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.

When life interrupts…

Ever have one of those weeks that is well planned out with a few things that might interfere only to have the things that might interfere actually take over and take control?  That pretty much describes my training this past week.

Today I actually had to talk myself down from some anxiety due to the fact that for the second time this week I would not be able to put in all the miles that my plan called for.  One of the thoughts that really helped was just telling myself that I am not sponsored by a company so I have to work and when work goes a little longer than planned I still have to pay the bills.  Also, I have been struggling with some shoe/foot issues so those needed to be addressed this week as well and a little extra rest will be helpful or at least that is what I am saying to myself.

In saying all that, I have still been able to run every day except my rest day and will still finish the week on Sunday with mileage in the 40’s.  Not as great as last week’s 68 miles but sometimes plans have to change when life interrupts….

Ever have moments/weeks like this?  What did you do to get back on track?

Holy Crap Training update…

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12 miles in – so close to being done!

 

Well that got your attention.

Yeah.

Really for some marathoners this training update will be nothing but for me it’s all about the miles.  This week I ran 62.4 miles.  Yep you read that correctly.  62.4 miles and I am only in week 4 of my 18 week plan.  I knew that each week of this training plan would have me pushing farther than I ever have but I think the distance is really sinking in.  This plan is a 55 miles to 70 mile plan.  So I’m getting there.  But the huge shock is each week new PR mileage and how fast it adds up.

Also, it’s how my long runs at the end of the week feel.  Today for example was my first 18 miler of this plan.  Going in I had already run quite a bit and yesterday my 5 mile recovery run was very slow and my legs felt tired.  But today, today I felt stronger as the run went on.  Dave came out with me and rode the bike, gave me more water when needed, and we had some fun conversation and pics.  He even commented on how the last 18 miler he rode alongside I struggled from about 15 miles on and it was a flatter course.  That run was also farther into the training plan like week 8 or 10 but that was not the case today.  So maybe this is working.  I really think this is.  I already feel confident that my next marathon will be more successful.

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I was sticking my tongue out at Dave but that didn’t come out so we figured this could be captioned multiple ways, “why are you following me?!” or “just running, nothing to see here”

Now to define that success:

No walking

Keeping a constant pace

Fuel properly

No WALL

Feel good at the end

If I hit that new PR that would be good too!

It is wonderful to already feel your hard work coming together because really I didn’t just start running 4 weeks ago, I have now been running for almost 6 years now and it started with a 5K in 2010 and my first marathon was in 2013 (hard to believe I’m training for my 6th marathon).

Now time to relax and enjoy my rest day tomorrow because Tuesday will be here before you know it and I will be right back at it with another week of PR miles!

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All done!  It felt great!

How is your training going?  Any big races coming up?

Long runs….

If you have ever trained for a half marathon or a marathon, you know that the weekends are dedicated to the long run.  I usually complete mine on Sunday but have altered it if the weather is going to be nicer on a Saturday.

This weekend I was lucky enough to have two days to choose from for my long run.  I, of course, picked today, Sunday and I think I picked the best day.

My plan called for a 16 miler with 8 miles at marathon pace.   For me my goal pace is around 9:30 per mile.  I am hopeful that I can keep the 9:30 pace for the whole 26.2 when it comes time to tackle the marathon.  I have to say that it is still a little odd to slow down but I completely understand.  The goal is to get to the end still running and typically I have slowed down a lot in the second half of the marathon.  Basically running 9 min miles in the first half and so slow in the second half that when I finish my average time is 11 min miles.  Although this is not bad, I want to be more consistent and get faster.

IMG_3662Back to today’s run.  It was awesome.  The weather was in the mid 40’s with a light breeze.  I went to my favorite “go to place” and was greeted with lots of hills and wide open streets.  At one point I was even singing out loud to my ipod because no one was around and it just seemed like something fun to do to pass the time.  Today was a day I was thankful to be a runner, thankful to be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery, and thankful for those moments of alone time to think.

This week I finished with 55 miles completed.  I think that is the most miles I have run in a week since the final weeks of my last marathon.  And to think I am only in my 2nd week of this training plan.  Looks like every week after this will be a new mileage record per week for me.  That’s kind of exciting to think about and terrifying at the same time.

