Category Archives: Goals

Marathon Training Week 3- Winning

Winning

Week 3 called for 22 miles with the longest run of 6 miles.

However, it was the first 5 mile run at marathon pacing.  For me, that means roughly 9:05 or lower pacing.  I want to run this marathon in 4 hours or less.

I’ve not run this far, at this pace- well, ever.

This run fell on a Monday- after I had a rest day.

I’ve run enough to know it wasn’t worth pushing myself at this point so much, where I’d risk an injury.  But I knew it would be good training to run at the pacing I want.  I thought it better to figure it out and work it out during training.  This was a reduced mileage week, so I knew this would be my hardest run this week.

I came home from work and fed my kids. I grilled them cheeseburgers, and I was SO hungry.  I wanted to eat like 2 cheeseburgers, but I knew I had to do this run.  I can’t run on a full stomach.  I took a few bites of a cheeseburger and decided I’d use it as motivation….when I finished running 5 miles at marathon pace, I’d enjoy my cheeseburger.

My boys are awesome. I told them I was training for a marathon, and that means I’m going to be running at night.  They are older now, and I don’t think they even notice I’m gone.  But they have been so supportive. They ask me how many miles I’m running each day, and they allow me to be gone, and they just handle things.  I come back from running and they have cleaned up, and are just relaxing, or playing together- in other words, just fine.  It allows me the mental space to know they are OK and I can run for that block of time, and then get back to being “Mom.”

It was hot.  And windy.  It was almost 90 degrees when I started out.  I knew I wasn’t going to kill myself, but I was going to run these 5 miles the best I could.

I felt like I was flying the first mile. When my Garmin beeped, alerting me one mile was done, I was surprised to see 8:44. Too fast, I thought- I was going to get too tired.  I made myself slow down, but I was happy I was so fast in that first mile.

Mile 2 was almost all down hill. I thought I was slowing down, but as I finished it, the Garmin said 8:20.

I really knew I was going to burn out, if I didn’t slow down. Since mile 1 and 2, were down hill, that meant mile 4 and 5 were going to be uphill.  But I felt so good- despite the heat. I told myself this is what training is for-to learn the pacing, learn what my body can do, and manage it.  You don’t go out and run a marathon and excel at it, without figuring these things out.  But it is about not giving up, and learning your pacing.

Mile 3, I started to get tired, and it was part of the uphill. I ran it in 9:18. I knew this was not my marathon pacing, but I had been so fast in the first two miles, I could afford this.

Mile 4, started really the uphill run home.  It didn’t help the wind picked up to what felt like about a 20 mile an hour wind. It was HOT, and I was running uphill, straight into the wind.  I didn’t want to risk an injury; I just wanted to spend the energy I had in this mile and then know I could slow down in the final mile with it all being uphill, in this hot wind.  I pushed myself.  Not to the point of injury, but the quote in this blog post came to mind.  If I want to do well, I need to run like I’m winning in training.  Somehow I found a way to run this hardest mile in 8:57.

Mile 5, I was tired. I was fading. I mentally noted, next time I just can’t start out as fast.  I really doubted I was going to have the energy to finish like I wanted- but I knew I’d be close.  And I was OK with that. For the first pacing run, I’ve ever done, in very hot weather, I knew I was going to be close. I wasn’t going to push myself to the max to make the time, in week 3.  It was a grueling mile. It was all up hill and I was tired.  When I finished, I ran it in 9:52.

I just stopped.  I looked at my view of Long’s Peak, and just felt so grateful I knew I had run my very best for the day, and realized where I could improve for next time.  I knew it was going to be close. I figured, I needed to run the 5 miles in 45 minutes.  When I checked my Garmin it said: 45:16.

I was disappointed.  I wanted to make 9 mile minutes on average.  But I knew my mistake was I just ran too fast at the beginning.  I couldn’t feel too bad, knowing I was just 16 seconds off, from my mark, in week 3, in the heat, and on a hill run.

