runningonaverage. two working moms. one improbable goal.
***I started this as a recap of 2014. It quickly turned into what I learned about being in a shitty place and how to remain positive when things just don't go your way***
It is a new year. Thank you Jesus. 2014 was a crap-tastic year. Tragic things happened. It was the type of year that makes you realize how lucky are to be alive and to have a healthy family and friends. Less tragic things happened, like a job lay off and day care closing forever. Significantly less important and at the bottom of the list for why 2014 can kiss my ass is running. It was a year of mediocre races, training, and overall health. It made me sad and angry while it was happening, but looking back it I learned a lot about myself and it honestly wasn't as bad as it seemed. Really good things happened too. I ran the Boston Marathon and finished it, which is a dream come true. It was one hell of a day. I trained with Lilly's running club and we had a lot of fun. I placed 1st in my age group quite a few times (I'm not sure how, really, the fast people didn't show up those days). I even finished 1st overall a couple of times (again, the fast people didn't show up). I have several new ways of managing depression that is result of an entire year of running fails. Let's face it, we all go through tough times with running. Here is how I am getting through it...
My Guide on How to Be a Positive Runner (AKA How to climb out of that damn valley you have been in for an entire year):
1. Don't focus on what you used to be.
2. Always remember all factors that contribute to your current condition - illness, injury, work stress, home stress, financial stress, tragedy, your dog crapping all over the floor (ain't nobody got time for that)...
3. It is OK if you aren't performing well always. Remember the factors listed above. Think about how they might be affecting your performance, because they sure as hell are, even if you don't realize it.
4. Keep working hard, even when you fail. Or fall. On your chin. During the marathon you trained for all summer.
5. Trust your training (this is always something we need to think about before a race). I like to think about this even when I'm not racing. If you hire a good coach, your training is valid and it's something to be positive about.
6. Ignore the ever frequent motivational pictures on twitter and facebook. You know - the one's that say things like "no pain, no gain" or "there is no tomorrow, so you have to do it today" or "i run until I collapse" and on and on and on. I have had to repeat to myself over and over and over and over again that I NEED THIS REST DAY. Where are all the "LISTEN TO YOUR BODY" posts. This is a major key in staying positive during rough times - realizing that you need to take small steps and not huge, ignorant steps towards your goal! The over-motivation stimulation from these things can be intense, so intense that it'll have you lacing up and out the door even when you are injured/limping/broken, so beware!
7. Re-focus on what is really important. It's not running. It's your family and friends.
8. Set a reach-able goal. One that is good for the new you, not the 2013 you. I had to hire a coach to help me do this. Best decision ever.
9. Be proud of your accomplishments, even if they are minutes off of what you used to run. Every race I ran this year was MINUTES slower than the previous year. If you let it, your brain will tell you that you are a failure. REMEMBER THE OUTSIDE FACTORS listed above! I'm OK with this now!
10. Most important - patience. It will take time depending on your situation (injury, illness, or general burnout, or whatever). For me, it took 13 months to even feel remotely like my old self. Know that your day will come and you will climb the hell out of the shit-hole you've been in for the past year. It will feel freaking fantastic too.
I am to the point where I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Each of the items listed above got me back to this point. If youa are struggling, stay strong. You've got this!
Next up: Boston 2015. Training and Goals.
So much time has passed that this recap is almost pointless. I find that I am far too busy to write, or too tired, or floating down the river, or whatever. However, Boston was the best race of my life. Not because I ran fast. I didn't. Not because I ran a PR. Far from it. Not because I placed. Haha. It was the best race of my life because I finished, and that wasn't something I was sure I could do. So I need to write about it. Or at least compile my Boston pictures. Because I never want to forget it.
Tiffany and I road tripped together.
We spent the first night in Rhode Island, and I got to visit my sister. We finally made it to Boston on Sunday and went directly to packet pickup. After picking up our packets, we went to the finish line with two of Tiffany's teammates. It was eerie being there, bomb sniffing dogs and a lot of security personnel were everywhere. It was also difficult to even see the finish line.
We checked into our hotel room, which happened to be a completely round building, formerly a storage tank for oil, which is quite fitting being that I have spent half of my career writing plans about that very thing. After that, we met several of Tiffany's teammates for dinner at a great little Italian restaurant.
We wore ridiculous outfits to stay warm. I learned my lesson about being cold and depleting glycogen at Marine Corps. Never again. I'll miss you fuzzy coat. You made a wonderful seat in Hopkinton!
In Hopkinton with Robyn and Tiffany:
I didn't bring a watch. I didn't keep track of my paces or worry about anything but finishing. The course was everything they said it would be. There were moments when I thought I would collapse, but I kept going. This is what a posted on facebook a few days later...it is the best summary of my Boston experience.Things I experienced on the Boston Marathon course:
1. Marriage proposal - I said yes
2. Random stranger said "I love you" and I said it back
3. High-fives from what seemed like 1,000 people (this was so much fun, the kids were my favorite)
4. Dick and Rick Hoyt. Starstruck when that happened.
5. Lots of people with prosthetic limbs and still trucking through, not giving up.
6. A guy on crutches, walking the course.
7. A pregnant woman due in August, running. Faster than me.
8. Kids handing out orange slices, everywhere. I prob ate 5 entire oranges during the run.
9. I had to add this one - A guy doing push-ups in the last mile of the race!
10. Well I might as well keep adding to this... Somewhere within the last 5k I saw a guy with a sign that said "Meb Won" - I asked him if it was true, and he said yes. That was really great to see!
This was my 10th marathon, and my third fastest marathon. I have never had so much fun running a race before. The spectators along the course were absolutely amazing and got me to the finish line! I will be back in 2015.
