Saturday, May 26, 2012

Wounded.

I’m a week out from the Cleveland Half Marathon, and I’m still in the process of healing. Yes, I have wounds from this one. Some of these wounds are disgusting, painful, emotional, and downright foolish. With each wound, inevitably, there’s a lesson:

Wound #1: My big toe. The toe I suspected was bruised during the race last weekend was much worse off. I took off my toe nail polish Sunday night to check out the damage to discover it was JACKED UP. I had no clue initially what I did, trimmed it down a bit with some nail clippers, and hoped it’d be okay in a few days. I don’t typically lose toe nails, so I was worrying about what to expect. It ended up getting SUPER infected. It got to the point where I could hardly tie my running shoes because my toe was so swollen! After a few days of antibacterial ointment, it seems like it’s getting better and I won’t be losing the nail. But OWWWW did it hurt! What’s the lesson from this one? Toe nails need to be kept SHORT. I get busy and forget about them often. However, if a toe nail is too long and is rubbing up against your shoe when you’re pounding on a hard surface, you’re setting yourself up for a painful situation. Don’t neglect your toes!

Wound #2: My quads. I can’t remember the last time I ran a race when my quads felt so terrible for days following. It wasn’t until Thursday that I felt back to myself! Between the pain of my toe and my sore quads, any attempt I made at running was more like galloping. I can only imagine how ridiculous I looked. What’s the lesson from this one? On race day, make time to warm up/cool down and STRETCH! I had no time to warm up before the race and was frantic trying to get to the start line. At the end of the race, I was so sick that I booked it to the restroom. I did no cool down at all, and ended up walking at least 3 miles post-race with no stretching. STUPIDITY!  I give credit for my quad pain to the decent sized hill that crept up around mile 10. I lost some time on it, so I pushed really hard on the downhill to make up for the lost seconds. I have enough running experience at this point and KNOW I should have stretched after the race. I was just too caught up with my intestinal issues, and once those were resolved I was caught up in the excitement of the race atmosphere. I’ve paid for it—ALL WEEK.

Wound #3: My back. My upper back was SO sore when I woke up Monday morning. I believe it was from keeping my head down to avoid the severe intensity of the sun. Not only was this bad for my back, but especially bad for my breathing. Gas exchange doesn’t occur as efficiently with your head down, so it’s always important to look forward while you’re running. This can be tricky, especially when you’re running on an uneven surface. The CLE course was covered with potholes in certain areas, so I suppose it was partially wise that I ran with my head down to prevent tripping and injury. Regardless, what’s my lesson with this one? On a sunny day, run with sunglasses or a hat to keep the sun out of your eyes. In addition to keeping your head up, it helps relieve stress from squinting. Stress wastes energy, so anything you can do to remove stress during a race will buy you time (and a more enjoyable experience!)

Wound #4: Dehydration. I was so dehydrated from the beginning of the race, and I think this is primarily from not properly hydrating the days prior. I was outside all day Saturday and ate dinner outside both Friday night and Saturday night. What’s my lesson here? I should have stayed in cool locations the days leading up to the race to prevent excessive dehydration. I drank plenty of water and Gatorade, but that wasn’t enough. Not only was I dehydrated during the race, I was dehydrated days following.

Wound #5: Negativity. I was feeling bummed about some personal issues before the race, feeling pretty negative throughout the race, and have been feeling the post-race blues all week. I’ve been so fixated on the things about the race that were disappointing and out of my control. There are a few lessons that come with this one, and the first is simple: you have to ROLL with the punches. Race performance is not entirely reliant on how well you’ve prepared or your ability. Some variables, like the weather and race atmosphere, are completely out of your control. If you don’t adjust your goals accordingly, you’re setting yourself up for being disappointed. This leads into my second lesson, which deals with goals. Be careful with goals. When goals are super ambitious, it’s important to recognize you may not reach them as you hoped. I have had difficulty having pride in my finish time, although I know it’s a great time, because I wanted to do much better. It’s been hard for me to reflect and move on, and I’ve felt pretty bummed all week. I think 1:35 would have been a realistic goal for me considering I haven’t been training, this is the first long distance race I’ve run this year, and the heat. Breaking  1:30 was a stretch, and I shouldn’t have banked on it. I’ll get there, I know it!  As I’ve said over and over again, goals require patience—and so you have to give yourself time to get to where you want to go! My third lesson, is to let negative thoughts GO, especially during a race. I can’t think of a mile where I was loving the moment, and I was really bound by negative thoughts. Running should be freeing and exhilarating, not cumbersome. It’s an opportunity to let go of the stress of the real world and share an experience with 1,000s of other people. There is no reason at all why you shouldn’t be doing anything but one thing- HAVING FUN! That is the reason I love running anyway! J My fourth and final lesson with regards to negativity, outside of running, is to remove people from your life that bring you down. Life is short, and people that surround you should only lift you higher. If they don’t, let them go and move on.

