Has Anyone Seen My Motivation?

As a runner, what do you do when running motivation is hard to come by?

IMG_8737

Every year, the holidays naturally become a fallow period for me: time off work and away from the routine coupled with less free time to workout (and more time at parties and celebrating with family) means I get a little break. It also works out for my racing schedule, too: I tend to race in the fall and spring, so I like to give my body a break after my big goal races in the fall to be well rested for spring PRs.

But almost every year, when the calendar clears up again, the junk food has been eaten and the routine is back in effect, I run into the same problem that I’m experiencing at this very moment: I don’t want to do anything. 

relax.gif

I KNOW I have a spring race in a little more than 3 months. I KNOW I’ll sleep better and feel less bloated if I were to just lace up and put some more work in each day. But [prepare for whiny voice] I’m tiiiiired and I already did stuff today! I worked 8 hours and just want to relaaaax!

meh.gif

So. This brings us back to my original question: What do you do when running motivation is hard to come by? I’ll start you off by answering my own question with some things that have worked in the past for me (and that I should probably start doing now, but again, I don’t waaaaannna):

  1. New Music – Yes, it’s a simple fix, and this is actually my plan for my lunch break tomorrow: find some new tunes with good running beats to help me move and keep a solid pace.

    brad-pitt-treadmill-o

    Actual footage of me run dancing.

  2. New Gear – What some might call materialistic, I call motivating. There’s something about showing up for a workout in some fresh threads that just puts that extra pep in my step.
    giphy.gif
  3. Rewards – kind of similar to #2 above, but instead of treating myself pre-run, this is a post-run reward like a pedicure or a stop at Starbucks for a big cup of tea and a cake pop.
    giphy (1).gif

So how about you? How do you put the fire back under your ass when you know you’ve got a goal coming up and still don’t have the *uff* to work towards it? I want to hear your tips in the comments.

It’s On Like Alderaan

It’s no secret that I love Star Wars. And since you’re already on my running-themed blog, you get that I also love running. So the fact that Disney – known for its incredible race experiences, parent company of Lucasfilm – holds Star Wars themed races means that I’m pretty much guaranteed to run them.

Well, I didn’t discover these races until last year, when I completed the Kessel Run Challenge by running both the Light Side and Dark Side Challenge weekends (10K and half marathon in one weekend). It was an unbelievably fun experience. Aside from the NYC Marathon, the four runDisney races I’ve done were the highlight of my year, if not my entire running career.

IMG_7790

But, those great experiences came with a heavy price tag – literally – and I decided not to run the 2018 races. I made my peace with that early on, and instead looked forward to saving some money while watching my friends run them thanks to the magic of social media. Then, back in October, runDisney made the decision to suspend all races at Disneyland in Anaheim until further notice, and I felt better about my decision. You can’t suffer from FOMO when something is cancelled!

think.gif

Fast forward to this morning, when it was announced that runDisney would offer a new Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon instead of the Light-Side-Themed Disneyland races.

hold up.gif

Well.

You probably know how this story ends.

race.JPG

My racing plans went from “focus on a PR attempt in April” to “hey, let’s shoehorn another half marathon in there too” with one mouse click.

And while I know some folks think this is just a cash grab by Disney, let me say this: I am aware of that fact, and I don’t disagree with you.

But I TRULY DON’T CARE.

ever.jpg

Sure, for what you actually get (a medal and a few downloadable PDFs along with the chance to share your experience online with the event hashtag), it is pricey.

But it’ll keep me active, keep me accountable, the medal is freakin’ sweet:

26037622_2263085030384113_3183363582939103232_n.jpg

And most important of all? It makes me happy. I am going to have SO much fun figuring out what outfit to run in and sharing my run online. It’s a fun way for me to get my runDisney Star Wars fix in 2018 without having to shell out $2k+ for hotel, airfare and park tickets for two on top of race registration.

So now that I’m officially running the Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon, it’s on like Alderaan!

alderaan.gif

Er… it’s on. Let’s just leave it at that. Cause Alderaan didn’t deserve that.

Remember_Alderaan_poster.png

How about you: What do you think about virtual races? Have you ever done one? If you’ve done a Disney race, which one is your favorite? 

Happy 2018!

