Rut.

ChooseRut

I’m in a rut. A running rut. Or maybe just a racing rut. Or some other rut. I don’t know. Could be global.

Do I still like running? Yes. Unless it is 8000 degrees and 500% humidity.

Do I still like racing? I think so. But I’m not sure. Maybe yes, but not right now.

Do I still like training? I think the answer, at least for now, is no.

Do I still like blogging? Definitely yes, but given my recent rut-like existence, I just haven’t had much to say. Which is why I have been The Worst Co-Blogger Ever. Haven’t posted because I don’t want to harsh the blogosphere mellow. If Colby didn’t love me so much, she would have fired me months ago.

I do think a large part of my running rut has to do with my lack of a goal.

For the first time, I’m racing without a goal. None. Nil. Nada. And let me tell ya, it’s incredibly un-motivating.

For the Marine Corps Marathon, my goal was to finish, which I did.

I didn’t have a specific goal for the Philly marathon, but I wanted to do it as a “pre-training” of sorts for The Big One. Boston 2015. I didn’t want Boston to be my second marathon for some reason (?).  Despite my bizarre, allergy-ridden experience at Philly, I’m glad I did it because the snowy weather last winter was brutal, and if I was starting from scratch in my winter training for Boston I would have had a panic attack. Or ten.

Then came Boston. And, except for the weather, it was everything I hoped it would be. Everything. My goal for Boston was to experience running Boston. No Other Goal Needed.

Though I struggled with the weather during Boston, I BQ’d again. So I’ll be back in 2016. And for Boston, I think that just running Boston will always be enough of a goal for me. Now that I know what it is like to run that course, experience those crowds, and turn right on Hereford, left on Boylston, I’m pretty sure I’ll never need another motivator to run Boston.

But before Boston 2016 comes Baystate 2015. And I’m not sure what the hell I’m doing with it.

Fact: The only “goal” I can think of right now is a PR.

Fact: I have neither the time nor the energy to train for a marathon PR at this time. I’m split a lot of different ways and the piece of the pie available for racing right now is not big enough to train for a PR. I’m also dealing with some as-yet undiagnosed GI issues which will not help in that regard.

Fact: I find it hard to feel excited about training for a race when I have no goal. And that is what I have been dealing with this summer. I don’t mind the running  (except for the heat and humidity, which is always the case), but when I think about it in terms of “training,” and what I “should” do, the spark just isn’t there.

I can easily run a 5K with no goal. A half marathon is a little harder, but still doable, since I run enough that I don’t really have to train for a half anyway. Still, I ran the Fairfield Half in June: I was crabby going to it, meh during it, and didn’t even get an adrenaline rush after it. It was yet another race where I did fine but nothing new or exciting. I don’t even think I recapped it here, because I had nothing to say.

And now I’m training (and man oh man, I use that term loosely) for a race that is twice as long as the Fairfield Half. Oy. That’s an awfully long way to run without a spring in your step.

The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a cold & snowy winter this year, so working toward Baystate will give me a base for my Boston training. At least that is what I tell myself when I’m procrastinating before a 6 AM run.

And I still like running. I really do. But the time commitment and mental commitment for “training” is so different. Having to put in the time (and even there, I’ve been slacking)  without the mental investment is just not fun. Or inspiring. Or motivating.

Methinks I’m taking a racing break after this one, so I can just run without any sort of plan – even a half-assed one – and not worry about it. I can still do the running, but not have to think about the running, talk about the running, plan the running, track the running…

At least until January, when Boston training will start. Hopefully, I will have climbed out of the rut by then.

Have you ever been in a running rut? Or a racing rut? What the hell did you do to get out of it?

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Crazy Train

 BAASymbol

A week ago, I mentioned that I hadn’t settled on a training plan for the Boston Marathon yet. Well, now I have. Drumroll, please:

I’m not using one.

Whoever is with Colby as she reads this better get her smelling salts and a cocktail – STAT – because I’m pretty sure she just fainted.

I am as By The Book as they come. You give me a plan and I will follow it to a T, and no, I never round up. As if you had to ask.

Which is why I’m ditching the idea of a formal training plan altogether.

