Coming back up

I have been dreading writing this. No, I have been dreading even thinking about this WordPress site and blogging in general.

It has been a few weeks now, closer to a month probably, since the Cleveland Marathon, or I should say the attempt at the Cleveland Marathon which turned into a sad, wet 10-miler.

Overall, I choked. Remember in Cool Runnings when the team completely failed at the first race and their coach said, “You choked. You were ready and you choked.”

That was me. I can’t even honestly say I was ready though. Physically, sure, I was ready to run the pace, but what is pace when you mentally fail?

I’ll step back. Leading up to the race, I should have known something was not right. My left IT band was sore and tight and I kept ignoring it. Everytime my BF mentioned how we were going to “Kill it” I wanted to hit him and say be quiet. I couldn’t think about the race, I didn’t want to think about the race. This was beyond just normal nervousness. This was sheer panic and dread. And,  I should have realized it. I should have realized I was drowning myself.

Watching the weather I should have known too. It kept getting worse and worse. Midwest Spring weather at its best. The Saturday before the race it was rainy, cloudy, windy and freaking cold.

Sunday? It was rainy, cloudy, snowing, sleeting, basically any type of cold horribleness there is.

Saturday night was a disaster as well, a mistake I should have known better. I made reservations at Bucca Di Beppos, the same weekend as the college’s graduation. So, after waiting an hour for food, as we watched the table next to us order the entire menu and pay a $600 plus bill, we finally get pasta. Cold and covered in spicy flakes and doused in oil. We had to send it back, which I hate doing because it makes me feel bad. The next order came quickly enough, it was only noodles with veggies, but then another 30 mins went by to get the manager to take off the meals and let us pay the bill. I guess a $20 fancy pasta restuarant bill is pretty good though.

The next morning was making the decision on what outfit would keep me as warm as possible and running to the bathroom every ten mins…thanks oily dinner.

The race started and felt fine. Not great. Not excited. Just fine. Five miles in, heading up a “hill” bridge and feeling like I was running backwards, I knew this was going to be bad. By the beginning I was already steps behind Ken (bf) and couldn’t keep up. By mile 7/8 I was in tears and pain. My legs wouldnt move, my IT band was so tight it felt like I was ripping it out of my leg, and my mind was gone.

Ken continued to run then stop and wait, run then look over his shoulder for me. He offered me his headphones and music but I was already gone. My mind was screaming at me to keep racing, to ignore the pain, but my heart was escalating and the panic attack, not being able to breathe began. I had to walk a bit. Thinking back now, I am in shock. How the hell did that happen? Even now I still feel like a wimp and a failure.

Mile 10 came, I saw my mom and sister and was done. I knew 16 more miles would be impossible.

Mom and Ken ran and got the car and my sister and I stayed on the sidewalk of a closed breakfast place shivering in the pouring down rain.

In the car I was able to get rid of some wet clothes, but the embarrassment, no mortification, was not going anywhere. They comforted me of course, but I let them down and forced them to drive 8 hours to watch me do nothing. How do you look someone in the eye after that? I couldn’t even look Ken in the eye. I didn’t even feel like me.

Driving home was four long hours through perfect sunny weather (are you freaking kidding me?) Then, it was home to shower, cry more, have Ken comfort me, realize how bad I was – both physically and mentally –  and how I was going to move forward.

The “When Running Sucks” ice cream cake and Mexican food helped somewhat, but it took days to get me out of the funk.

That was a month ago, as I said. Since then, I have been talking to a counselor who diagnosed me with high levels of anxiety and stress with horrible, horrible coping methods. I probably could have told her that myself.

What I realized over the last weeks is how far I pushed myself, how much pressure I put on myself for what? I was killing myself, beating myself down before I was even at the race! Like I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it. Like I knew I was already going to fail. It was swimming all over again (but that is whole other story).

About two weeks ago, I was been told by three different people that I have never been so happy, so carefree and funny. Without the stress of running and just working out by how I feel, I have been able to relax, do other things, and be myself again. They are compliments yes, but they have scared me too. What happens when I start training again? Am I going to fall back into that mindset? Am I only this fun person when I am not running?

I have been getting the itch again. I got new shoes ordered to the house to wear-test, I am talking with my mom about her upcoming race, watching Western States this weekend, and am finally feeling like a runner again. But, I am scared. I don’t/can’t get myself into that position again. And, I don’t know what to do race wise. A part of me wants to try it again. Redeem myself. Go for that marathon goal because deep down, I know I can do it. I really do.

