As we come upon one of my favorite US holidays (Thanksgiving) I thought it was only fitting to take a Monday to be grateful. Happy Monday!!!
I don’t usually do Half Marathon recaps in fact I’m not real good with many race recaps except those big crazy Marathons, which by the way I just signed up for Marathon #6 – Vermont City at the end of May, I am really starting to think I’m crazy but that is for another post.
Anyway, today was the Wolf Hollow Half Marathon. What I thought was going to be a normal somewhat flat rail trail run (I run a paved rail trail all the time and it is mostly flat and paved) turned in to a jaunt through the woods where most of it was on soft surface/gravel/dirt/leaves/pine needles and it was mostly flat but had some killer hills at the times when we never really want them, which during a half marathon I believe is all the time. This is not to say that it was not fun. I really did enjoy it. I went out with the intent to have fun. In fact Dave asked me what I thought I would run and I said I wanted to keep it under 9 min miles and that is what I did. Just 600 of my closest running friends doing a long run and getting a medal and t-shirt at the end. My idea of how to spend a Sunday morning. :-)
Near mile 9.5 I met Ian who told me that he had been following me for most of the race. Usually we would call this person a STALKER but in the running world, somehow we are flattered that someone would pace off of us. Made me feel good. Since I was just having fun and quite frankly I needed someone to help me through the toughest part of the course which was two huge hills we began to chat. Always fun is the conversation where we continue to tell each other that they can go ahead if they want to because I don’t want to slow you down and then we both realize that really we have been running the same race the whole time so why not finish together.
It was great to get through the tough hills pushing each other (sometimes physically because around mile 11 and 12 when you are going up hills running in a straight line is optional). Also nice is to have someone pushing you when you think you are giving it your all and the other person says, “I think you can do more” and out of the blue you find that extra gear. It was a great race. As we crossed the finish line we exchanged hugs, told each other congrats, oh and I introduced him to Dave so there would be no crazy questions about why I am hugging this random stranger.
This is why I love running. I love going out for a race, enjoying the run, facing new challenges and meeting people along the way. My new friend Ian and I talked about races, running, family, work, and why we run. For him it’s a stress relief from being an Assistant principal at a local middle school. Gotta keep up with those crazy middle schoolers under control. For me we all know it is therapy. I know when I don’t exercise I am a bear and really I am shocked about how much time I spend at the gym and out on my runs but I know if I don’t do it, everything else suffers.
Since today was a essentially a trail run and trail running is a lot different then road running, I know that there will be muscles that hurt tomorrow, probably because I can already feel them. Here is hoping I can move.
If you are in New Hampshire in November, I would really encourage you to run this race. It’s a double loop so you get to see the trail the first time and then the second time around you get to dread the hills but find a friend and you can make it through the second loop! :-)
Ever find a friend during a race? Dave says I always do! What can I say, I’m very social. :-)
Enjoy some more pics from today:
I had one of those moments this weekend. I met up with my marathon friend and we went for a walk along the Charles River in Boston chatting about our recent marathons. For me it was Chicago for her it was her hugely successful New York Marathon where she PRd by 23 minutes and got even closer to the elusive Boston Qualifying time.
Before I get started on my Duh moment, I have to say how impressed I am with her. She did incredible and I am so happy with her accomplishment. She worked so hard this summer through the crazy heat and lots and lots of miles under her feet.
As we discussed our races and things we did leading up to the races (well everything besides the running because we had already spent quite a bit of time talking about the running each week during the summer) we found ourselves spending a lot of time discussing nutrition. I started to have another one of my Aha moments but we will call this a “well Duh” as in you should have thought about this way before now moments.
My nutrition is pretty good, basically meaning I eat well and drink lots of water. I do overindulge in sweets but I always say that is why I run, “to eat desserts!” But really something I have never focused on in my 5 marathons and 10 half marathons is the pre race nutrition.
You know…. What to eat for the week or 3 days before the race, primarily the carbo loading. Shockingly (insert sarcasm here) one bowl of pasta the night before a marathon does not last you a whole marathon. I thought you could eat well, eat your pasta the night before the race and then fuel during the race. Well that works okay if you run a half but this is not enough food to fuel you through the marathon.
As I described the wall I hit during all my marathons and discussed my nutrition to my friend, it became glaringly obvious that I need to make some changes to my nutrition plan. But it also gave me hope that if I can finish a marathon like I eat right now, what could I do if I did the fueling part correctly. As my friend put it, “the wall is 3 things, mental strength, training, and nutrition.” I have the mental strength because I have done 5 of these crazy things. I have the training although, I will up my miles to a little more for my next marathon. But it was the nutrition that was what I was lacking. My body got so tired during my last race that I forced it to even drink and had no desire to eat during my last 6 miles. This will not happen again!
So instead of feeling defeated, I have found my new focus for my next training. I have even begun to start about running a spring marathon instead of just looking for a fall one. I’m not sure why I continue to push myself so hard other than I just want to do better and feel successful and I don’t feel like I have gotten anywhere close to what I can do for a marathon. Now it times to research nutrition a little more and create a plan for the next marathon and maybe even sign up for one….
Well Duh can be a moment of “I feel so stupid for not thinking of this” or a moment of “Wow, that was the thing that was missing. I can do so much better with this knowledge.” I have had both of these thoughts go through my head but I am going with the positive one and setting new goals.
Have you ever had one of these moments?
What did you do with it?
This is the big question rolling around in my brain right now. And the reason is because I had an incredible friend who ran the New York Marathon yesterday and did something amazing. She improved her marathon time by almost an hour and is still flying on Cloud 9. I am soooo proud of her and glad it happened. She totally deserves it.