Boy howdy, have I been a bad blogger. I would say that in 2018 I’m going to be a better blogger and write regularly, set some outlandish goal like 3 posts a week, but I’d ultimately end up disappointing you AND myself, so let’s just say I promise to do better and leave it at that, shall we?

Porgress.JPG

With that out of the way, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you all had a restful holiday break, even if it was just a day off here or there. I was lucky enough to be able to take some time off both from work AND working out, which has been very beneficial.

In previous years, I struggled with anxiety and depression around this time of year. A quick glance through my Timehop pulls up 3-4 instances over the past 6 years where things got harder for me as the first month of the year began, but so far I’m coping pretty well with 2018.

IMG_7985

I would attribute my positive outlook this time around to an increase in workouts, but I’d be lying. In fact, I’ve worked out LESS in the past month than I have any other month in 2017. And again, I know I’m a bad blogger by admitting it, but: I feel great about it!

IMG_8051.JPG

Don’t get me wrong; I worked out. But I ran about 25 miles throughout the entire month of December, and only did strength training or rowing or biking like 2-3x per week instead. The point is, I sweat when I felt like it, didn’t go overboard with eating or drinking, and didn’t beat myself up when the days got too busy and I wasn’t able to fit a workout in.

IMG_8300.JPG

Another key to my happiness – and this is a big one – has been limiting my time on social media. Too often, I get caught up in comparing myself (and my workouts, and my opinions, and my daily activities) to the folks I follow online. And we all know what they say about comparison, don’t we??

25738-Theodore-Roosevelt-Quote-Comparison-is-the-thief-of-joy.jpg

This is especially true around the holidays. I see people getting dressed up and going out and having snowball fights and game nights and *doing all the things* and sometimes, that makes me jealous or sad. Why can’t I have that fun too? I’d think, curled up in my porg pajamas, elbow deep in a tin of butter cookies on the couch. But then I’d remember: oh yeah, we had fun yesterday, and we have fun planned for tomorrow. Now we’re relaxing. 

IMG_8265.JPG

You thought I was kidding about the porg-jamas?

First: I turned off all of my notifications for all apps. Email, Facebook, IG, Twitter, all of it. No more red circles yelling at me and distracting me, or getting me stuck in a constant cycle of refreshing app after app.

Secondly, where I’d normally post once a day (if not more), I kept posting to a minimum. In 4 weeks I shared just a handful of pictures on IG, stayed out of angry rant threads on Twitter, and kept Facebook time to a minimum each day. The resulting detox has left me feeling more refreshed and ready to focus on what’s important to me in 2018 and beyond.

IMG_8439.JPG

I had an incredible 2017: I ran the Star Wars Rebel Challenge in Disneyland in January, Dark Side Challenge in Disney World in April, set new PRs in the 10k and 5k, and conquered my first full marathon at NYC. But I’m not dwelling on the past for too long, because I’ve got big goals in 2018.

In April, I take on the NJ Half Marathon once more, and return to the course where I set my current 13.1 PR in 2016. I’m gunning for a new PR there, and hope to set a new 5k PR in 2018 as well. I’ve got goals to get stronger and leaner with added strength training, and I may even run my first international race! I’m also setting personal goals outside of running: I want to focus more on my writing, and, in news I’m extremely excited about, I’ve decided to channel my love of Star Wars into a charitable cause by joining the Rebel Legion!

All in all, it’s going to be a great year. I’m excited to share my journey with you guys, and even more excited to hear about what you’ve got planned! So tell me: what’s on your 2018 To Do List? Any big scary goals in running or life that you’re itching to tackle? Share in the comments!

Post-Marathon Recovery

We’re almost one month post-NYC Marathon and I’m finally feeling fantastic again!

IMG_7651[1]

 

It’s funny: when you work for months towards a goal, it’s only natural to fall into a rut when that goal is accomplished and there’s no more pot of gold to chase at the end of the rainbow.

… or so I’ve been told…

Leading up to the race, many people warned me about the Post-Marathon Blues. Those who ran those 26.2 miles before me told me I’d sink into a malaise once I had that medal around my neck. After the highs and lows of marathon training, day-in and day-out for months, not having that schedule or goal would cause me to feel lost and without purpose.

shrug.gif

Yeah…  I’m still not feeling those blues.