For my first marathon – the Marine Corps Marathon – I followed Marathon Rookie’s Beginner Marathon Training Plan religiously. My first marathon training came at a brief period in my life when I kinda had too much time on my hands. All 3 kids had started full school days and work was slow. I liked having something (Beginner Marathon Training Plan) to obsess over and provide a schedule for my days and weeks.

By the time training for last year’s Philly Marathon rolled around, I was in a much different place. I had started working more and my kids had become really busy with their own sports. Between my job as a lawyer and my job as head chauffeur (not to mention COO) of The Family, I did not have time to find a new training plan to obsess over. Instead, I dusted off Beginner Marathon Training Plan, added a few miles to each of the long runs because I was already runner longer than the schedule provided, and ran with it {see what I did there!}. I was a little nervous that I wasn’t stepping up my game enough – I still stuck to the plan’s weekday runs, which were pretty short for where I was – but, alas, that was all my schedule permitted.

And in the end, it didn’t matter. I had a massive allergic reaction the afternoon before the race, made a game time decision to race anyway, and finished. It wasn’t pretty, but my issues were not due to lack of training, and I finished at just under 4:02 despite the lingering effects of Benadryl, recovering from a brush with anaphylaxis and 4 separate porta-potty stops during the last half. I dare say my training served me pretty well.

On Saturday night, we went to a birthday party for our dear friend Diva Cindi  and one of Diva Cindi’s friends asked me about training plans. She had read my post about taking 3 unscheduled days off and took note of the fact that I mentioned that I am a schedule freak. She had also met me once before, so probably already knew that. Diva Cindi’s Friend asked what plan I was thinking of for Boston, since she is considering running her first marathon this year. I told her that I would recommend the beginner plan at Marathon Rookie for her, but that I was not yet decided on what I would use for myself. And it got me thinking….

And I realized I don’t want a plan. I’m busy. I have a lot of schedules to manage. I have too many “plans” as it is. I doubt I would be able to stick to a plan religiously and that would make me nuts. I guess I’m too much of a planner to use a plan if I can’t use it perfectly. Does that make sense in a weird & twisted way?

Plus, I’m crazy-excited for Boston. I don’t want to set myself up for stress and feelings of failure as I train for it. So, for probably the first time in 45 years, I’m gonna wing it. (YES,COLBY! YOU READ THAT RIGHT!) I will keep holy The Long Run and I will run and rest as needed during the week. But I want the next few months to be more about my love of distance running and excitement for the race than a slavish adherence to a plan.

We’ll see how it goes. Come April 20, I could finish strong or collapse upon myself like a dying star. Whatever happens in the race itself, though, I’m pretty sure that the months leading up to Boston will be a lot more fun for me now that I have made my plan to ditch the plan.

Note – just remembered the one other time I have “winged it” – I moved to NYC after college with an awesome roommate, a reasonably priced apartment, but no job. One of the best decisions I ever made. 😉 So this is the second time I have winged it. I’m practically a hippie.

Are you “by the book” or “by the seat of your pants?” Love a Plan or hate a plan? Ever trained for a marathon without a formal plan (feel free to tell me you did and came in first)?

Pride Cometh After a Tough Race

Pride

Immediately after the Philly marathon, I felt a bit of a letdown. I think everyone visualizes the race itself during training, and let’s face it, my race experience– and my pre-race experience – were not the stuff of training dreams. In the end, my time wasn’t even bad – not a PR by any stretch, but actually, a pretty good finish time. But the latter half of the race itself was harder than I had imagined on all my long training runs. I was bummed. I felt like my body had let me down.

(Then I headed off to the Good Dog Pub with Colby and Diva Cindi, where, during the course of 6 ½ hours, we drank, ate, drank and met up with various friends, including Phil, a/k/a pscapp, from Reading, Writing, Running & Rhythm  and promptly forgot all about my disappointment.)

By the time I wrote my recap of the race a few days later, though, my disappointment had turned to pride. First of all, I finished a marathon. You just cannot finish a freaking marathon and not feel proud. But more importantly, I had a tough race. And I could have stopped. I actually could have chosen not to start. But I didn’t. And I didn’t even slow all that much when the going got ugly, except for the waits in porta-potty lines. My running itself was still pretty strong throughout the race – the last 10 miles were slower than the first 16, but I was still running.

