Tag Archives: Marathon Training

Race Recap – California International Marathon

Happy New Year!

CIM was over a month ago.  During the first half of the race, I was writing my recap in my head.  I was beaming, thinking about how I would describe that I took risks and exceeded all expectations!

So….what happened in the second half of the race and the last six weeks?

Pre-race:

On Saturday, I headed up to Sacramento.  I checked in at the adorable Citizen Hotel.  The Citizen was very welcoming to CIM runners.  They are a couple blocks away from the Sacramento Convention Center which serves as the expo location and one of the bus pick-up spots.  They offered a special runner dinner in their restaurant as well as a verrrrry early morning breakfast.  Did I mention it’s adorable?

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Went over to the expo, found my name on the sweet CIM board, got my bib, and headed back to watch junky TV with my legs up.

This child needs to stop fame-blocking me.

This child needs to stop fame-blocking me.

There are tons of restaurants in the downtown area to get your carb needs met.  I went with sushi at a place with decent Yelp reviews (totally unmemorable) and grabbed my secret weapon ice cream from a liquor store.  Curled up with ‘Bridesmaids’ and got to sleep by about 9:30.

Race morning:

Woke up feeling good, rested, nervous.  Did all the typical morning things and rushed out, leaving my sunglasses and water behind.  Then I waited in 40 degree weather for the bus for like 20 minutes.  I’m an idiot.  My bus stop was probably the busiest one but there were buses for everyone.  We were definitely a big herd of cattle but overall, CIM is a very organized race.  The buses were warm and I had a lovely seat-mate to chat with during the 30 minute ride.  When we arrived, the sun was coming up and I opted to stay on the bus before finishing my bathroom business (PHEW) and lining up at the start.  Note about the start: CIM does not have corrals.  Runners self-seed based on anticipated finish but I didn’t experience any bottlenecking!  Also, they have the longest row of porta-potties I have ever seen.

Miles 1-13:

Perfection.  Beautiful sunrise.  Perfect weather.  The rolling hills play perfectly to my mental and physical strengths.  I was aiming for about 10:07 pace but I felt so good that I allowed myself to run many of these miles in the high 9’s.  This was my perfect race day.

Except…I was kind of thirsty….  I’ve never felt thirsty while running before.  Maybe this was because I’d had half a diet coke at 5am and started running at 7 (I KNOW).  No matter, I would begin my fueling strategy (2-3 chews every 3 miles) at the first aid station and all would be well!  Tra la la!

Great success!  Everything is perfect!  What can go wrong?!

Great success! Everything is perfect! What can go wrong?!

Miles 14-20:

Right at mile 14, I began to feel TIRED.  I was so pissed at myself for going out so “fast”.  I’m such a conservative runner.  I couldn’t believe I was squandering a marathon on such a stupid mistake.  I made sure I was taking electrolytes (yay NUUN!) at all of the aid stations and walking through them to give myself a mental break.  I had a bit of stiffness in my left leg but mostly, I was just really tired and bummed out.  My pace dropped to about 10:30 in these miles.  I was still on pace to meet my A goal of sub-4:30 but I left the miraculous 4:20 at mile 13.  Okay…

Mile 18.  Proof that good race photos are mind over matter.  I was NOT happy at this moment.  Or maybe I was?!  It's confusing, isn't it?

Mile 18. Proof that good race photos are mind over matter. I was NOT happy at this moment. Or maybe I was?! It’s confusing, isn’t it?

Miles 20-26:

Death march.  F*ck.  It was all I could do to keep running and not just walk the whole rest of the way.  I was exhausted.  During mile 20, I went to get my Honey Stinger Chews out and discovered that I had eaten about 1/3 of what I was supposed to.  F*ck.  I took several with NUUN and felt an upswing.  At this point, I was so tired and demoralized that I just did everything I could to get there.  I knew that if I ran/walked about 50/50, I would still PR.  With each mile, I slipped further and further away from my goal.  It was sad.  I wished I were injured so I could stop.  But I wasn’t.  I was just under-fueled and bummed out.  But still able to turn on the joy for a race photographer at mile 22:

I laughed so hard when I saw this picture.  I should be a professional film and television actress. #actuallyhatinglife

I laughed so hard when I saw this picture. I should be a professional film and television actress. #actuallyhatinglife

The last couple miles, I just chanted “just run, just run, just run” and occasionally mixed in “PR, PR, PR”.  Finally I made it to the finish.

I love you, Timing Mat.

I love you, Timing Mat.

4:33.  An 8 minute PR.  3 minutes off my A goal.  All things considered, a success.

I got my medal, grabbed water, and shoved some chews in my face.  I walked around for a bit but I was pretty woozy and nauseated so I sat down and guzzled.  When I could stand up without barfing, I took one more “happy” picture.

