Thursday, July 30, 2015

Marathon Training and Unforeseen Changes

I'm just wrapping up week two of marathon training.  It's been a good two weeks but now a change has come to my running.  Because of unforeseen things at home, I've had to switch my coach. If you know Drill Sargent and have thought about hiring him, please do.  He's been an incredible coach. He's a no nonsense coach who will happily give 100% if you are willing to also. He won't waste a second of your time on the road, if you don't waste his time in your workouts.  He helped me to get stronger, faster, build endurance and through the amount of running I was doing, I, finally, was able to lose some of the weight I needed to lose. It is with sadness that I can no longer call him my coach but he'll always be Coach to me!

On the flip side, I'll be working with a local coach, who is also one of the runners in my area that I've admired for some time.  I can't speak to JJ as a coach because we are just starting out but as a runner, she's a fierce competitor and makes it look so effortless.  She's also very involved in the local running community, which I believe will help inspire me to get more involved in local running.  I look forward to what the coming months will bring.  

I'm in the middle of week two of Philly marathon training and preparing for the Hat Trick in October too. Every day the anticipation and excitement for October builds. Getting to finally meet my phone friends, is going to be like a reunion of sorts!  But I have lots of work and some PR's to set between now and then.....

The day before "DAY 1" I decided to finally give my trail Vibrams a spin. They are very comfortable, fit well, didn't shift at all on my feet and gave me good protection. Although it was a very easy trail without a lot of rocks,  there were a few that I stepped on that would have really hurt in my other Vibrams.  It's a nice trail around a lake at a local park.

You can't see the storm clouds behind me but there was thunder in the distance. 

Day one of marathon training started like any other day, except for me having that knowledge, that I'm now embarking on taking on the beast of 26.2 miles again.

At least it started with a beautiful sun rise.

I've done track work, hill repeats, tempo runs and strength training.  Nothing too earth shattering this week. Lots of fog. Holy cow, every morning is like something out of a Stephen King novel.  The fog is so thick.

I'm grateful for such wide shoulders and
lots of bright neon clothes to keep me visible

The local high school track. It was kind of cool and eery  

Last weekend I didn't do a long run. I did the first Hat Trick training run. The Hat Trick is the race I'm running in October. It's a 5k then a 10k on Saturday morning and then a half marathon on Sunday morning.  I waited a little too long last Saturday morning to get out there but I ran 3 miles, set a time for an hour, went home, changed into dry clothes, fueled and went back out for 4 more miles.  It was a bit too warm and sunny for the first three and black as night for the next 4. I thought for sure I was going get soaked but it never rained.

The sky for the second training run

My long run, this weekend, was 12 miles out and back from my town into PA.  The roads go from a very wide shoulder, to a narrow shoulder, to no should at all. Once I hit PA I went about a half mile and decided I was tired of trying to make sure cars didn't kill me.  I turned around and headed back to NY and real shoulders.

Susquehanna River in PA

This is out my door and down my hill. I hate this hill I have to go right back up. It has always slowed me down to just about a walk. I have avoided running from home for quite a few weeks now.  My warm up before my strength training was suppose to be an easy mile. Well I woke up grumpy and not wanting to do the workout, so a run is the best place for me to work through that. I was determined not to let this hill get the best of me this time. I was pretty pleased with the results. 

Now that I can do push-ups off my knees, I'm obsessed with doing them. 

My workout yesterday morning was a 4 mile tempo run. I'm really excited about how well this went. 

I have another 5k on Sunday.  It's a big one for me because it was my first race ever, after graduating from C25K.  This workout helped me to visualize the goal time that D.S. set before me and using his tips and suggestions from previous races, I really believe I'll be able to nail the goal time.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Who Is This Person

The RRCA Woman’s Distance Festival and Kid’s Run is a yearly run at Otsiningo Park to help raise money for Mom's House.  On July 16, I ran this 5k.  If you know me, or you’re a part of my on-line running group, you already know the end of the story, so I’ll jump to the punch line.  I ran this race in 25:58. Last year I ran it in 32:11. 

I couldn’t have done this without a whole lot of painful work the last 6 weeks, without my husband's sacrifice of time with me, my sacrifice of time with family and the hard work of Drill Sargent putting together a personalized plan for me to follow.  

I'm still in shock at how well this race went for me, especially since it was an evening race, the sun was actually out (we've had a very cool and cloudy summer) and the temps were in the low 80's.  

I spent the day trying to stay off my legs as much as I could. I made sure I drank lots of water, ate very carefully and in general tried not to think about the race, yeah right.  