Somewhere along the course:
One mile to go:
Crossing the finish line:
And my daughter really wanted to know when she would be able to earn her own "shiny unicorn medal"
Lilly, I will go back and REALLY earn a shiny unicorn medal for you next year. I can promise you that. 2014 has been a challenging year for me as a runner. But it's the hard times that make the good times. I finished Boston. Came home with a back injury. Couldn't run for 4 weeks. With about 8 months of physical therapy behind me from my initial back and hip injuries (these exercises are part of my weekly routine), I started over again, this time with a Potomac River Running coach (http://lesserismore.blogspot.com/) and the PR distance training program with a goal of running the Lehigh Valley Marathon sub 3:30... I am determined to get my marathon time back down. I'm far from what I was, but I haven't let go of my dreams just yet!
It's been a long time since I last wrote an update. I'm not even sure what the last one was about. Something about Tiffany and I both being injured, both having to take time off, futures unknown. Well, months have passed. Decisions have been made. And Tiffany and I are both going to be in Boston on April 21.
Of all epic injury comebacks, I can't think of one so stellar as this. Who ruptures an entire part of their foot and comes back a couple months later setting PRs in three distances (not to mention she was already damn speedy before this all happened)? Not many people can do that. That takes a special, strong, and devoted character. One that lets nothing stand in their way. Tiffany has done it. She took four weeks off running, allowed her foot to heal as much as it was going to, and she trained the entire time. She swam, she worked out in the gym, she stayed strong. She came out stronger and faster. Incredible. Anyone looking for injury comeback inspiration, you've come to the right place. I can't wait to see how she does on Monday.
Not as impressive of a comeback, but I'm OK with it. I opted out of surgery and did about 3 months of life changing physical therapy. I had a serious muscle imbalance that I'm still working on. I have glute power I don't even know how to use yet, I hope that helps me out on April 21 on Heartbreak Hill. I'm still on the fence about the hip surgery. It seems to have held up well, but, due to several illnesses (thank you daycare and kindergarten), I haven't been able to run anywhere close to the speed or mileage that I was doing previously. So the hip saga may continue when I am finally able to get some quality running in this summer. We shall see!
What I've Learned.
A lot. I've learned to let go. Let go of not being fast, let go of the obsessive need to run every day, the addiction to racing every weekend. It's been tough. A lot of those things defined me as a runner last year, and I was at an all time runner's high. It was hard to let go of. Very hard. But accepting things that are out of my control...that's my new life.
I spent the first few weeks of training trying to get back into running. Kind of flopping around, carelessly plotting workouts in my head as the weeks went on. My hip began to hurt (this time on the front of my thigh, intense pain). I came down with the flu (respiratory variety) that knocked me out for 3 weeks. THREE WEEKS is an epically long time when it occurs in the middle of training for the biggest race of your life, right after taking time off for an injury.
After that three weeks, I had 9 weeks left. That's it. Basically starting over, with a mere 9 weeks to go. So I found a good training plan that consisted of 8 weeks. Split long runs and such. And it's worked out fairly well. Sometimes bad things bring good things, like hip pain disappearing (for the most part). Three weeks off did me a little bit of good. Modifying my training plan did me a lot of good. Even allowed me to overcome daycare virus #264 of the year, a nasty stomach virus, fairly quickly. Of course, like every else this training session, it ended with yet another training ruining virus that consisted of a rash, cold, and cough. So I missed my last long run. This is very, VERY hard for me to accept. No 20 miler!? How will I ever finish this race?
With only a few days left, I've accepted all of this. My training is what it is, I can do nothing about it now.What really matters is that I I still have two working legs and my health (for the most part). I will still run Boston on April 21. Won't be my best marathon time ever. But what it will be is a symbol of overcoming all that has gone wrong over the past 5 months. If I can finish that race, I can do anything!
Race plan for Monday? I don't have one. What I do have is the idea of what matters to me for Monday.
Showing up and running strong for those who can't is what matters. Remembering the victims and the hundreds of people who were injured is what matters. Remembering that I am truly lucky to have my health and my loved ones is what matters. Running a fast race is not what matters. Running the race for the experience with all of these things on my mind is what I'll be doing Monday.
Looking forward to this once in a lifetime experience, and lucky to be doing it with my best friend - although she will finish at least an hour before me :)
There was a short period of time after college (a year or two) where Tiffany kind of lost touch and didn't really talk. In the spring of 2007, I was scrolling through and old email address that I didn't use anymore and just happened to catch an email she sent me. Tiffany was expecting her first child! Suddenly, I wasn't alone. I wasn't the only 26 year old pregnant person I knew. We were a little bit younger than the rest of the reproductive population of the Washington DC metro area. I am so happy I checked that old, unused email address that day. I went from feeling lost to feeling almost normal, and having fun sharing our first pregnancy and birth stories.
Fast Forward 6 Years.
It's like a blur, what has happened between then and now. Years of running, and years of not. 2012, one a comeback year for me. Started running lots of races with Tiffany again. 2013, my best running year ever, but not without pain. Excruciating pain some days. Pain that made my left leg feel like it couldn't support my body. Limping, giving out at times. After ignoring this sometimes severe, sometimes not existent pain in my hip/back/and groin for around 8 months I finally decided to visit a doctor. For those of you that are runners that have hip, back, or groin pain that goes away and comes back...don't ignore it. Don't live in denial, get it taken care of, and be aware that labral tears can cause all of your problems, as they often go diagnosed for over 2 years. I went to the doctor, picked an orthopedic practice and chose a spine doctor, thinking that my scoliosis was playing a role in my problems. Spine doctor was convinced that my hip was causing all of my pain, and I had a MRI of my left hip and lower back done a week later.
