Saturday, February 28, 2015

All the other stuff

I believe that if you are committed to becoming the best runner that you can be that the most important thing that you can do is RUN. The law of specificity teaches that to get better in any activity, you must precisely practice the skill that you wish to develop. So if you want to be an excellent singer, you have to sing. A lot. If you want to be an accomplished painter, you have to paint often. And if you want to be a great runner, you have to run. There is a reason that the elites run 100+ miles a week. 

That said, there are a lot of other things that go into being a good, healthy, strong runner. There is no way to completely avoid injuries (even for elites and pro's) but there is a lot that you can do to minimize your chances of injury and to be as strong of an athlete overall as possible. 

Here are some of the things that work for me. :)

- Strength and Core Training - When you run, you are moving over and over in a very specific movement pattern. Us runners usually have fantastic calves and quads from all those miles. But to run the best you can, to maintain good form throughout your races, to have the most efficient form, and to ward off injury, you need to have strength and stability in all of your major muscle groups, especially your core, hips, glutes, and even your feet. 

I am not going to give you a list of "10 magical exercises" to make you bullet-proof, because I don't think there are 10 magical exercises and I think that mixing things up regularly is important, but here are some of the exercises I recommend.

- single legged squats
- full squats
- jumping squats (I call them "rocket squats")
- lunges (forward, backward, side to side, jumping)
- calf raises and drops on a stair
- lying bridges (single legged once you can - these are great for glutes)
- side planks (with movements once you can)
- front planks (with movements once you can)
- push ups
- bench dips
- donkey kicks
- clamshells

Some videos I like are Coach Jay Johnson's awesome Myrtle Routine,  this KILLER core routine (also from Coach Jay), and this great strength routine from Nike (shared by Runner's World)

My coach sent me one of these Ab Carvers and this thing is EVIL yet effective. It really works your full core (front and back) and it is a lot harder than it looks. It is hilarious to hand it to a teenager and watch them suffer and crash after just a few reps (and not be able to sit up the next day). 

I also really recommend Jay Dicharry's book "Anatomy for Runners".  This book is super and very user friendly. It gives you simple tests to do to determine where your weaknesses are as a runner and then detailed exercises to do to strengthen the areas you need to strengthen. It's a great resource for runners.

I have a few different routines that I do and I mix them up with the videos I mention. I typically do core and strength work 3-4 days a week. It is easy to slack on this when you are running a lot and are busy and tired, but getting to done is important.

- Dynamic Warmup - If I am just running easy miles then I usually just use the first mile or two of my run to warm up gradually, but if I am going to do any speed work, then I like to do some dynamic warmups. Also, if it is super cold out, I often do a little bit of dynamic warmup before I head out the door. Dynamic warmups are great for getting those muscles awake and firing and ready to go before running fast. Leg swings, toe touches, high knees, butt kicks, super skips, walking lunges, carioca (FOR THE LOVE people… stop calling it karaoke. Karaoke = singing), and then some strides are usually perfect for me. 

- Rolling and Stretching - There are plenty of people who swear that you don't need to stretch and some that even think stretching is bad for you. On the flip side, there are many runners and coaches who believe in the benefits of stretching. As in all things in life, do what works for you. I believe in stretching AFTER a run/workout (never before).  For me, doing some calf, hammy, quad, and hip stretches after a run feels fantastic. 

I have a pile of "tools" that I use for self massage. (I don't live somewhere that I have the option to get regular sports massages but I think you can do a great job on your own if you need to). I have a "stick", a lacrosse ball, a Roll Recovery, a Foot Rubz, and a foam roller and I use all of them daily. I have found that certain tools get certain areas better than others. For an example, nothing helps work out a tight piriformis in my opinion than a lacrosse ball, but the Roll Recovery is best on my hammies and quads. So I use all of these tools.  :)

I have found that doing some light stretching and then rolling/massaging my muscles once a day keeps my legs feeling good. It helps with tightness and soreness. It also helps me notice any areas that may be starting to get a little tight or sore before I would notice them on a run. Finding little niggles while they are still little lets me give them some extra attention with massage, stretching, etc. and get them resolved before they turn into a big niggle or injury. 

