Sunday, September 18, 2011

Week 11: How MP Got Her Groove Back

Back in the swing of it and feeling GREAT! The River Run certainly resuscitated my ailing heart. :-)

Racing during marathon training is essential for many reasons. Not only does it put your fitness level to the test, but it helps you figure out what works and what doesn’t work before, during, and after a race. This is with regards to nutrition, dealing with race morning chaos, sleep (or lack thereof, usually),  Port-A-Potty use (eventually you stop thinking of how disgustingly unsanitary those things are, LOL), proper warm-up, pre and post- run clothing, and so much more that would never cross your mind as essential until you race.  But the main benefit of racing is the “high” that comes along with it. It’s so much fun being surrounded by so many people of different abilities all trying to achieve their goals. The energy at a race is like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and always has me wanting to come back for more.  Plus, the adrenaline rush that comes with pushing yourself to your limits and coming out with a P.R. is indescribable. Simply put, it’s amazing!  My 1:30 at the River Run last weekend was the electrifying jolt my running heart needed to start beating again. I got my groove back! :-)

Monday night before Open House at AHS, I got in a solid hour of cross-training. I did 30 minutes on the elliptical and 30 minutes on the bike. I have gotten quite good at the YMCA showers before night events at school, haaaaa. Tuesday, I was totally exhausted but my spirits were high! I rocked a 45 minute tempo, increasing my 6:40-6:50 time to 25 minutes instead of 20, with a 10 minute warm-up and 10 minute cool down. I covered 5.89 miles and felt GREAT afterwards! Wednesday I ran a 4 mile pace at an average 7:08min/mi pace. I was clearly running this too fast, but I still had residual race adrenaline that I couldn’t suppress. So, I just went with it! Thursday I covered 10 miles easy through CLE. It was a cool, beautiful night, and I just wanted to keep this at a relaxing pace. I decided to be rebellious and ran with headphones for this one.  It was just what I needed to tune out the world for a bit, and I averaged an 8:02min/mi pace.  

After a busy rest day Friday, I was very excited to embark on my first 20 mile journey of my training on Saturday. Yes, that’s right…EXCITED!!! It’s been a while since I’ve genuinely looked forward to running for 2+hours like I used to! :-) I had a late night Friday, so didn’t end up on the Tow Path until 9:40am. OOPS! My goal for this long run was to keep focused on completing the mileage, and less focused on my pace. I wanted to be around an 8:00 min pace, but wasn’t too concerned about being right on. I also decided to be rebellious for this run and ran with headphones, but again I felt that I could use the distraction. I know my analytical side is a part of my charm (INSERT SARCASTIC SMERK), but I need to ease up on it in my running. I love running, and need to run like I love it…not like I “have” to do it. As  a consequence, I really didn’t focus on my pace at all throughout the run. It’s hard for me to even give a detailed report on it because I was in “la la running land” for most of it. And, it was wonderful!! I ended with my usual strong last mile (7:00ish pace), and overall ran in 2:38:47, an average 7:56min/mi pace. That’s fantastic considering I wasn’t even paying attention!  But, I won’t be running my next 20 miler in this same lackadaisical fashion. There will be no headphones, and I will be focused!!! :-)  But, it sure felt good to step outside the box and relax for a little bit. 

Overall, awesome week in training!! I covered 44.89 miles this week, and 389.83 miles over the past 11 weeks. I’m feeling good despite some major back pain from too much heavy lifting over the past week.  I seriously have no upper body strength. Once NYC is over, I think it may be time to start some weight lifting…? EEEEEEK doesn’t sound appealing, but it’s unbelievable how weak I am. The more I run, the wimpier I get. My big bro said to me as we were trying to carry a coffee table down the fire escape, “You’re like an offensive lineman (I think that’s what he said) playing in the NBA right now.” I, obviously, asked for a translation in my language and he replied: “For as good of an athlete you are, you are unbelievably weak.” LOL! :-)

My Week 12 NYC Marathon Training agenda (based off of Hal Higdon’s Advanced-2 Marathon Training Program:
Monday: 7X800
Tuesday: 40 minute cross-train
Wednesday: 45 min tempo
Thursday: 6 mile pace
Friday: rest
Saturday: 5K ??? possibly…going to see how I feel towards the end of the week
Sunday: 12 miles 

I registered for Boston this week and am still waiting to hear back!!! Fingers crossed I get in again!!

