Tuesday, May 19, 2015

WHATEVER IT TAKES


Supposedly, if you want something bad enough, you'll do anything to get it.  In running, this could not be more true.  Runners will do almost anything to get their training and/or racing in.  It could be something as major as flying to Georgia for a marathon because the original marathon destination was getting pummeled by a blizzard or as minor as going to bed before your 8 year old.  I happen to be guilty of both of those things.  I've been running competitively for many years, but I really started to ramp up my level of intensity, excluding high school and college, around 2010.  I got my first taste of the 'Kool Aid' in the fall of that year after running the Bay State Half Marathon, where I ran a 1:37 and was the 28th woman across the finish line.  I'd felt really good throughout the entire race and finished strong, which was new for me.  Not surprisingly, I was fired up and ready to try again.  After that, I started to shift gears a bit; seeking out new training plans (Runner's World, McMillan, Jack Daniels) for various race distances and trying out new fuel and gear every chance I got.  Last October, five years, about 50 races (some good, many bad) and hundreds of miles later, along with the help of a coach, I ran my marathon PR of 3:11:05.  In that race, I ran the first 13.1 miles in 1:37 and the second half in 1:34; the former time one that I was beyond thrilled to run 5 years before for a half alone and the later one that I never dreamed I could pull off at that point in my life.  Once again, I was over the moon.  I felt like I could tackle anything I put my mind to and about 3 minutes after that race I was already thinking about my next move.  So, here I am today in May of 2015.  I'm 40 years old and I'm getting ready to run my 11th marathon.  What do I want now, you ask?  I want to prove to myself that there is still something left in these legs, regardless of the fact that I'm in a new age bracket.  I want to get to the starting line again and know that I have done everything I can to run a successful race.  And I want to feel that pure joy of running for yet another 26.2 miles.  It's a tall order.  Real tall.


As I always do when I train for a marathon, I have put in the time and the miles in for this one.  I have done the 20 milers - 4 to be exact with one more to go, and yes, I'm counting.  I have done the tempo runs, the track work, and the recovery runs.  Some of them have gone well.  Others have been a disaster.  But, for the past 4 months or so, I have done whatever it takes to get my training in.  This past week, I logged 65 miles with a 22 miler on Monday.  On top of that I had to coach 3 high school track meets which were a minimum of 3 hours long along with regular practices in between.  Oh, then there were my mom duties.  I had to fulfill those, too.  By the end of the week, I could barely keep my eyes open.  I honestly don't remember the last time I've felt that tired.  (Kirsten, I can feel your eyes rolling from afar).  But, seriously.  I was in rough shape.  On Saturday, my husband and I had our annual spring BBQ, a big party that we've held for the past 6 years that tends to go on into the wee hours of the night.  I don't usually train for marathons this far into the spring (stupid winter), so I typically manage to stay up and hang with my friends for this shindig.  But this year, not so much.  I was doing all right until I had to take my kids up and tuck them in.  It was around 10:30.  I said good night, shut their door, and then I made the mistake of looking at my own bed.  Oh, man, did I want to get in.  I could hear everyone downstairs, still chatting and hanging out by the fire pit.  I wanted to go back down.  I did.  But, my legs were not budging and my mind was already willing me to get in bed.  It just wasn't happening.

Marathon Training: Social Life: 0

Is it weird to hit the hay while your friends are still partying downstairs at your house?  Yea, kind of.  Am I taking this marathon thing a little too far?  Maybe.  Do I care?  No, I do not.  I am committed.  And, I will do whatever it takes.   Here's to good things.


Listen to this:
Places You Will Go - Patrick Watson  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A NICE & BOSSY RUNNER

"Truth is the property of no individual but is the treasure of all men."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yesterday, my daughter's teacher shared two of her recent poems with me.  Both are short and sweet; one a Haiku, the other an acrostic.  Grace who's 8, is the younger of my two girls and is...how do I put this...also the trickiest.  In a nutshell, she keeps me on my toes pretty much all the time.  So, both of these poems speak volumes to both who she is and how she views me as her mom.  The first that came through was the Haiku.


This one surprised me a bit and also made me laugh.  A lot.  According to Grace, not only am I bossy, but I make the rules AND I'm always bossing.  When I picked her up from gymnastics last night I asked her about it.  Grace, I said, Ashley sent me your poems today.  She smirked.  Do you really think I'm that bossy?  I feel a little sad that you just see me as the one who makes the rules and then tells you what do do.  Her response?  Well, at least I put the 'nice' part in there.  We both laughed.  When it comes down to it, she's kind of right.  I do make the rules and I do enforce them.  And lately, I've been having repeat myself several times to get through to her (ie. Grace, did you brush your teeth?  Grace, you still haven't brushed your teeth.  Grace, you need to get out of bed and brush your teeth.  GRACE!!!)  So, yeah, I guess that comes off as bossy.

