Sunday, February 23, 2014

I Did It! (Part 2)

Friday, I had a nice carbo-filled dinner with my sister, Kristin at Brio. I was relaxed, enjoyed the fun company, and was ready for whatever Saturday had to bring. The race was going to be squeezed in to the plans I already had for the day, with a wedding shower in Hudson at 11am. Over the years, I have made myself well-acquainted with changing from runner to lady in just a matter of minutes so I was not stressed one bit about being double booked. 

I was up at 5:45 am Saturday morning, and did my normal girl event/race routine. I packed my dress and heels in one compartment of my bag, and my running gear in the other. I LITERALLY brushed the dust of my Garmin, as I have not needed it with all of my treadmill training over the past 7 weeks. It felt SO good to hear the little beep as I turned it on…how I missed that sound! I turned on the news, and the weather guy was talking about the super high winds forecasted for the day. He said, "This is perfect kite flying weather!" I almost immediately shut off the TV after hearing him say that! I felt the winds the night prior when I was out with my sister, but wasn’t going to let it ruin my outlook for the race. The toughest thing about running is weather. You have absolutely no control over it and have to be able to adapt to whatever Mother Nature decides to bring. So, I turned off the news and ignored the Tweets. I had a few slices of toast with jelly, a banana, OJ, my travel coffee mug filled to the brim, and was ready to GO. 

When I got out of my car at Bay Village High School, I felt good. But despite feeling good, I was definitely nervous. This wasn’t just my first race of the year. It was my first race with training completely on the treadmill. It was my first race coming from the train-wreck year of 2013. It was my first race of choosing to be brave.  I wanted to start it out right, without any feelings of disappointment. The nerves were brewing. The good news was that I have run this course before and know it to be pretty flat and ideal for a 5k race. Knowing this helped ease some of my nerves. So despite the nerves, I was ready to see what I could put out after 7 weeks of marathon training.

I hung out in my car for a bit with my coffee, then around 8:15 got in two warm-up miles with some 25 second strides in the second mile. My feet hadn’t felt pavement in so long. It felt SO good! Once my legs were warmed up, I hung out in the warm high school until it was time to get to the start line. As I was stretching and analyzing my strides against the wind, I decided that low 20:00s was my best bet for the race. If I broke 20:00, that would be great, but I didn’t want to bank on it. I felt good with my race plan, and was anxious to get started.

After several potty breaks, I made my way to the start line. I cut into the front to avoid having to circle around the over-eager fast-start high school kids. I kept thinking of what LB told me, “You're fast, you need to get to that start line and say “I’m a bad a$$.” And, that is what I did. I blocked out the noise of everyone around me, ignored the wind pushing my little pony tail around, and got into the zone. I took some deep breaths, jumped around a bit, and send a prayer that God would give me the strength to push through. Then, promptly at 9:00 am, the horn went off and off we went!

As I rounded the corner of the high school on to the road, my race bib was flapping in the wind.  I forced myself to ignore it. I decided I was going to focus on what I could do in that mile at that exact moment, and let how I feel guide how I would run. I was not going to let the wind decide my pace, as I tend to become complacent with my intensity when the race conditions are less than ideal. I was going to decide my pace regardless of how tough the winds were. I was in control of this! And so, that is what I did. I slipped into what felt like a comfortable pace, and crossed the first mile at 6:15

As I slipped into the second mile (almost literally, it was icy out there!), I had passed most of the fast-start guys who started to ease off into a slower pace. It can be really mentally challenging watching other people slow down, but I was trying to focus on using it as energy to propel me forward. I just focused on that exact moment, in that mile, and let my worries go. My goal was low 20:00s initially, but now I felt that breaking 20:00 was not out of the question. But then I started feeling the pain and I wanted to ease off. But, I kept pushing, telling myself “focus on right NOW.”  I crossed the second mile at 12:30 and was amazed I had maintained the same exact pace! Must be the treadmill training! I heard breathing close behind me, as some guys I had passed earlier were gaining momentum into the third mile.

