Monthly Archives: October 2015

Marathon Day Tomorrow

The race kit is picked up. The weather is being checked repeatedly. Carbs are being eaten.  It must be the day before the marathon.

It hasn’t been the easiest of weeks. I was hit with a cold on Monday and have been exhausted ever since. My last run was Tuesday and while my legs felt pretty good my lungs most definitely did not.  And now the forecast for tomorrow is both warmer and windier than I would have liked. I am reminded once again that in your preparation for a marathon there is only so much you can control.

I have found myself remembering back to the only other time I have run in Hamilton – the 2014 Around the Bay. My best memory of that day was the feeling of joy I felt as my body got moving.  You can’t make that feeling happen, it is a gift. I’m hoping to have even just a small taste of that again tomorrow after taking so many days off.

As for time goals, when I started this training session I decided that I would be happy with anything under 4:30.  I have played with specific numbers in my head, but right now I am letting those numbers go. I feel like they are weighing me down, without them I can travel lighter over tomorrow’s course.  I think I am ready to take what comes.

Tapering and Letting Go

If you haven’t heard the Piano Guys amazing mashup of “Let it Go” and Vivaldi’s “Winter” do yourself a favour and hit the play button above. (Note: it seems to be a little hit or miss if the video works).  It is the only instrumental on my running playlist.  Upon listening to it you might think there are parts of the piece that are too slow for running.  But as it builds so does the drama and so does the energy.  This piece makes me want to fist-pump and take in everything around me at the same time.

Yesterday I did not have my music with me, but this piece of music was in my head.  The words “Let it Go” kept popping into my mind.  I felt a bit lethargic before heading out for a 6k taper run.  I am edgy, a bit agitated.  I am tapering.  But as I ran I suddenly realized that my training is done.  Whatever I do on these last runs will not have any mayor effect on race day.  The hay is in the barn so to speak.  As I ran I could actually feel the stress fall away.  I was slow, but somehow lighter.  The 6k taper run turned into a 9.5 km fun run.  I ran on roads and trails and threw in some strides.  I love training for a goal, but running simply for the sake of running on an unusually warm and sunny October day… I don’t mind that at all.

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9 Run Run Half Marathon and Tapering

9 Run Run finish line, Oct. 2012

Finishing my first half marathon, the 9 Run Run in 2:04:50. Thanks to Kerry for the pictures and the inspirational quote.

Yesterday I returned to the site of my very first half marathon.  Three years ago I did my first ever 21.1 km at the 9 Run Run race in Stittsville.  I still clearly remember the nerves, the excitement, the questioning of just how fast I could cover the distance.  I remember starting faster than I had planned and deciding to go with it.  I remember thinking I would probably finish around 2:12 but was secretly hoping for less than 2:10.  I shocked myself by finishing in 2:04:50.  I honestly had no idea I was capable of achieving that time.  I entered that race thinking it might be my one and only half marathon.  I crossed the finish line with such a runner’s high that I knew without a doubt there would be more.  Indeed, there have been many more.  Yesterday’s half marathon was my 16th time toeing the line of a half marathon.  There has also been one 30k race and two marathons.  Throw in some 5, 8 and 10k’s as well as a couple of 10 milers and it has clearly been a busy three years.

Last month I used the Army Run Half Marathon – one of my favourite races – as part of a long training run in preparation for the upcoming Road2Hope Marathon in Hamilton.  I find incorporating an organized race into a long slow run so much fun.  The biggest challenge of course is monitoring your pace and reminding yourself that you are not racing.  Even with those reminders I do run faster than if I was out on my own, but I don’t leave it all out there on the course.  Instead, I take the time to truly enjoy the race, which is exactly what happened at the Army Run a few weeks back.  When I came home from the race I immediately looked at the local race schedule to see if there was another event I would like to use and 9 Run Run jumped out.  I did briefly debate it, after all running by yourself is a lot cheaper than paying for a race that you are not racing.  But I am so happy I went ahead and registered.  This weekend was my last long run, and it was just so much fun to celebrate the work I have put into marathon training at an actual event.  To be honest, if I had run on my own yesterday I am not sure if my heart really would have been in it.  Maybe I even would have bailed, which is exactly what I did last Thursday when after 3k I decided that all I really wanted to do was go for a long walk.  There were no thoughts of quitting though yesterday, just a chance to enjoy a good run.