When I wrote in my recap that I was proud of my race, Colby immediately responded that she was so happy to see me write that. (She loves those rare moments when I stop being a masochist and jumped on that sucker like a dog on a bone). Other people commented that they had races that they were proud of, too, for specific reasons. Often, it wasn’t the race they PR’d in, although that is always a cause for celebration. But when I ask people which race they are most proud of, it usually is one that involves a story or a struggle or crazy weather or a wall or something. And I love hearing about it.

So, tell us: Which race are you most proud of, and why? Share your pain and glory! And yes, if it is one where all went well and you PR’d, we want to hear that, too. They don’t all have to be tales of adversity. Maybe you just kicked some serious ass and felt proud. We want to hear it all. Show us your pride!

Sherman Klump Runs a Marathon. Or, How to Avoid a Severe Allergic Reaction Before Running 26.2 Miles.

keep-calm-and-grab-the-epipen

The short answer is: Stay the hell out of goddamn 7-11.

I know exactly what you’re thinking:  What in the name of anaphylaxis is going on here?!?!?  Believe me, I was thinking it too. I may have even been screaming it out loud. Or at least I was in my head. I couldn’t alarm The Patient. All I can say to the makers of Benadryl is:

Thank You.
Thank you.
And did I say, Thank you?

I would send them a singing telegram if only I could hire Mr. Peanut to tap dance, juggle EpiPens and croon my deepest thanks. Instead this post will have suffice. Oh, I’ve got a story for ya.

Tina, our dear friend Diva Cindi, and I headed to Philadelphia this past weekend to get our Rocky on and run the full (Tina) and half (Colby and Diva Cindi) Philadelphia Marathon. We had this shit all planned for months. In fact, Tina has already posted her race recap which I strongly suggest you read HERE. Tina had registered for the full and I decided, “What the hell?” and registered for the half. I peer pressured Diva Cindi into it too. Like all BRFs do. (Best Running Friends, for those not “in the know”.) Perfect.

Girls Weekend at the Ritz!
Running!
Laughing!
Celebrating!
Drinking copious amounts of beer post race!
Hair braiding and tickle fights!
YEAY ESTROGEN!

This was our 2014 race season swan song. Secretly, I had planned on running my little heart out. I had my eye on a PR. But apparently my eye was also on an Achilles injury post ultra marathon, followed by an unrelated (surprise!) surgery which put me out of commission in the weeks leading up to the half. I’ll just put it this way: I haven’t had a good run lately. That is both literal and figurative. More on what is ailing me at another time. I promise. For me, this was either going to be the race of a lifetime or an absolute shit show. Total coin flip.

Tina on the other hand was prepared. Even though she said she didn’t feel like she was, I didn’t believe her. She always is. Trained and Tapered, Tina was ready. Somewhere along the Jersey Pike she exclaimed: I am really f*cking psyched for this marathon!  I *’ed out the profanity because it’s Tina. And she’s more Lady than Pirate, but put a couple of pints in that broad and she might as well have a patch on her eye and a hook for a hand. 20141126-061130-22290438.jpgSee us at the Expo all smilely and stuff? Christ, we are buzzing with excitement. That’s why it’s blurry. We mill around. Test stuff out. Buy a new, rad Janji cap from my friend Dave, laugh our heads off and realize we haven’t eaten. I glance at Tina. She is slightly dazed and pale.

What do you need?

She says she needs Gatorade. I suggest we eat. Because we haven’t. And someone is running awfully far in the morning. For as smart as our mother’s think we are, we are fools. Hypoglycemic, amateur fools. We head out. And walk promptly into a Goddamn Wawa 7-11. {Note: I now hate Goddamn 7-11s. I do love Wawas.) Tina makes a bee line for the Gatorade and chugs 32oz like she was at frat party in the mid-90s.

She heads to the nut aisle.