32 and Broken.
A week after that, I found out that I had several problems, the most concerning being a labral tear and degenerative disk disease in my back. I have two bulging disks in my lower back. I had to wait a few days to visit the hip specialist. Those few days were filled with anxiety. I learned all about hips, and all about why I have a labral tear. Google results made me think I had a bone deformity that would require major surgery to repair or hip replacements as a final fix. I was horrified. My goal is to run a marathon under 3 hours someday. I didn't really think of that during that time. I thought of my longevity as a runner. What do I really want out of this short and sweet life? Running a sub 3 hour marathon is great. Running a marathon with my daughters is a million times more important to me. That means I will have to be running strong for another 20 years, at least. My running life flashed before my eyes, and it was a serious wake up call. What, WHAT, what, would I do without running? I obsessed over my potential loss for those few days. Somewhere in there, I received a text from Tiffany saying her foot hurt and she was going to see a doctor too. A day later, a text saying she had ruptured her plantar fascia. What? WHAT! What? How could we both be falling apart? Yet again, I was not alone. Tiffany now, unfortunately has joined me in the quest to heal, recover, and come back. For some reason, Tiffany is my life event soul mate. We have babies at the same time, we run fast at the same time, we get serious injuries at the same time. It's a little weird, but, hell, at least we aren't alone during these times.
I have a labral tear that is likely causing most of my pain and limited range of motion in my hips and general overall weakness. The hip specialist said the bulging disks are causing me some of the pain I have too. More importantly, I am not deformed, or he at least "doesn't think so", because if I was, I would have had hip problems much earlier in my running life. He said that I most likely have a muscle imbalance that is causing my pelvis to tilt, and therefore the hip joint doesn't line up perfectly, and the cartilage tears because of that. PT for at least 4 weeks and then I will consider surgery to repair the tear if I still have pain and discomfort. I can't tell you how much relief I felt when the doctor said I would run again, late into my life, if I fix myself now.
One Last Race.
The doctor did not say that I couldn't run.. He didn't even say I shouldn't run. But he didn't say I could run. All he said was "PT may not like you running". Hell, the spine doctor told me running was good for my failing back. OK. I'll take it.
I hadn't started PT yet. So I decided to do one last race in my hometown, the Woodstock Turkey Trot. It was on my schedule, it popped up on my google calendar, and I couldn't resist. I haven't been running since Marine Corps...so I figured disaster. Just wanted to get out there one last time and feel the burn in the lungs, the burn in the legs, and oh boy, did I ever. I forgot that I grew up in a land of hills, and that I was once a good hill runner. Running for one of the best cross country programs in the state in high school, I learned a lot. I had a good base, I developed toughness. Turkey Trot 2013, I remembered where I came from, I remembered why I am tough, and why I fell in love with running in the first place. It wasn't easy, it was a challenge. The first mile of the race - burn. Straight up hill. Rolling hills. Punishing hills. Then some flat. Then brutal, leg pounding downhill. It was a fantastic way to finish my best running year ever. I finished with my slowest 5k time in forever, but with confidence that I have grown physically and mentally. I have what it takes to heal, recover, and come back strong. I soaked in every lung burning breath of cold air, every leg smashing downhill step, every butt burning climb up the hills. I had faced the potential of not being able to run just the week before. Something I had never considered, never REALLY thought about. It has changed me. I appreciate every single step I take that doesn't come with the pain of brokenness. My injured hips and back felt pretty damn good while I was running yesterday. I will forever treasure this turkey trophy. Silly I know, but it means a hell of a lot to me.
Broken Tiffany and Broken Lisa got together today and enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine. How lucky am I to have a friend who enjoys the same sport as me, who understands the anguish and anxiety of being injured. Who happens to be injured at the exact same time. Some might think we push ourselves too hard. However, I think it is our spirit that pushes us to the brink of injury, and sometimes to injury, and sometimes (stupidly) beyond injury that makes us what we are. Without that, we wouldn't be aiming for marathons under 3 hours, or running the fastest times of our lives in multiple distances. It's good to have someone to talk to, to help avoid second guessing of why we do this to ourselves. I'll have weeks of PT to fix a muscle imbalance that is 18 or 19 years strong. I hope to come back with a less crooked running form and faster times, and to skip surgery to run Boston as fast as possible. Tiffany has at least 3 or 4 weeks without running, just like me. We talked about this blog, and why we even do it. What will we talk about now. We decided that being injured is part of being a runner. There are people that never have injuries. But the majority of us go through hard, broken times every now and then. So we will write about that. We will write about our recoveries, so that people who suffer from similar injuries have something to read, something to learn from, comfort. Here's to all broken people! May we all heal fast and run faster!
Holding back from bursting into tears while climbing the last hill to the Iwo Jima Memorial, each step convinced me I could not take another, but somehow I managed to cross the finish line of the Marine Corps Marathon, finishing the most painful marathon and maybe most painful experience of my life. Counting childbirth. This marathon left me with many unanswered questions about my health, physical and mental.
I woke up feeling a little bit like I had a hangover. Hadn't had a beer in over a week. Dull headache and just blah. I, like any runner, decided to ignore it. I told myself, the hell with the way you feel, you are running a marathon today. Perfect weather, great race.
We arrived at the metro in time to catch the first train to the start of the race. It was fun to be on a train with a bunch of other runners, and I immediately realized I had forgotten my watch. Panic set in. Then I remembered my race plan. I didn't need a watch. There were pace groups to run with. Everything would be fine.
The race started and I caught up to the 3:15 pace group. Maybe a little out of my reach. But not really. I felt great through mile 7. The energy of the crowd and the Marines throughout the course invigorated me. I held myself back, and felt like I had plenty in reserve. I ate a gel at mile 6. Soon after I noticed my quads were cramping.