About an hour before we were going to leave, I almost had a panic attack. I couldn't get air in, my lungs just refused to expand for me. I was taking tiny breaths and freaking out.  This was not a normal 5k for me. This was my first one with a very specific goal, one I really wanted to meet.  My training plan had a goal of 27:30.  D.S. told me he knew I could hold a pace of 8:30, which would give me a 26:21 finish time. I really wanted to hit around that time but would be thrilled with any time between those two.  Those that really know me, know how competitive I am with myself. I always want to beat me, improve me and see just how far I can go. 

Part of me getting ready was studying what my splits should be. I am terrible at pacing myself.  D.S. says I'll get it eventually, I hope so or I'll need to buy more sharpies. I decided, for me, knowing my quarter mile splits is the best way for me to control my speed.  I got out my sharpie and started decorating my arm and hand.  

some of my splits
By the time we got to the park I was a bundle of nerves and when I get nervous I have a hard time breathing but at least it wasn't as bad as earlier. I kept trying to take deep calming breaths and finally gave up when I was making myself dizzy.  So I busied myself trying to direct Hubs to drive faster, where to park, "Wait, let me off here...or not", "Don't park here." and "Ok, I'm going to go register. Never mind, I'll wait for you. Hurry up!!"  Yes, I tend to become very bossy when I'm nervous and when I have a list of things to accomplish.

After I registered I looked around for my friend Joanne and her family. When I didn't see them, I decided to start my warm up.  I have never warmed up before at a race. I've practiced this warm up at my track workouts but this would be the first time at a race. I'm ashamed to say that I used to mentally mock those running around doing high knees and running before a race. It looked like they were using up all their energy.  I found out that day, I needed to burn off some of that energy!! So I did my leg exercises and then went for a slow run. I ran about a mile with some pickups mixed in.  It felt good to be moving and using some of that energy.  

Warmup exercises

After my warm up, hubs and I took some time to chat with my friend and her family and to pose for some more selfies.

My hubby in his Runner's World Sub Club shirt

Normally I wear my Sub Club shirt but
I bought this shirt specifically for this race

As were walking to the start line, I got a text from D.S. "When it comes down to it, do the hard thing! Most aren't willing. Be the one who is!!!"  I knew that this 5k was going to hurt. I was ready for it, afraid of it but willing to endure it, if all went well.   I positioned myself on the outer edge of the group, like I always do, so I can get one last good luck kiss, and hubby can get a picture of me as I cross the start line.  The difference this time though was I didn't hide in the middle to back of the pack. I put myself up near the front. I had a couple minutes to listen to the other women talk about how fast they were planning. I heard a 7 something and knew I didn't want to follow too close to her, that would wipe me out.  The women next to me was pacing a young girl for 8 minute miles. I knew I wanted to keep her in my sight but not too close! Part of me started to wonder if I should move farther back. I felt like an imposter up there. I was not one of these runners. I was standing next to women I'm in awe of, women who have always seemed up on a pedestal of local greatness and speed.

Thankfully the guy started to talk to us about the course and it distracted me.  Again, another race with no Star Spangled Banner. It's the third race this year that I've run without it.  Maybe they don't sing it before the smaller races. 

"GO!" and off we went. I was no longer nervous, just really excited.  

About .10 I look down at my garmin. Oh dang it, 6:50.  Whoa, apply the brakes. I CANNOT go out that fast. It was hard to slow down because the beginning of the course is down hill (it's an out and back so the end of the course is a slight up hill!) I checked my quarter mile split. Dang, still way too fast. So much for that. That threw off all the times written on my arm! From that point on, I was about 30-45 seconds faster than what my splits were supposed to be. I switched my garmin over to the pace screen and mostly kept it there.  I wasn't even to the half mile mark and my mouth was completely dry. My lips felt like the desert and I didn't have an ounce of spit to wet them with. 

Around the mile mark they have water. Oh man, I desperately wanted to get water. I knew 2 things; one: if I got water, I'd probably choke on it because my throat was so dry and raw and two: there was no way I was giving up those few seconds it would take. I wanted every single second to count towards my PR.  

Before the half way mark, the leaders were passing us on their trek back.  I was really excited to see them there because last year I wasn't even to the one mile mark when they were coming back and it was really discouraging to me.  I got a lot father this year and it helped give me an extra kick in my speed.  D.S. said that I was to pick someone ahead of me and to pick them off.  That really helped to keep my mind occupied and it was pretty fun to be passing other runners. 

The turn-around always makes me nervous (I've done other races in this park). The trail is only 12 feet wide and we have to turn around a cone to go back the way we came.  I slow way down because I'm terrified of my ankle turning on me.  I'm always relieved when I've gone through that part. Now to get this thing done! 

