Oct 27

Monday Motivation

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Oct 21

Columbus Marathon Recap – not what you think it’ll be

IMG_1431.JPGHad I written this post Sunday evening after my drive back from Columbus, it may have had a different tone. After a couple of days to see the big picture and put things in perspective, I feel better about my race. This post will not be a pity party and will not be filled with a lot of excuses as to why I didn’t hit my goal time of 3:52.

Fact: I simply didn’t run as fast I needed to

Fact: I give it all I had

Those are the facts. Everything else is just gravy. (okay – a lot of gravy)

If you would have told me Friday that I wasn’t going to qualify for Boston, I wouldn’t have believed it for a minute. I was that confident. I believe in my training and really thought I was going to succeed. Confidence is key and a lack of it was not my downfall.

The start – 13.1 miles:

The scheduled start for the marathon was 7:30am. We left our hotel and 5 of us headed for the corrals. One in Corral A, me in B and the others in C. Of course as soon as I got there, I felt the need to use the bathroom one more time. I got in line around 7:00am and stood there until it was my turn…at 7:25! Yep – it took that long. I had lost my friends right after I jumped into line and never saw them before the start again. We were in different corrals anyway, so it wasn’t horrible. I stripped my throw-aways off and actually jumped right into corral A without a hassle, 2 minutes before the start.

I used a custom pace band purchased from FindMyMarathon.com and followed it like the gospel. I had chosen a conservative start with a negative split which would get me to the halfway point with an 8:55 pace. I started slightly fast with and 8:50 for the first mile, but slowed it down to a 9:30 for the second mile and was on track EXACTLY by the time I hit mile 4. The first half of this course was a dream. Wide roads for the most part with a couple of slight rollers. Shortly after the start a friend somehow found me and we ran all the way until the 12 mile mark together. It was nice having him with me and he did a great job of calling out the mile markers and did his best to call out the turns before we got to them. Somewhere around the middle of the first half, I started to notice a big discrepancy between when my watch would click to the next mile and when the actual mile markers hit. The course was “running long” already. Columbus has A LOT of turns, one thing I didn’t particularly like about it. I tried my best to manage the tangents, but between the spectators and the runners, it was hard to see the turns in enough time to react.

This is where the pace band came in really handy. As I hit the actual mile markers and clock, I could check my watch time against the pace band to make sure I was on track. When I hit mile 13, I was 19 seconds faster than I should have been. So, right on track.

Miles 13.1 – 20

I remained exactly on track according to my pace band until around mile 16, where I fell 37 seconds behind pace. No big deal. Miles 16-19, around Ohio State University, including a quick run through the stadium (which I could have done without), completely drained me. The constant gradual uphill without cresting and going down the backside of anything proved deadly for my pace. We would run up hill, level out, go up, level out…etc. Never a swooshing down the other side, never any relief. Going into mile 19, I was1:57 behind where I should have been. I STILL wasn’t panicked. If you look at the elevation below, salvation was waiting for me at mile 19. The next three miles would be downhill. A great place to reignite the excitement, get the feet moving faster and the cadence higher.

elevationSalvation never came.

I kept waiting for the downhill. I checked my watch several times, just be sure I had the miles right. Where the “F” was this hill? Turns out the “downhill” was so imperceptible that it offered absolutely no relief or chance to make up time whatsoever. I continued to grind through this flat terrain, turning and turning through neighborhoods until I felt dizzy. I felt like I was running in circles with no idea which way would finally turn us back to downtown.

The highlight of these miles, for sure was some random kid handing out ice pops at mile 21. Heaven!

I had three goals when I started this race:

  • Qualify for Boston with a time that would actually get me into the race (preferably 2 minutes under 3:55 or better)
  • Just qualify, even if it was a 3:54:59
  • PR, which would mean beating my Pittsburgh time of 3:58

If you’ve ever run a marathon and you get to mile 24 and you KNOW you’re going to reach your goal, but by a marginal amount, it’s really hard to push yourself to get there. When you know you aren’t going to reach goals 1, 2, or 3, it’s freakin hell to push through just to get to the finish with a time you can at least be proud of.