Maybe it makes me a traitor to my runner tribe, but in the nearly four weeks since I earned that medal, I have felt nothing but pride, contentment, and most of all, relief!

giphy.gif

Relief over no longer having to run mile after mile after mile every single day of the week. Relief over finally having my nights and weekends back. Relief over being able to do anything other than collapsing into a sweaty heap post-run every night.

IMG_7197[1]

After sticking to a plan for months on end, it’s been supremely fun not having a plan. I had a big ol’ cheeseburger and fries for the first time in months. I stayed up late on Saturdays and slept in on Sundays. I cooked. I cleaned. I finally did all the laundry – and now that most of it isn’t workout clothes, there was so much less of it! I caught up with friends. I had wine. SO much wine. It’s been glorious.

But it hasn’t been all lounging around and bon-bons, mind you. I’ve still been working out – although I will admit to taking a full 10 days off post-marathon because my body was HURTING.

cry.gif

For real: the pain I felt after the marathon was intense, but in the days following, I found new spots that hurt in new and unexpected ways, and I wasn’t about to push myself. For example, I held my phone through the entire race to be able to take photos and videos. I switched hands many many times, and never went full-on claw mode, but the Monday morning after the race, I tried pushing myself out of bed and felt like I had a red hot poker in my forearm: I pulled an ARM MUSCLE running a MARATHON.

smh.gif

That took about 2 weeks to feel better. Then, the day after the marathon when I leaned over the couch to close a window, I slipped on the blanket that had pooled on the floor at my feet and severely pulled a muscle in my left knee. I still feel that one here and there and I’m afraid of investigating any further but I’ve run and lifted and done all kinds of things in the 25 days since so I’m sure it’s nothing permanent but still

pain.gif

Oh and then there’s the numbness on the side of my right foot. I discovered that on Monday morning, post-marathon. Apparently all the miles of walking I did after the race on super-swollen feet in super-tight shoes did some nerve damage! That has been slowly but surely dissipating, and finally felt good enough to run on – I kid you not – about 3 full weeks post-marathon.

really.gif

So when I was able to move around like a normal human being I started working out again on my own schedule, and I loved it. I focused more on strength training, and full disclosure: I’ve run less than 20 miles post-marathon. And when I did, I didn’t even wear my watch. It was a struggle. My body just didn’t want to move like it used to. Running felt unnatural, and I felt discouraged. But I reminded myself that I had just run TWENTY SIX MILES a few weeks earlier, and I couldn’t force it.

So I moved when I wanted to and finally went out to the trails this weekend for a 5K… and finally the miles felt easy again. My legs turned over like they wanted to, the sun was shining, my lungs were pumping, and I found my running mojo again.

IMG_7401[1].JPG

So now that I’m pretty much recovered, I’m looking to the horizon for what’s next! I don’t know if another full marathon is in my future – I won’t say never, but that was a lot of work and I’m still glowing in the success of this one! Instead of another full next year, I’m looking to something more attainable: a new Half Marathon PR in the spring!

How about you: have you ever experienced the post-race blues? What’s your most random non-running-related running injury? What big goals are you training for next?

T-Minus 5 Days

When they told me training for a marathon would take a lot of my time, I didn’t realize just HOW MUCH of my time that meant. On top of a very busy season at my day job, running for 2+ hours after work and 3-4+ hours on the weekend leaves me with little time to do things like blog, hang out with friends, and keep up with laundry at home.

IMG_5235.JPG

…and painting Star Wars pumpkins for Halloween!

Thankfully, since I hit 20 miles a few weeks ago and began my 3-week taper, my mileage has slowly decreased and allowed me more time to catch up on things.

IMG_5044

PS – 20 miles?? HOLY HELL

Sure, I mostly just end up sleeping instead of doing the things I should be catching up on, but sleep is just as important as running in marathon training (or so I’ve been told).

One thing I’ve been grateful for these past few weeks is that I’ve got sponsors backing me up on this journey. It may seem silly or trivial, but having the support of Altra Running and Poland Spring Brand Water means I can focus less on my sneakers and my hydration plans and more on getting the most out of my training.

