Well it seems that my body is fighting me every step of the way with my post season(s) running. I worked hard last winter into the spring, spring through the summer and then into the fall. Lots of miles for sure. After the Indiana Marathon I knew that I had some nagging overuse issues. I don’t want to necessarily call them injuries, because with a little bit of rest I’ll be fine. I tested the waters and it seems that a little more rest is required.
Like most avid runners, taking time off can be challenging. It has been TWO days and just thinking ahead to a week or two of rest seems like a very long time. I was looking forward to enjoying some fun runs with friends who are typically too fast for me to hang with. Since none of us are worried about pace right now, we can run together. I have to be smart though and think long term. I want to be completely healthy and ready to go in January when training for Pittsburgh starts.
I’ve determined that there may be a small, tiny chance that I’m suffering from a running addiction. Life just feels different when you aren’t running regularly or at least planing your next run. Did I mention it’s only been a day? LOL.
Now that I’m not running:
- I go to the gym and can’t really get my bearings. I can lift, and I know it’s doing good, but the cardio thing just doesn’t feel right unless I’m on the treadmill or taking it outside for a few miles. I don’t get the feeling that I worked that hard. Eliptical – hate. Star climber – not sure it’s any better than running on the hamstrings or IT band. Bike – yawn. Hey, I’m just being honest. I would consider swimming, but I don’t have access to a pool. Boo.
- I obsess about every calorie I put in my mouth. In a high mileage week, I could burn 4,000 calories. That’s a lot of food. Abruptly stopping that means altering the diet a little bit to accommodate the decrease in activity. I guess I have to cut my typical 1000 almond a day habit down to 500. Agony. Here’s the thing, now that I feel like I shouldn’t eat those high calorie foods, they seem 100X more appealing to me.
- I feel like I am gaining weight by the hour. We are our own worst critics and I swear I am not as toned as I was a month ago. I know it’s hard to keep that intensity level all year round, but it really does wonders for keeping the pound off the thighs.
I don’t want to make it all sound bad. I COULD see this as an opportunity to do some of the things I’ve been missing.
Hot yoga for example. I think I’ve forgotten everything I learned when I was a regular, but I feel like a good stretch in a 100+ degree room may do me some good. Once I started running Saturday AND Sunday, yoga was something I sacrificed. I have my class all lined up for this Saturday, but I dabbled with a few poses this morning and man, did they feel good.
Cook more. I generally cook more during the fall and winter months anyway, but actually making time to try and post new recipes is something I miss.
I’m not sure how long this will last, but I’m smarter than I was a few years ago and respect the body when it talks to me. I can face the fact that I’ll lose a little fitness. But when I get back to a full schedule it should come back in no time.
Wish me luck to not lose my mind!
Question: Have you ever had to take a significant amount of time off from running? How did you handle it?
My training and racing has officially come to an end for 2014. I can say without a doubt that this has been one of my best years running, and at the same time one of the most heartbreaking. The biggest reason it was so awesome is because of the great network of running friends I’ve built. I didn’t directly train with all of them but, they made training fun and interesting all year through snow, rain, and unbearable heat. I couldn’t have run 1300+ miles without their support and company.
I also had one enormous accomplishment in May when I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon and broke 4 hours. It was a goal, I reached it, and felt like I’d truly turned the corner with my running. I felt like I knew how to dig in when it hurt and pull out the last bit of guts on fumes. I was a mere three minutes away from a Boston Qualifying time and set out this past summer to train for Marathon #5, Columbus, with the intention of getting that BQ.
This is the part where I stand up and confess to the group that I didn’t work as hard as I could have. Gulp.
I don’t want to make it sound like I was a slacker this summer. You follow my blog, you know I don’t miss runs, I hit my paces, I eat right and rest when I need to. But here’s the thing. I let myself off the hook too easily. When the runs got really hard, I backed off.
