Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Black Hole

It's been eons since I've posted. Oopsy. A lot has happened since the last time I wrote up in here:

* I've been working on something I've been wanting to do for years now. I'm not ready to let the cat out of the bag, but I definitely need to siphon the tiny bit of time and energy I direct to this blog to that project. Hence, I won't be posting much around here, me thinks.

* Oh, and that whole holiday thing. It seemed to sneak up on us faster this year!

On the running front...

* I ran a little 5 mile p.r. at the Turkey Trot.

* I paced a good friend to a nice juicy 5k p.r. instead of going for one myself.

* I ran a 70 mile week, then a 75 mile week.

* I got sick ... AGAIN.

It's been tough to get the miles in. I'm really not used to running a lot this time of year. I'm not going to lie. Every week when I open my email from Coach I think he might be smoking something. 13 mile brisk-paced Saturday runs! 16 mile long runs... already! 10 mile tempos! Plus a fartlek or trackish workout! YIKES! I am used to coasting along and taking it easy. Not this year.

It hasn't been easy. Since I was sick at the beginning of this 10 week training block I struggled to just get the 60-65 miles in he wanted me to do for the early weeks. After Thanksgiving, though, I decided to put hitting my mileage goals as the first priority and hitting workout paces the second. That's helped take some of the pressure off.

I've decided I am just going to do my best and attempt to meet the goals for the week, but not worry about it if I can't. And there always seems to be one day when I can't. That day is typically the tempo workout. I was sick for the first one. Then I ran a pretty solid 6:48 pace for 8 (when the goal was 6:45). The next week I was supposed to do a 10 mile tempo with 8 @ 6:45 and 2@ 6:35. I had to do it super early and it was insanely windy. I stopped looking at my watch when I started to see 7:xx. I got the 9th mile down to 6:45 (running out of the wind, no less) and bagged it when I needed to head back into the wind to get back to the car. This past week I woke up on tempo day sick as a dog so I didn't even run at all, let alone attempt the 10 @ 6:45 on tap.

I told Coach I thought I might need to back off for a few weeks. Here's what he said:

Salty,

You're starting to want to be in that comfort zone again. When you're sick I want you to do what ever it takes to get well (more rest ,missing workouts, etc). But to back off on the intensity of your training at this time is not a good idea mainly because I know you have more ability than you think and the intensity is based on what I know you can handle. This is new territory for you to be training like this at this time of the year. Also each phase builds for the next and to back off is not going to make the next easier more the opposite. Every workout is not going to feel great that only happens if you under perform or as when we started and I intentionally had you train in your comfort zone. I'm not looking for you to hit every workout exactly right now. Trust me this work will lead to some outstanding performances.

Coach

He's totally right. I might not hit the targets, but I'm going to continue to try. I think I get caught up in maintaining a pretty training log of perfectly executed workouts and start worrying when things get a little sloppy; I struggle to hit the paces or need to bag a run, etc. I'm not supposed to feel on top of the world right now. Time to trust the man and the plan!

Photo: This is what happens when you let a 3 year-old boy (obsessed with Mighty Machine videos--he is doing his rendition of the Mighty Machines theme song here) pick out a Christmas tree the week before Christmas. I'm not complaining, though. Less tree means less work for me!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Funky Turkey

I started a post earlier in the week about the funk I've been feeling in the last few weeks, but now with Thanksgiving staring at us tomorrow that funk just seems silly. I realize how normal it is to feel a little unspeedy, a little chubby after gaining a couple of post-marathon happy pounds, and a little lonely on the run when I'm stuck on the treadmill and not running with my friends as much as I did during the summer.

And more than that I feel incredibly grateful for my wonderful silly, thoughtful and hardworking handsome husband and my incredibly adorable healthy children. For the cherry on top of that I am so thankful to be a healthy strong woman capable of running as much and as fast as I do. It's easy to focus on those minuscule things I don't have, like faster prs, but my goodness in the grand scheme of things I've got a great life and I wouldn't change a thing!

So tomorrow I am going to leave my watch at home and bask in the Turkey Trot experience--running through my favorite city with some of my favorite people and feeling so lucky to be able to do it. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Flex Time

I am a weirdo. Half of me is a big unorganized mess. The other half of me is a very rigid person who hates to deviate from her schedule. Mrp often laughs at the blaring contradiction that is me. Before the marathon I would say I became very ocd about my training schedule and did everything I had to do to ensure I adhered to it to a T. Now that I am back to base training and our whole world is recovering from marathon training, a summer of farming and farmers marketing, etc. I need to loosen up about training.

Easier said than done! Now that I am mostly a SAHM, my running feels like my only lifeline to order in my chaotic life. Sometimes I feel like if I let go a little on the running then everything else will fall apart too. It needn't be so, of course. I get that. I realize I would be wise to add a little more order and rigidity to my non-running life and to let go a little in my running life. I'm trying.

I received orders from Coach last weekend that for my third week of running post-marathon I was supposed to run 65-70 miles. "Ha!" I thought. "I'll be happy to log 60." I decided that I was not yet ready to give up my one off day a week I've been enjoying since a month before the marathon and with the shorter days and busy schedule doubles were out of the question. So I would be very happy to get in 60 in 6 days. Wow. Look at me loosen up!

Cue virus.

By the end of last week I was knocked down by a nasty cold. Sure, it only cost me 2 miles of my long run so I only got in 58 miles for the week. But it's cutting into this week too. I am working hard not to sweat it. I'm probably not going to get in 65-70 this week either and this time I might also not get in all the workouts I'm supposed to do.

Instead of panicking I'm remembering the point of the base cycle. It's a period of renewal. Recover from the previous cycle and rebuild strength and endurance for the next. Breaking myself down to a nub is not in keeping with those goals. So, I am readjusting my expectations and taking it one day at a time. I'll do my best. I might not be able to get in that speed workout on Tuesday, but by Friday I can probably squeeze it in. And as hard as it is to believe sometimes, I'll be better for it.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Crustacean

After the marathon I took 6 days off and when I say off I mean OFF. I did not run one step nor did I do any formal exercising of any stripe. I only ran on Sunday because it was so beautiful out and peanut and I were on our own for a couple of hours. We decided we couldn't pass up a run\ride through the neighborhood. The first run back is always a little crusty, but it wasn't too bad all things considered.

Then last week I ran 39 miles total. I didn't wear a watch at all the first few runs back, but then I was stuck on the treadmill one day and threw in 2.5 @ 7:00 pace just because I was bored and was curious how it would feel--not bad! Then on Saturday I met the girlfriends for our annual Halloween pancake run (run followed by breakfast!). I got there a little early and noticed DD and CV were finishing up their workout so I jogged up to meet them and I ended up warming up for the easy trail run with a 6:45, which didn't feel bad at all. But them WHAM! On Sunday I headed out on a gorgeous afternoon and slogged my way through 10 @ 7:50 pace, which felt like 10 @ 7:00! It wasn't pretty, but it's done.

This week I'm getting back into the swing of things, building my base back up. I have 55-60 miles with 2 workouts and 2 longer runs. The workouts are fairly cake, at least they would be pre-marathon. But, I'm expecting my tempo, which is 20 seconds per mile slower than pre-marathon tempos, to feel pretty much the same as a pre-marathon tempo. I am going to err on the side of lesser miles and even running my runs a little slower rather than forcing the pace if need be. I believe these few weeks after a marathon, even one that was jogged in more or less, are the weeks that can make or break your next season. If I don't fully recover I'm cruising for injury or burnout. I'd rather lay low through the end of the year than enter 2012 feeling like crusty crud.

So that, my friends, is my completely unglamorous post-marathon running life.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Patience and Faith

Patience and faith. Yesterday morning I sent my usual training week summary to Coach. I summed up my feelings about the marathon: "I am still disappointed, but enjoying the process of learning patience and faith." I hit send, but this idea, learning patience and faith, remained with me.

It's been seven months since I started training with Coach G. I've worked harder than I've ever worked before. I've always known that progress in running does not happen overnight, but pretty early on I was rockin' faster tempos and track workouts that I ever had. Yet, race after race after race (I could go on!) I've fallen short of my own expectations. It is immensely frustrating to not breakthrough after attempt after attempt. I feel like I rock it in training and then just run within a couple of seconds of my p.r. in almost every race. I can't seem to make the leap in my race performances.

I have weathered these disappointments by assuring myself the training just needs to soak in. Plug along, be consistent and the race results will follow. But they haven't. The marathon was somewhat easier to swallow just because I've experienced similar disappointment all throughout this training cycle.

Sometimes I wonder if there is something about me that will keep me stuck at the 52 VDOT, or whatever Jack Daniels says I am, forever! Coach G always says, "you don't need me to get faster. If you just want to get faster you can do that on your own." "Oh really?" I often wonder to myself in response.

Despite a lot of doubts, I still have faith. Besides the disappointments I've had a couple of signs that a big breakthrough is just a matter of time. In addition to the killer workouts, of the 2 5ks I've run this season, they were both substantially faster than my previous p.r. (26 and 34 seconds faster). And I ran 6:18 pace for 7.9 rolling miles for my Akron Marathon relay leg.

After the marathon, I found solace in believing I can log some decent prs in the 5 mile and the 5k before the end of the year. It's hard to believe that after so many disappointments. But I really do have faith in Coach G, the idea that consistent hard work will pay off, and of course my own abilities. It's hard to actually admit that through those doubting feelings, but I really do.