IMG_5142.JPG

When it comes to my sneakers, I’ve been a die hard Altra fan since I discovered them a year ago, so it’s fitting that I get to rep them as an ambassador. They truly saved my running career after I developed plantar fasciitis along with numbness, burning and pain in my toes. I suffered through the Rock n Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon in severe pain and nearly considered taking a break for a few months. After that race, the pain was nearly constant, no matter what sneakers or shoes I wore. But when I slipped into my Altras – seriously, within MINUTES of slipping into them – the pain subsided, the numbness faded, and I was walking without pain for the first time in weeks, if not months.

IMG_5064.JPG

and they’re cute, too!

So I joined the Altra cult and haven’t looked back. I’ve been training exclusively in them and have already broken in and marked up my NYC pair. I’ve been remarkably lucky this entire training cycle to not have any issues with my sneakers like I’ve seen other runners go through. I guess the old saying is true: when you know, you just know.

IMG_4981.JPG

And with Poland Spring Brand, I really lucked out: as a major sponsor of the NYC Marathon, they reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in partnering, to which I said sure. While I’m rarely seen without my refillable water bottle, I usually have a big flip-top bottle of Poland Spring Brand on hand for my runs because it’s easier to drink from while running. But, just like I mentioned earlier, refilling my bottles and buying more after I ran out usually ended up at the bottom of my marathon training checklist and I would wind up just filling my reusable bottle with whatever I had on hand, usually the office tap water.

IMG_4774

Enter Poland Spring Brand, with a nearly endless supply of water to help me throughout marathon training. No, really. I have 24-packs everywhere to ensure I never run out: in my car, under my desk at work, in the fridge at home – I’m talking everywhere. These guys have kept me running with fresh tasting water for the past month, and will even be there on race day, at every water stop along the 26.2 mile journey through the 5 boroughs of NYC.

And they haven’t just been there to help me while I’m running; I’ve also been able to up my pre-run hydration game thanks to them, and as a result have seen a huge improvement in my long runs. In the past, I’d heard folks talk about hydrating the day before a long run and thought “I drink water, I’m good.” But once I started keeping track of my hydration and forced myself to drink 2-3 extra bottles a day before a long run, I found myself going faster and farther without fatigue during my long runs. Sure, I also pay attention to what I eat and get lots of sleep and do all the other things they say you need to do, but the hydration makes a huge difference.

See those paces up there? Yeah, I’m shocked too.

So now here I am, having finished my last long run of 8 miles on Sunday (at 11:47/mile!), I’ve got 3 on the calendar today, and I’m ready to take on that marathon. I’ve followed the plan nearly to the letter, I’ve fueled the right way, paid attention to my body and rested when I needed it, and now it’s time to rest and prepare for the victory lap around NYC in 6 days.

IMG_5063

Bring it on, NYC!

NYC Marathon Training Update

Because “I ran, I ran, and I ran some more” gets boring awfully fast – and because I now have a few months of training under my belt and monthly updates are easier – here’s a look by month of how my training has been going!

August

If July was when I built my base, August was when I started to get serious. My training plan had me logging 3 runs between Monday and Friday, and this was the month where I found the right balance. The plan as it’s published has these runs back to back to back, but my body just isn’t built like that. So after a few weeks of burning out and a skipped run or two, I realized I needed to shift some things around to maximize my training time. The result was a solid month of miles – and the end of the piriformis/hip flexor pain I started out with! Total August Miles: 86

IMG_3502.JPG

September

In September, my mileage steadily grew to the point where my mid-week runs were up to 9 miles. NINE! Before this whole marathon training thing started, 9 miles used to require a few days of psych-up time and a full Sunday. Now, I bang them out under 2 hours after a full day of work and call it a Wednesday. That fact will never not impress me!

This month I also learned the importance of stretching and strength training. Sure, the hours and hours of running I do each week take up a lot of time, but I’ve learned the hard way that stretching and strength training are non-negotiables. With this being my highest-mileage month EVER, I finished September feeling strong and ready to take on the home stretch. Final September Mileage: 121 miles

IMG_4459.JPG

October

While we’re only 11 days into it, October has already started off with a bang, with my highest mileage week ever from 10/1-7 (37 miles). I kicked off the month with an 18 mile run and felt incredibly strong. This weekend I take on my longest run ever, a 20-miler. October will be my hardest month in terms of mileage, but I know the payoff will be worth it!

