Monday, August 31, 2009

Not ready to make up... yet...

Okay – running and I had a fight this weekend. And I am still a little angry. Not ready to make up yet. Sure, we’ve had our ups and downs over the past two years, but nothing I can recall being too upset about. Then came the longest training run ever, on what felt like the hottest day ever.

The goal was to finish 24 miles Saturday morning. We have been training using a 2:1 method. Two minutes of running, one minute of walking. Paula and I have found this method to be very manageable over the past couple of months. I think my mistake with the Disney Marathon in January was not having a consistent training plan. I would run 4:1 or 8:2 – basically did what I felt like doing until I got tired. But the goal is to NOT get tired. This is where I fell short on Saturday.

We started out at 4:30 AM. (You would be surprised at how many people actually do this! I am not the only fool out there!) I was tired right from the moment I woke up – and not anxious at all. That should have been the sign. I am usually a wee bit anxious, nervous or excited about the challenge ahead of me. But I wasn’t. Just tired. By mile six I was thankful we were making a pit stop at the store. The next round of running fools had arrived to start their training around 6ish… so we had some quick conversations, a little Gatorade and continued on. It was exactly the boost I needed. By this time however, we were already soaking wet and weighed down by the humidity. But only 18 more miles to go!

I could go on and on – but basically – 18 miles is a long way to go when you are soaking and tired. I had my usual bouts of fatigue followed by surges of energy – my typical ebb and flow. But something just didn’t feel inspiring. I think ultimately, there was little fanfare in finishing 23.5 miles. (Paula’s Polar said 24.03, my Garmin said 23.5.)

And then I felt like crap the entire afternoon. I can deal with feeling lousy if I just finished a marathon and hobbled around all day with a medal around my neck, eating pancakes at IHOP – BUT when I just hobble around all day explaining I ran 24 miles in this heat, most people just think it’s stupid.

The day wasn't a complete wash. I did reward myself with a brand new pair of Brooks Adrenaline running shoes… much needed. And they’re actually more useful than a medal!

So here it goes – I have to make up with running, because I have to break in these new shoes. So hear me out running: I am going to forgive you for Saturday’s unfortunate experience. I am going to erase the memory of miles 14 – 22. We’re gonna start fresh, thinking about Chicago, the victory and those pancakes!

Friday, August 28, 2009

This isn't a victory party...

Around 2 o’clock today I looked over at FaceBook – it’s where I get all my news these days - and saw a few posts about running 24 miles tomorrow. This will be our longest run of the training cycle – thankfully, because any further and I’d demand a t-shirt, medal and fireworks at the start. Anyway – the posts were all about HYDRATING. Oh crap! I knew I forgot something today.

Why is remembering to drink so hard? I drank like a fish in college so you would think this would come naturally to me. But it doesn’t.

There was something else I screwed up. I RSVPed to a birthday party for this weekend. I had it all planned out in my head for Sunday afternoon. But it just hit me like a ton of bricks – that party is tomorrow. I ran to the invitation – and sure enough – 1:00 – bring your swimsuits. Oh crap. Kids, swimming, loud noises – all to cap off my near-marathon run. Not how I envisioned it all. I was truly thinking about a long nap, in a cool dark room… it is what makes getting up at 3:30 AM tolerable.

Well – with any luck – I will be able to hydrate at this party – just like I did in college!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Attempt at Your Own Risk

Before you ever venture out on the grueling task of your longest training run there are three things most people usually have:

1. A solid base of training

2. A decent hydration plan

3. And a healthy dose of courage mixed with a dash of crazy

Saturday morning was THE morning. Twenty-two miles. I ran the Disney Marathon this past January. The longest training run I ever did was 20 miles. And I only did it once. (I was supposed to have gone that distance twice in training, but honestly – my iPod died by mile two and I about died by mile three – so that was that!) But now I am a veteran of training and I felt well prepared to go 22 miles. We’ve been doing, 17, 18, 19, 20 for the previous month - what was two more? Nothing too crazy about that. But here is where you need to heed caution…

Imagine going that distance – when 13.1 is the furthest you have ever gone. And that was nearly 5 months ago… Meet Rebecca.

