Staying Motivated (with running)

IMG_0062This year I started a progress jar.  The goal was to add a quarter for every mile I ran and if I did some strength training as well as stretching and rolling I would add a quarter for that too.  The idea is to keep me motivated to keep going as well as save some money to do something special at the end of the 2017.

Well we are officially 3 months in and the pic shows the progress.  I do have to say that there are some flashy bills in there too buried at the bottom (okay the biggest one is a $20 but the quarters don’t tell the whole story).

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For a little perspective, here is a nice roll of quarters just waiting patiently to be added!

I have also committed to run with a running club that meets on Saturday mornings at 8:30am.  To me this is a very doable time.  I don’t mind getting up early during the week but really I want to sleep in a little on Saturday so this is a perfect time for me.  Plus the benefit of this club is that it is part of a running store which is good for several things:

  1. The quick bathroom break before you head out, which is always needed.
  2. Warm place to stretch when we finish and a place to change into warmer clothes instead of in my car.
  3. Oh and occasionally they bring in some guests on Saturdays like today where we got to do some strength training at the end of the run with two wonderful physical therapists.

I also joined the Run the year at the beginning of January.  So basically I have set myself up to run 2017 miles in 2017.  But really if you do the math it is about 39 miles a week, which when I put it that way seemed way more doable.  The progress on that is that I am close to staying on track.  Had a smaller than usual week when we went on vacation but know that when I am training for my next marathon (Marine Corps – Oct) I will be doing way more than 39 miles a week so I can make up for some smaller weeks.

Another motivation tool I use is telling others about this craziness and my running goals whether they want to hear them or not.  I talked about my next goal here so feel free to read it.  This is truly motivating because once you put it out there, unless something major happens, I have to get it done!

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Today’s freezing cold getting it done.  12 degrees with negative windchills btu 6.5 miles done!

Finally I have also been able to be a part of a women’s running group on facebook which is a great support system.  They are all local ladies who cheer each other on and hopefully this summer I will be able to do more with them.

So really it takes a lot to stay motivated. But it is worth it in the end to see those goals achieved.

Is there anything you do to stay motivated? 

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Trying something different….

Okay, let’s be honest, it is probably not something different because it involves running (surprise, surprise) but I guess you could say I’m changing things up a little to spice up my running. Let me explain…. This year one of … Continue reading

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 Cow!!

Last week I had one of those very surreal moments, one of those you pinch yourself and think is this really true?  It’s taken me a little while to digest it and to even fathom how I got here?  But this weekend when I was out enjoying an early spring moment running in New England, it hit me.

“I’m gonna have to do all this training over again in the fall.”

IMG_3875Sunday was my first 21 miler of this training plan completing my most miles ever in one week of 68 miles.  This plan goes up to 70 miles so not quite there yet but I am up to 68 with only 12 weeks left of this plan (I know only 12 weeks left but it goes so fast.).

IMG_3548Anyway, some of the good news is that I am feeling stronger each run and confident that I will see a big difference in my marathon performance with just the simple fact that after 21 miles I was able to complete the last mile very strong (wanting to die after but strong and even a sub 9 min mile).  So far I have been very impressed where this plan has taken me, so if you are interested in training for a marathon, you might try the plan in the book “Advanced Marathoning” by Pfitzinger and Douglas.

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So done!!!

Oh okay, back to the “Holy cow” news…. I made it!  I made it into the New York City Marathon on November 6, 2016.  I know that they accepted about 4500 extra people but really I was not expecting to make it because it is a very hard marathon to get in to.  I was part of the 23% of the people in the lottery who made it in.  The official total accepted was 19,083 with 82,172 applying for the lottery.  Those aren’t great odds and last year I did not beat them but this year is different.  This year I did it! IMG_3839

Thanks New York City Road Runners for drawing my name out of the hat (or that is how I pictured it happening, I am sure it was more computer generated.)  Now I’m celebrating.  My marathon #7 will be New York City in November!

Holy Cow… New York City!

I can hardly wait but first, I must regroup because before marathon #7 I have to complete marathon #6 in Burlington, VT in May, Vermont City Marathon.  I am very excited about this one too.  Excited because it is close to home, excited because Vermont is a gorgeous place to run and excited because we will get to spend the long weekend up in Burlington with our oldest child.  So exciting!

