Bayshore Marathon!

Today is the 2nd anniversary of One Year (ish) to Boston! Crazy. I probably need to change the name to “Ten Years to Boston.” 🙂 While I clearly have not made it anywhere near to Boston yet, I’m at least making slow, slow progress towards getting there.

This past weekend was another step in the journey, the Bayshore Marathon up in Traverse City, Michigan. This was my first marathon in over a year, and my 7th marathon in total. Lucky #7!

The trip up to Michigan was gorgeous, although I feel like the Pure Michigan commercials need to add in a disclaimer that while the scenery is pretty, the roads are horrendous. Yikes. I had a decent amount of time on the Thursday/Friday before the race to soak in the views, relax and eat a ton of carbs. My parents came up on Friday, so they helped calm down some of my nervous energy. I was feeling really positive about my training going in to this race, but I was still anxious, so it was great to have them there.

Mmmmmm carbs

Mmmmmm carbs

I got up around 3:15/3:30 race morning to sneak in some extra carbs – I had an entire bagel, a Boost shake and a banana. In hindsight, this was too much food. In this past, I’ve had VERY little food before a marathon and I’d been reading up on pre-race fueling and decided to try something new.  I’d tried practicing this fueling strategy during training, but apparently I didn’t practice it enough. The race started at 7:15, so I thought that would give me enough time to process all that food. Wrong.

After scarfing down all of that food, I did some active stretching in my hotel room before making my way to the race start around 5:15. The race started near a local high school, so all of the runners and spectators were able to wait there until the race started, which was awesome considering that it was chilly outside. I ended up meeting up with my parents, who were waiting for the spectator shuttle (because of the course location, it was difficult for spectators to drive along the marathon route, so the race set up busses to take spectators to various points along the course). After spending some time chatting with them, and lots of time in the bathroom lines, it was time to start.

To say the weather was perfect would be an understatement. It was right around 40 degrees at the start and sunny. The high that day only got up to 70, I think, but it wasn’t over 65 by the time I finished. Considering the warmer temperatures this spring, I think this was definitely a huge stroke of luck.

The course was an out-and-back course along Grand Traverse Bay, so the vast majority of the race was right along the water. It was beautiful (and a really nice distraction). This is far and away the prettiest race I’ve done. 0522151348

After only a couple of miles, I knew I was going to have to make a bathroom stop. I was a little peeved, because I knew it was going to take extra time, but it wasn’t really optional 🙂 Luckily, this was a smaller race and there were plenty of porta-potties, so I  only ended up losing 3 minutes between two bathroom stops since I didn’t spend much time waiting in line.

Other than the bathroom breaks, the first part of the race went exactly to plan. I started out a little slower the first couple of miles, then picked up the pace a little bit around mile 3. My pace wasn’t anything crazy (I was trying to stay just under 10 minute miles), but it felt good. My legs felt good and my breathing felt good. I saw my parents around mile 10 (I think), which was a huge boost, as always. I was having an amazing time. I don’t think I’ve smiled that much during a marathon before. 🙂

Around mile 16, I started to wear out a little bit. The spectators had dwindled, and after the turnaround at the halfway point, there was a decent headwind. Still, I tried really hard to remain positive and managed to stay right on pace until around mile 18. My pace slowed a little bit for miles 19-20, but I knew I could still get a PR if I managed to pull it together. I think that knowledge helped me a lot – knowing that my goal was still in reach gave me something to focus on and kept me from giving up.

Around mile 21, there was a huge group of spectators, which was definitely a nice boost. One guy had a sign that said “Only 10 miles to go.” I don’t know why, but that cracked me up. Up until mile 25, I was just focused on getting through one mile at a time. I had been trying to do two miles running, then a minute break of walking, but around mile 22, I switched it to walking a minute after the end of every mile. I was somehow still passing people, which was a new feeling for me, since I’m usually the person getting passed. That also helped me stay focused and positive, although I felt a little bit like a jerk every time I passed someone who was clearly struggling.

