Sunday, December 30, 2012

Follow me on Twitter!

Due to my inability to blog as frequently and consistently as I would like, I started a Twitter training log! Follow we @ RunLikeAGirl223.

I'm hoping to blog my 2012 year in review and 2013 goals later today! I've made some significant and impactful changes that have made December an awesome month. I'm back on my feet like a compressed spring ready to leap into an AWESOME year of P.R.'s!!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Unfinished Business

Running nightmares are the WORST. If you’re a dedicated marathon runner, I’m sure you have experienced these and you know what I’m talking about. I usually have these before big races, and rarely experience them during the off season. However, for the past few weeks, I’ve been cursed with multiple variations of running nightmares. Although each nightmare has been different, they each have had the same theme—I veer off course and can’t get to the finish line. I’ve been waking up in sweats with a pounding headache, accompanied by extreme frustration. This has not exactly been the ideal way start my day!

My first nightmare occurred about a week after Columbus. In my nightmare, I was running the Cleveland Marathon with my Dad (who hasn’t exactly been my biggest cheerleader throughout my running adventures), my little brother, and my little sister. We ran together at a steady pace until mile 20, where we came to a fork in the course. There were no signs, the crowd was clueless, and we couldn’t agree which way was the right way. So, we split up and I ran off by myself. Unfortunately for me, I ended up heading in the wrong direction! All three of them made it to the finish line, and I just ran in circles frustrated and in panic-mode. Eventually, I found a long tunnel with a shining light at the end of it. My family was waiting at the front of it, yelling at me to go through it to get my medal. I woke up before I made it through. I was really freaked out, with a pounding headache, and was sweating. YIKES!

My second nightmare occurred a few weeks later. This time, I was running the Cleveland Half Marathon. I was running solo, and was OWNING it. I was on my way to break 1:30, felt great, and was just chugging along. Then, once I got to mile 10, I got confused and ran off course for an extra half mile. I was SO agitated, and couldn’t figure out how to get back on course. I was running aimlessly and was just getting more frustrated knowing that my chance for the P.R. I deserved was blown. Eventually, I figured out how to get near the course. However, there were Race Marshalls lining the course, they wouldn’t let me back in, and they kept telling me I had to go around in order to get back on course. I had NO CLUE how to get around and could hear all of the people cheering at the finish line. AGAIN, I woke up not crossing the finish line and was medal-less. This led to another morning of frustration and a pounding headache.

Then, I had a third CRAZY nightmare, not really in line with the theme of others. In this nightmare, I was arrested for planning to wear a washable tattoo pace chart for a marathon. The police took me in handcuffs from my home, put me in a jail van, and sent me to “juvie” because the jails were too full. It’s ridiculous and somewhat hilarious that my subconscious came up this one, right!?! I called my friend from work to set up my lesson plans for school since I was going to be “locked up” for an unforeseeable amount of time. I was so devastated, the experience felt so real, and I was praying that I was stuck in a bad dream. I truly felt like my life was flashing before my eyes as a result of this absurd arrest. As I was getting registered to enter “juvie” with my sister by my side, all of the head administrators of my school district walked past me!  I hid so they wouldn’t see me, and then…I WOKE UP! I woke up this morning BEYOND freaked out and was granted with another pounding headache to start my day.

LASTLY (yes, there’s one more), earlier this week I had a dream I was running a 5k. I was, again, OWNING it and on my way to break 19:00 minutes. THEN, as I was coming to the end of mile 2, there was no sign pointing the direction of where the finish line was. I remembered the previous nightmares I had and freaked out. I knew I had little time to make a decision, and so made a right hand turn. I then looked back, and saw all of the runners running in the opposite direction. I was devastated; I was on my way to a P.R. and the opportunity was once again blown!  I had to turn around, and I was so angry that I decided to drop out of the race. AGAIN, I woke up that morning with a pounding headache and a feeling of incredible frustration.

After my last nightmare this week, I started reflecting and began seeing a similar pattern between each of these nightmares, with the exception of the weird washable tattoo scandal (haha!?!). What exactly my subconscious is trying to tell me, I’m not totally sure. Opinions are welcome. But from my own personal dream-analysis, I believe it is clear that I have some unfinished business when it comes to  the goals I have set  for myself regarding running. Also, it appears that although I have the skill to get me to my goals, something out of my control is preventing me from getting there. This is pretty much in line with how I feel. The truth is, after my accident last March I haven’t had ONE Personal Record. NOT ONE.  Maybe it was my poor training during the hot summer, maybe I’m just having an “off” year, maybe I just really need a break, OR maybe it’s the Beta Blocker tarnishing my endurance and speed since it prevents my heart rate from becoming elevated. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I feel that something is holding me back and I’m stuck in a “running rut.” I know I have the potential to get better and I'm incredibly frustrated with my race time regression this year. I plan on using the month of December to reboot and try some new things to figure out what it is that has held me back. I’m going to mix things up this Spring, and see if these changes catapult me past my old P.R.’s into some new P.R.’s!!! I am feeling a burning inner-desire for a breakthrough year; I just need to figure out the steps I need to take to get me there (and still be healthy/not pass out along the way!).
It's time to move past these nightmares, and LIVE THE DREAM!!! :-)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Blow Me (one last kiss)- Columbus Marathon 2012

Oh, Columbus, if I ever needed a wake up call of who I am and where I need to go, you gave that to me. But, I can’t say I’m ready to say I don’t hate you….yet…:-)

Two weeks post the disaster which was the Columbus Marathon, I think I’m ready to blog my race report. Initially I told myself I was going to leave it in Columbus and just move past it. However, failure is just that without any kind of real reflection. Additionally, I would be doing all of my blog followers a disservice giving them the false impression that all marathon experiences are as glorious as the Akron Marathon was this fall. I’ve always been respected for my honesty, so I will be just that. I will try to avoid making this a depressing rant about how terrible it went, and instead focus on this as a reflection of what I think caused my performance and where I plan to go from here.
Akron Marathon finish- all smiles!

After the Akron Marathon, I was on a high. I had expectations of taking it easy and just completing it as my 3rd 20 miler before Columbus. I knew it was a tough marathon and so I had been avoiding the challenge for years. With my not-so-great training this summer, I thought I had nothing to lose and just did it. It turned out that I was completely ON that day and I ran a marathon that exceeded any expectation I had going into the race. I finished with a strong 3:20 and I was so proud of my 26.2 performance. I will forever wear my Akron jacket with great pride! However, I definitely put out more than I anticipated on a challenging course, which had consequences later on down the road.

The weeks following Akron, I continued through with my training to Columbus. I did not recover as quickly as I expected. Nothing in particular was strained or sore, but I was just REALLY low on energy. I was having difficulty sleeping, and felt no motivation at all to run Columbus. Plus, I had my 30th birthday celebration which ended up being a little bit too much fun! It was worth it and truly amazing, but it took a lot out of me.

Made it through 30 years alive! HA :-)
 I contemplated dropping down to the half, but it had already sold out and that wasn’t a possibility. Then, I contemplated just not running it at all. I ran the idea through my head a few times and just didn’t feel right about it. SO, I booked my hotel, sucked it up, and headed down to Columbus.

