“You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming.”
It got done. That 20-miler I wanted to do this past weekend? Yep, it got done.
And all the power to me.
It was my last great hurdle on the road to Chicago. It wasn’t fast, and it wasn’t pretty. But it got done.
It was a total of 6 laps around the lake at the park where I’ve been running the majority of the summer. Had I done 2 additional laps, it would have been over a full marathon. And I’m pretty sure I had it in me that day to do so, if I had to.
I played the run like I played the 16-miler the previous week. I fueled every 7 miles (two laps), from that water stop I call my car, with the exception of adding a stop before the final lap, when I opted for a sip of fluid. It seemed the smart thing to do as the warmth and humidity was already on the rise Saturday morning.
The only fly in the ointment? I did P90X Legs and Back on Wednesday before the run. And unfortunately, I was still feeling the DOMS on Friday night. In fact, I decided to take some Advil around 7 pm. It was that bad. It had been two weeks since I had done that workout. Clearly, I over did it. I think if I weren’t as sore as I was, it would have been an easier run for me. But, I was able to identify that and now I know next week NOT to do that workout. Instead, I’ll stick to my physical therapy exercises to get me through that final week before the marathon.
Sunday, I decided rest was best and opted not to run at all. I did do some housecleaning and I spent much of the day on my feet, plus got in a Hatha Yoga class in the late afternoon.
By the time Monday rolled around, I did do an easy 4 miles after P90X and before heading to Green Lotus Yoga for a massage. And, may I just add that it was the best…damn…massage…ever. I know I say that all the time. The truth of the matter is, it hurt like hell. However, by the time I got out of there, my flexibility had improved 10-fold. The masseuse was able to work out the hamstring tightness I’ve had in that right leg, and relieve the calf stiffness. It was glorious. And because of it, I was able to tackle today’s 7 miler with ease. Plus. with morning temperatures in the mid 40’s, it all added up to a great little jaunt.
My masseuse also led me through a little guided meditation when she was finished and I was still lying on the table. She had me envision myself running my race, being strong and capable throughout. She had me picture the finish line in my mind, and me running over it with a feeling of gratitude and grace. She asked me to notice the smells around me, the people, the sounds…and the feel of the cool finisher’s medal against my chest. She had me envision the meal I might eat when I was finished, or the drink I might enjoy. Then, she had me think about how great that cool shower would feel when I stepped into it. And the Mona Lisa smile I’d sport the rest of the day knowing I’d just completed my 4th marathon.
After my run this morning, I already had plans to go to a Gentle Yoga class, and then take a turn in the studio’s brand new InfraRed sauna. I was so looking forward to this visit. After listening to Ben Greenfield talk about the benefits of such a unit and knowing now that I have access to one just makes me giddy!
But first, Yoga. Somehow whenever I go to Yoga class, the instructor instinctively knows what I need work on. And somehow, incorporates the the moves that I need on that particular day. And sometimes, not always, the Yogi has us choose a Mantra to get us through our practice or even our entire day. Most days my Mantra is “I am in control.” I choose this because that is where I find the most resistance in my life…falling out of control or allowing myself to lose control. This morning, I began thinking this Mantra yet again, when suddenly, I completely changed it to “I am capable.” It came out of nowhere, almost like a loud, breath-filled whisper. And I had to grab it.
I am capable.
I’ve done everything in my power to prepare for this marathon. I’ve taken the bad with the good, the hard with the easy. I’ve cried, I’ve laughed, and I’ve fought my way over and through yet another injury. I’ve battled overtraining, depression, and exhausted my financial resources with not one, but two physical therapists. I came close to quitting…twice.
Yet, here I am, having just completed the 20-mile training run that would ultimately hand me more than just one Mantra.
I am resilient.
I am strong.
I am fierce.
I am confident.
I am capable.
Nothing says you are almost ready for a marathon than that first successful long run. Well, except maybe for that second successful long run. But we aren’t quite there yet. So I’ll stick with the former.