Starting to REALLY feel ready to kick some butt in Cbus and NYC in just a few weeks!! MP’s Got Her Groove back! :-)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Week 10: I've Got the MoOoOoves Like Jagger- River Run 1/2 Marathon ;-)

SUCCESS. It’s a great feeling. :-) But no one said it would be easy!

I woke up this morning at 5am chipper and ready to run. I was hoping for a P.R., with the possibility of a sub-1:30 in the back of my mind, but was really just looking forward to running my favorite 13.1 course with some fabulous people! My long run training buddy and coworker, Jen, was running with me along with another coworker, Kasie. They are such great, fun women so I was excited to be able to take part in this super fun event with them! SOOOOO, I did my normal pre-run routine before heading out the door, which included a brief catch-up of the Jersey Shore. I haven’t had much time (or willingness to sacrifice the time I do have) to watch those clowns depict some of the poorest characteristics of mankind, so I tuned in for a bit while I was getting ready. I must say, The Situations head-butt into a cement wall has got to be one of the most ridiculously hilarious things I’ve seen in while. What a d&^%bag. :-) When 6:25am rolled around, I turned off The Shore and headed out the door!

My tummy wasn’t feeling well once I got off the highway into Berea, so I made my first of several pit stops at a Burger King (reallllllly creepy morning crowd in there, LOL). It didn’t even occur to me that I should be concerned that this tummy ache may be a factor in the race, and mayyyyyybe that’s a good thing. Once I got to Wallace Lake, I got in a solid 2 mile warm–up, a few bathroom breaks (eeeeeeeek), and some stretching. Despite my GI issues, I was feeling calm, my legs felt energetic and spunky, and I was just excited to get out there! I also met up with Jen and Kasie before the run, which was the exact adrenaline boost I needed to make this an awesome race. They just had such fun, positive vibes that kept me distracted from over-analyzing my plan-of-attack on the course. I set my Garmin for a 6:55 mile pace, and just wanted to stay under 7:00. We had a moment of silence in memory of 9-11-01, and then off we all went! 

I stayed calm at just under a 6:50 pace for the first mile. The song “Moves Like Jagger” was stuck in my head and I LOVE that song! It’s got a certain je ne sais quoi that makes me want to grab a cute guy and start dancing hahaaaa! No, I didn’t do that, haaaaaaa. Maybe next race. :-)  But the rockin' mind tune was keeping me pumped, I was feeling good, and I knew this was going to be a great race! 

As I was passing into mile 2, I saw a guy running with a Leetonia singlet on. My Grandma, who passed when I was in kindergarten, grew up in Leetonia. She was the most hardworking, dedicated, and loving mother, wife, teacher, and human being, and I hope that I can be half the person she was some day. I pray to her often, and I was very overcome by emotion seeing that shirt. This was just another bit of motivation to make this race a great one, and just a reminder that I always have an angel over my shoulder no matter what…0:-)

Once I was into mile 3, I was in gear and I was just rolling with the 6:50 pace. GREAT feeling! Around this time, a girl I usually use to pace myself popped up to my side. She’s a solid runner that always runs at a consistent pace, so I was happy to see her! I filled her in on my plan, and we ended up running pretty much the rest of the race together. We chit-chatted a bit and have very similar race P.R.’s. Again, another reason I love running.  Runners are SERIOUSLY the nicest people in the world. I’m convinced that the key to world peace is running! :-) I’ve met so many amazing people through running. Also, a local running elite girl was running the race casually (yes, she still kicked my butt at her “easy” pace!) and she also was a huge help to my success at this race. She seemed so calm and in control, and motivated me to stick with my goal. She’s a truly phenomenal runner, and it’s so obvious she loves it. She’s SUCH an inspiration!! I will be cheering her on all the way to the Olympics! 

