Sunday, April 26, 2015

Race Week!!!

Next Saturday I’m running my first-ever half marathon.  My training is going very, very well, including a sub-9 min mile in one of my most recent training runs.  Even though I’m guaranteed a PR since I’ve never raced at this distance, I still want to have a good time, consistent with my training.  Under 2 hours, 30 minutes is very reachable.

However, it is still way over Boston Marathon qualifying pace, which is my ultimate goal.  My training was hit and miss over the past couple of months, so while I know I’m in good shape, I’m not where I want to be—great shape.  Of course, life is what happens when you’re trying to make plans.  Learning how to roll with the punches—and still succeeding—is part of this quest.

I signed up for the Chicago Marathon as well, and put down that I would break five hours.  Since my marathon PR is 5:39, I’m hoping to shave nearly an hour off my time.  It is going to take hard work and discipline to take that amount of time off my PR, and I am ready for that challenge.  Starting with pre-race prep….

The week before the race, the taper week, is about rest.  Visualization will play a big part of this week, as I watch YouTube videos of the course.  (Again, I feel like saying, “In my day, we had to pull from our memory banks because we didn’t have course videos we could play as we fell asleep.”)  Loading up on carbohydrates and water is also in the plan for the week.

I have to drive up to packet pick up the night before the race, then drive home for a good night’s sleep.  I will probably just have a protein bar with lots of water for dinner, then get up very early so I have plenty of time to drink my coffee and make the start corral after the requisite post-coffee bathroom breaks.  After 25 years, I think I’m more nervous about making my start corral than actually running.

In a long race, the adrenaline has to be tempered in the first few miles, because going out too fast causes “boinking,” or tiring out early in the race, unable to finish at pace.  I’m running with a friend who has offered to pace me, but I really, really have to do an 11:15 first mile.  That has me nervous as well, since I’ve felt so good on my runs that my first mile has been pretty fast.  It will be my focus on the final taper/shakeout runs this week.

So carbs, water, shakeout runs, and visualization.  Race week, here we go!

Sunday, April 19, 2015


The word “detox” seems to have caught some buzz of late.  The big thing in nutrition is to detox your colon, detox from unhealthy, chemical laden food.  But how about detoxing from an unhealthy lifestyle?

This past week was my most stressful week of the year at work.  I went for a long run on Monday and just felt, in a word, toxic.  I have been giving in to my junk food cravings.  I’ve been ignoring my budgets.  I haven’t been kind to my friends.  I haven’t been taking care of my cat or my house.  It is as if my life is filled with all sorts of detritus that is impeding me from being the person I want to be.

I know that if 1. I’m going to qualify for Boston and 2. Run Boston, I have to conquer all of these things, since last week was the worst of it—and tomorrow is the Boston Marathon. 

So it’s time to reboot everything, a life detox.  Clean out all of the things that were put on hold the last couple of weeks.  Get my diet and budget back in check.  Clear my mind of the negative energy and stress that interferes with my empathic abilities.

I’m taking a few vacation days this week to start the process.  First, I need to get my kitchen organized and clean so that I can cook from scratch, reducing the amount of processed food I’m eating and allowing me to stick to my food budget.  Second, I need to reduce the clutter in my house, so I’m going to do a challenge where I put 100 items on eBay in 100 days.  As these items sell, the additional income will also help clean up my budgets.  Third, I’m going to dedicate time for meditation, practicing the ability to quiet my wants and needs so I can listen to others.  Finally, I still have a half-marathon in May, as well as signing up for the Chicago Marathon this fall, so there are many miles to be run.

It’s frustrating that my quest has gotten so far off track so quickly, and I hope that by finally taking the time to detox, I can get back on track.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Hoppity Hop!

Yesterday I ran the Wauconda Bunny Hop, a 4 mile run around Bangs Lake, organized by the Friends of the Wauconda Library.  It very much reminds me of the community races I would run as a teen, before there were Mudders and Color Runs and Rock & Rolls and Hot Chocolates.  Run completely by volunteers, the funds reinvested back into the community, these runs attract everyone from serious runners to people who just want to participate.  I highly encourage doing a couple of these runs every year to help your community.

After 15 years as a competitive athlete, I treat every race as an opportunity to improve.  It’s not about placement, though, but time.  Runners talk about PR, personal record, and getting one is always a goal.  Beyond time, it also is a good way to do a dress rehearsal with run prep.  I had my favorite carb load, fettucine alfredo, for dinner the night before, then had my ususal coffee and carb breakfast on my way to the race. 

My plan was to do a progression run, where each mile is faster than the previous one.  The course is somewhat hilly, with most of the first three miles the natural up and downs of roads near a lake.  I had lunch with a fellow former college cross country runner last week, and was reminded of how to conquer hills—power right through them.  That became key when they said I ran my first mile in 10 minutes, making my progression run impossible. 

I decided to instead use the hills as an interval workout, charging up the hills, then using the downhills to ease the rest.  It worked when I heard the two mile split:  19:45. 

One thing you do as a runner is prep for how you will dress for races.  The weather was supposed to warm 10-15 degrees in the time between leaving the house and finishing the race.  When that temperature differential is between 50 and 70 degrees, it’s usually not too much of the issue, but when the differential is between 27 and 42 degrees, it’s very hard to predict what makes the most fashion sense.  I dressed in layers, a t-shirt with a zip-up jacket, but had put my number on my jacket instead of my pants.

When I hit mile 3, I was warm, warm enough that I wanted to take off my jacket, but since I had my race number on it, I had to leave it on and run a very hot, slow mile.  I was 30:45 at the split, so an 11 min mile.  I was still on pace for a PR if I just used all my tempo run practice, and since I knew the course well enough to know I was almost done…I just kept plugging.

In the end, I hit the finish right about when the clock hit 41 minutes, which is a new PR for me.  I had other commitments, so I couldn’t stay to watch the bunny hand out awards or see the raffle draw, but it was a good morning for a great race.