It is here Dear Reader, that our story takes a precipitous turn for the worst.
I hear this, with traces of a Boston accent:

{Perturbed} Plantah’s Almonds are $2 more?!?! I’m not paying two extra goddamn dollahs for a peanut wearin’ a top hat. No sir!!!

Instead of buying the brand she has eaten before, she buys the off brand nuts.

Meanwhile, en route to the Ritz, two dollahs richer, she reads the back of the bag as a PERSON WITH SEVERE ALLERGIES DOES, decides it’s fine, rips it open and downs the pack.

We leave.

{Small voice} I feel like I swallowed a nut wrong.

WHAT?

We walk.
She trips on a curb.
We make eye contact.
She’s quiet.
I arch an eyebrow.
We’re in the room.

{Wheezes calmly.} I am having an allergic reaction.

Diva Cindi and I look up from our race swag. sherman clump

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Holy allergic reaction. She has morphed into Sherman Klump, the Nutty Professor. Her eye BALLOONS. Right before our very eyes. This is serious. Diva Cindi dives in her purse and throws two Bendryl and a packet of Equal at her. OH MY GOD TINA GRAB YOUR EPIPEN! Her response as she swallows the two Benedryl and a Claritin?

{Rasps} NO! If I use my EpiPen, I’ll have to go to the hospital and then I won’t be able to run tomorrow.

Now. There are 100s of responses to make upon hearing that nonsense, beginning with: I’ve called 911. They’re admitting you to an insane asylum after the epinephrine shot and steroids because you are being totally OUT OF YOUR EFFEN MIND. I JUST 5150’d YOUR CRAZY ASS!

Allergies are some scary stuff. They’re not funny. And believe me, if this story didn’t have a happy ending, I wouldn’t be calling her Sherman Klump. I’d be rocking in the corner, sucking my thumb, penning her eulogy and not posting this…

Because that’s what really happened. After several minutes post mega dose of Benedryl, she ASSURED us she could breathe. Her wheezing subsided. She still kind of looked like a starving puffer fish, but insisted she was feeling better. Instead, WE insisted she throw on her sunglasses for supper. For Christ sake, she was hideous. Besides, we needed to gain control of this ridiculous situation. Glasses on, Lady! We don’t care if it’s dark and you can barely see. We have an image to protect! BRFs. They RULE!

Thankfully, all ended well. After eating her height in pancakes, Chilly Willy put her swollen head on the table, and promptly nodded off in her syrup. She woke up radiant, with a killer Benedryl hangover and proceeded to run one hell of a marathon. I have to be honest. She qualified for Boston her first time running a marathon yet, I am more proud of her for running Philly. There is no one like her. And I’m honored she is my best friend.

Her allergist appointment is next week just after my cardiologist appointment and short stint in rehab to combat Xanax and alcohol addiction. She kills me that goddamn Tina.

City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Endurance

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Our weekend in Philadelphia was so epic that it would take 10 blog posts to sum up it, but fear not – we’ll limit it to 2…or 3.  This one is going to focus on the marathon itself. And It’s long – my apologies.

It was a tough race for me. This is an understatement. Let’s just say that the wheels started to come off the bus at the Expo…

THE EXPO you ask? Yes, the freaking Expo. Nothing against the Expo itself – it was fabulous, filled with great energy and interesting products. But I think it is also where I ate something that nearly sent me into anaphylaxis. It was either there or at the 7-11 across the street (now affectionately referred to by us as the “Goddamn 7-11.” Apologies to 7-11. I know they didn’t mean it. Even bigger apologies to WaWa, since Colby kept calling it the Goddamn Wawa, and they had no involvement with the “situation.”)

I have written before that I have food allergies that prevent me from eating anything Asian or from health food joints (soy), ever entering Bubba Gump’s (shrimp) and, most devastatingly, indulging in Nutella (hazelnuts). Despite reading the label of everything I put in my mouth on Saturday, I had a pretty severe allergic reaction to something around 4 PM. We have decided to let Colby write the details of my descent into allergy hell because she got to watch it unfold and frankly, we are twisted people who found humor in it and I want her to make me laugh about it again (now that we know I am not going to die). I will say that if you ever find yourself in an urgent medical situation, you could not have better people beside you than Colby and Diva Cindi. #truth. I was so, so lucky to have them with me.