As soon as I got into mile 6, I could tell that the course mileage was way off (by at least .15 miles too long) and this was going to lose me time. My stomach was starting to feel super queasy, but I was feeling good everywhere else so I did my best to focus on everything else possible besides that. I kept trucking, and trucking, and suddenly mile 11 showed up. I was totally on and just had to seal the deal. I lost Rose around this point, and was feeling good enough to place Overall.  I was being informed of my status by bystanders and also other runners for most of the race, which was awesome (and another reason you shouldn’t race with headphones!). The men on the course, as always, were being super supportive. LOVE it! Then, as I got into mile 12, I knew I was golden for home…butttttt my stomach had some other plans. I knew something was going to come out in either direction (gross over-share, SORRY!), and I just had to get to a Port-A-Potty ASAP. There was NO way I was risking a P.R. to stop, so I went to the finish line sick as EVER. I’ve NEVER EVER been so ill at a race! As I was finishing up the last .25 mile, I really felt like I was going to humiliate myself. I was freaking out. There was a huge crowd at the end cheering me on and shouting my name, and I’M SO SO SORRY for not being more gracious. I was just SO FREAKED OUT. As soon as I crossed the finish line and they announced I was the 3rd overall female (HOLLA!!!), I booked it for a Port-A-Potty. Gosh that was miserable! BUT I DID P.R.! The official gun time was 1:30:08, and because I was an Overall finisher they didn’t recognized my chip time (LAME!!!). My Garmin said 1:29:25, and I know I had to have been under 1:30, so I’ll just keep that in mind. But, otherwise, 1:30:08, 6:53min/mi, is STILL a P.R.! Plus, it was super exciting to win 3rd female!!! 

So, YES, this race was a SUCCESS! Jen won our age group at 1:36, and Kasie rocked out Brown’s style in 2:00! I heard guys discussing how awesome Kasie was for sporting the Brown’s jersey the entire race, and I had to agree!!! I also got to see my friend and cousin-in-law, Jess!! She’s always such a smiling gem and makes my racing experience so much more fun!! OH, and I also saw Debbie! She rocked out as well, especially considered she ran a 50K the weekend before. You are amazing, Debbie!

SO, I’m very happy with the race, my fitness is better than I expected, and my attitude is where it needs to be! My total mileage this week is 42.81 and my overall mileage is 344.49.

Next week will be Week 11 in my NYC Marathon Training (based off of Hal Higdon’s Advanced-2 Marathon Training Plan):

Monday: 40 min cross-train
Tuesday: 45 tempo
Wednesday: 4 mile pace
Thursday: 10 miles easy
Friday: rest
Saturday: 20 miles
Sunday: 40 min cross-train

I can’t believe C-bus is only a few weeks away!!! I’m confident that no matter what the outcome is, it’s going to be another great experience to get me ready for NYC! 

I've Got the MoOoOoOves Like Jagger! (still in my head hahhaaa) HAPPY TRAINING EVERYONE!!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Week 10: Twas the night before the River Run...

“Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!” This is a quote from Alice in Wonderland that my principal shared with the teachers at a staff meeting on Thursday this week. He was relating an idea regarding the necessity of evolution of species for survival in a constantly changing environment to the need of teachers to evolve their practices in a constantly changing society. Yes, I’m a nerdy science teacher so for obvious reasons I found his motivational approach to be brilliant and inspiring, LOL. But, as I pondered more on the meaning behind this quote from a movie I saw when was I was 5  years old (…I think?), I felt a great sense of relief regarding feelings I’ve had lately that I’ve recently blogged about. I was starting to worry that maybe my inability to feel truly content with my life and this constant search I've been having for something more would eventually turn me into a sour, miserable person. But perhaps accepting life for what it is and never reaching for anything more is what would eventually turn me into a sour, miserable person. Additionally, the unexamined life isn't worth living anyways...right? So If I ever want to make the most out of my life, I have to reflect, explore, develop new goals, and open up new doors. Speaking of goals…

As I’ve struggled lately without any real concrete goals getting me to Staten Island this fall, I’ve officially decided that NYC will be my last hard-core 26.2 for at least a year. I plan to train the remaining 8 weeks with the intensity I mapped out for myself back in July, and then after NYC it’s back to running for fun. I’ll be putting the Garmin away for a while and going on runs wherever they take me!  I’m looking forward to having more time to get back into Pilate classes, and maybe Yoga...and who knows?? If I want to be the best MP I can be and keep up in world that will always be moving faster than me, I need to try something new. And HEY, maybe this is what I need to eventually become a REALLY good runner…? I guess I will just have to figure that out as I go. You have to love how life always provides you the opportunity for possibilities if you are willing to seize them. Life is GOOD. :-)