I think I was actually happy in this one.  :D

I think I was actually happy in this one. 😀

The two blocks to my hotel took longer than the last mile.  I stretched, texted, tweeted, showered.  Citizen generously gave us late check-out so I wasn’t rushed at all.  That was wonderful. After a bit of foam rolling, I got in the car and headed home, by way of In-N-Out and the largest Diet Coke in the world.

I had two.

I had two.

CIM is a wonderful race.  I love the course, the organization, and the energy.  My weather was perfection and I was well-trained.  I’m disappointed that I made such an unnecessary error with my nutrition.  I’m also bummed that at mile 13, I didn’t believe in myself.  I assumed that I went out too quickly; that I wasn’t strong enough to run a 4:20 marathon.  I wish I had realized that I simply wasn’t eating enough and corrected that instead.  I learned several really important lessons that I will grow from in the next one.  Not sure when that will be but I still love marathon training and the incredible challenge of 26.2.

My favorite sign was one that read “Someday you might not be able to do this, TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY.”

Any marathon day is a good day.

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Home Stretch

IMG_1064It’s go time.  And it so is.

I have been following a rigid training plan since MAY, when 70.3 training began.  That’s a lot of gluten-free waffles.  I’ve probably peaked at least three times.  Races are often described as the “victory lap” at the end of a training cycle.  After eight months, some significant emotional challenges, and about a gillion miles, I’m beyond ready to put this training cycle to bed.  If I sound demoralized, I’m not at all.  I’m just a bit overcooked.  Very ready.

Goal-setting and planning for this race has been a bit of a conundrum.  I registered for CIM a few weeks before I dropped out of Augusta, needing a big challenge I knew I could enjoy meeting.  When I transitioned from triathlon to marathon training, I was a bit nervous about my past tibial tendinitis or ITB issues flaring up.  To avoid injury and increase enjoyment, I experimented with walking breaks during my long runs.  It was wonderful.  I felt very strong and unbelievably calm.  No joke, I actually enjoyed my twenty milers!  They were faster than my first marathon pace (even with a break every 9 minutes) and recovery was really quick.  I figured I would transition to continuous long runs once I had ramped up my mileage without injury.  But I just never did.  For runs ten miles and fewer, I ran through but all my significant long runs had regular breaks.

I didn’t have any ego issues with frequent walking breaks initially but now I feel slightly less comfortable with them.  I’ve debated several different race plans:

9 or 10 minutes running / 1 minute walking

Pro: I’ve trained this way.  It’s very psychologically comforting to know that there’s always another break on the horizon, usually before I need it.

Con: It’s awkward to stop, especially early in the race.  I have to run faster to maintain my overall pace.  My walking breaks may not align with the aid stations.

Straight running

Pro: Running pace is slower since it’s continuous. Ego boost.

Con: Much more physically demanding.  Haven’t run anywhere near that far continuously in over a year.  Much more challenging mentally.

Walking at aid stations

Pro: Similar to my training.  Running pace can be a bit slower since walking breaks are less frequent.  Walking breaks are proactive enough to stave off fatigue later in the race. Won’t back people up.

Cons: Walking breaks aren’t quite as often but hey, it is a race….

I’ve settled on the compromise option: walking for 0:45-1:00 through the aid stations beginning at mile 3.    I will PR this race, without question.  By how much, I’m not sure but I’m aiming for >4:30 (10:17 pace) which is totally doable, even with walking breaks.

This race marks the end of my Beginner Chapter.  My intention for CIM is to enjoy (relatively) easy racing one last time.  In the new year, it’s time to get brave and get fast!

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Mindfulness – Part One

About a month ago, I began to live more mindfully.  Since then, I’ve attempted to write about it several times and found myself stuck every time, including now.  These changes have been so profound, even in a short amount of time, that I can say that it has changed my life.  Consider this the first of many posts about the topic.

Fundamentally, I am trying to be present in my mind and body at every moment.  Truly *being* where I am with no thought of what’s coming next, unless I’m purposefully planning.  The only unhappiness and anxiety I have in my lovely life is a product of worrying.  When we worry, we use our creative minds to remove ourselves from present contentment and place ourselves in an imagined future where something is going wrong.  Put that way, it sounds like a terrible way to live but it is so common!

Recognizing that in this moment everything is fine can be really powerful.  In the first few days of thinking this way, I noticed 2-3 times per day that I felt anything other than contentment.  That’s it!  They were fleeting moments that dissipated as quickly as I noticed them.  I was truly amazed by how content I was, even when sitting in traffic, waiting in lines, etc.  If you’re just *being* with your thoughts, your music, your podcasts, the sunshine…everything is pretty nice!  Of course, not every moment is fine.  Someone may say something hurtful, a driver might do something dangerous that frightens or angers you… Those are still realities of life but we can choose whether we let those moments pass quickly or dwell on them, forcing ourselves to re-experience the hurt/discomfort over and over again.  No thanks.