I'd love to say I ran the rest of it as strong as the first half but I didn't. I slowed down some.  About 2.5 I was pretty sure I never, ever wanted to run again.  I think I even was trying to figure out how I could just stop running right then and walk the rest of the way without anyone knowing.  I couldn't breath, my sports bra felt like it was suffocating me. I tried breathing with my steps but that just made me mad for some reason. Every ounce of my body hurt right then and I wanted to cry. But I kept moving. I didn't walk. I didn't give in. 

I was neck in neck with a woman I needed/wanted to pass.  As we approached mile 2.75, I saw my hubby and heard my friend cheering me and her girls on.  I passed the woman as we went into the last down hill.  We rounded a curve and started the last incline to mile 3. This is where she passed me. That made me pick it back up. Knees high, shoulders back, chest out. I needed to move.  

I crossed the marker for mile 3 and when I looked ahead at the clock all I could see what 25:4__ something. I had no idea if it was :40 or :49 but there was no way I was going to watch that clock turn to 26.  I could hear the guy at the finish line yelling at us to hurry up, we could beat 26 minutes.  I really kicked it in and the woman just in front of me did too. I don't think I breathed in a single breath through that tenth of a mile. All I could see was the back of that woman, just feet in front of me and the finish line. We both crossed it, laughing and cheering. She turned around and we gave each other a high-five. 

I love this sport. I love the people involved. 

Post Race. I was flying high. 


Who is this person that just did that?? I'm still getting to know her. I'm still learning what drives her. I'm just starting to see how far she can go. Thanks for joining me on this journey.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Week in Review and Runniversary

This past week has been a full week of training. I'm exhausted but mostly happy with how the week went.

I did the first strength workout that Drill Sergeant has designed for me. He's been letting me use my own favorite workouts but this week he replaced one of mine with one he designed for me.  I really liked it.  It gave me a chance to see that I was a little stronger than I thought. The workout had a few sets and push ups are part of each set. I've never been able to do them but I've been working on them in my other workouts.  I always do them on my knees but Tuesday I decided to try at least a few off my knees. I did 3-4 of each set that way, till I hit the last set.  I was able to do ALL 10 off my knees. I didn't do them fast but I did them.  That was probably the high point of my training week.  

I also had my second timed mile last week.  It was rough. My leg cramped on me, I couldn't get my breathing under control, my splits weren't want I wanted them to be and I just felt like I was running through mud. I wanted to just give it up, tell Drill Sergeant that I need to do it a different day, a different week. I wanted to just skip the rest of the workout. But I kept running. I had to break each lap down into 100m just to keep moving. I wanted a 7:30 mile. I could taste it. I could feel it searing my lungs as I ran.  I missed it by 25 seconds. There may have even been some tears! I went out too fast in the first lap and I wasn't able to make up for it. D.S. says I'll learn to pace myself. I feel like I never will get it. I'm always too fast when I start out and I know it's going to really mess up my upcoming races if I don't get it under control. 

Last week D.S. also added in pull-up/chin-ups. They could be really discouraging if I let them. They kicked my butt. However, that's why I'm doing them because my upper body strength is really lacking. After the workout I'm supposed to do a hang and time it. It's an indication of my grip strength. I only did three of those workouts this week but I went from 44.25 seconds to 1:10 hanging.  The 1:10 was brutal. I felt like my arms were going to rip out of their sockets and my hands cramped up. I thought for sure that my hands would stay in the grip position forever but I was determined to break a minute and once I did, I needed to see how much longer I could hold it.  

I had my first hill repeat workout last week. I knew they would be challenging. What I didn't expect was how much I was going to love them.  I picked a hill that is .10 of a mile, it's only about 50 feet of elevation gain but it made my lungs burn. I'm grateful that D.S. encouraged me to try running without my heart rate monitor because it felt like my heart was going to explode and I might have stopped if the numbers were too high. Then right after they were done, I was supposed to get into race pace as fast as I could. I ran back three miles to where I'd parked and the 1st mile was really hard because a lot of that was uphill still. By the time I got to my car, I'd run the three miles with negative splits and was pretty exhausted.  I sent D.S. a text telling him he was fired and I was getting a coach that didn't believe in hill repeats!! In reality, I was hurting but I was reveling in the pain, knowing it was taking me closer to my goals. 

My starter hill.
There is another one I'm dying to run
but I can't even walk that one without it killing me. 

My long run this week was a train wreck for me emotionally.  The actual run part wasn't horrible. I kept a good pace for 5 miles. But I cut my run short due to the heat and that I got sick in mile 5, twice.  In my previous running life I would have called my husband to come get me.  This time, in tears, I walked the 3 mile back to my car, even after his offer to come pick me up.  I just needed that alone time to process some stuff, to go over my run and to just sulk.  