Training Notes

In general, I’ve hit my training stride. Through trial and error, I’ve figured out the magic formula that works best for me:

  • Sunday long run
  • Monday rest
  • Tuesday first short run
  • Wednesday long mid-week run
  • Thursday rest/cross train
  • Friday 2nd short run
  • Saturday cross train
  • Repeat!

That’s not to say that I haven’t felt the burnout that comes with any training cycle. I’ve only experienced it before in half marathon training, but this is a whole other beast.

There was a moment a few weeks back when things were getting tough. We all have lives outside of running, and mine weighed heavily on me. I broke down one night and wanted to quit everything. I was tired of running, my body hurt. I was over-scheduled and under-rested, and mentally shredded. After mentioning my struggles to my friend Liz, she surprised me a few days later with a beautiful gift that – of course – made me cry:

IMG_4401.JPG

It’s crazy what running has brought into my life. The emotions, the friendships, the pride, the tears; sometimes when you’re in the thick of it, it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re doing this. That end goal is pretty hard to see when you’ve got to drag your ass out of bed before the sun for a long run to fit in the rest of your day’s plans, or when you’re at mile 4 of a 9 miler at 7:30pm on a Wednesday and would rather do ANYTHING but spend another hour on that treadmill. I’m running this marathon for a whole bunch of reasons that I forgot in that moment, but I’m grateful for being reminded in the sweetest way possible.

I’m in the thick of Peak Week at the moment, with 10 miles on the schedule tonight. And while it sounds crazy, I look forward to it. It turns out, pushing my body to do things I never thought possible comes with a whole new sense of accomplishment I’ve never felt before. And I know that while this feels pretty incredible, it’ll be nothing compared to how I’ll feel when I finally cross that finish line on November 5th.

Newport Half Marathon Race Recap

After a great experience as a Blog Partner with the Newport 10K in May, I was invited to run the the Newport Half Marathon in September and jumped at the opportunity. Sunday started out muggy and warmer than expected; Mere was running this race with me (well, she finished like 90 minutes before me but you know what I mean) and as we headed into Jersey City we prayed the sun would stay behind the clouds for our race to keep the temps low.

IMG_4033.JPG

Spoiler alert: it did!

A note about parking: a big factor in my race decisions is how easy it is to get to. My nerves are already shot enough on race morning, I’m not about to drive myself insane circling a city for a parking spot or navigating a bunch of detours. Anyone who’s driven in northern NJ will tell you that it’s a bitch and a half, so I was skeptical about a race IN Jersey City. But these folks are total pros, and even though we rolled up to the race area a bit later than I wanted, we still managed to get a parking spot in the huge deck very easily thanks to the clearly labeled streets and tons of race volunteers. A++ for that, Newport Half Race Team!

After parking, we stopped at the porta-potties (again, plenty of clean options available, another A+ for the event crew), hung out for a bit, and waited for the start.

IMG_4026

Full disclosure: while waiting, I had a bit of a panic attack. The craziness of the pre-race crowds two days in a row, combined with the lack of sleep and extra physical pressure I had been putting on myself all came to a head and I just wanted out. I didn’t want to be there. I felt itchy all over. My skin burned and my insides churned. I couldn’t catch my breath and I felt like crying. So I sat on the curb while everyone around me chatted and took a few deep breaths to work through it.

I didn’t plan to wait until World Mental Health Day to publish this post, but it’s fitting that I share it now. Anxiety doesn’t always look like hysterical tears or someone hugging themselves and rocking; sometimes it’s a quiet, forced smile or a stoneface when everyone else is laughing. I’m not going to gloss over my mental health issues to paint an unrealistic picture. We need to break the stigma of talking about these things, and I want to help do that, one blog post at a time. So yes, I had a small panic attack before the start. After a few minutes I was able to pull it together and we went on with our morning, but if you ever feel overwhelmed and scared, just know that you’re not alone!

giphy

Once we realized the crowd was moving to the start corrals we headed over with them and seeded ourselves. It was a smaller race so the corrals were about 50 feet apart, which was nice. Mere said farewell and headed to her corral and Mike stayed with me to send me off at the start, and away we went.