I can get daunted pretty easily and daunted typically equals very unhappy.  However, when I’m actually doing the daunting things, they always go well!  I love my job and whether I’m teaching a voice lesson, a Dailey Method class, or singing, I feel this amazing sense of flow.  I’m so fully engaged that time seems to speed up.  I leave each activity feeling more alive than before.   My motivation for actively seeking presence was to feel as engaged and positive outside of those activities as I feel when I’m doing them.

To eliminate feeling overwhelmed, I committed to stop looking at my calendar.  Instead, I take 5-10 minutes each day to sit down with the next day’s schedule and set an intention for each activity.  I think about what each student, class, or workout needs.  I make a little notation in my phone and boom, the day is handled.  I can spend the other 23 hours and 50 minutes of today being in today!  I’ve also noticed how much time I truly have when an activity is contained within it’s allotted time (instead of being thought about all day).  4 lessons and 2 DM classes isn’t ALL DAY, it’s only 6 hours.  That shift has allowed me to reclaim and enjoy a whole lot of previously squandered time.

Birthday Notes!

Birthday Notes!

Around the time this all started, I had a wonderful Dailey Method workshop with Lorna Samatas, owner of The Dailey Method – Elmhurst.  The topic was “Theming Your DM Class” but much of it was about mindfulness techniques.  One concept that I really took to was the idea of “arriving” in a space.  The idea is that when you cross a threshold into a new space, it’s a mindfulness trigger.  You take a moment to pause and consider why you’re there and what you hope to get from the experience in that space.  My Dailey Method students have responded well to this as a way to truly begin their practice.  I’m using it everywhere from entering a rehearsal to retreating to my bedroom at the end of the day.

Without question, this has significantly changed my running.  I will explore this in a subsequent post(s) but I want to tell you that last week’s 17 miler and yesterday’s TWENTY were both amazing runs.  I was *calm* the entire time.  I didn’t have any dread or fear of the distance.  At the beginning, I had no sense of how long I had to go.  I simply ran.  I noticed physical sensations, noticed ebbs and flows in my energy, noticed clouds, noticed my own happiness.  It was tremendous and couldn’t come at a better time.

Happy from beginning to end!

Happy from beginning to end!

There’s a lot more I want to share and now that I’ve gotten this first post through my fingers, more will come soon!

Please ask questions or share your favorite mindfulness tips and resources in the comments!

 

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Goin’ Galloway?!

Oh hey!  I’m running a marathon!

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A few weeks before I pulled the plug on Augusta 70.3, I registered for CIM.  To many, registering for a dovetailing marathon while struggling with my present goal would seem insane.  I considered it for months and didn’t discuss it much.  It felt like a really good idea and as I described to a few people, “I just needed a win.”  Obviously running 26.2 miles isn’t an easy win but it’s an endeavor that feels exciting.

One important consideration is overtraining.  70.3 training started in May and while it wasn’t run heavy, that’s a long time on the training train.  Since I’m genuinely looking forward to this race, my mind is cooperating well.

Body….is mostly cooperating well.  Two weeks ago, I had 15 miles on my plan and 5 miles in, my ITB rebelled. My knee joined the protest, and I had no choice but to turn around and head home after 5.  Ruh-roh.  Since then, I’ve rested when I felt like I should and backed off my mileage.  I travelled to Seattle to celebrate my stepmom’s 60th birthday (60’s themed party!) and then returned home to celebrate my own birthday.

Mad Men....with an iPhone.

Mad Men….with an iPhone.

Last Tuesday, I turned 32.  I celebrated with a fantastic spin class (BORN THIS WAY was the first song!!!  WHAT?) and Dailey Method with the always energetic and amazing Susan.

The next day, I embarked on my first 32 year old run: 10 miles.  I decided to employ the Galloway method (running 9 minutes/ walking 1) in the hopes that I would get through a longish run without discomfort.

It was absolute joy.  One of those runs where you can’t stop thinking how amazing you feel and how you wish you could bottle the feeling and HowCanEveryRunBeLikeThisEveryTimeForever!!!!

I never needed the walking breaks so they were a pleasant (and frequent) surprise!  I intended to keep a long run pace (10:30-10:45) but I could barely keep my running segments above 10.  It felt really good.  I kind of totally get why people favor this method.  My average pace was faster than it should have been but the run felt easier than it should have felt.  Maybe it was just the day?  Maybe it was the buoyant energy of a new, even age?