Example #1: Hot, Hot day, 15 miles into my run with 3 to go. I’ve run 15 already and it’s so hot. I’m so tired. It’s okay to walk a little. I do. I allow myself to do that.
Example #2: Speed work day and I’m pumped. 5 mile repeats. I finish 4 and that one damn near kills me. I don’t do the 5th. Reasoning: I’ve worked hard on the first 4 to the point of near puking, that was good enough.
Example #3: Hill Sprints. OMG, I hated hill sprints this past summer. I avoided them. I probably did two of the 4 scheduled sessions and switched the other 2 to 800 repeats or something. But, it was OKAY cause “I was still getting my speedwork” in even though 800s are WAY easier for me than hill sprints.
Do you see what’s happening here? When the run gets hard, when I get REALLY uncomfortable, I back off. I allow myself to stop. What I didn’t realize is that I was creating a pattern of negative behavior. A behavior that would eventually impact my race in Columbus.
When I raced Pittsburgh, I felt great up until mile 24 when I started to struggle. But all-in-all, getting to mile 24 and THEN having to struggle is way different than having to claw your way through starting at mile 19, which is what happened in Columbus. This is where the story gets painful.
My brain told my body it was okay to back off. I’d worked really hard and I was tired. I gave a BQ a shot and I wasn’t going to get there today, I’ll get another chance. Can you believe it? Of course you can, because I had been doing that all summer. I’d been trained to give in when it got hard.
That last mile repeat I skipped, those hill sprint workouts I avoided, those small walk breaks I allowed myself were the difference between a 4 hour marathon and a 3:53 marathon. Make no mistake. I’m done beating myself up over this. You get out of running what you put into it and I didn’t give it everything I had and the results speak to that. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, I had a wonderful year; I ran 3 marathons, I ran 1300+ miles, I DID break 4 hours (finally), but the truth is, I fell short of my ultimate goal of a Boston Qualification.
I’m fired up for the next training cycle and at the opportunity to break these negative training behaviors. I know where the problems are and how to fix them. They always say that admitting your flaws is the first step to fixing them. Running is a mental sport and my thinking needs to change. I look forward to sharing the tactics I’ll use to break through to the next level while training for the Pittsburgh Marathon (#GameonPGH).
What tactics do you use to push you through those really uncomfortable levels? Do you cut yourself some slack when it gets really hard?
Something to think about. Have a great weekend.
When I finished the Columbus Marathon on October 19th, I thought “that’s it for a while, my body and mind need a break”. Five days went by and I started to get into my head that I wanted to run another, like, right away. I knew the Indiana First Bank Veteran’s Marathon was in a couple weeks. It was close to home, inexpensive and I figured I had nothing to lose, really. I became obsessed with the thought of running it.
I can’t lie by saying that I didn’t daydream about bettering my Columbus time. Who knows, maybe it would be the run of my life, maybe I could BQ, maybe I could PR. Nothing was impossible. I followed pretty much the same running plan that I followed before I ran Columbus. I really had no idea how else to manage it. I didn’t want to do too much (I was already trained up) but I didn’t want to do too little and allow my legs to get tight and my fitness level to drop.
The next challenge was how I was going to pace this race. The elevation was challenging (for me anyway) to say the least. 13.1 miles UP and 13.1 miles down. I had to leave my comfort zone and NOT run a conservative start. I decided the best way to pace this was with an even paced start. I wanted to find a happy medium between getting to the top in a reasonable amount of time without completely depleting my energy for the trip back. I decided that a 9:07 pace would do the job. It would mean an aggressive finish, but this course was made for a negative split.
I knew the first 13.1 miles were going to be hard. I did a pretty good job of getting up, mile by mile, in the time I was supposed to, with a couple additional seconds, no big deal. I just kept telling myself – ” X miles finished, you’re doing it, you’re going to get there, hang one one more mile”. I made the turn. I had a couple of slow miles, catch my breath and get ready for the return trip, down, down, down. I wasn’t running as fast as I wanted, but I could still PR if I high tailed it from here.