IMG_4029.JPG

Right away, the humidity was an issue. It was hard to breathe and my muscles were super tight from racing Seaside the day before. I took it slow because I still had the goal of adding miles at the end of the race. But by mile 3, my right calf and ankle felt like they were wrapped in super glue: tight, hot, and angry. So I pulled over to a curb and stretched for a good minute or two – clearly this was not going to be one of those “omg I am so strong!” races. I was OK with this.

After mile 3, I was feeling better, my ankle and calf had loosened up, and even though I was drenched in sweat already, I fell into a groove behind these two girls at my exact pace, who had to be twins – they had nearly identical builds and ponytails, even their gaits were similar.

IMG_4121.JPG

I took my first gel at the water stop near 4.5 and finally stopped for a bathroom break at about mile 6 in the park. Then we turned onto the waterfront path at 6.5 and came face to face with Lady Liberty and the NYC Skyline – and I kid you not – Taylor Swift’s Welcome to New York randomly came on my iPod and the run immediately took a turn for the better.

I sang, I danced, I pointed at the skyline – hell, I cried some happy tears – all while running straight for that beautiful city in front of me.

IMG_4042.JPG

I’m sure the folks around me thought I was insane, but I didn’t care. Seeing the city was just the refresher I needed to get me through the rest of the race. We curled through the park for another few miles, and about halfway through mile 9 we cruised through a water stop manned by a crew of teens who cheered us on with big smiles. I had to laugh though – as I took my second gel and walked through, one of the teens sitting on the curb nearby shouted to her friend across the course, “Oh my god, my legs are SO TIRED!” to which I replied without thinking, “YOUR legs are tired???” She immediately blushed and covered her face and laughed with everyone around her – “I’m sorry!! I mean I ran yesterday so I’m sore! But you’re running so much more than me, you’ve got this!!” It’s always fun to interact with the volunteers 🙂

Around mile 10.5 as we neared the city again, I started to feel some twinge-y pains in my left ankle, possibly from overcompensating for the sore right ankle earlier in the run? Either way, I slowed down a lot here, and even stopped to fish a rock out of my shoe at one point. Then just before mile 11, we turned the corner where a small group of spectators stood. A woman was there with an older woman and a younger guy, and she was holding a sign that said “Almost there!” Of course, I laughed and said with a smile, “You’re not allowed to say that until Mile 13!”

Well, apparently this woman had enough of being heckled by runners the whole race, because she immediately snapped back at me in a super-nasty tone: “IT’S AN INSIDE JOKE.”

excuse me.gif

excuse me??

I laughed in her face and waved her off. Um, an inside joke with who? One of the thousands of runners out here on the course with me? How about if you don’t like the comments you’re getting, you put that sign down until this inside joker of yours passes by, and you keep that sourpuss to yourself, mmkay?

tenor

ANYWAY, it was right about then that Formation came on my ipod and I kicked it into gear for the final 5K. I texted Mike to let him know I was about a half hour away and took off at my now slower pace to keep that tender ankle from rolling. At mile 12 we hit the waterfront and cruised along there for the final mile and a half, and I crossed the finish line at 13.5 miles in a semi-decent time for a training run on tired legs.

IMG_4123.JPG

Overall it was a perfect course and a well-organized race, just like the 10K. If you’re looking for a nice flat half marathon with pretty views (and a medal, too!), definitely check this one out.

Back to Back Race Weekend

Because they were both such awesome experiences, I’m going to write individual race recaps for each of the races I ran back in September, but first I want to talk about racing in back to back events in one weekend: in a word, it was challenging.

On Saturday the 16th, I headed down to Seaside, NJ for the 4th running of the Seaside Semper Five 5K. After what happened at the race last year, there was no way I was missing this one. Even though I had 16 miles on the training schedule the next day, I figured I’d go and walk it, just to participate.

IMG_4094.JPG

So we fought through the crowds and Mike and I met up with our friends Liz and Jess and Ed (Liz and Ed ran it, Jess hung back with Mike) and after BSing at the start for a bit, the gun went off. And of course my competitive streak came out and I ran. I mean RAN. It wasn’t my hardest effort, but I really pushed more than I probably should have.