As I got into the third mile, my feet started to hurt, my legs were begging me to stop, and I was breathing heavy. I knew I only needed a 7:30 mile to finish under 20:00, and contemplated easing off. The guys passed me.  I started to get those negative, hateful thoughts about myself, thinking “You suck, you’re not fast…who are you kidding?” But, I just cleared my mind. I forced myself to think about my workout Wednesday, and how good it felt to finish it strong even when I wanted to quit. So, I kept pushing. I ended up passing one of the guys that surged too soon, and kept pushing to the track where the finish line was. I saw the 19:10s on the clock from a distance and kept rolling and rolling and then BOOM. I finished 19:24, a 6:14min/mi average, a two second P.R. HA! One of the guys that passed me waited to give me a high-five and a “great job” at the finish. One of the 1,000s of reasons I love running so much. There is so much endless support from complete strangers! I was pretty pumped that I ran a P.R, even if it was hardly a P.R., because it was beyond my expectation. I had no GI issues throughout the race, finished thinking of where I could have pushed harder and how I can make it better next time. It was a small step of progress giving me the confidence to know that I’m where I should be in my training, and there is more room to grow! Sub-19:00 is not out of the question for me. I will get there!

I ran a 3 mile cool down after the race, stretched, threw on my dress and heels in the high school bathroom, collected my age group prize (looked like a complete idiot all dressed up, I’m sure!), and was on my way to Hudson for the wedding shower. That is what I call successful rungirl multitasking! While I was driving (and trying to avoid speeding being a bit behind schedule), I came to a red light. I quickly threw down the mirror, popped on some lip gloss, and looked at myself and thought, "Holy crap. I DID IT!" Despite all of the setbacks, I am exactly where I need to be. The road to success is certainly long and turbulent, but the small successes on the way are so validating! I truly believe that small successes are God's way of telling us, "Yep, this is worth it. KEEP GOING." You couldn't take the smile off my face (or from my heart) all day! :-)

I was in bed by 9:30pm Saturday night, and up at 7:00am this morning. I needed those 9+ hours of sleep! I’m not sure what my run plans are for today. I’m just a little achy in my quads, and I have upcoming recovery workouts on the agenda for Monday through Wednesday. If I feel up to it, I may run 10 miles on the ‘mill. If I’m not feeling it, I’ll likely keep the miles low and save it up for my first legit long run of my training cycle next week--- my first 18 miler!

What I do today will reflect my total mileage of the week so I'll save that for my next blog post. But, overall I’m feeling pleased with my progress and am ready for the challenges to come in the next 8 weeks of my training. I feel confident to keep going! 

Just two more months until the Glass City Marathon!!! :-)

I Did It. (Part 1)

Week 7 of my Glass City Marathon training is complete! This was a very important week for me, and included my first race of the year. Here is how it went: 

Monday- I had a cruise interval workout. I ran 5 X1000m @6:31min/mi with a 200m recovery. I was a little nervous going into this workout. Something about doing 1000m intervals intimidated me, even at a slower than 5k pace. But, to my surprise, I clicked through each interval comfortably. In fact, I felt a bit too comfortable, questioning if I did the workout right or if I was just starting to see progress in my training. Regardless of the reason for the ease, it was on to the next one!

Tuesday- My designated cross-training day! I did 40:00 on the elliptical, 20:00 on the bike, and walked two treadmill miles. 