This run was so exhausting, when I got home, I couldn’t eat.  The cheeseburger I wanted so much before, sounded disgusting now.  I just wanted a glass of chocolate milk, and water.

I spent the rest of the evening with my boys, being Mom.

Later, I downloaded my run, and what I saw was a wonderful surprise!  The actual pacing of my run average was 9:02.  That was actually 2 seconds FASTER than I needed to be for marathon pacing! So even initially when I thought I hadn’t done marathon pacing I had, and was 2 seconds faster!

That felt better than a cheeseburger.  🙂   It shows with hard work, and effort, like this quote, the race isn’t won on race day, but behind the scenes, with the training.

The next pace run I have is 6 miles. I definitely learned some things I want to implement in that run.  But for me to be able to run 5, hot, hard, miles in week three below marathon pacing…it shows me I’m on the right track.  This wasn’t a race, but I learned a lot about myself and where I’m at. I’m right where I need to be and then some.

15 weeks to go….

Marathon Training Week 2- The Will To Prepare

Will to Prepare

Week 2 called for 25 miles, with the longest run 9 miles.

Last week I discovered on my long, hot, run, that I hadn’t prepared for that run. Mentally or physically

I believe in using visualizations, to help achieve results.

I used hypnobirthing with my second child, to have a successful VBAC, even though I was told, if I didn’t have the baby in 30 minutes, I’d have to have another C-section.  Well, I “had failed to progress” for hours, but once I used hypnobirthing, methods, in 20 minutes, I was ready to have him.

When I was faced with a 12 hour surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes in my neck, when I had cancer, I listened to a hypnotherapy health recording that taught how to relax and visualize a successful, easy, and peaceful surgery.  Much of it talked about the body and mind healing.  I listened to this every day, a month before my surgery.  When my surgeon said he started operating, he discovered much of the cancer on the right side of my neck, which had shown on a few ultrasounds, was gone.

Since he didn’t have to operate on that side, my surgery was 8 hours, and my surgeon said he couldn’t remember a surgery in almost 20-years, that had gone as well as mine, and also where there was no cancerous lymph nodes, even though the labs and ultrasounds before showed there were.

When I entered my first and only competitive/elite division race, I listened to a hypnotherapy sports performance mediation for about a month before.  I placed 2nd in my age group. It was the only time I’ve ever placed in a race, and the only time I’ve ever listened to a hypnotherapy mediation with the goal of optimum performance.

I believe the mind is so powerful, and can really achieve anything. But just like with going out and physically running, you have to mentally prepare too.

I had a very mentally trying week for week 2.  Monday after work, my car wouldn’t start. I have never had that happen before.  I was actually on my way to run. I called my dad, who came and helped me jump the battery.  I also had my 7-year post cancer check up- I hadn’t had one in 2 years, an it was weighing on my mind, if everything would be OK.  It was, thankfully!  🙂

Like anyone else, I have my share of challenges that arise every week, that take a mental toll.  I have two kids, I’m a single mom, a full-time, and sometimes stressful job, I’m responsible for a lot of details, with numerous clients’ finances. I have personal things that arise too, that divide my attention.  I try to be a good mom, friend, and sister, daughter, co-parent, and sometimes it’s just a lot going on.  Sometimes the last thing I feel like doing, is expending more energy mentally and physically to run.

I decided to just try to take a few moments this week, before I set out to run, to just put all these other things behind me, and focus on the run for that day, and how I was going to do it.

Before my long run of 9 miles, later in the week, I  took some time and visualized what I was going to do, and how I was going to do it. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, as it was hot outside, and I was tired- mentally and physically.

I even took a water bottle with me, as I was heading out in sunny, upper 80 degree weather.  I HATE running with anything- it gets bothersome for me, and I feel like I spend more time focusing on what I’m doing with the object, than running. The runners who run holding their phones, have my admiration- I would have dropped about 50 phones by now, if I ran holding it.

