
I followed no training plan. End of the school year packing and wrap-ups had left me with little thought about this race. My head was not in the game.
And then me and the kids got sick. Hacking coughs that led to poor sleep all week. I ran 6 on Wednesday and I felt great, so I wasn't worried. My body felt fine, but the cough was getting annoying and painful. Then I spent Saturday in Urgent Care with my daughter. Ear infection. My own hacking continued to get worse. I thought about skipping the race all together, but once DD took the antibiotics she was fine and my sister came over for a babysitting slumber party and promised me they'd be fine.
Race morning: very very cold for June, but perfect weather for a run. I didn't feel horrible so I thought I could go for it. Silly me.
A goal: 1:49
B goal: 1:52
I started in my normal spot, right in front of the 2 hour pacer. DH reminded me that this was not an "A race" and to just have fun. We were in a beautiful park in Minneapolis and I was excited to run a new route. The first mile was fine. I didn't feel good, my lungs already hurt a little, but whatever.
mile 1: 8:32 a little faster than I wanted to be with a warm up, but we were on a long, even, straight road = quick pace
and that road continued so
mile 2 & 3 dipped to 7:50s. My legs felt fine and they were just moving. It was my chest, lungs, throat, hacking cough that were killing me. But I foolishly thought that I could handle it for 13 point 1 freaking miles. I thought I could power through and reminded myself that the faster I ran, the faster I'd be done. Good idea, in theory.
At mile 4 there was the 1st medical tent and I contemplated walking off. This feels horrible. I am having no fun whatsoever. I don't need this race. f*&^ it.
But then I thought about the medal and I wanted that sucker. I thought about the logistics of getting to the finish line and finding DH and telling him I gave up. I am not a quitter. I'm stronger (or stupider) than that.
mile 5: 8:07 and I am right with the 1:50 pacer. What?! How am I doing this when I feel so horrible? Maybe I should slow down. Yeah, slow down. And I told myself to take a GU. That was my plan. But I couldn't. The thought made me want to puke. So I kept running and forced myself not to cry. It hurt to breathe.
mile 6: made myself pull over to the right after a water station and take a GU. I wasn't even walking. I came to a complete stand still, closed my eyes, and gave myself a pep talk.
mile 7: 8:36 This sucks. This sucks. This sucks. I love racing! And this totally sucks. The race started at 6:30 so there was minimal crowd support. I wasn't high fiving kids. I didn't have the energy to chat with other runners. I was miserable. We were running down more straightaways. Very few hills. People were passing me left and right. And I didn't even care. I couldn't look for girls in cute outfits to pick off like I normally do. I couldn't go to my positive zen running makes everything in life manageable place. Things were not good. And then they got worse.
mile 8: 8:47 noooo! I started to walk. No offense to Gallowayers. This is only my personal rule for racing. No walking. It will only take me longer to get to the finish line. And once I start to walk it is super hard to get going again. Come on. Run. Make up a C goal. It's called FINISH the flippin race.
Mile 9 &10: I don't even want to talk about it.
Mile 11: Hallelujah for mile 11. Suddenly I heard a band, like a real high school marching band. My spirits lifted. And then I saw them. And they were adorable! On top of a huge hill that we rounded and ran down. yipeeeee! I waved like a wild woman and grinned down the hill. I'm back. Let's go. And luckily for me the course then took us through some of the prettiest places in Minneapolis. Running over the Stone Arch Bridge was breathtaking. The Mississippi as far as you can see on both sides. I stretched my arms out and pretended I could feel the spray.
Mile 12: 8:59 and I didn't even care. I was running down St. Anthony Main on a cobblestone road. It hurt but I was going to finish.
Mile 13.1 This was the first race that I didn't sprint down the finisher's chute. I was doing everything I could not to cough up a lung. I saw DH waiting for me and, unfortunately, I couldn't even smile.
1:54:15 8:42 pace
Not what I wanted, but not so bad either. I got the medal. I get to wear the cute Finisher tee with pride.
If I had started slower, would I have had a better second half?I don't think so. My legs aren't even sore today. But who knows? Maybe I should have toughed it out and stuck with the 1:50 pacer. I've never run with a pacer before, maybe the energy would have carried me along. But probably not? Ahhhh, the mind games we can play with ourselves...