Wednesday- I had a fast finish 60:00 progression run on the agenda. I was excited for this workout, as progression runs are one of my favorites! I was mapping out my plan of attack for this workout, and noted the “run the last 5:00 at faster than 5k effort” written in on my training plan. I was pumped for this little surge at the end, and so hopped on the ‘mill eager to get rolling. I ran the first 15:00 easy @8:30min/mi feeling anxious for the next step up, the second 15:00 around my long run pace @8:00min/mi feeling a little tense but ready to roll into the third 15:00, when I  inched up to marathon pace @7:30min/mi feeling sweaty and ready to start counting down the minutes until the fourth 10:00 @ my goal marathon pace of 7:15min/mi, approaching my last 5:00 @ faster than 5k pace, which on paper seemed like a BREEZE. But, with 7 miles and 55:00 of running under my belt, a steady 6:00min/mi was an entirely different kind of pace then what I had mentally prepared for. As the clock on the treadmill started to get closer to 55:00, I started to get pretty nervous. But, I forced myself to think positive thoughts and just told myself “it’s only five minutes, you can do this.” As soon as 54:50 came up on the ‘mill, I cranked the dial up to 10.0mph, equivalent to a 6:00min/mi. As soon as my legs started to go, the pain set in. The positive thoughts were seeping away. Only 20 seconds past and I was thinking, “I can’t do this.” But, I kept telling myself, “I HAD to do this. I will be too pissed at myself if I don’t power through.” So, I kept pushing. My feet were pounding so hard on the ‘mill, I was breathing like a girl (hate when I do that), and I could hardly see because sweat was pouring into my eyes. I blocked everything out around me, and just focused on each minute passed as I was getting that much closer to finishing. And, it just kept getting harder. I was so frustrated by how hard this was, and feeling like a pretty big wimp. Girls I know can run marathons faster than this pace, and I can’t do it without being a baby for 5:00 after a progression run? I said to myself, “Who am I kidding? I’m not fast.”  Despite the self-deprecating thoughts, I kept going. As soon as 59:58 came up on the ‘mill, I hit the emergency stop button and hopped off the ‘mill. People in the gym immediately came to my side to say how amazed they were, but I was pretty pissed off. That was way too hard. Rather than being rude, I gave a faint smile and ran to the locker room to throw some cold water on my face. I watched as the make-up from the day ran off my face. As I was wiping it off I had a different thought. I said to myself, “Holy crap, I did it.” The make-up may have come off, but there was no wiping off that giant smile from my face. I felt such an incredible sense of pride! In the grand scheme of things, it may seem like a small feat. But, when everything in you is telling you “you suck, you should just quit” but you keep going, it’s hard to describe how empowering that feeling is. Underneath all of the hurdles that come my way, the intangible power within me that is so strong and fearless gets me through it. But, it only gets me through it if I allow it to. Today was just proof that if I really want to my reach my goals, the only thing that is going to stop me is me...and I am not willing to let that happen! 

Thursday, upon talking to my good friend and colleague, LB, I was feeling so good about my progress. LB is the cross-country coach at the high school where I teach. She has tons of experience helping athletes of all ability levels reach their highest potential. She has patience, knowledge, and a positive outlook, but most importantly she has that ability to see talent in people even when they can see it for themselves. She talked me through some of my concerns and negative thoughts, reminding me of what my ultimate goal is and who I really am as a runner. Sometimes, we look so far ahead that we lose sight of who we are.  Hearing LB say, “MP, you're fast, you need to get to that start line and say “I’m a bad a$$”” lit a spark in me. I was hesitant about racing that weekend, but LB convinced me to give it a shot. She told me to not focus on a P.R., in fact suggested I try for about a 1:00 slower than my P.R. I’m at the beginning of my training, and I still have a lot more work to do. So, with her advice, I was aiming for low 20:00s and was just excited to get my feet on the pavement for the first time in 7 weeks!  I ran an easy five miles that night and was feeling perky, but held it back for the race on Saturday!

After my run, I went home and registered for my first 5k race of the season, the SnoBall 5k in Bay Village…

to be continued! :-)

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Gamble

Sorry! I have fallen behind in my blogging over the past two weeks. I just haven’t had the time to sit in one place to write it all out. If you are interested in following my training day by day, feel free to follow me on Twitter @PavMP223.

These past few weeks have been really great and really tough at the same time, as I feel myself progressing and am getting that much closer towards reaching my goals despite some outside challenges along the way. When things in life get hard, making time to get in my training can be REALLY hard. The mental aspect plays a big role on the physical, and when there’s a lot on my mind it’s hard to let it go. I haven’t gotten as good of sleep as I would have liked over these weeks, and many of my workouts have just been boxes to check on my training log. But, I haven’t let it hinder my spirit! The tough times remind me why I train. Reaching for goals makes me want to bring out the best in myself. Even when things aren’t going perfectly, every step I take forward is making me a better runner, and every lesson learned makes me a better person. I think of my marathon goal, how far I’ve come and how far I want to go, and it all just feels SO worth it to me! I know shooting for a big goal at one race is a major gamble. There is so much energy and time put in for one moment. But, the gamble is what makes the challenge great. It’s what separates the “wanna-bes” from the “do-ers.” It’s what makes the marathon the spectacle that it is. I cannot wait for the spectacle at the Glass City Marathon this spring, and so I am continuing on with the gamble. Because if you don’t gamble, how can you ever win big?