That’s the first positive I take away from this race: I never gave up. I knew somewhere around mile 21 that a qualification wasn’t looking good. Somewhere around mile 23, a PR was a huge stretch too. But I kept pushing anyway. I could have EASILY (believe me) given up and rolled in with a 4:20, but I didn’t. I’ve felt that disappointment of giving up before and it ain’t pretty. I have to thank my friend Stacey for the strength to get me through the end of my race. She sent me something a few days before that really stuck with me. Parts of the picture below became my mantras in those last miles. All I kept saying over and over is “what are you afraid of? Leave NOTHING behind”. And I didn’t.

signPositive number two: I gained a real appreciation for my home course. There’s something to be said for knowing exactly what the course looks and “feels” like. Pittsburgh is hard, no doubt, but I know it. I know where the turns are, I know when I need to push and when to back off or settle in. It’s a comfort level that can’t be duplicated at a foreign course. The hills are the hills, but I train on hills all year. You go up and you swoosh down the other side. Columbus can’t do that!

This was not do or die for me. Positive number three is the fact that this isn’t the end of my story. It was my first real attempt at Boston and just because I didn’t get there this time…I have many opportunities to try again. I’m getting stronger and more consistent with my running. It’s going to get better if I keep working.

At the end of the day, I’m proud of how I ran. It wasn’t a PR and it wasn’t a qualification, but it was another accomplishment that can never be taken away from me. I ran the Columbus Marathon. :)

  • My official finish time was 26.2 miles in 4:02:21 (9:15 pace)
  • My WATCH said 26.58 miles in 4:02:23 (9:07 pace) which translates to a 3:58:51, had the course been 100 percent accurate. I know – just let me have this one. ;)

So what’s next for me?

logo_slider2015 – Let the games begin!

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Oct 05

Marathon No. 5 is Looming

PrintToday I finished my last real long run before I head to Columbus in two weeks for marathon number 5. The meat of training is over, and this is what I know:

1. At this point I’m not going to get any faster r any better.

2. I ran every training run, almost 500 miles, exactly as I was supposed to.

3. Marathon pace still scares me, but I feel more confident that it’s doable.

Yes, my marathon pace still scares me, but from what I hear, it should to a certain degree. I’ve run marathon pace over and over every Saturday, and some Wednesdays so I should feel comfortable with it. But sustaining it for 26.2 miles seems like a whole different ball game, and it is. However, my training plan was designed to get me the end result I desire. To a certain extent I need to take a “leap of faith” (according to coach) that all of the different runs, various paces and distances were enough to get me where I want to be.There were some great confidence building runs since I wrote last. Runs that I can drawn on marathon day for confidence:

Sept 20 – 10 miles slightly faster than marathon pace

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A six mile marathon pace run, that ended up being much faster than marathon pace. The legs just felt good!

IMG_1280.JPGToday’s 14 mile run, completed on VERY tired legs with the last two miles at marathon pace.

IMG_1285.JPGMore than anything, this training season has brought me together with some great runners. Some are running Columbus and some are training for other various fall marathons. Seeing those friendly faces week after week on the North Shore Trail, or at North Park made it easy to get up at 5:30, 6:00 on Saturday and Sunday to go run. Training is dwindling down now and the park was pretty empty this morning. I didn’t see as many familiar faces and it made me sad for this training season to end.

All I was doing a few weeks ago was daydreaming about sleeping in on the weekends and not having to run for hours at a time Saturday and Sunday. I was a little beat down, which is very common in the later weeks of marathon training. Now, that the race is approaching and it will all abruptly end in a few weeks, I find myself already questioning – what will I do after the marathon? I’ve training for 32 weeks out of 41 so far in January. And on those none-training weeks, I was preparing to train. Same routine I followed last year. It’s engrained in my day-to-day life now.

One marathon at a time. :)

While waiting for the marathon to come, I start studying the course. I mean, really studying the course. I’ll post later this week on the things that I think are most critical to concentrate on when you’re traveling to a place you’ve never run before.