I’m in the works of planning out my fall marathon situation, and it’s looking like I’m in for the Tow Path Marathon! My friend and training buddy Jen will be running the Marine Corps this fall. She’s a great motivator for me, in addition to being a strong runner, so I’m really looking forward to training with her again!

As my past experiences have proven, my wounds will heal and I will come out a stronger runner and person accordingly. I can’t wait to get into great shape and to begin marathon training again. It’s bound to be a great 18 weeks!!
CLE HOT 1/2 Marathon - 1:34:54, 7:14min/mi

Post-race (should be stretching and cooling down hahaaaaa!)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I'm Just That Kinda Gal...

Half Marathon number 14= COMPLETE!

It's crazy to think that four years have past since my first race ever, which happened to be the Cleveland Half Marathon back in 2008. It's even CRAZIER to think how I spent the night before that race <getting dumped>, and how much more intelligently I spent it this time around <carbo-loading with my bestie Jeness>. It's crazy how quickly time can pass you by, and I believe it to be VERY significant that you're cognizant of that. If you use your time appropriately, it's incredible how much you can accomplish with passion and drive regardless of what curve balls are thrown in your direction. That being said...

I went to bed around 10:30pm Saturday night, but just didn't get a normal night's sleep. I woke up at 4:45am feeling as if I was up the entire night. I was just SO anxious and excited to run the Cleveland Half for so many reasons--mainly because it was the first race I've run in a LONG time with my baby sis and best friend Kristin! Plus, Jeness and many other of my running buds were participating so it was just bound to be a blast! Additionally, it was my first long distance race since NYC, and with everything I've dealt with over the past few months---I was SO happy to just be a part of it. :-)

KP and I left to head downtown around 5:45am, thinking that would give us ample time to do the typical pre-race things. We were WRONG. We ended up running around the Brown's Stadium like maniacs trying to get our race gear checked. The lines for the bathrooms were enormous, so we ended up with NO time for a pre-race warm up and stretching. Before we knew it, it was 6:50am and we needed to head to the race start. We scurried over to the start line and realized there was no way we were getting to our pace teams the conventional way. It was SO packed at the start line, and there were gates surrounding a "seeded corral" area. SO, being the innovative ladies we are, KP and I used our small physiques to our advantage. We squeezed in between the bars in the gate and made it to the front of the start line! A bit scandalous, but ya do what ya gotta do!! We stretched a bit, pretty pathetically to be honest, and then off we went!

I was super dehydrated from the start with the higher than normal temperatures, and I started out at my intended 6:50min/mi pace. From the get-go, it was just NOT comfortable at all. It just didn't feel right, but I didn't want to give up on my goal right away so I stuck with it. Once I got into mile 3, I was just not into it. Normally by this point, I'm in auto-pilot cruising trying to hold back from pushing the pace too hard. So, with this mentality--I backed off. I decided to take off my 1:30 pace wrist band, which was definitely a challenge (a) because my wrists were so sweaty (b) I hated the idea of letting my PR goal go. However, I knew I was a bit over-ambitious going in and I didn't want the race to be a huge bust...so I let my goal go...

Which ended up being the BEST decision I could have made. From that point on, the temperature just got hotter and the sun ended up getting more intense. I had to work HARD to not fall too far off of pace, and struggled through every mile. At one point around mile 7, a really nice guy was about to pass me and asked how I was feeling. I wanted to stay positive and said "GREAT, thanks!!" Total lie, because I was dying, LOL.  He kindly said, "Well, I can try to block some of the sun from you if you stay behind me." Definitely a nice gesture. But, I decided to stay in the sun instead of pushing the pace to follow a nice guy hahaaaa. :-)

The course was definitely off this year. I know I'm coming off of the NYC marathon and can't use that as a comparision, but I can say that the Columbus Marathon was MUCH better at keeping the course entertaining. There were so many bands and DJ's, and it was so much fun through each mile. I was dancing on the course at a few points, all the while maintaining a pace to finish the marathon in 3:16. The CLE course had very few bands, no DJ's until the end, and the crowd support was mediocre. There was too much dead time, and with the heat and light intensity it just was hard to push. Plus, there was a TERRIBLE hill in Tremont that from what I've heard is new this year---what were you thinking CLE Marathon course people???