The first 3 miles were really hard.  It was one thing after another.   My calves would not loosen up. In my mental preparation, I had forgotten to stretch them.  I knew I was just going for the distance, not speed, so I relaxed and just found a comfortable pacing to see if my calves would loosen.  When my calves felt better, the water bottle was really annoying me.  I tried putting in my waistband of my skort, but that annoyed me more. I finally spotted a good spot to stash it on the trail. I knew I could run about 5 miles on this trail, and then pick it up on the way back.

As soon as I stashed my water bottle, I felt so much lighter, but then something broke in my sunglasses, and they kept sliding down my face. The sun was blazing and I was running into the sun- I didn’t want to take them off. It was almost funny, because if I hadn’t stashed my water bottle, I would have had one had on that and one hand on my glasses. Not exactly ideal running form.

I just couldn’t find a consistent rhythm until mile 4.  The trail took me by the bank of a creek, and it was so hot- I was wishing I had kept my water bottle, but knew I was just a mile away from it.  I dunked my visor in the creek and put it on, and the cool water was great.  Then I crammed my sunglasses into my hair (I have really thick hair) and then put the visor around them, and they were finally secure.

Now, I was finally off and running, almost 5 miles into it.  I found my water bottle, drank a bit while running, and then I was able to secure it to my waistband without it flopping all around as it was lighter, and then the part happened that makes me love running.

My body just took over. It knew what to do.  I had no tight muscles, nothing in my hands, no annoyances.  I don’t even remember thinking about anything- I just ran and it felt easy.  My mind felt like it shouldn’t be this easy, but I mentally made myself not think that.  I hadn’t seen another person yet on the trail- it was just me and I felt like I was free to just run.

Mile 7, it was almost time to turn around, as at that part, I was 2 miles from home.  But I knew- there was a hill- a big hill- if I wanted to push it, that hill was about .10 of a mile away. I didn’t have to do the hill though.  I was feeling so good, and I was actually getting energized- not tired.  I’ve visualized running up many hills before, and do, they are the best training.  So I went for it.  I saw at the steepest part it was 11% grade, but it didn’t feel that hard on this run.

The final 2 miles went as the previous 4 had.  It was all just clicking. I finished the run, with mile 8 being my fastest mile.

I don’t pay attention to the overall time until I’m done.  I was surprise to see I ran the 9 miles in 1:33.  I knew I was much slower in the first half, and time wasn’t the goal, but I was really happy to have that time, for a longer, hot, run with all the little issues I had, and even throwing in a decent hill at the end.

I am definitely using mental preparation from here on out.  Preparing mentally is a huge part of all of this. It always has, and I believe it will make the difference for me for the rest of my training and on race day.

49 miles ran, 16 weeks to go…

Marathon Training Week 1- The Will To Succeed

Mind

Last week, was week 1 of my 18 week marathon training program.  I selected an intermediate plan, because I felt the 18 weeks of training would allow me to build up my mileage at a consistent pace, with keeping my injury risks low.

Week 1 called for a total of 24 miles and the longest run was 8 miles.

It was a dose of reality for me.  I have gotten used to not running on a schedule. For the last few years, I’ve not trained for anything specific. I ran when I wanted to.  Whatever mileage I felt like doing.  I averaged anywhere from 5 to 15 miles a week- give or take.  Planning out an intermediate schedule, a few months ago, was quite different on paper, and seeing the mileage thinking, “I can do that,” to actually running it with exactly 18 weeks for training.

I dawned on me I have very little wiggle room.  I can skip a short run here or there, if I’m extra tired, or sick, but the only way to really be able to run a marathon, is to get out there and run, on the days my plan calls for a run, and to run the distances.  If I want to meet my goal, it doesn’t matter if it’s hot outside, or raining, or colder, or early, or later, or if there is a party I want to go to, or friends to see- I have to run the miles.