Here is a re-cap of the past two weeks of my training:

Week 5:

Monday- I had a 10k effort Fartlek workout. It seemed like a breeze on paper, and therefore was a MAJOR challenge in practice. Never underestimate a workout!!! I ran 6 X 3:00 @ 6:31min/mi with 1:30 recovery. It took until the 4th interval to get into it, but once it clicked I was cruisin’ and felt great! 

Tuesday- It was a late night at school, so I was happy to have an easy day on the schedule. I did the elliptical for 30:00 and the bike for 20:00.

Wednesday- I had a 60:00 Pace Booster run. I LOVE these workouts! I did a 15:00 warm-up, 30:00 @7:09min/mi down to a 6:50min/mi, and a 15:00 cool-down. It felt great and was an awesome confidence booster!

Thursday- Easy 5 miles. I was tired and totally drained. My easy days always seem to be my hardest days! 

Friday- It was my off day, but I had a SUPER late night at school. I didn’t get home and into bed until 1:00am! I was so beyond wiped from this week.

Saturday- It was a major late start day, and was pretty all-around drained when I got to the gym. My hamstrings were super tight, I was exhausted, and facing some pretty grim news from my family veterinarian about the health of our dog, Gibson. I contemplated putting my long run off, but decided to power through to get my mind off of things. And, that’s exactly what I did! I ran 15 miles under 2:00 with a strong last mile. It was EXACTLY what I needed. I slept like a baby that night!

Sunday- 4 easy miles. My hamstrings were still super tight (not from running, but from wearing heels Friday night, UGGGGGGGGGH!).The easy miles loosened them up a bit for me. 

Week  5 mileage total-38.6 miles  Training total- 183.28 miles

Week 6:

Monday- It was a very tough day for me. My dog passed away. Coming from a long week prior and dealing with this difficult loss made concentrating on my run a major challenge. But, I did it. I had a stride workout 15 X 25 seconds starting @ 6:00min/mi down brought it down to a 5:30min/mi with 1:00 recovery. Strides on the treadmill are HORRIBLE. The constant up and go on the dial of the treadmill is just annoying! I would rather put it up and go longer (….ugh that’s what she said?!?! OOPS!)  rather than the short bursts of intensity. But, I did it! Despite the annoyance and the drain on my heart, I was able to put a big check next to this day on my workout log.

Baby Gibson---God's sweetest angel 0:-)

Tuesday- Another much needed easy day. 40:00 elliptical and 15:00 bike. I was feeling all-around drained with so much on my mind, but powered through.

Wednesday- This was a stressful day! I had to get in my workout ASAP after work to make sure I wasn’t late for my Uncle’s surprise birthday party in Little Italy. This was not easy. I literally flew out the door at work, threw on a singlet and shorts at the gym, and hopped on the mill for Fartleks at Half-Marathon effort. My stomach was queasy, but I held on to see how many intervals I could get in without running to the potty. I made it through 4! I ran off to do my business, and came back for the remaining 2. In total, I completed 6X5:00@ 6:54min/mi with 3:00 recovery. The tummy issues had me annoyed (I hate stopping), but I was SO happy I made it in time for my Uncle’s party! Seeing his smile that night made all of the rushing around worth it. With the hard week my family had, we needed this QT!

Thursday- 5 headache miles on the treadmill! I took it very easy, and felt 70% the whole time. My head felt heavy and I just wanted to lay down the whole time. I got it done, rushed home, and relaxed. I get VERY worried when I feel headaches when I run. I’m glad I was on the treadmill for this one!