The other part is saying, No Jess. Take it easy a bit longer. Sign up for a fun 50k/50-mile race and just have fun. Get back on the trails with your friends and keep with the races that you enjoy more and are better at.

I am torn. Which one? Which one? I guess the only answer I have right now is be patient for a few more weeks and see how it goes. Come back from the dread and embarrassment I was drowning myself in and just run, see how I feel, and decide later. I just hope nothing is filled up by then!

 

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Marathon Training is hard

I knew what I was getting into when I began this training right? I started the training weeks with one goal in mind: to run a marathon in under 3:15. Seemed do-able, yes. Physically I believed (and still do) that I can run this time, yet it was always the mental aspects I knew I was going to struggle with.

I am five weeks out from the Cleveland Marathon on May 16. It is a Sunday race, something that I just like about the weekend and thought I would throw in. I am so excited to run and so excited to be done.

Five weeks out, and I just finished an easy 4-mile shake out run Monday morning. And, it was not that easy.

Last week was a rough one, both in running and just in life.

Monday was an off day, which I usually take after the long run on Sunday. Then, Tuesday came around….Instead of the 8-10 miles I was planning on doing, I left the house for a night at Barnes and Noble. The weather was decent, not great, but I got home and the thought of putting my running shoes on was unfathomable.

Honestly, the thought of just changing my work clothes into running clothes, I just couldn’t do it.

It wasn’t even the feeling that once you get started on the run, it would be okay. I knew my body needed to NOT RUN.

Looking back, I wish instead of running, I went to swim or bike, but again the feeling that I just needed to do something other than work out or work was too strong to overcome.

I grabbed Ken, my bf, and we headed to the best place ever, Barnes and Noble. We stopped by Lemon Tree, a Mediterranean fast food restaurant, to grab some dinner, then settled into B&N. With a chai tea and a dark chocolate, hazelnut granola bar for dessert I spent the evening finishing up my article for my freelance gig and getting talked into buying a new laptop.

Tuesday ended with a new MAC Book Air, a brand new journal, so that I could begin bullet journaling and a happy mood.

The rest of the week was spent indoors on the stupid treadmill while the outside tried to decide if it was snowing, raining, or sunny.

I ended the week with a cold, easy 6 miles in the trails in preparation of a long 20-miler on Sunday, the 20 miler that turned to just run for two hours on the treadmill, to just run 10.5 miles and then finish the workout with 30 minutes on the bike adding another 10 miles. Hey, I got in in 20 miles right?

Sunday night, I was done. I was painfully icing my ankle, which has been bothering me and feeling like I got hit by a car and waiting to get hit again.

So when this week started, which it is now Tuesday, so I may be premature in this, I wanted to get a fresh start.

I climbed out of bed Monday morning to run an easy 4 miles in the beautiful 46-degree weather! It was not the best run, since my legs still felt pretty heavy, but I was just happy to be outside.

Tuesday was another outdoor run, but still a bit chilly. Ended with 9 miles, through the local bike trail. Again, legs did not feel 100 percent fresh and peppy, but the mindset was back.

The mindset of what I was doing was back, what I was trying to accomplish, and how important my goals were back.

And, once I realized: marathon training is hard. It is hard to always be up for a run when the weather sucks and the last thing you want to do is put your shoes on. It is hard to get in 50-60 miles with a 40-hour a week job, freelance work, a weekend gig at the local running store, and future work on its way. It is hard to out 50-60 miles on your body, particularly on an ankle that was once cut up in surgery less than two years ago.

Yet, you have to admit it is hard and move on. You have to admit to yourself why it is hard and try to overcome each obstacle in a smart way. For me, I have to acknowledge my limits with my ankle, and realize that weeks of 50-60 miles may not be the best thing for me.

But, you have to admit and realize that you train for a marathon, or any race, because it is why we do it: because it is hard. It’s that saying from “A League of their Own.”

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t, then everybody would do it.”

blog-a league of their own

Why do we put our bodies into this pain, this fatigue? For most it is the outcome: the goal time, the act of finishing a race, etc.

But what I realized a long time ago while in swimming, I like the pain of training. I like being sore and tired and famished from a hard workout, because I like knowing that I am pushing my body to it limit. It is the mental side where the hardness is too much for me. I have never been a good racer. I used to make myself sick before big meets and would end up choking and crying afterwards.

With running, the nerves were there but never as bad because I believed it was the long-distance ultra thing that allowed me to tell myself, “All this is, is running. Running and eating. No one watching you race 7 other people in a pool. This was just me.”