Cramping. For no clear reason my quads were cramping. I was hydrated, carrying water, drinking water and gatorade along the way. I was paying attention to eating - unlike my last marathon, I consumed gels early on to prevent bonking. My legs began to feel like concrete bricks, like I had hit the wall. I hadn't even run 10 miles yet. Something was majorly off with me.
My pace had slowed. I lost the 3:15 pace group. The blessing of not having my watch became apparent. I kept running, though every thought I had made me want to quit. I was angry at myself, although I knew something was unusual. I was going so slow. So slow.
Toughest part of the race for me. Nearly quit. Ate more gel. Chugged gatorade and water at the water stop. Legs continued to feel heavy and cramps kept coming.
I saw my husband who handed me the nectar of the running gods - beet and orange juice. I took some swigs and handed it back. I noticed that I felt slightly better, but still horrible. I desperately wanted to stop running and just catch the metro and go all the way home. Something told me no. I suppose this was Alien. Alien had to make an appearance.
Blur of crowds cheering for us as we ran by. Much help from the crowds and from Alien. Alien reminded me that I was wearing a Potomac River Running singlet and that I was part of a team. Alien said "you will look like a fool if you walk here" over and over and over and over and over again. Alien said "keep running, you have made it this far feeling this bad, no reason not to finish".
Husband handed me beet juice nectar again. I kept it this time. I needed all the help I could get to finish. I chugged along, still no walking, but very sloooowwww pace. All of the cramping and pain was still present, my feet were going numb, general weirdness all over. The 3:25 pace team passed me. Alien said "to hell with it, you are finishing, your time doesn't matter".
2 miles to go. Utter and complete torture. I caught up to a teammate who had passed me around mile 12. I think I shoved some sort of encouraging words out of my mouth, something like "i'm dying, this is so painful", maybe a "keep it up, almost there", followed by "this is the worst race of my life". Alien and the crowds kept me going through the last mile. The pain/discomfort and general failure of my body that began at mile 7 had intensified with every step. I couldn't take it much longer. Once again Alien was there to remind me of how foolish I would look walking during that last mile. Walking up that last hill. So I ran. Or hobbled. ranbbled. I ranbbled up the last hill. Crossing that finish line was one of the single greatest feelings I have ever had running a race. I finished.
It turns out that I was a scoring member on our PR Team. So my effort wasn't a complete waste. And I am proud of myself for hanging in there. Nothing would have felt better physically than quitting at mile 15. But the mental anguish that I would have felt would have been far worse and much longer lasting than the discomfort I endured during those 19 ghastly miles. Now I don't have the mental anxiety of being a quitter. It's time to figure out the physical part. I bonked in my half marathon around mile 11. There is something off, something wrong, I think that it may be more than just the virus I had last week. Making doctors appointments to figure out what. re-evaluating my training and nutrition (back to the homemade energy gels) that is so I can run strong at Boston in April.
MCM is an amazing marathon. The support of the crowd and the Marines lining the course is more inspirational than I can describe. You. Can't. Quit. Every race means something. This race, one of my worst (not time, but overall horrible feeling miserable) experiences convinced me that I can no longer ignore things that my body is trying to tell me. It could end up being the single greatest race of my life for that reason. You never know.
10. Slow increase in miles.
9. Increased calories with increased miles. Not junk. Nuts & seeds. Avocado.
8. Beer and good times. No need to be serious every hour of the day.
7. B -12, Magnesium, Zinc, and Garlic. Just like beets, these are all magic, along with vitamin D.
6. Nutritarian diet - including GBOMBs (greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, and seeds) as much as possible. I am faced with a world of viruses and bacterial infections every day - children, work, the gym. I felt the pain last year - throwing up my insides one week and choking on pounds of snot the next. Sick every other week. I've learned that including these foods in my daily diet is key. See Dr. Fuhrman's website. He is genius.
5. Sleeping in (I mean not getting up at 5 to run) when I need to. I am 100% worthless without sleep.
4. Right now - running every day. This will change soon when I taper. But I can fit in 5 in one day. There are many days that I don't have time for 10. So 5 today and 5 tomorrow instead of 10 today and off tomorrow is where I am at.
3. Not caring about the details. Life is not perfect. I am not perfect. Letting go of what I don't have time for and focusing on what is important.
2. The ability to change my training schedule to fit in with my daily disasters. As long as I get every workout in, or something like it, all will be fine.
1. A running coach and a training schedule. I have no ability to be so scheduled and organized on my own, or to put much effort into thinking about how in the hell I will ever run a marathon in under 3 hours. Although I do think about this very often, with great fear. I just have no idea how to make it happen.
Some things that work for me to keep me running (literally):
9:00 - bed. effort to talk to husband. sleep.
7:00/7:30 - home. exhaustion. Husband takes over. Dinner is made. Chaos surrounds me, but I'm too tired to care. Beer. Drink beer.
5:00 - frantically pick up one of the kids and drive to the gym. Workout. Bliss.
9:00 - 5:00 - Work. Finally. Coffee. Adults. Calmness. Most of the time. Saving the whales and shit. It's great.
8:30 - Home again. Praise the lord. Frantic lunch packing and gathering of all my shit for work and all of lilly's shit for school. Drag dog out the door and threaten missed chance to pee if it doesn't happen in 2 seconds. Drag dog back inside. Shove kids back in too small car. Drive to the bus stop to save time. Hug the children. Wave to the children as the bus pulls away. Drive frantically to work.