At mile 24, I made a deal with myself that if I could run the whole mile, I could walk at mile 25. Then I got to mile 25, and the knowledge that I was going to PR and I only had a mile left really hit, so I just went for it. Plus, I wasn’t sure if I could start running again if I stopped to walk 🙂

The finish was amazing. You could hear it from probably half a mile away. There was just a wall of people cheering and it was amazing. I felt like such a goober because I was smiling so much, and at the same time, starting to get a little emotional. The race finished on the high school track, which felt awesome and springy after the roads. I was sprinting like a crazy person towards that finish – my parents were in the bleachers at the finish line and I saw my mom jump up and start waving at me. It was an amazing feeling and an awesome finish, especially considering the size of the race (between the full and half marathon, I think there were just over 5,000 runners in total). Crossing the finish line of a race definitely never gets old!

After getting my medal and some post-race food, I met up with my parents again (they wouldn’t hug me for some reason) and we starting talking about the race a bit. My mom said the finish time showed up as 4:29 on the race’s app, which was a PR of about 3 minutes. My garmin, which I’d stopped during the bathroom breaks showed 4:24. I was a little surprised that I’d wasted that much time on the bathroom, but still happy that even with the breaks, I was able to pull out a PR. It was a really awesome feeling – a good race and a new PR is definitely not something to complain about.

Once I finally started to feel slightly more human, my parents drove me back to their hotel and my mom brought us all back some lunch. They had a balcony off of their hotel room, so it was really nice to sit back, relax and start to recover.

0523151322

After a bit, I headed back to my own hotel so that I could clean up and take a nap. Somewhere during this time, I re-checked the race app and realized that the 4:29 official time included the time between when the gun went off and when I actually started, so my net time was actually 4:26:56! I don’t know why this made me so happy – the difference was only 2 minutes, but I was elated.

After two years of less-than-stellar marathons, it was so refreshing to have a great race. It was a beautiful day, an amazing course and a ton of fun. 🙂

Bayshore results

My parents have some photos from the race and the race hasn’t posted the official photos yet, so until then, here’s more pictures of my dogs wearing my race medals. Happy Memorial Day!

__________          0525151119  0525151121

Advertisements

The Marathon Bug

As I sit here this morning, getting ready to watch the NYC Marathon, I have a lot of mixed emotions. Yesterday’s half-marathon (the Indianapolis Monumental Half-Marathon) was a really good race……but it was a half-marathon. I’ve done a fall marathon the past four years in a row, but this year, I chose not to do one. It’s an odd feeling.

I was originally planning on running yesterday’s race as a full marathon, but about halfway through my training, I came to the realization that it just wasn’t going to happen. I was having trouble motivating myself to get out and go running. The real problem was that I wasn’t all in with my training. I went all in the last two marathon cycles (for Baltimore in October 2013 and Carmel this past April), and due to tough courses and cruddy weather, neither one of those races went well.

I was scared to tackle the marathon training again, and I was scared that I would fail again. I didn’t want to go all in and completely dedicate a ton of time to training for a marathon that might not go well. Training for a marathon is not something that can be done half-way. You’re either in…..or you’re out. So I decided that, for now, I was out.

Initially, making the decision to switch from the full marathon to the half-marathon was a huge relief. I had put so much pressure on myself to finally have a good marathon that the training process became really stressful. Once that stress was gone, I started having a lot more fun with running again. It was the right decision. I would rather run less and enjoy it than train for a marathon and hate it.

And then October rolled around and marathon season kicked in to full-swing. I started to get a little jealous, but it wasn’t too bad. I knew I wasn’t mentally ready to tackle another marathon, but there was still a little twinge of regret that I hadn’t stuck it out with the marathon training.

It really hit me at the expo last Friday – as I was picking up my bib number for the half marathon, I was really jealous of the people that were running the marathon. Even though I knew the weather would be tough (in the 30’s with strong winds), I still envied them because they were going to run a marathon the next day and I wasn’t. Bummer.

Before my first marathon, I was never planning on doing another marathon again. It was something to check off the list. I remember telling myself part way through my first marathon that if I could just get through it, I’d never have to do one again. But then I crossed that finish line, and I was hooked. I’d caught the marathon bug. Since then, I’ve run five marathons. FIVE. I know a lot of people have run many (many) more than that, but it’s still hard for me to believe I actually did that.