This is what helped me place third in my first 100, and first in my last two races. The pressure was never there.

But, then the HUFF 50k race came in December and the pressure was back. Back with tough competition, a nagging foot injury, horribly freezing weather.

The ankle made me stop physically, but mentally the race beat me. It was back in high school and I was swimming next to some freshman and watching her feet flutter away from me.

That feeling of not living up to expectations, which were usually mine, was back and was not ready for it.

I am really trying to keep these thoughts from entering my mind, now with five weeks to go until another huge race.

Yes, the competition aspect of the race wont be there, but the time pressure will. I am going for a time and many people know it. Some say, ‘oh that will be easy,’ and after a good interval or long run workout, I believe them. But after other days, like every run from last week, those doubts come rushing back in.

This is normal right? It is right to doubt oneself sometimes, because that is what makes training hard. It is the fact that the months of working out beyond anything else is, knowing there will be obstacles and will be triumphs, is what makes the hard become softer as time goes on, and you, the runner, much stronger with each step.

Running through Thanksgiving

Does anyone’s Thanksgiving plans really go as expected?

For me, not so much. However, my week, with all its food, running, sleeping and family, was pretty successful in the end.

I had plans for my holiday week, including having Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday off! I was so excited. I was going to cook/bake (something this is quite rare in my household), catch up on sleep, run A LOT, and work on core and stretching. Of course, there was eating and hanging with my sister on the to-do list as well.

Ken (the boyfriend) and I decided we were going to do a week of ten minute planks. Well, it was a good theory. We did well Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. But Thursday was a hectic work day, then hike with the family, to quickly heading out for holiday dinner number 1, to holiday dinner number 2 and collapsing on the couch. Friday was back to schedule with a run and ten-minutes of sore abs, then Saturday was another miss due to once again, busy work day for me, straight to a shower and heading out to the Christmas parade. And, Sunday was well, Sunday. Busy all day then crashing on the couch with a huge salad kept me off the plank floor.

So to recap the week in running: Neg-should have run more during the week because I took both Monday and Thursday off which I don’t like to do. Pos-I am proud of myself for getting out of bed Sunday when I absolutely did not want to and getting in a really good run.

Monday: Off day from running, and headed into work early so I could cut my hours short on other days of the week. At night around 8 p.m. met Ken at OMNI Health and Wellness, and did ten minutes of planks.

Tuesday: Ran 8 miles with Ken. Went throughout town at 7:38 pace. Felt really good. Later on, did ten minutes of planks inside the apartment.

Wednesday: Had to let Jules into OMNI so she could swim at 7 a.m. Ken and I lifted light weights, stretched, and did ten minutes of planks. Ran 7 miles with mom and by myself on the bike trail. Started off with mom, ran ahead an extra mile, then met her back at the car. Overall, 8:03 pace.

Thursday: Again, work in the morning. It was a rough day, dealing with a fire and a chilly, wet Turkey Trot, and by the time I got home I was not really digging a run. I did however take the two dogs for a walk at the beach with my family, which turned out to be the better choice.

Friday: Guilty for missing the run, I wanted to get a longer one in. So, by midmorning I was stretched and ready to go out in the again, chilly and wet weather. I ran in my Patagonia wind breaker and new LuluLemon tights and had that, “okay I look like a runner, lets do this,” mentality! I ran along the town’s bike path to the gym I go to, met Ken who had coconut water for me (my favorite running drink) and we did about 4 more miles together, for 10 overall. I began at an 8:20 per mile pace and ended up down to 7:20 pace. I wanted to get faster each mile, but I felt like it was not as easy to get down to the 7:20/30 as usual. Then we did our planks and continued on the day.

Saturday: Easy run during work, just 6 miles through town.

Sunday: Sunday… The day I wanted to rest, sleep in and have cereal in bed. Instead, I dragged my butt out a not too much later than planned and headed out. Ended up rocking a 14 mile run at an 8-8:04 pace with a .5 cool down at the end. Felt great and was really surprised i could hold that pace at the end of the week and not being the best mindset.

Last week was just another example of how things are always changing and sometimes, you have to do other things than run. Like Thursday, hiking with my sister and parents rather than getting in four miles-did it really matter in the end?

Next week, is another busy weekend and I am just going to play it by ear on how it is going to go. I am watching my sister swim at one of the biggest meets of her season. Should I worry about my 6 mile run? Or should I worry about being there for her? ding, ding ding.