7:30 - Drive to El's daycare. 15 minutes of bliss each direction. Relax, drink smoothie, turn music up to a level that drowns out arguing children. Or shout at other drivers. I'm telling you I live in the land of the most terrible drivers in the universe. Those who can't accelerate, who seem to be out on a sunday morning drive on a friggen Wednesday morning. In the left lane. Those who are so much more important than others that they speed past you and then cut you off to make their turn. Those texting. Those talking on the phone. Those who are drunk. All of these spawn devil words that fly out of my mouth uncontrollably. Setting excellent word choice examples for young children every morning. Yep, that's me.
7:00 - Take over kids. Which means let kids + neighbor's kid run wild in living room with itsy bitsy spider videos playing on repeat while I frantically make a green smoothie, do the dishes, scrape cemented cat shit out of the box, shout at the dog, shout at the kids, sloppily place Lil's hair in some sort of containment device on top of her head, shout at the kids some more, unload the dishwasher, move the laundry from the washing machine to the dryer, shout at the kids some more, and eventually make my way out the door, with the kids, who I shove (not an exaggeration) into the back of my not designed for 3 kids hybrid car, inducing more shouting.
6:30 - Wake up, shower, walk dog.
Days can go like this:
I've learned not rely on living on a planned schedule. This doesn't work. Days are too dynamic for that. Kids get sick. The dog runs out of food. I'm tired. A tropical storm has planted itself over the entire state of Virginia. Almond milk can go bad, who knew (my stomach does now). Heart palpitations - my favorite stress-induced running derailment plan pushed upon myself by my very own body. I think my heart thinks its funny to skip beats at mile 14 of a 20 mile run. Kind of like a lets test the stupidity of this human I''m living in. Will she keep running? Yep. You betcha. OR - lets skip beats and then beat frantically while she tries to sleep. Wake up Lisa, Wake Up! It's your heart here, trying to make sure you don't get any sleep! Here to remind you that you drank 3 cups of coffee today and a glass of wine! Who needs sleep anyway? Not someone who has to run 22 miles the next day!
Day 86 (I think).I'm drinking a refreshing IPA right now. Celebrating. Finishing a draft deliverable on time is always reason to celebrate. I am damn proud of this one too. Good teamwork all around. Good results. Good product. All before 5. Before 5! You see - first I am a mom. Second - I am a wife. Third - I am an employee. Fourth - I am a runner. The balance is very delicate. There is not time for me to keep a clean house. I don't care. There is not time for me to not have chaos in my daily schedule. I don't care. What I have learned over the past 86ish days is to let it go. A clean and organized house will not happen (shut up to those of you who know I have always been a chaotic mess). A clean car, HA HA! HA! Clean and organized kids - not so much. Laundry put away? Kind of.
There are many other variations. Like getting up at 5 to squeeze 22 miles in before work. Thank you neighbor for switching child duty days with me! Or getting up at 5 to squeeze quiet peaceful easy miles in with my very own glow in the dark wolf before my child duty deadline of 7. Sometimes I do a lunch run. Running in the sunshine is refreshing. I like to reserve weekends for either racing or relaxing. Long runs during the week are key to my balance. The real key to preventing straight up hysteria in my life has been the development of the skill of going with the flow. Shit happens every day that screws up my great plan to get all of my daily activities done. I forget my sports bra. I bring one shoe. Not two. Unbelievable hunger strikes at mile 3 of my 5 mile run. Like throw yourself to the ground now before it happens involuntarily. Heart palpitations strike conveniently at mile 8 of a 10 mile run. Husband gets stuck at work. Dog craps on the steps. Cats throw up on the carpet. Kindergartners and 60 lb wolf create glorious disaster of couch cushions, toys, shredded paper, and blankets in the living room.
So how does it work? HOW in the hell does it work? I'm not sure. But there are a few things that must happen every day. Every. Single. Day. I must hug, kiss, and tell both of my children how much I love them. I must do the same for my husband. If a day has passed, and I have not done these things, I have failed.
11. Planned dinners and grocery lists. Also on a tight budget here.
Making it Work.
I can't plan each day, but I do know one thing. Celebration of minor daily details is necessary. For now, I'll enjoy my IPA and the glory that is submitting a deliverable at work. Because before I am a runner - I am an Environmental Scientist (yes, there are days that I have to remind myself). Balance.
Did I mention Harris Teeter online grocery orders? Worth every cent of the $5 fee.
So here it is everyone - do what is right for you. If you train in a way that other people would view as dangerous or stupid, but enjoy yourself and feel good, keep on going. Most would say a run streak is a bad idea. Most would say frequent races are a bad idea. I say No. listen to your body, listen to your mind, and do what is right for you so that you will be the best you can be! If you enjoy racing frequently, if run streaking makes you feel accomplished and determined, do it, just be aware of your body and how you are feeling. Keep up the good work everyone, racing season is here - Enjoy!
I didn't expect much today. Sat - Thursday I had run 62 miles. For me, this is an intense amount of mileage. More than I have ever done in such a short amount of time. I've run 77 days in a row, no break. I should be slow. I should be tired. But here is what happened. I went out too fast. I know the course too well. Fast first mile, tough mile 2, really tough mile 3 and 4. So hilly. Kind of like Columbia. Easy mile 5. Tired mile 6. And that is pretty much how I ran it. Fast, fast, fast, sloooooow, moderate, moderate, and bust ass pace for the last .2. I ran my second fastest 10k time, 41:25. Won my age group. Good. Happy. Thrilled. After all, I should be broken, crippled and exhausted. I should have hated every step. But I didn't. Good day. Could I have run faster? Yes. I could have trained for this race specifically. I could have tapered. I could have not done 2 consecutive races over the last 2 weekends. I could have not run 62 miles in 6 days. But that won't make me better. That won't make me stronger. Racing frequently is part of my training and I love it.