Grace, did you do your homework?

But, again, at least she threw the 'nice' in there, too.  The second one was the acrostic poem.  


TRANSLATION: 
REBECCA
Runner
Early runner
Bare back
Energy
Cuddling
Cute
Awesome

This one also had me laughing.  I got most of it - a cute, energetic runner who likes to cuddle and is, in her opinion, awesome.  I'll take it.  I did, however, have to get some clarification from her on the other two.  Turns out, early runner is just that.  I tend to go right after I drop her off from school, which she considers early.  But bare back?!?  She let me know it's because I'm often running in a tank top or sports bra so my back is bear.  Also, true.  A little odd that she put that in there over something like, I don't know, Bossy.  Ha ha.  Seriously, though, I love this.  She is saying so much with so little in this one.  I run a lot.  She sees that.  She even went so far as to comment on when I go and what I wear (or don't wear).  Makes total sense.  But, she also noted my energy.  I'm always worried that I don't save enough for my kids because I use so much of it for my training and coaching.  If she put it in there, it must mean I'm not always totally depleted when I'm with her.  That's a relief.  I'm also happy to know that she associates me with cuddling, which I try to do as much as possible with her.  My older daughter is not so into it, so Grace gets the extra dose.  I knew she liked it, but it's clearly on the forefront of her mind when she thinks of me.  That's cool.  And finally, cute and awesome.  I don't know about cute, but I'll take awesome any day.


Listen to this:
THE SHADE - Metric 

Monday, May 11, 2015

TOO MUCH TRAINING: A TOP 10 LIST

Still going.
It keeps going, and going, and
going…
~ Energizer battery slogan


Last year, my running bud, Kirsten, and I signed up for the Maine Coast Marathon, which took place yesterday.  This post, however, is not a race review.  Sadly, neither one of us made it to the starting line.  Back in September, Kirsten got sidelined with a broken foot.  There would be no spring marathon for her.  But, since I had already signed up for the race and booked the hotel room, which was non-refundable, I decided to forge ahead with the training on my own.  I started to ramp up in early January, sticking with my tried and true four month plan.  And then, it started snowing.  And it kept snowing week after week.  Not just a little bit here and there.  Oh, no.  Huge-ass blizzards kept sweeping through the MA area; storms that would dump multiple feet of snow and shut the whole town down for days.  So, while I did what I could to train through each storm, running on the treadmill for hours or even outside with my ski gear on, by the end of February, I was still nowhere near where I needed to be from a mileage standpoint if I was going to run a decent marathon.  Thus, between the lack of necessary training and the fact that I would be making the trip up to Maine on my own, which in and of itself didn't sound very appealing, I finally decided that a May race just wasn't in the cards.  Kirsten had already deferred her entry until 2016, so I did the same and just ate the cost of the hotel room.  Shit happens.  Despite not being where I'd hoped to be at the end of February, I did have a pretty solid base and I didn't want to totally scrap the marathon idea all together.  So, I got on marathoneguide where I quickly learned that there is basically some kind of marathon (road, trail, super hero themed, beer chugging) being held every week-end of the year and even on some week days.  Lucky for me, I found a June race, the Walkway Marathon in Poughkeepsie, NY, which would give me another five weeks -  just enough time to catch up on my lost miles and hopefully get back on track.  Done and done.  The long and the short of it is, I now feel like I've been marathon training for eons.  It's been over four months since I started and I still have over a month to go until this new race.  The light at the end of the tunnel is there, but it is definitely not shining bright.  I love running. Training, even.  But this is getting kind of nuts.  I had a good chuckle over the week-end as I thought about the many ways I can tell that I've been marathon training for, perhaps, too long.  Here's what I came up with.


TOP 10 SIGNS THAT I'VE BEEN TRAINING FOR A MARATHON FOR TOO LONG

1. I'm hungry ALL the time.
2. I check the weather constantly to determine what to wear....for my run.
3. I call everything I eat 'fuel' and everything I drink 'fluids'.
4. I'm in bed by 9 pm every night. And sometimes earlier.
5. My running playlist is over 8 hours long.
6. My laundry is 80% running clothes and 20% other stuff.
7. My social life is pathetic.
8. My coffee intake has increased substantially.
9. My sock tan is in full force and it's not even summer yet. (see photo)
10. I'm on my third pair of running shoes since January.

