So… I’m running a marathon in 5 days. But seriously folks, *I* am running a *marathon* in *5 days*! I’m freaking out. Like honestly seriously really really psyched up for this race. The good news is that this is following all the normal race feelings. I’m almost always cool as a cucumber until I get “the” email.
(Vlog from this past Sunday.)
“The” email is the one that has all the important stuff you need to run. It basically says this: You have to pick up your bib and swag, you need to park somewhere for that and you need to park somewhere on race day. You need to show up on time on race day. Remember to drink water so you don’t die. Here’s the giant course you have to run through and here are where we’ll give you said water so you don’t die. You have to finish by this time or else something not so cool will happen. You can store your stuff over here and your entourage can cheer for you over there. You can order pictures from said ordeal at this site. Etc., etc., etc.,
And so I read through this and all I can think is “oh crap”. I actually signed up for and trained for this giant thing and now I have to go do it. I talk myself out of the same tree every single time. Usually it’s just the first time at that distance and this is a big one.
The real bummer about this race is there is a very EASY out. After you run 13.1 miles you can take a simple turn, get your medal for the half marathon and call it a day. They’ll give you the appropriate time for the half and everything. All you have to do is stop running. Get your banana, take your pics! You can go home to air conditioning, naps, cupcakes, the works. Be done in half the time! That will be, by far the biggest challenge I am going to face on Sunday. I know that is going to be extremely tempting. Especially if it’s as warm as it’s going to be.
But I didn’t start this thing to run a half marathon. Been there, done that. This is my time, I’ve earned it, and I’m going to do this. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway. 🙂 If you have any other words of wisdom 5 days out of a big giant thing, please share. I could use it!
Just two weeks from today I will run my first marathon. I’ve trained as well as I can up until this point and am just getting through the next couple weeks one day at a time. I’ve also started working on my dissertation for my Ph.D. this week which will make things a little more complicated. I’m going to focus on balancing adding the grad work back as the running continues to taper off.
As I’m writing this I realize I didn’t write about last week’s Hot Chocolate 15K at all! No PRs there but it was a fun day with friends and chocolate. Here are some pics from the event.
Also found a new bike path this week! Every time I think I’ve run every road I can get to from my house, this town surprises me. I really do feel lucky to live in such a run-friendly neighborhood.
Training for my first marathon has surprised me in so many ways. This past week has just been a complete roller coaster of emotions. I’m starting to obsess over this race. I’ve planned for races before. I’ve looked forward to them, but I’ve never obsessed quite like this. I think I’m probably driving my family bonkers with my constant running chatter.
Last weekend I ran my first 22 miler. I ran it in the evening after traveling all day to get home from (an awesome!) visit with my little sister and her new baby in NC. It was just a really long way to run after an already full day. It took me over 4 and a half hours which just felt like a long time. I did feel very strong at the 16 mile mark which is usually my “yikes, this is really hard!” mileage.
At this point I have no doubt in my ability to run this race. I feel completely confident I can run it. Which feels pretty darn good!
But I don’t want to.
What!? I’m just really sick of running at this point. I don’t want to do it. I don’t like doing it. I want to do other things for exercise. I used to take lots of classes at the gym. I used to cycle. I used to jump rope. I used to do HIIT and tabata and kick boxing and weight lifting and paddle boarding.
And now I run. I run a lot (for me anyway). And I’m tired of it.
But marathons are hard right? There are supposed to be moments that aren’t super fun and rainbow sparkles with sunshine!
I think the problem may be that I’m doing a lot of running and not a lot of racing lately. I am so close to this thing I really want to see it through. I don’t want to be this close and say “yeah, I almost ran a marathon and then didn’t”. I’ve already been there and done that. So I need to figure this thing out and learn to like running again.
As it turns out, I actually do have a race tomorrow morning and I’m hoping that will jump start my love of running, racing and training again. Because I am going to run this marathon.
It would be nice if I didn’t hate the next 23 days of preparing for it. 🙂
So excited and relieved to have been able to run this distance today! Feeling more excited about and committed to my training than ever this week. No long blog post today but here is a short video recap of today’s marathon training run.