I had several doubts this week, and questioned if I really want to do this. Can I really do this? Am I committed to it? What am I willing to do, sacrifice, give up, in the next 18 weeks, to meet this goal?  I had all these questions and not a lot of answers.  But I decided to do my best to stick to the training plan for week 1.

I ran the 8 mile run on Saturday. It was about 93 degrees outside when I started my run.  I actually like running somewhat in the heat. It’s a great endurance builder. I headed out to a lake, which I thought had some shade.  Three miles in to the run (2 miles to get there, 1 mile of running around the lake), I discovered there was no shade, and it was HOT.  I was running the slowest I’ve ran in a long time, with 5 miles still to go. I brought no water with me either.  I do that too- I’m good up to 10 miles with no water in normal conditions. I didn’t really think this run through too well.  I was able to stick my feet in the lake, with my Vibram minimalist shoes on, to cool off my feet, and that seemed to cool my body a little too.

But mile 4, 5, and 7, were probably three of the hardest miles I’ve EVER ran.  The water in my shoes were now rubbing on my toes, and I could feel blisters forming on my toe, and bottom of my foot.  The next 3 miles felt like 300.  I thought, “I don’t need to do this. I can walk home, and be done.  I’ll make up the mileage later.” 

I seriously considered doing this, all during mile 4. I was hot, miserable, and not enjoying a minute of running.  I was very close to stopping.  But something wouldn’t let me. I knew if I stopped now, it would be too easy to stop next time it was hard. While I don’t think I have to suffer to run, I do think I build mental strength when I have to push myself, and that is more than half the battle.

The quote for this blog post came in my mind, several times.  The full quote is,

“The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy… It is not age; it is not diet. It is the will to succeed.”

My body was screaming at me to stop.  But somehow, I found a way to let my mind take over.  I stopped thinking about the heat, the pain, the blisters, the sweat pouring off of me, the sun, the crazy looks I was getting from people sitting in the shade, and I focused.

I started thinking that I really do want to run a marathon, and not only run it, I want to excel in it.  I have a specific goal for it too.  That wasn’t going to happen if I quit today.  The difference in achieving my goal or not, will be my training and what I do in the next 18 weeks.  That didn’t include me stopping my run because it was hard.

Then I had the thought that if I could finish the next 3 miles, I knew without a doubt, the first 8 miles of the marathon would not be this hard.  I would have achieved a major mental edge.

I started on the return in mile 6, and took a wrong turn, and ended up having to run up an 11% grade hill for 2 blocks in the sun, in mile 7.  It was excruciating and so hard, but I thought this will make me strong.   I’m going to do the hard work now, and come November a marathon will seem easy.

After getting up that hill, the rest of the run, I ran much easier until my Garmin beeped at mile 8.  I have never been so happy to have finished a run.  It was exhausting mentally and physically, but I had done it! I didn’t quit, and I made my 24 miles for week 1!

As I was turning off my Garmin, I saw my time: 1.25 hours.  I thought that had to be wrong. It felt like I had been running for 3 hours.  I checked it later, and it was right.

It made me really excited because that is the slowest I’ve run in a long time, but I realized if I ran that today, in a marathon, I’d be just over 4 hours for 24 miles. Since this was such a challenging run, I felt pretty confident I could run 24 miles at a much faster pace, so I’m in really good shape and feel great about where I am after one week.

Thinking about that run, it made me see how much I do want to succeed at this.  Every hot, sweltering step I ran on Saturday, was bringing me a step closer to my goal.

My training plan calls for 560 miles in the 18 weeks.  I can’t know for sure, but I think I ran the hardest 8 miles out of the 560 on Saturday.  I achieved so much more this past week than logging miles. I found out for myself how much I want this.  What I’m willing to do.  How far I’m willing to go.  I found the answers to my questions in those 8 tough miles.  The answers are, I have 536 training miles left to run, and one way or another, my mind and the will to succeed, will find a way to run all 536 of them.