Taking part in 9 Run Run gave me the energy to go into the run positively and even look forward to the run, despite my tired legs.  I opted not to add mileage and instead let myself go faster than marathon pace but not full-out.  In the end I finished in a comfortable 2:00:54 – four minutes faster than that very first attempt three years ago when I pushed myself to the limit.  I’m not sure what my time would have been yesterday had I pushed hard.  I am assuming I could have taken at least 2 minutes off, maybe more.  But the nice feeling was finishing 21.1 km at a steady pace with no stiffness the next day.  I still might not be super fast, but I am stronger and fitter than 3 years ago.

While I started my taper last week, it is only today that I truly feel like the taper has officially started.  I took the taper rules very seriously today… perhaps too seriously.  I did nothing.  At all.  All day.  And I loved it.  But there are still a few runs to do.  There are two more double-digit runs – a 10 and a 13 – and then several single digit runs leading up to marathon day.  Everything now is a mental game, I can’t change anything physically.  I will not get faster at this stage.  I admit perhaps my one area of disappointment is the fact that I am not faster.  But I am trying not to dwell on that.  This marathon will be better than my last and I hope faster than my first.  Stayed tuned for my marathon goals.

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When Bad “Runs” Happen

Warning: this post quite possibly contains Too Much Information…

In my last post I talked about how life can get in the way of marathon training.  I was thrown a few curve balls as I headed into my biggest week of training and while I did my best to keep up, if you total my mileage from last Monday to Sunday I came up about 10km short of the 76km goal.  Not only did I come up short, four of the five runs were awful.

I don’t know if the stress/loss of sleep/missed meals/odd eating times that I experienced while my son was in hospital was the main factor, but my GI system went into full protest.  For 4 runs I could barely make it through 5 or 6k (sometimes much less) without desperately heading to a bathroom.  It was bad enough on the 11 and 13k mid-week runs, but was downright miserable on my long slow run on Friday.  I did get 31k done… eventually, but to be honest it was just a series of short runs to bathrooms.  Thank goodness for grocery stores, fast food restaurants and recreation centres.  I’m not sure; at what point is a long run no longer a long run if you have to keep stopping?  To make it worse it was a cold and damp day.  Every time I started again I was chilled to the bone and it would take time to find the rhythm again.  I would just warm up, think I was feeling good and the cramps would hit again.  At 22k after yet another bathroom stop I made my way to a drug store and bought Immodium.  I actually made it through the last 9k without a stop.  But by that time it was dark and part of my route back to my car was on trails.  Other people were out walking, so I wasn’t feeling isolated, but there were sections where you couldn’t see the ground.  Needless to say my pace dwindled to almost walking and even when I detoured to find some light I struggled and my pace stayed disappointingly slow.  I have never been so happy to make it back to my car, but I was also so discouraged.  I tried to remind myself that I didn’t give up, that I finished 31 of what was supposed to be a 32k run.  But it was still hard to ignore the feeling of failure on my final 20 miler.  The run left me completely drained… literally. (Sorry, that was my poor attempt at humour about “runs”.  And again, sorry).

I had done the long run on Friday because I wanted to participate in our family Thanksgiving tradition – the Fall Colours Race put on by Somersault.  I figured if I could get the long run over with, I could take Saturday off and then enjoy the 5k race on Sunday.  I even planned to then go for an evening run to make up some of the missed mileage of the week.  You would think that after a full day off my system would get back to normal, but no.  I did finish the 5k but by 3k I was seriously considering DNF’ing and just getting to the porta potties.  Everything about the run felt awful and my time was a disappointing 26:22, a full minute slower than my 5k a month ago.  With it being a small race it was enough to win my age group but it wasn’t a win I felt proud of.  I struggled through most of the run, though it is worth noting that this is not a fast 5k course; lots of bends, elevation changes and gravel.  I felt like I worked way too hard and was way too uncomfortable to have that final time.  Later in the day I opted for a nap rather than another run.

And so began the head games. “I peaked already.”  “I will never make it through 42.2km.”  “I thought I was stronger.”  “Why does everyone I know run faster than me despite all of the work I put into running?”  There are three weeks until my marathon.  It is clear to me that the real challenge of these weeks will be mental.  I need to get my confidence back and I need to think positively.

Thankfully today I made it through a comfortable 11k with no bathroom stops (yay!).  I also realized that while dwelling on the negatives I hadn’t noticed what I had accomplished last week.  Because I ran my long run two days early, I actually ran 91 km between Sunday and Friday.  Six days, 91 km!  Most of those runs may have sucked, and of course involved far too many stops, but it was still 91k that I fought through during a really difficult week.  I am going to try to hold onto that fact in the hopes it reminds me that I can be strong, it just doesn’t always look the way I want it to.