It finally happened! I ran my first race after injury recovery. This was also the first race I’ve ever traveled to via plane. Here’s a breakdown of the weekend’s events and the race itself.
I took Friday off of work. I woke up and ran, dropped my husband Luan off at work, came back home, ran again (had to catch up on the Fitbit challenge!) to total 4 miles. Showered and finished packing. I’d had a sore throat for the past couple days and continued chugging airborne every chance I got. Tara got to my place right on time. We loaded her stuff into my car and went to pick up Luan so he could take us to the airport. Check in was a breeze (we used the super secret extra checkpoint with virtually no line for security clearance) and had a leisurely lunch before boarding our direct flight to New Orleans. Once there we checked in at our gorgeously historic hotel (so pretty, we lucked out!) and had lunch with some friends from one of our running groups online.
Our Hotel: Le Pavillon
On Saturday we slept in a bit and had lunch at the Ruby Slipper.
The food was amazing! After breakfast we picked up tickets to the city bus tour and rode that to the race expo. After picking up our packets, gels, and a few other unnecessary items we got back on the bus. We were especially excited to visit one of New Orleans creepy cemeteries. At least I think they’re extra creepy since the dead are kept in tombs instead of underground. On our way we went to stop at a restaurant for lunch. Turns out it was only the 4th day this place was open and the service was extra slow. We wound up waiting an hour for salads before leaving with only mimosas in our tummies.
After touring the graveyard we got back on the tour bus and enjoyed a tour of the rest of the city before returning to our hotel. We had Mexican food for dinner at Juan’s Flying Burrito – yum!
I didn’t sleep well the night before the race. Big mistake but what can you do? I was a giant bundle of nerves and just extremely excited for the race the next day. I was still nerves and anxious energy in the morning and didn’t have an appetite so breakfast was not what I was used to. My usual giant bowl of oatmeal or bagel was substituted by a cereal bar. We then went down to the start which was only a couple of blocks from our hotel. So completely convenient! I’m used to spending 30-45 minutes driving around trying to find parking and walking to the start so this was really amazing.
I’m not sure how many people ran but it was a very popular race. We were back in Corral 22 and waited maybe 45 minutes to an hour after the gun to start. As I was waiting it hit me. I was starving. Bummer. With only 3 gels I knew this was going to be a challenge.
Mile 1-3: I was just so happy to be racing! I kept an eye on my Garmin to make sure I wasn’t going out too fast. I new I wanted my pace those first few miles to be at about an 11:30 minute mile. By mile 3 my stomach couldn’t take it anymore and I popped the first gel which I wouldn’t usually use until mile 4.
Mile 4-8: The next few miles I just really did my best to keep my pace and not slow down too much. At this point I knew the lack of fuel was going to turn into a real problem sooner than later. My left foot also started to get numb around 5, which I was actually really freaked out about. Usually when that starts I can’t get it to go away but it was gone by mile 8 (small victories!). Wound up using the second gel at mile 7 (again, ahead of schedule).
Mile 9-11: Used the 3rd gel and just tried to hack it as best I could. They had a different kind of nutrition I’d never heard of before but I didn’t know if something new would be better or worse than nothing. The heat started to mess with me at this point a bit too.
Mile 11-13: I had been looking forward to these last few miles of the race and had hoped I’d be able to pick up the pace. I was just completely exhausted. Started taking a couple really short walk breaks here and there but just slowed overall.
Mile 13-13.1: I finished! I can’t explain how happy I was. I was tired, spent, starving, nauseous but no joints or ligaments or tendons were hurt and I was done. 🙂
Moments after finishing I started feeling really ill. All the cold/flu symptoms I had been fighting just hit me all at once like a ton of bricks. I took a few minutes to just sit and waited for Tara to finish. After the race we were both ready to call it a day and head back to the hotel for some serious R & R after the Rock ‘n Roll. A few hours of sleeping and cheesy movies later and we were ready to check out Bourbon Street.