LONG OVERDO Race Recap

It is sad that you are so busy, or so lazy, that you write your blog post as a regular document weeks ago but just cannot put it on your supposedly running blog…

But here it is now: the long-time coming race recap of the Dirty Burg 50k in Belmont, MI. I had a blast at the race, and would really recommend this one to runners looking for a fast, and challenging race! And the race director, Phil Stappert, is awesome.

A few weeks I was feeling it. The itch. The itch to race, run fast, eat loads of gels and MM’s at the aid stations. So I signed up for the Dirty Burg 50k in Belmont, Michigan on the last day I could get a t-shirt of course.

The race was at the Cannonsburg Ski resort in Michigan a little north of Grand Rapids. It was a pretty low-key race and I believe my mom and I were the only non-Michigan runners there!

The race was put on by those in charge of the Yankee Springs races, which I heard really good things about.

On Friday afternoon, my mom and made our way to Michigan, me icing my hip/groin area and her with a sore heel. Yeah, we were ready for 31 miles :/

On the way, we stopped at a restaurant in Grand Rapids that had a craft root beer list! I was in heaven with my espresso infused root beer and huge delicious salad. As we sat at the bar, watching iRunFar live Tweet about Hardrock. We picked up candy for the night at our dive motel and fell asleep around 10 pm.

Waking up at 4 (3 a.m. my time) we quickly threw on some clothes and headed out to the race.

The sun took awhile to come up-long enough for us to worry that we were not equipped with headlamps. But thankfully, it finally did come up as we were shuttled in group to start the race. While we were listening to last minute directions, Phil the RD was running around setting up the aid stations.

At 6 a.m. we were off, and it was one of those starts that we had to “race” to the start of the woods before it went into single track. I settled in behind the lead guys and one woman and that’s pretty much where I stayed for the next two hours.

The first lap went by quickly and I felt good. I have been struggling with a pulled hip/groin muscle that was making me VERY nervous to start this race, but for the first two laps the pain was not too bad.

So the course:

It was a rolling single-track trail about 5.5 miles. Then the big one: running, well walking, up the main ski slope and running back down to make a 10k course.

There was an aid station halfway through at mile 3.5.

And, you did this 5 times!

Laps 1 and 2 went by easily, and at the end of lap 2 I passed the woman who was in first.

The third lap was good. I started running with a guy and as we talked we sped up the pace-maybe a little too much, because by the fourth lap I was feeling it!

Lap four took a bit to get into, especially the trek up the “mountain.” My legs were finally feeling the miles of the race and lack of miles in mile training. But I kept thinking, “One more!”

One more was a lot harder than I thought. I got down to the bottom of the hill, chugged coconut water at the drop bag station, grabbed a Humagel and ran off for lap 5.

OMG it hurt. The first 3.5 miles was torture as my legs were dying, my feet tripping, and my mind shutting down. I am embarrassed writing this because I died so hard.

The aid station took forever to get to and my next landmarks that I remembered seem to be getting further away as well. I didn’t wear a garmin and just kept track by my watch split times. I had it down to each lap between 58 minutes to 1 hour and five minutes.

But back to lap 5. By the end of the trail session I was done, but the ski slope was still there taunting me. I ran up as long as I could then put my hands on my knees and power-climbed up. To tell you the truth, it didn’t last long.

So I improvised. I turned my sore butt around and walked backwards up the hill, watching the bottom to make sure no one was coming.

I finally made it and crashed down the hill. Heel hurting, big toe nail feeling like it was going to yank off, and I flew into the finish line.

I finished the race as first female, 6th overall, in a time of 5:12.

Overall I had a blast. It was hot, hard, and my kind of race. The finish line was quiet and filled with guys lounging around drinking a beer.

The award was a free entry to the cold Yankee Springs so I guess I know what my schedule will be like next year.

I ran the entire race in Altra Lone Peaks. Because it was a loop course and the dropbag place was near the finish line, I didn’t wear or carry anything that I couldn’t fit into my sports bra.

The race was great, the people were great, and my legs are sore as I write this!

IMG_2323 IMG_2315

Recap: The Ice-Covered Buzzard Day 50/100k

Its been awhile since I even logged onto my WordPress. I have thought about it though. I would run, talking and thinking to myself about my next post, sort the pictures I want for it in my head, even come up with a catchy headline.