IMG_3878 I am also excited because on March 26th I will be running my first 20 mile race.  Okay for me it will be more of a training run but I thought it would be fun to run a race during training that was more than a half marathon (definitely not to disparage anyone from half marathons because I love that distance, but when your plan calls for 20 miles and you get tired of the same 20 mile path, you need to liven it up a little).

Now that my marathons are all set for 2016 I guess I need to plan out the rest of my races…..

How is your training going?   Any race you are looking forward to?

Shocking Moments

IMG_3717This evening when I was logging my miles on mapmyrun I had one of those “shocking moments” that this marathon training plan seems to continue to bring.  As of today, right now, this very moment, I have put more miles on my feet than I have on my car this month.

Okay so I only live 5 minutes away from work and all the things I need are in the same town I live in but really I never thought I could say this.

As of today with three more running days left in the month and two of those fairly long runs (18 miler planned this weekend), I have put 203.37 miles on my little/big feet.   (I call them little so they don’t get a complex but really I have some long ski-like feet)

Today I was thankful for a beautiful springlike day and for my work that usually gets very quiet around 2pm so I can start to wrap things up and leave by 3 to enjoy the weather.  It was nice.

I also had one of those moments today that was not so shocking but confidence boosting.  I am not one to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty good at what I do.  I think it comes from the fact that everything I do with work I do from a place of love, empathy, compassion and desire to help others.  I love what I do and I am so happy to be able to say that.  I know that not everyone has a career/job that they love and I always feel honored and blessed to be able to do my work daily.  Not really a shocking moment but it is shocking in the fact it was not something I ever chose to do.  It kinda chose me.MakeTheMost

Over this past week, I have been reminded to live in the moment, be grateful for each day and make the most of each day.    This should not come as “shocking” information but I encourage you to do the same.

Happy Friday Eve!

 

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?

It doesn’t seem to get easier….

LifeWe all know life isn’t fair, okay if you didn’t know, life is not fair.  Well life also has times in it that don’t get easier.  I had this epiphany while making dinner.  I know this is going to sound strange but bear with me….

You know when you are making chicken nuggets and you dip them in flour, then in egg and then in the breadcrumbs and your fingers get all covered and it actually gets a little more difficult to make instead of easier because you get in a rhythm.  So you have to stop clean up your hands and start again, sometimes you have to do this multiple times but in the end it is worth it.

I know, I know when did I turn this blog into a blog about cooking?  Really that seems to be the only time today I was able to process everything that happened so here goes with that explanation:

Let’s start with the running…. Today was torrential down pours when I left work so it meant off to the gym I went.  On the training plan today was 9 miles with 10/100m strides and it was to be done on the dreadmill.  Really it wasn’t that bad but it was not easy.  In fact, I was hopeful that it would be a little easier than the 15 miles I completed on the treadmill on Sunday (hey the windchill was in the double digit negative degrees, I didn’t want to freeze to death!).  My hopes of easier where dashed when I had to jump off for a pit stop at mile 3.25, then dropped my GU fuel at mile 5 but finally completed the 9 miles with a 9min pace.  Not too bad but really not any easier than the 15 miler the 2 days before.

The real moment of not getting any easier came from work today when I found out a client who I use to work with before I changed jobs to Program Director, passed away from an overdose over the weekend.  I know the reality of the work I do.  In my state alone 4 people die from overdose every day and I always say that I can’t save people but I can help them if they are ready to work their butts off to do the work to save themselves.  It just does not get an easier.  That is probably why I stay so passionate about my work.  I am always trying to make client’s experiences better, to reach more people, and to do the best I can.  At the end of the day, it does not get any easier to move past a death of a client.  But Dave reminds me to focus on those that are continuing to flourish, to make the changes they need to make and to face life on life’s terms.

So really I don’t want it to get easier, I will continue to work my butt off to run farther, train harder, and set new running goals.  I will also be thankful for these moments that keep me working harder for my clients and the reminder that all I can do is my best.

By the way, the nuggets were worth it.  I like them better than the store bought ones that would have been a lot easier!

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