Thursday, July 13, 2017

SUMMER GOALS

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” 
~ Henry James 


Back in early June, I sat down and listed out my summer goals.  I'm a task-oriented person and I knew that putting them down on paper would increase my chances of following through.  My list is both long and lofty.  But, I love a good challenge and I knew I was ready and willing to put in the time and effort to achieve each and every item.  I'm happy to report that, so far, things are going really, really well.  At this rate, my potential success rate is looking good.  With a month and a half left, I'll be kicking it into high gear to check everything off.  It's not going to be easy, but you know what they say....when they going gets tough, the tough get ice cream.  Or something like that.  Stay tuned.

SUMMER GOALS

1. Eat ice cream every day.  So far, so good.


2. Take naps as often as possible.  Extra challenge...two in one day.  I know.  CRAZY.


3. Spend as much quality time with my kids as possible.  Grace is more than willing to help with this one.  Rosie, not so much.


4. Read books.  Lots of them.  My dear friend, Andrea over at Born and Read in Chicago is helping me out with this one.


5. Wake up early for sunrises at least twice a week.


7. Meditate daily.  I'm really excited about this one.  Working hard to slow down, practice mindfulness and let go using Headspace.


8. Explore new music.  Twist my arm.


9. Break the rules a little.  Lucky Charms for breakfast.  Need I say more?


10. Take the path less traveled.



Listen to this:
Glory Days by Sweater Beats

Thursday, July 6, 2017

RACE REVIEW:MURDICKS RUN THE CHOP 8K

This past Tuesday, I headed over to West Tisbury for the Murdick's Run the Chop Challenge.  Every year I look forward to this race for a few reasons.  First, it's on July 4th, which, in general, is just always a fun day.  Second, it's on Martha's Vineyard, one of the most beautiful, laid back, free-spirited places on earth.  And third, having started running it back in 2007 when I was a youthful 32 years old, it's an opportunity for me to come back each year and test my fitness.  The race doesn't start until 9am, which for me is kind of brutal as I tend to get up at the crack of dawn and by 9 o'clock I'm already on my second breakfast and my third cup of coffee.  Thus, I have to tweak my morning routine a bit to make it work.  Not that big a deal, but still.  The later start also means we're always battling the heat and it's easily in the 80s by the time we get going, sometimes hotter.  Clearly, neither of these factors are big enough to prevent me lining up.  As you may know from reading my last couple posts, I've been struggling with a cold and some related sinus/ear issues, on and off, since mid-June.  Along with my health, my running took a hit and it has taken me a while to get back on the road consistently.  Thus, I had zero expectations for this particular race.  As many runners do,  I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well regardless of what's going on in my life.  Knowing this, and not wanting to make this race anything other than a hard push and a good time, I made a conscious decision the night before that I would not wear my watch and would just run by feel, ultimately letting my body call the shots.  I realize this may not seem like a big deal to some, but it is for me.  I've been running competitively since high school and I honestly can't remember the last time I didn't race with my watch.  After writing this, I realize how ridiculous that may sound, but it's true.


Oh, and yes, I went all out with the red, white and blue because it was July 4th and I like to go big.  The morning of the race was gorgeous, warm but totally dry, which is rare for this time of year.  Lucky us.


As usual, I was up at 5:30am.  I sipped some coffee and tried to relax while I waited.  And then waited some more.  For the record, I really wanted a second cup, but I didn't do it.  Too risky.  I left around 7:30, got to the school around 8:00, grabbed my bib and shirt and then took off for my warm up.  It was already pretty hot when I got going and by the time I was back I was sweating profusely.  It's a smallish race so I did notice a few people looking at me and wondering why I was already soaked.  Gotta love it.  A little side story here.  I stood in line for the bathroom and listened as the people next to me had the following conversation:

Guy: Where's Mike?
Girl: I think he's off running.
Guy: Oh yeah, he's probably off doing his 20 mile warmup.
Both laugh.