I ran 16.69 miles on Saturday. This is where you might expect to hear “It wasn’t easy…but I got it done.”
The fact of the matter is, it was easy.
No, it wasn’t at marathon pace. But, I did practice nasal breathing throughout and I did not have to gasp for air once. I focused on form, and envisioned my core doing the work rather than my legs. I kept my heart rate below 180 throughout the entire run. I stopped at my car twice, about every 7 miles, to refuel on Energybits and Sports Legs, plus to grab a few swigs of hydration. And, I ran with my iPhone 6+ in the back pocket of my Fittie. (This has been an experiment in the making, since it is such a clunker.)
Everything went off without a hitch.
Yeah, I’ve come a long way.
It is hard to believe that just 4 months ago, I was floundering in so many ways. First, the re-occurring leg injury. Then the unexplained weight gain. Then the depression. Then the exhaustion. It hurt to get out of bed. And just getting ready to run exhausted me to the point that I didn’t want to run. It was a scary time. And I was so close to throwing in the towel.
In general, my health was suffering. I could tell because my nails were weak and thin. My hair was falling out and graying rapidly. The weight gain was interfering with just about anything I wanted to do. It wasn’t a fun time.
What do I think went wrong? In general, I was overtrained. I tried to do too much in April on top of an injury that was forcing me to run with the incorrect form for my body. I wasn’t eating properly. I had gotten off the low carb wagon on the trip to California and I was having a hard time getting back on. I was hungry all the time with the overtraining and lack of sleep, so I compensated with more protein. And that clearly doesn’t work for me.
How do you know you are overtrained? Here are some signs, as published by Muscle for Life.
- You simply can’t finish a proper workout.
- You’re gaining weight despite training hard.
- You don’t take any days off.
- You’re restless at night and are having trouble sleeping.
- You feel overly fatigued and sluggish.
- You have odd aches and pains in your joints, bones, or limbs.
- You’re getting sick more often than usual.
- You feel drained and crappy after what normally would be a good workout.
I can relate to most of them. Feeling crappy, not being able to move my legs, poor sleep, tired all the time, significant mood swings, and not looking forward to my P90X workouts, which is what I live for! My physical body retaliated. And in turn, everything else suffered.
Getting back on the horse wasn’t an easy thing to do. I’m thankful to my physical therapist who got me back out there first, by healing the injury. Being in pain all the time sucks, in general. And it wears you down. But once that started to fade, everything else kind of fell into place. 4 months total. 4 whole months. That is a third of the year.
At this time last year, I was struggling with the thought of running the Twin Cities Marathon. Could I really run 26 miles on such little training? Would it even be worth my time? Could I pull it off?
And, quite honestly, I’m dealing with the same question this year in reference to Chicago. It is a week later than Twin Cities, and I feel I am about two weeks behind where I was last year at this time. I know I can finish the marathon. But will I have enough to qualify for Boston for 2017? Or even NYC?
I could sit here and question it all day. Or, I could trust in my training. I don’t have another choice, to be honest. It is what it is, and it will be what it will be.
Wednesday, just two days after I sent in my application for the Boston Marathon, I learned my application was accepted. Yup. I’m going back to Boston. I’m thrilled! I’m even more thrilled that my husband is wanting to come along. The prospect of training through the winter is scary. Twice now, winter training has almost destroyed me. It will take everything I have to do it right this time, even if it means more treadmill and less outdoor running. I’d love to give Boston what it’s given me, minus the stress fracture.
Yeah, I’ve come a long way.
So what happens next? A 20-miler, which right now should happen Saturday morning, God willing. Then, taper time. I plan to follow the same path I did last year right before Twin Cities. There will be travel involved this year for Chicago, but hopefully it won’t interfere that much. I’ve got a marathon to run after all.
Piece of cake.
Have you recently overcome a struggle of overwhelming sorts? How did you do it?