Friday- OFF! I contemplated running the Chilli Bowl 5k in Tremont the following day, but with the ridiculously cold temperatures I had to turn it down. The risk of injury on ice and the stress the cold temps would put on my body just didn’t seem worth it to me…

Saturday-…SO Saturday I was on for 16 treadmill miles. I had a birthday lunch at 11am in Ohio City for my good friend, and so got up early for this one. My Saturday sleep-ins are officially over! I was at the gym at 8am, but wasn’t on a treadmill until 8:20am. As soon as I hopped on, I felt tummy pain. I had cereal and milk for breakfast, and immediately I knew I made a BIG mistake. Like Wednesday, I held out for as long as I could before I had the opportunity to humiliate myself on the ‘mill! LOL! By 11.5 miles, I ran off to do my business, and came back for the remainder 4.5 miles. I HATED stopping, and so ran the last 4.5 miles harder than normal to make up for the temporary potty break. In total, I completed 16 miles with an average mile of about 7:50-7:55min/mi for the first 11.5 miles and 7:30-7:15min/mi for the last 4.5 miles. I lost track of time with the potty break, but I was under 2:08 for sure. 

Sunday- I was bummed about my crappy 16 miler (pun intended) but am staying positive. I have had a really stressful past few weeks, and it’s only expected to take its toll on me physically. I thought all things positive on my run and ran an easy 4 miles. I felt such a great “glow” when I finished this run knowing 6 weeks were complete, and I was only 10 weeks away from the big day! My family had a nice informal get together in memory of our beloved dog later that day. I miss my dog so much, but have been reminded how much I love my family. The extra QT made my whole weekend!

My sister, our lil Nephew Tommy, and me
Plus my Godson, Luke!!!

Week  6 mileage total-40 miles  Training total- 223.28 miles

On to Week 7! If the temperature is not crazy cold next Saturday, I plan to run in the SnoBall 5k in Bay Village! I have a wedding shower at 11am in Hudson, so it will be packed into an already busy day. But, I really want to put my training to the test (and feel my feet on the pavement!). I know a P.R. is a gamble, but I need to give it a try. Otherwise, I will never really know what my potential really is!

My message in reflection of these past few weeks is this: don't let the hard times in life make you hard. Keep your spirit free, and take some chances. There are many risks that come along with big gambles, but that's what makes life great. It's through the gambles that we reach our greatest potential. Take that gamble, whatever it may be--tell that cute guy you like him, ask for that big promotion, start that degree-- because why not? The reasons to take chances will always outweigh the reasons to not. I promise. :-)

Happy running everyone!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Sore Winner

I am so happy to say good bye to January and hello to February! Knowing that March is only a month away and that Spring Time in the CLE is that much closer has me excited like a kid waiting for Christmas! But, I need to hold back the excitement just a bit. Being the superstitious lady I am, it appears that I still have ways to go before “Christmas,” a.k.a. great running weather, is here. According to Punxsutawney Phil's announcement this morning, we have another 6 weeks of winter to endure. I’ll give this one to the Ground Hog. You win, little guy! But rather than being a sore loser, I suppose I will just follow suit and will be hiding from my shadow, too. I am totally okay with cranking out a few more weeks on the treadmill! Rather than whining about it and letting it get the best of me, I choose to continue to get the best out of it! I am happy to say I knocked out another pretty solid week of treadmill training, and my 4th week of Glass City Marathon training is done!

I feel great and am so beyond happy and surprised that I have been able to jump back exactly where I left off before my hiatus! I don’t want to speak prematurely, but I really think that the break I took in 2013 is EXACTLY what I needed to start to make things happen for me. I feel in my heart that I have more potential than I have yet to put out, and I want 2014 to be the year I start to see what that potential really is. I only want to run one quality, guts-out 26.2 this year, and want to focus the rest of the year on shorter distances. I would love to race a mile under 5:30, as my only mile “race” was against a former crush of mine, who ran a 5:00-something and I only managed a 5:40-something, on the track of my high school on a Friday after teaching all day. I totally underestimated the mile and the ability of my crush! I was p.o.’ed and shocked that a guy who DOESN’T TRAIN managed to kick my butt. I never raced a mile before then, and didn’t go into it expecting to lose. Call me a sore loser, but as soon as I finished, I wanted revenge on my time! Despite my desire to seek revenge, I have been so 26.2 focused since then that I have yet to give the mile another shot. Perhaps now is the time to do it! Just as Punxsutawney Phil ran from his shadow, bringing out the news of an extended winter, my former crush ran from the shadow of me, bringing out an unexpected loss in front of the entire high school football and cross country teams. As an extended winter will not crush my spirit, a (moderately) humiliating loss from some dude won’t either! 2014 is my #BraveToWin year. This is my year to make it happen, so I suppose it’s time to take some risks and give some new distances a shot! Rather than be a sore loser, and I am ready to be a sore winner. Yep, a sore winner! You cannot expect to be a winner without putting all you have out there. If you are not sore after a race, you probably didn’t give it all you’ve got!

