Looking Back on Training and GOALS!

I don’t even know where to begin this post…I’ve started and restarted writing it at least a half a dozen times over the last few days. Race Day is just around the corner scratch that. It took me so long to get this out that Race Day is TOMORROW!!!!!!! So that means it’s time to look back on my training aaaaaaaaaand lay some goals out there. I have SO many thoughts that I want to say, but just can’t seem to make them flow. So…you get what you get. Would you expect anything less from me? Didn’t think so.
I’m just going to jump right in and say: This training cycle wasn’t entirely what I hoped it would be. Things were going REALLY well. I was hitting my workouts, strength training twice a week (I know, right?! Who am I??) , doing speed work in the middle of my long runs. I ran two-a-days, for god’s sake (Ok, once)!! I had a massive PR practically on a golden platter for me. THEN. Right as I was gearing up for Peak Week, I was forced to back off my training just when I should have been ramping up. THAT was a huge blow to my confidence. I was hit with an almost crippling fatigue that I, at first, thought it was just because training was picking up, but then realized it was more serious than that.
I needed a nap AFTER my nap.

I needed a nap AFTER my nap.

Speed days were gone, my weights are collecting dust in the basement, and there was a point in time where I seriously considered either dropping down to the half or bailing completely. I’m glad I didn’t, but the thought was there.  I pushed through, and my first 20 mile training run was pretty good; the second, I wanted to try as a progression run but instead had to fight for every step due to my fatigue, and the last was a disaster during the course preview. I found out that I had some wicked low iron/B12 levels; luckily that was easily corrected by supplements. There were a few more issues that were kind of scary and required a lot more testing but  it all seems to be worked out now. Instead of heading into the taper KNOWING that I’ve got this, I spent a good bit of it wondering if I was ready. I feel really bad for Jen, but at the same time am hugely grateful because she has been listening to me spaz about my worries all.week.long. and constantly reassuring me that I’m going to be fine. She’s talked me off the ledge at least twice a day, every day this week and 3 or 4 times yesterday. My biggest concern is that it’s going to be warmer tomorrow than it’s been in ages, but her response was absolutely right: weather is always something you will have to contend with.
2 years ago I said that I would NEVER run the Pittsburgh Marathon. It was “too hard” for me; too many hills. If that isn’t enough, being one of the lunatics running around North Park in the single digit temps, with snow, and ice was not an attractive prospect.
I wore ALL of the pink in order to be festive!

Oh, hey, look at that! Two lunatics running around North Park in the frigid temps, and snow.  Wait….

There would probably be a lot of mornings and evenings that I would have to run on the treadmill (barf), because my roads/cemetery wouldn’t be clear and the list went on.  At some point, I realized those were B.S. excuses and that I AM more than capable of training for and running this course. So, I signed up and yes, I was one of those lunatics running around North Park in sub zero weather, and yes, I logged a good bit of my weekday miles on the treadmill during much of January and February.
Just a few of my early morning dates with the 'mill

Just a few of my early morning dates with the ‘mill

And, you know what? It wasn’t so bad! I looked at the treadmill runs as “mental” training, and all of those Rocky Balboa style outdoor runs as “resistance” training. I’ve been using Kim’s description of the course for this entire 16 weeks to help me prepare for and visualize the course, but especially this week. It’s practically been like my nighttime story book, as I go over each and every mile; as I’m falling asleep I try to visualize the race course and picture myself cruising along, owning the climb into Oakland and sailing down Liberty towards the finish. I’ve even watched the high speed video of the course to help me become a little more familiar with the 2nd half of the race.  To top it all of, I’ll also be watching Spirit of the Marathon just for a little extra boost of inspiration.
The opening line: "Sometimes, the moments that challenge us the most, define us" is perfect.

The opening line: “Sometimes, the moments that challenge us the most, define us” is perfect.

I have to say though, despite all of my worries and concerns (*cough* weather *cough*), regardless of the time on the clock when I cross that finish line, I am already incredibly happy with what I’ve done so far. As Jen put it yesterday – THIS is my victory lap.
SO. Now. Goals. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh boy. Putting these numbers now there scare me. I always have a few “levels” of goals, just to give me different something to focus on in case things don’t go as planned.
(A) Finish in 4:50 or better.
(B) Break 5:00 Hours
(C ) Beat my previous time of 5:23
(D) Finish
“When you cross that finish line, no matter how slow, no matter how fast…it will change your life forever” – Dick Beardsley
Good luck to EVERYONE running the 5K, the half, and of course, the full!!  And THANK YOU to all of my blog buddies and friends for the constant encouragement, support and motivation!! I ❤ you guys and am so grateful to have found such an awesome group of people!!!