Patience and faith. Somehow we began potty training peanut the week before the marathon. Potty training is one of those daunting tasks of parenting. For me anyway, it seems like this insurmountable mountain of wet pants. But everyday, despite the occasional peeing of the pants or crying fit about not wanting to use the potty, there are glimmers of hope that he will actually be a fully functioning potty user very soon. "I am so proud of you, peanut!" "I am proud of me, too, mommy!" I do need to go buy some more underpants, unless I want to do 17 loads of laundry each week!

#2 is adorable and very independent. She just brings so much joy to all of us. But the one thing that is driving me absolutely crazy is that the girl WILL NOT WALK! She will be 16 months in just a few short days, yet refuses to take a step. She can dance standing up and not holding on to anything. She can climb on anything, including up and down the stairs. Yet, she will crawl any time she needs to go somewhere. If her knees hurt her, she bear crawls! It's at once hilarious and exasperating. After innumerable times seeing her stand and feeling sure this is the moment she will take her first step, I gave up that expectation. Now she stands and I know it is a matter of moments before she drops to her knees to crawl to her target. Although it seems like it will never happen. She will walk. It's just a matter of time. I have faith.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sunshine

I feel like I need to write a real race report for myself so I don't forget how awesome this experience was and to make sure I've learned every lesson this race tried to teach me. So, bear with me (all 6 readers of my blog), as I delve into the marathon minutia!

Four years ago, I trained my tush off for my third marathon and second Columbus. I whipped myself from 3:25 to low 3:00 shape in a year. But one thing I didn't train was my head. I toed the line a mental case and ended up losing 5 minutes over the last 7 miles with a side stitch, which I now know was due to anxiety and a total inability to roll with the punches.

I knew if I wanted to make a serious attempt at a sub-3 marathon that I had to not only get into better physical shape, I needed to work on mental training as well. I'm certainly a work in progress and I am neither the physically fastest or most mentally proficient racer, but I've vastly improved myself over the last few months. And despite lots of life stress, which is inevitable while raising 2 toddlers and generally living an adult life, I managed to line up pretty relaxed and focused on Sunday. I had a goal and I was confident, yet I was detached from the result and ready to accept whatever the day had in store for me. I was ready to do everything I could do to reach the goal, but I was also ready to roll with the punches and do my best to work with what the race gave me. I didn't just say all this. I really worked hard to actually get to that place.

So after a week of scrambling to finish up a little lawyerly work and get mrp set up for an easy weekend of just him and the kiddos, I hopped into NC's car and we were off. NC took great care of me, even giving me a bottle of her magic pre-race elixir: pedialyte. It was kind of gross tasting, but if it helped her run a 2:43, maybe it would help run a 2:58!

We arrived in Columbus and NC dropped me off for E-speed's birthday lunch. It was great to spend some time celebrating E's 30th. We had some fun, loaded up the carbs and then I headed back to the hotel with E to prepare our water bottles. E had access to all the elite offerings in the race, including her own bottles at miles 6, 12 and 18. We decorated them with her special zebra, oops I mean white tiger, tape and other accoutrement and taping two gels to each. How honored was I that she wanted to run a marathon with little ol' me to celebrate her big 3-0?!!!

Before dinner, we went to my hotel to check-in. I was rooming with NC and BH and those sweethearts had two big signs for me hanging on the wall when I arrived. I felt so loved. (Here's a little aside. Bear with me some more!) When I came back to Cleveland after finishing up my degree in NYC I had mrp and that's about it. All my friends had moved away or were lost after my divorce (if you don't know about that, well now you do!) Slowly, slowly I made new friends through running and now five years later I feel so loved and surrounded by awesome supportive friends. It means the world to me to have that network and I love them sooooo much! Ok, cheesy (but necessary!) tangent over.

We went to dinner and had the usual blast--not sure I've laughed that much in a 24 hour period in a long time! E was freaking me out ordering beer and dessert. I was being very cautious about what I ate, and looking back I might have underdid it a bit. We didn't stay too long. I needed to run out and take peanut's good night phone call and head back to the hotel to get into some jammies and veg.

NC and BH were such accommodating roomies. They gave me some quiet time so I could recenter after a busy overstimulating day. They BOTH massaged my shoulders and back to help me relax. Did I mention I love them?

I managed to fall asleep pretty quick and had a good night's sleep. I didn't feel too bad when the 4:30 alarm rang. BH was running the half so she needed to start eating and prepping too. NC slept in through it all. BH went down to the lobby to get some food and I took that time to relax and visualize a strong race. I felt ready to rock it!

NC woke up and Espeed came to our room to pick me up around 5:45. We left around 6:15 to get to the elite prep area to drop of our bottles and warm-up. In all we jogged about mile together and did some light drills and strides. I had been feeling stitchy on and off over the week preceding the race and could feel the stitchiness during the strides. Part of me was really worried about blowing up because of a stitch for the second straight Columbus, but I knew it just depended on how much power I gave it. If I fought it, it would take over. If I just yielded to it and rolled with it, it would not impact my ability to meet my goal.

We lined up next to JS (who was planning to meet us around mile 20!) and a couple of other pals. The national anthem played. I was excited, yet pretty relaxed. Then the gun and FIREWORKS!!! Awesome! I felt good, but within feet of starting I was stitchy. I worked on all my techniques to ignore it. It took 7 long miles, but it finally went away. In the meantime, we were rolling along between 6:45 and 6:55 (according to E. I wasn't paying attention to my watch.) I was doing well at the water stops and generally feeling pretty decent. Somewhere after the 10k we met up with a youngster running her first marathon. She wanted to roll sub-3 so we invited her along with us. She stayed with us until the half. In retrospect I think she distracted me a bit. I didn't want to waste energy talking too much, but she and E chatted a bit and I think to me from the outside it made me feel like I was working harder than they were and worried me a little.

We came out of a neighborhood around mile 8 or so and it was a bit more work as it was a little uphill and then we turned and it was very windy for a stretch. But none of this really bothered me. We turned up High St. and it looks fairly daunting with long uphill stretched, but that didn't really bother me either. We came through the half in 1:29:31, which was actually a little slower than I wanted to be. I thought we'd be closer to 1:29:00, but that didn't really bother me. I did feel like E and the girl were getting away from me a bit at times and this got me down a little bit. Right around the half I declared, "I need sunshine up my @$$ right now!" Ha! When that didn't work, I decided to tell E we needed to let the girl go. We did right after the half. In my head, it seemed like she was rocking it and I was maybe, just maybe starting to struggle.

Even so, I was intent on staying positive and taking it one mile at a time. Mile 14 might be tough, but mile 15 could be better. Or miles 14-18 could suck and I could rally at mile 19. Who knows and I was not going to predict the future. I was living in the moment, as I had worked hard for all those weeks to do. Mile 15 was our first mile over 7:00 pace and E declared it would be our only one. I tried not to think too hard about that pronouncement, but I wanted to make it to 16 as close to on-pace as I could knowing I had run 16 @ 6:47 pace just a few weeks before the race. We made it to 16. Ok, from 16 the goal was to get to 18 for the bottle and because 18 meant I only had the same distance to go as the distance I ran in the Akron Marathon relay. Unfortunately, by 18 I was toast. I don't know when exactly it happened or really remember many of the details, but suddenly I felt really dizzy and disoriented. I stopped when we got our bottle. E got me moving again. I could still p.r. I knew I was in big trouble when I saw our mile 20 split on the clock. I wanted to be under 2:17. The clock said 2:20:45 or something like that. Oh boy. That's a lot of lost time in such few miles.

I had a little hope when we spotted a woman we knew was going for the OTQ. We caught up to her pretty quickly and it helped take my mind of my own agony to console her. We kept going and I got pretty disheartened that JS wasn't at the 20 mile marker. My spirits really dropped. I had very little to look forward to anymore and he was it! Poor guy! We did see his girlfriend JM and NC. I felt so bad to slog on by, obviously falling way short of what everyone had hoped for me. We finally spotted JS at mile 21. That was a long mile! He jumped in and worked hard to keep my spirits up. No one was going to let me quit! Honestly, I wasn't going to let me quit either. I am so glad I didn't!

I really don't remember much from there except the waves of sobbing and having fun and nausea and full body cramps. I remember stopping and then E pulling me along and JS imploring me to keep going so I wouldn't cramp up. I remember the 3:05 group whizzing by me along with all hope of pr'ing and then club-mates who are much slower than me usually passing me one after the other. I do remember passing the girl who we let go around the half. That was a surprise to me, but E said she knew the girl was going to blow-up.

All through the last few miles E and JS tried to keep me hopeful that I could pr, but I saw the clock at mile 25. It said I had 8:00 to run 1.2 to get to 3:10. I knew I couldn't do that in the state I was in. Sad. I tried to pick it up several times over the last few miles, but each time I was met with a big f.u. from the body--cramping, nausea, dizziness. I was better to just slog and survive.

Finally I saw the turn to the finish. It's less than 400 meters and all downhill. JS said, GO! Open it up! You can do it! So, I turned the corner and despite seeing the time well over my p.r. I did "sprint" it in with E by my side. As we approached the finish line, I grabbed her hand and we crossed it side-by-side with our hands held high in triumph. And then we hugged, apparently. I don't remember that.

The next thing I remember is seeing stars with my face in the jacket of a race official insisting I did not need to go to medical. And then after that I remember being in a bathroom and then in a nice warm room hanging with JS. E got me into the elite finish area. And that sweet thing went off on an epic hunt for my gear bag.