But then I would come home from the run. Take 15 minutes peeling off the five layers of wet clothing, fail to fully warm up after a shower, coffee, and burying myself under my electric blanket, and then slide open my laptop screen, only to choose to write my next paper instead of look at my WP site. Why you ask? I knew that each thought and post would be the same; sick of the cold, sick of the snow, sick of my winter clothes, the boots disintegrating from caked-on salt, having to wear two-three pairs of socks to work…and school. Do I need to say more?

Yes, I am officially done with the snow. I was officially done with it a month ago, and especially done with in Hinckley Ohio as I set off at 6 A.M to run my first (and longest distance) 100k through inches thick sheets of ice covered trails.

Before I run my 100 miler in April, I wanted to get a few more miles under my belt, since my farthest race has been a 50-mile race. So, I searched and found the Buzzard Day 50 and 100k ultra in Ohio for last weekend, the start of Spring Break. Thinking, “It has to be warm, and snow-less by then” I signed up.

And of course, two days before the race it snowed, no, it blizzard. Still, I sucked it up, put my new hat on, and set off with my dad for the five-hour car trip to Hinckley.

Me with too much energy in the morning

Me with too much energy in the morning

The morning of, I was good. I was up, ate my banana, goofed around taking pics for those still sleeping warmly in their beds, and rove to the race. I wore my AK Ultimate Direction Vest (first time in a race wearing it, so that made me excited!), and looked around cautiously at the un-yak-trakked shoes of the other ten or so 100k’ers. Thinking, if they were not wearing them, the trails should not be too bad right? Well, what I did not know/see was the conveniently hidden ice spikes under their toes, and instead I walked out with them to the race start in my bare Montrails, wondering what the hell I was getting into. It was a low-key race. Hugh, the RD talked, said “Ok, go ahead,” and we were off.

I count...10? Yeah, we're all nuts :)

I count…10? Yeah, we’re all nuts 🙂

For me the start is always the worst part of the entire race. Especially in the two, or so cross country races I have competed in, when everyone rushes forward, sprinting to the little opening up ahead, I feel like I am in a movie where the world is ending and it is every man for himself. Well, this race was not like that. We all darted off into the blackness, headlamps bouncing every which way, until: we hit the ice. And we didn’t go anywhere.

The trails were solid sheets of ice. Up the trails went, and down our shoes slid back. Even the guys with spikes couldn’t get moving. (My yak-traks would not have made any difference for the majority of the conditions). But we kept on, eventually merging onto the sides of the trail, running through the bushes and around trees. As some parts provided relief from the ice, we were instead met with gooey, sludgey mud, stream crossings, and a few paved areas. I came through that first loop like I ran a Tough Mudder race rather than a simple 15 mile loop.

But it was around mile 4, yes only 4, when it happened. I stepped onto the ice, feet flew out from under me, whole body was in the air, and landed hard on my backside and elbow. I tend to fall a lot while running, usually for lack of attention, but I manage to pop back up pretty easily, but I had to stay on the ground a bit after that one. Two guys helped me up, thinking I hit my head on the ice, apparently it was pretty close to doing so. But I continued running and didn’t feel the fall too much after that, until we hit the ledges. At one point in the race, around mile 9-10, we start climbing into this area of bouldering rocks, and when I say climbing I mean climbing. Like, hands on rocks, maneuvering into crevices climbing. For an easy stroll on a Saturday, I would have loved that. For a 62 mile race that was going to take a lot longer than I was hoping, I was not pleased with the forced walking/hiking. “Didn’t I sign up for an ultraRUNNING race?” After that section of the trail, I think the twisting and turning flared up the area I fell on, and by mile 14-15 to the aid station, I was in bad shape, barely shuffling over the melting snowy trails now.

At the aid station, thank god my dad came with, because he was great. With some an ice pack on my ass, and an Ibprofen he forced me to take, I trekked out for another lap, knowing I would not be able to finish this entire race.

The ledges-Rocks of Pain I like to call them

The ledges-Rocks of Pain I like to call them

Coming in after the first lap-the snow finally starting to melt

Coming in after the first lap-the snow finally starting to melt

Through the second lap, the sun was up, the weather was getting warmer and some of the ice was melting. I made through a couple more miles, the rocks of pain, and to the last aid station before the pain began to come back. Thinking I could do the runable parts of the trails for two more laps, I knew it was not worth it getting more injured, falling again, and experiencing the rocky section again. Not to mention, spending another 7 hours out there.