Bourbon Street was (I think?) relatively peaceful on the evening we were there. It was Sunday night and there were people milling around with a party atmosphere but nothing ridiculous. This was my first time to New Orleans but my assumption is also that most of the crazy was probably going on a few weeks earlier during Mardi Gras.
And just as we were settling in for a quiet balcony dinner, there was a parade! A parade! On Sunday night! Totally random but we really enjoyed it. It almost felt like celebration for finishing the race. 🙂 And maybe it was.
Women Rock is the first 10K I ever ran. I first ran this race in 2013 and it was the first event I ever trained for consistently. In 2013 the 10k was the longest distance I had ever run. It gave me the confidence to spontaneously register for and run a half marathon only a couple weeks later (didn’t train for it, but did survive and finish!).
Last year I ran the 10K again and beat my previous time. This year I wanted a new challenge and registered for the Women Rock Super Starlet Challenge. The challenge involved a night 2.5K race on Friday night, followed by a half marathon and a 5K on Saturday. My hope when I registered for this in December was to PR my half on this race. However, this time last week with my injury I was thinking I wouldn’t be running it at all.
In light of the injury I down graded back to the 10K along with the other races which would fulfill the Rock Starlet Challenge (minus the “super”) and still earn me 4 beautiful medals. My coach advised walking the 2.5k night race followed by walk run intervals on the 10K and 5k. Not wanting to ruin my chances at running the upcoming marathon, that’s what I did. And it worked! I finished the races, had fun with my friends and the ankle still seems to be on the mend at this point.
No race video on this one. I was really focusing on taking it easy and avoiding further damage.
I honestly thought at this point in the game I would be racking up the PRs and setting new records for distance. As it stands, I still have yet to run a distance PR through any of my marathon training at all. (My longest distance in training is the 16 miles I ran on August 16th which earned my injury. My longest distance ever is 16.86 miles I ran for a trail race in April.)
This struggle in the road to 26.2 is not what I was expecting at all. I was assuming I would work through scheduling issues with finding time for long runs and mentally pushing through exercising through long periods of time. Instead I am babying this ankle and am an emotional wreck due to my disappointment in myself with these injuries. I know this is causing major setbacks in my mileage in these remaining and very important final weeks.
But, it’s still an experience and I’m learning what to do and what not to do for next time, if there is one… we’ll see. 🙂
News flash! Marathon training is hard! This week has been especially difficult because I haven’t done anything. One might think that a week off of running would feel good after so much running. Far from it. I have been loving the increase in mileage and miss it very much. I’ve had to take the week off due to an ankle injury. Specifically peroneal tendonitis. My friend Scott explains it well here:
In talking with my orthopedic surgeon, this happened from the combination of increasing my mileage and also changing my form. I had been a solid mid foot runner until late last November when I did some research, read some books and figured fore foot running was the new awesomesauce and so I need to do it. I completely changed my form and specifically my foot fall. This was okay for the first few months but now that I’m running higher mileage it’s impacting me in a negative way. So the new focus is now rehabbing this ankle injury, getting back into shoes that I know work (hello Asics!) and getting comfortable with my comfort zone which is the mid foot running again.
I honestly thought marathon training was going to be difficult due to just the sheer volume of extra miles and time on the road. I was not anticipating any injury (I’m lucky to be a pretty healthy person). I was also not anticipating the need to find this special combination of things that work. And there is a LOT of experimentation that goes in to this. Nutrition, shoes, hydration, socks, speed, form, the list goes on.
And, Summer is almost over. I decided I wanted to run this marathon last October. I’ve been working on and dreaming of this for a year. I still need to get this ankle functioning again, find the perfect combination of everything, and finish building up my mileage.
Yesterday’s Hot Chocolate 15K race went so much better than the Hot Dash 10 Mile. It’s amazing what putting in effort and training can do. The weather was gorgeous yesterday. My best running friend (I call her “the instigator” – she signs up for these races and I just copy her :)) and I left my house at about 6:30 am. All went according to our race agenda (we even found the perfect parking spot!) and were at the start with plenty of time to spare. Even got to meet some friends of hers who are also running fanatics.
