Marathon Countdown: 5 Days

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!

IMG_3420

 

Marathon Countdown: 23 Days

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.IMG_3133

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. 🙂

Race Recap: Rock n’ Roll New Orleans

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.

Friday
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.

IMG_2863

Our Hotel: Le Pavillon

Saturday
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!  IMG_2861.JPG

Sunday/Race Day
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.IMG_2896.JPG

 

Marathons and Ragnar and Tri’s Oh My!

I went through a period of feeling like I would never run again, never race again.  I know that sounds melodramatic, but it’s where I was mentally.  The ankle pain was ridiculous for weeks and when you’re in that mode it gets difficult to imagine doing the things you love again.  But, now that my ankle is feeling stronger I’ve been more confident in registering for races and looking toward some pretty nifty new goals in 2016.

IMG_1952

My yellow brick road. 🙂

I had thought that once I had finished 2015 I would have completed my first marathon.  It didn’t happen and won’t at this point.  I’m okay with that.  However, I thought that I would have moved on to some other things.  I wanted to start looking at multiple marathons in one year, a 50K, Ragnar Relay and I’ve been interested in triathlons for a few years now.

The 50K is not going to happen, so let’s just scratch that right now.  Goals need to be realistic.  I think 2 marathons in one years is a pretty good start as far as endurance running is concerned.  I want to get those under my belt and then see how a longer distance feels after completing those.

Ready for Women Rock 2014!

My ruby slippers. 🙂

However, the rest of it seems… kinda feasible!  Multiple marathons should be a go as long as I’m diligent in my recovery, pay attention to my body, and avoid injury at all cost now that I know injury is an actual thing that actually does happen if you’re not careful.  My BRF is captaining a Ragnar Relay team that we’re organizing for August, and I’m looking into triathlons.  By “looking into” I should have said “learning how to swim”.  So stay tuned on that one.  Adventures in not drowning soon to come!

So that is what is going on this week.  Otherwise I’ve just been focusing on getting back into shape, losing a little weight and making sure I don’t forget to take care of this ankle and take it for granted.

 

Registered for First Marathon for the Second Time

So many updates!  I finished and passed my very last Ph.D. course, we got the house on the market to move to another area of town, and I’m starting to ease back into running!  Just a little running but it’s enough to keep me sane for now. 🙂

In even more exciting news, I’ve registered for another marathon.  It’s an interesting experience, registering for your first marathon for the second time.  The first time was filled with pure adrenaline and the excitement of “Wow I can’t believe I’m doing this! I’m going to run a marathon!”.  The second time was more bitter sweet and hopeful.  I really hope I can pull it off this time.  I am also filled with an intense grit and determination to do this.  Several people have asked me why I won’t just wait until the Twin Cities marathon in 2016.  The answer is simple, I just can’t.  I would rather train through sub zero temperatures, snow storms, slush and sleet that is Minnesota Winter instead of wait another whole year to have a chance to accomplish this.  I only hope I’m not jinxing it by registering before I’m even fully recovered from this injury.

I picked the Delaware Marathon in Wilmington, DE.  The reason I chose this race is simple – it’s a chance to return to where I grew up and see the city in a whole new light.  I’ve learned that running through a city truly gives you a new perspective and I didn’t start running until years after I had moved away.  My parents and grandparents live relatively close to there which will make it a fantastic family get-together as well.  I had been looking at a few races but when I found this one, I had such a good feeling and knew it was the one.  It’s a smaller race and I didn’t want to miss my chance so I registered.  I registered for my first marathon, again.

I also just registered for a race in February (RNR Half Marathon – New Orleans)!  I enjoyed the Rock and Roll Chicago so much and when I heard my BRF was running this one I just couldn’t pass up another girls weekend and fun race experience. 🙂

At this point I’m done with all races for 2015 and looking forward to complete recovery by the end of the year.  I can’t wait to put my all into training for this awesome home town marathon. 🙂

A Difficult Decision

After a short yet very painful run on Monday I realized this isn’t my marathon year.  Letting go of something I’ve worked so hard for for 11 months is not easy.  This injury has hurt in more ways than one.  I spent a lot of time negotiating with myself and trying to find a way to just run it anyway without the training build up.  After a lot of research and consulting with my coach I just don’t believe that is a healthy option for me at this point.

Once I realized that I was really out of the race, I had a week of what I will just call an adult (okay maybe not even that grown up) hissy fit.  I wanted to run this marathon so badly.  I had honestly been looking forward to this last month of difficult long runs more than the race itself and I never even got to run my longest distance in training.  It sucks.  Am I over it?  Nope.  But I’m definitely  getting there.  Here is a video recap of that decision, and a new (and probably smarter) plan for 2016.

Race Recap: Women Rock – Starlet Challenge

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.11947689_10207394826725719_3750133041126512164_n

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. 🙂

Race Recap: Lebanon 10K Trail Race (with video)

The Lebanon 10K trail race is one of five races in the Endless Summer Trail Run Series (ESTRS) hosted by Twin Cities Running Company and Rocksteady Running.

Looking back and reviewing my thoughts on this race I realized that it gave me a lot of firsts for one little 10K run.