We were in that room for a long time. I snacked a little. I slowly revived and felt human again. The amazing thing was that I didn't feel all that bad emotionally. I was definitely depleted, but I wasn't sad. There was nothing during the race that I could change. I did everything I could control right. I bonked. That means I either did not eat enough or did not do enough training to teach my body to burn fat efficiently. When I went back to my hotel room I noticed my breakfast was half eaten. I doubt an extra 100 calories would have made that much difference.

I really believe that Coach G's training focused on strength, aerobic fitness and speed. These are all very important, but the thing we couldn't focus on while also focusing on all those things was training the metabolic systems to handle the marathon at the aerobic pace I was capable of. With the intensity of my training load, doing very many long runs over 18 was not really possible without the huge risk of breakdown. So, oh well.

As I've said all along, this race was just a stepping stone. I learned a lot and I had an absolute blast training for it and racing it. I am a little disappointed, sure. But I know it's a step in the right direction even if the final time suggests otherwise.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The 411 on the 3:11

Well, I am still pretty tired so this will be short. I ended up running a 3:11:42. I ran a 1:29:31 first half and then a 1:42:11 second half. Ouch! Basically, I met the marathon wall I have always been afraid of. There's more to it than this, but basically I was running along at 6:50 pace through the half and then started to feel the tiniest bit shaky about things and then fell apart right around 17. I went from 6:50 to 8:00-plus in a matter of feet. I felt nauseous, woozy, heavy, crampy, crazy and suddenly I went from ready to battle whatever came my way to at least pr to surviving to the finish, whatever that took. It was heartbreaking to watch time slip away. Going into this race, pr'ing was not even a question. My pr is soft to begin with, so I figured worst case scenario I'd at least sneak in under 3:10. Ha! Shows what I know!

When you bonk or meet that wall, there is nothing you can do. There is no willing yourself to go faster. There is a pace at which you can keep moving and any faster and it feels like you will totally lose it. Everything came in waves. I'd sob and then rally and want to have fun. I'd start whooping it up and then I'd feel nauseous and get waves of full-body cramping. I must have looked like a drunk!

I knew going into this race that the moderate mileage, high intensity training Coach G has me on is a high risk, high reward kind of training. I only ran two 20 milers and I'm sure that has a lot to do with what happened. There could be a hormonal factor: I had my period and I'm still nursing #2 4-5 times a day. I was stressed the week leading up to the race trying to get ready to leave for the weekend--the first time I've left the kids in 3 years! And even with everything going my way I know I was on the bubble for sub-3.

So who knows why exactly I blew up. But it's always a risk. I went for an aggressive goal. I met the wall and kept at it. I am now never going to be afraid of blowing up again. It sucks, but it's survivable. You recover, you head back out and try again.

The best thing about the race, and the reason #5 will always top my list of best marathons is that I had the best group of supporters ever! Not only did the ever fabulous e-speed run with me from the start line and hook me up with access to the elite runner benefits, but NC and BH roomed with me, drove me to and from Columbus and kept me calm. They made me rad signs and gave me back rubs. Mrp kept the family happy and sacrificed a weekend during the market season for me and gave me pointers and pep talks all along the way. I am one lucky lady.

So, I am not broody this time after not meeting my goal. I am fired up and ready to go out hard and make that breakthrough at the next race. See you at the Turkey Trot!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Big Win

Well, it's time to wind down all the prepping and turn off the brain until race morning. I've worked really hard both mentally and physically for this one. I am feeling excited, confident and ready to get it on! No matter what the clock says I know it's going to be a fun weekend.

I can't go into race weekend without expressing how grateful I am to have had the past months to run and train again. After two back to back pregnancies and the crazy hectic home life that comes with two toddlers (we'll say toddlers even though one still refuses to walk at 15.5 months!), I am so lucky to have been able to put in some quality training. I can't thank mrp enough for helping me scrape together the time to get it done. I love him so much and every time I lace up my shoes I can't help but remember how much joy he has brought to my life just because he's himself and because he introduced me to the world of competitive running. What a twofor that was!

I am also so happy to have experienced a super fun summer of training with Coach G! He has pushed me harder than I could have ever pushed myself. And I certainly can't forget all my great pals and all the fun miles we put in together. I was able to get back up to speed to keep up with my old pals like CV, E-Speed and NC and I made all kinds of new running buddies too. I feel like I need to particularly thank MZ, my high school and law school classmate who met me in the dark every weekend over the winter and occasionally this summer. I definitely wouldn't be where I am today without any of them!

Running this past year has been my exercise, me-time, destresser, social hour, party time, etc. It keeps me healthy, sane, social and balanced. Peanut is now old enough to get excited about mommy and daddy running and loves to go running himself. To share the joy of running with my family is just beyond awesome. Did I mention how lucky I feel?

And this weekend I get to celebrate great friends' birthdays and a great marathon. E is planning to run at least most of the race with me and I have a bazillion friends amped up to cheer for me all along the course. And then I get to go home and share the experience with my family. No matter what the clock says, I know it'll be a big win for me. I'm a cheeseball, I know, but I worked hard to get to this point of gratefulness and satisfaction. I ain't going back!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

On the Range

On Sunday I had one of those amazing runs. I met the ever-fab e-speed at a local rails-to-trails early on the cold blustery morning--thankfully the rain held off for most of the run! The goal was 16 @ 6:50-6:55, and we figured since there was a 5 mile race on that particular path it would be a bit more fun to get the miles in if we broke them up by jumping in the race at some point. So, we registered early and than ran a little over 8 before the race. We started off with a 7:10 and then hovered right around 6:50. Then we jumped in the race and averaged 6:40 or so for those 5 and then hit the trail for a little less than 3. The first was a on the uphill rolling section of the path and was 6:55, but then we rolled it down finishing at 6:37 pace and happy with an overall average of 6:47-6:48 pace.

In the past I've had a good epic workout here or there, but they felt more forced and I was wrecked after them. This time I felt smooth and relaxed throughout the whole thing and felt fine since. While I won't say this means 6:47 pace is going to be cake on race day. It does mean that I have become much stronger than I have ever been over the last 6 months of training.

With that in mind I have decided to articulate my goal, even though that is risky of course. I know at this point I am really happy with my fitness and confident not only in my ability to run a good race, but in my ability to move on if things don't go as well as I hope. I have decided to have a goal range: 2:57 - 3:03. I will be happy to run anywhere south of 7:00 pace and I am really confident that I can do better than that if I turn off the brain, put left foot in front of right and relax.

I am a work in progress and this race is a stepping stone. It's quite a relief to feel this way about a marathon for a change, rather than that it's the be-all-end-all of my running life. I am looking very forward to a weekend away to celebrate friendship and running--two of the things that make me happiest! And if I can bring back a big fat p.r. souvenir to share with mrp and the kids, well it will be that much nicer!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Tale of Two Workouts

Last night was beautiful at the track. It was 70 with just the slightest of breezes and the sky was full of those cool silvery fall clouds. On tap was an up and down 5k ladder. I like ladders. The plan was to do 400; 800; 1200; 1600; 1200; 800; 400 @ 5k pace with half-time rest in between each rep. Since NC is just off her break post-Philly half (1:16:3x!) she joined me. I haven't run a workout with her in forever, so it was nice!

My goal pace was 5:50 pace or 87-88 per 400. I do not look at my watch on the track any more unless I'm on my own and then I only look at the 400. Tonight I didn't look at all, just ran. NC called out the 200 splits and coach called out the 400 splits. I just felt the pace. The first rep felt kind of harder than I would have liked and I was a little nervous that the rest of the workout was going to suuuuck. Well, when we rolled through the 400 in 84 I felt better. Way too fast, especially for the first one which always feels the crustiest.

I practiced focusing and clearing my head: left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. When a junky thoughts would enter my brain I pushed it out with left foot, right foot. When I was worried about the 1200's or the (eek) 1600, I just said left foot, right foot. One lap at a time, doll-face!

The first 800 felt much easier than the 400. We rolled through right on in 2:55. The best part was the 200's were in 43.5ish range so we were consistent the whole way. The first 1200 was 1 second slow in 4:23. But we were again even paced the whole way so I wasn't worried about it one bit. Even if I looked at my watch and realized we might be 1 second slow I don't like to push too much on the early reps. I like to just let it flow. I don't sweat 1 second and I don't think it's worth pushing crazy on the last 100 to get 1 second early in a workout. Just my thing, I guess.

Then the 1600. Gulp! I almost never hit 1600's in workouts. I was nervous, but pushed the nerves aside and went back to my commitment to take it one lap at a time. We were off. NC and I were joking about something on the first lap and we came through in 89. Oops! I didn't worry about it. We picked it up a little. 800 in 2:56. We stayed focused and ran right on with a 5:50 for the mile. Yee-haw!

And then, the best part of the ladder. It's all down hill from there. After nailing the 1600 I know I have the workout in the bag. 4:20; 2:49; 79! Take that track!

When I was entering this workout into my log I remembered doing it before. I checked it out and saw we did it in the beginning of July. Back then coach was having me run with E-speed. Our goal pace was 5:44 or 86 per lap! Eek. The funny thing is that I ran similar paces, just reverse: 83; 2:49; 4:16; 5:53; 4:21; 2:51; 79. I left the July workout feeling like I biffed it a little. I remember bending over after each rep feeling awful and watching everyone leave me in their dust after the first 1200.