That's right folks.  A lot of us, regardless of whether we're fast or slow, like to warm up before we race.  Does it seem weird?  Perhaps.  Is it weird?  Not really.  You can't go from zero to sixty in your car without seriously stressing the engine.  It's no different for our bodies.  As a runner and a coach, I 100% guarantee that you'll have a better race if you get the wheels spinning prior to the start.  Don't believe me?  Try it next time.  Still think it's ridiculous?  To each his own.

Okay, so back to the race.  It was just before 9:00am, I was warmed up and ready to rock.  I won't lie and tell you that I didn't reconsider using my watch.  It's kind of scary to let go and run without knowing how you're pacing yourself.  But, once I got to the line I'd talked myself back into it.  I chatted with a few gals who were also wearing Oiselle, running gear being one of the great uniters, while I tried to stay calm and breath, reminding myself many times that this was supposed to be for fun.  Finally, we were off.  I'd give you the detailed play by play but there really wasn't one this time around.  I settled in behind a couple women, hoping to use them for pacing.  I grabbed water at the first mile and shifted gears a bit.  I had no idea what kind of time I was running and I've never felt so free in a race before.  There were no mental games.  I was just cruising, feeling good, letting my legs dictate and going with the flow.  It's a hard course, and the heat makes it tougher, but I was feeling really good and my body was responding each time I surged.  I got through miles 1-3 pretty comfortably and then mile 4 felt about 20 minutes long, but it didn't matter because I didn't know my pace and there was nothing I could do about it.  And because of this, I didn't really care.  I just wanted to be done.  Someone told me I had the lead right as I started in on my final mile.  I was fired up but without knowing who was behind me while also knowing I didn't have much left in the tank, I knew it was still anyone's game for the win.  At the final turn for the finish I saw a woman waving her hands madly and I had a feeling someone was gaining on me so I dug as deep as I could to stay in first.  I crossed the line in 32:19, my fastest time to date, which I was thrilled about, mostly because I beat my 32 year old self.  But the best part was that I was overcome with pure joy and elation, a post-race experience that hasn't happened for me in quite some time.  I hate to sound cheesy here, but I was so ridiculously proud of myself for following through with my plan and then having it play out even better than I'd hoped.


Before I'd left for the race that morning, my kids had wished me good luck and told me to bring home the fudge....or else.  They were joking.  Kind of.  I did bring home the fudge.  Lots of it.  But I also brought home a fresh batch of confidence in myself and my body.  We runners battle illness and injury and whole lot of other crap.  But, in the end, our bodies are going to do what they are capable of on the day.  And in most cases, when we consistently work hard day after day, despite the small bleeps in the radar, it's more than we expect.  I need to remember that.   We all do.

Listen to this:
Giants by Lights

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

THESE RUNS

"The beautiful part of living is to realize the joy of being alive."
~ Terry Mark


It's 4:45am.  I want more sleep.  I need it.  But it's not happening.  I'm up.  I head upstairs to make coffee.  My dog, who has no concept of time, hops up and greets me excitedly.  Always ready, she is.  I step outside.  It's cool, low 60s, sunny, dry.  Perfect.  I sip and relax.  Today is the first day in a several that I feel almost human.  Almost.  I've been fighting a cold/sinus/ear infection for weeks.  On Monday, I finally went to the doctor to get meds and quickly learned that I'm allergic to the antibiotics she prescribed me.  It was ugly and I'll spare you the details, but I was in fetal position for 24 hours as it worked its way through my system.  My last run was Saturday and, even then, I probably shouldn't have run.  So today, Wednesday, I'm back on my feet and I'm itching to go.  Can you crave a run?  Sometimes you crave what you need.  I need this.  I lace up and feel the caffeine kicking in as I continue to wake up.  I grab Clover and turn my music on, but I play it low and go with a mellow playlist for a change.  I don't need the extra boost at the moment.  I'm flowing, slowly, which is okay because it feels really good.  I'm not an early morning runner.  But, I understand the appeal.  It's peaceful, quiet, still.  The morning is mine.  Today is different.  I don't need to push myself.  I don't want to.  I'm not going for it.  I'm just going.  I'm so grateful that my body is responding; to be out here doing what I love.  Do things happen for a reason?  Who knows.  I work, I train, I race, I rarely take a break.  It was time.  I'd forgotten about these runs.  The runs where pace and distance are irrelevant.  The runs that keep me smiling for hours long after they're done.  The runs that remind me why I run.  These runs.  Yes.