I’m finally back in the swing of things at work, and have no complaints regarding any of my workouts this week! Monday I had 6Xhill at my favorite hill in Little Italy. It was a cool day, in MAJOR contrast to the previous 90 degree disgusting 19 miler I had a few days prior. So no matter what, I was guaranteed a great workout that day! I had a few quality repeats, and a few that were a moderate bust. The good news is I had major booty muscle soreness the next day, so clearly the workout paid off!! The bad new is I’m pretty sure Sir-Mix-Alot would NOT approve, haaaaaaaaa! Tuesday was an easy 4 miles, 32:49 (8:12min pace). Wednesday was a 45 tempo that I was EXHAUSTED for, but still squeezed in. It went well, but I noticed I started wheezing 15 minutes into my 6:50 pace. I’m not sure if it was the temperature change or allergies, but I was not comfortable with it. I took deep  breaths and that seemed to help a bit. I haven’t used an inhaler for my asthma since high school, and I’d like to keep it that way!! Fortunately, there was no wheezing on my 9 miler Thursday on the Tow Path. I took it easy with the River Run ½ marathon on my weekend agenda, and ran 1:12:22, 8:02min/mi. I was feeling great and energetic, and eager to race this weekend!! Friday, I planned on an early evening 5 mile easy run. Instead, it turned into a late night 5 mile pouring rain run due to a coffee date turned dinner date and drinks with one of my favs, Jeness! There’s nothing like great company and bar food/beer to get me ready for my race this weekend! Speaking of my race…

This will be my fourth year running the River Run ½ marathon. Below is what I like to call a little trip down Memory Lane...:-)

River Run 2008; 1:57:17, 8:59min/mi

River Run 2009; 1:42:53, 7:42min/mi

River Run 2010; 1:31:27, 6:59min/mi
  This is my all-time favorite half marathon, and I seriously look forward to it all year! I don’t have any major goals this time around. Obviously, I always aim for a P.R. and hope to snatch one tomorrow. A sub 1:30 would be REALLY nice, but we’ll see what my body is vibin’ tomorrow morning. I'm running this race with my AHS friends Jen and Kasie, so no matter what it's going to be a blast! Also, I will be sporting red, white, and blue tomorrow in memory of 9-11. I will be thinking about all of those who have sacrificed their own lives, willingly and unwillingly, to ultimately provide all of us the freedom to live our best lives. I'm forever grateful. :-)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Week 9: Follow Your Heart :-)

The midpoint has arrived. 9 weeks down, and 9 weeks to go. Just as the mid-miles in any race are always the most challenging , the mid-training point can be VERY tough. Marathon training can be downright brutal, and it’s essential to have your goals in the forefront of your mind to keep you going. I have had serious difficulty getting in consistent quality workouts over the past week, battling issues with fatigue and the disgusting heat and humidity that has crept its way back in to CLE. And my goals that keep me going are…ummm…ehhhrrr…ugggghhhh…yeah… What are my goals again?

The school year is back in full swing, and I couldn’t be happier with my job. I feel so lucky to have a career that gives me the opportunity to be inspired, creative, giving, intellectually stimulated, and challenged. Most importantly, working with my students is just fun! I love my kiddos, work with great people, and have a beautiful classroom to teach in. I don’t even really think of what I do as a job.  I really just love it. :-) 

Running has always been like a second job to me. Since my marathon madness began in 2009, my days have consisted of nothing but teaching and running, teaching and running, and teaching and running. I loved the routine I set for myself, and found running to be a great release from the pressures and stress that come with teaching. My initial goal was to complete a marathon, which then led to the goal of finishing under 4 hours, which then led to the goal of qualifying for Boston, which then led to the goal of running Boston. I worked my butt off (literally…haaaaaaa) and reached every goal I set for myself. And now my goal is to…? 

After I left work after my first week with the kiddos, I did some serious reflecting on my drive home. This led to a series of questions I asked myself: What is it that I want from my life right now? Have I become so consumed in the routine of teaching and running that I haven’t given myself the opportunity to fully accept anything else? What new challenges can I open myself up to to make this year different than the others? Do I want to really let someone in at some point, instead of the superficial relationships I’ve been toying around with for years? I have no clue exactly what I want for my life right now, or who I want to bring in it, but I think I have an idea of what I need to do…

To briefly summarize my week in running, I'd say it was certainly eye-opening...