The night before the marathon, I was really trying to just get myself pumped up. Akron went so well, and had it been a flat fast course like Columbus I would have P.R.’d…and then some! With that mentality, I thought I could get myself to the finish line and potentially make something great happen. Plus, it would put me it into the double digit marathoner category as I would be collecting my 10th marathon medal. However, I was just still NOT enthusiastic and I couldn’t focus on it. So, I didn’t. I did some school work the night before the marathon, headed to the start line the next morning, and then the gun went off!

As soon as I started running, I just didn’t feel comfortable. It was VERY cold, I felt tired, and had no surge of adrenaline to push. I decided to push anyway to catch up with the 3:15 pace group. This required three fast miles, around a 7:15ish pace, and my first side stitch of the marathon. I NEVER get these when I train, so I was SO frustrated to experience it during the race. I rubbed it out, tried to focus on everything else, got some water at the upcoming aid station, and eventually it went away. The 3:15 pace leader was very chatty and I was just not vibing the energy. So, I pushed ahead and kept going. Once I got to mile 6, the side stitch was BACK. And, the 3:15 pace group came back. I was REALLY frustrated and contemplated walking out the pain. It was hurting very badly and it was SO early in on the race. But, I was afraid that stopping would throw me off the momentum I needed to keep going. So, I kept going…and eventually the side stitch went away.

Once I got to mile 10, I was still FREEZING---but could feel the sweat dripping down my head. Everyone else in the 3:15 pace group looked great and had good stamina. I, on the other hand, was starting to feel tapped out. Had this been a ½ marathon, I would have been disappointed to feel tapped at a 7:20ish pace only at mile 10. Considering I still had 16 miles to go, I was beyond disappointed. I was starting to get very concerned.

Once I reached the 13.1 mile marker, I let the 3:15 pace group go. Once I reached mile 14, I let myself go. I was done. My legs were dead. I had no steam, no pep, no fun---just not MP at all. For the first time in 10 marathons, I have officially met “the wall.” What does “the wall” feel like? Every runner’s worst nightmare. It’s ugly, heavy, negative, and is YELLING “it’s time to quit—you’re done and  you can’t do this.” With 12 miles left to the finish line, I was worried and thought dropping out was my best bet. My legs LITERALLY had nothing left, and I had no clue I could possibly finish. But, I just couldn’t drop out just yet, so I kept going…

I decided to let go of any time goal, and just focused on taking one mile at a time. I dropped my pace WAY back to around an 8:00ish min/mi, and at some points a 8:30ish min/mi…and at some REALLY low points a 10:00ish min/mi. I watched as people less fit than me, who I knew I should be WAY past, were passing me. It was KILLING me. Then, everything started to hurt—my butt, my ankles, my knees, my hips, and my back----EVERYTHING. I was in so much physical, mental, and emotional pain—I did everything possible to not break down crying. I was literally dragging my body through each mile. I can only imagine how terrible I must have looked. Even if I didn’t feel strong, I still wanted to keep it together to look (somewhat) strong. So, I kept my head up and wouldn’t let myself shed a tear. I figured that would keep me going…

Once I got to mile 22, I did the math and saw I was on track to break 3:30. I was VERY surprised, and decided to use this as my goal to keep myself moving to the finish line. I was still REALLY hurting, but I held on to a pace just around an 8:00ishmin/mi pace. The spectators were AWESOME, and their cheering and positive encouragement helped me to stay as strong as I could until I crossed the finish line.

When I crossed the finish line, there was no feeling of triumph. I had no positive thoughts going through my head. I was…well, PISSED OFF. I didn’t feel any pride putting that marathon medal over my head—and thought for a crazy second of tossing it in the garbage can. I was just so angry with my performance, overly exhausted, sore, and not thinking rationally at all. Fortunately, maturity has helped me overcome impulsive decision making processes, and I did NOT throw out my 10th marathon medal. And now, I am grateful I will always have my 10th marathon medal to remind me of WHO I am.

Yes, I am grateful. After weeks of reflection, I definitely learned something about this 26.2 experience. A few of the things I learned include the following:

(1) Attitude is everything. I didn’t want to run Columbus in the first place. I was trying to find external reasons to get me through it. You need to have internal motivation to complete a successful marathon. If you don’t have it, it’s not worth it.

(2) Careful with goals. There are MANY things that influence one’s 26.2 performance. As a result, a runner has to be willing to be flexible with his/her goals. I should have had more realistic goals in Columbus. I knew I was exhausted, unmotivated, and coming from a strong Akron experience. 3:15 was not an unrealistic goal for me this fall, but on that day it certainly was. I know I will break 3:15---this fall was just not my time to do it.

(3) Recovery takes time. Running 26.2 miles becomes second nature to us seasoned running folks, but it takes a lot out of you. My glycogen stores clearly were not ready for another 26.2 miles 3 weeks following Akron. There were many signs telling me this; I just refused to listen. BIG MISTAKE.

(4) I love running. SO MUCH. When I see 20 miles on my training log, I can’t wait to do it. I love the feeling that comes from running through each mile. Some people dread it, I am invigorated by it. It’s not a job or a check off the list for me. It’s my passion! That being said, there are going to be good days and bad days that come with running. But it's important that you don’t celebrate your successes too much, nor berate yourself too much for you failures. Just keep it simple. You have to take the good days for the glory that they are, and the bad days for the lessons they have to offer.

(5) There is a lot more to accomplish in a marathon beyond a P.R. For the first time in my running experience, I truly experienced “the wall.” Initially, I didn’t feel much pride in conquering “the wall.” As I said previously, I wanted to throw my marathon medal in the garbage can! But, in retrospect, making it through that experience without dropping out gives me the courage to know that I can tackle any challenge thrown my way. As long as I can focus on one mile at a time, there is no challenge bigger than me!

So, where do I go from here? Since my marathon adventures began in 2009, I’ve been a non-stop running machine. I have logged well over 5,000 miles and have run 10 marathons in just 3 years. WOW. I am only 30 years old, and have lots of years left to do amazing things with running… and who knows!?! With that being said, and my lessons gained through Columbus, I have decided not to run the Boston Marathon this spring. Boston is an AMAZING marathon, but this spring it just has no “spark” with me. So, what’s the point in putting myself through 18 weeks of hard work and dedication for something that I don’t really want to do? Maybe in 2014 I’ll feel differently, but this is just not going to be my year for Boston.

Although I definitely am out for Boston and feel good about that decision, I’m holding off on making any other official decisions on 26.2 plans this spring. I definitely plan on doing some ½ marathons, and am hoping to run the Nike Women’s ½ Marathon in DC in April with my sister! The Nike Women’s Marathon has been on my running bucket list since I’ve started running, and I would LOVE to be a part of it (and, of course, get a cute Tiffany’s necklace as the finisher’s medal)! I also want to get involved in my more strength training this spring, and have thought about doing that Crossfit everyone is talking about. I have NO muscle strength AT ALL. I can hardly do a push up. SO, I think it would be a good challenge for me.