Good Riddance 2014…and 2015 Goals!

I know this is said every December, but man did this year fly by! I always try to find the positive in situations, but overall 2014 was a pretty shitty year – there were some ups, lots of down and a lot of heartache when my step dad passed away in August.

There were a few good things about 2014, and they were all in the running department:

  • I set a PR in both the half marathon (2:18 at Pittsburgh) and 5K (28:10)
  • I started this little blog
  • I’ve started connecting with other runners in the area, and even made a new friend!

I am so ready to kick 2014 to the curb, and ring in what will hopefully be a much better 2015.

I’ve seen a lot of other people writing out their goals for the year, and because I’m a follower, though I’d do the same. I’m sure this list will evolve over the year and it will be fun to check in periodically to see where I’m at with that!

My Running/Fitness Goals:

Run the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 3rd, and finish with a PR.

Bring it!

Bring it!

My current time is 5:23, so I’d be happy with any improvement but I’m really looking for a 4:50 or better.

Half Marathon PR. My current PR is 2:18, which I snagged this past May. I’m not sure what time, specifically just yet, but 2:12 sounds like a fun number to shoot for.  

STRENGTH TRAINING. I have tried so many times to stick with this and just can’t seem to make it work.  I am really going to try to add it in 3 days/week to my upcoming training. At this point I don’t know how else to make it stick, other than to just DO IT. I know that it will be beneficial from an injury prevention perspective, and to be honest I wouldn’t mind leaning out a bit…losing some chub and gaining some visible muscle definition would be A-OK in my book.

Pretty much this...     (source)

Pretty much this…   (source)

Run an injury free year. This ties into the strength training above. No one likes to take time off due to an injury, so I’m going to do my best to strength train, stretch, ice, etc. so that I don’t have to take days off to heal. If I take time off, I want it to be because I want to…not have to.

Other Goals

Blog more! I blog about as consistently as I lift weights, so I would definitely like to increase my posting frequency!

Learn how to use my camera. Last Christmas my husband got me a fancy digital camera and I have barely used it. I don’t understand how to work most of the functions on there except for the auto setting, so I feel like I’m not getting as much out of it as I could.

Use my Gratitude Journal daily. I am a big believer in the power of positive thoughts and gratitude. At the end of every day when I’m getting ready for bed, I stop and think of 1 or 2 things that I am most grateful for, or the best thing that happened that day. It can be something  small, or something bigger but the point is that it gets you thinking about the many things you have to grateful for. I also have a gratitude journal that I write a few things in everyday that I’m grateful for. Again, this can be big or small. I sometimes go a few days or weeks without actually writing in the journal, so I’d really like to get back into the habit. It can be 1 thing for the day or it can be 10, but the bottom line is, to write them out.  My overall outlook is brighter when I do these things so I’d like to be a little more consistent.

Find a good sugar cookie recipe! We tried to make sugar cookies this year, and it was a huge flop. I need to get a few recipes together, test them out and find the best one. If you have one, pass it along!

Get Braces…at least look into it. My teeth aren’t terrible, but over the last 2 or 3 years my front teeth (really, it just one lousy tooth) have started crowding a bit and have become really crooked. I don’t always notice it when I look in the mirror, but I REALLY see it in pictures and it makes me incredibly self-conscious. I want to check out Invisalign to see what the time and cost commitment are. I’d rather not get traditional braces, but if that’s my only option that’s what I’ll do. I’m going to make an appointment for a consultation and then hopefully get the ball rolling later this year.

Happy New Year!!

One Year Ago

One year ago today, I did something I never thought I would be capable of. I ran a marathon.

1033

While I was incredibly proud of training, running and finishing that race I still can’t help but be a little disappointed. A 5:23 finish time is NOT the time I trained for. I fully expected to finish between 4:50-5:00 hours. But, I got caught up in the excitement, started out way too fast and ran into trouble early.

 I hit the wall crazy early, because I stopped taking gels at around mile 8. I’m not sure if it was because I was so nervous, or I drank too much water, or if it was the flavor of the gels but I could not handle them. I got one down around mile 4 and then it was game over. I tried another at 8 and gagged before I could even open the packet up. I had to rely on water and Gatorade for the next 18 miles. Not cool, dude. I’d never had that problem before and it’s never happened since then *knock on wood*   I held on to a 5 hour pace for the first 15 miles, but somewhere between 15-16 the 5 hour pace group caught up to me and dropped me like a bad habit soon after. I run/walked for the rest of the race. At mile 20, my brother and sister in law were waiting for me, and she ran the last 6 miles with me. I don’t know what I would have done without her. When I wasn’t sure if I could take another step, she kept me going.

