The Perfect Storm

 

According to Wikipedia, doesn’t every great blogger refer to Wikipedia when they need information, a perfect storm is “a confluence of events that drastically aggravates a situation.”  Or as a person who was raised in Oklahoma and have been around when the weathermen begin to go crazy weeks before storms come into the state, I begin to think of those moments when all the right things are happening to create a big weather event a perfect storm.

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Looking good for 44!  Happy Birthday to me!

Now I am not saying that this week was a “perfect storm” in the form of a weather event but more of a “perfect storm” for many moments of melt down in my life.  Okay maybe that is a little much but it was a tough week and this was the only way I could think of it.  (If you can’t handle any whining now might be the time to step away and come back tomorrow for motivational Monday! ;-)  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

As many of you know I am training for my 6th marathon and have tried a new training plan.  This one had me doing up to 70 miles in one week.  I have worked harder than ever before to get better at this crazy marathon thing.  I have felt pretty good the whole time and have completed more miles in a short amount of time than ever before.  For the month of April alone I ran 286.17 miles.  That is more miles than I even drive in a month.

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My 16 mile bike ride from this week.

Anyway, things have been going well and I have felt very confident that this was going to be my best marathon ever!  Then on Monday morning of this week (the day after my last 20 miler) I woke up with so much calf pain in my left leg, I struggled to walk and my mind took over.  I started to doubt I could complete my marathon in 3 short weeks, I started to count my dreams out of ever getting a Boston Qualifying time.  (Can you say, Drama queen much, I know!)

This was one ingredient to my “perfect storm”.  In fact here are all the “confluence of events” that made this week my perfect storm.  One: calf pain, Two: taper time – basically time to reduce the amount of running to prepare for my marathon.  During this time I am usually very anxious because I start to visual the race and how I am going to handle it all and my expectations begin to really come into play.  Third: hormones!  For those that don’t have it, that time of the month is no cakewalk and for me I tend to be even more emotional during it.  Four: added work stressors, really no need to explain that one, we all have them.  Five: Turning a year older.  Not really that stressful but I thought I would throw it in because it was an added event that happened this week.  All the ingredients were present for the “perfect storm” in my mind this week.

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14 miles almost all pain free!

I am happy to report that I survived it!  I didn’t get the t-shirt but I made it through.  Thank goodness I work really hard to stay motivated and in the present moment. Here are some tips for how I survived:

  1. Slowed things down and tried even harder to stay in the present moment. Taking a deep breath when I felt overwhelmed with not only the pain but moments at work when I thought I couldn’t handle anything else.
  2. Went for a massage! I highly recommend them.  I go at least once a month so my therapist knows me pretty well and she was able to really work my legs and hips so I felt so much better.
  3. Spent time doing other things with my family. You know those people you don’t see when you are running 70 miles a week and working a full time job.  I find it is so much better to stay busy than sitting around feeling bad for myself.
  4. Slowly easing back into running and riding my bike more. Even though the plan called for a certain amount of runs and mileage, I was able to not run as much and realize that all my training will not go away if I take some time off or take things a little slower.  In fact, I might even feel better and more prepared for the race.  Plus I was able to take my bike out and go for a nice relaxing 16 mile bike ride, which I have not done in forever!
  5. Finally, looking at my last plans and results. I know this sounds weird but for me I was able to look through my running journal and my tracking miles and realize that I am farther along than I have ever been before and I am prepared (well as long as I don’t just sit on my butt for the next 2 weeks).  It was a great boost of confidence.
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Stretching and rolling while being protected from the winds and cold and happy that “I got this!” feeling is back!

So I guess what I am saying is that when faced with the perfect storm, if you are prepared you can make it through.  Your family me get tired of you for the week because there might be some whining, but if take a breath, take control of your mind, you can make it through.

Anyone else ever struggle with this?  How did you make it through your taper time?

My second job…

 

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In the midst of my 18 miler a few weeks ago.

As I was leaving my work today and headed home to change for my workout/run the thought popped into my head that I was actually headed to my second job.  I don’t know about you but when you work hard all day the thought of going to your second job (that pays you but only with better performance and healthier life/not financially) I get a little overwhelmed because I’m tired.

I tried my best to change the thought, get excited about the 9 miles I had ahead of me but no matter how hard I tried it was just not happening.  I went to the gym and pounded out 3.5 miles on the treadmill and then the sun came out so I decided to jump off the mill and head home to complete the last 5.5 miles.  I even stopped 3 miles in and helped an elderly lady with her trash bins since tomorrow is trash day (she informed me).  Always glad to help and take a break.  She was very cute in asking me how far I was going and how wonderful that is for me.  If she only knew I was really just trying to avoid the run by helping her.  I probably would have cleaned her house if it would have qualified as my 9 mile run.

I know we all have bad runs and not every run is going to be a moment where I think, “woohoo, I can’t wait to work out this evening, let’s do this.”  Today was definitely not that moment!

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Recent recovery run through the woods

I remember when my friend Judy was doing this training plan for the first time and her and I were chatting.  She mentioned that she was feeling tired and ready for it to be over.

I don’t think I am there, yet.  I think I am ready for the race to be here, to put this training plan to the test.  After my 20 mile race I feel pretty good and last weekend’s 22 miler was strong.  I already feel ready for the marathon but know that these last 7 weeks are crucial to keep this all going and then of course the all-important taper.