I called it quits after the 25k, happy with a 31ish mile run, but disappointed in myself for not finishing. Even after talking to other runners who quit after two loops, (out of the 10 or so us, 1 guy finished the entire race), and my dad who knew the IT 100 is my goal and reminded me this was just a training race, I was still mad at myself. But during the car ride home, in which I sat on top of a melting ice bag for most of the way, I realized overall, I am happy with it. I had a good (most of the time) attitude, I got some good race photos (which is always a plus), and a decent training run/race experience.

Now, don’t read this and think, “oh my god, this race sounds terrible, I am never going to Ohio ever again.” In reality, it was just the weirdest/unexpected conditions, just like this weird, horrible winter. Maybe I should have been more prepared; mentally, physically, and equipment-wise, but who can always be prepared for weather and falling? Right? I do recommend this race, for its beautiful trails that were not covered in ice, the birds and buzzards flying around, and the terrific aid stations and volunteers. I do not think I have seen so much food at one time in life! The race directors did a great job, and maybe next year when March actually means Spring, I will return to the race of the buzzards.

slip, slidin away...

slip, slidin away…

The Huff Recap

The Huff 50k Race

After a long month of chilly weather and too much snow for my liking, the “trail gods” granted one more beautiful day before the end of the year. At 40 degrees and sunny, we started the race last Saturday in perfect conditions.

Though not officially part of the Extra Mile Fitness Company team in Valparaiso, my mom and I managed to sneak into their heated tent before the race started, to keep warm. Being one of the few people running the race for the first time, I listened to everyone’s account of the ups and downs of the upcoming race. Peeing behind the tent to avoid the way too long for the port-a-pottys, I ran to the start line and waited as the directors pushed the start time back another ten minutes.

In black shorts, compression socks, and two long sleeve shirts I was pretty chilly before the race. But as soon as we got going I was fine, and ended up only taking off my headband near the end of the race.

The race went perfectly. The course was two loops of 15.5 miles in the trails of The Chain of Lakes State Park in Albion, IN. By half way of the first loop, I guessed I was about 6th woman. I finished the first half of the loop in about 1:05, just making a mental note to myself for later. Near the end of the first loop, I was feeling good and eying down a woman in purple that I allowed myself to slowly reel in.

By the 4th mile and first aid station, I had caught purple lady (yay) and another woman, putting me into 3rd/4th place. Out on the trails, I never listen to music and I am not good at running and talking to others while on the course. I ran the last 10 miles by myself on the trails, and when I say by myself, I mean it. I was running with no one behind or in front of me for miles, allowing me to experience the beauty and silence of the wooded trails alone.

Nearing the end of the race, searching and finding each mile marker with a way too giddy grin, I finally made it to the last aid station, downing a cup of water and sprinting my way to the finish line as the 4th woman overall.

Looking back, I think if I had known where the third woman was earlier in the race I could have tracked her down, but honestly, I do not really care. I really enjoyed running the race, and seeing what I could really do when I ran by myself, and my own way.

Overall, the race was a blast, the pre and post race activities was a blast, and I hopefully the weather is as gorgeous next year as this one was!

New Years Resolutions

I have never been one for resolutions. Making them, keeping them, I never really believed in the big hype. I believe that if you want to change something about yourself or your life, you need to start that day.

One of my “resolutions”for 2014 was something I thought of and began the day before Thanksgiving. I decided that I wanted to run every single day, even if it means just running one mile on some days. And for some unknown reason, I decided to start that day, and I have not missed a day since. So, by the end of 2014 I will have more than 365 days of consecutive running and maybe more if I really keep it up.

Another resolution or goal as it more so is, would be to weight lift and cross train more. When making my training plan for the 100 mile race, I added in time slots for weightlifting and training on the bike and in the pool. Again, resolution vs. real-life? To train for this 100 I know I am going to need to do more than just run. So, on my 2014 Jan-April calendar includes bi-weekly cross training sessions and nothing about sticking to a “resolution” but sticking to a race plan.

I had more things, like reading more and stop buying books when I have 100 still unread novels on multiple bookshelves. I think wearing more makeup and actually dressing like a real girl/person instead of in running clothes on a daily basis made the list as well, but we’ll see about that.

Looking forward to the year, I know I can accomplish the goals already set, change some, and add new ones. It will be a year running, running, and more running. Oh yeah, and some of those other life things I do once in awhile too!

 

From last year to now – the need to believe

The idea for this blog post has been popping into my head for the last week or so, during every run. I do not listen to music, and this past week has been so busy that I have been running by myself, so I have had every run to let my mind wander. And my thoughts keep coming to this; the comparison to my running now to last year’s running performance.