Rolling and stretching is something that I slacked on last training cycle (and I believe I would have caught and resolved my tight hamstring earlier had I been more diligent). When you are super busy it is something that is easy to skip but I really believe it is well worth the little bit of time and effort that it takes. I typically do my stretching/rolling/massaging routine after a run, and if I have any sore spots or am extra sore, I do it again at night while watching TV. 

- Diet and Nutrition- What you eat and how much is an important part of training. If you eat too little you will be under-fueled and will underperform. If you eat too much (regularly) you will carry extra weight, which isn't ideal. The "what" you eat is even more important than the "how much".  I recently wrote a post about what works for me in regards to my diet and fueling and this is very much a "find what works for you" topic, however, there are a few solid truths.

Eat/drink within 30 minutes after a run or workout. Eat real food. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, legumes, proteins, healthy fats. If you fill up on good stuff, you won't have a lot of room for the less than good stuff. :) Eat from all the food groups. Drink lots of water. Don't make anything off limits (unless you have allergies). Remember that food is truly fuel for you body, so give it the good stuff. Runners ask a lot from their bodies, and therefor need to feed them well. 

refueling after a run with hot cereal mixed with fruit, nuts and a few dark chocolate chips :)
Also, since as athletes we do ask so much of our bodies, some may want/need supplements. I take iron along with my EnduroPacks, both of which help me be at my best physically and to recover from the hard training I do.

Mental Training - Last but certainly not least is the aspect of mental training. We talk a lot about how much of running, training, and racing is mental and yet most of us do not put much (if any) time into our mental training. Three books that I recommend on this are The Gold Medal Mind by Jim Afremow,   Mind Gym : An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence by Gary Mack, and Running Within by Jerry Lynch and Warren Scott. All of these books have really great information and inspiration, along with exercises to do to help you develop your MENTAL strength and toughness. It is good, good stuff. This is another area I slacked on last training cycle and am recommitted to. I have been reading/using Mind Gym this past week and it's amazing how powerful it is.

Sleep - Ok people… this is one area where you are going to have to just "do as I say, not as I do." Sleep is important for everyone. Sleep is super important for athletes and runners. You should get a full night of sleep. Naps are good too if you have the option (I don't). 

Most nights I get six hours of sleep. I got to bed just after 10pm (when I make my teens be in their rooms on school nights) and I get up at 4-4:15am. I know it's not ideal, but the wake up time is required to be able to get my running done, and I don't like to go to bed before the kids since that is often the only time of the day I have with the big kids since they get home so late with school, sports, work, etc. I do try to at least rest for a little bit throughout the day if/when I get the chance and I am always laying down on the couch with a blanket shortly after 8pm (once the little kids are in bed). Many nights I catnap on the couch while the older kids watch TV, do homework, play on IPADs, etc. I can fall asleep anytime, anywhere, as long as no one needs anything. :)

You can almost always find me in "my spot" on the couch, with my blanket and my puppies (I don't know where Peanut is in this pic but she is usually there too) any night after 8pm…sometimes awake, sometimes not so much. :)

So, that is what I do. I run a lot. I do my core and strength work. I roll, stretch, and massage my muscles. I pay attention to my diet and nutrition. I am putting time and effort into my mental training. And I sleep as much as possible. Is it easy fitting it all in around everything else I have to do in a day? Nope. But I wouldn't change a thing. :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


I know I said my next post would be about my strength, core work, etc. but please allow this mama to brag a minute.

All of my kids are awesome. And with 12 of them, we have a HUGE array of talents and interests. I am not the kind of mom who pushes her kids into anything… I don't make them all take piano or make them run… I just want them all to find something to pursue. I want them all to have something that makes them feel alive… something they are passionate about… something that excites them… something they are willing to work hard at. Sports, music, art, science…the "what" doesn't matter.