But, I will save the soreness for when the time is right! I am not too sore from my Week 4 of training as I’m just in the “building” phase right now. Here is how the week went:

Monday is always my speed day, and so I had a Fartlek workout on the agenda. I had to run 12X1:00 @ slightly faster than 5k effort with 1:00 recovery in between. My 5k goal is 19:00, which is a 6:00min/mi so I began the workout at this pace and progressed down to a 5:45mi/mi.  I ran 2X1:00@6:00min/mi, 2X1:00@5:59min/mi, 2X1:00@5:55min/mi, 2X1:00@5:52min/mi, 2X1:00@5:49min/mi, and 2X1:00@5:45min/mi. I began it with a 15:00 warm up and concluded with a 15:00 cool down, covering 7  miles. On paper, this workout looked like a SNAP! In practice, WHOA it was tough! With just a 1:00 recovery in between, the intervals came back at me right at the moment I “recovered.” It kept me on my toes, introduced me to challenging paces, and overall was an awesome workout!

Tuesday is my recovery day, so I did 40:00 on the elliptical and 15:00 on the bike. In training past, I would push hard on my cross-training days, considering it a waste if I didn’t finish drenched in sweat. I’m now using my recovery days for true recovery. I use cross-training as a means to get my heart rate up without exhausting my muscles. It is intended to be an easy day, so I want to keep it just that.

Wednesday is my second speed day of the week. On this day, I ran a 60:00 progression run. This is one of my favorite workouts! I am a fast-finish kind of racer, so this workout really plays into my strengths. I broke it down into three parts. The first 20:00 I ran an 8:30min up to an 8:00min/mi, the second 20:00 I ran an 8:00min/mi up to a 7:30min/mi, and the third 20:00 I ran a 7:30min/mi up to a 6:50min/mi. Whenever I do progression runs, the hour seems to go by super fast!  I think it’s from the constant anticipation as the pace increases as I go. I covered 7.70 miles and felt great by the time the 60 minute mark hit.

Thursday is my second recovery day, and I ran a super easy 5 mile run. Friday, I was completely off.

Saturday is my long run day. This is my step back week, so I had a 12 miler on the agenda. It was warmer than what it had been all week, but it was rainy and icy. Despite a brief thought of hitting the roads, I was back on the treadmill to finish off week 4. I didn’t hydrate particularly well the night before and my Friday night pasta was covered in sweet Madeira wine sauce. I always tend to underestimate my step back long runs. Or, you can say I think like a complete idiot. HA! In addition to not being adequately prepared, I had swollen glands, a sore throat, and sinus pain throughout most of the week and by Saturday the pain caught up with me. Regardless, I made my way to the gym and hopped on the ‘mill for 12 miles! It was pretty toasty in the Cardio room, and so going into this run dehydrated posed some challenges. Despite the discomfort, I cranked out a pretty decent 12 mile long run in 1:35! There were definitely “I want to quit” and “this sucks” thoughts going through my head as I could not seem to get myself hydrated at any point throughout the run. But, I kept going! My average pace was right around how I like it for my long runs, a 7:50-55min/mi. I finished with a strong last mile, which I try to do for each long run. I try to teach my body (and my mind) to push the pace when my body is fatigued. Then, when the race comes around,  I remind myself of what I did in the last mile of my long runs and try to simulate the same thing.  By the time the run was over, I was drenched in sweat but was very pleased with my accomplishment!

Today, Sunday, I will be heading out for an easy 4 miles (after I finish my coffee!). My mileage this week is just under 36. I have been focusing on being an all-around healthier person, trying to eat a balanced diet with more protein (turkey sandwiches and yogurt for lunch everyday!), and trying to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night during the week and 8-9 hours of sleep on the weekends.

I’m going to keep plugging away. I am prepared to be a sore winner! On to Week 5. 12 weeks until the Glass City Marathon!