Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bring it, 2012!

Saw this on Kara Goucher's fb page and thought it was blog-worthy! To all of the long distance running skeptics out there, there's so much more to this sport than is necessarily describable (or defendable, for that matter) in words. But, I think this pic sums it up. :-)

Running continues to challenge me to be the best me I can be. I'm forever grateful.

BRING IT, 2012!!!!!!!! :-)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dream BIG :-)

It’s a sunny, cold Sunday in December. I don’t feel like Christmas shopping and I already ran this morning. So, I will blog! J
It’s been over a month since New York. Since my 8th marathon adventure, I’ve taken my recovery very seriously. About two weeks after the marathon, I was struck with a nasty virus that worked its way into my respiratory tract, sinuses, and I could even feel it in my joints and muscles (VERY SCARY). I was completely lethargic, in a good amount of physical pain, and was just miserable. After using my weekends to do little more than relax, avoiding mileage over 30 miles/week, NO racing, and lots of good eating and sleeping, I FINALLY feel back to normal and ready to focus on my upcoming goals!
I was feeling good enough this week to squeeze in a 5K race this morning.  I really haven’t pushed myself to my fullest since the Columbus Marathon in mid-October, so I was really feeling the desire to race regardless of the weather conditions. No matter how much effort I put into my training workouts, I always know I’d put out more if I were in a race. Something about the atmosphere and the energy of the other runners just gives me the extra bit of motivation to push harder. It was FREEZING cold this morning, the race was in a desolate, impoverished location near the Cleveland Clinic off of Carnegie, and I was WAY over-dressed. I bundled up with Under Armour, a hooded sweatshirt, and a running jacket. I probably could have done without the hooded sweatshirt, as I could absolutely feel the weight of it from miles 1.5 until the finish. It was a tough race for me mentally mainly because I haven’t raced a 5K since September, and it is SUCH a different race from the marathon. Not only does it recruit completely different muscles in your body, it also requires an intense mental focus from start to finish. There is no time to “choke,” you have to be ON. I didn’t have confidence to commit to a certain pace or time goal, so I just went out and did it.
I felt like I was going to vomit my lovely pasta dinner from the night before (regretted getting that chicken put on it…) from about half way through until the finish. I ended up getting “chicked” in the meantime, and didn’t have it in me to race with her. It was a major mental struggle getting to the finish line. My legs felt SUPER heavy, my pace dropped dramatically to the point my Garmin was beeping at me to SPEED UP, and I felt like dropping out. My body was just not vibing the intensity I started out with. But, I ignored it and kept pushing! I ended up finishing 2nd and was pretty thrilled to have broken 20 minutes. I didn’t see that coming!!! It wasn’t a P.R., but it felt good to run a decent race. Mainly, it felt good to run a race and have it hurt. NYC was enjoyable, but I ran a low-key pace to enjoy the experience. NO REGRETS THERE, but I miss the pain! Every time I push my body to the point of major physical pain and keep going, I learn a little bit more about myself and my potential.
So what is my potential? As I plan my spring 2012 marathon goals, I’ve been thinking a lot about how far I’ve come. I managed to transform from a 4:29 marathoner to a 3:18 marathoner in one year, completely on my own. My current P.R. is 3:16, and although I’m WAY proud I do feel that there is a lot more room for improvement. To this day, I really have no clue how I’ve managed to get as far as I have, and it makes me wonder how far I can go?
This spring, I will be running the Boston Marathon on April 16 and the Cleveland Marathon on May 20. I’m going to follow Hal’s Advanced-2 training program again, and plan on running Boston as my 2nd 20 miler. I do not have plans to P.R. at Boston, but am hoping to at least run faster than my 3:35 last year.  I am hoping to P.R. at Cleveland, but by how much I haven’t really decided. Any serious goal requires patience, dedication, and passion. I have all three of those things, and don’t by any means expect to win CLE or even get close to it, but I want to move in the direction of getting REALLY GOOD. I want to make Cleveland the baby step to see what my potential REALLY is…
I’m dreaming BIG. :-)