Last night I felt comfortable on each and every rep (save for the first). I felt smooth and never had that I'm-going-to-die feeling. NC even commented that I ran that 5:50 so effortlessly that there's no way it's 5k pace (which would be nice, but I'm perfectly happy with 5:50 now too!) I felt like I nailed the workout and left happy and not in pain! Back in July when I ran the first workout I was struggling with my butt injury and blowing workouts left and right. I was running too fast on the track and I was overtraining. It's amazing what a mere 1.5 seconds per lap can do!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Because I Like It!

I really feel like I've turned a mental corner. I now realize how much I love training and racing. I love pushing my body, striving and pushing on day-to-day. I also have so many awesome friends to run with and share the joy I feel about running. As usual, it's very duh, but I don't care what times I run. I don't do this for race times. I do this because I enjoy it. If someone told me I could never run a sub-3 marathon or never run a B Standard OTQ'er, I would still do this. I am a better happier person because of running and not because I run x, y or z time in a race!

That being said, I have generally been a much happier and healthier runner lately. I have been able to deviate from the schedule, pull the plug to back off and recover when I needed to. I have enjoyed my workouts so much more and even races.

Ah yes. Races. I did one of those this weekend. It was the dreaded three-week-out-super-double-workout-weekend. I ran 12 miles including the 7.9 mile leg of the Akron Marathon relay on Saturday and then 18 @ 7:22 pace on Sunday. Surprisingly both runs were really good for me. I managed to run 6:18 pace for the 7.9 miles (which were way hillier than I remembered from the speed-bumps and post-pregnancy relays). I felt amazing. My splits reflect the terrain: 6:14; 6:09; 6:22; 6:35; 6:25; 6:19; 6:07; 6:10 pace for the last .9. I wish one of these days I felt that good on a fast course so I could log a big confidence boosting p.r., but this is the same pace as my 10k p.r. and close to my 5 mile p.r. which were both run on faster courses so I can't complain!

The last few long runs have been rough. Maybe it's because I am helping mrp at the farmers market on Saturdays and then trying to do a harder run in the afternoon and then a long run early on Sunday. Not sure. But today's long run felt pretty awesome, save for a hungry\dizzy spell around mile 12, which can be chalked up to not eating enough in between runs.

Anyway, I survived and I feel very ready to take on the marathon once again. And this time I'm really going to have some fun!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Squiggle

The week post half-marathon has been weird. One day slow death and the next day good workout--all week long!

I did an easy 5 mile recovery run on Monday pushing the kids in the double stroller with no watch. I'm sure it was slow, but a run like that is always slow. Since I didn't wear a watch (and almost never do when pushing the stroller--believe me, it would be scary to know how slow!) I don't know if it was slower than usual, but it didn't feel that bad.

Tuesday was track. I rolled down to the school and after the warm-up, drills and strides Coach told us the workout was 3 sets of 4 x 400 @ 1600 race pace. WHA?! I was hoping for something lighter on the post-race legs like 1000's at 10k or something like that. Oh well. I generally like 400's and I trust my coach so I rolled with it. Unfortunately I was on my own for the night as NC had her fall goal race over the weekend and none of the guys showed up for whatever reason. Much to my surprise, the workout was smooth and I rolled through all 400's in 79 or 80 with two outliers in 78 and 81 respectively. It didn't feel crazy, but rather strangely smooth and controlled. I must admit my butt was feeling it a little on the last set, but nothing too bad or even out of the ordinary.

Wednesday was a whole other story. Ouch. Yuck. My butt was sore, so I figured I'd do an easy warm-up outside, do dynamic stretches and then finish the miles on the treadmill. I wore the garmin for whatever reason and watched it as I struggled--yes struggled!--to run 9:30 pace! Oh my. Not good. I managed to get down to 8:20's after stretching and jumping on the mill, but it was ugly. Normally I start at 9:00 pace on the mill and am up to 8:30 by the end of the first mile and then down to about 8:00 by the end of the run. I don't care what the pace is, but because I know what my paces usually are for these kinds of runs I know that something was up!

So I did not have high hopes for Thursday's tempo. I decided to get in an a.m. shakeout run with the kiddos. Of course it was raining buckets, but thanks to the weather shield we were not deterred! This run wasn't too bad. Of course it was pouring and my attention was more focused on ensuring the kids weren't getting drenched than on how my legs felt. I just putzed along for about 3.5 miles and then we all went and dried off and played in the nature center. Other than my phone getting soaked and dying, it was fun.

That evening I hit the park for a solo tempo. Solo tempos for me sometimes go well and sometimes are a bust. I honestly thought I was in bust territory. NC came into the parking lot and ran with me for about .5 of my warm-up as she was finishing up one her last pre-race jaunts, so at least I had company for a few minutes. She reminded me to ride-out the slower sections of our tempo course and just relax. NC is 11 years younger than me and always offering up good advice for this old lady!

After my warm-up I was off for my 6 miles. The goal was 6:35 for 3, followed by 2 at 6:30 and the last one at 6:25. My garmin is notoriously mean in the park. It is almost always 1 - 7 seconds slower than everyone else's that I run with. When I'm along I try not to think about it, but there is usually a section of our tempo route or two that the pace on the garmin jumps up randomly. Of course during my first mile I was loping along at 6:34 pace last I checked only to hear the beep and look down to 6:42. ARGH. Sometimes this would bug me out--like a sign for the rest of the tempo, especially when I only need to run faster and faster throughout the whole thing. But not lately. I don't mind a slower first mile, even one that is surprisingly slow.

I just carried on and ran 6:34 and 6:35 for the next miles which are usually slower miles on the course. Then I picked it up in the neighborhood loop portion of the course. It starts of slightly down and then this mile finishes slightly up. I comfortably ran 6:26 here. Then I turned to head back to the park and was socked by a headwind for the next mile. I just focused and try to stay smooth and not forced and ran 6:3o on the nose. I got back into the park and was rolling under 6:20 and felt good for .5 miles and then the next time I looked at the garmin it said 6:37. Man! I hate that. So even though I know I was running faster than the previous two miles I had to run even faster than that just to see 6:24 on the garmin. Even though I 99% know the garmin hit a black hole I still have that 1% doubt so as long as it's within myself I make myself run the time on the garmin. Oh well. Done and pretty much hit the goal and surprisingly felt good doing it!

Ah yes. But then Friday was a repeat of Wednesday, only worse. The first 2 miles were over 9:00 pace and just felt awful and clumsy. Again I thought the writing was on the wall for Saturday. I had 12 @ 7:00 pace on the training schedule and 4 hours of farmers market and more hours of mommying to get through in the day before I could even head out to run. Lucky for me E-speed was awesome and picked me up in her new ride at 2:30 p.m. and we headed out to a nice smooth path out in the sticks. She biked 8 miles with me while I surprisingly ran on pace and then stowed the bike and headed out for 4 more and two-stepped me the whole way! I averaged 6:58 for those 12 miles thanks to her! And happily it felt good despite the up-and-down week and crazy first part of the day.

But yes. As is the theme of this post, what goes up must come down ... hard. I woke up at 5:15 and stumbled out the door to meet FD along the lakeshore for my 18 miles. It was dark and I knew hitting 7:25 pace for at least the early miles wasn't going to happen so I didn't bother to look at the watch until we stopped to view the sunrise around mile 4.5 The view was wonderful and the company was good. I was having fun, but the pace was ugly. After the break we headed back out and I figured I better start to try to get the overall pace at least within 30 seconds of the goal pace! A mile later I was suddenly famished. I normally don't take a gel until around 12 or more into a long run, but I was desperate so I sucked down a gross Powergel which was thankfully very liquidy since I had no water to wash it down. We were now running 7:45 pace, but I was huffing and puffing when normally 7:20's is easy for my long runs. Then my hips and butt were starting to hurt even after the gel hit my bloodstream and raised up my blood sugar enough to make me feel better in that regard. I was beginning to worry I wouldn't make it back from the 10 mile first loop of our run!

But I did. I decided I'd eat a little something, walk around and then head back out. Ha! Everything hurt and I realized that I'd have to do the 9:00n shuffle-slog to get through 8 more miles and that would be dumb. If I can't get within 30 seconds of the goal pace, I think that's a good place to draw the line between where pushing is making me stronger and where pushing is going to kill me! I moped to my car and drove home. I considered stopping at the park and running the rest on trails. I actually pulled into the parking lot, got out of my car and then realized I was insane. Got back in, went home and made pancakes for the family.

Just to be on the safe side, I'm taking today off too. I think I've arrived at the starting line of every marathon I've run since my first slightly overtrained. I'm not doing that again. I am learning to understand where the line between good-pushing and overtraining is for myself and no matter what the schedule says or how stubborn part of me is I am going to do my best to NEVER cross it again.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

You Never Know What's Ahead

* Going into Sunday's race, I've been working really hard on detaching from results. What this means is that I have been letting go of my need to run a certain pace or race time to feel satisfied and focusing on the process of running and finding enjoyment in that process. I am committed to letting myself run whatever I run and being ok with whatever that ends up being. If it's not quite where I'd like to be use that as motivation to keep plugging along, but accepting that result for what it is. And what a race result is is just showing me where my running is on that particular day. Period. Moving on!

With that in mind and my new mantras in my tool box I hit the road with mrp to the race early Sunday morning. I found NC and ran my early warm-up before performing my other pre-race rituals: pinning on the number, changing into flats, etc. Hit the starting line for some strides and lined up next to my occasional training buddy MZ. Luckily he picked a spot close to the front, as you will see!