The next day, I woke up again at about 4:30am for the Newport Half Marathon with the goal of adding 1.5 miles before and 1.5 miles after for my 16 NYC Marathon Training Miles.

IMG_4026.JPG

Well. Let’s just say that after my 2nd 4:30aM wakeup in a row, coupled with another crazy crowd of people, 90% humidity and tired legs all combined to make it not my best idea. I ended up having a minor anxiety attack before the start. I started out feeling OK but my right calf was super tight by mile 3. I really felt the burn by mile 10. At mile 12 this sharp pain in my left ankle caused me to slow down even more to avoid injury. By the time I finished, I was DONE with a capital D. Those other 3 miles were not happening.

And guess what? THE WORLD DIDN’T END.

shock

Shocking, right??

In the past, I’ve been so super strict with myself about THE PLAN that missing a few miles here or there would send me into a tailspin of anxiety and self-doubt. 13 miles instead of 16 means the next week’s 12 miler would be another shorter run and the next week I have to do 18 and jump from 13 to 18 and I CAN’T DO THAT!

tenor.gif

Once the crazy lady in my brain calmed down (and I got out of the ice bath after that half marathon), I realized: I still did a LOT that weekend. All told, I DID the 16 miles. Sure, I ran them over 24 hours, but I still ran them. And there’s always time to make up those miles. So I made the decision to listen to my exhausted body and mind, called it at 13 for the weekend and picked up at 16 the following weekend. And it was fine! I’m now at 18 miles and feeling groovy, ready for my 20 miler in a few weeks, and those 3 missing miles didn’t kill me!

yay.gif

So yes, I ran back to back races in one weekend. No, I would not do it again. Or if I did, I’d be sure to take it super easy (I’m talking walking) during the pre-long run event. I’m simply not at the point in my fitness where I can race one day and go for 3+ hours at nearly 90% power the very next day. The marathon training process is teaching me a lot of things. I’ve learned that I’m capable of a lot of incredible things, like running 18 miles with a huge blister and not stopping. But it’s also teaching me what I’m not capable of, which is just as important.

Running and Doubt (and my NEW Longest Run Ever)

This past weekend, I had 15 miles on the calendar and BOY was I looking forward to it. I hydrated well in the days leading up to the run. I spent the day before walking and relaxing down in LBI. I got a lot of sleep that night. Because I wanted a change of scenery (and the boardwalk bathrooms are still open), I decided to take my run to a new venue down the shore. My plan was to park at my usual starting spot, go 5 miles in one direction, 5 back, then continue on for 2.5 then back for my 15 total.

So I got down to the shore and took off in one direction for about 4 miles… before I ran out of boardwalk. I’m sure I could have probably explored a little more and gone into town for a bit until I picked up the boardwalk in the next town, but instead, I ran up the side street for half a mile then back down to the boards again for my 5.

oh well.gif

Fun Fact: at Mile 5, I stopped for a stretch on the sidewalk. When I realized I’d shorted myself on this turnaround and I’d need to make up that extra .5 somewhere down the line, I let out a breath and f-bombed the frustration out in one long, loud groan. But when I stood up, that’s when I saw the tiny girl at her Hurricane Irma Relief Lemonade Stand staring at me from across the street in a perfect recreation of the wide-eyed-person emoji:

s-l300.jpg

She made the face. Then I made the face. And then I ran across the street and threw my five sweaty singles into her basket and thanked her for the awesome thing she was doing and basically bought her silence on the matter. And I didn’t even take any of her lemonade or cookies.

21427450_10101011525267339_1800626430434447412_o.jpg

Anyway, once I got back onto the boardwalk for miles 5-15, I found a BRUTAL headwind coming from the north. After about 2 miles, I started to flag. I walked a bit. My music wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I accidentally stopped my watch (!!!!) at like 6.16 miles and threw off my whole mileage count for the rest of the run. I tried doing mental math and said OK, start the watch again and just go 8.84. This is easier said than done when there are turnarounds involved.

giphy.gif

By the time I got to new mile 4 (really mile 10), I stopped at my car to refill my water and reapply sunscreen. Apparently that was the wrong thing to do, because the last 5 miles were THE WORST. With my new math, I’d told myself I just had to go until my watch said 6.5 and turn around. So I put my head down and went. I was so delirious that when I hit 5, I sighed in relief and thought OK, just a half left – but then I realized I’d said 6.5, and that was it – I started to cry.

giphy1.gif

I pulled over, sat on a bench, and cried behind my sunglasses like a big baby. I said some mean things to myself. Discouraging, nasty things that I never would have said out loud to anyone else. A marathon is impossible, I have no right to claim I could even attempt that distance, etc. But after a few minutes of hating on myself, I knew I still had to finish the run, so I went about another half mile before I gave up entirely on that direction due to the crazy crowds, and turned around for the final 2.5 mile stretch.

