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!!

1 comment:

  1. I hear a lot of people taking a break after running so many marathons. It def takes a toll on your life schedule....even if we do love it