As soon as I got home from my race yesterday, all I could think about was how badly I wanted to do a marathon. The marathon bug, which I’d thought I’d lost this past summer, had come back with a vengeance. I think I needed a long mental break from the marathon, so most of me is still glad that I took this fall off from marathoning, but now I’m ready to roll again.

I’ve already started to put together a spring training schedule, although I haven’t nailed down which race I want to do. I’m debating between Bayshore and Grandma’s – both look like beautiful races, so I’m very torn.  Maybe I”ll do both 🙂 Either way, I’m so excited to hit the roads (and the treadmill, since it is apparently winter now) and start marathon training again. Woohoo!!

Back In Business

It’s alive!

So. Where to begin?

This summer was a little…..hectic.  But it was also pretty wonderful. I had some great times with my family and friends. I also had some pretty great running experiences (and some pretty bad ones).

Running got put on the back burner with everything else going on. A busy schedule and a complete lack of motivation  led to me switching my registration for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon from the full to the half. It was an easy decision and it wasn’t – I don’t like to give up on things. I probably could have run the marathon, even with my reduced training, but I don’t think I would’ve really enjoyed it. I was starting to dread the training and to hate running altogether…..marathon training is never going to be a cakewalk, but I still want to get some feelings of happiness and accomplishment out of it.

I had a moment of sadness when I clicked the “SEND” button to switch my registration, and then immediate relief. Instead of whining about all of the training runs I missed, I was starting to enjoy running again. It was a very good feeling. I know I’ll get back in the marathon game soon, but for now I’m enjoying running and happy with the way things are going.

So that gets us back to now – here’s some of the races that have happened since I last posted…..in June. Whoops. 🙂

1.) Firecracker 6 mile race  -July 4, 2014 (Indianapolis, Indiana)

For a race in July, the weather was surprisingly cool. It was a fun jaunt through downtown Indy. I didn’t set any PR’s or do anything crazy, but I still had a very solid race. I know I had a good reason for not going all-out, but now I can’t remember what it was……either way, it was a fun race and a good way to start off July. My only complaint was the firecrackers that went off at the start line – I know it’s called the “Firecracker 6,” but it sounded a lot like someone was shooting off a gun. Yikes.

2.) Rock the Night 5k – August 21, 2014 (Chicago, Illinois)

I’m not counting this race in my “14 in 14” goal since it’s less than a 10k, but thought I’d include it in this post since it was my first 5k EVER. My employer actually paid for this race as part of a company outing, which was kind of awesome. It was a hot, muggy day, so my time wasn’t great (but still a PR – that’s the nice thing about running a new distance). Still, it was fun running a race with my coworkers. The post-race food was also a highlight (roasted corn-on-the-cob and hotdogs….mmmmm), but I’m glad I didn’t have to pay for it – $55 for a race that takes less than 30 minutes seems a little much, no matter how tasty the food is. That being said, I think I’d definitely like to try another (cheaper) 5k at some point, to see how fast I could go with better weather.

3.) Tippy Connect 15k – September 13, 2014 (West Lafayette, Indiana)

This race was part of the training series for the Boilermaker Half Marathon in October. It was pretty tiny – maybe 50 people in total? The race was timed and it went along the same route as the Boilermaker half. It was a gorgeous, cool day, but it was hilly!! I ran this race after a couple of weeks of minimal training, so I didn’t expect a very fast time (and I didn’t get one :)). But I did enjoy the race – the location is very close to where I live, but not in an area where I run very often, so it was a nice change of pace.

4.) Adams Mill Covered Bridge Half Marathon – October 4, 2014 (Flora, Indiana)

This might be my favorite race so far this year. It was organized by a community center in the middle-of-nowhere Indiana (it reminded me a lot of Pawnee in “Parks and Recreation”). There was no formal expo, so I picked up my packet from the community center the evening before the race. The lady who was passing them out was possibly the kindest person I have ever met. She went over every single thing in the race packet, including the map, making sure that I knew exactly what was happening on race day, including the need to watch out for all of the garage sale hunters. She seemed genuinely concerned that I was going to get lost or not be able to find a parking space or that I would get run over. It was a nice change of pace from someone hurrying me through an expo.