So, Columbus, I still hate you. However, I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to REALLY gain perspective of the person I am. Marathon #10 will always be in my memory as my TRIUMPH over “the wall.” So for that,  Columbus, I love you. :-)

Columbus Marathon 2012 (3:28:09, 7:57min/mi)-- Triumph over "the wall"!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

It's Always a Good Time- Akron Marathon! :-)

Rocking my AkRun Marathon Finisher's jacket + 9 Marathons medals earned in the 25-29 age group :-)
To conclude my final long run leading to the roads of Columbus, I decided to use the Akron Marathon as my final training run. I decided on this hilly course, notorious for being brutal with the best of compliments, a few weeks ago during a hot and sweaty 20 mile long run on Labor Day weekend. Despite how less-than-ideal the weather conditions were that morning, I felt good although under-paced in comparison to how I ran my long runs the year prior. My sub-par training this summer had me change my 26.2 focus of 3:15 to whatever my legs felt like doing race day. And, with that lackadaisical mentality, I came across a sign on the Tow Path for the Akron Marathon on September 29. It was also the date of my final 20 miler and 3 weeks out from the Columbus Marathon. I decided at that moment, with no real time focus in the back of my mind, that I was going to take on the challenge of 26.2 in AkRun! I knew it was going to be hard, but I just felt this burning desire to do it for reasons I can’t fully explain. When I got home after my run, I discovered that the full marathon had CLOSED and there was a wait list that was to close at midnight that very night! I knew it was fate, put myself on the wait list, and if it was meant to be I’d be running the Akron Marathon at the end of the month.

Two weeks later, I received an email from the Akron Marathon team indicating a spot was available if I was still interested in running! I was ecstatic, and truly haven’t been more excited to run a marathon since my first Boston. I signed up immediately, and a few weeks later was picking up my race bib and a super sweet jacket from the Expo the night before the big race!

A few weeks prior, I ran the River Run ½ Marathon. The race went well in that I felt good through each mile and ran a steady, even pace. However, I was shocked when I crossed the finish line over a minute and half off my P.R. finishing 1:31:40. I was convinced that my poor summer training had me off my A-game, and that fall marathoning was just going to be a wash. I didn’t expect much more than a scenic, fun experience at Akron as my final 20 mile training run. I didn’t taper really at all before the race, except I ran a 5 mile easy run on Thursday in place of my scheduled 10 mile pace run. My goal was to run the marathon around an 8:00ish min/mi pace, and I was willing to be okay with being a bit over. I knew NOTHING about the details of the course, and had no real game plan beyond enjoying the experience.
Rive Run 1/2 Marathon!

I woke up Saturday morning at 3:45am, ate a light breakfast, got on my race gear, and stepped outside to a gorgeous dark sky with a full moon beaming OH so brightly. The temps were perfect, it was an absolutely beautiful morning, and I knew it was going to be a great day right away! My phenomenal sis picked me up at 5:00 am, and we were on our way to Akron. We got down with no problems, walked to the start line filled with easily accessible Port-a-Potty’s with little to no lines, did some light stretching, and then lined up to start! There was no race morning chaos, and this is primarily due to how INCREDIBLY well the Akron Marathon is put together.

The National Anthem was beautifully sung, the Good Year blimp was flying past wishing the runners good luck, and then fireworks were set off! Talk about an AMAZING way to get a race started! My adrenaline was soaring for more reasons than just the fireworks. This marathon was not just my final 20 mile training run before Columbus. It was also my final marathon in the 25-29 age group. Maybe I’m a bit too emotional, but I was so overcome with emotion reflecting on how far I’ve come since my first marathon in 2009 that I rumbled in to tears. Then, I crossed the start line and got my act together! I ran through the first mile a bit fast, I believe around a 7:20 mile, but I felt good so I just kept going…Then, I finished mile 2, still fast, but kept going…Then, mile 4 I saw my dear friend Jeness, going too fast but kept going…Once, I was at mile 5, I decided I’d try sticking around 7:25ish until mile 10. That way, I’d make up for the 10 mile pace run I skipped on Thursday. And once I finished mile 10, I still felt good so I kept going…Then, I saw my sister at mile 11. She had the biggest smile on her face and said, “OH MY GOSH, MP, YOU’RE KILLING IT!!!” At that moment, I decided to hold on to a solid pace for as long as I possibly could!

The course was very challenging; lots of steady inclines and a few big hills. Most of the big hills were in the second half of the course, the largest being during mile 18. I’d say that hill is worse than Heartbreak Hill in Boston, and a few other runners I’ve talked with post-race agree! But for every hill, I kept telling myself (sometimes outloud) that for every uphill, there had to be a downhill. Although my pace dropped, that mentality somehow helped me to keep pushing without totally wimping out. And, when there were downhills, I did my best to make up for the time I lost on the uphills without destroying my quads for Columbus. I stuck around a 6:40 on the downhills, even when I knew I had a bit more to put out.

Once I reached mile 20, I was pretty exhausted and my legs started to feel spent. I had my 3rd and final gel to keep me going, and the positive support of the crowd was AMAZING! As I came into mile 22, I knew I had lost some time but I was still so happy with my unexpectedly well-performance. I couldn’t help but smile through each mile, thanking the volunteers and the crowd where I could because I couldn’t have done it without their support!

Once I was at mile 24, the awesome spectators shouted that it was mostly downhill to the finish. I put out what I could, and said a few prayers to get me to 26.2 without doing something foolish to screw up my great race. Once I rounded the corner into the Akron stadium, I didn’t even care what my time was. I was SO impressed with my stamina, positive attitude, and strength through the entire marathon. I felt like the old MP! :-D

I ran through the shute, hands in the air, to be personally congratulated by the Akron Marathon President. That was AWESOME! I was on a high, and SO proud of my final 26.2 accomplishment in the 25-29 age group!! I saw my sister in the crowd, and had tears in my eyes knowing she and my good friend Jeness were there to support me. I’m so grateful to have such loyal, good people in my life to call family and friends. It meant SO much to have them there!

Oh, so my finish time! I was excited to discover I finished 3:20:55, 7:40min/mi; I was fourth in my age group and 15th female overall! Not too shabby for a girl out for a training run! Plus, I earned my 9th marathon medal, got a cute running hat to wear with my finisher's jacket, and had the rest of the gorgeous weekend ahead of me!
Proud with my 9th marathon medal!
My good friend and cheerleader, Jeness--one week away from her Chicago Marathon!
My amazing sis, who had been up since 4:20am to come cheer me on!!!
SO good to see Jess back to running!!

Now, I’m OFFICIALLY in taper mode for Columbus which is just 3 weeks away! As I’ve closed the door on the 25-29 age group, I will be opening the door for the 30-34 age group! It’s crazy to think that I will be 30 years old, but it’s even crazier to think of how much I have managed to accomplish in my 20s. I think the biggest lesson I’ve gained throughout my 20s is the benefit of taking risks. Without trying things that were difficult, challenging, and sometimes totally uncomfortable, I would certainly not be the teacher, runner, or person that I am today. It's said that our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure--and my experiences thus far have proven this true!