Stop, drop and roll is a simple fire safety technique taught to children, emergency services personnel and industrial workers as a component of health and safety training. Primarily, it is a method to extinguish a fire on a person’s clothes or hair without, or in addition to, the use of conventional firefighting equipment. In addition to extinguishing the fire, stop, drop and roll is an effective psychological tool, providing those in a fire situation, particularly children, with a routine that can be focused on in order to avoid panic. –Wikipedia
What I should be doing every…damn…day.
Foam rolling. Yeah. Apparently I didn’t do it for 21 straight days or else I would have formed that habit.
Actually, I’m really good at it if I go home after I run. But sometimes I go to Yoga, or drop off at the grocery store, or pick the kids up from school. By the time I walk through the door at home, the thought leaves my mind. Or else, I end up getting caught up in something completely unrelated to running recovery. Before I know it, the day is done, and I didn’t stop, drop, and roll.
I’m considering keeping a foam roller in my car. But I’m thinking I might look pretty ridiculous foam rolling in the parking lot of the public park where I run. I don’t know. Maybe I wouldn’t.
The point I’m making is…if I even have a point…running at a remote location certainly has it’s downers. Not foam rolling immediately after my runs is one of them.
I’m ready to set my Apple Watch alarm to remind me to do this. I know it is best to do it immediatley after a run, but I suppose that even if I can get it done at some point during the day, it is better than not doing it at all. Besides, it does relieve a lot of muscle tension when I stick with it. And I was able to tame this hamstring tweek I acquired at the Victory Run 10K on Labor Day.
But it isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world to do. I suppose this is why it is good for you. Not all good things feel great. Ironic, I know.
It’s just got to get done. And I have to be consistent about it. With Chicago now less than 24 days away, I can’t afford to pull anything. And I certainly can’t afford to be tight. I’ve got two big runs coming up in the next 10 days. Seriously. It is time to get serious.
So, what did I do today after my 4-mile jog?
And I feel somewhat less guilty.
20 more to go.
What habit are you trying to make? Or break?
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I’d like to preface this post by saying that a good night’s sleep is everything. Every F’in Thing.
There are a few ways I can tell I slept like a log. First, I had the most vivid dreams. Second, my #Fitbit alarm woke me from a deep slumber. Third, when that alarm went off, I literally hopped out of bed. Finally, my husband told me I’m way to chipper for 6:00 am.
Yeah…that is a good night’s sleep.
And let’s just add that a September morning in Minnesota that starts out with sunshine and temperatures in the 40s CANNOT be beat. If it didn’t just all come together for me this day…with one exception…good ol’ Aunt Flo. But I didn’t let her deter me. There were no symptoms whatsoever, so I just shrugged it off. In fact, some of my best runs have come the same morning of that time of the month. No biggie.
I wasn’t sure if my husband would even come to this run. He had taken the girls to a late movie the night before and had to pick them up, too. But, he stumbled out of the bedroom at 6:00 am, a half hour after I got out of bed. He was even cordial enough to sleep in the guest room knowing I needed my Z’s. What a guy!
I pretty much had everything ready to go. I just had to print out a map to the start line and make a thermos of Bulletproof Coffee for the morning. Because I knew now that he was tagging along, I saved my throw away jacket for another time and brought a along a better one since I had a human coat rack and bag check guy driving me there.
We arrived in plenty of time, but the parking was a little scarce so my husband dropped me at the start area where I could collect my bib and chip. It was an abrupt drop off, so I had to chug down my Energybits and Sports Legs capsules and think quick to be sure I had everything I needed from the car. I was quite sure I was OK. Well, I’d have to be, I guess.
There were no lines at the bib area and plenty of potties but I was grateful I didn’t need them. The chip we got was the kind that attaches to your sneaker with plastic ties that gets ripped off at the end of the race to be turned in, so I dropped to the cement to put it on. I hadn’t put on my singlet yet because I had my Delaney bib on the back, and still needed to put my race bib on the front. I didn’t want to mess up the bibs with my jacket. So after I got that chip on, and attached my race bib to the singlet, I shed my jacket to put on that tank. Damn, it was chilly! Back on went the jacket in a hurry. And just then, the hubster showed up. We walked off to find the start line.