Maybe NOT.

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Yesterday, I ran 15 miles using the same method.  I felt FANTASTIC.  Same deal: all the running segments felt nearly effortless and hovered around 10mm.  Stupidly faster than I should be running my long runs but I absolutely could have had a full conversation (if another person on earth were insane enough to run 5 loops of the same lake).  Oh, and today?  NO PAIN OR STIFFNESS WHATSOEVER.  I took a spin class this morning.  Didn’t even feel like I ran yesterday.   Absurd.

So….maybe this method works really well for me?  Maybe my marathon goal should be faster?  Who knows.  I can tell you that I am absolutely not bothered by running “only” 90%.  That’s still a low A, thankyouverymuch.  I took a lot of pride in running my entire first marathon but using this method to get safely to both the starting line and a PR doesn’t bug me. I’m not sure at this point if I’m going to stay with Galloway but I will for my long run this weekend and continue to evaluate from there.

YAAAAAAAY MARATHON TRAINING!  It really is my favorite.

Ever do a run/walk method?  Thoughts?  

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Eastern Span

Becoming a runner has been extraordinary.  One of the sweetest parts has been exploring and redefining my home turf on my own feet.

Today was the BEST example of that.  8 miles of 14 were across the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.  A bridge I have driven over about two-hundred-million-thousand times.

Before meeting speedy buddy and IRONMAN Jessica, I had 6 miles to take care of.

Gorgeous Bay to the right.  Highway 80 to the left.

Gorgeous Bay to the right. Highway 80 to the left.

I’ve been meaning to run the Emeryville/Berkeley/Albany segment of the San Francisco Bay Trail  for ages.  In fact, over the summer I sat in horrific traffic for over an HOUR on Hwy 80, not moving and wishing I could just abandon my Prius and run home.  It’s a great trail.  Lovely breeze coming off of the bay and packed dirt on the side of the pavement for when you want a softer surface.  Planning to do a longer run here this coming week.

(Since I only have 40 miles to cover in the next 7 days, as Sara reminded me.  Oy. )

I arrived back at our meeting spot and we headed out to the bridge!  There are two paths that lead onto the new span of the bridge.  We took the one that originates near the Emeryville Ikea.  I was so encouraged to see so many groups of women walkers, families, cyclists, and runners out enjoying the path.  As a nearly lifelong Oakland resident, we don’t get much positive press.  It was awesome to see people outside and enthusiastic about the TOWN!

It’s about two miles from Ikea to the actual bridge.  It was such a trip to run along the approach to the toll plaza where I have waited impatiently so many times.  There’s a short but somewhat steep incline up to the bridge and then a little over two miles before the path ends, just shy of Treasure Island.

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It’s a great run.  It’s a gentle incline all the way to the turnaround.  The kind where it looks flat but your inner thighs complain.  We were holding a faster pace than my usual long runs (10:15ish vs. 10:45) but chatting and marveling at the scenery made it really fun.  When we turned around, we dropped more than a minute off our pace!  Downhill is the bomb.  I can’t believe I held that pace at the end of 14 miles.  Running with faster friends is intimidating but so, so rewarding.  The last mile and a half was brutal for me.  Our speedy pace caught up to me and the fog had burned off, revealing toasty temperatures.  It was great to have a chance to push through fatigue.  Had I been alone, I may have stopped to walk but I just kept trotting behind Jess until we were done!

A great morning and wonderful confidence boost going into the last big week of marathon training before taper.  HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

And now, recovery.

How I do.

How I do.

 

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You Are Here

This morning, I ran 18 miles.

Near the end of mile 2, this song by The Wailin’ Jennys came on and I smiled.

You wonder why you wonder when
You wonder how now and then
How you became who you’ve become

You are here
And yet you dream of being there
Of being where you think the good life has begun

Every darkened hallway
Every fallen dream
Every battle lost and
Every shadow in between
Will bring you to your knees and
Closer to the reason

And there’s no making cases
For getting out or trading places
And there’s no turning back
No you are here

Who can say who made the choice
In the matter of your birth
Who brought about that fateful day
Well you are here and born with fire and desire
You’re the only one can stand in your own way

And every broken arrow
Every hardened smile
Every foolish gamble and
Every lonely mile
Will bring you to your knees and
Closer to the reason

And there’s no making cases
For getting out or trading places
And there’s no turning back
No you are here

And every sign of love
Every seed that’s growing
Every sweet surrender
To that silent knowing
Will bring you to your knees and
Closer to the reason

And there’s no making cases
For getting out or trading places
And there’s no turning back
No you are here

Holding back the happy tears.

Holding back the happy tears.

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