Here’s to a new decade, with new challenges, and new opportunities!!! :-)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Lessons Learned From London

I’ve fallen waaaaay behind on my blogging this summer. OOOOPS! I’ll save the excuses.

To get caught up, in short, training this summer has been incredibly difficult. The weather has been brutal, I’ve had a lot of commitments that have prevented me from getting in good summer races, and I’m all of the while trying to keep my head up (literally) after everything that happened last spring. The good news is, I’m VERY healthy and in great shape. I haven’t had any migraines this summer, and overall feel great. The bad news is, the quality of my training has been pretty inconsistent with the hot/humid temperature that has ruled the majority of the summer days. I haven’t hesitated to take the gas off, in some cases applied the brakes, mainly because this is not the time take risks with my body. Consequently, I feel less confident about the quality I have to put forth for my racing this fall. I ran a sub-par race at the Perfect 10-miler today, finishing 1:09:40, 6:58min/mi. I definitely know I’m capable of being in the 1:08s (or less), but I was full of excuses before the horn even went off which tainted my motivation from the starting line to the finish. This may be one of the laziest races I’ve ever run. I’m hoping with the forecasted cool temperatures of this week I will be able to get my butt in gear and get in check for some fast racing this fall! I’m still hopeful for a 3:14:59 at the Columbus Marathon in October, shedding 1 minute and a few seconds off my P.R. It sounds like an easy task, but even a few seconds of a P.R. improvement can be challenging.  We’ll see what happens!

Today marks the end of the 2012 London Olympics. I have been watching the Olympics relentlessly over the past two weeks and am SO sad that it’s reached the end! Being the overly analytical lady I am, I watch the games very closely, listen to the commentators remarks regarding the athletes’ performances and the judges' scoring, and really enjoy the stories that come along with many of the various athletes. There is so much to learn from watching the athletes. Their performances, even in sports I know nothing about, have left me awe-struck, inspired, and a bit more knowledgeable about what it takes to be a great athlete. Plus, I’ll speak for the ladies, it’s nice to see some real men on TV for a change! I never knew swimming was so entertaining, hahaaa. ;-)

Throughout my life, the Olympics always seem to leave a mark on me. I still remember the summer before 8th grade, watching Kerri Strug in her nail biting final moment on the Vault of the 1996 Olympics, competing for the USA gymnastics team. I remember being SO excited that she came through for the team, but was too young to appreciate that moment for what it was. She was a young girl that dedicated her entire life for that moment, and with the pressure of the world on her shoulders pulled through with all that she had despite being severely injured. Although I could not see it for exactly what it was, the thrill of the moment was contagious and inspiring. Plus, I was definitely more motivated than ever to kick butt on the monkey bars (seriously, we’d get competitive on those things!)on the jungle gym. Now, as a lady of almost 30, I’ve been much more reflective this time around, and many Olympics moments have really resonated with me. I’ll call these my lessons learned from London:

(1)    Talent means nothing without hard work and passion. Every single Olympic athlete has undeniable talent. The beach volleyball girls, wrestlers, equestrians, the ribbon dancers (Will Ferrell wanna-bes, should I say), sprinters….you name it! They’re born with phenomenal genes that open the door for them to do amazing things. But, being good isn’t good enough. Their sport is a full-time job. The amount of dedication and hard work it takes to get to their level requires countless hours and lifestyle demands that limit an ordinary life. These demands make it imperative for them to have extreme passion to validate this kind of commitment. This is what gives the Olympics their prestige; not just anyone can get there. It takes a truly magnificent person.

(2)    You don’t get to the top alone. Most (perhaps all) of these athletes have an incredible network of family and friends that support them. Parents are such a crucial player in most (again, perhaps all) of the athletes’ successes. There was so much focus on parents this time around, from the crazy antics of Aly Raisman’s parents, Ryan Lochte’s mom’s weird comments, Jordyn Weiber’s mom draped with a Rosary around her hands, and more. Regardless, it was SO evident how much love, guidance, and support they give their children. It was amazing to see. I’m not sure it’s possible to get to the top without that, from somewhere. I suppose that’s where luck comes in; those of us with a positive network of good, supportive people in our lives are simply lucky.

(3)    If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. So many of the athletes were back for revenge, either on themselves or another country that had previously defeated them.  There are countless examples of this: Sanya Richards-Ross, the 4X100m relay girls, Allison Felix individually, the girls soccer team, and more. You may not reach your goal immediately, you may trip and fall (like poor Morgan Uceny), but persistence is key. Use failure for the lessons it provides to propel you forward, not as an anchor holding you back.  If you want it badly enough, have the talent/hardwork/passion combo, you will get there. You just gotta keep chippin’ away!

(4)    Everyone should have a have a slice of humble pie every once in a while. From Missy Franklin’s interviews and overall attitude in the pool, you would NEVER know what she was capable of accomplishing or what she has already accomplished. I find that her bubbly, kind personality is a great example for athletes, young and seasoned, everywhere. But, underneath her sweet demeanor, there’s no doubt that she has a great deal of self- confidence. Confidence is awesome, and a very essential component for success. However, there is a very fine line between confidence and arrogance. Arrogance brings with it negative energy, and regardless of how talented you are, I truly believe it taints performance. I feel that a bit of humility is necessary to reach beyond your maximal potential, and arrogance can hold you back. A great example of my point can be seen with the Vault performance of thee “not impressed” McKayla Maroney. I could be totally wrong about her, because I do not follow gymnastics beyond the Olympics. However, the night of the Vault she was prancing around with a scowl on her face (which she has quickly become famous for). From my impression from her expression, she might as well have just said to her competitors, “F&^% all of you, I’m the best.” She was said to be the best girl of the night, and no one stood a chance to her talent. And, on her second attempt, she fell flat on her butt. The best girl won silver. Perhaps, with a little bit of humility, the gold could have been hers. At the end of the day, we’re all human. We’re all fallible, even at our best. I think we need to be mindful of that, no matter what talent we have and how prepared we think we may be. A slice of humble pie, every once in a while, should do the trick. :-)

(5)    YOU define success. Speaking of McKayla Maroney, as well as many other athletes, the Silver Medal, of the Olympics…is considered a failure?? What!?! But to some, like the Synchronized Swimming gals of various countries, success is achieving a high ranking against other countries. They expect to leave medal-less. And for some, success is just the opportunity to be at the Olympics, like double amputee Oscar Pistorious. And most, are watching the Olympics from home, using the successes and failures of these athletes as inspiration to help shape their own goals.  This is what makes the Olympics so magical. We as citizens of the world can see, from the comfort of our own homes, clear evidence of the power of hard work, dedication, and passion. Obviously, most of us don’t have the genes to get us to the level to become an Olympian. We'd be fools to not accept that fact. But that’s just another reason why the Olympics are so prestigious, and why we tune in night after night for two weeks every four years. We are amazed by what human beings are capable of accomplishing. And that’s what we all have in common---we’re all human. We ALL have the gift to make something amazing of our lives. I don’t want to steal Nike’s slogan, but they do have something going with this push to “Find Your Greatness.” It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, or how fast you are, if you can find YOUR own greatness, you can do GREAT things. The Olympics reminds us of that. And, It’s not just about being an Olympic athlete. My goals may seem pathetic to Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher, but you better believe that I will kiss the ground when I break 3:10 in a marathon, lol. That’s my goal, and I will be damn proud when I get there! So, stop reading this super long blog post, get busy, and find YOUR greatness!!! :-D

I will miss the Olympics, the inspiring performances, and sexy shirtless men. I am looking forward to Rio 2016!