Monday, I had 6X800 on track and it went great! I had some competition on the track that kept me on my toes, and I was right around a 6:00min pace for each of the repeats. It felt great to get in some speed work on my legs…they needed it! Tuesday was an interesting day, and I got in a 4 mile easy run that helped me reflect on the feelings of confusion that have been bombarding my mind. I didn’t finish with any answers, but with the acceptation that maybe I’d never get any. I’ll leave it at that for now. :-) Wednesday was a 40 minute tempo. I was EXHAUSTED prior to the run, so my warm up was rather slow. But once I got into 13 minutes, I flew until 35 minutes in between a 6:40-6:50ish pace. I covered 5.25 miles. I was very pleased! Then came Thursday

It was disgustingly hot and humid Thursday night, but I had no choice but to get in my 9 mile pace run. I couldn’t put it off, and I had to do it even though I didn’t want to AT ALL. I hydrated well, and then drove to the Tow Path after work. I did some stretching, and then off I went. The first three miles were fine, and I was on pace although feeling sticky and yucky. Once I was into my four, I felt my arm swing naturally pick up. I knew this was an indicator that my legs couldn’t do the job on their own, and I started feeling pretty nervous. Into mile 5, I was just done. :-( My legs were SHOT, it was SO hot, and I was just mentally unmotivated and unfocused. I trudged the remaining miles, crying at one point because I was so miserable. I simply didn’t want to do it, especially at a 7:30 pace. I went back to those questions I asked last Friday, and started thinking about my goals. I realized I didn’t really set any concrete goals beyond running Boston, and I’m not even really sure why I’m putting myself through this agonizing pain. I miss running because I love running, being able to have free time, having people around, and so much more that I’ve given up to reach my goals. Now that my goals have been reached, is it time to start a new adventure??? I finished my run in 1:11:21, 7:56min/mi. This is not a terrible time at all. In fact most running experts would argue I ran this smart considering the humidity and heat. But, I think what made this run so hard, and many of my long runs through my NYC training, is that my heart just isn’t in it any more. 

Friday was my rest day, and I decided that my 19 miles scheduled for Saturday would be 110% based on how I felt. This was supposed to be my step-back week and I was only scheduled 12 miles, but because of the River Run ½ marathon next weekend I swapped the mileage. I didn’t want to push the pace, and just wanted to run by feel. I met my friend Jen at 8am Saturday morning, and it was already scorching hot out. The temperatures were expected to get into the 90s, and I’m quite certain it was close to it at 8am. I took it slow for the first half, which I felt bad about because I was holding Jen back a little bit. After multiple failed long runs, I wanted to at least run this one smart even if I was risking being under pace. Faster training doesn’t necessarily mean faster racing! And, I made the right choice! There wasn’t any point in the 19 where I felt like “I can’t do this,” or “I want to quit NOW.” In fact, I was feeling good enough towards the second half to pick it up a bit! Unfortunately though, the heat made it tough to push as hard as I could have the second half and started to mess with my mind a little bit. I got confused at one point and had no clue where I was, and was super worried I got lost. But, I didn’t. :-) I kept going, and finished a strong mile 19 around a 6:50 pace (no clue where that came from!). I ended up finishing in 2:36:45, 8:15min/mi. Not too shabby!

So, what did I learn this week? I need a break. I’ve accomplished amazing things over the past two years, and it’s almost unbelievable how far I’ve come. I don’t want to quit. Running, like teaching, isn’t just what I do…it’s a part of who I am. But my life needs more balance, and if I ever want to let anything or anyone else into my life, I need room for it. I want to go back to running for fun, and maybe start biking, or hiking, or anything! Life is too short to wait around for things to happen…YOU have to make it happen. When all else fails, always follow your heart! :-)

So, I covered 42.75 miles this week, covering 301.68 miles total over the past 9 weeks. 

My Week 10 NYC Marathon Training Plan (based of off Hal Higdon’s Advanced Marathon Training Program):
Monday: 6 X hill
Tuesday: 4 miles easy
Wednesday: 45 min tempo
Thursday: 9 miles easy
Friday: 5 miles easy
Saturday: rest
Sunday: River Run ½ Marathon

FYI- I still plan on signing up for Boston, and maaaaaaybe just winging it with very little training. Hahaaaaaaaa old habits die hard, right??? 

9 weeks until NYC!!!!! HAPPY TRAINING EVERYONE!!