I haven’t mentioned Rebecca before – because while she is part of our Chicago marathon group, she has been MIA. Each week we’d wonder if she was going to start training… and with only seven weeks to go, the window of training was closing fast. But here she was Saturday, perky and armed with instructions from our coach: DO NOT GO MORE THAN EIGHT MILES. So, she would run with us for four and turn around. That was the plan – a plan that never saw daylight. Because by the time we got four miles out – it was still too dark for her to run on her own. And she was feeling good – runner’s high had kicked in. We stopped for a picture at 13.2 – this was the first “FIRST” of many on this run. Around mile 18 we asked her how she was feeling – and she was a bit less perky and the walk breaks were getting longer. But so were mine. But mile after mile, she kept going. And here’s why: Rebecca had nothing to prove to us – we know she can finish 26.2. She had to convince herself. Like many women, she is her toughest critic.

We spoke Saturday evening. I was on my way to EPCOT, after spending a day at Chuck E Cheese – and she was on her hands and knees collecting a thousand Splenda packets that her soon-to-be two-year old dumped on the floor. She sounded happy and was even talking about next week’s run! But I still wonder, after she hung up the phone, was she was ever able to stand back up again? We’ll find out next week!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Track workout in the garden of good and evil...

Some days I just really need to run with people. I am not sure if it is because I am lazy or because I just prefer walking. (Or is that the same thing?) Either way – I am happy the rain stopped before we hit the track last night – because otherwise I would have to go to Plan B.

Plan B is the treadmill. When I first started to run, I loved the treadmill. You’ve got your TV, the temperature-controlled gym, the very flat course – I mean the conditions are perfect. But somewhere around mile 4 or 5 – I start to get really ticked off at whatever is on the TV. I start to criticize (silently of course) people who come into the gym and spend 20 minutes on the treadmill and leave. (And wonder how the heck they are so thin when they barely broke a sweat!) And I actually start to envy anyone who is outside. All in all – this is not how I want to feel when I am working out.

So while I was glad I got to go to the track, I was less than thrilled with the workout in place. We basically had to run a mile at our specific paces – cool down for a loop – run two miles at our goal pace – cool down and then run another mile at pace. It didn’t look so bad on paper – but ouch! Had I gone to the gym – I am not sure this would have been completed. As it was – I wasn’t sure I was going to finish it on the track.
When I run – I spend half of my time thinking of excuses as to why I should stop. I am not kidding. I do not think this is normal. But it actually passes the time. I spend the other half of my time thinking about why I should finish. This is probably the runner’s equivalent of the angel on one should – the devil on the other. My inner devil runner is pretty convincing, though. If it were just me and the devil – boy, I am sure we’d be sitting on the couch eating cookies instead of running.

While the angel on my shoulder is incredibly quiet and shy – my running group is a bit more vocal. Thankfully. The shouts of encouragement and high fives – as they finish their workouts and head to their cars - are exactly what I need. Sure, they’re home eating dinner by the time I round that last lap – but it is satisfying to know that I completed the workout I was supposed to do. Now – if I could just stay away from the coach and cookies…..

Monday, August 17, 2009

I am inspired...

Running is hard work. I don’t care if you are a trained athlete – or a racing turtle – if you are out there pushing yourself, it is hard work. My husband, a much better runner than me, just came in sweating and groaning after a two hour run – proving my point exactly.

So what do you do when you get to the point where you don’t think you can go any farther? What do you do when you hit that wall that everyone talks about around mile 20 something? You probably look for inspiration. You think about why you trained for so many months. Was it for the feeling you get from crossing the finish line? The looks on your children’s’ faces? The thought of putting that 26.2 frame around your license plate? Trust me when I say I think about this during my long runs. Because there better be a good reason I am torturing myself.

Nearly two years ago I ran my first 10K. It was in the town of Celebration, where my son plays on a Challenger Little League team. Around mile five we passed the field where he plays. I was on the verge of walking the remainder of the race and I was sore and frustrated that old guys were passing me every few minutes. But when I saw that field –I started thinking how my son, Ryan gets frustrated every week at baseball. At some point he is on the ground, overwhelmed with the disappointment that he missed hitting the ball several times, or that he missed catching a ball. But the coaches (along with my husband and me) constantly remind him how important it is to keep trying. For a kid with autism, who also suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety – this is a hard pill to swallow. But he does. And as I am running and thinking about this (and sort of hyperventilating because I am crying and running), a half mile has passed. And I realized two things: 1) Pushing yourself beyond what you think you are capable of is hard work. 2) With the right inspiration, and a distraction - it is slightly easier.

So fast forward to yesterday. Ryan signed up for the Special Olympics bowling team. I sat in that bowling alley thinking – there is a whole lot of inspiration in this room. I think overall I am amazed by the strengths people have. Whether it’s a fellow runner who places second in her first triathlon; a woman who carries her disabled daughter to the bowling lane each and every turn; or a 10 year old who struggles with an unfortunate combination of OCD and motor skills challenges – it’s all hard. But the good news – it is clearly all possible.