Mile 18 had other plans for me. My IT Band – YIKES, started to really hurt. I haven’t had an IT band problem in a couple of years, but it was front and center. It hurt in the same place it did in the past. Right on the knee on the right leg. A couple of times, my leg felt like it was going to give out. I walked a little and ran a little until the pain subsided. It started to feel less stabbing at mile 20, but was now a constant ache.
I had a choice at this point. At mile 20, there was a break in the trail where it crossed over the road. There were volunteers and it would have been completely within reason to tell them I was injured and couldn’t finish. Take a DNF.
DNF, DNF – DID NOT FINISH
Those words were floating around in my head and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. My pain was about a 7 on a scale from 1-10. I knew I didn’t HAVE to finish. I also knew that I didn’t have any more races scheduled for 2014 and I could take some time off after this marathon. I chose to continue on. I pushed through – walked, ran, ate some cookies and enjoyed the beautiful creek along the Ghost Town Trail. Rather than falling to pieces, I felt happy and lucky. Lucky to have run close to 1300 miles this year (almost) injury-free, experience three marathons, made some great memories and friends.
That’s seriously what I was thinking at mile 20. I wasn’t looking at the clock, I wasn’t crying over my WORST marathon time ever. I felt grateful.
Now, don’t get me wrong – if I was kicking ass, it would have been way better, in a different way. But it is what it is. I finished marathon #6 today and it’s in the memory bank as another experience I’ll always remember.
I haven’t done a Friday Favorites post in quite a while. But something happens after you complete a marathon. Well, it happens to me anyway. I get emotional, I become more grateful, I stand a little taller. I don’t want to go so far as to say that the time on the clock isn’t the most important thing, but it isn’t the ONLY most important thing.
One of my favorite things, not only this week, but all the time, are my marathon medals. I don’t have a fancy rack for my medals. Quite honestly, I pack them away in zip lock bags and put them in a bin in the back of my closet. I really should get a medal hanger. Anyway, as I was packing up my bib and medal from Columbus, I pulled out my medals from my other marathons. Pittsburgh X 2, Lehigh, and of course Boston.
I pulled the contents out of the bags and looked at everything. Race bibs, programs, blankets, medals, and I can vividly remember every detail from each race, I mean, like they were yesterday. It reminded of me a quote from Dean Karnazes that makes me think there maybe something to the marathon experience that sharpens the memory.
“People think I’m crazy to put myself through such torture, though I would argue otherwise. Somewhere along the line we seem to have confused comfort with happiness. Dostoyevsky had it right: ‘Suffering is the sole origin of consciousness.’ Never are my senses more engaged than when the pain sets in. There is a magic in misery. Just ask any runner.”
But then again, they also say that you have to forget your last marathon before you can think about the next…your body can’t know what’s coming. Hmmmm.
Anyway, each of these medals mean so much to me because I love the stories and the memories that are unique each to each of them, no matter what the finish time.
Favorite Topic of Discussion: RUNNING! Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to the Pittsburgh Marathon kickoff celebration event. (#GameOnePGH) I had the chance to see some good friends and chat about running – my favorite topic. All four of us run at different levels. We all have different goals and reasons we run. But one thing I noticed, despite our differences, is how we can relate to each others stories. One thing I’ve always said about this sport, is that it brings you together with some pretty amazing people. so many of you inspire me.
Since it’s Halloween, I thought I would throw in one of Cooper’s Favorites – LOL. Cooper loves Halloween! It’s his busiest night of the year and he always helps me hand out candy. I couldn’t find him a costume that suited his personality perfectly, so I just decided to throw his pirate scarf on. We had to sit in the garage this evening out of the rain, but still enjoyed the kids and all the costumes.
Had 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.
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.
Positive 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?
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
A six mile marathon pace run, that ended up being much faster than marathon pace. The legs just felt good!
More 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!