 

1037

My sister in law and I after. I wouldn’t have made it to the finish line without her!

I made a lot of rookie mistakes that contributed to my downfall but now that I know what those mistakes were, I can work on avoiding those next time.

Air Force Marathon – An Update

I’m not really sure where to start with this update, so I guess I’ll just come right out and say it.

I’ve decided to NOT run the Air Force Marathon in September.

In some of my other weekly recap posts, I’ve alluded to some problems and having a hard time with life things and I decided that I’m just not in the right place to train for, and run a marathon.

Just before I started my training my step-dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. Since then, it’s been an insane emotional roller coaster and two weeks ago we learned that he can no longer continue with his chemotherapy. I don’t have to tell you what this means.

As I was trying to run my 13 miles 2 weeks ago, it occurred to me how much time I was wasting while I was out there. The marathon will always be there, and the awful, terrible reality is that my step-dad won’t.  I couldn’t finish that run, and when I managed to run my 16 miles the following Monday I just kept thinking about how selfish I’m being with my time. All of my long runs from here on out are 18, 20, 22 miles and that is a lot of time. For me, that’s about 4 hours to be out there…plus getting back home, then showering, eating and then getting out to their house to visit. That’s more than half the day, and in a few months I know I’m going to want that time back.

For some people, training for a race might be the perfect distraction but I just can’t do that. When I’m out there, alone with my thoughts, that’s when I lose it. My heart and head just aren’t in right now.

I fully plan to continue running, but this takes so much of the pressure off – if I have to skip a run then I skip it. It won’t impact my training at all, and I won’t have to stress about needing to get the miles in.  I may throw a half marathon in there somewhere, but I’m not counting on it and it will certainly be a last minute decision if I do.

The Tall One and I talked about this on our way to Wisconsin and he fully agrees with/supports this decision. He could tell these last few weeks that I just wasn’t into it, and that I was struggling.

Once I made the decision I really felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my chest.  Obviously there is still another huge weight on there but at least this helps. I didn’t do any running on vacation and I didn’t worry about it at all. I’m not really sure where I’m going from here – maybe work on some speed and definitely some more strength work. I haven’t been doing that and can really tell the difference.

I know this is probably a very rambling, disconnected post but…that’s where I’m at.

Air Force Marathon Training – Week 6

Oy! Where does the time go?? I have so many posts to write/share, but I haven’t even gotten close to finishing them so I might as well get my weekly recap up so there’s something on here!!

This was another good week of training – I worked hard, mixed things up with some speed early in the week and braved the heat for 13.37 miles on Saturday!! Full details below

Monday

Planned: Rest

Actual: Rest. I had to shift my long run the week before to Sunday so I made Monday a rest day rather than the usual short/slow day. I also had my doctor’s appointment (need to do a post about this, but in general it’s all good news!! 🙂   ), so I went for a short walk when I got home and that was it! After, I ventured out to get some new running/vacation clothes and got some great stuff! Yay for Target!!

Tuesday

Planned: 4 Miles

Actual: 4 Progression Miles 42:54 (10:43 pace). I didn’t specifically plan for this to be a speed workout, but I was feeling good and decided to go for it! I also hit the weights when I got home from work, for a quick workout!

Lookie there! It's amazing what you're capable of when you just go for it!

Lookie there! It’s amazing what you’re capable of when you just go for it!

Wednesday

Planned: Strength

Actual: Strength! I’m getting better at making the time for this – it helps that I’ve revised what I’m doing and am sticking with a plan that’s a little more manageable!

Thursday

 Planned: 5 Miles + Strength:

Actual: 5 PM (!!!!!!!) Miles 58:17 (11:39 pace).  5 pain free PM miles!! WAHOO!  After my Drs appt. on Monday, I put some changes into place right away and decided to see if they had any influence on Thursday.  Since it was only a few days later, I didn’t put too much hope in being able to do all 5 miles, but I had to give it a shot. There was some mild discomfort when I started but that quickly went away. I didn’t worry about speed at all – besides being hot and sunny (about 86 degrees), I was just happy to be out there and running pain free. Pace was the last thing on my mind (but it was still in line with my normal times). Yay!   I also did my strength workout that morning – I’m on fi-YAH!!