There was plenty of lead time. About 15 minutes to spare…so we did some people watching and enjoyed the scenery. This race was going to be run around two of the most pristine lakes right in the Minneapolis metro, Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun. My husband always used to tell me, “If you want to get mugged, go ahead and run around that Lake Calhoun!” I don’t know…I just don’t see it. The route is gorgeous. And the views are spectacular, especially on a morning like this with an amazing breeze and bright sunshine.
He took my picture and mentioned again my outrageously great mood (thanks to the outrageously good night’s sleep), and we discussed and admired some outrageously fit older people running this event. It was another MDRA sponsored run, and you could tell these runners were here for business. There would be no age group placing for me today. My goal was to get through the 13.1 miles with little fanfare. I was hoping to practice my nasal breathing and work on a negative split, plus keep the ol’ ticker down below 190. I don’t know why my heart rate gets so high during race events. I just have to assume it is a cortisol effect or something. Who the hell knows. But it can’t be good. If I can average 180 or less, I’m pretty happy.
I’ve also been questioning whether I could maintain an 8:01 pace for Chicago. I figured if I had a good run today, a 7:30 average pace should be about right. I’d drive out of Minneapolis a happy girl knowing that I just have to get through the two long runs in my schedule, and Chicago should be a proverbial piece of cake.
So, I had all this stuff on my head at the start line…or did I? I don’t think it was. I was just hanging with the crowd in a very narrow start corral and before I knew it we were off and running. I was a little worried about not being up front, but this was a fast group. It didn’t take more than a half mile before the speedsters were already way ahead of me, and I had plenty of elbow room.
I’m grateful I didn’t warm up too much before the event. This forces me to start slow…and I did…and I didn’t care. By mile 3, I was just about up to pace. Then I just told myself to settle into it. I did this every 2 miles or so…speeding up just a notch, then settling in…speeding up just a notch, then settling in.
This run was a two looper. Sometimes I don’t mind that, especially on an unfamiliar course. I learned a lot on the first round. There was a killer hill at mile 2, (about mile 8 on the second loop) and one just before mile 7 (the finish on the second loop). I quickly filed that information in the ol’ noggin. I was able to regergitate it on the second go around and play it smart. I wasn’t overly winded at the end, yet I was able to pour it on. And I didn’t start out too fast as I was able to speed up every two miles or so. My brain was functioning as it should. I even felt the ketones kick in every time I asked my body for more. Literally amazing!
I passed my husband on round one and waved as he snapped some photos. It is always nice to have someone you know cheering you on. There were quite a few on lookers at this event, as it was in such a popular area, especially on a beautiful Sunday morning. Honestly, one of the best races I’ve run in a long time. I had no complaints.
I had no trouble picking up my stride and flying in at the end of the race. It was pretty exhilarating, and seeing that I again finished under 1:40:00 was a great bonus!
We went and found the food afterwards, where I donated my Great Harvest Gluten Filled Cookie to my human coat hanger, and I grabbed my loot. I asked for an extra medal for Delaney, and they were happy to oblige! Thanks so much, #MDRA!
Small expectations, big relief. Chicago, here we come!
I ask this question everyday. Who AM I? Rhetorical…perhaps.
I suppose if I had this nifty arm band and snap bracelet on me every minute of the day, I’d know.
Actually, most of the time, I’m pretty sure about my identity. The question is, would someone who found me lying on the road know? More than likely, they would not. So how do we give our family and friends peace of mind when we are out on a run at odd hours of the morning or evening? Carrying identification during a run isn’t something we always think of. Sure, we might carry a smartphone, but since we are forced to slap a 4-digit security code on it, would a passerby or emergency responder be able to tap into it to determine anything about us?