Hope you had a great weekend!

Sep 29

Monday Motivation

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Sep 18

Is Marathon Training SUPPOSED to Go Like This?

I was feeling very uninspired to write in the blog today, feeling content to just browse other blogs, Instagram and Daily Mile to see what everyone else was running today. I started to see a slight commonality amongst  a few of them, particularly those who like myself, are training for the Columbus Marathon. I’ve seen “physically, and emotionally tested”, “uninspired” which are in perfect synch with my “feeling drained” Instagram post from this morning.

IMG_1065.PNGI’m in a funk, plain and simple and I want to snap out of it. First, I need to explain my NEW Columbus pace goal and how this all came about. It’s was 8:45 for the first 9-10 weeks of training. I hit my marathon goal pace numerous times. Actually, a few seconds faster. Then the Montour Trail half marathon “happened”, a dark day for this runner. I found myself re-thinking my training and where it has gotten me.

Then, I bounced back, like a good, consistent, optimistic runner.

I had a great week, hitting all my paces and dominating my 20 mile run this past Sunday.

IMG_1028.JPGWell, somewhere between Montour and my epic 20-miler, my coach suggested, gently, that I might want to back off the 8:45 goal marathon pace and consider an 8:50 pace. He’s been listening to my feedback for weeks and wants me to be 95% confident on race day that I can hit my pace, not 65%. Yes, I was hitting the 8:45 pace, but it was an effort. Probably more effort than it should be, I guess.

umm, okay.

Sooo, last week 8:50 it was. I tackled most of my miles last week at an 8:50, even my 8 mile run on Saturday, Running mile after mile at or seconds off the 8:50 mark. Was it easier? Yes, I would say it was. Way it waaay easier? Not really.

IMG_1002.JPGDon’t get me wrong, I want to be 100% confident come race day too. But, honestly, I wanted to be 100% confident at an 8:45. An 8:50 WILL get me a Boston qualifying time, but it leaves very little wiggle room. I NEED to hit that 8:50.

The next thing that happened after the “epic 20-miler” is that I got a cold. Seriously, after 3 years of NO illness, I get a cold. It’s draining me. I missed a freakin run this week! I ran Tuesday, I ran today, but missed Wednesday. Neither run was epic, not even close. I finished them, got the miles in but they weren’t easy. Again, I find myself questioning my readiness.

Why, why, can’t I run consistently? ONe week it’s good, one week it’s bad.

Then I saw other posts (mentioned above) from other runners who were also feeling drained, uninspired and basically blah.

Anyone training for Columbus right now and following a plan is about where I am right now. In a lower mileage week in between two high mileage weeks. Between Tuesday last week and Tuesday this week I ran 50 miles. 50 miles. It’s a grind, it’s exhausting. No matter how worth the work it is, it starts to wear you down emotionally and physically.

I try real hard to think back. Did I have these feelings of doubt, exhaustion and uncertainty during my other marathon training cycles? I have no clue. I have carefully tracked my miles, but the emotions and feeling associated with those miles are not captured. But for some reason I think I did.

Yesterday, I spent 26 plus minutes watching the Columbus marathon course video (link on my facebook page). I studied the course map, the turns (must run tangents!) and I started to get genuinely nervous. Already. But this is what I do. We are 31 days out and Kim is getting antsy already.

For non-runners, yes, I appear to be extremely dramatic. It’s just a race. But for me, this is my first REAL SHOT at a qualifying time. Of course there will be other races. This isn’t do or die. But, man, will it be disappointing to not make it.

Next week will be my week to turn this around and get confident again. I need to get rid of this cold, get plenty of sleep and gear up for next week. I believe I’ll hit another 45-47 miles which includes a 22 mile run. Then the taper.