  1. This was my first race where it rained through the entire event.
  2. First race I’ve ever gone to completely solo.  Drove there myself.  Check in and packet pickup on my own.  Started running alone.  After party of one.  Drove home by myself.  There are pros and cons to this.  I had the freedom to do things on at my own pace and didn’t worry about where anyone else was or how to meet up or any of those coordination items.  That said, it was super lonely!  I don’t think I would go it alone again if I could avoid it.  The after party was especially lonely.  It was a great event with pizza and beer and I just didn’t have anyone to share it with and recount the race with.
  3. Not my first trail race but it was my first trail 10K!
  4. First 10K that was a 3 mile loop twice.
  5. First race on a Tuesday evening after work.
  6. First race while recording with a GoPro.

The night before was a Monday evening.  I packed everything I would need into my gym bag instead of laying it out as I would for other races simply because the race was after work and not my first item of the day.  I also knew it would probably be rainy so I brought my rain jacket, a plastic sandwich bag for my phone and a towel for after the race.

After work on Tuesday I drove over to Lebanon Hills Regional Park and parked in the overflow lot.  Check in was IMG_0376seamless.  I gave the volunteers my name and bib # and was good to go.  Race registration also included glassware from Solomon.  Since my car was at the overflow lot, it was raining, and I didn’t have anyone with me to hold my stuff I hid my glass by one of the picnic tables.  Felt very sneaky for doing this but it worked out fine and was waiting for me when I finished.

I have to give race directors a shout out for starting on time.  And I mean really on time.  Super punctual.  The race was scheduled to start at 6:30 and we started exactly at 6:30 pm.

The race started on asphalt and quickly progressed into the trail through the woods.  It had been raining for 4 days in the Minneapolis area prior to Tuesday.  The mud was out of control and it was very difficult to not slip and fall.  Great workout but made for some slow running.IMG_0386

The first 3 miles felt like they flew by.  I had turned off the voice notifications on my Map My Run app to avoid bothering anyone and I didn’t notice any mile markers.  If they were there, I didn’t see them.  The whole time I didn’t know how far I was which I think made the time seem to go by faster.  Aid station was great (back at the start/finish) with water, gels, and really supportive volunteers cheering.  The second loop felt like it went by more slowly.  I think this was because I knew I was repeating everything I had just run through, I was more tired, and more soaked by then.  (Disclaimer: It wasn’t pouring, just a heavy mist/drizzle.  If it had been an outright downpour I might not have stuck it out!)  The park trail was beautiful despite the weather.  Picture lots of green foliage with wood bridges throughout.

I finished in little under an hour and 17 minutes.  Not too shabby for me considering the muddy trail and rain!  It was a great workout and I am proud of my time.IMG_0385

Afterwards there was pizza and beer.  Pizza and lemonade for me since I was driving myself home.  I have to say though, it tasted like the best meal ever after running in the rain for an hour!  This was a very well organized race and I truly enjoyed myself.  The volunteers were so nice, helpful, and encouraging.  I would absolutely run another ESTRS race again.  Next time though, I’m bringing some friends! 🙂

Having it All vs. Doing it All

I’ve never no-showed a race.  In fact, I rarely ever no-show anything at all.  If I say I will do something, I do it.  If I say I will be somewhere, I’m there.  If I register for it, I show up and run.  Until this weekend.  A few months ago I registered for the Get in Gear 10k.  Later my husband let me know that our 8 year old would have a hockey tournament – we just didn’t know what time of day.  A couple weeks ago, in looking at my training plan realized that it called for an 8 mile run that day.  It doesn’t take a genius to realize that 6 miles is not quite 8 miles.  I decided to change my distance for Get in Gear to the half marathon.  A few days ago we found out my son had two big tournament games the day of Get in Gear (yesterday).  One at 8:15 am and another at 1:15 pm.  The race was scheduled for 9:00 am.  No way to do both.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t even consider skipping the hockey tournament.  It was extremely tempting.  I really enjoy race days, they are the best.  Sitting in a cold ice arena for hours is not always super fun.  It crossed my mind but in the end I knew I needed to be there for him.  When there’s a conflict – the Mom card trumps all.  I got my first Did Not Start (or DNS in the running world).  Kind of a bummer but I don’t regret it.  I didn’t skip it because I forgot or slept late or was feeling lazy.  I skipped it because my guy needed me.  And he did.  The first game of the tournament was a shut out, 0 to 10.  The second was another loss at 1 to 10.  He was super disapointed and I would have felt even worse if I hadn’t been there to give hugs and encouragement.

IMG_0150

Sometimes having it all doesn’t mean doing it all.  Sometimes the kitchen doesn’t get cleaned.  Sometimes that last minute email gets answered the next day.  Sometimes grad homework is turned in at the last minute (like this week!).  And sometimes a DNS happens.  That’s life as a parent.  We sacrifice our own wants for our kids’ well being and happiness and it’s okay (and encouraged!) to give ourselves room to do that guilt free.

But it doesn’t have to be a total sacrifice.  I skipped the race and am very glad I did.  I gave up the half marathon but didn’t give up my training.  It would have been easy to just say ‘oh well, that’s that, wasn’t meant to be’.  But I still had those 8 miles on my training 8 mile trail trainingplan so I cranked out them out on some trials.  (This trail stuff is growing on me although we ran into several harmless but startling snakes which I didn’t appreciate.)  Had a great workout with a good friend in spite of the scheduling issues.

Sidebar: Looking for some feedback!  I have been watching YouTube videos lately for running, workout and training tips.  Playing around with the idea of doing some video blogging of my own.  Thoughts?  Good idea?  Silly idea?  Have you tried it or have any tips?  Would welcome any comments. 🙂

Hot Chocolate > Hot Dash

IMG_0098Yesterday’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.IMG_0118

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!

hot chocolateI 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.IMG_0117

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. 🙂