Now, I have only been running for a few years, only having done one half-marathon before 2013. Over the last couple of months I have done 3 marathons, one 50 miler race, and planning on one more race the last weekend of December, a 50k. It has been an incredible summer and fall and I cannot believe that it has all happened in not-even-one year.

But my main thoughts have been sparked by each run this week. Before that though, I have to go back to my Chicago marathon. I was ready for the race, excited to run, but was nervous about my race pace/finish time because I had just ran the 50 miler and was not exact on training between the two races. But as said in my race recap, I had a great race, averaging an 8:07 pace, something I could not even dream about doing. That was first insight into the idea that “maybe I am better than I think I am?”

So, this past week, like during my run on Thursday, these thoughts again crept into my mind. I had run over in the lab doing homework, so I had to rush home to get a run in before the next class. For some reason i had it set in my mind to run 8 miles, nothing more nothing less. With the time constraint I started off hard and never stopped. I was not even thinking about it, but I was flying. It was an easy run, straight on a paved bike trail, and it was a beautiful day outside. Overall, I got in the 8 miles in a little over an hour. Sure it was hard and I was sore and hungry afterwards, but it was a good pace, a pace about 20 seconds faster per mile I would have done last year, or even last Spring. I feel like I jumped from the 8:30 per mile pace down to an 8:00 minute pace, without trying. And I am not sure I believe it?

Then, my run club friends brought me to the track-that circle thing that I usually stay far far away from. The workout, created by a fellow run club runner named Josh, was 6 x 1k’s, which I learned was 2.5 laps around the track that night! Being one of the new runners, I was told to try to hold a 4:30 pace per 1k, based on my last 6k run time. He wasn’t sure what I could hols, and honestly I had no idea either! The first one was difficult, trying to keep up and get my feel on the level, hard ground, with two huge turns always in the same spot. (Umm why do people like that?) But as the second went by, then the third, etc, I got faster, stronger and happier. I was pushing myself, I was no longer fisnihing last, and was having fun. It became dark, and with each lap the boys who had stayed to cheer on the girls were screaming for us.

It was the last one and it was chilly and dark. Katie, the leading runner on the team, just started and the other four girls and I were getting ready. “One more,” said Josh.

My first interval I finished at 4:15. Starting the number 6, my goal was to get down to 4 minutes flat.

I started off with the three girls in front of me, just on their heels during the first lap. Trying to push it with them during the second lap, about 3-4 seconds slipped between us.

“Okay, almost done,” I kept saying to myself. “Just keep going. Push.”

I was rounding the last turn to the finish and pumped my legs. I crossed the “finish line” at 4 flat. I felt fast, and I finally felt like I deserved to be with the fast girls in Run Club and deserved to be their on the track with all these people who have grown up running all their lives.

Being a distance runner, I never had any interest in springing or intervals, but that track workout changed my mind. During the run, with each lap and turn, I felt strong, powerful. I felt the muscles in my legs, each mile I have pushed them to endure during the 50 training, the Chicago marathon and even the easy treadmill run I did the other night. Every cell in my body was alive, through the cold, the pain, and the wind rushing by me. I could feel each pound of my foot onto the ground, and knowing that I had more in me to make them go faster.

I finished that workout and we cooled down around campus, dodging around cars trying to find a spot to park for the IU basketball game. We ran by college students and fans, who proabaly thought, “who are these freaks running around?”

Thinking about it later that night, after a stomach full of Olive Garden breadsticks, I was not expecting to go that fast, again. I was not expecting to do as well as I did, again. Is it me? Should I give myself more credit? Take into account my training, my goals, and my endurance and let myself believe in what my body can do?

This week has really opened my eyes to well, myself. In addition to the daily miles I log each day, I need to work on me, training me on how to believe in myself, my abilities, and believe that my future in running is just beginning.

Has anyone else experienced new insights into themselves or their running? How/ when do you finally start believing in what your bosy is showing you?

My first ever XC 6k = get me to a marathon!

Just two weeks after my Chicago Marathon, I ran a 6k with the IU Run Club. Though, I was not anywhere close to the top of the pack, (those girls are freaking fast!), I did not finish last which was my goal. I finished in just under 28 minutes, with some gas in the tank, mostly because I have no idea how to run a fast 6k in the grass and woods and did not know that the turn I breezed through was the last one till the finish…

But overall, I take the experience as a learning one, and step in the right direction, since I have to run another one in a couple of weeks for the Run Club Nationals. But… once the season is over I think I will stick to my marathons.