Today I ran the Perfect 10. Perfect 10k.
Let me just say running a race in Columbia, Maryland is tough. There are hills, everywhere, down hill, up hill, down hill, up a longer hill. Legs do not get a break. After 6 brutal miles of up and down, down and up, mile 7 and 8 were up what felt like a mountain. For a moment I truly hated running. I hated every step. But then I saw Tiffany, handed her the baton and, with an immense amount of maturity, told her I hated racing in Columbia. I took a 5 minute break and then finished the 26.2k course. Those last 8 miles were the most pleasant racing (although I wasn't racing anymore) miles I have had in recent memory. I talked to people. I enjoyed the scenery. I read the back of people's shirts - "In memory of dad, every step is for you". I chatted with a guy who is also doing Marine Corps. I was told by a guy that he had been chasing my bright pink skirt for 2 miles. I told him to keep pushing and catch the guy in front of us. A lady passed me soon after that and I tried to motivate her to catch the guy in front of us. She pushed on, and I enjoyed. I was passed by several of Tiffany's friends, all very nice people. Overall, it was a great experience, and we finished 2nd out of the ladies teams - not bad considering Tiff is recovering from a very fast marathon and I had run a half marathon the week before.
Last week Tiffany and I did the Metric Marathon Relay.
I am slowly increasing my miles. Up to 54 total this week. 54 is the most that I can ever remember doing in a week. This week I increased the volume, but left all of the intense workouts behind. I lifted weights and did core workouts. After 10 straight weeks of doing intense speed and tempo workouts and racing 2 to 3 times a week, and marathon paced long runs, I enjoyed this week of relaxing. Of running without a watch, without music. I was able to notice things, like how my dog runs in front of me for the first mile or so and then by my side, the beauty of the city I live in, the trees, the golf course, the dim light of the early morning.
I do not. There was a period of time over the last 10 days where I had done 62 miles in 6 days. And 48 miles in 4 days. My legs should be completely dead, heavy, tired. They are not. I'm waiting for the injury to come. There has to be.
77? I haven't skipped a day of running for 77 days? Shouldn't I be broken, crippled, injured, and very unhappy? Shouldn't I despise every step I take?No.
There are none. The hamstring problems are gone. The lower back/hip problems have diminished. My legs like running. My mental health is improving. My brain needs running. I need it every day, like some people need pills to keep them sane. I need running. I need the routine, the fresh air, the challenge, the release of stress.
I finally am sitting down to write my marathon recap. Over 2 weeks ago I ran the Lehigh marathon. To some it might have just been a race or a way to get a BQ, but for me it was about making a dream come true! What’s life without dreams, passion, and pain?! It was my come back to marathons after a 7 year break! I not only wanted to get my BQ (sub 20 min BQ to enable day 1 sign-up) but wanted to set a PR too! I was excited and anxious going into the race. I had put in the training this summer with lots of miles, MP runs, and speed workouts. I did have a small 2 week set back dealing with a posterior tibia tendonitis issue that thankfully resolved quickly with no running and doing cross training (mainly core exercises & riding my bike on the trainer) which all in all, just made me stronger. I missed 2 long runs, but was able to jump back into high mileage quickly. Most of my long runs had been right at 8 minute pace accept for a few where I did some miles at MP. My MP training was ~7:25. My initial goal was to shoot for a 3:15 marathon. The last few days leading up to the race I ran an 8 miler with 3 miles at MP which ended up being faster (7:15ish pace) than I was training at. This is when I realized I can really do this! I felt so comfortable running that pace. I decided to change my race day game plan and go into it being open minded about pace. I would listen to my body and run a faster pace if I felt good.
Day Before Race-
Packed up the family and drove up to Allentown, PA which is about a 3 hour drive. We went straight to the Lehigh Marathon packet pick-up to get my race stuff, checked into the hotel where my organized OCD side showed itself as I set all my racing gear out for race morning (shorts, singlet, race belt, gu’s , bib, socks, racing flats…) What can I say, I liked to be ready. Less stress race morning! Then my family and I went out to dinner at a local Italian place. This day felt like the longest day of my life. I was starting to get so anxious for the marathon the next day. I was ready to get it done!
I finally fell asleep at 10pm, but then tossed and turned all night long. My nerves were getting the best of me and all the fluids I drank to hydrate were causing me to get up multiple times to use the bathroom!
I woke up at 5am and started to get myself together. I attempted to eat breakfast but all I could stomach was ¼ of a bagel and half a banana, which I practically gagged trying to get down. I felt so nervous about this marathon ahead of me. I was afraid of disappointment. I had made up my mind I wanted to race well. I’m obsessed with checking the weather for am temps, but decided against it. I told myself why bother checking how warm it’s going to be for the race. The temperature is out of my control and I just need to focus on my running and getting to the finish line.
We loaded up the 2 sleeping kids into the car and my husband drove to the start of the race at Lehigh Hospital. He dropped me off and wished me good luck and drove back to the hotel to let the kids sleep longer (they never went back to sleep). I then went to find my fellow HCS runner friends at the planned meeting site (Hospital Emergency Room sign). I ate one of my Espresso Love GU’s while waiting to find friends. I wanted to go into the race with good glycogen stores especially after not eating much for breakfast. I spotted my marathon sister, Robyn, who helped calm my nerves. We chatted, made our potty stop, and then headed over to the starting line, where we found our other running friend Dennis. We all hugged and wished each other a good race! It was a fairly warm morning 64 degrees.