Then that normal human trait hits and I start to wonder, “will I ever be able to do that?” I train hard but really she trained harder. I want it just as bad but then I remember how much she ran, how much she gave up each day and how she pushed herself almost at points of never wanting to run again and do I want it that bad?
I love to run, I love to feel free, go distances I never thought I would and achieve things I never thought I would. I feel very comfortable at distances from a 5K – half marathon and know that those are all very achievable and for the most part I usually do very well at them. My last half marathon I was third in my age group (I’m very satisfied with that).
But that marathon….it’s elusive.
I train really hard and do what I think I need to do and then the test hits and I do my best and hope and pray I will hit my goal, yet it still hides. Now don’t get me wrong, I am very happy completing 5 marathons and each one I learned a ton. This last one I did improve my time by 23 minutes over my April marathon but the desire inside me to go faster is really eating away at me and I’m not sure how to fix it.
Really what this tells me is that I’m not done. We all knew that. We knew that I was not done with the marathon even though at mile 23 in the marathon I have a very strong urge to never get there again. I really do think I don’t want that feeling either. I want to be successful. I want to reach my goal afterall isn’t that why we set them. To achieve them, to be inspired by them and hopefully obtain them.
I haven’t solved the question but I think I realize it’s gonna take some more sacrifices to get there.
This week I had one of those moments. One of those moments when you feel like you might actually be understanding what the world/universe or in my case my higher power (I call mine God) is trying to teach you. This is how it happened….
Daily I post a motivational type quote on my facebook page. I have been doing this now for about 2 years or more and usually it is because the quotes are something I need to be reminded of or need to think about for the day. On Wednesday I posted this quote:
This was to remind me as I embarked on my 12 hour + day of meetings to just take it slowly and you will make it through or at least I thought that was why I posted it.
Then while in my first of four long meetings a colleague gave a presentation and at the end of the presentation she had this same quote. That was when I felt like it was much more than a perseverance quote I posted on facebook because what are the odds. I had never even heard this quote before I posted it on Wednesday morning.
I really began to think how does this quote apply to more in my life? Over the past couple of days I have been thinking about it and trying to figure that out.
In my job which can be very overwhelming right now because I am basically learning how to run a million dollar business while running a million dollar business, I need to learn to take things slowly. Set up the right procedures and policies and not just try to put a temporary fix on the problems because that will not work. Also I need to not be so hard on myself. In reality, I have only been the Director for 2 months and the facility has only been open for a little over 3 months.
In my running, especially my marathon training, there is so much to learn. Yes I have completed 5 marathons, 10 half marathons and numerous other races, but I am nowhere close to where I want to be as far as how fast I want to be. I hope to get there but I know that it might happen in time or it might not. I need to enjoy the pace. It might be happening slowly but as long as I don’t stop at least I am making progress.
Ever have one of these (as Oprah calls it) Aha Moments?
So it got warm and it got warm fast……(if you want to read the first post start here)
Here is a pic just 3.5 miles later at mile 16.5 and I was hot! But don’t worry, there is no stop in my head, maybe slow down but never to quit.
I was thankful for carrying my fuel belt with water because I was able to utilize the water stations to refill and then drink freely as I continued on and try and fight off any leg cramps that do happen to me at most marathons (big accomplishment #2).
Since I had no idea how I was doing on time, I just kept pushing on and when the clocks read 5 hours and 28 minutes at one point I was thinking, “this might be my slowest marathon ever but let’s just enjoy the race”. I think that really helped me relax and realize it is just finishing the race that makes me a marathoner not the time (accomplishment #3).
At mile 25.5 we found ourselves running through a huge crowd that was very quiet and for fun I threw my arms up in the air and got the crowd cheering. It was so much fun to hear them cheering for us marathoners because at this point, we were all going to finish the race. Even better was the fact that when the race signs said one mile left, I had started to run and did not stop running until I crossed that finish line (accomplishment #4). This was the first time I have been able to run the whole last mile.
When I finished I was in tears. Happy Tears, exhausted tears, some upset tears because I thought it was my slowest ever, but then back to happy tears because I did it! #5 was in the books. I was able to talk to my daughter shortly after I crossed the line. She was getting texts while she was at school and called me to tell me Congrats right after I finished. So sweet!
I finally found Dave after what seemed like forever and a very long walk to the runner family reunite area. We were able to hang out in the beautiful park, enjoy the wonderful weather and reflect on the huge accomplishment that I had just completed, oh and see that really my finish time was 4:49:39 with an average pace of 11:03. Yeah, not my slowest and really when I look back to April (5:13:58 with 11:59 pace) what a huge improvement (accomplishment #4).
We all have lofty goals when we begin training for huge races like marathons and sometimes these lofty goals tend to block the whole idea of doing something because we love it and it really is something that not a lot of people attempt. I am no different. I wanted to have my fastest time ever but that was not to be. I wanted to run sub 10 min miles but again that was not to be. I wanted to have fun and that did happen. I wanted to be more comfortable and not start the self-doubt early in the race making the race miserable and I was more comfortable and really never had a doubt that I could and would finish.
Most of all the biggest accomplishment of the Marathon #5 and Accomplishment #5 was my recovery! I did not struggle with the major calf cramps from the past although those were there. I was able to take a 3 mile walk after the race although very slowly. I had a great massage the next day and was still able to put quite a few miles under my feet touring the city the next two days post marathon. I would say if nothing else besides the fact I just ran a marathon, my body said, “you are strong and if you want to (no rush) we could do it again.”
Right now, I think I will just focus on some halfs but I am sure another full or two will be in the future. :-)
I hope the recap was worth the wait. Thanks for reading.