I could brag on all of my kids, but that would make for a REALLY long post. So today I am going to brag on two. Ben and Shane. They are my two freshman and they both have been working really hard lately.

Ben is my soccer kid. We adopted him from Ethiopia when he was five years old, and soccer is practically religion to many there. His first full English sentence was, "Dad kick ball!" as he moved chairs around our hotel room in Addis Ababa to create a makeshift goal. This is Ben's first year in high school and he is SUPER excited for high school soccer, which starts in just a couple of weeks. He has a lot of natural talent, but also has been working super hard. He played in a travel league over the winter even though it involved an almost two hour drive each way for games (he carpooled with friends), he gets up at 5am twice a week - once on Saturdays- for early morning soccer, and he has been staying after school every day for weights in the gym and scrimmages with his teammates. He competed (and did really well!) in cross country in the fall to build his strength and endurance. And oh yeah… he has a 3.954 GPA.

I will be getting some good soccer action shots of Ben SOON, but here is one of him with Noah (he is Noah's most favorite person) from this summer, and one of him doing his second favorite thing after soccer… eating. (YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH FOOD MY TEENAGED BOYS EAT.)

photo bomb by some kid I don't know :)
photo bomb by Marcus :)
brownies and ice cream. Lots of it.
Shane is my other freshman this year. I have posted about his running success before, both in middle school and in cross country this fall (he won the freshman race the Footlocker XC Regionals race in California). This is his first year of high school track and his first indoor season, and he had a killer week last week.

The team went to Simplot Games, which is a huge meet that brings in teams from all over the country. Our team is super strong and is full of kids with state titles, and yet Shane was the only kid on the team to qualify for the finals in any event as a single athlete at Simplot. He was also the only freshman in the 1600m finals and he ran a big PR of 4:28!!! Then with less than an hour to recover, he ran on part of our school's 4x800 team with three seniors, and they smashed our school's indoor 4x800 record and took THIRD place at Simplot with a time of 8:14.

Shane gets up on his own at 5am to get in an extra run a couple times a week and then practices with the team after school every day. He works hard day in and day out and has his head focused on some very big goals. He also is a really talented cellist. He told me the three things that make him happy are running, cello, and long boarding. (Long boarding however leads to frequent loss of skin). He practices almost daily on his own accord, sometimes for hours. And… he also has a 3.954 GPA. (How hilarious is it that the boys have the exact same GPA??)

yeah - he is awesome
A super group of kids. 3 seniors and the freshman. I am so grateful for how wonderful these older boys have been to Shane.
Watching these two work hard at their passions and talents and having success is very rewarding as a mom. And, they are a whole lot of fun and really great people. :)

I will do some more bragging on the other kids soon too. This post would be more of a novel if I did them all at once. But trust me when I say I am overflowing with pride and love for each one of them.

I am back to structured training. I have been fighting a cold, but besides that I feel pretty fantastic. 76 miles last week and 79 this week, and I get to do a full workout tomorrow which I am looking forward to, even though it is going to be COLD out on the track (single digits). I just can't make myself choose the treadmill over a clear track for a workout.

It was single digits over the weekend, and on Sunday I just could NOT warm up after my run, even after a shower, hot drink, warm clothes, etc. I found some sun and it felt amazing…and yeah… I dozed off… standing up….soaking up the sun. It was more comfortable than it looks. :)

and here is a little inspiration to share.

Ok, now I promise a post about all the things I do (besides running) for my fitness coming in the next day or two. :)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The beginning, not the end

Sometimes it feels like life is doing it's best to drag you down and discourage you. Being honest, I struggled with feeling that way a little bit lately. I am not one to get discouraged or give up or be pessimistic, but we all have our moments, right?

I would never stop running, but my mind toyed with thoughts about just running for fun... not "training"... not racing. I never truly believed I might go that direction, but I let myself pretend that I was considering it for a bit. I thought of all the people who have suggested (or flat out told me) that I should give up and that I am not cut out for this and wondered if maybe they were right. I had a wee bit of a pity party.