Cool temperatures will take me into my last week of summer before my 6th year of teaching begins. It will be a busy week, leading into a busy year. I’m anxious and excited to get the ball rolling on yet another school year!

Happy COOL running, everyone!!! :-D

Friday, July 6, 2012

Week 3 Columbus Marathon Training-- It's not cold!

Wow. It’s hot outside. But, it could be worse…remember this???
Chase Your Shadown 5k in February--YUCCCCK!

Yes, although it could be worse, it’s still important to remember the challenges that come with extreme heat/humidity running. Here’s how I attempt to overcome those challenges:

(1)    It’s best to get out early. If possible, before the sun rises (which never happens for me). If not super early, as early as you can. In addition to skipping out on the hottest part of the day, it helps prepare you mentally for the racing since most races are pretty early.  

(2)    Wear light clothing that is wicking. Stay away from 100% cotton. I usually stick to a light singlet and running shorts. I haven't been running with just a sports bra, which would probably make the most sense. Why not? Well, the more I run, the faster I get, the better shape I get in…and the more self-conscious I become of my body. Weird, right? I always rocked the sports bra look back in my college jogging days when it was toasty out and didn’t think twice about it. Now, I’m a bit more conscious. That being said, I always wear a singlet when I run. I feel more confident and focused on my running, and less focused on my belly jiggle. LOL. Yeaaaaaah, I feel a follow-up post will be in the works about this issue…

(3)    Hydrate. When? ALL THE TIME. That means the day before your run, the morning of, during, and after. I always throw Gatorade in the mix to ensure I have the proper balance of electrolytes as well.

(4)    Eat light before your run. Stick to simple carbohydrates. Just think of Will Ferrell chugging milk on a hot day, and you’ll get my point.

(5)    Wear a hat/visor. I’m not a big fan of wearing hats while I run, but they do keep the sun out of my face which helps me run more relaxed and less stressed from the intensity of the sun.

(6)    Wear sunscreen. This is where I get lazy, but it’s REALLY important. Even areas on your body that are covered with clothes are exposed to UV rays. SO, put it on everywhere!

(7)    Be realistic and flexible. Don’t have expectations, whether it be in a race or training run, that are unrealistic for the conditions. There’s no need to berate yourself for missing a P.R. when it’s 90 degrees out. Plus, listen to your body. If you’re dizzy, feeling bloated, getting a headache, etc, STOP. If you really want to push yourself, get to a treadmill. It’s not worth risking your health!

(8)    Get in the A.C. when your run is done! If you’ve put your body through the stress of a run in the heat, it’s essential to let your body relax and cool down. As you've been pushing it to get in your run, it's been working over time to prevent overheating in ways more complex than you can imagine. Your body is an intricate and delicate machine, so treat it well!

(9)    Use common sense.

(10)Remember that running in the heat is better than running on wintery ice! So don’t let the summer sultry days get you down; it will cool down before we know it! Stay positive!! :-D

SO, here’s what my hot week has been like so far:

Monday: I had 4X800 on the schedule, and was feeling sore and depleted before I was even out the door. I’m not sure if the heat has taken its toll on me or what, but I have just been lacking in enthusiasm to push it as I should. I took a light jog before I began my repeats, and my Ipod froze in the midst of it. Although I’ve been committed to racing Ipod-less since last summer, it’s snuck back into my training runs. Running with an Ipod has benefits if you need the motivation to get out there, but I’m very committed to my training schedule which is enough of motivation for me. Sticking to my plan (anddddd modifying it when necessary) is what will help me reach my goals of becoming a faster runner. So, time to ditch the Ipod all together once again! This way, I can focus on my pace and breathing, and simulate race like conditions more through my training since I race Ipod-less anyway. Plus, running is much more cleansing and therapeutic when my thoughts aren’t drained away by the lyrics of loud music blaring in my ears. SO, despite feeling slightly under the weather during my warm up, the speed work out turned out to be awesome! I pushed a 6:10ish pace per interval and made it hurt when it counted. I left thinking I need to get my 5k P.R. down (currently at 19:34), and that it’s not unrealistic to run a sub 19:00 before the summer’s over.

Tuesday: My cross-training day, which perfectly turned out to be a rainy day! Like Monday, I was not feeling 110% “on” so I decided to get some things done in the morning and early afternoon. When I got to the gym, I was contemplating on how hard I should push with the possibility of running a 5k the next day. The 4th of July on a Wednesday not only made it tricky for the work week, but also my training schedule! I did a one mile warm up, 30 minutes on the elliptical, and 30 minutes on the bike. I left feeling confident that a 5k the next day would turn out to be a bust, and so decided to hold off until the weekend.

Wednesday: 4th of July! I had a 30 minute tempo on the schedule and it was WAY hot and humid—even at 9:30am! As soon as I stepped outside, I sucked in the humidity and my attitude SUCKed from that point on.  I should have got out earlier, but shoulda, woulda, coulda! I did my 10 minute warm up, 15 minutes at “10K pace”---although I could barely hang on to 6:50, so I guess it was more “1/2 marathon pace”—and then a 5 minute cool down. I only managed to cover 3.70 miles. HA! I was P.O.’d when I finished, but glad I didn’t attempt a 5k. My attitude wasn’t where it needed to be to suffer though the heat, and I was too filled with excuses to have made a race worth it. Oh well. At least I can scratch this one off the training log.
My lil nephew enjoying America's birthday!! :0)

Thursday: I had a 6 mile pace run on the agenda. Since I’m re-doing my first few weeks of training with my switch to the Columbus Marathon, I had to re-think my plans for this workout. I’ve run two pace runs in the past two weeks, and if I were to have continued on with my Tow Path training this would have been an easy run. Plus, I woke up this morning with tight butt muscles (??? LOL???) and haven’t been on my “A” game for what feels like a while. So, I made it a 6 mile easy run and REALLY enjoyed it! I took it easy, and held back when I had the instinctual feeling to pick it up. I figure I might as well hold off until the 5K Saturday. I finished in 48:27, 8:04min/mi. At this point,I decided to participate in the Run For Pirogies(*sp) in Parma Saturday morning.