I have stuck to my marathon training plan religiously these past 6 weeks putting all of my fitness focus on running. I was pretty excited for this race. I have never been in any type of qualifying coral but my previous race time in the Sioux Falls half marathon got me bumped up to Coral J which was the first coral at the 15K race. It was super fun to start out with all of the fast people. Most of them passed me quickly but a few of us finished together!
I didn’t feel like I was pushing or going out too fast at all. Looking at my splits, I probably could have pulled back a little more in the beginning but felt really good at the time. Usually I die a little every time someone passes me (which is often because I’m slowish) but yesterday my montra was “my race, my pace”. I focused on going as fast as I comfortably could. After the first few miles the rest just seemed to fly by. Every water stop also had gatorade which was really nice. Since it was chocolate themed, each stop also had candy. I skipped the sugary stuff for the most part except the very last water stop. At mile 7.5 Sugar by Maroon 5 thrummed into my ear buds just as I was approaching the break and I took it as a sign. I indulged with a good 45 seconds of snacking and Adam Levine fantasizing before continuing on to the finish.
Finished strong with an average pace of 10:30 per mile. A huge improvement over my average pace at Hot Dash of 12:04 per mile for about the same distance. And no blisters or injuries this time!
To “sweeten the deal”, the post-race snacks were totally awesome. Hot chocolate, chocolate fondue, bananas and real water bottles.
That’s all I have for now folks. GOOD LUCK to those of you running Boston tomorrow! Have a phenomenal race! I can’t wait to read all about it. 🙂
Friday night I didn’t have much to put together. I had been picking my outfit out all week and lining things up. Went to bed early and got a good night’s sleep. Yesterday morning I woke up bright and early at 4:30 am. Had plenty of time to take a shower get dressed, curl my hair, decide I wanted it braided instead, make breakfast, remember I needed sneakers, look for sneakers, forget my glasses, go back for glasses, and get to M’s house by 6:00 am.
A two hour drive from the cities to Theilman Minnesota later we arrived at the start of the Zumbro 17 mile trail race. The race starts at the Zumbro River Bottoms campground area. Here is info on the course and altitude for anyone interested. The scene at the start was very laid back. At packet pickup and check in we just gave them our names. No scanning, no code, no ID necessary. People were camping in tents with camp fires. The weather was sunny and mild in the mid 50’s when we got there but was closer to 70 by the time we were done. This race was the shortest distance of the event with 2 ultra marathon races already in progress. 50 miles (3 loops of the 17 mile course) and 100 miles (6 loops of the 17 mile course). 100 milers started 8:00 am the previous day and 50 milers had started at midnight on Friday.
Just after the start, heading into the woods.
So now that the stage has been set, here’s how this thing went down and what I learned along the way.
At the top of the first hill.
The race starts out with a brief flat straight away into the woods that immediately shoots straight up a massive incline which is the first of 4 major climbs on the course. I don’t think I’ve ever been up something quite so steep. I had looked at the elevation prior and realized I had 2 or 3 more of these to go. The first couple miles M and I ran together. She’s done plenty of these including a rim to rim to rim through the grand canyon and a major trail marathon. This is a pretty good depiction of what I’m sure we would have looked like (picture M is Merlin and I’m the wolf):
After the first incline I was holding my own and felt pretty good but didn’t want to hold her back. I was glad she continued on (and met her goal!). Miles 2 through 3 were incredibly muddy. And not a puddle here or there. I’m talking about the super thick, sticks to your shoes nasty muck. The course was full of giant rocks, leaves, roots. Very different than the flat road races I’m used to.
Having just made it out of the mud and happy to be on dry land, mile 4 provided an extra special treat: SAND! It was tough and slippery and I was happy to get out of the sand pits without breaking an ankle.
After the sand fiasco I picked up speed a little and cought up to some other racers. I watched what they did, realizing this trail was definitely a different kind of race animal. I walked as fast as I could up the hills. Hydrated and took a short break at the top, jogged as fast as I could safely on the down hills. Ran as fast as I could on any straight flat areas.
