Playing Catch Up

OK, first: I am SO sorry it’s been so long since my last post! We’ve got a big product launch going on at my day job, and my new role is heavily involved in almost every aspect of the marketing launch, so I’ve had to log lots of extra night and weekend hours trying to get things ready in the past two weeks, meaning this blog had to suffer! The good news is that we launch today and I can finally breathe now. And to make up for it, I’ve got a fun, picture-filled post for you today!

Let’s rewind to almost 2 weeks ago, when I hit my peak mileage in preparation for the Asbury Park Half Marathon. My weekly runs were going well, and the spring weather made things even better – I was finally able to run outside after work again!

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These solid weekday runs had me feeling pretty good leading up to my long run of 10 miles that Easter Sunday. I decided to run for the first time with the Jersey Shore Running Club down in Ocean Grove, and I was super stoked! I joined a month ago to connect with local runners and to take advantage of their long boardwalk runs on Sunday mornings, and since Easter was going to be a full day, their start time of 6:45AM worked well. The only catch was the 5AM wakeup call I’d have to make. Ugh.

Of course, Saturday night I was hit with a bad case of insomnia and stress-dreams. Why? I have no idea! But I ended up only getting a solid 3 hours of restless sleep at best, and dragged my ass down the Parkway before the sun came up for the sorriest 10 miles I’ve ever run.

IMG_3977But oh, that sunrise!

While the run itself stunk, everything besides the actual running was beautiful and positive! The JSRC people were the most welcoming, friendly group of runners I’ve met in a long time. I quickly bonded with Hazem, who kept me company for the entire 10 miles! He’s in the bright green, I’m in yellow 🙂

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Bless that man for sticking with me, too – thanks to the total lack of rest the night before, I was achy and exhausted from mile 3. We started off at sunrise going south from Ocean Grove, and after a mile or two of sticking together, little groups broke away from the pack and either dropped back (me & Hazem) or took off (everyone else). Once we were on our own, we chatted about work, life, running – the usual. Through Bradley Beach, Belmar, Spring Lake, and back we went, slogging along and taking turns going silent as you do on long runs.

Seeing as how I’d never even met this guy before, I kept telling him that he didn’t have to wait for me – because I was dogging it. It’s like I was made of lead. And as much as I now like running with others, I truly hate feeling like I’m slowing them down. It makes me feel worse and starts the negative thinking spiral. But even though I told him at every water and bathroom stop to keep going without me, he said no and stayed with me until the last half mile when he picked it up and finished, then even waited for me too! Thanks for the company, friend – you made a miserable run totally bearable!

And I also want to issue a public apology for loudly serenading you with some off-key Taylor Swift when she came on my headphones at around mile 6. The long run mania will make you do some crazy things, and I’m sorry you had to witness me Shaking it Off like that.

IMG_3980Another one of the sweet Asbury Park message shells, spotted perfectly on this Easter Sunday Runday!

Final tally: 10 miles in 2:08, Average Pace 12:50/mile. BLAH. Because I performed so poorly, I took the experience as a learning opportunity, and focused on resting and strength/cross training, which helped boost my confidence and made for some solid mileage on Tuesday and Thursday. I think it was the new Skirt Sports gear I tried out on the treadmill!

IMG_4067What up, Lioness Skirt! Want one of your own? Use code SSJRH20 to get 20% off your order!

Come the weekend, I was ready to run and do other running-related things. Namely, pick up my Asbury Park Half Marathon bib!

IMG_4112sounds like a lucky number, yeah?

I decided to go down to the shore one last time before the race to get my feet acclimated to those boards even more. Last year I explicitly remember cursing my thin socks at mile 8 because that boardwalk is HARD. My legs felt fine in the days after the race, but my poor feet were blistered from the beating. So this training cycle I purposely did most of my long runs on the race course to familiarize myself (and my feet) with the work it was going to take on.

Also, about 80% of my race-day anxiety involves the unfamiliar aspects: how will I get there, where will I park, what does the course look like, etc. By driving myself down to the race course and running it every weekend for the entire month before, all of those unknowns were now simple facts that I don’t feel anxious about anymore. I think I’m going to try to adopt this plan-ahead process for all races going forward!

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I got to Asbury at around 8:30 – the sun was shining, the air was getting warmer by the minute, and I was feeling unstoppable. I set out in the same way I would on race day – back and forth on the boards in Asbury, then straight through the casino building south to Ocean Grove, Bradley Beach, over the Belmar Bridge, and down the boardwalk until I hit about 4 miles, and back for my 7.  I couldn’t have asked for a better day to run: the boards were packed with other runners, bikers, walkers, and generally nice people that were just as thrilled about the weather as I was!

IMG_4125Just breathe it in!

I was determined not to let my previous week’s long run cloud my mood, so I didn’t look at my pace until I turned around – and was so happy to see that I was averaging almost a FULL MINUTE FASTER per mile than last week!

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That’s one happy (and overdressed) runner right there.

I was jamming out to some new tunes (thank you, Kendrick Lamar) and turned into a full-out whack job by the 10K mark, singing along to my music and even run-dancing a bit. I’m sure the locals appreciated that. But who cares?! I crushed those 7 miles in 1:26 at an average pace of 12:04 per mile – holy crap!

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I know better than to expect a SUPER awesome performance like that again this weekend, but who knows? It was definitely the perfect confidence-boosting run I’ve needed this training cycle. I didn’t know what to expect going into the “two-halfs-in-one-month” plan that I basically created on the fly. But 4 days from go time my knees are feeling great, my legs are feeling strong, my confidence is high, and I’m nowhere near as burnt out as I have been before other races. I feel more like a border collie, with tons of energy and excitement about getting to that boardwalk starting line and showing myself how strong I’ve become!

How about you? How has your training been going? Are you loving the spring race season? Tell me everything!

3 thoughts on “Playing Catch Up

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