Porta Potty Clip Art

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Marathon Training and Life

The long runs are of course tough when training for a marathon. But in my mind the toughest part of marathon training is trying to manage your time. Sometimes you get lucky; life goes smoothly, you stay healthy, your family stays healthy, the weather stays glorious and you manage to get that all-important training run done and in the books each day. And sometimes pigs fly.

Pig Clipart

Realistically life does not notice that you are marathon training, nor does it care. Sometimes I think life just laughs at you, snickering, “Now let’s see you fit in that long run!”

Two weeks ago I knew life was going to prevent me from getting the mileage done. Too many commitments, too little time. Throw in a brutal cold and I knew I had to accept that it would be a cut back week in terms of mileage.  I’ve read enough to know that the long run is the one not to miss, so feeling crappy and at the end of a long week I did complete 30 km after work on the Friday.  There is a reason long runs are not scheduled for Friday afternoon/evenings… that run seemed to last forever.

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I kept telling myself that the following week (last week) would get back to normal and I would complete every run.  The good news is I did what I needed to do and I did a comfortable 32k run at a 6:16 min/km pace including walk breaks every 4k.  I felt good at the end and wasn’t particularly sore the next day.  To top it off, I reached a weekly mileage PB, completing 73 km plus deep water running.  On paper that looks like a perfect week, but it was in fact more than a little crazy.

The week started with me still feeling sick, despite having skipped my Sunday orienteering event and quite literally sleeping away the day.  My youngest was also fighting an ear infection but having been on antibiotics for a couple of days things seemed to be improving.  On Monday at 6:30 in the morning my husband called to say he had been in a car crash.  Amazingly, he walked away unhurt but the car was deemed a write-off.  It made for a chaotic start to the week but we were certainly thankful as it could have been so much worse.  Still not feeling well, I took my third day off of running in a row and stressed extensively about the missed mileage, but developed a plan to get caught up.

As the week progressed my running picked up and I felt back on track.  And then life threw another curve ball in the form of a worsening ear infection for Luke.  Saturday morning found he and I sitting in the walk-n clinic for the second Saturday morning in a row, assuming he would need another round of antibiotics.  I was correct, just was in no way expecting that the antibiotics would have to be given through IV.  Off we went to Ottawa’s amazing children’s hospital, CHEO, and soon found out Luke would need to be admitted.  Long story short, after 5 days of amazing care Luke was discharged and is doing well.

Needless to say having a child in the hospital for five days means any kind normal schedule is thrown out the window.  My husband and I did shifts to make sure one of us was there all of the time and we tried to keep up with work.  My older son stayed with my parents, easing our scheduling issues considerably.  I slept in a fold out chair for 4 nights, driving home early in the morning for a shower and heading to work on Monday and Tuesday.  My husband worked from his laptop during those days and then on Wednesday he made it to the office and I spent the day at CHEO.  I can’t even begin to describe how tired we both were.

Through all of this I still had marathon training to complete.  This week is in fact my peak week and I desperately wanted to avoid getting too far behind.  What helped was that through all of this Luke was actually feeling great.  They had him on a steady supply of Tylenol and Advil and quite frankly the good people at CHEO somehow make a hospital seem like the perfect children’s hotel!  He played pool, watched movies (he doesn’t get to see a lot of T.V. at home so this was quite a treat), read books, played games and just generally had a good time.  So the guilt factor was removed when I left my husband and Luke at the hospital to go for a run.  On a very selfish note, however, I am not going to deny that once in a while it would cross my mind that I was spending all of my time in a children’s hospital and an elementary school 4 weeks out from my marathon.  Seriously, could I be exposed to more germs???  In the end, I only bailed on one run when I realized on Tuesday that I was so tired I was essentially the equivalent of drunk.  I chose to take a nap after work rather than run before the hour drive back to the hospital.

Hopefully things are back to normal now.  I have just over three weeks to the marathon.  I have a long run to do this weekend, my last solo one as next weekend I will use the 9 Run Run Half Marathon  with some extra thrown in as my distance run.  Taper time is near and I think for various reasons I am ready.  Life has done a good job of wearing me down, a bit of a rest will be good.  That said, we have a lot to be thankful for this weekend.

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

Running turkey animation

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