7 am and the marathon start was under way. 2,500 runners beginning their 26.2 mile running journey. My adrenaline was pumping and I was very excited to finally be racing. I probably started out a little too fast with the first few miles at sub 7 pace. After mile 3 I pulled back the pace a little to a 7:06 which felt very comfortable. I was starting to get into a nice rhythm. My breathing was easy and my body felt very relaxed. This was the pace I was going to stick with and maintain as long as I could. I took my 2nd GU at mile 6. I figured I might as well start fueling early to avoid bonking near the end. The first 7 miles were amazing running through neighborhoods, on paths over covered bridges and along the water. The scenery was beautiful.
At mile 7 runners were taken onto a gravel path
along the Lehigh river which we would run on until about mile 24. Once on the
path, runners were pretty nicely spaced out yet close enough to pace off. I felt good during these miles almost like I was on auto cruise. I continued to take GU’s
every 6 miles and drink water at each water stop about every 2 miles. I was
mainly surrounded by male runners who I tried to work off of. I saw my little
cheer squad (my husband, son, & daughter) several times during these miles. My Junior Striders XC coach who was there supporting friends cheered
for me too! They yelled words of encouragement and I waved back and
smiled! I appreciated them being there to give me mental support!
I maintained my 7:06 pace until about mile 18. Then I started to slow down a bit but I was still feeling good and happy that I was on pace for sub 3:15, maybe even sub 3:10 if I could get back to my original pace.
Mile 22 (The Wall)-
Then mile 22 came along. Runners had to make a turn on the trail up a gravel hill. Well for some reason that threw me off. I don’t know if it was the hill or just reaching 22 miles but my body and legs felt so tired! I became mentally weak for a few minutes. I was thinking to myself, “I’m so tired! I have 4 plus more miles to go! 30 more minutes of discomfort! It’s getting warm! I’m so hot! This gravel is really hurting my feet! I think I have a huge blister on the bottom of my left foot! Why am I running?!" I stopped to walk for a minute or so through the water stop, pouring water over my head to cool off. I refueled with another GU and drank a cup of water and a cup of Gatorade. Then I internally started yelling at myself. “Damn it!” Don’t give up! Don’t stop now! You just ran an incredible 22 miles and there are only 4 miles left! Stay strong and finish this race! Your PR and BQ by 20 minutes is right there! Your family is waiting for you at the finish line! Your family & friends are waiting back home to see how you did! You just spent the last 3 months training for this race! All those long runs you did! Think of all the runners out there who are injured and can’t run! Running is a gift! Don’t let it go to waste! Its 4.2 miles! Just 30 more minutes of discomfort! Today is going to be the best race of your life!” I started getting my cramped, heavy, brick legs to start moving again until I got back to about a 7:16 minute pace. Yes those 4.2 miles were some of the toughest miles of my life, but damn it if I was not going to give it all my heart and soul. I forgot how mentally tough marathons were until that point!
The final mile 25-26.2-
Finally I came off the gravel path at mile 25 and onto the road where I could see the finish line about a mile away. The pain and my aching body and cement legs were really setting in! I kept pushing and moving forward! “1 more mile! 1 more mile! It’s like a warm up before a race! A mile is nothing!” I kept telling myself. Well, that mile felt like the longest mile of my life! Seeing my family as I crossed the bridge heading into the finish was the last push I needed! “I’m almost there! I got this!” I thought to myself.
I was overjoyed to see the finish line a few meters in front of me. I reached and crossed the finish line in 3 hours 10 minutes and 31 seconds! I can’t tell you how good it felt to be done! “I did it! I freaking did it!!! 26.2 miles in 3:10:31! Holy crap!” I was so happy and proud of myself! A few tears did trickle down my cheeks. I stiffly walked around looking for my family who came running up to me, to give me a hug! I felt amazing! This was not only my best marathon time by 14 minutes but truly the best race of my life! I worked hard for it! I will never forget this race or day or the special people (my family & friends) who truly believed in me and cheered for me every step of the way! A special shout out to my husband who drove all around the course with the kids to cheer for me, my best friend Lisa, Mick, my coach Bobby, and running girlfriends Jess & Emily who encouraged and believed in me the most! I love these people! They are the best! I couldn’t have done it without them. They helped to make me both physically and mentally strong! I was so excited to tell them how I did because I knew they would be so happy for me! I know I’ll never make it to the Olympics or be a world class runner! I’m just a busy, working mom of two young kids, in my 30’s, who is passionate about running, reaching my peak years of running, wanting to see how fast I can run. To me, that marathon and that time felt like winning an Olympic gold medal! Everyone has a dream, a passion in life, and I made mine come true!
Now looking forward to Boston 2014 with some of my favorite running ladies! Sub 3:10 will be my next goal! One step at a time! Making it happen! Life is short! The time is now!
Keep running! Keep dreaming! :)
I have run every day for 63 days in a row. Run streak is going well. It works for me. My body craves routine. Day 62 of run streak, Saturday 14 September 2013, was one of the best in my running life. On Wednesday I saw the weather forecast for the weekend. 50s for Saturday morning! Naturally, I decided to sign up for a half marathon. It was the right thing to do. Long run planned for Saturday, at marathon pace, racing makes it easier for me to get miles in. I run to race. I race to run. I race 3 weekends in a row. I am stronger because of it. It keeps my love for running alive.
I hesitate to sign up for races that aren't put on by Potomac River Running or other well know established organizations. This one had a great website, and awesome awards were listed, including a trip to Belize for the "winners". I didn't notice that until Thursday or Friday. And then I got excited. I thought, holy crap, I can win. I can really win. I have not trained for a half, or tapered, but I can do this shit. It is amazing what a trip to paradise will do to motivate me.
I arrived at the race, which was in Chester, Maryland (kent island?). Got my race packet, did my warmup, and noticed that the course was beautiful. I mean, unusually pretty. I love water, so being near the Chesapeake Bay was awesome. Nice wooded trails.