Tomorrow I have a 14 miler on the plan and I really need to get out of the mode of thinking of this running as my 2nd job. I need to change the thoughts to a little more positive.  Like what a huge accomplishment I have already completed this month with 113 miles completed in only 12 days.  May not be an actual 2nd job but is sure does take up a lot of my evenings.

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This weekends 22 miler

So my thoughts now are how thankful I am that I get to do this.  That I do have the time in the evenings to put in the time, the mileage and the effort to all this training.  I can hardly wait to get to that moment in the marathon when I cross over that starting line and know I am prepared.  I have done everything I need to do to get there and it will be only 26.2 miles to complete this path (well until the training for the NYC marathon starts).  No longer my 2nd job but something I “get to do” because not everyone has these opportunities.

How is your training going?  Any struggles?  Feeling ready?

Big Announcement….

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Looking so serious but really just hanging out waiting for race time.

I would like to take this time to formally announce my intent to be an amateur athlete maybe I’ll even join the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union).  Oh wait, I don’t want to do that because then I can’t make money at my “free” sport of running.    Also the closest Union is in New York City.  That’s a little far away and some more money I would have to spend to get there.

Oh wait one more minute…. I guess you never have to actually announce your intent you just become an amateur by definition:  1 : devotee, admirer. 2 : one who engages in a pursuit, study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession. (Merriam-Webster)

Well I would say I am well on my way following that definition…

I guess there is no big announcement then.  Sorry guys, I hope you will stick with me then.

How about a race recap of this weekend’s Eastern State 20 miler instead and an update of how my training is going for Vermont City Marathon in May?!

I have to say the weather could not have been better.  It was in the low 40’s with a light breeze off the ocean, basically a tailwind for the whole race.  The sun was shining bright despite what all the weather men said it was going to be overcast all day (needless to say I have a sunburn that looks fabulous!).  The course started just over the bridge in Maine from New Hampshire.  We then ran the whole state of New Hampshire along the coast into the state of Massachusetts.  So crazy to think in one race you can run 3 states.   There was some great crowd support even if they had to be spread out over 20 miles.  Dave was able to get around pretty easy and see me at two locations during the race and at the end.  This race was great because if you wanted to see your runner more it would be pretty easy to do that as the roads were open and as long as you took your time you could just leap frog ahead.

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This was the start, as always very crowded and hard to get a great shot.

I started out faster than I wanted but really tried to just stick to what felt good.  I was very relaxed because I had no real goal other than finish and test out my plan.  My plan called for 20 miles this weekend with the speed to be close to marathon race pace which I’m hoping will be 9:30 per mile.  Also, I always think it’s fun to do a race with 600-800 of your close running friends instead of a 20 mile training run where you are the only one running.

It was nice to settle into the pace and just chat with some people along the course, listen to my music (sometimes dancing along), and just loving the experience which was never a huge challenge.  I have to say I love that last statement.  I expected to hit a wall and it just did not happen.  In fact after the half marathon point in the race, I got faster by 20 seconds per mile.  That’s crazy isn’t it!  I thought “Hey I only have 7 miles left, I can do this, I’ve done pace work longer than this”.  So I did.  I sped up and just keep speeding up until my last 4 miles were 8:07, 8:08, 8:09, and mile 20 was 7:53.  Holy Cow!  (I use that phrase a lot right now)  And to top it all off, I felt great.  I felt strong!  And I kept thinking, “this training plan is working, all my hard work is paying off”.

Isn’t it great to have things begin to come together?!  After 5 marathons, I changed to this new training plan with twice as many miles, running twice as much in a week and really focused on what I want my next marathon experience to be like.  And the answer is strong!  I want it to be strong!

How do you define strong?  I define it as giving it your all, leaving it all out there, making you a priority and doing with confidence more than you ever thought you could.  On Saturday, I felt strong!  Like a superhero!  I don’t know about you but I love that feeling.  Dave might be tired of me talking about it because I was so shocked at what I had just done, I couldn’t stop talking about it (really he is very proud but I am sure he will tell me to stop when it gets old).  I had conquered a huge thing in my life, I had gotten rid of the wall that usually comes halfway through a race where you are looking at your watch and thinking survival.  I wasn’t surviving, I was thriving. IMG_3918

I was able to finish the race strong enough to be in the top 20% of my age group (the overall winner was from my age group as well, which just goes to prove us women in our 40’s are unstoppable).  I actually came in 25 out of 125 women.  I like the top 25.  It has a nice ring to it.  I also have a first ever PR for a 20 miler or by garmin a 20.15er of 2:53:05 which turns out to be an 8:35 average pace.  Yeah!!!

So how is my training going?  Well if you have not already guessed it, awesome!  I’m feeling better after each long run, more confident about the marathon distance, and really working on staying healthy, getting massages often and balancing my work and training, which is hard at times but doable.  (If only I could declare my amateur status and get sponsor for at least the race fees or shoes)  ;-)

Tomorrow with my training run I will surpass last month’s miles of 239 and I still have 3 training run days left this month.  It’s crazy to think I could run so far in a month.

How is your training going?  Any recent races where things just began to click and you felt invincible?!

Enjoy these pics from the rest of our weekend:

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The rocky coast of Maine and the Atlantic Ocean

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Hanging out with my love and the Nubble Lighthouse.

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A little ocean water is good for the sneakers.

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Dave helping me out covering my really bad runner’s sunburn!

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These tan lines are going to take forever to go away!  But way to happy to care.