And, I write all this like I don’t love every minute of it. What would I be doing if I wasn’t struggling through a marathon training season? ;)

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Sep 11

What it Means, EXACTLY, to Run the Mile You’re In

After my disappointing race last weekend, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my running. A LOT of thinking. I was having a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that I need to run a marathon at a certain pace, but I couldn’t even do it for the half the distance last Saturday. Quite honestly, it had me in a bit of a panic. I mean the sick to my stomach, tears in my eyes, hyperventilating kind of panic…

sheldon-breathing-into-bag-gifI felt like I’ve been spinning my wheels for 10 weeks and have gotten nothing out of it. I’ve since come to my senses and know this isn’t true. I’ve made real progress and my training is on track. I just need to refocus my attention on my goal pace and re-build my confidence running it.

I was talking to a good friend of mine who is helping my with my training and he suggested I focus on running the mile I’m in. So I thought okay, I need to focus more. But really, there’s a little more to it than that and he explained it to me. Spoiler alert: this is where your Garmin becomes your best friend.

MileThe idea is to literally, focus on one mile at a time. So, I set up my watch to display Lap Pace. In this case my laps are set to one mile. When I click over to the new mile, the Lap Pace begins tracking my pace FOR THAT MILE ONLY. I still have my current pace and average pace fields, but I don’t pay attention to them anymore. Lap Pace is what I zero in on.

If I’m focusing on running an 8:45 pace per mile, I would watch my lap pace, stalk it actually, for the entire mile. There may be elevation changes, like a hill that drive my lap pace higher than I want it to be. If I know I have a half a mile to go and my current lap pace is 8:58 after the hill for example, I need to really move to hit that 8:45 before the mile is over. Same thing with the downhill. In this case, there may be an opportunity to slow down and save some energy for the following miles.

The reason this “micro-managing” of miles can help is that you only have to focus on one mile at a time rather than managing the entire run. What I’ve done in the past, say for a 10-mile run, is focused on overall pace. If I let the pace get out of control and end up with a 9:03 at mile 7, it’s nearly impossible for me to run fast enough in the last three miles to bring that pace down to an 8:45.

Have you ever heard the expression “watch your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves”? Same concept. Watch your lap paces and the average will take care of itself. I tested this out Tuesday and yesterday morning with fantastic results. It does take some practice knowing how fast or how slow you need to go within certain distance to nail the pace, but I figure practice will only make me better at this.

Wednesday’s run:

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So, if you’re having a hard time pacing your training runs, or execute races poorly, this may be one way of keeping your paces from being all over the place and staying in track. Not only that, but paying this close attention to pace really makes the miles fly by. It’s working well for me and I’m really anxious to try it out this weekend on my 20-miler Sunday!

If you give this a try or use this strategy, let me know how it works for you. :)

Sep 09

Montour Trail 1/2 Marathon Recap – a hard one to swallow

goalsIt’s always easy to sit at the computer and type out a post about how great training’s going and how great a race went. It’s quite another to sit here after one of the worst races I’ve had in years and break it down, relive it. But that’s what makes me an authentic blogger. It can’t all be roses and rainbows.

I’ve been working all summer toward my Columbus Marathon goal of a 3:50 finish. According to that, I should run a half marathon in 1:50. So, I signed up for the Montour Trail half marathon about a month ago thinking that this would be a great “fitness test” to really see how conditioned and ready I am to tackle 26.2 miles at an 8:45 pace. The goal pace this past Saturday was an 8:20. It’s an aggressive goal, but my last half marathon race pace was an 8:24, so it seemed within reach, especially after all the training miles I put in this summer.

The elevation of the course was challenging, especially for someone who struggles a bit with hill running. The weather was also a challenge for me with temps in the 70′s at the start with 85% humidity. It felt like I was running in the rain forest.

I thought if I just made it through the six mile ascent at a fairly decent pace, I could really pick it up on the way back down.

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The first 4 miles up were hard, but the last two were a real grind. They took a lot of out me. I made the turn to head down the hill but couldn’t get my legs moving fast enough to make up the time. At around mile 10, I started to lose interest. I just wanted it to be over.

It took me a few days to admit this to myself, but it wasn’t the slow pace that I’m disappointed with. What I’m disappointed with was how easily I gave up. I walked numerous times and stopped pushing. I have more respect for the person who ran the whole way, pushed hard and finished dead last. It was a difficult realization. It got hard, and I gave up. If I tried the whole way, pushed and ran a crappy time, that would’ve been a different story.