The race itself was also good – it was another small one (maybe 50 people). It was a chilly, breezy day, but the vibe on the starting line was still very upbeat and positive. The race started by winding around a few neighborhood streets and garage sales before heading out in to the country. The highlight of the race was running over the covered bridge and by the mill – the leaves are just started to change colors and it was a beautiful race. This was probably the first race where I didn’t miss the lack of spectators, because it was so pretty. There were some REALLY windy sections, but other than that, I had no complaints. The people at the aid station were also wonderful.

I ran this as kind of a training run for my “goal” race of the Monumental Half Marathon on November 1st. I ran 4 miles at goal pace, then rested for a mile, then ran another 4 miles at goal pace. It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I’d expected it to be….I almost wish that I’d just run the whole race all-out just to see how fast I could have gone. I ended up with a time of 2:03:25, which I was thrilled with considering my mediocre training over the summer. I also ended up with an age group award (and no, I was not the only person in my age group – there were three of us :)).

adams mill

 

All in all, it’s been a good running year. Not at all what I expected, but a year I can still be proud of. I’ve run 12 races so far this year (11 counting towards my “14 in 14”) goal – only 3 more to go!!!

 

Better Weeks

Usually when I take a long break from blogging, it means that I haven’t been running much. This time, that wasn’t really the case.

My runs have all been fine – maybe a little slow because of the heat and humidity, but they were still getting done. I wasn’t crushing my goal times, but my pace was right about where I’d expect it to be. Right now, I’m still in the “Base Training” section of my marathon training – there’s still 17 weeks of training before the marathon. Most training weeks consist of one mid-week  run (around 6-7 miles) with some tempo portions or other faster paces and a long run on the weekends (although right now, the long run is maxing out around 10 miles, so maybe I should call it a long-ish run instead 🙂 ), as well as a few short, easy runs. The schedule is working really well for me,  but it’s not super exciting – honestly, I think that’s probably a good thing for me, but a bad thing for my blog!

I’ve also been trying to get in the routine of doing some minor strength training. Arms/abs/ankles on Monday/Wednesday/Friday and legs on Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday. I’m not a huge fan of weight machines at the gym, so most of these exercises are done at home without any weights (except for the arm stuff). It’s nothing too crazy, but I was surprised how hard some of the exercises (even the leg ones) were at first – I knew I had weak arms, but I didn’t realize how weak my glutes were until I struggled with lifting my leg off the ground! After about three weeks of these exercises, I can already notice an improvement in my running, as well as some of the little aches and pains starting to disappear. Now I just have to make sure I keep at it as my weekly mileage increases!

The only problem with the strength training is that it severely confuses my dogs. A lot of it involves lying on the floor, which to them, means play time. Yesterday, I had the lovely experience of having Lola roll over on to my face because she thought it was time to wrestle. Oops. But they try to help (they’re especially useful with stretching – if i can get them to lay at my feet, reaching out to pet them is a pretty good stretch 🙂 ) and they’re adorable.

The typical scenery when I'm stretching

The typical scenery when I’m working out

In addition to all of the running and other training, I also got a chance to visit with some family members over the past weekend. We’re all scattered throughout the country, so every summer we pick a place in the “middle” and rent a cabin for a long weekend. It’s always good to see them, since we don’t get the chance to all be in the same place very often. Plus, this year we were in the beautiful smokey mountains. I’ll admit it – I didn’t do much running on this trip. I had my routes all planned out in advance, but once I got there and saw the narrow, winding roads and super steep hills, I decided it would be better for my confidence (and also my life) and if I sat this weekend out. At first I was bummed I was missing out on a weekend of running, but in this case, it was worth it to spend some quality time with my crazy relatives 🙂

IMG_20140629_101714

The next couple weekends are going to be pretty insane – I have a race tomorrow morning, then a 3+ hour drive to Toledo for a wedding on the 5th. The following weekend will involve a work golf outing up in Chicago, my birthday AND a birthday party for my best friend’s baby who is turning one. Having such a busy schedule during the middle of marathon training makes me really nervous, so I’m just going to have to focus on getting my runs in when I can and getting LOTS of sleep!