So, from 4 PM Saturday until we left for the race at 5:30 AM Sunday, I really wasn’t sure whether I would be able to race. Being fully doped up on Benadryl, I wasn’t able to focus enough to obsess over it, but I was pretty anxious and bummed.

Getting ready for the race, I decided I could do it. Much of the swelling in my face had subsided, my breathing was totally normal and the nauseated feeling I had was probably more due to mainlining Benadryl than the allergic reaction itself. OK, Girls, It’s GO Time!!

We strategically posed to block my right eye, which was still crazily swollen. The left one that is showing just looks like I broke up with my boyfriend. As a courtesy to fellow runners and spectators, I wore my sunglasses during the race.

We strategically posed to block my right eye, which was still crazily swollen. The left one that is showing just looks like I broke up with my boyfriend and was crying all night. As a courtesy to fellow runners and spectators, I wore my sunglasses during the race.

We walked over under crisp dark skies. Bag check couldn’t have been easier. Porta-potties were a different story, but through perseverance and MacGyver-like strategy, we found some that had a manageable line and made it through before corral line up. Barely.

With only minutes to spare, the elites were off. Colby and I were in the second corral, so our group started about 10 minutes later. The sun was coming up, the skyline was gorgeous, and despite my residual nausea, I decided I was going to enjoy this race.

All I can say about the first half is that it was awesome. We wound through the city streets, past gorgeous buildings, supportive crowds, rollicking energy and even a few frat houses. My stomach did not feel great, but my mind felt happy and my running felt strong. It was sheer joy and exactly why I run.

Just before mile 13, Colby, Diva Cindi and the rest of the half marathoners split off to the right toward the finish and we marathoners headed left for a jaunt along the Schuylkill River. Shortly after the split, my stomach really started to give me trouble. I’m not the type to share details, so suffice it to say that I had to visit 4 separate porta-potties between mile 14 and mile 24. I was not happy. And being the true sicko runner that I am, I was less bothered that I was sick than by the fact that I was wasting time –serious time– waiting in line for porta-potties. During a marathon. Ugh. But when it comes down to it, what can you do but cover up your Garmin and move on? Which is exactly what I did.

Around mile 18, I realized that I was no longer going to be able to eat or drink during this journey, and that anything – including water – would just come back up on me, so thus concluded the fuel and hydration portion of my race. In case anyone was wondering, Benadryl is not a performance enhancer and you should make every effort to avoid having to dope yourself with it before an endurance event. My system was in chaos. I did stop at every water stop to wash my mouth out with Gatorade and water, but didn’t dare swallow anything.

The silver lining is that my stomach is my weak spot. Always. Knock wood, I never have problems with my muscles. I happily don’t even know where my IT band is. I walked around in 4 inch heels at work yesterday -2 days after a marathon – with nary a twinge in my calves or hamstrings. I am blessed with resilient muscles. But I also have an Irish stomach, so I know stomach problems. Quite well. And it is the rare training run that doesn’t leave me with some stomach problem or other, so I know I can power through it. Will I need a potty break? Yes. Will it slow me down? Yes. But it need not stop me, and my training has taught me this. So the fact that I was going to have to run 8 more miles with no gels or water and probably a visit or three to a porta-potty didn’t panic me as much as it might. It mostly just bummed me out because I knew I had to throw all hope of getting a great time out the window. And with all of my splits through mile 14 in the low to mid-8’s with even a high 7 thrown in, I had been pretty excited about seeing how fast I could cross the finish. Bummer.

But it wasn’t all misery. There were some great cheer sections and awesome bands. The Manayunk neighborhood was rocking and people were handing out beers (I declined, natch). The run along the river was pretty, and I was running the race, which was in question a mere 12 hours before. So I really was grateful, despite the difficulties.