I know I have it in me to push – I did it on May 4th when it got tough. I’ve done it many other times, so the POSITIVE that I am taking away from this race is the fact that I don’t want to be the person who quits…again. When it gets tough I will slow down, regroup and keep pushing, not give up. I’m stronger than that.

Okay – so, moving on. ;)

I also want to mention that the next few weeks of training are tough, high mileage weeks. My job has become increasingly demanding and my family comes before my blog. I will try my best to update, but the stress of having to keep a schedule is just another weight on my shoulders. But the mood may strike at any time, so check back. :)

You can still follow my quick blurbs and running pictures almost daily on:

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Have a great week!

Sep 02

Motivation, 1000 miles and Columbus Marathon Training Wk 10

First off, I want to apologize for not posting a Monday Motivation yesterday. I managed 125 weeks straight and forgot yesterday during the holiday. So, here it is a day late.

me to beat youSecondly, I want to mention that I’ve already hit 1,000 miles for the year. Woo Hoo! Last year, around the beginning of December, I realized I was going to hit 1,000 miles for the year and I was so excited. It was the most I’d ever run in a year. Now, here I am finishing off August with 1,000 miles already. I’m still growing as a runner, getting stronger and working harder to get where I want to be.  I’ve also increased my average marathon training mileage. For the Boston and Lehigh marathons, I ran 388 training miles for each. This year for Pittsburgh I increased my training mileage to 537, and for Columbus, the plan is between 530-540 miles. The point to all this is…..if you stay consistent and put the work and effort in, you WILL get stronger as a runner. It’s taken about 5 years to get here and I’m still improving. I guess that’s what makes it fun.

Last week I can say that all my runs were pretty good.

Tuesday- I moved my speed work to Tuesday last week for some reason. 6×800 – 5 miles total, with warm-up, recovery and cool down

IMG_0711Happt Wednesday – 5 medium pace miles around my house

IMG_0730Thursday – easy miles around the industrial park before work

IMG_0755Saturday – 8 marathon pace miles along the river, downtown, Pittsburgh.

IMG_0780Sunday – 18 extremely wet, rainy, miles. I wasn’t up for this run at all and decided I was going to go as slow as I felt like going. The heck with the pace I was supposed to run. I took it mile by mile, wasn’t concerned with my watch and ended up running right under the 9:45 mark – exactly where I should be. Can you tell how happy I was when I finished (below)?

IMG_0820The beginning of Week 10 started VERY HUMID. Ugh, this morning the air was so thick. But my body has slowly adjusted throughout the summer and I’m much better than I was running in this muck than I was in July. I am modifying my plan slightly this week to accommodate a half marathon on Saturday. So here’s the schedule:

  • Monday – total body strength training
  • Tuesday – 5 mile tempo run, two miles at half marathon pace (8:20)
  • Wednesday – 5 mile tempo run, two miles at half marathon pace (8:20)
  • Thursday – Rest
  • Friday – Rest
  • Sunday – 8 miles easy (9:15-9:45)

That’s all the update I have in me for now. Happy running!

 

Aug 28

How to Stay Motivated (Stop Procrastinating Your Runs)

how_to_stay_motivatedI didn’t write my weekly Columbus Marathon Training recap this week. You know why? I procrastinated. I put it off Tuesday at lunch time until that evening. Then, I figured, well I can post it Wednesday. That didn’t work out. Then, It just kind of became irrelevant. Like most people I tend to procrastinate on the things that either require a lot of physical energy or seem complex and require a lot of thought. Sometimes, the task just seems so overwhelming at the time, that the thought of doing it makes you tired. Do you know the feeling?

As I was procrastinating on my weekly post, it dawned on me that one of the things that I rarely procrastinate on is my running. I never put that off. If I have miles on the calendar, they get done. Thus the birth of this post. I have always been somewhat self-motivated, but on days when the snow and temperatures are falling or when it’s rainy, hot and humid, I even need a little push to get out the door. Here are some of this things that have helped keep me motivated and have prevented me from putting off my runs.