Tomorrow is rest day.  I am looking forward to it but it also means that I will do a little cross training because really I am supposed to rest from running.  So the plan is to bike a little at the gym and then work on the core as well as lots of stretching.  It is also one of my favorite Mondays at the gym because it is free massage Monday with a 10 min chair massage.

The rest of the week looks like this:

Monday: rest

Tuesday: 11 mile run

Wednesday: 13 miles

Thursday: 5 mile recovery run

Friday: 9 miles w/ 4 miles @ half marathon pace

Saturday: 5 miles recovery run

Sunday: 15 miles

Total: 58 miles  Holy cow that’s a lot but here goes!

How is your training going?IMG_3663

Still training…

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Beautiful Oklahoma sky!

So there I was ready to write a blog a lot more often and talk about my training for my upcoming marathon and then it happened.  Life again got in the way.  This is not to say that the training came to a stop because it didn’t, it was just the blog that came to a stop again.

Now I am hoping to get back on track…

Recently I had an impromptu trip back to IMG_3588Oklahoma to see my mom, family, and friends after my Grandmother passed away.  Even though this was sudden, it was a blessing in disguise.  My mom had been spending a lot of time taking care of her mother and was suffering a few health issues from the stress this was causing her, so I am glad she can get back to taking care of herself.  This is a great learning moment because it is always so easy to put yourself last in life.  I believe if you do not take care of yourself, how can you possibly take care of others in your life.  This is the one main reason I run.  It helps me regain focus on my life and what needs to get done.  Sometimes if the day at work is long, I find it better to leave at a normal time, go for a run and then spend a few moments during the evening finishing some of my work projects.  It is such a better use of my time and does make me feel better.

Back to the marathon training……

The month of January was a great training month.  In fact I ran more miles (168.21 miles) during the month than I have ever run and ran more days than ever (24 days out of the 31 days).  The good news is that it felt good.  I started my training plan having run 50 miles the week before which is a very aggressive plan but something I think I need to do to reach that goal of a new PR marathon.  Unfortunately I was unable to hit all my goals last week due to my travels to Oklahoma but have been right on track this week.    So far I have completed 39 miles and have a 16 miler planned for tomorrow.

IMG_3621I was spoiled while I was in Oklahoma with some incredible weather and was able to get outside for all my runs.  I even got to run a 10 mile training run last Saturday with about 200 people from the OKC Landrunners.  This seems like a great group of people who are all training for the OKC marathon.  I will hopefully see some of them when I return in April to run the half marathon on this same day with these marathoners.

Some of the most interesting things I have found about this plan are the variations of the runs.  Most of my runs are not even close to marathon pace.  I knew this was going to happen but when you are doing it, it feels so strange.  I spend a lot of time running at a slower pace which I think is the hardest because I want to get the run done.   There is also speed work involved and half marathon pace work which is not really speed work but holding a faster pace for a long period of time.  I think before this most of my runs were at the same pace all the time which is not really a good way to train.

Something else that is hard are the midweek long runs.  Yes I meant for that to be plural.  Think about trying to get in 55 miles or more a week…. Did you figure out how to divide up those miles?  Well this plan has you completing a 13 miler on Wednesday, 10 miler on Friday and a lot longer run on Sunday 15 + miles.  I am use to only one long run on Sunday so I am having to figure out how to give myself the time it takes to run this much.  I do know that in the end this will pay off.   I am also fairly certain that there is no way I could have done this plan when I still had kids at home so I feel so lucky to have this time at the end of my day.IMG_3613

Please don’t think I am complaining, I’m merely explaining the plan.  It is a very involved one, mainly because it is “Advanced Marathoning”.  I think what I am learning in all this, is that in order to be more serious about this marathon thing is that I need to run more to prepare for it.  When you really want something, you have to work hard towards it.  Like I said in my last blog my new motto is:

“Things you want, don’t come easy”

With this in mind time to get some rest for tomorrows long run.   🙂

How is your training going?  Any new plans you are trying out?  Any goals for your next race?

Chicago Marathon #2 of 2

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.

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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!

Marathon #5 in the books

Marathon #5 in the books

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.

This church was at mile 13 and loved the sign on the side of it.

This church was at mile 13 and loved the sign on the side of it.

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.  🙂

Three days later my first run post marathon and last run in Chicago before heading home.

Three days later my first run post marathon and last run in Chicago before heading home.

 

I hope the recap was worth the wait.  Thanks for reading.