17 weeks to go…

The Only Way You Can Know…

“The only way you can know is give it all you have
And I hope that you don’t suffer but take the pain
Hope when the moment comes, you’ll say, I, I did it all”~ One Republic

This song came on my shuffle the other night when I was running.  It’s currently one of my favorite songs for running.  I can be having the worst, slowest run, and if this song comes up, it instantly perks me up.  Sometimes I’ll hit repeat on it a few times, it motivates me that much.

Many times when I run, everything gets so clear.  The other night, I had an amazing view of Long’s Peak, as the sun was setting, the sun shining through the clouds, and it all became very clear to me that for me, running is how I live.  It’s how I heal myself. It’s how everything makes sense to me.  It’s been my guide, and my solace for 7 years now.

“I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived”~ One Republic

When the above lyrics were playing, I substituted “with every broken bone, I swear I lived,” with with every mile I’ve run, I swear I lived.” All the thousands of miles I’ve run since 2009, after I had cancer, they have all led me to a healthier mind, body, and spirit. Every mile I’ve run has allowed me to live my life to the fullest physically that I can do.  I’ve amazed myself over the years with running- reaching physical goals, at times I could only dream about. From not being able to get out of bed without help, to placing second in an elite division for my age group, just a year later. To running personal bests for distances, running further, to getting out there and running even on days, I didn’t want to.  To not quitting.  To living.  Running has allowed me to achieve those goals and so much more.

When your body gets a disease like cancer, it can feel in ways your body “failed” you.  It’s hard to not feel defective at times.  I have carried this with me for years. I don’t talk, or write about it very often.  I still don’t know what caused my cancer, but I don’t focus on that. Running has been the anti-venom to counter those thoughts for me.  Running has shown me time and time again, how healthy my entire body and spirit is.  I don’t have all the answers, but I know I couldn’t have the level of personal success I’ve had with running if my mind and body were not in sync and healthy.

I thought about after the very first 5K I ran, just 2 months after having been so sick, I couldn’t get out of bed or take care of my children.  It really was a feeling I can’t put into words, and I decided then I was going to run a marathon “some day.”  That was my goal and still is. I’ve never let that go, or rather that desire has never let go of me.  In a way, I felt and still do, when I run one, it will be full circle.  I feel like my running and my health isn’t complete until I run a marathon.  It will be my giving it all I have- Mind, body, and spirit.

I’ve been toying with running a marathon finally this year. I’ve been slowly but surely building up my mileage on long runs.  But I hadn’t committed yet.  It’s the last major running goal, I’ve wanted to do, which is still unanswered.  Like the post I wrote, Are You Committed or Interested? When you are committed you accept no excuses, just results.  In my mind, I’ve been accepting excuses on why I couldn’t do a marathon yet.  There are always reasons not to.

But running the other night, just reflecting on how far I’ve come, these lyrics playing, and me realizing in that moment, this is what I do. It’s who I am.  I’m a runner.  I’m a survivor, I’ve endured and healed every injury I’ve ever had, and come back stronger.  I have given it my all so many times, and it’s always been an amazing experience and reminds me “I lived.”

This all led me to the thought, “What am I waiting for?” The only way I will know, is to give it all I have and to own it.  The only time any of us have is now.  There will never be a better time to finally go for my dream.

It makes me so appreciative and happy to write that I’m going to find out, the only way I can know….by giving it all I have.  It’s been 7 years training to get to this point, but I’ve committed and registered for a marathon on November 13, 2016-  the Las Vegas Rock & Roll Marathon!  One thing I really liked about this particular marathon is it starts at 4:30 PM- I’m an evening runner, so this is perfect for me.

I always train harder than I anticipate the race to be. I am going to be careful and build up mileage slowly but surely- I have six months, but come November, I’ll have my moment- finally- to own every second I can.  In the meantime I’m going to enjoy the training, and appreciate what my body can do.  Who knows when and if I will ever be able to do this again, so I’m going to make it count.  I’m doing it all!  🙂