Friday: HOT day of rest! I went on a half hour walk in the morning, and clearly the forecast was not a joke. It was toasty out there, and expected to be even toastier tomorrow. Perfect timing for my scheduled 5k (NOT)! I still plan on doing it, and want to run it strong (and realistic) despite the extreme heat and humidity that will be accompanying me in an attempt to reach my goal (a P.R.!) Although I want a sub-19:00 at some point this summer, my goal for tomorrow will be a sub-19:30. I need to be realistic here! I want to run a steady race and have fun since I will be missing out on two great races next weekend. Yep, I will be sitting out both the Shot in the Dark and the Johnnycake Jog. Well, I shouldn’t say sitting out—dancing out!! I am way excited to celebrate my friend’s bachelorette days with great company, but am REALLY sad to miss the Johnnycake Jog. It’s a great 5 mile race with a competitive field which always serves as a good spark of motivation to remind me that I have a lot of room for improvement. So, that being said, if you’re looking for great races next weekend, chose the Shot in the Dark if you want to have a fun time (the Spazmatics are playing!) despite running a race at the worst time of the day. It tends to be brutal and HOT, but still fun.  If you want to get your butt kicked but learn a lot from it, chose the Johnnycake Jog!

Saturday: Run for Pirogies (*sp)! Race recap to follow

Sunday: The forecast says were supposed to get down to the low 80s! I only have 8 miles on the plan, so it will be a good recovery from the race Saturday.

Stay cool and stay tuned for my Run for Pirogies race recap!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Week 2 Columbus Marathon Training- always use pencil!

If you’ve been following my blog over the past year, you’ve probably picked up on my indecisiveness. Decision making is not something I do with ease, and I often changed my mind. But once my mind is officially made up, there’s no turning back! My blog title today should say Week 4 Tow Path Marathon Training….andddddddddd it doesn’t! Why not? WELL, I’ll be running the Columbus Marathon on Sunday, October 21 instead!! J The change in plans is less of a consequence of my indecision and more because of family events potentially conflicting with my early October marathon plans. To play it safe, I’ve decided to make my presence known in my new age group (30-34) as I will be turning the big 3-0 a few days before the Columbus Marathon. Although I was looking forward to a low-key marathon and had my Tow Path plan already written out, I didn’t have my heart set on it and really just wanted to get in a fall marathon.  That being said, the change is not a disappointment by any means. Although Columbus wasn’t particularly low key last year, I absolutely LOVED it and am very excited to run it again! It’s a mid-sized marathon on a fun, entertaining course that’s flat, and potentially, FAST! Last year, I ran it as a training run for NYC with only one 20 miler under my belt and clocked a P.R. of 3:16:02. I’m curious what I can get out of this course going in with a full 18 weeks of training. With Columbus as my official marathon plan set for the fall, I’ve officially made a corresponding time goal—I want to run the Columbus Marathon in 3:14:59, a 7:26min/mi. I don’t want to be a second over 3:15! I’m not sure I’m ready to break 3:10 so I don’t want to make that a goal at this point. I know that I will eventually, maybe in the spring?!? But for now, sub 3:15 it is!

I’m continuing to follow the Hal Higdon Advanced 2 Marathon Training Plan. Most of this week fits under week four, and only the weekend is week two due to my switch-a-roo! My training log is a mess right now, which is a reminder: ALWAYS WRITE YOUR TRAINING PLAN IN PENCIL! Even for small changes or tweaks in workouts, it’s better to have the flexibility with a simple erase. Plus, although it’s necessary to commit to a training program and have faith in it, you should always listen to your body and run accordingly. That may mean tweaking a run scheduled for a day, swamping it with another day, or completing throwing it out. Ignoring your body and pushing to get the check off the list can lead to a bad workout, a negative attitude, injury, or worse--put you in the hospital (hHhHmMmM the big pink elephant on my blog---last March! hhHhHmMmm).  So, stick with the pencil!

Here’s how the week played out:

Monday: I had hill work on the schedule. When I was living in Cleveland Heights, I used to run the steep hill on Mayfield Road in Little Italy. Now, I’m running up a puny hill in Wickliffe that doesn’t do the same justice. But, regardless I did 4 repeats and pushed despite feeling WAY under the weather from the wedding weekend. Plus, the heals I wore for the wedding all day into all night (until eventually I was barefoot in Shooters---GROSSSSSS) took their toll on my feet and ankles. If boys only knew how complicated it was to be a lady….LOL!

Tuesday: My gym day! I did a 1 mile light jog on the treadmill, 40 minutes on the elliptical, and 20 minutes on the bike. For those following Hal’s plan curious where my cross-training day comes from, I swap out one of his easy runs for the week and add in an hour of cross-training. I always alternate what kind of cross-training I do with that hour, but find it much more beneficial than an extra easy day. I ran 6 days a week with no cross-training for Boston in 2011 and highly recommend against that. I wasn’t very toned, in my opinion, and not in as good of shape as I was for NYC that following fall where I cross-trained. So, my recommendation is—CROSS-TRAIN!!! And, mix it up! You don’t want to bore your mind or your muscles. Have fun with it and enjoy a break from the mileage.

Wednesday: Tempo Wednesday! I had a 35 minute tempo on the agenda. It was hot, humid, and almost noon before I got to this workout. I ran a 10 minute warm up, and then tried to stay as close as possible to 6:40 for 20 minutes. I cooled down for 5 minutes, and ended up covering 4.67 miles. It wasn’t a total bust, but could have been better.

Thursday:  I had yet another 6 mile pace run scheduled, and wanted to get revenge on my painful pace run the week prior. I decided to go to the Tow Path for a shaded, flat course. I didn’t make it out there until about 10:30am. It was another warm day, which again posed an extra challenge to the already challenge of maintaining a steady 7:15min/mi. The first few miles were okay, but I knew the second half was going to be the hardest. Once I turned around at the half way mark, I was fighting to stay close to 7:15. Once I finished mile 5, I was ready to be DONE. I had one more mile to go, which felt like 26.2. I pushed to maintain my focus although my lungs were beating through my chest and my legs didn’t want to move forward any longer. I worked hard for a strong finish, and finished 43:47, 7:18min/mi. This was faster than my pace run last week, but a bit off 7:15. I’m not sure why I’m struggling so much with these marathon pace runs, but it’s clear to me that 3:10 is just not a realistic marathon goal for me right now.  I’m not there yet. I have to keep working! J

Friday: My day of rest! Also the day I signed up for the Columbus Marathon and switched my plan!

Saturday:  I decided to run 11 miles as listed under Week 2 of Hal’s plan, and met up with my running buddy Jen on the Tow Path.  She was coming from a night at the Rascal Flat’s concert, and I was coming depleted for reasons I’m not entirely sure. It may be from the hard workouts this week in the heat. Perhaps it was a nutritional issue, considering I went to Southside in Tremont for dinner the night before and there was NO pasta option. I ate duck pizza instead, which was not filling at all and had me hungry before I went to bed. I’m not sure what the problem was, but it was a cool, lightly raining morning that should have been ideal for a great long run.  Jen and I chatted through each mile catching up on our crazy lives over the  past few weeks and she definitely helped keep me on pace where I may have taken it easier in the first few miles.  We picked it up in the second half and ran past some of our students training for cross-country which was so much fun!  Since most kids assume their teachers hardly have lives outside the walls of the high school, I'm sure they were shocked to see Jen and I. LOL! It was a fun little surprise. :-) So, as we were closing in on the end, it was time to pick it up.  I usually like a strong finish for at least the last mile and half, but I just saved it for the half. My energy level was too low for anything more. Overall, I ended up finishing 1:26:37, 7:52min/mi. This is over 30 seconds slower than when I did this same exact workout two weeks ago after two 5ks. I’m thinking this is due to poor carbo-loading Friday night.