I also learned that trail racers are very chatty and super nice. You can’t pass someone without having a conversation. I tried once – it was super awkward I got a bunch of bad vibes. You can talk about anything: the weather or the difficulty of the run or the nice scenery but you *have* to talk to each other and the pace is slow enough that this is doable. I stuck with a pack of about 6 individuals (at least one was a 50 miler) from miles 6 to the finish.
Aid stations are weird. People are super nice and helpful but it’s not the grab a cup of water or Gatorade and continue on. There was a whole smorgasbord of snacks an beverage options. Water, soda, candy, sandwiches, cookies, pretzels. It all looked very tempting but I stuck to my nothing-new-on-race-day rule and skipped it all. I only stopped at the last aid station at mile 14 for the porta-potty. I probably could have skipped that one too but didn’t want to regret it on the next mile!
Speaking of regrets, my only true regret is not taking enough pictures. As difficult as this race was, it was equally gorgeous. I made the mistake of putting my phone in my jacket pocket. When it got warmer I chucked the jacket in my hydration pack. At the time, I was exhausted and it just felt like a hassle to get to it.
Finished! With our wood medals, course map in the background.
The number one lesson I learned is that trail racing is NOT road racing. At all. I would actually call it a completely different sport. Different crowd, different pace, different expectations, and a drastically different course.
I finished the 16.86 miles in 4:35:40 with an average pace of 16:20. I would have been extremely disappointed with that pace on a road race. However, given the extreme conditions of the course, I’m damn proud of my finish at my first trail race.
I was blissfully going about my day yesterday when an email popped into my inbox. This was the subject: “Welcome to the 2015 Zumbro Endurance Run”. I immediately felt nauseous, sweaty and shaky. I hadn’t forgotten about the race I registered for months ago. Far from it. I had been purposely not thinking about it (there’s a big difference). Here’s what enters my brain every time I think about this race.
I’m in over my head.
I’m not this kind of runner.
I’ve never completed a trail race or run of any distance.
I’ve never completed a run or race of this distance.
I’m estimating it will take me about 4.5-5 hours. I’ve never exercised for that long. Ever.
And I don’t like mud.
And then there’s my distance running history to nag me as well: Here is how I’ve felt after my previous half marathons. 2013 Sioux Falls Half: I thought I was going to die. I honestly couldn’t believe I finished it. I cried in my husbands arms when it was over. I was incredibly sore the rest of the day and for two days following. 2014 Sioux Falls Half: Ran fast and hard the whole way, set a PR 17 minutes faster than the same race last year. Legs and lungs felt great but my feet were killing me. I don’t think I could have taken another step solely (see what I did there?) due to foot pain. 2014 Monster Dash Half: Went out too fast. Wound up taking walk breaks around mile 11. Legs were just dog tired. Finished 3 minutes slower than my PR the month before. 12.5 Mile Training Run (three weeks ago): Almost didn’t finish it. I was just really tired. No excuse either, ran the whole thing slow and easy.
I can’t imaging running another 4 miles (for me that’s 40-60 minutes) after any one of these.
I hate feeling anxious. Anxiety just feels like poison coursing through my system and I won’t put myself through that for the next 4 days. Since it’s this Saturday, I know not thinking about it is no longer an option. So I have two choices: 1.) Drop out and just decide to rain check until I feel more ready. Or 2.) Get over myself and find a way to not freak out about this for the next 4 days.
Well, I don’t quit.
Time for option 2.
Positive thoughts for consideration:
My training has been solid the past couple months. I have been running. I’ve been running a lot. I have in fact focused only on running and dropped the strength training completely (on Dr.’s orders). Usually that has bummed me out but right now it’s my beacon of hope.
It’s fun to run somewhere new.
I will set a PR (for distance) no matter what, because I don’t quit (see above). Even if I wind up walking/hiking most of it, it will be the farthest I’ve ever traveled on foot.
Most importantly, this is not the race. It is a race. This is a fun way to train on the way to the race. I can’t get too hung up on races that are not my ultimate goal. My goal is to finish the marathon in October. And I know when I’m 4 days out from that thing, anxiety will be back in a very big way. At that point I will be able to remind myself how well I did on a little 17 mile trail race back in April. 🙂