The emotional aspects of my long run was because my husband and I were talking about the anniversary of when I started running again, which is tomorrow, July 15th. That day is seared in my memory. It was a day I took some control of my life back.  You can read about it here: Running From Myself

I still feel like I did then. There's a different determination to my running. I'm still trying to figure out just what I can do, how fast I can go, how far I can go.  That's the story behind my newest tattoo. I just don't know what my boundaries are but I'm willing to keep pushing on that line and see how far I can go.  

Thursday will be my first 5k of the year. I ran this one last year in August. They've moved it up a month because of upcoming construction in the park that it's run in.  Last year I ran it in 32:11, that was a 5k PR for me. I have a very specific goal this year but I've become a bit superstitious about sharing my goals before a race. I'm more than willing to share it after the fact, whether I achieve it or not.  I believe in the training I've been getting, I believe when D.S. says I can do this, I believe in the encouragement and support of my husband, who has seen my running transition over the years.    I'm really looking forward to being able to post a new PR on Thursday night.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Week in Review and Another Marathon

This has been a good week. A week of hard workouts. A week of some good decisions.

Drill Sargeant decided to keep me on his team and I decided to keep him as my coach. I can't believe it's really been four weeks of our trial period together. I like the workouts he's scheduled for me. They are not workouts I'd do on my own or a schedule I'd have the discipline to follow. And there is the accountability that I need to make sure I actually do the workouts.

Yesterday was my long run. 10 miles and I was able to sustain an average 9:30 pace.
As I was running, I was falling behind the pace I wanted to keep, and in my minds eye, I could see Drill Sergeant yelling at me to "Suck it up Buttercup" and telling me not to quit. I'm sure if he'd been there, it would have been something like that. It was just what I needed at the time. It's also why I've decided his blog name is Drill Sergeant.

This is how I view my running coach when I'm struggling in a workout.  

Some of the miles were hard because I was running in town sucking in the greasy smells of KFC, McDonalds and Burger King.  I do prefer to run near home, in the country. Today I ran in Binghamton because I wanted the last three miles to be of the 5k I'm running in 11 days.  I've run a million times in Otsiningo Park but I wanted to have a refresher and to see what my legs would do when they were tired.

Most of the miles were a blur. I was running one quarter mile at a time just trying to keep my splits close. The last mile I really, really wanted to walk. I hate walking. It physically hurts me so much more than running does and for me, it feels like quitting. I ran that last mile just out of pure pride. Not sure if it's always a wise decision but for me it's the right decision. Don't get me wrong, I've had many runs with lots of walking. I just don't like to do it.

Another important decision this week was dropping one of my favorite workouts. I do a LesMills workout that has plyometric jumps. I hurt the back of my knee doing them. It was slightly swollen, hurt when I walked and was tender to the touch. I tend to ignore aches and pains but this one wouldn't let go. I'm extremely grateful that ice and advil helped to settle it down and I've had no further issues with it. We decided that this workout needs to be pulled for now. Drill Sergeant will design my cross training workout for me now. I had originally pushed against that because I love the crosstraining I've been doing but now I'm ready to let go of any control and try it his way!

The rest of my workouts this past week have been good. I had my first experience with Tabata sprints. I really liked them. Running full out for 20 seconds is harder than it sounds but it was fun. I felt like a cheetah. I know I certainly didn't look like one but it was a primal feeling to run as fast as I could.

Registered for my second marathon last night. I'm really excited and a bit freaked out.  I survived Big Sur. I don't want to just survive the Philly marathon. I want to enjoy it and I want to willingly leave it all out there, not have the course take it from me, like Big Sur did.

I have a habit of picking songs that are like theme songs for different things in my life. It's a song that really hits home for something I'm doing or going through. I remember when I was training for Big Sur, Adam Lambert's song, No Boundaries was a huge inspiration for me.  I don't typically run with music. However, when I do my Saturday long runs, I always set up my phone to play music in case I need to drown out my brain for awhile.  The last 3 runs, Rachel Platten's song, Fight Song has come on. This song moves me to tears every single time.

It takes me back over the last couple years, the heartache and stress we went through. It really reminds me of the day, last summer, when I started running again to run off grief, to run off being pissed at the world, to abuse my body in a healthy way for once. I started running again to fight for me, to take my life back, to crawl out of the deep depression I was in. This song just says that to my heart every time I hear it and I've decided that for right now, this is my running inspiration song.

This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I'm alright song
My power's turned on
Starting right now I'll be strong
I'll play my fight song
And I don't really care if nobody else believes
'Cause I've still got a lot of fight left in me

Rachel Platten - Fight Song (Official Video)

Brief Update

Here's a little preview of what's finally coming together, a brief training update, a little chat on our upcoming weekend of 4 rac...