What I do know is that I powered through. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't fun. It wasn't a powerful, meaningful, positive racing experience. And that's OK. That can't all be PRs. Running isn't all sunshine and rainbows.
Of course, I think I would've PRed had I been healthy. This was a speedy course. So you know what that means: I'm running it next year! And I will look back and remember how I powered through a horrible, no good, very bad run.
Monday, May 06, 2013
"You don't get better at running hills by walking them."
I saw this on Facebook a few weeks ago and used the line often. My running has not felt great since HM #4 7 weeks ago. I won't bore you with excuses. I've struggled through a fair amount of runs and have taken far more walk breaks than normal. But not on the hills. One day I even said it aloud as a trugged up that hill. whatever it takes.
I was getting very nervous about this race. Maybe DH is right and I do this to myself. I woke up Saturday morning and felt crappy. Cold, runny nose, yuck. I decided to skip an easy swim for the day and rest. Well, cold meds kicked in and I started to feel better, got some energy from packet pick-up and next thing I know I'm painting the living room. Seriously. I don't know what's wrong with me!
Felt better, but not perfect, when I woke up Sunday: race day. Took some cold medicine and started to get pumped for the race. I love racing! Immediately I went into a good mental space telling myself of what a great race it was going to be. I went back and read last year's Spark blog about this same race. It gave me another boost. Last year's time was 1:54 so the obvious plan was to beat that. Last month was 1:51:28. Of course I wanted to beat that too, but I knew it would be tough because of how hilly this course was.
I lined up right in front of the 2:00 pacer. I started slow. The first hill hits you before you're even at mile 1! youch!!! Lean in to it. use your arms. drive knees up. maintain pace. work it! And that's basically what I did for the next 13 miles.
I don't think I've ever been so focused in a race. I pushed myself. And then I pushed myself some more. And when I wanted to slow down, I kept pushing. This was mental. An intense mental battle. And Spark, you help at moments like this. I wonder, what do you want to write in a blog? Thank you for keeping me positive and inspired.
I wasn't so in the zone that I missed the fun. I high fived as many kids as I could. I gave my prayer of thanks for health at every bridge. This course is stunningly beautiful and I soaked it in. Even on a cold, windy, gray morning where the green bursts of Spring have not yet made their appearance.
The hills kept coming. And I kept attacking.
I saw the 1:55 pacer around mile 3, but didn't rush myself. Reminded to run my own race, which is a sign I'm growing as a runner. I know I would've immediately sped up to pass them a year ago.
I finally did pass them between 5 and 6. I felt really good until this point. Took a GU and actually felt more energy. Took a second GU at 9.5 which is more than I usually do but i wanted to experiment. I think it was a good choice.
Like the last HM, my legs were done at mile 10. But this time, I told my legs, "too bad. Pick up the pace." Mind over matter.
There were 2 guys, both in gold shirts, that kept trading places with me and I just wanted to lose them. I pushed and then we turned onto a trail at mile 11. 1.5 miles on gravel road. Not that big of a deal, but kinda a deal. My pace slowed. The golden boys passed. They even ran on either side of me and then came back together, essentially cutting me off. Oh, no, you didn't!!! Now I'm pissed. I waited a few seconds and blew past them.
At mile 12.5 we turn back onto the road and I feel like I'm flying. And who comes right up beside me??! I look at them and say, "Ok, we've been trading places for miles. Let's go!" They both smiled and we all picked up the pace. They faded for a teeny bit, let me think that I lost them, and then as I'm running into the finisher's chute, one of them tries to pass me. Again! oh h$llllll no! I have never sprinted like that in my life. Beat him by a second and we high fived at the finish. After getting my pretty medal I walked over and thanked them for pushing me. What a fun race. They laughed and said ditto.
Clock said 1:54 at finish so I was thrilled. Knew I beat last year's time, but didn't know by how much. Chip time is 1:51:06. yes! yes! yes! It's not the 1:49 that was my original goal. but! It's 22 seconds faster than the last one. On a much, much more difficult course.
I proved a lot to myself on the course. I have more mental strength and tenacity than I thought. Man, I love racing.