Friday

Planned: 3 Miles

Actual: 3 Miles 32:34 (10:51 pace) Good, solid early morning run! I was rewarded with this gorgeous sunrise at the end!

 

Waking up early has its benefits!

Waking up early has its benefits!

Saturday

Planned: 13 Miles

Actual: 13.37 Miles 2:31:25 (11:20 pace) at North Park. In a word? HOT. In more words? I’m kind of dumb…more on that as the stories continues.

This was kind of a weird run…I felt like I was going a lot slower than I was, so when I saw my average at the end, I was pleasantly surprised that I managed to hold a normal (to me) pace. However, I also started out waaaaaaaay too fast. I tried to slow myself down, but couldn’t seem to do it. No worries though – the heat helped with that later on.  I also need to learn how to judge the temperatures – last week it was so cool out, I ended up dropping my water off at the car because it was making my hand cold.  So this week, I decided to leave the water/gel in the car and just stop when I passed by and use the water fountains along the loop. When I made my first of two passes around my car, I decided I was still OK and didn’t need anything yet. I didn’t really want to break the rhythm I was in, so I kept going. I started to slow a little, and knew a water fountain was coming up and hoped that would give me a little pep in my step.

A tad fast for a long run

A tad fast for a long run

I got to the fountain….and there was a little runners reunion, or something, going on and even though I said ‘excuse me’, no one would move so I kept going.  A mile or so later, I was reeeeeally regretting not stopping at my car but luckily I got to the next fountain, and there was no line! Wahoo!  The sun was out in full force at this point, even though it was only 9 AM, and it was warm; the combination of these factors was making me cranky.  There was also a very large 5K event going on at the boathouse, and trying to weave through all of the tents, and jazzercisers and cars was starting to grate on my nerves ( I’m just a bit of a drama queen). So I finally made it to my car for the second time, and was never so happy to drink warm water in my life. And then…even though it was pushing 80 at this point, even though I was thinking about how thirsty I was….I left my water in the car. I didn’t want to carry that and my phone (I still haven’t purchased a case for my new phone yet….derp), so I figured that I’d still rely on the water fountains.

Slowing down...

Slowing down…

I trucked along, and got to the first water fountain….the reunion was over at this point, and I nearly skipped over to the fountain. Only to discover the water pressure was so low the water barely trickled out. I don’t care how hot it is/thirsty I am, no way am I putting my mouth that close to a public water fountain. This really increased the cranky factor, but still no worries, I can make it to the next one. I trudged on. Then,I crested another hill….and apparently the 5K had finally started, because all I could see was a sea of neon.  No. Just no. I just didn’t have it in me to try to weave through that (going against the flow of people), so I said eff it. Actually, I dropped the f-bomb (and a bunch of other words) for this one. Out loud. And people heard me. I apologized for cursing like a sailor and they laughed and said they didn’t blame me. I looked at my watch, and realized that if I turned around here, I would definitely make 13 miles by the time I got to my car and wouldn’t have to go anywhere near the festival. Amen to that. I got about.10 of a mile in, and realized that although I didn’t have to weave through people, this updated route meant no more water fountains.  Lots more f-bombs were dropped, but I kept them (mostly) silent or at least under my breath. I thought about walking, but that just meant it would be longer until I got my water. These last 2 miles were pretty much a death march, but the promise of toasty warm water kept me going. Then. THEN. I remembered there is a 7-11 just across the intersection from where I park. I started dreaming of a slurpee ( I missed the free slurpees the day before, and they’d been on my mind). The hope of a lemonade slurpee was what got me back to my car. <—- Yeah, just a little dramatic.

OMG end it now. Give me an effing slurpee.

OMG end it now. Give me an effing slurpee.

By the time I finally got back to my car, it was well over 13 miles.  I did take notice at the 13.1 mark that it was still faster (2:28) than my slowest half marathon time (2:31) so maybe the day wasn’t as bad as it felt. I got in my car and headed right for 7-11, sailed through a yellow light (oops) and made a bee-line for the slurpee machine.

Pure sugar never tasted so good.

 

YUM

YUM

When I got home, that sweet husband of mine also had a Gatorade chilling in the fridge, along with a glass of ice water. He’s alright, that guy 🙂

Sunday

Planned: Rest

Actual: REST. Much needed rest.

All in all, this was a really good week for me. I feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel for my tendonitis, and even though it doesn’t always feel like it, I’m managing to keep a decent pace in this heat/humidity. That is definitely a good thing!!