Good music at the start area, well organized packet pickup. I scanned the crowd and immediately picked out a few ladies that would be my competitors for the trip to Belize. I am competitive by nature, part of the reason why I love running so much. Throwing in this trip as an award made it even more fun.
Mile 1 - 6:53
Fast lady takes off. I try hanging with her for a minute, look at my watch, 6:20 pace, and decide that she is either an elite athlete in disguise, or crazy, so I backed off. I wanted to keep it around 7 minute pace for the first 7 miles and then push through the last 6, so I had to pump the brakes, and I am really glad I did.
Miles 2 - 7
Mile 2 - 6:57
Mile 3- 6:57
Mile 4 - 7:06
Mile 5 - 7:01
Mile 6 - 7:15
Mile 7 - 7:25
I had another lady that kept me going for all of these miles. Back and forth, back and forth. She was tall, so I used her as a wind block. I paid attention to turns and tried to always take the shortest distance. There were a lot of turns! I went the wrong way, which probably added 45 seconds to my time at least. Not to mention the mental problems it caused. I thought I would never even see woman in first place again. There were lots of trails, and part of it was on a beach, which was beautiful, but so, so painful. I wanted to collapse. Sand in the shoes, kept going, kept pushing through. Alien was there to greet me when I went the wrong way. I thought, "Holy crap, my chances of catching fast bat out of hell girl are so over. I will never do it". Alien said, "get the f over it Lisa, you added some time to your time. Keep going. No big deal". I hit the sand - I thought, "holy crap, this is going to kill me. My calves! My toes! There is sand in my shoes! I can't run like this!" Alien said "you W U S S Y, these are all ridiculous excuses for failure". I kept going. I thought "damn, there are a lot more trails on this course than I realized, my time is going to suck", Alien said "shut up, keep going, enjoy the scenery". Done. You win Alien. I finally lost other fast girl around mile 7. Bat out of hell girl, no where to be seen. She was crushing me.
Mile 8 - 7:08
Very foggy. Don't remember much here.
Mile 9 - 7:22
Caught glimpse of bat out of hell speedster woman. Thoughts were "holy shit, I can see her again! She is still hauling ass, but I can see her". Then I realized I could see her because we were no longer on curvy, turny, off roady portion of course. Duh. I will never catch her. Dying. Alien made another appearance "you will catch her, enough with the ridiculous negative thoughts. one leg in front of the other. keep going, keep moving".
Mile 10 - 7:10
Bat out of hell speedster woman appeared to be closer. Kept the legs going, kept moving them. Feeling not so great. Feeling tired, feeling really pretty horrible. Legs felt funny. Speedster woman was slowing. I could see it. She grew larger in my slightly blurred vision. I couldn't tell if it was because my contacts were f'ed from sweat and water dumping on my head or if I was actually getting closer.
Alien shouted to me "go bitch go, go, go, go, you are catching her". Me "holy shit, I am, I am!" I had caught bat out of hell speedster woman! But now I had to pass her and stay in front for almost 4 miles! Me " there is no way I can do that" Alien "do it and shut up".
Mile 11 - 7:24
Felt very odd. I knew what was happening. I had felt this before. Bat out of hell speedster woman was still behind me. I could hear her, feel her. And my legs were feeling horrid, like marathon mile 24 horrid. W. T. F. Are you kidding me? This was not happening.
Mile 12 - 7:33
It was happening. I was bonking. I hit the wall. In a half marathon. You have to be kidding me. Is this even possible? I did not eat enough. My legs were cramping. My feet were cramping. Alien had to convince me to take every single step. Every. Single. Step. I had visions of collapsing, just like marathon mile 24. Really, really ridiculous. Thank you alien for keeping me moving through this. Bat out of hell speedster woman was fading too. I didn't hear her anymore. She wasn't there.
Mile 13 - 7:24
It is foggy, but I believe I got some gatorade at the beginning of this mile. Gatorade, nectar of the heavens, necessary for all life on earth, or really just to keep me from collapsing. Alien - "Go, go, go, go, go, you are FIRST female, you are winning, you NEVER win, this is amazing".
I did it. Alien did it. Alien pulled me through again. I was the first female. I won, I won, I won! I don't win, this is not what I do. I'm always mediocre. Not winner. I ran a smart race, this running a smart race thing has really been working for me. Never go out too fast people! Never! This race wasn't all that competitive, so no big deal, but I am happy about the way I ran, and the way I held on when I wanted to collapse. Coach's motto is "train for the pain". He can't be more right about that. There is nothing pleasant about a marathon, and if I want to run under 3 hours, it is going to be blood and guts, intense pain. This half was not something I trained for, prepared for, tapered for. I am thrilled to have run a 4 min PR - 1:34:20, with all the f'ups and curvy trails, I'm happy.
I waited for awards. Race director had informed me that there was no trip to Belize for the female winner. Just the male winner. But he promised something good. So I waited. Overall female winner: $50 towards glasses at an eye doctor on the Eastern shore. I gave it back. I can't, wouldn't use it. Elation of winning a race was almost busted by the crappiness of the award vs the greatness of the award the male winner received. Alien steps in to my mind again, shouting, angered, "this is not fair, this is not fair, throw a hissy fit". I ignored alien this time. I'll keep it at that. It was a good day to get in a solid effort, "train for the pain", and most importantly to enjoy the way I felt when I crossed the finish line.
Running makes me a better person, and I am thankful for that.
**** I do NOT recommend this race to any females. Ladies not treated so well when it came to the awards portion of the race. Too bad, because everything else about this race was pretty well done. Maybe they will eventually get it right, until then, stay away!