Today I am inspired, and I hope this carries me through the rest of my training.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Go Kim, Go!

Sometimes talking about running is actually more fun than running. Some people get it. Some don’t. Sam, for instance – he laughs at the fact that his wife, Kim can spend more time discussing and planning her next route, than actually running it.

But that is partly because Kim runs those routes fast! Much faster than I ever could! And she’ll get to prove it this weekend during her FIRST half marathon. She is running the 2009 Lynchburg Half in Virginia.
A little more than a year ago Kim started running. Her husband Sam seems to be a no-frills runner – you know, someone who is just naturally fast and doesn’t need a Nike iPod, a GPS timer watch and espresso Gu to get him through a long run. But Kim needed a little more motivation – and reached out to me – a fellow newbie. She and I would email and occasionally talk. I loaned her a couple of books. I figured she was a “runner” like me. Until her first race. She placed! I felt betrayed! Proud – but betrayed. (That's Kim in the middle and soaked.)

Two weeks ago Kim called to talk about her longest run yet. We talked about the scenery of the path she chose, the pain she felt afterwards, what she was going to eat before the race – and of course, her pace. I am so incredibly motivated by the progress she has made. But here’s the thing – no matter what - she is going to cross that finish line with a personal record, four very inspired daughters and a proud husband.
But she’ll have to plan her next race pretty soon – because we need to have something to talk about!

Good Luck!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dear Santa,

Florida is hot. I mean really, really hot. It’s the reason you can’t find a marathon down here in September and October. Tri and Run, like most Florida running clubs, just kicked off their Marathon training season. Start training now for a race in January or February– when you can find a marathon or half marathon any weekend in Florida.

So when I announced to a few folks that I was going to do the Chicago marathon in OCTOBER!– the look of horror should have been my cue to drop out. “That means you’ll be doing your longest training runs in the August heat!” But like a kid who swears he won’t shoot his eye out with that Red Ryder BB gun, I thought, “I can handle a few extra degrees!”

Fast forward to last night’s speed work in 97 degree weather. Fartleks! (It actually means speed play in Swedish – but it is my new favorite curse word.) Fartleks! For a moment I couldn’t remember why on earth I choose an October race… But as soon as I got home I remembered. As I was tucking my daughter into bed, I remembered how frustrating it was trying to schedule long runs around holiday parties, big turkey dinners and visits to see Santa. That was challenging. But not this year! I’ll be right there in line to see Santa, ready to ask for my very own Red Ryder BB Gun!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Today is Monday – and that means one thing for me: the start of a new Weight Watchers journal.

I am not exactly religious about logging my points, but every Monday I go at it with new resolve – like this will be the week! I actually didn’t weigh in last week, so I darn well better have a significant loss the next time I step on the scale. Last week – after running 19.75 miles – I scurried over to make weigh in. I gained nearly TWO pounds!!! And this seems to be the story of my life.

I just read in Runners World Magazine that I could shave off two minutes of my marathon time if I lost five pounds. I could probably shave 30 minutes off if I just ran faster. But neither one seems to be happening right now. I just love food too much. And cake.

Speaking of cake – we celebrated our running coach’s birthday this weekend. I love to bake and decorate cakes almost as much as I love to eat them. So I made this triathlon cake - realizing half way through the process, that people who are really dedicated triathletes don’t eat cake! Oh well, more for me to enjoy… now on to that Weight Watcher’s journal….

Saturday, August 8, 2009

And the countdown begins

We are officially nine weeks away from the Chicago marathon. I know nine weeks will fly by - but if I do the math (another thing I am not good at -- will explain that later) - that adds up to about 300 more training miles to go. That doesn't even seem possible. Even worse -- if I translate that into hours of training - I could have taken a second job and actually gotten paid for this time. *Sigh* But oddly enough, I seem to enjoy most of this self-inflicted abuse.

Today Paula and I ran/walked/talked for 20 miles. This was Paula's longest distance ever. (But not by much -- I miscalculated the distance last week and we ended up going 19.75.) I did my first marathon at Disney World this past January, so I know the glory and pain of a 20 mile training run. But I was tired today. And Paula was not. It took everything I had to keep up. Which is why I love running with company. We motivate each other on days when one of us would be perfectly happy getting into our car and driving home.

Each week I seem to have some sort of injury/challenge to report after these monster runs. Today's word is CHAFING. And I will leave it at that!

Jane at Tri and Run took this gorgeous photo of us at the end of our run today (and before I was feeling any pain!)