When I started this blog I never imagined so many people would read it. I have put myself "out there" and shared my story and journey because I truly love being a part of the running community and because I get so much inspiration and strength from other runners who share their stories, and from those who care about mine. And because every time I get a message or an email from someone saying that my story has inspired them, it far, far outweighs the annoyance of the few negative voices.

That said, when you fail publicly, everyone has advice for you. You should run less. You should run more. You should train slower. You should train faster. You shouldn't train on the treadmill. You should should lose weight. You should cross train more. You should stretch more. You should stretch less. Your mind is weak. You are too old. You should race more. You should race less. 

You get the idea. 

Luckily I have an awesome coach (who I have been working with for one year tomorrow!) and he is the one I listen to. Otherwise I might go nuts trying to sift through all the advice on what I "should" do. Advice from others is appreciated (and I have gotten some great nuggets!!!) although it can be overwhelming too. So I listen to coach.

I also listen to my heart.

Yesterday I had THREE moments of support/encouragement that spoke volumes to me and today I had another. First, a dear friend posted this on my wall on Facebook.

Can I get an amen??
Then awesome Oiselle and the incredible Kara Goucher shared this, along with an article written by Kara about how she has struggled with confidence and self-doubt but ultimately chooses to ignore the critics (especially the one in her own head) and follow her heart and go after her dreams.

Then another friend shared this and there aren't words for how much I love it -

And last but certainly not least, yet another sweet friend sent me an email this morning with the link to this great post by Susan Loken. If you don't know of her, Susan started running at the age of 35 and has had incredible success as a Master's Runner, with a marathon PR of 2:41 in 2006 and many titles and marathon wins. In her recent post she writes about how she had so much success and joy in 2010, and then has struggled ever since. Her current goals are to set the master's course record at the Boston Marathon and to run the 2016 Olympic Trials at the age of 52, but she is dealing with another significant injury and was faced with the decision to give up or keep going after her dreams. In her words, she chose to fall down seven times, get up eight. She also talks about how she loves waking up every day with a goal, a dream and a purpose. She writes, "I love the journey and my heart will not let me give up or back down."


With all of that encouragement in less than 24 hours, it is hard not to get the message. :) Ultimately though, the message that matters is the one from my own heart and my own mind, and that message has been loud and clear the past few days. I am all in. I can do this. I am good enough. My journey. My goals. My dreams. My life story. Let's go!

I am almost 38 years old. Six years ago I was still almost 70lbs overweight (down about 10lbs on my journey to get healthy). I had never run a mile. I know in my soul that becoming a runner and going after my goals and dreams is something I am meant to do... part of who I am and who I am supposed to be. I have come a long way on this journey, but this is still the beginning of the story, not the end. Stay tuned, there is lots more to come.

This morning I had scheduled 8 easy paced miles but one of the women I coach had five miles with a three-mile tempo in the middle that she needed some support/encouragement for, so I offered to meet her at our high school track at 5am to pace her and help her through it. I had not run anything that wasn't super easy pace since the hammy got tweaked, but it has felt 100% the last few days, even when stretching, rolling and massaging it, so I decided to test it a little, figuring since I was on the track I could stop the second I felt any tightening.

We did a one mile warm up and then I ran L's three mile tempo miles in 7:39, 7:17 and 7:05 (I ran two laps further out on the track than her and pulled her along. It was fun!) Then we ran a mile easy together and she left, and I decided to repeat the workout but run it at my paces since I felt so great. So I did a mile in 7:51 to "warm up", and then did 3 tempo miles in 6:47, 6:40 and 6:23 and then a cool down mile in 7:56. IT FELT AWESOME. It felt so, so good to run on the track and be free from the treadmill. The hammy felt 100% before, during and after. It was just a fun, fun run.

I am back into my "game on" routine. I got a little lazy with some things last training cycle and I think that contributed to the hammy tweak. No more laziness. I have been rolling and stretching twice a day again (this works for me, so I am doing it). I am back to doing my full core and strength work every other day. My diet is on target. My head is in the game. My heart is believing. 