By Mile 22, I was really feeling the effects of no fuel or hydration, so I went into autopilot. Not finishing was not an option. And I knew I could do it, even if it wouldn’t be pretty and it certainly wouldn’t be a PR. I set my mp3 to “repeat” and for each of the last 4 miles, I chose one song and played it over and over until the next mile. I recommend trying that if you find yourself in a tough spot. It really helped me to zone out and keep to a rhythm. At mile 26, headphones came off and I ran toward the finish line like it was my job. I did it! I freaking did it. I really felt like I earned that medal.

Done and Done! For some reason, I'm holding up my orange juice cup instead of my medal. Possibly because I was hypo-glycemic.

Done and Done! For some reason, I’m holding up my orange juice cup instead of my medal. Possibly because I was hypo-glycemic.

This was my second marathon, and although I’m happier with my time from the Marine Corps Marathon last year, I think I’m prouder of my performance in this one. I didn’t give up. Not before the race and not during the race. I always want to think of myself as someone who doesn’t give up, and I feel like I proved it. And for that, I feel really, really proud.

I also can’t help but think back about how important training is. You think you’re just training for endurance, but you’re not. By running all sorts of distances in all sorts of conditions for months before a marathon, you’re also training to deal with all of the adversities that may befall you on race day – bad weather, twingy calves, tight hamstrings or an upset stomach. Dealing with your own weaknesses in training gives you the confidence to deal with them if they happen on raceday. Training sometimes feels like a chore, but really, it’s a gift.

So, Philly is in the books! Loved the city, loved the people and really enjoyed the course. So glad I did it.  And with that, I’m off to call my allergist to figure out which food I need to add to my no-no list.

Oh, and JUST WAIT until Colby posts her recap. Be prepared to spit your coffee out.

A Tale of Two Runs

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

I know Dickens wasn’t talking about marathon training when he penned those famous lines, but, hey, they fit.

The highs of a great run! The adrenaline boost of running huge distances! The feeling that you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to! Oh, the highs. So very, very high. And probably so very, very annoying to anyone around you who isn’t a distance runner or some other sort of adrenaline junkie..but so very, very fun for you!

The lows of soreness, achiness, fatigue – or, god forbid, injury. And the soul crushing kick in the face of a bad run. Especially a Very Bad Run. The Very Black Mood after a Very Bad Run.

Let’s start there, shall we?

Friday. Oct 3, 6:30 AM. I am frantically trying to get ready to head out and squeeze in a 17-miler before an early conference call.

NOTE: I WAS TRYING TO “SQUEEZE IN” A 17-MILER. I could probably stop here, as you can surely guess how it all went down.

It is dark. Cannot find headlamp or LED flashers. Settle for pumpkin flashlight, reflective vest and a FRIGGING GLOWSTICK NECKLACE to avoid roadkill status. (also change route on the fly to one with sidewalks and streetlights for the first few miles, until sun comes up, since my set-up is not quite up to par). I can’t tell if I’m going running or trick or treating.

Accidentally hit button on my Garmin that LOCKS THE FRIGGING SCREEN. Garmin is essential for this run, because I will be cutting it close to my conference call and I need to know time and distance to make sure I don’t stay out too long. Google how to unlock Garmin. Crisis averted, but I’m rattled. Oh, so rattled. And running late.

Realize I haven’t eaten. Stomach not feeling so great. Still, gotta eat. Make ½ a peanut butter sandwich and wolf it down. Feel worse. Head out anyway, because I have no choice.

Head out for the 17 mile run that I am “squeezing in.” Listen up, Grasshoppers: DO NOT “SQUEEZE IN” A 17 MILE RUN. Honor the long run. Do it when you can run it properly (i.e., not with your heart in your throat and your stomach churning the entire time).

Not surprisingly, this run SUCKED. I was tense and my stomach was horrible. Could barely get through 20 oz of water throughout the entire run because I was thisclose to throwing up. Ate an energy chew, gagged, and ditched those, too. My first bathroom stop (of many) was less than 2 miles into the run. Did the entire 17 miles on the energy of that stupid peanut butter sandwich and panic. I may also have cannibalized myself. By the time I arrived home (yes, I made my F%$#& call, in case you were worried), I was depleted, both mentally and physically.

It was a Bad, Bad Run.