We were all spent and it was not easy to climb those suckers for a podium shot. (I'm on the right) And I am so very sore today and know it'll be worse tomorrow. I chafed fairly badly for the first time. holy pain! all worth it.
When I got home my daughter said, "Mama, you were fast and strong?"
"Yep. And I had a blast."
"That's most important, right?"
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
April was a great month. I admitted that I needed to focus on nutrition. I don't track calories, but I did mark on my calendar everyday how I did with food. During day and after dinner. 2 goals everyday. I took 2 or even 3 rest days every week. And it worked. I am finally back to my happy weight. 0.5 away from my low before Christmas. With continued focus, I know I'll get there this month.
Of course this doesn't mean I slacked on fitness. I love working out way too much to do that!
91 running miles for the month
10 bike miles: My first outdoor ride of the season! Felt so good. But, man, was my butt sore!
3 swim miles: met my goal of getting in the pool more than once a month
This Sunday I'm running the Lake Minnetonka HM. I ran it last year and loved the scenic, hilly course. I used it as a marathon training run. At the time 13 seemed short. ha! How mileage is relative. 13 sounds very very far right now. And hills sound very very awful. I have only run my typical hills run once this Spring. because it hasn't really been Spring yet so a hills run is icy and dangerous. And snow is forecasted for tonight. Happy May Day MN! done with my weather rant.
I do not feel ready for this race. DH says that I say this before every race. But seriously, I do not feel ready for this race.
On this course, last year I ran a 1:54 which is 8:42 pace
Last month I ran a 1:51. An 8:28 pace.
My original goal for this race was 1:49. 8:19s. ummmmm, don't think my legs have that in em right now.
My last few long runs have not gone that well and it's gotten to me mentally. On top of that, while planning my training schedule I read lots of stuff about how to get a sub 4 hour marathon. "They" say you should be able to run a sub 1:50 HM to get the sub 4. I know everyone is different and that courses vary a lot. But I want that 1:49. Running is such a mental game. marathon training will go better with a 1:49 in me. Am I focusing on pace and times too much? Maybe. But it's also motivating me, so maybe not.
The good news is that I'm registered for 2 more HMs this summer. That takes the pressure off of this weekend. And after this race I can think about the rest of my May goals...
Saturday, April 27, 2013
On June 16, 2012 I ran Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN. The 26.2 miles were obviously a big deal, but the training was the real challenge. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I knew I wanted to do it again. I also knew I needed to wait a bit. Training is a HUGE time commitment. The affects it had on my family, social & work life were not what I expected.
I've put a lot of thought and effort into planning the next. I've finished my race schedule for this season and finally have all training mapped out. Such a cute little coincidence: I begin training for Twin Cities Marathon on June 16, 2013. exactly one year, awwww...
What I'm excited for:
The challenge, working towards a goal.
The schedule, I love checking off training runs.
Speedwork. Last time I focused on the miles. This time I'm adding in some track workouts. Hurts so good!
Two 20 milers! One of them is a race.
The unknown. Marathon training is such a journey and I am eager to see where this one takes me mentally.
The running community. I know some people that will also be training. It'll be fun to get to know them better like runners do while putting in the miles.
The actual race. I live in this neighborhood. I have run most miles of the course. I was a cow bell ringing, screaming girl at this race many a times. To actually RUN it, well, that's too much for words. My family, friends, co-workers and neighbors will be at this one. That's a lot different than traveling for a race.
What makes me nervous:
training in the summer. I am not a hot weather runner. I may have to get up at 4 to get in some long runs in July & August.
Time expectations. The first time you run a new distance: automatic PR! The next time, you generally want to beat that. I don't want to cross the finish line and have any feelings of disappointment. Sub 4 is the goal.
Twin Cities course is tougher than Grandma's.
the time training takes, the complete exhaustion after long runs
Clearly the good outweigh the bad. When I finished my little training chart I was giddy. I want to start NOW! Luckily I have some other fun stuff to keep me busy.
May 5 is a Half Marathon.
Being the seasonal triathlete that I am, I've just started swimming again regularly. And I love love love it.
Tomorrow I'm going on a group ride. I haven't been on a bike since December. Time to go find those flattering padded butt shorts!
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