Ogden Marathon. May 16. 12 weeks. Let's go! :)

"When you're a dreamer, heartbreak and failure come with the territory. But I can tell you it's worth it because it's a way of living that is both moving and memorable." - Lauren Fleshman

(A few of you have asked me about what I have been doing for strengthening my hammy and my all around strength work. My next post will be about what I do besides running and what works for me. If you have any questions, ask away!)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Getting over the disappointment

I got home from Tallahassee late on Tuesday afternoon, just in time to make dinner, drop kids off at a church dance, and take Marcus to his basketball game. Wednesday had eight parent-teacher conferences, grocery shopping, and a choir concert, and yesterday was a more normal day with just the usual mom work, coaching work, and errands. Poor Noah has been sick since I got back, so there has been lots of puke cleaning (glad that wasn't going on while I was gone). The kids have a four-day weekend now so I finally feel like I am coming up for air a bit and able to get caught up on things.

I have definitely gone through a range of emotions since my DNF on Sunday. Sadness, doubt, anger, discouragement, frustration... round and round. To put in 85 miles a week for 10 weeks feeling healthy and strong (and then taper), and to feel like you are in the shape of your life, and to have put in SO much work and mental energy into a race, and then have something go wrong with a week to go and NOT be able to reap the rewards of all the work... it is frustrating. Disappointing.

I went over things with Coach to see what we should adjust and do better next time, and we both agree that the strained hamstring was most likely a result of a combination of five big, tough workouts in 17 days. Coach thinks (in hindsight) that they were just too much, and should have been spread out a bit more or toned down a little bit. Lesson learned, and we adapt and adjust moving forward.

Thanks for all of the comments. I know other runners "get it" a lot more so than most people. I already do lots of strengthening exercises for strengthening hammies, glutes, quads, etc. regularly, but I need to be better about the massaging/rolling and stretching after workouts. In regards to the mileage, I do think that I found my "sweet spot" in mileage this time around. I averaged 85 miles a week for 10 weeks and then had a two-week taper. In the past I have had similar mileage averages but with higher "highs" (over 100 mpw) and lower low weeks. This time my highest week was 94 miles, and most of the weeks were in the 84-86 mile range. At that mileage I feel like I am training hard and running a lot, but it is very manageable and I am not dragging or worn out overall (as I have felt at a bit higher mileage). It felt super good this cycle.

The hamstring is improving. I can still feel a tight/sore area when I roll/massage/stretch but it no longer feels tight moving around and I can run on it just fine at easy pace. I would say it is back to where it was this time last week before the race... when I was hoping that marathon pace would be manageable. I am not going to try anything faster (or increase mileage) until it is 100%. I was lucky enough to see a fantastic sports massage therapist (twice!) while I was in Tallahassee who travels to treat Olympic athletes and trains other massage therapists, so I am doing what he told me to in regards to treating the hammy.

Originally Coach and I talked about finding another marathon soon to get to since I only ran 10 miles in Tallahassee and don't need to recover from racing a marathon. My training went SO well and I was SO ready to race, and it is awful to feel so tapered and ready and not be able to do anything with it. But then we decided that the smartest thing to do is to let this hamstring heal 100% without rushing it, and then focus on the Ogden Marathon (Utah) on May 16. I also have a half I will be doing on April 4.

So, that's the plan. Having a plan and looking forward helps me to feel better and get past the DNF.

And a little bit of perspective always helps. This time last year I was coming off a miserable year of over-training and injury that resulted in this -

Now I have had almost a year of overall fantastic training. I keep reminding myself that these things happen to athletes of all levels and it is a part of being in sports.  I have to wait a little longer to reap the rewards on race day, but this hammy strain is minor and I know if I am smart and patient that I will have another chance soon to show what I know I can do.