By Wednesday, I was texting Colby asking whether she even thought I should even bother running Philly. And should I switch to another sport? THESE questions from a fool who will run 16-milers FOR FUN! Needless to say, she verbally smacked me in the kindest way possible and told me to chill.

I don’t know if I’m more ashamed of my crappy run or what I let it do to my head.

Strike that. I’m definitely more ashamed by what I let it do to my head. My body had a tough run, but it finished. There’s no shame in that. But my head should know better. If I could be even half as supportive and accepting of myself as I am with others, I’d be in much better shape.

I repeat: If I could be even half as supportive and accepting of myself as I am with others, I’d be in much better shape. I should probably have that tattooed somewhere.

Fast forward to yesterday’s run, which was a 19-miler that turned into a 20-miler because it felt so good. Rested, stomach great, no wardrobe or gear snafus, and probably most importantly, NO RUSHING.

I felt so good yesterday I half expected to turn around and see those Disney bluebirds on my freaking shoulders.

It was a Great Run and I rode the high of it for the rest of the day.

But of course, I was no better of a runner yesterday than I was last Friday. It was just a different day with a different set of conditions. Each time I pushed myself as much as I could, and that, really what is key. Looking back, I probably am prouder of getting through the Bad Run, because that mental tenacity is what will get me through “the Wall” and any other rough spots in a race. In fact, the only thing I shouldn’t be proud of is letting one bad run screw with my mind so much. For shame!

6 weeks to go until Philly.

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times. Indeed.

Gonna Fly Now

Cue the Rocky Theme – I’m officially registered for Philly!

I have been saying that I’m running it for around month now, so figured I might as well register.

And so it begins.

Not so much the running. I do that anyway. Now begins the mental torture.

How am I supposed to be training? What am I doing wrong? What am I doing that I shouldn’t be doing? What should I be doing that I’m not doing? Am I getting worse instead of better? What’s my plan?

For Marathon #1, it was simple. I downloaded a “First Marathon Training Guide” and followed it. And just as people say, if you follow the plan, you’ll do fine. I followed the plan and did fine. I really, really like it when the world works that way.

But what do I do now? I haven’t found a “Second Marathon Training Guide,” and I’m afraid that if I do find one now, I’ll learn that I’m way behind and will have a panic attack. I don’t think I’m ready for the “Intermediate Marathoner’s Training Guide.” I won’t even glance at “Marathon Training for a PR!” since I am doing a Spartan the week before and a PR goal seems kind of completely delusional.

For the past few weeks, I’ve just been doing my regular thing and increasing my long run by a mile each week, keeping the rest of my runs the same. Yesterday’s long run was 15, and I’ll probably clock around 35 total miles for this week. I’m running slower than last year on slow run and recovery days, now that I have my handy-dandy heartrate monitor. I’m running fine (although very slo-o-o-wly, so my heartrate monitor doesn’t yell at me), especially given the ridiculous heat and humidity we have had lately. But still – who the heck am I to be running without a proper plan??? Number One on my to-do list this week is to check out training plans and choose one.

The running of course, is never the hardest part of training for a marathon. It’s the mental gymnastics.

The teeny tiny Sane part of my brain says I’ll be fine. I will not win and I will not die during the Philly marathon whether I follow the perfect plan or not, so there is really nothing extreme to be stressed about. It is pretty unlikely that I won’t finish, and if I don’t, it will probably be for a very good reason beyond my control. Sane Brain asks what I am worried about. That I’ll slip on a philly cheesesteak and hurt myself? (unlikely). Tire out and have to walk? (So what?) Run slower than I’d like? (So what?) Stop to take a picture with a man in a gorilla suit, have my calf seize and have to limp the last few miles? (already happened to Diva Cindi when we ran the Heartbreak Half. Not gonna happen again so soon). Sane Brain is telling me to chill out. But Sane Brain is small and quiet.

Lisa keeps telling me I'll do fine. But she's practically whispering.

Lisa keeps telling me I’ll do fine. But she’s practically whispering.

The major part of my brain – Insane Brain – is killing me. Insane Brain is not impressed and not optimistic. Unfortunately, insane Brain is bigger and louder than Sane Brain. And every distance runner out there knows what Insane Brain keeps telling me.