Once I was into the Mile 10, I was ready to be DONE. I was disappointed with my performance, and just wanted the finish line to be closer. I had a gel around mile 8 which definitely helped me keep my head up, but that just exacerabeted my already irritated stomach! Plus, my left big toe felt bruised--and I rarely lose toe nails from running so I was SO confused with what was going on. I was just a mess. Simply put-- this was just NOT my race!

As I rounded into Mile 11, I was passing several runners which definitely helped lift my spirits. Unfortunately, I was in the mute stage of my racing and was out of words of encouragement for all of the fellow runners. Then, the Mile 12 mile marker came and I REALLY wanted a strong last mile. I tried to push hard, and a REALLY nice older guy I was passing yelled at me to stop looking at my watch and to PUSH to the finish! I listened to him, pushed, and got a big "YEAH!" from him which was exactly what I needed at that moment. But, my intestines were NOT in sync with my intensity---I'll leave out the details that I've been sharing with all of my friends, per my sisters request hahahahaha!

Needless to say, I FINISHED! Not what I was hoping for, and waaaay off my PR, but my official time was 1:34:54, 7:14min/mi. I ended up 2nd in my age group shockingly, and 24th overall female. Not too shabby I suppose! Although I'm disappointed with the time, I recognize it's 110% realistic for me right now. I haven't been training, and realistically--COME ON, MP! Yes, I'm referring to my self in the third person right now haaaa! It's not a 5k. An endurance event like a half marathon and marathon require time and training---you CANNOT expect a crazy fast time because you want it. You have to work for it. But, with my health issues, I had to put the work on the back burner. But, now that I'm back to speed, I'm more motivated than ever to step up my training. I'm not sure what my plans are, but I know I have potential to get much better. And, so, I will do just that! Love it or hate it, I'm just that kinda gal...:-)

Jeness and me post-race!
Red-head sandwich!
Sisterrrrrrrrrrrrssss!
One of my amazing Aurora kiddos that ran the Half Marathon--LOVE YA, JAKE!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

By The Way...


I'm not over YOU. :-D
I'd say that Gavin Degraw (sp) song that’s WAY overplayed on the radio outlines very well my longing for---racing! A few weeks were enough of a break for me, and after my 5k victory a few weeks ago I’ve officially broken my promise and am rolling back to where I was. My doctors have varying opinions on it, but the ultimate opinion that really matters is my own. I am a logical, self-aware lady and wouldn’t do anything to put my body in danger. I’m ready to get BACK!

I’m SO pumped to say that I’m less than 24 hours away from completing my 14th half marathon in the place where it all began—CLEVELAND! Yep, 4 years ago in May 2008, I completed my first race EVER—The Cleveland Half Marathon and now I’m up to 14. With a bit more experience under my belt, I’m feeling SO excited and anxious to be part of one of the best organized events Cleveland has to offer.

The forecast for tomorrow is sunny and 84. Clearly that’s a bit too warm for race day, but am I worrying about it? NOPE. After everything I’ve been through over the past few months, I’m just so happy that I’m able to be there.  Do I plan on adjusting my race plan according to this toasty weather forecast? NOPE. I had a salty Chipotle dinner last night with my bestie and CLE runner Jeness to get my sodium levels in gear, as encouraged by my doctors, and will be drinking lots of water today in addition to Gatorade to get my electrolyte levels in balance. As far as race gear goes, I contemplated going without a singlet to stay cool (rellllllllax sports bras actually count as shirts in the running world). Buttttt, my sis and I got matching singlets because we are just that cool (pun intended), so I will be rocking some vibrant Nike colors tomorrow if you’re looking for me (or my sis who looks like my identical twin)! 

So, what’s my race plan tomorrow, besides my ignorance to the forecasted temperatures? I’d ideally like to P.R. That would mean I’d need to run under 1:30:08. That would mean I’d need to run a 6:51min/mi…for each mile. I KNOW I can do that. I also KNOW my training has been pretty weak since my accident. I’ve been able to hit that pace on tempo runs for 20 minutes or so, but that’s about it. I haven’t run more than 13 miles in a long run since March. However I know I have it in me to crush 1:30, and I’m hoping that the race adrenaline and my inner confidence can get me there. But, I won’t be sweatin’ it too much if I fall short (although I’m sure I will be literally…bahahaaa I’m full of jokes today!) because I truly am just grateful to have the clearance to run it. Plus, if I don’t reach my goal, I have the opportunity to try again at the Canton ½ Marathon next month.