Sunday: Right now, I’m blogging! But, later today I’ll be running a 5 mile easy run. It’s getting hot out there, so I need to wrap this up and do it!

So, next week will be Week 3 of my Columbus Marathon training! I just saw the forecast for next week, which includes 90+ everyday leading up until the weekend. I may run a July 4th 5K on Wednesday, but I want to see how I feel before I make any commitments.  I will write it in with pencil!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Week 3 Tow Path Marathon- Just Do It

Week 3 of my Tow Path Marathon Training was crazy busy, needless to say, as I was preparing and celebrating the marriage of my sister and her now husband! In between all of the craziness, of course, I got in my miles! When life's busy, running tends to take a back burner. It's more about just doing the miles than actually planning them out in the ideal way I'd like. So, in the madness that was week 3, here’s what I got out of it:

Monday: I had my much needed speed intervals, 4X800. I had errands to run in the morning, so I ended up doing this workout in the late morning heat and humidity. I probably should have just held off until the sunset, but I was worried something would have come up for the wedding that could have compromised that. So, I grabbed my water and was out the door into the sauna that was the great outdoors! Despite having no muscle soreness, my legs were definitely depleted from the weekend. Regardless, I pushed through each repeat trying to stay as close as possible to anything under a 6:10ish pace.  Following two 5ks in one week and a long run, I wasn’t too disappointed with the workout!

Tuesday: My designated cross-training day! I headed to the gym, and initially did a 1 mile light jog on the treadmill to get my muscles warmed up and my stomach in check. Morning weekday workouts are a big adjustment for me, since I tend to be more of a late-afternoon runner during the school year.  After my warm up, I did some stretching and crunches. I followed this up with 30 minutes on the elliptical and 30 minutes on the bike. I left the gym drenched in sweat---mission accomplished!

Wednesday: I had a 30 minute tempo on the schedule, and I had no choice but to get this one in early. In addition to an afternoon filled with wedding stuff, it was forecasted to be well into the 90s. I was out the door by 8:30am, which was not early enough! I’m not sure if it was the stress of the upcoming afternoon and weekend, my queasy stomach, lack of good sleep the night prior, or the heat, but this tempo was a challenge. I did a 10 minute warm up, and then eased into 15 minutes around a 6:40 pace, and then finished with a 5 minute cool down. I only ended up covering 3.82 miles, which is likely from playing it safe on the 6:40.

Thursday: 6 miles at marathon pace on a forecasted 90 degree+ day was on the agenda, and I was up bright and early for this one! I wanted to stay as close to a 7:15min/mi as possible, being that my last pace run was a tad fast at 7:08. I had to be at the airport at noon and my sister’s rehearsal was that evening, so I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to recover post-workout. Last year, I ended up having a massive migraine after this same exact workout on a hot day. I had NO TIME for a migraine, so I was out at the door at 7:30am. But, it was not early enough! It was very hot and uncomfortable, but the first mile and a half that are flat were okay. As soon as I started hitting the hills, my pace dropped dramatically. I couldn’t find it in me to push beyond what my body would give me, so I ended up sticking around 7:30 up until about mile 4. Once I hit the downhill, I picked the pace up again and tried to give as much as I could until I got home. I ended up finishing 44:14, 7:22min/mi. I was off my average mile, but not by much considering the heat. I felt okay after the run, but a few hours later felt VERY depleted. It didn’t lead to a migraine, but I took a nap in the afternoon and was good to go for the rehearsal! OH, and my big toe nail ended up falling off!

All six of us brothers and sisters-- crazy family, indeed! :-D
With the bride!

Bride and groom sandwich!

Friday: Although this is normally my day of rest, I used this as my long run day. I was not going to have time on Saturday to do this with the wedding, so I really didn’t have much of a choice. It was much cooler Friday morning, but still humid. I wanted to take this waaaaaay easy, since it was only 8 miles and I’ve had a few hard workouts over the last few weeks. I did just that for the majority of the run, but pushed hard the last 1.5 miles around a 6:20ish pace. I ended up running 1:04:11, averaging a 8:01min/mi. The pedicure ended up working out great! The guy just painted over the skin, and didn’t seem too grossed out by it. I guess they’re used to seeing crazy looking feet, lol.
Before pedicure...
...and after! Talk about a miracle haaa :-D

Saturday: Sister’s wedding! The weather was gorgeous, and it couldn’t have been more of a perfect day! My feet definitely took a beating with my fierce heels, but I got in some great cross-training with all of the dancing we did that night haaa!
Gorgeous bride!
Wedding party!

Add caption

Add caption
My baby nephew Tommy...
With the bride!!
Sisters with our fav Uncle Paul!

Sunday: OWwWwWwW. My feet were killing me, I was incredibly sleep-deprived, and out of balance. I ended up doing a late afternoon 5 mile easy run at 41:31, 8:18min/mi. Usually, running after a night of adult beverages helps to clear out my system. I had the opposite reaction, and just felt worse! I was in bed early, and not fully recovered until about Tuesday. YIKES!

I ended up covering 28.82 miles finishing up this week, and am looking forward to stepping it up in week 4! I have no strict plans this week, so my "just do it" mentality will not be driving my workouts. I also have no specific races on the agenda, and so I am looking forward to just getting in some good, hard training runs!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Week 2 Tow Path Marathon Run Down

I’m two weeks down from my Tow Path Marathon training. I’ve blogged periodically about my racing adventures over the past week, but this is what I’ve been doing in in the meantime:

On Monday, I had a 30 minute tempo on the schedule. I got this one in early because I had lunch/pool plans with one of my dear college friends, Melissa, and wanted to be able to enjoy the visit without the workout on my mind.  I haven't run early training runs, with the exception of my long runs, since last summer so these workouts will take some getting used to. It was a slow start and my stomach wasn’t feeling great, but once I got through my 10 minute warm-up, I was ready to roll! I stuck around a 6:40ish pace for 15 minutes, then dropped down to an easy pace all the way home. I ended up adding in 10 more easy minutes, and covered 5.07 miles in total. I followed the run up with a little strength training and pilates.

Tuesday is my designated cross-training day. I did a 1 mile easy warm up on the treadmill to get my legs loosened up, followed up by 40 minutes on the elliptical, and 20 minutes on the bike. It was an awesome workout, and I REALLY worked up a major sweat! In between the bike and elliptical, I did some crunches.

Wednesday was the Flag Day 5k. Results are finally in, and my official finish was 20:17, 6:31min/mi—one second faster than last year. Ha!

Thursday I surprisingly had no muscle soreness at all! I didn’t even feel as if I ran a 5k the night before, but still took it easy on my run. I ran 5 miles easy at an average 8:17min/mi pace. Similar to Monday, I followed up my run with some strength training and pilates.

Friday was my day of rest. Although running wasn’t on the agenda, I did lots of walking at Crocker Park in efforts to find a dress for my sister’s rehearsal dinner that is quickly approaching! Unfortunately, I was feeling pretty under the weather for whatever reason. I ended up having major stomach issues after lunch, and spent the rest of the afternoon in bed. BLEH!