Bart keeps saying "Dude, you're screwed!" And he's really, really loud. And drunk. AND HE WON'T SHUT UP!!

Bart keeps saying “Dude, you’re screwed!” And he’s really, really loud. And drunk. AND HE WON’T SHUT UP!!

And so it begins.

What Marathon Training Plans do you recommend? Any good ones for crazy people? Maybe combo Marathon Training/ Intensive Therapy Plans???

 

Turn on Your Heart Light

 

Just saw that Colby graded her blogging in recent days with a “See Me.” I don’t even think the teacher would want to see me. I expect a note in my box asking me to withdraw. Where have we been?  Where do the days go???

I think I'm dating myself here. But it's a classic! Turn on your heart light!

I think I’m dating myself here. But it’s a classic! Turn on your heart light!

 

I got a heartrate monitor for my birthday this year, and like the Garmin I received last year, it’s been a blessing and a curse.

Blessing: it’s cool and useful and I think it will help improve my running.

Curse: Like my dear frenemy, the Garmin, it doesn’t hesitate to tell me I’ve been doing this running thing all wrong.

Ugh.

I hate doing things wrong.

I always suspected that I ran too fast on regular runs, but it was easier to ignore when I didn’t have an absurdly high heartrate number staring me in the face. My friend Laurie had been hinting for a while that she thought I was probably running too fast too often and overstressing my body in the process. She’s a lifelong triathlete and studying to be a nurse, so when she says something about training, it’s worth a listen.

I don’t know how many of you train using a heartrate monitor, but the general gist is this: if you run at a pace that overexerts your heart too often, you will risk injury and burnout. I have been very lucky in avoiding injuries (knock wood) and I don’t think I’ve ever had runner’s burnout, BUT, but I did feel incredibly wiped out a lot last year when I trained for the Marine Corps Marathon. I could manage, but still – I was pretty tuckered. Maybe that was burnout? Mentally I felt fine. I dunno.

My life is A LOT busier this year than last fall – work is busier, my kids are busier, everything is busier. I want to be able to do everything and enjoy everything without feeling wrecked while I train for the Philly Marathon on November 23. I figured I would give training in my proper heartrate zones a try to see if I can train in a way that allows for proper recovery, etc.

I don’t have high expectations for my performance at Philly anyway –particularly since I’m doing the Fenway Spartan the week before, which is not the number 1, or even number 100, recommended activity during the taper. Stupid, I know, but there’s no way I’m missing the Fenway Spartan!!! I figured it was worth a shot to mix things up a bit now with my monitor and see how heartrate training goes. If it screws me up, I’ll train differently for the next marathon.

What I realized from just a few test runs with the monitor is that I never really ran recovery runs before. Ever. My heartrate was at the same level whether I ran long, short, mid or recovery. That’s not good and does nothing to improve performance. When I ran “easy,” recovery runs, I did run short. But I still ran too fast and too hard. That’s not a recovery run at all. Those are just junk miles.

This is pretty much how I ran my recovery runs. TIP: Don't do this.

This is pretty much how I ran my recovery runs. TIP: Don’t do this.

I have run 49 miles in the last 8 days, attempting to control my heartrate for each run – checking my Garmin obsessively and staying at or below the low 150’s as much as possible. It can be frustratingly slow, but I’m already getting better at managing my heartrate – yesterday I ran 13 and I never saw anything above 155. And you know what? I felt great afterward. I didn’t feel like I had run 13 miles. Or many miles in the preceding 7 days. Other than tired legs, I felt fine, and still do today. NO exhaustion, no fuzzy head, no overall weariness. Today, I ran a 3.5 mile real recovery run at a slow pace, and feel terrific. I’m going to keep going with this for a while and see if I continue to feel so good.

This is what goes through my mind during my runs now...

This is what goes through my mind during my runs now…

The super slow pacing is annoying, but I am going to try and stick it out. Laurie suggested doing all runs at the lower heartrate for a few weeks, and then working back in some harder and faster runs. I figure it is worth a shot. I have that stupid monitor, after all.

Who else trains with a heart rate monitor? Any tips? Success stories? Things to watch out for?