I plan to tweak my ½ marathon race strategy a bit this time around. I usually only use gels for marathons, but I’ll be bringing a few gels with me tomorrow. I think I’ll be only using one around the 10K mark, and have an additional in case I feel I need it. This may turn into a total bust, and I may be sick as a consequence. But, mayyyyybe this will help give me the extra energy boost I need to reach a P.R.?? Come this time tomorrow, I will know for sure!

Good luck to everyone out there running tomorrow!! If you have yet to have your Cleveland Experience, you are in for a treat. It’s a fun, beautiful, mostly flat course of one thee greatest cities in the world!! It generates a fun, diverse crowd and is a true synergy of a multitude of runners of various abilities. It’s beautiful to see how so many different kinds of people have the opportunity to reach their own set of goals, all at the same place and same time. I can’t think of any other sporting event that allows for that. Annnnnnnd this is one of the millions of reasons I LOVE running.  

So, yes, I have broken my promise to myself and am back to the grind. There will come a time in my life where running won’t be able to be a priority, and I don’t want to have any regrets of how I lived my young, single, child-less days. That being said, I just can’t seem to let you go racing, at least just yet. It is what it is.  So, no matter what I say, I’m not over YOU. J

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Milk was a bad choice...


OWWWWWWW.

Although it’s possible to run a successful 5k race with very little training, do not expect an easy recovery after using muscles that have laid dormant for months. Yes, I’m speaking from experience. Although I’m still PUMPED about my 19:33 last weekend and my dominance over the boys, I’m still feeling the pain. I think the mistake I made was not allowing myself proper recovery. After the race, I was on my feet all day. The next day, I ran 12 miles at an average 7:40ish pace. I was still on a high from the race and pushed the pace more than I should have. My legs were achy for the first few miles, but they eventually warmed up and I flew through the second half.  Consequently, I was sore up until about Wednesday of that week---even my abs hurt! I was hoping by Thursday to feel good enough to get in 5 miles at a 6:50ish pace. I would love to run the CLE ½ marathon at this pace in two weeks, butttttttt I'm not sure it's looking particularly possible. It ended up being near 90 on Thursday, and I just could NOT push the pace. I ended up waaaay over-paced, a 7:20ish mile, but it was as much as my tender legs would allow in the heat. Plus, I didn't cut back at all on my cross-training last week and hadn't had a day off since last Friday...so I was literally running on "E." At this point, all I can say is WOOOOOOOOOOPS!

Friday, I took the day off but was more tired than usual. I skipped Happy Hour, struggled to keep my eyes open until bed time, and was just feeling crabby. Saturday, I had 13 miles on the agenda. It was a gorgeous day in the 60s, and I was hoping to relax and enjoy it. Unfortunately, my legs were stiff the entire time and I just could not click into autopilot. I had to focus on every mile to prevent my pace from dropping. I had a heavy breakfast in the morning, and needless to say, milk was a bad choice! Although I ran about three hours after my breakfast, I could still feel it churning away in my stomach and I had some issues with cramping mid-way through my run. I felt dehydrated the entire time, tight, and excited to get it over with it---not MP style at all! I ended up averaging right on an 8:00min/mi, which is slower than most of my recent long runs. I usually finish the last 1.5 miles strong—around a 6:40min/mi—but my body only gave me the last .5 miles strong. I was definitely disappointed with my run—BUMMER!

Today, my gym is having a 5k. I contemplated putting myself through a bit more pain and running it to support their cause. Considering I have the ½ marathon in two weeks and had a lame long run yesterday, I decided this morning to skip it. My legs need time for decent recovery if I want to give myself any chance of being competitive at CLE, primarily because I’m really not sure what I’m capable of at this point. Back in September, I ran a 1:30:08 at the River Run ½ Marathon. My mileage was much higher,  I was in full swing marathon training mode, and I had a ton of confidence going in. Now, that I’m in my “La-La Run as You Please” training mode—I’m not sure! I feel like I can break 1:30, but I’m unsure if this confidence is coming from what I want to do or what I can REALLY do????

My lesson this week was---RECOVERY COUNTS. If you push the pace too soon, you will regret it later.  Plus, dairy products before working out on a warm day are just a bad choice. AHHHHH I need to get back to being more conscientious about my diet!

Racing the clock in a chilly 5k last weekend! :-)