 

1. BUILD A NETWORK OF RUNNING FRIENDS

I can’t tell you how much this helps. I can talk running all day and having friends who like to talk about it gets me in the mood to do it. I’ve learned little tips and tricks to make tough runs easier. I’ve learned new running routes from other people and have been inspired by their efforts and talents. It’s made running so much more fun and actually kind of social. We don’t always run together, but we may meet to start or finish at the same time to talk about our runs. Runners are truly the most positive, upbeat, high energy people I know, the type of people I like to surround myself with.

IMG_07612. SCHEDULE YOUR RUNS AND PROTECT YOUR TIME

I look at my running as something special that I do for myself. I do for my physical and mental health. My weekend calendar revolves around my runs. I protect those hours at all cost and never miss a run unless it’s completely unavoidable. If there’s a long run, I make sure I eat properly the day before and not drink too much or at all the night before. I also try to get enough sleep before long runs. Not doing those things will make it difficult to get up and get moving, so prepare for a long weekend run as you would a race to feel your best. I know this sounds like it makes you a boring person, but it’ll do wonders for your average pace. ;)

IMG_07563. MEET A FRIEND TO RUN

This kind of ties into number 1 but not always. I have lots of friends who run that I don’t actually run with. Finding someone who is focused on the same or similar goal and who runs roughly the same pace as you can be challenging, but so worth the effort to find. When you make plans to meet a friend, you’re instantly accountable to show up. During a run this is helpful as well because you can encourage each other during difficult miles. I can’t tell you how many times words of encouragement have helped me up and over hills.

 4. JOIN AN ONLINE COMMUNITY

This year I was encouraged to join Daily Mile. I’m so happy I did. Not only is this a great place to track your training and runs, but the people are so motivational and upbeat. I don’t have a whole lot of friends or connections, but I’m always shocked at how they try to give me encouragement when I have a rough run and congratulate me when the run is good. It could potentially help you with number 3. You can look for local runners and see if you can find someone who runs about the same pace. People are typically very open to welcoming new runners into their groups. Give it a try – I’ll be your friend. :)

IMG_0757-05. VISIT RUNNING BLOGS

I’m always inspired by people who document and share their running experiences. I don’t have time to read all the blogs I’d like every day, but I try to visit my favorites at least once a week to see what those runners are up to. Reading about other people struggles and not knowing you’re the only one is a great pick me up and reading about their successes motivates me to have more of my own. Plus I like looking at the pictures. Visit my Blogs I Read page for some recommendations.

6. KEEP YOUR GEAR ACCESSIBLE AND READY TO GO

This may sound simple, but if you’re already on the fence about running and having a hard time getting out the door, spending 20 minutes finding your running crap isn’t going to help. On the nights before I run, I always set everything out on the floor next to my bed. When the alarm goes off at 4:45am, the last thing I want to do is go on a scavenger hunt for my stuff. For long runs, I make sure I have my fuel and hydration as well as pre-run meal ready to go.

IMG_07677. KEEP YOUR GOALS IN PLAIN SIGHT

If you’re training for a specific event, this is simple. Right now I’m training for the Columbus Marathon so at work I have the course map and training plan hanging in my cubicle. At home I have my plan in hanging in my closet. These serve as constant reminders of why I’m running all these crazy miles.

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8. RUN EARLY

If it all possible, do your runs early. This has been a life saver for me. After working all day, coming home, making dinner, etc., I’m tired! I always feel freshest first thing in the morning. People always comment that I’m nuts when I tell them how early I get up to run, but honestly, once you start doing it, it kind of becomes a habit. Running early also keeps you from dreading your run all day.

9. IF ALL ELSE FAILS

Go run a mile, if after one mile you still don’t want to continue, maybe it actually isn’t meant to be.But I find that after I get out the door and get moving, I have crossed the biggest hurdle. Good luck!

Question: What tactics do you rely on to keep you motivated?

Aug 25

Monday Motivation

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