At the starting line, standing among the 50 or so thin, “been running since elementary school” girls, I knew the worst part was the start. Unlike my recent start at the Chicago marathon, where it takes 15 minutes to just cross the start, this was supposed to be a sprint across the uneven grass and to the narrow section of the race. When I ran my one/two years of cross country in middle school, the starting sprint was my least favorite part. It FREAKED me out! I do not know how people are supposed to sprint like that in the grass!

But, there I was. The announcer screamed “GO” and I jumped forward trying to keep an eye on my teammates long braided pony tail. After that, it was smooth sailing into the woods, over some bumps in the grass, and through the finish line. Not as much fun as the over 3 hour run through Chicago’s screaming crowds, but hey, running is running!

The IU Run Club

The IU Run Club

FYI: We, the girls Run Club placed second overall and our boys placed first!

Chicago Marathon Race Recap! Finally!

I know, I know this is days late, but here is my race recap for my first Chicago Marathon.

It is weird to call it my first Chicago since i have been watching my mother run it every year since I was in 1st grade. But watching it, is nothing like running it. Sure, as a spectator I saw the crowds of people clumped together like cattle at the start, and by the end of the mile 24 the “get me to the frickin finish” look posted on people’s face, but being part of it was so much more.

But before I start on my race, let me tell you the second best part of my weekend:

Mom, Scott Jurek, and me!

Mom, Scott Jurek, and me!

I love love love Scott Jurek. It totally made my day to meet and talk to him and get two, not one, things signed by him!!

so now the race:

I stuck in my clump pretty much the entire time. I feel like I do better when I stay with a pace group and have a set time in my mind. So, I started right behind the 3:35 pace group, a time at the start of the race I really was not sure I could do.

We started off at a good pace, I think averaging close to a 8:20 for the first couple of miles. By the half-marathon I had settled in pace right with the 3:35 group and was feeling good. I had no problems during the race, except for some stomach issues which I think was caused by my amateur mistake of not going to the bathroom a second time right before the race. I was feeling that all race! I even negotiated how much time it would take to stop and find a bathroom but I couldn’t bring myself to do it, did not want to fall behind my pacers. So, on I went.

By mile 20 i think I had dropped to a 8:11 pace, which caused my mom and dad to miss me at mile 17 and then almost miss me at 20! By this time i think I was ahead of the pace group, and I kept telling myself not to let them get me. Here comes my competitive personality comes out. At mile 20 I was feeling ok, but of course 19-22 were the toughest. They were also in the glaring sun and all I could do was check every road sign looking for Michigan. Ya, those miles took a long time…

At mile 25 my mom finally jumped in and kicked my butt to the finish. By this point I dropped my pace again to 8:07 and was flying! Don’t ask me how, I have no idea! I just wanted to get done without the close-to-hear them talking pacers catching me. My mom was dodging through people, telling me to stay right on her heels as she went each person. Glaring at her, I reluctantly sped up and finally made it to the last hill. Her exit of the race is funny, ending with her being escorted to the med tent and lying her way through two police officers before being letting go.

I finished the race at 3:33.36. I qualified for Boston 2015 and I am still not completely sure it really happened. Before sitting down to right this blog, I was thinking about why it had taken me this long to write it. Yes I have had two papers due and a midterm, but I could have made time. But something kept me from doing it. I think because now it is actually real. I did really run, drop 11 minutes, qualify for a race I was not expecting to be part of for many years, and can call myself a Chicago Marathoner. I have the jacket to prove it. Even after the race, with my mom repeating “8:07” pace over and over, it still did not seem real. Thinking back on the race, I had no idea how fast I was moving and had no idea what my body could do. Thinking over each mile, this race has opened my eyes to, well me. I am a runner. Never in that race did I wish I was done, (well ok maybe at 24 i did) but I was never in serious pain or trouble. I enjoyed every minute of the race because it was me and me only.

I surprised myself, my mom, and my friends watching. Did I think I could go that fast? Maybe deep, deep down I knew what i was capable of, but my mind said “you just ran a 50 miler 4 weeks ago!” “just have fun and don’t try to kill yourself” and etc, put up the wall in my head.

The Chicago Marathon was not just my first Chicago and a fast marathon to put in my book. It is was me, breaking down mental barriers and taking a “surprise” finish to what I knew I could do all along.

me after the race with the skyline behind!

me after the race with the skyline behind!

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