Despite all the detachment and mantras and all that I still had time goals for the race. A) < 1:25; B) <1:26; C) p.r. (1:27:34); D) course best (1:28:39). MZ was going for < 1:24. I thought I'd go out with him for the first mile or so and see what happened, since lately I've tended to go out a little too slow. The bell rung and MZ went out a little too fast--I could tell it was quite a bit faster than the 6:25 we had discussed. Sure enough around .25 in I saw sub-6:00 on the garmin. We backed it off some and then a woman came roaring up beside me. I heard Coach G in my head encouraging me to be competitive so I thought I might as well give attaching to her a try as long as it was semi-comfortable.

So, I stuck to her like glue for about half a mile. We went through the first mile (according to the garmin) at 6:14 (it's a little downhill, so not too worried about it and it felt fine). But as soon as we hit the mile marker she picked it up from there. I was not about to do that, so I had to let her go. MZ got away not long after that too. Around mile 3 I could see a bit where the runners ahead of me were and realized that woman made a ton of ground on me in 2 short miles. Good for her, I thought! She was clearly going for a much faster goal than I was. I was ok since I was running the mid 6:20's as I had wanted for the first 3-4 miles, since they're a bit downhill. I did just that without thinking about it too much. Each mile beeped in the right range.

At either mile 4 or 5 I noticed the garmin went off WAY before the mile marker. I made a mental note, but didn't worry about it at all. After the downhill miles I settled into a mid 6:30's rhythm. I would have liked to see a low 6:30's or high 6:20's, but I just rolled with it. Between mile 5 and 6 an older dude ran up beside me and encouraged me to hang with him. I did for about a mile, but then we hit a small uphill and he got away from me a bit. He yelled back to me, "Come on! You never know what's up ahead!" I never did catch back up to him, but his words stuck with me for the rest of the race!

I have to be honest. After he got away from me there was a minute or two in which I really had to fight the negative feelings. I was getting crushed by the first woman, MZ was long gone and even the older guy was getting away from me. Woe was me. But then, just as I was battling with myself I noticed something way ahead. A vision in pale pink. The first woman! I could see her waaaaaaaaay up there, but I could see her and I couldn't see her before that. Maybe. Just maybe. And this hope was enough to renew my commitment to stay positive.

At each mile thereafter I noticed she seemed just a little bit closer. I ran every one of those miles between 4 and 9 in that mid-6:30's range. My garmin beeped consistently between :35 and :40 before the mile marker, so I think mile 4 or 5 was just long, while the rest were on. Mrp said the same thing after the race. I knew I needed to add this time to my predicted finish and I knew I wasn't going to reach my A goal, but if I really hustled I could maybe, just maybe reach my B goal.

Mile 10 has the big uphill of the race and that wasn't too bad in 6:40. After that hill my race plan called for picking it up. So I did. And as I did the woman ahead got closer and closer. I was now holding steady in the mid-6:20's again and gaining on first! At mile 12 I was worried I'd run out of real estate, but I told myself I still had over a mile to get her. I pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed and with .25 to go I caught her. She stayed with me for a second, but then I turned on the jets I've acquired on the track and I just put that hammer down and ran with my eyes closed until the finish! And then I heard the announcer. "And here's our female winner, The Salty One with a time of 1:25:59!"

YES!

The last second win and the meeting of the goal by the tiniest of margins left me elated at the finish. Since mrp came to the race and NC and Coach G were also there we made it a point to hang out and have some fun afterwards. I grabbed an illegal beer courtesy of JV and swigged all bad-@ss like out of the open container on the way to Coach's car. And then we had brunch with a big crew of fine folks and have had more fun than I have had in a long time post-race!!!

We came home and I saw the results only have my gun time. Which is 1:26:00.40. NOOOOO! I talked with the R.D. who said that the timing company's new policy is to only acknowledge gun times for the overall placers, but that my chip time is used for age group records. It just so happened I have the almost old lady age group record of 1:25:59.59 and that, my friends, is going down as my official p.r.! Like I said, good thing I started close to the front or it could have been worse!

Anyway, I am now left feeling pretty good with things. A couple of months ago I would have been bummed with this time, but it is a substantial p.r. and a step in the right direction on all accounts. Big breakthroughs in running are hard to come by, but I am still hopeful one is right around the corner for me. Maybe it will be in 4.5 weeks, maybe not. But it will happen. In the meantime, I'm on the bubble for sub-3. That will be the goal, but if it doesn't happen this time I'll be ok as long as I keep moving in the right direction.

* This is really the only decent photo from the race. The rest, as always, are comic gold. If I get some time I'll post them with captions like I have done in the past with the photos from this race!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Brain Transplant

I know I said I was taking a break, but I guess we'll just think of this as a break from the break :)

Since I took my break I've been working hard on the mental side of my training. Last I left you I ran a disappointing 10 mile race. During the race Coach G rode his bike near me during the 9th mile and got on my case about looking at my watch too much. I never really thought about it, but I tend to peek at my watch an awful lot sometimes. As he was yelling at me about it I noticed I was having trouble resisting the impulse to look. A couple of times I thought I lost him, took a peek and then heard him yell at me again about it! Ha!

What's the harm you ask? Well a couple of things. One, is that whether I realize it or not, I'm running by the watch. I have an idea in my head what pace I should run and then I use the watch to adjust accordingly. The weird thing is that I have a tendency to worry about going too fast so I pick a pace that I'm comfortable with and target that rather than race goal pace. Weird, I know! But this certainly explains why I keep running races really close to times I've already run. I haven't always done this and I think a reason for it is that I'm training so hard that I'm a little burned out with pushing myself. I used to save pretty much all the pushing myself for race day, but not these days. I have to learn to find that next level of pushing myself. Hopefully by marathon day!

The other thing that's a problem with the watch staring is that it shows how unfocused I can be. Instead of focusing on the task at hand, I'm distracting myself with thoughts on how far I have to go or how much longer until the next mile marker and stuff like that. If I want to run to my potential I need to learn to focus focus focus! Working on it!

Since that race I've picked up two tricks to help me not think about looking at the watch. They're similar, but I find having two tricks is helpful when one of them starts getting boring. Neither of these tricks is mind-blowing. In fact, they're downright silly! But they are working for me. The first is to repeat, "Left foot. Right foot." every time my left foot strikes. The second technique is to count to 10 over and over--each number falling on a foot strike. The latter is especially good because I've discovered that 8 counts of 10 is about a minute no matter how fast I'm running.

In between these very simple mantras I have some affirmations to pull out of my mental trick bag. The best one is, "No matter the result, I run like a champion." This is great because it's positive and it helps me not worry about pace, time, results, splits, etc. The rest are pretty basic: "Today is my day;" "You're doing great;" "This is fun;" etc.

I've been practicing these techniques at every track workout. On the track I aim to not look at my watch at all. Coach G calls the splits and I go with them. I don't worry about whether I'm on pace and the weird thing is, more often than not I hit the mark. The techniques help a lot with tempos and at the end of long runs when I start getting bored or lose focus. They also help me stay relaxed even when I'm struggling to hit the paces.

On Sunday, I ran a half marathon. It was my first race to use all my new mental tricks. I made it my goal to look at my watch minimally, stay focused and positive throughout the race, and to not worry about the end result--just run! I'll be back soon with a race report!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My Log

While I'm on my break, you can access my training log here. Happy trails (and roads and tracks and treadmills, etc!)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Going on a Diet

I am taking a break from blogging at least until my fall marathon in mid-October. I feel like I'm mentally burned out a bit and any extra thinking about running is not helping. I am going to try to limit my thinking about running to planning runs and not to post-run or race analysis, brooding, etc. So, with that have a great rest of the summer!!!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Good Miles and Bad Miles or Humidity Stupidity

It's been so humid here, especially in the mornings. I sweat about 3 gallons and just feel awful on the run. I've found if I drink regularly I can handle it--like every 3 or even 2 miles. I wish I had a handheld water bottle for these days! I've managed to hit my workouts in this nast, which is a nice surprise, but it isn't particularly pleasant.

I ran 6 averaging 6:25 on Thursday evening pretty much by myself. That's particularly nice because that was the goal! I warmed up with E and NC and then we all did our respective workouts. I tend to run well that way. There's company out there so I don't feel alone and I feel somewhat accountable to my teammates, but I don't feel pressure to run faster than my goal to keep up with them.

Over the weekend I had 17 @ 7:30 and a 12 mile progressive run on tap. The 17 miler was awful. The first 6 were a little rough, but I had my old running buddy keeping me company. But once he left it was a slog. Despite drinking a ton and even taking a gu at 10.25 I started feeling stitchy and light headed and found myself muttering profanity as I'd stop to avoid a stitch or to get my head back in the game. It really took way more effort than I'd like to get the miles in. I stopped looking at the pace on the watch around 14 and somehow still managed to average 7:28--not sure how I managed that! It all made sense when later in the afternoon when #2 woke up from her nap with a cold. Said cold infected me late Sunday. It's mild, but surely was enough to make me feel crappy on Saturday morning's run.

Even so, I managed a decent progression run on Sunday with NC. We ran a rolling first 4 averaging about 7:15. Then 4 at 7:00. NC's IT band has been bugging her so she bailed and I had to finish the last 4 myself. The goal was to run 6:50 for the last 4. Again, I drank a lot, but still struggled at first only managing a 7:00 first mile of this set, but then I rallied and ran a 6:52. Stopped for gatorade and then hammered out 2 miles in the low 6:40's and it felt surprisingly good. It reminds me of a quote I read in Running Times today. Amy Hastings was recalling some advice imparted by Deena Kastor: there will be good miles and bad miles in both training and races. Ain't that the truth!