Listen to this:
Maintain by Vilde

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

DIARY OF A RUNNER


Emails, texts, training log entries and ramblings between my coach and I over the past week and half:

FRIDAY, 6/9 (while up at Northeast Birdcamp)
Lowell,
Unfortunately, I've come down with something.  Have a sore throat and body aches.  I'm guessing it's because I'm run down from training and organizing camp.  I was supposed to do 7 this morning but stopped at 5 because I had nothing in the tank.  I'm going to play the rest of the weekend by ear.  Just keeping you in the loop.  Have I mentioned how much I HATE being sick?
Have a great week-end,
Rebecca

Rebecca,
Oh yuck, sorry to hear about the bug that got you.  I hope it passes quickly.  Do what you can this weekend but don't sweat missed miles.  This is about as good a time as any to miss some mileage.
~ Lowell

MONDAY, 6/12
Morning Lowell,
I successfully got 150 of us through Oiselle Birdcamp but, as you know, I paid the price.  I struggled the most on Saturday with a fever (sweats and chills....good times).  Sadly, I wasn't able to run for the rest of the weekend.  But, it happens.  I might try and get an easy 5 in today, but I'm still a bit off so will take it very slow.  More soon.
~ R

WEDNESDAY, 6/14
L-
Quick status for you.  Feeling better but still pretty wiped and can't breath out of my nose.  Not sure about this race on Sunday unless you feel like I should try and do it as a workout.  Also, I'm going to do my intervals tomorrow instead of today unless I hear otherwise.
Thx,
R

Rebecca,
I would definitely push the workout back and see how you feel on Friday.  Sunday's race is not important so I'm fine with you skipping it unless you feel a lot better going into it on Sunday morning.
~ Lowell

SATURDAY, 6/17
Morning Lowell,
Still not sure if I should race tomorrow or skip it and run long.  I feel a lot better but it's been a rough week.  I'm traveling Monday so I have to shuffle Monday and Tuesday's workouts either way.  I have time to run long tomorrow so perhaps I should take advantage of it?  Let me know what you think.
Thx,
R

Rebecca,
If you are 90% and have time to run long on Tuesday, I suggest racing.

SUNDAY, 6/18 (RACE DAY)
Hi L-
Pretty sub-par performance today.  Not really surprised, but always a little disheartening when I feel like I should be stronger than I am.  Heat/humidity were a big factor for me.  By the 3rd mile, I had nothing left and no will to fight.  It was a good workout.  That's about it.  Ugh.

Rebecca,
All I wanted out of this race was a good hard workout/effort.  I didn't expect a good time, so I am not disappointed in any way.  Onward and upwards, right?
~Lowell

MONDAY 6/19
Yes, onwards!  42 years later and I'm still hard on myself for underperforming, even when I know it's not necessary.  What I really could use is a gentle nudge from you the day before races like these reminding me that it's a workout, just to push hard and not worry about time, to relax and have fun.  Because I am never going to be able to say that to myself.  :)

Rebecca,
Yes, I can definitely give you that reminder before races.  I won't get this exactly right, but there is a quote by Arthur Lydiard that I really like.  It goes something like this when talking about big training cycles, "You will be running last when others are running in first.  But, when it matters most, you will be passing them."

Training cycles are a key component of a good training plan.  You can't be sharp and PR all the time.  Like many things in life, being 100% at one time or for one thing usually comes at the expense of something else.  You can't have your cake and eat it, too.  So, you have to pick the right spot to be 100% and accept that the times when you are not is a part of the process and journey.
Best,
Lowell

MY TAKEAWAYS:
1. Your body calls the shots. Listen to it.
2. Every race has a purpose and it's not always for the PR.
3. Training cycles are necessary and key.
4. Don't be so damn hard on yourself.
5. Trust your coach.

Listen to this:
62 Moons by Chaos by Invitation