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

USA Flag 1992

(Source)

Good Run/Bad Race

My running last week was very bi-polar. It started out slow, had a really good point in the middle of the week (on National Running Day, no less) and ended with a really bad race. The mid-week run, which followed several days of rest due to some hamstring pain, was so joyful and Saturday’s race was just downright depressing. I don’t know whether I should feel happy or bummed about how this week went, but at least week #3 of marathon training is over.

Monday and Tuesday were pretty low-key since I was still being paranoid about a slight hamstring issue I had last week. I purchased a compression sleeve for my thigh, which seems to really help a lot (despite the fact that it is the single most un-flattering thing I have ever put on my body – I like to think I have strong, muscular legs, but this lovely thing proved me wrong 🙂 ). I’m very relieved that this injury turned out to be minor and resolved itself quickly – when it first happened, I was pretty worried it was going to mess up my training for the next few weeks. Phew.

Wednesday was National Running Day – I was really happy my first “big” run after my injury-induced running hiatus happened to fall on National Running Day. The planned run was a progression run with some short strides at the end. It was a ton of fun – I felt really good throughout the major point of the workout – after over a week with no runs over 2 miles, it was an amazing feeling to get out and run for awhile. The run was pretty basic – 40 min at an “easy run” pace, then the last 10 minutes at half marathon pace, but was enjoyable. I liked the design of this workout a lot – hard enough to pick up the heart rate, but easy to recover from since you’re not running fast for very long.

The strides at the end of the workout were my favorite part – I was supposed to do 6x 15 sec at a 5k pace with 1:00 minute rest in between. I don’t know why I had such a good time with these strides. If felt SO GOOD to run that fast, even if just for a few seconds. I thought it was a good end to a really fantastic and refreshing run. Very fitting for National Runner’s Day 🙂

Following that, Thursday and Friday were more easy days, since I had a half marathon on Saturday.

I don’t really want to get in to the half too much – it was a terrible race. It was well-organized and a good course, I just felt awful. It was toasty and sunny, but the main issue was that I couldn’t catch my breath at all. I kept up my goal pace until mile 4, then faded off after that. At mile 11, I felt like my throat was closing up on me, so I walked most of the race after that. I was pretty convinced I was going to either pass out or throw up for most of the race, so at least I finished without either one happening .  The race was the Indy Women’s Half, so I got a REALLY girly medal of it (handed to me by a soldier, which was also a nice touch :))

Indy women's half

I was really discouraged by this race – an entire year of hard training, and I’m worse of than I was last year. I realize that’s not true, but at first, that’s what it felt like. I worried that I’m never going to be a great, or even average, marathon runner – maybe I’ll never qualify for Boston. Maybe my body just can’t do it. I was feeling pretty done with the whole running thing for a few days – I’d finish up my “14 in 14” this year, then just be done with it.

That was an over-reaction. Throughout this week, I’ve been thinking about what I want from running. I really just want happiness. Running has always made me happy, but recently it’s turned in to a chore. I put a lot of pressure on myself to set giant PR’s at races, so that races have turned in to these crazy stressful events, instead of the fun escape from regular life that they’re supposed to be.  When I set my PR’s in the half-marathon and the full-marathon, I remembering feeling so positive throughout the races. I had set realistic goals, and I was having an amazing time. They were fun. And that’s why I did so well on those days – I was in the zone and I was happy to be running.

I still dream of making it to Boston, but giving myself a deadline to make it there was not smart, so I’m tossing that deadline out the window. I just need to keep pounding the pavement and hitting the gym, and someday it’ll happen. Maybe in a year, maybe in five years, maybe not for ten years – but I’ll get there.

Until next time, happy running!

  • Follow along on my journey to Boston!

  • Advertisements