Tonight I am heading to the track for a 1600 time trial. I'm super excited for it and hoping that this one will be a good mile!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Paces All My Own

Coach G finally has relented and allowed me to run my own paces rather than having to cling to E for dear life on tempos and at the track. I am so excited! If this would have happened a month ago I would have probably cried, but I have since realized that I am very happy with my current fitness. Not satisfied, mind you, but happy for where I am right now.

I think trying to run her paces was just too much for me. As we all know (or should know) faster training does not mean faster racing. I honestly think I was running too fast and now that I have paces tailored to my fitness I will progress faster than running the faster paces. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to know I can run those paces. But just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Especially, when you end up not being able to finish a workout and walk across the track crying!

Last I had my own paces at the track. We did a double ladder of two times 1600; 800; 400; 400 all at a slightly faster pace then the interval preceding it. G said my paces were 5:50 (88\lap); 2:52 (86\lap); 83; and 81. This was very hard because we had relatively short rest (2:00 after the 1600 and then 1:00 between the other intervals. 2:30 in between sets).

FD and TV were at the track and jumped in with me as we started the workout. I started right behind E and off we went. Normally when I ran with E we would go way too fast the first 200. Not so on my own. I went through in 43 which is just about right. I concentrated on running 200 at a time. After each 200 I mentally told myself what split I wanted to see at the next 200 and just used that as a sort of mantra to hold my focus and keep me relaxed. FD and TV ran right with me until about 100 to go and then they picked it up. I cruised to the finish knowing I still had a long way to go in the workout! First 1600 was a high 5:49. Right on!

E and I decided to try to start with NC. This meant that I had 15 seconds less rest than I was entitled to, but I went for it. It wasn't too bad. Rolled through with a 2:51 800, but that was after being drawn out too fast by E and the guys in the faster group. I ppted for less rest for both of the 400's and managed to just make it in 82 and 80, but was definitely feeling the short rest!

I decided I'd start the second set with the group, but then take the full rest for the second set. Both to take advantage of the slightly extra recovery time and to focus on hitting MY paces and not going out too fast. It worked really well. TV started the set with me, but bailed after 800. I went out a hair too fast, over corrected and then focused on hitting my 88 splits. Unfortunately when I rolled through 1200 in 4:25 (just 1 second slower than the 4:24 I had in my head I needed ) I did the math and realized I needed an 85 to get my 1600 on pace (5:50 is 87.5 laps, not 88!) TV jumped back in with me for the last lap of the 1600 and we hustled, but I was still a little slow with a high 5:51. If it was the last rep I would have hammered it in to make the goal, but I wanted to finish this workout out strong.

I had to do the 800 solo and hit 2:52 on the nose. Ditto with the first 400 of the second set: 82. FD jumped in for the last 400 and we ran a perfectly even 79 to finish a great workout! It felt so good to pretty much nail it and not kill myself to do it. Now hopefully this will carry forward to my 6 @ 6:25 tempo on Thursday. It's 10 seconds slower than E's. YEAH!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Journey

On facebook I posed the question: "how does one become more competitive?" One answer flipped a switch in my head: "I think there is a natural mellowing out that happens when one get married and has kids." (sorry for excessive colon use.)

You might be thinking that that is not a particularly illuminating point. However, it got me thinking. Purposefully or not, I am constantly comparing myself to my training partners and competitors. If they run faster than me, they must be doing something or thinking better than me. What if, I am a mellow married mom who enjoys pushing myself and isn't a balls-out predator when I race. So what? Will that mean I will never reach my goals? No! Does that even mean I am actually underperforming right now? No! In fact, what if I am actually doing my best and racing and running very well for myself right now. What is the harm in self-acceptance? Nothing. Self-acceptance doesn't mean I am content to be a low 18 5k'er. I can go for improvement and still accept my racing style, my strengths and weaknesses and my self, generally.

It's easy to get sucked into this self-deprecating spiral during a hard training cycle. Miss an interval, or a milage goal, or a race dream time or whatever, and everything seems for nothing. The world stops. There is SOMETHING wrong with me if I don't do x, y or z. But there's not. We just are what we are and it can actually be ok!

On the advice of E, I read these two blog posts. One by Magdalena Lewy-Boulet and the other a response from Camille Heron. Both stressed the importance of tenacity. After my Johnnycake Jog disappointment I flirted for a brief second with bagging my running dreams. What was the point of all that hard training and butt-busting for 1 second? Mrp addressed my frustration and urged me on: "the difference between champions and everyone else is that the champions keep going after disappointment."

Tears welled up in my eyes as I typed that. I think I finally get it. I am not doing anything wrong. I'm just not there yet.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A-

It seems like all my life I've worked just hard enough to get an A- and then coast along content with being good, but not great. In law school I graduated in the top 6% of my class. That's really good, but I felt content with this and never felt compelled to go for the tippy top. In my jobs I was always content to be just a little better than I needed to be, but never went for the gold.

E and I jumped in a 5k last night. She won and I came in a close third (30 seconds behind E and 8 seconds behind second place). The local paper was there and interviewed us. I read the article this morning. I said I was happy to take third. Who says that?!

At the Johnnycake, there was the fast chick wave of finishers starting with NC and more or less ending with me in 7th place. The next finisher after me was over a minute back. Last night there were three of us up front and the next female runner after me finished 45 seconds after me. I'm seeing a trend: A-. I'm content to be in the back of the fast wave and unmotivated to go for the gold--that is until I'm rehashing the race! Then I berate myself for being a pansy. But I don't think I'm a pansy. I'm just accustomed and comfortable at the back of the top pack.

And even before these two races mrp has told me time and again that I need to become more competitive if I want to run to my potential. Coach G went on and on about the same thing after Johnnycake. Ok. Sounds easy. But how the heck to I go from the content A- girl to getting out there and going for the A? Any ideas, tips, suggestions? I need a running tutor!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Putting the Fun back in the Run

Looking back over the last few weeks of training, it is abundantly clear to me that I lost the fun in my running. Track workouts became chores. I dreaded tempos. Long runs were slogs. I had anxiety about when I could get my miles in. I had to treat myself to breaks to get through easy runs with the kids. Basically, I had to grit my teeth and get through these past few weeks when usually I can't wait to hit the road, track, treadmill, etc.

What happened?

As the temps increased and the goal paces decreased I simultaneously put more and more pressure on myself to nail my workouts. I was training with E for our track workouts and as she gained her strength back and had an easier time on the track, I had a harder time. When she pushed the pace, I felt like there was something wrong with me that I couldn't keep up and I would get frustrated and berate myself or give up. I did this even when I was actually meeting or even sometimes exceeding the goal paces, just because it felt like I was sucking when I couldn't keep up. Craziness!

It's easy in group track workouts to feel the need to a) keep up with everyone else and b) give in to the temptation to race a little. I wasn't doing this for the first few weeks, but before I knew it there I was doing everything I knew I shouldn't. I have a tendency to internalize everything and make mountains out of molehills and despite my best efforts I got sucked down that rabbit hole once again.

But, the Johnnycake race was a wake up call. It was a gift in disguise. I realize that running was not fun for a few weeks there and instead of focusing on nailing workouts and keeping up with E or anyone else for that matter, my goal right now is to put the fun back in the run. It seems counter-intuitive, but my problem is not a lack of hard work or passion. I have all the physical tools and most of the mental tools I need to race well and set big prs. What I'm missing is the lightness and joy that allows me to run free. When I put pressure on myself and high expectations it's like running under a heavy dark cloud that holds me back. So expectations are out the window. Goal times are just aspirational. I am going to focus on fun and joy and freedom and the escape that running provides me.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Johnnycake One-step

Well, after a few steps forward that was one heckuva step back. Over the last few weeks I went from being certain I'd be in contention for money and sub-30 at the Johnnycake Jog along with E and CV to just making it to the starting line in one piece. I still had high hopes for a big 5 mile pr, and I will tell you that 1 second is not what I had in mind!

I should take a figurative step back and explain what's been going on. I'm training with E and NC much of the time and they are both very accomplished runners. They have both been rebuilding after spring marathon training which has provided me an opportunity to keep up with them. It's been great! But the downside is that lately, as the training paces have dropped and the temps have risen, I find myself struggling mightily to hang on. I've dropped out of track intervals and tempos or struggled to run way slower than prescribed. It's tough after weeks of nailing every workout and tougher when everyone around me seems to be running faster and faster. It's all perception. I know. Yet, it's a struggle.

Anyway, I'm not sure what to say about yesterday's race. When I was running I felt like I was working hard, but when I didn't even feel like I raced. During the race I felt like I was racing and focused, but afterwards I remember a few things that maybe suggest there were some things I could have done differently. Given 24 hours to reflect, I realize I was running scared (and tired, but when is that not the case during the middle of a training cycle!) I was in self-preservation mode: I told myself I was racing, when really what I was doing was running safely hard and protecting myself from blowing up.

It was scorching hot and humid as we waited on the line. I was petrified to go out too fast and was worried I was going to die in the heat and humidity. I also insisted on not using the garmin and just using time splits. I went out a little behind E and watched her gap me nicely and then let 2 women who I should at least be able to run with pull ahead of me by the mile marker. I told myself they would come back to me and that I needed to run my own race. Looking back I think I was being stubborn and not pushing myself hard enough. I think when I race again I need to see my first mile pace on the garmin to set the proper tone for the race. I ran out in 6:07 when my plan was 5:55-6:00. I notice that I can get myself into a pace groove and it just depends on where I start. 6:07 felt hard, but a 6:00 wouldn't have felt much harder probably. Maybe I would have blown up, but at least I would have tried and set myself up to possibly achieve my goals. Running a disappointing safe race is not exactly a better option than blowing up!