Saturday was the Captain’s Charities 5k. My official finish was 19:42, 6:20 min/mi. Unfortunately, I had a MAJOR headache post-race that lead into the evening. It wasn’t a migraine, but it was definitely very uncomfortable. I really hadn't been feeling 110% all week, so I'm wondering if I had some kind of bug.

Sunday, fortunately, I awoke without a headache and was once again graced with no post-5k muscle soreness! I ran a solid 11 miles on the Tow Path. I started out easy and picked up the pace gradually throughout the run. I got in a strong finish, and averaged a 7:49min/mi in 1:26:01. I felt great throughout the run, and even better after. I felt very accomplished completing two fairly strong 5ks and getting in a long run in one week! I covered 29.27 miles this week in total. With the low early mileage as directed by Hal Higdon, now is the time to get in as many 5ks as I can!

Week 3 includes my sister wedding, so I will be one busy lady! I’ll try to blog randomly throughout the week, but can’t make any promises!

OH, and this Friday—I will be getting my first pedicure in YEARS. Yes, years. As a lady runner, I take pride in the fact that my feet are not the pretties of the bunch. Yes, pride. My feet are representative of the heart and soul I dedicate to running. I feel the same way about my booty. HA! JK--- Seriously though, as far as my feet go, I find it comical whenever I polish them. It’s like putting make up on an ugly dude. LOL. With this sentiment, I just stay away from the humiliation of getting a pedicure. But, for my sister’s wedding, I’m left with no choice. It's more of a girlie bonding experience than anything (and the guys will be bonding over golf and beers, LOL). My concern lies mainly with that big toe nail that took a turn for the worst at the CLE ½ Marathon.  It’s now on the edge of glory, literally, but is still hanging on. It definitely isn’t looking good, and I’m not sure what to do with it. Any runners out there have suggestions on what to do with damaged toe nails when getting a pedicure???  
"I can't quit you!" say the Nail to the Toe. haaaaa :-D

I think I may make that picture my facebook profile picture. I think it tells a lot more about me than my face does. Sexy and I know it. :-D I'm sure this will get me LOTS of dates this summer!! OoOoO la la--I'll let ya know how that works out for me. HA!
Happy OFFICIAL summer everyone (as of Wednesday!!!)! :-D

Saturday, June 16, 2012

We Run the Night :-)

SO, after my latest 5K adventure Wednesday night that had me questioning my fundamental views of racing, I decided to pop in another one on Saturday. I appreciate the challenge that difficult 5Ks present, but they always leave me wondering how I could have done had the course been flat and fast. SO, in addition to channeling my inner competitor, I wanted to see what kind of spark my legs REALLY had in them.
Race start at the Flag Day 5k--where's waldo??? :-)

I decided to run the Captain’s Charity 5K because it was advertised as flat and fast, AND it was only five minutes away. I planned to get there a bit early so I could register, use the restroom, and get in a good warm up because I was up against my biggest competitor and needed to be prepared. Who is this crazy perfectionist competitor getting me all psyched up to kick butt this morning??? Well, DUH--- ME!!! J The truth is, and with all people, I truly believe our best competitor is ourselves. Upon reflection over the last few days, I think my self-competitive ways of being have been doing me right. It’s just not me to worry about the rankings of anyone else; I’m only concerned with how I’m doing relative to ME.  That’s just who I am. Sorry, Darwin! :-) 

So, my goal was to get close to 19:30. I haven’t done any kind of speed training in months (SHAME ON ME!!) so I didn’t want to hold my heart to close to it. Anything under 20:00 and I was going to be a happy girl. After I registered, I ran out to the race course. I did some jumping jacks, stretched a bit, then did a mile warm up. I included a few 200 meter sprints to get my legs loosened up. I hate starting a race with stiff legs! The course looked flat as suggested, although a bit windy, so I knew I had the power to get under 20:00 if I ran smart.

After my warm up, I hopped on over to the race start and felt totally ready to go. All of the runners lined up, the horn went off, and off we went!! I made sure to relax and stick to a comfortable pace for the first few meters. 5k races always have the mad dash runners for the first half mile that crash when they realize the pace is out of their league. I always get anxious holding back. But, in every race as I start passing runners one by one, it's always apparent that sticking to a pace in my league pays off in the long run! So, I kept that in mind and I stuck to about a 6:10 pace. There was one female ahead of me in the first mile, but I let her do her thing. I was racing the clock and wasn’t worrying about anything else. As I crossed the first mile marker, I was at 6:11 which pleased me. Wednesday, I was at 5:55 and I didn’t have the finish I wanted. So, with my conservative start, I felt confident. As I came to a turn around, I ended up passing the girl who had been in front of me. She didn’t even attempt to stick with me, and soon I was catching up with some boys with various race plans. Some dropped behind, one flew ahead, and one stuck just a tad in front of me until the finish. I think I was his motivation---he wouldn’t want to lose to a girl!

As I got to mile 1.5, I started getting those “oOoOooOoO half way there, this is where you could choke” thoughts in my head. I immediately started thinking of that super fun new Pitbull song that I was dancing to on the car ride to the race (…and for all these years, I thought coffee was the key to my morning perkiness. Apparently I don’t need it after all!! Haaaa).  I think it's called "We Run the Night." It's sOoOoO peppy and fun! :-) It got me out of that potential funk and kept me on pace. I kept a close eye on my watch, not letting my pace sink anything below 6:30, and holding close to the 6:20s. Once I got into mile 2, I was confident that I was going to break 20:00 but knew I had to keep pushing. I definitely was feeling the pain, but had enough in me to keep chugging. The boy that was a tad in front of me was feeling it, and I felt like I started giving into his pace a bit. It's really easy to do that, especially towards the end of the race when you're tired. AND, that's why it's SO important to RUN YOUR OWN RACE!! ;-) We rounded the corner into the Captain’s Stadium, and I pushed across the finish line. I finished 19:42, 6:20min/mi and was first overall female!

I didn't break 19:30, but did get under 20:00 so I was very excited! The race was a good confidence booster for me, and a reminder of the benefits of conservative pacing. Any race of any distance I’ve been truly successful in, it has come down to proper pacing. If I go out too fast in the heat of the moment, it throws off the entire race. Even in races where I’ve run fast times (CLE Marathon 2010, I ran a 3:18, but paced it ALL wrong and the second half was pure misery), conservative early miles or meters are essential. I do want to get under 19:30, in fact, I want to get under 19:00! But to do that, I need to get back on the track. I will be their Monday morning!! :-)

As for tomorrow, I will be up bright and early for 11 miles on the Tow Path wrapping week 2 of my Tow Path Marathon training! Just an FYI for those interested, I will be once again using Hal Higdon’s Advanced 2 Marathon Training Plan this time around. I had a pretty successful fall using that plan, (and potentially spring, but had to stop in the middle due to my stupid health issues!) so I plan to stick with it.  I will blog a week 2 recap tomorrow!

It’s Saturday night---stop reading this blog post and go run the night!!! :-D