It's 6:30 in the morning.  I'm on my second cup of coffee.  I have a 22 miler to tackle today.  And I'm really, really hungry.  Just another day in marathon training land.  Yes, it's definitely been too long.  #stillgoing

Listen to this:
Moony Eyed Walrus - Cayucas 

Monday, May 4, 2015

RACE REVIEW: EARTH, ROCK, RUN 13.1

"There is a closeness about people who run together.  We become better friends, athletes & better women by the company we keep."
~ Kristin Armstrong

Back in March, my running bud, Kirsten, sent me an email about the Greenstride Earth, Rock, Run half marathon and asked if I might want to do it with her.  As I scanned the race info, I learned that all the entrants received a race tee AND a hoodie.  I wrote her back immediately to let her know that I was in.  Because, well, a free hoodie.  Seriously, though, the date of the race fell at a good spot in my marathon training schedule, and it would be fun to get to do it with Kirsten, who is coming back from an injury and hasn't raced with me since September.  Fast forward to yesterday.  We woke up to a bright, sunny and very warm morning.  Also, the first since September.  Kirsten picked me up and we headed out to Andover, which is about a 30 minute drive.  When we arrived, the scene was buzzing.  In addition to the Greenstride tents, where we picked up our bibs, shirts and hoodies, there were tons of other sponsor tents ie. Whole Foods, Zilco Water, & Stonyfield Farms.  We walked around and checked it all out, both agreeing that we were as fired up about the race as we were about the goodies we would be getting to sample afterwards.  Okay, truth, we might have been a little more excited about the goodies.  So, the race.  After throwing our stuff back in the car and using the port-o-pottys a minimum of five times each, we headed over to the start.
First, we took the obligatory selfie.  Neither of us could see anything because of the sun, so we just smiled and hoped for the best.  Then, as we always do, we began chatting with the people next to us.  We met a cute girl named Carrie who told us that she'd done this race last year and that the course was incredibly hilly, including a monster at mile 11.  Wait, what?!?!  Not that we could do anything about it at that point, but still.  Are they like, rollers? I asked her.  Um...well...not really, she laughed, they are hills and they are big and there are lots of them.  Kirsten and I looked at each other and chuckled nervously.  All righty then, we said, good to know.  Or maybe not good to know.  As I mentioned, it was Kirsten's first race back in months and for me, it was part of my marathon training, so I put my hand on her shoulder and said something to the effect of we're just here to have fun.  No pressure.  Let's just relax, enjoy the scenery and soak it all in.  She nodded in agreement, though I'm pretty sure there might have been a little smirk on her face, too.  With a few minutes until go time, we high-fived, turned on our tunes and got in the zone.  And then we were off.  The entire first mile was uphill.  That sucked.  It took a while to settle in after that, but I finally got into a groove by the third mile or so.  And then the hills started again.  They were steady up and down throughout the entire race; the biggest at mile 11, which was the worst possible time to have a mountain to contend with.

Kirsten ran w/ her phone & took shots of 
all the hills.  Just because.

To my surprise, my good friend, Kelly, who I met last year through running and happens to live in Andover, was at the top of the last hill and gave me some much needed motivation to make it to up and over.  That was awesome.  Needless to say, this was the hardest half I've tackled to date.  I crossed the line in 1:30:20, which is not my best time, but a time that I was very pleased with given the difficulty of the course.  I was very happy to learn that I won the Women's Master division (40+) which got me a spiffy little New Balance backpack.  This getting older thing is finally paying off. I was most excited, however, for Kirsten, who ran a great race and felt really good all the way through, something that hasn't happened for her in way too long.

Taken by our buddy, Carrie, who had warned us
about the hills pre-race.

We were both incredibly happy to be done and ready to treat ourselves to all the well-deserved snacks and beverages that were being offered.  After stocking up, we headed around back to chill out on the grass and enjoy the band and the nice weather for a little while.  We bumped into Gloria, an old friend who we'd run a previous Greenstride race with a few years back and got to catch up with her while we all sat and relaxed.  Once we were re-hydrated and well-rested we decided it was time to head home.  Aside from the brutal course, the race really was fantastic; incredibly organized and well run from start to finish.  I'm not sure I would put myself through those hills again, but I do have to give credit to the Greenstride crew, as they do such a great job with all of their events.  Kirsten and I have been running and racing together for about 6 years.  Since she broke her foot back in September, I've been doing most of my races solo.  Having her with me again made me realize both how much I'd missed her and how much better a race can be when you have a friend by your side.  Most of these experiences tend to be really intense.  Having someone to share them with, not just the race itself, but the whole process - from the early morning wake up to the exhuasted drive home - makes them so much more worthwhile.  Welcome back, Kirst.  GO TEAM BACON!

Listen to this:
Cornerstone - Kid Astray