For the second mile I let the women ahead of me really gap me. I told myself to stay smooth on the hills. Again, fear dictated my pace. Running 6:31 was probably too smooth. But I think if I had set a faster tone and been fired up and willing to go for it rather than running afraid, this wouldn't have been so slow. I passed a couple of people I know by the end of the mile. One was a guy who runs with us at the track from time to time and he stuck with me for a couple of miles. I noticed everyone around me was breathing hard and I hardly was. I think my perception of my effort was not quite the reality. Looking back I think I was afraid to push myself too early because I was so afraid of blowing up and wanting to bail. I wasn't running free: I was running scared.

The third mile has a few downhills to make up for mile 2. All I could think about was the last 2 miles out in the sun and although I certainly had upped the effort it was still not quite what I could have done. Still scared. Still holding back. The dude from the track was still with me and his crazy breathing was reminding me that I was relatively relaxed and doing well! I messed up my watch during this mile, but the mile marker dude said 18:51 at 3. On a positive note, I never let the slow splits get to me. Although I think because I was afraid, it was actually comforting and reinforced the idea that I was not going to blow up. I ran 6:13 for this mile.

The last 1.8 miles or so are down one long straight road. I made the turn and started gaining on the woman ahead of me. I was making decent progress for a while, but not fast enough and I kind of gave up on that pursuit. Before the race I told myself I would focus on dudes and pass them over the last stretch. I passed one dude and caught up to one at the line, so I kind of did that. I wasn't quite the animal I hoped to be the last 1.8. My last two miles were 6:14 and 6:11. I saw coach with 400 to go and he was screaming at me to pick it up to break 31. I felt like I was giving it everything I had, but at the same time I also was not fired up to really go nuts either. At the 5k a few weeks ago, I kicked. I found a new gear with 400 to go and went! Yesterday, not so much. I thought I crossed in 31:17 which is exactly the time I ran in 2007 when I ran an awesome race and set my pr. But the official results have me at 31:16.9 (ha!)

I hit the chute and was so happy to be done and then I saw E and NC and heard they ran great and was STOKED! E, NC and I took a photo and celebrated and then I bent down to take my chip off and started to cry. Gosh, I was so frustrated. In 2007 when I ran almost the exact same time I did mile repeats @ 6:26-6:27 pace. This time I did mile repeats in the 5:40's. I've run 5 miles tempos in 6:18 pace and ran 6:15 for the race. 5th place was just 30 seconds ahead of me. There's no reason why I shouldn't have been fighting for that. It's so frustrating.

But, I went into this race committing to use it as a learning experience and not as a barometer of my worth as a person or something like that. I promised myself that I would not dwell on it and let myself learn from it and move on. So, I just wanted to reflect on it and document what I think are the lessons and then that will be the end of that! Basically there are a few things.

1. As Coach G said after the race, "there will come a time when you realize that it hurts whether you run one pace or faster, so you might as well run faster." While I felt like I was running hard yesterday, I would have felt like I was running hard 10 seconds per mile faster. I might as well have tried.

2. I am working hard and keeping up with fast runners, but that does not mean I am as fast as they are. I still need to be patient with myself and realistic. I think it would have helped some to have the goal to just break 31 rather than hoping to break 30. I think when I knew I couldn't break 30, breaking 31 seemed like a lame goal and not worth fighting for, so I didn't.

3. Freaking go for it. Don't be afraid. Have a target for the first mile and use the garmin to hit it. At least try and set the tone. It might not work out, but at least give it a shot.

So that's what I think I've learned from the 2011 Johnnycake Jog and these 8 weeks of speed training. I'm closing the book on this chapter and looking forward to a day off today, a down week this week and moving on the marathon training next week!

Friday, July 08, 2011

No Need to Nail Every One

Resolved: I am not going to worry about not "nailing" every interval or every tempo mile. I am busting my butt (literally if the lingering soreness is any indication) and I am training with three super-fast friends who I am over the moon that I can keep up with at this point. Obviously, I want to nail every workout, but crud, that is just not realistic. I am still logging great workouts in my world and I am just not going to beat myself up about imperfect workouts. The point of my training is not to have a beautiful running log filled with perfect workouts. The point of my training is to log big pr's this year, which I can't do if I'm overtrained or injured.

I have been struggling with my tempos most weeks lately and I was feeling under pressure to nail one so I could feel good about the workout (as if not hitting a split or two or making minor modifications makes for a workout to feel bad about!) The goal last night was 2 x 3 miles @ 6:20; 6:20; 6:15 with no break.

I met NC and E-speed at the park and we rolled out. After a nice 2 mile warm-up on the bridle path we started the tempo. I felt pretty good running 6:17 and 6:18, but my breathing felt a little harder than I would like and my butt was feeling sore, only helped a little bit if I got more toward the middle of the road and off the cambered side.

Somewhere during mile 3 I fell back a little and my pace slowed to the 6:2x's when this was supposed to be faster. This is a slower mile and was last time we ran the route, but my butt was even more sore and I decided that my best bet was to go the opposite way around the upcoming loop while E and NC went the other way and stop and decide whether this was helping me or hurting me. I ended mile 3 near a water fountain and jogged over for a drink and decided that I would try to jump back in when the girls swung by and just see how it goes with no pressure to finish. NC was about 5-10 seconds ahead of E and she encouraged me to jump in with her. I figured why not--I could always fall back and run with E too that way.

According to NC I missed about .8 miles. I didn't look at my watch for almost a mile. I just hit lap on the Garmin when NC's beeped and rolled with her until her last mile. She got ahead of me (she was supposed to run 6:10 for mile 6) and I rolled in a few seconds behind her feeling ok. Turns and trying to hammer made my butt hurt more, but my breathing was way better these last 2.2 miles and I generally felt more relaxed and in a good groove. I ran all but one mile under 6:20 and still got in 5.2 at a good pace.

An imperfect, but good workout. And that, my friends, will have to be good enough!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Survivor

My baby turned one on Tuesday. That had to be the fastest year of my life! I can't believe she's entering her toddler years already. I have been busy trying to finish my work so I can blitz the house in time for her big bash on Saturday. Can't wait!!!

In the meantime, to celebrate her birthday I went and got myself almost injured. It's the same ol' pain in the butt that plagues me every now and then. It was really sore after my long run and then it was REALLY sore after the track on Tuesday. I was really worried about getting in today's tempo, but managed to survive. The goal was 5 @ 6:25 and 1 @ 6:20 and I managed to be close. I kept going back and forth in my head committing to the workout and pushing myself and then being convinced I was an idiot and backing off. I decided to not look at my watch for the last mile because the biggest hill on the route and a headwind were waiting for me, so I was super pleasantly surprised to see what I rolled in with for that mile! Here were the splits:

6:24

6:28

6:41 (uphill and into the wind and mentally checked out)

6:27 (rally!)

6:31 (um, am I an idiot?)

6:16 (screw it! If I did any damage it's already done!)

So, not too bad all things considered. The butts feeling ok. Still tender, but dealable. I just need to make it until Wednesday when I have an ART appointment. In the meantime, whoa am I busy!!!

Time to get crackin'!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Almost O-N-E

On most Saturday's Coach G has us do a second slower longer tempo run. Today's was 12 miles @ 7:05 pace. I met up with NC and we had a really nice run through the beautiful Chagrin Valley. We engaged in some girl talk and while listening to NC's 25 year old life I felt excited that she is right on the edge of so many wonderful things. And then, in the middle of this run through the luscious green river valley, I realized how lucky I am to have such a great life. I remembered where I was at 25 and where I am now 11 years later. I have an amazing partner in mrp who is my compliment in just about every way. We have two beautiful children who wow us everyday. We have the perfect home for us in the perfect setting. Mrp has a good job, and I have a great career I can fall back on at any time really. And we are healthy and strong and ambitious enough to pursue our hobbies passionately.

And then a few hours later I took both kids clothes shopping at the mall with NC and about lost my mind.

Ha!

Anyway, life is good. Very good. As we count down the days until Miss #2 turns the big O-N-E, I guess it's a perfect time to take a moment of reflection on a good run. And I've been lucky to have a lot of those lately. I met up with NC and E-speed on Thursday for a 5 mile tempo. I wasn't in quite the appreciative mood I was on today's run as life stress seemed to get the best of me that day. But E and NC, ever the good buddies took my mind off my little problems and helped me log a great tempo. E and I had 5 @ 6:25 on the schedule and NC had 5 @ 6:20. We decided to go for 6:20 as long as no one was straining. No one strained! We had a great run averaging 6:18 for 5. It was definitely work, but it never felt out of tempo effort range. I am super stoked to log my first sub 6:20 tempo and to run just 3 seconds per mile slower than my 5 mile pr on a training run. I think things are really coming together and I have a great back half of 2011 to look forward to! The front half is ending up pretty darn wonderful!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Jumping In

At the track on Tuesday Coach G told me to go find a short race to jump into over the weekend. He still wanted us to get our workouts in, but have one of them include a race. I had 11 @ 7:00 on Saturday and 14 @ 7:25 on tap for Sunday. I poked around the internets and found a 5k race I ran a couple of years ago was happening on Saturday. It's not the most scenic area to get in 11 miles, but it would do!