Despite the terribly disappointing race, the trip to Tallahassee was great. I got to spend lots of time with my Jennifer and her "people" (her boyfriend and his daughter, grandmother, brother, nephews, father, friends, etc.). Time with your BFF, especially when she lives so far away, is priceless. I love her so much and am so grateful for all that she does for me.

Here are some pics from the weekend. Surprisingly I managed to get a decent race photo out of the day...

stupid hamstring
Jennifer made this on the wall in her condo. She is truly the best.
relaxing the night before the race
race morning
Waiting for the start
mile 2 - courtesy of Jennifer
Drinks, dinner, and a Vince Gill concert. Wonderful night!

"Disappointments are just God's way of saying: "I've got something better." Be patient, live life and have faith."

"Your success is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way." - Robert Kiyosaki

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Tally 2015

The Tallahassee Marathon was this morning.

I was quiet online this past week because I tweaked a hamstring in my last big workout. It felt ok when I ran easy and slow, but when I did anything faster it tightened up. I worked on it with my massage tools, Josh worked on it,  I got a great sports massage, I stretched it, I rested it, I thought positive, and I hoped for the best.

During the first mile of the marathon (yes, mile one) it cramped up hard. It brought tears to me eyes and I almost stopped right then and there. I kept telling myself over and over, "Relax. Don't panic. Just run." I did, and it relaxed a little, but the tightness never went away. I was on pace and everything else felt good, but the power and strength were not there on that side and it hurt.

A friend told me that you have to be willing to suffer some to achieve big marathon goals, so I reminded myself of that and kept going. I knew a little suffering would be worth it to get that PR.

It felt decent until mile 6-7 and I started getting my hopes up that it would be ok, but then right around mile 7 it started to tighten up more and hurt more. At mile 8 aid station I stopped for a few seconds for a sip of water and when I started again it hurt a lot and did not get any better. Somewhere around mile 9 I knew I was limping and it felt even worse, and at the aid station just past mile 10 I stopped, stretched, tried to go again, could barely jog, and walked off the course.

I never wanted to DNF again but I have no doubts I did the right thing because it hurts just walking right now and my flexibility on that side is very limited. If I had only a few miles left I could have pushed and finished off pace, but there is no way I was going to get another 16 fast miles out of it that hammie with how it felt. It probably wasn't the smartest to run 10 miles on it how it felt, but mentally I had to be sure before choosing to DNF.

It was perfect weather, my training went awesome, and  I felt great this whole training cycle up until a week ago...not even a niggle. So of course I am extremely frustrated and I am disappointed, but I knew this week that the hamstring was questionable. My fitness was there today and I was on target or close until things got really bad with the hammie, and when this hamstring is 100% I am going after it again. Coach and I are looking at some options. I saw a great sports massage therapist after the race today and he felt like this should heal up fairly quickly, so fingers are crossed and I am trying to be hopeful and optimistic.

If the race was anywhere else I may not have risked traveling and trying to race, but I am glad for this visit with my best friend and the time we are having together.

I will get back to 100%, go over things with coach, and get back on a start line soon.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Being Your Best

It's Sunday, and I am curled up on the couch with my blanket and laptop, enjoying the Super Bowl with the family.

I am a sports fan, and I have been for as long as I remember. Football, baseball, hockey, anything in the Olympics, OBVIOUSLY running and track and field, soccer, basketball.... I will really watch any sport. 

There is something that is just really cool and really inspirational to me about watching people compete and strive to be the very best that they can be at something they enjoy and are passionate about. I love to watch others pushing their limits, chasing their dreams, and taking their talents as far as they can.

It is one the things about running that is so great to me too.  Very few will ever be "the best" at running (in their event) but we can all be OUR best. We can all push ourselves to our limits, chase our dreams, and see just how good we really can be. 

As a coach I frequently get to see my clients achieve things that they "never thought they could". With my own running I have achieved things I never, ever could have imagined possible even a few years ago, and I plan to achieve much more. 