While 2.5 miles seems like nothing right now, I couldn’t imagine going for that long. Not because my body couldn’t do it; the soles of my feet burned but other than that I was physically FINE. It was my mental game that had fallen apart, and there was no getting it back in order.

worst.gif

I switched on my power playlist and took a bunch of walk breaks, shooting my pace to hell (in my mind). By the time I got to the car, I lapped the block I parked on over and over to get to 15, unlocked the car, got into the driver’s seat, and cried. And this time I didn’t try to hide it. I just put my head on the steering wheel and let it out. I was disappointed in myself, plain and simple.

IMG_3790.JPG

I posted some videos to my Instagram stories that day in the moment, and received a LOT of love from you guys there. I really appreciate that, truly. You have no idea how reassuring it is to know that I’m not the only one who’s had doubts and bad runs and all the negative stuff that comes with this process.

Upon reflection, I  know that I CAN RUN 15 MILES. I just ran 14 a few weeks ago and felt unstoppable. This is a fact, that I can physically take on these distances. But once I told myself I couldn’t do it, I knew it to be true in that moment. That Henry Ford quote really is true: “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”

While I’m disappointed in what a flop that run turned into, I’m determined to learn from it and grow. I’ve slightly increased my strength training to keep every part of me strong, not just my legs. Last night I ran the 4 on my schedule even though I was still sore and slow. This run was proof that I need to work on my mental game as much as the physical part of it, and I’m not going to fail in that.

Newport Half Marathon, Here I Come!

Because I have the NYC Marathon coming up in less than 8 weeks…

bathroom 2

… I’ve purposely kept my racing schedule down to a minimum. This time last year I’d run more than a handful of races in all distances while leading up to my October half marathon, but that was because adding shorter distances while training wasn’t too big of a deal for me then. What was a 5K the day after a 6 mile long run, right?

giphy.gif

Fast forward to this summer, when I realized my marathon training plan would have me doing double digits nearly every weekend from August-October, and suddenly the idea of adding a 5K or 10K before or after didn’t seem so appealing.

giphy (1)

That’s not to say I’m completely bereft of races from now through November 5th; I could never miss the Seaside Semper Five on September 16th (especially after what happened last year), so I’m running that.

img_7287

I was a little wary of adding anything more though, because the next day I have 16 on the calendar. It will be my longest run to date, and while I just had a super successful 14 miler a few weeks ago, the thought of doing 3.1 before it is a little scary.

But when the folks at the Newport Racing Series reached out to me to see if I wanted to run the Newport Half Marathon the next day on 9/17, I jumped at the opportunity: I had a fantastic time at the Newport 10K back in May, and knowing how well the race would be organized (and being familiar with at least half of the course!), I would be thrilled to use the half marathon as a training run in the lead up to my marathon. Thirteen point one miles of cheering spectators, beautiful views, and aid stations on my long run? Meaning I only have to run 3 miles on my own afterwards for my 16 total?

giphy

Yes, please!

So I’m super stoked to be running the Newport Half Marathon and can’t wait to nail my mileage with the help of a few thousand friends and spectators. Plus I get a medal at the end of it; how many long training runs give you a medal? Uhm, none, I think. So yeah.

It will be kind of weird knowing that everyone else is out for blood during the race while I plod along at my marathon goal pace to keep my legs fresh. I’m definitely going to force myself to walk most of the 5K the day before to really give it my best shot and not show up to the starting line completely shredding, but I won’t be gunning for time or a new PR at this race at all. It’s fast, flat, and a beautiful course, and I plan on just enjoying every step of those 13 (er, 16) miles.

What do you think: Have you ever used a race as part of your training? Would you consider it? Let’s hear it in the comments!