I was totally excited about racing a 5k after the track workout last week, but when my tempo was rough I started to worry. Never fear! Running Within is here! I picked up my trusty mental training book and heeded its advice to visualize, visualize, visualize. Before I went to bed the night before, I visualized my entire morning before the race: waking up @ 6:30; hearing the coffee percolating; smelling the toast in the toaster; the feel of the waistband on my shorts; brushing my teeth; getting the race an hour early to sign up and then going to my car before doing an early longer faster warm-up; lining up and feeling excited and happy.

The morning went almost exactly as I visualized the night before. I arrived at the race early and signed up. I then went to my car, dropped off my number and headed out for a run of the course around 7:20 pace. While running the course I visualized racing on it. I imagined myself relaxed and happy and enjoying the small hills and the headwinds and the freeway fumes. I imagined the sun in my eyes felt delicious and was like a beacon calling me to the finish. When I arrived near the finish at the minor league ball park I visualized feeling excited in the knowledge I was running a pr. I imagined spectators speckled about the parking lot cheering for me as the first woman. I imagined kicking it in as I entered the stadium and I counted down the clock and visualized finishing in 18:12. Not sure why that number, but it sounded good to me!

I was done with my 3 miles and still had 20 minutes. I stopped at the rest room and had a drink of water. I walked to my car and calmly pinned my number to my bra and laced up my flats. I fixed the display in my Garmin and turned off autolap and then I walked casually over to the starting area with 10 minutes to go. I jogged about .5 miles and then did 4 x strides. I saw a friend and congratulated him on his baby due in a month. I enjoyed watching the young guys nervously warm-up, and the group of children in their red t-shirts stoked to run their first 5k and hobby joggers not sure where to line-up. I enjoyed the early morning sun illuminating the scene and the excitement in the air!

When I lined up I felt a sense of community with all of them. I felt so happy that all these people gathered together in this sparse suburban landscape to push themselves and better themselves. I felt so lucky to be so fit and strong and able to be there too.

Ready! Set! GO!

And we were off. It was a bit shocking to the system to run 5k pace at first. I felt a little queasy and weird, but I knew this was normal. Some guys around me were talking about me as if I couldn't hear, but honestly I don't even remember what they said. I was happy and excited. I was a little tentative to go nutso though. I have never run under 6:00 pace in a race (at least not intentionally!) so this was new territory. When I was at around .3 miles the garmin settled into about a 5:52-5:53 pace and I rolled with it. It felt right. I got to the mile marker in 5:50 and hit lap. My plan was to settle in and keep up the effort for mile 2. I knew there was a hair-pin turnaround so I knew that would cost me a few seconds, but otherwise I wanted to keep the pace as close to mile 1 as possible. I came to the mile marker in 5:40. My Garmin was displaying average pace and showed 6:03 (we ran under a bridge twice and after the turn around the pace really tanked, so I think that didn't help) at this point for the whole 2 miles which I knew wasn't right, so I switched screens so it would just show time and not bug me out. Anyway, even with the garmin not telling me I knew that 5:40 was short. I guessed 15 seconds and I think that's about right. Although I used that info to motivate me to go for it convincing myself I might have a shot at sub-18!

I was totally alone after the first .5 - 1 mile. I had to push myself and I think I did. I ran with the sun in my eyes and used it as the beacon. I glided up the small hill before the intersection and made that sharp turn back to the stadium and happily listened to a couple of spectators cheering for me. I started to kick after the second to last hard-turn. I had a lot left. I zoomed up to the stadium entrance and made that last jack-knife turn and ran down to the warning track, my toes digging into the dirt. I was sprinting and saw the clock tick down 18:11; 18:12; 18:13! PHEW!!! 18:13!!!! A 36 second pr!

I was pumped! And in my excitement I totally forgot to hit stop or even lap on my garmin so I don't have the data. Oh well! I talked to some dudes after the finish and tried to find someone to run 4 @ 7:20 pace to cool down, but no dice. (They all looked at me like I was nuts!)

I headed out and did my 4 miles which wasn't too terrible (although I was definitely tired when I was done). I headed back in and stretched and waited for the awards. I collected my first place trophy and headed home elated with the mental victory and the p.r.!

Later, I checked the results and the race has me @ 18:15. It's hand scored and with no one finishing close to me it looks like they rounded up. Oh well. I'll take it!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Great Track Workout and a Good Enough Tempo

Besides visualization, other new tools I'm learning to use are relaxation and affirmation. Now, these areas of weakness for me. I tend to tense up easily and then engage in negative self-talk and self-sabotage, or I tend to engage in negative self-talk and then tense up and self-sabotage that way. (Chicken or the egg?) Either way it interferes with my running success big time.

Well, I now am learning how to quit both acts of self-sabotage. On Tuesday before my track workout I took ten minutes and did some deep-breathing and visualization exercises while the kids napped. And then when I was on the track, I focused on the word 'glide' and repeated my new mantra, "Working hard is fun, that's why I run!" Both concepts worked beautifully. E and I ran a stellar set of 6 x 800's all between 2:46 and 2:48 and then followed that up with our fastest 200's ever! "Glide" helped to remind me not to force the pace and just let it flow. It's a good relaxing motion word and it also has a nice confidence infused in it. And then the "Working hard" mantra came in handy when the workout got tough. It reminded me that I like pushing through and getting the job done and it's supposed to be a little hard (that's why it's called a workout out, duh!)

Then today was my tempo day. I had 7 @ 6:30 on tap. I was worried a little because my Garmin has been funky at the park. I decided to change my autolap to every .5 instead of every mile so if I had one bad split here or there I wouldn't sweat it as much. Maybe this was a mistake? After fighting off a stitch on the warm-up, I kept repeating to myself "I am a talented athlete and I nail my tempo runs." It sounds Suart-Smalley-esque and it is, but it definitely helped me avoid the negative thought creep today. It also helped me not worry about the stitch. And I didn't.

On the advice of NC I started the tempo on a loop around an office park near the park. It started off well. The first .5 was @ 6:28 pace which was perfect. However, I then turned into a stiff headwind for the next .75 and the next split was at 6:41 pace (and I was happy with this because the Garmin said 6:50's for way too long into that split for my liking! It did this for most of the splits--starting off saying I was going anywhere from 6:50-7:10 through .25 miles which despite all the mantras and comforting affirmations I through at it, kinda freaked me out). But since the average was 6:34 I felt ok about it at that point. The next mile was pretty much the same. Right on out of the wind, slow in the wind. I ran 6:33, but thought after the third mile I'd try my luck in the park to get out of the wind. Third mile was 6:35 and the same deal. Of course I got into the park and instead of getting easier, the splits got slower. Suddenly I saw a lot of 7:xx paces at the beginning of splits and had to fight way too hard to get the pace out of the 6:50's! Even so, I really felt like the effort was right and I was not going to worry about it. I ran 6:38; 6:44; 6:47 (ugh) and then 6:35.

I actually stayed fairly positive through the whole workout. I flirted for a second here or there in the park with quitting since I wasn't hitting the pace, but those thoughts didn't last long at all. I decided I would run the tempo as it was and just accept that tempos at the park are harder than the tempos I used to do downtown for whatever reason. I know it is better to get the workout in 8 seconds per mile slow than a mile or several short or not at all. But, after the high of the stellar track workout I feel like my head is back down to earth today!

I picked up Running Within during nap time today and read a chapter called, Gaining without Straining and it really made me feel better. A successful athlete trusts the messages from her body and knows the proper effort. I was beating myself up a little bit before I read this for not trying harder to hit the goal paces. I think I am doing the right thing. But I am going to try to do my tempo some where else next time!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Imagine a Clean Kitchen

I know I haven't talked about it much lately, but I'm still working hard on mental training. A new technique I've been practicing is visualization. As I mentioned in my last post, I've had a rough week struggling through both my track workout and tempo run. In the past having two back to back bad workouts would really beat up my confidence.

Of course, I can't say that wasn't true going into my weekend runs. I was really nervous worrying I would biff my Saturday long tempo run. The goal was 10 @ 7:00 pace and I was going to be on my own for it. I recently borrowed an amazing book from the library, Running Within by Jerry Lynch. So far, I LOVE it!!! Both that book and the USOC mental training workbook I have suggest using visualization to achieve running goals. At first, I thought this just meant to use visualization to meet racing goals, but I now see how visualization can help me with my day-to-day running (and other aspects of my life as you shall see!)

Before the run I took 2 minutes and visualized the run. I pictured running the first mile in 7:15 and the second mile in 7:02 and then 6:57 for all the rest. I pictured looking at my garmin after the run to see my 6:59 average pace. Before I even started the run, this exercise calmed me down and removed a lot of anxiety about the run.

Then the crazy thing is that I pretty much ran just as I imagined! I ran 7:08; 7:05 and then 6:52-6:59 for all the rest of the miles. I felt relaxed and enjoyed the run a lot. When I finished I looked at my garmin to see the 6:58 average pace and felt triumphant that I successfully used visualization to achieve that small goal.

That evening I was tired after putting the kids to bed. I walked into my kitchen and saw a big mess. I didn't feel like dealing with it. But then I did something weird. I stood there and visualized a clean kitchen. I pictured a clear clean table, all the dishes washed and in the drying rack and clean counters. I pictured mrp waking up in the morning and happy to prepare and serve breakfast to the kids in the clean kitchen while I was out for my long run. And before I knew it I was busy cleaning the kitchen and feeling proud when I went to bed with that chore accomplished.