And while on the surface it may not seem like a PR in a 5k or a half or a marathon would really have much of an impact on the rest of your life, I promise that it does. Because when you achieve something you never thought you could... especially something physical... it makes you realize that you are stronger than you thought, and more capable than you thought, and have more potential than you thought. It makes you believe in yourself more in all areas of your life.  It makes you dare a little more, try a little harder, and dream a little bigger.

I believe strongly that when we discover our God-given talents and pursue them that it is the road to discovering our very best selves in all areas of our lives. For me, running lit a fire in me that I never want to go out.

There is one week now until the Tallahassee Marathon!!! It came up so fast.  I am super well trained, tapering, EXCITED, feeling great, and ready to fly and see how good I can be next weekend. Oh yeah... and I am ready to have a killer long weekend with my BFF in the universe. :) 

In the past I have gone into races with my overwhelming emotion being a fear of failing. This time I am embracing this as an opportunity to be awesome... a chance to succeed and reap the rewards of lots of hard work. It will be hard, and it will hurt, but I will be doing what I love, pushing my talents, and taking a shot at being my best. I believe it's going to be great. I feel really good inside. I am ready and I can't wait. :)

As my awesome Oiselle team says, "Head up, Wings out". Time to fly.

Here are a few really great quotes I found on being your best. Enjoy. :)

"I hope when you count the stars you begin with yourself, and may you embrace the moonlight with your dreams." ~Dodinsky

"Life is not about discovering our talents; it is about pushing our talents to the limit and discovering our genius." ~Robert Brault
"Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart." ~Kongzi

"There is no telling how many miles you will have to run while chasing a dream." ~Author Unknown

"It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not." ~Attributed to Hanoch McCarty

"The shell must break before the bird can fly." ~Alfred Tennyson

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Best Motivation

If you have ever trained for a marathon, you know how tough the last week before taper can be. You are near the end of the cycle. You have been running high mileage for many weeks. You have been doing big, hard workouts for many weeks and often have your BIGGEST and hardest workouts this week. You are tired. AND, the race is getting close so the butterflies start to flutter... and you are both looking forward to and dreading taper. (Is it just me??) I have two weeks and 3 days until race day, and am just a few runs away from being at taper time. Tallahassee Marathon is on Feb. 8! :)

Yesterday I had what was my hardest workout out this training cycle.  The run was 18 miles total, with 14.5 miles in the middle averaging 7:00 pace. Here is how it went -

2 mile warm up
2 miles at 7:19
800 at 6:40
2 miles at 7:14
800 at 6:31
2 miles at 7:09
800 at 6:27
2 miles at 7:04
800 at 6:23
2 miles at 6:59
800 at 6:19
2 miles at 6:59
1.5 mile cool down
There was NO recovery in this workout... it was run continually (minus one quick potty stop and one quick fueling break) and Ray said the point of the workout was to run the 800m dynamic intervals, changing pace, and "recovering" at marathon pace (or close to it).
I am not going to lie. This one scared me. A lot. But I took it one piece at a time and kept telling myself, "Ok, you can run two miles" and then "ok, you can run half a mile" and just kept repeating until I was done. 
I started this run at 5am and knew that the kids would be up and getting ready for school before I finished (18 miles is a lot for a Wednesday morning!) so I told them I had a REALLY hard workout and to come downstairs and cheer for me. I was sort of kidding when I said it, but sure enough my Solomon (9 years old) came down and started cheering for me like I was playing in the Super Bowl. It was awesome. Then Marcus, Belane, Maggie and Amanda cheered too at different times. They are the best.
Then this morning I headed downstairs at 4:55am for 12 (SLOW) recovery miles and I found this waiting on my treadmill from my two 13 year-olds...
I love my kids so much and it feels really good to have their love, support, and encouragement. I hope that being the crazy mom that gets up so early and runs so much is showing them that it is possible to be a loving, devoted, good mother and to chase your own dreams at the same time. I also hope I am showing them that if you really want something you have to be willing to work for it, and that there is a lot of reward and satisfaction in putting in the work for something you are passionate about.