Monday, October 26, 2015

LOVE FOR THE LONG RUN


Most people look forward to the weekend.  For many, it's a hard earned and much needed break from the daily grind.  Perhaps they get to sleep in a bit, be a little lazy and maybe even agenda-free for a change.  If you are a runner, this is probably not the case.  You may still look forward to the weekend.  But, in running at least part of the weekend is usually reserved for the long run.  It's a standard workout that runners of all types from the elite athlete to the weekend warrior tend to have in their training plan.  For the majority of us, particularly long distance runners, it's a nice, easy, conversational-pace cruiser that takes about twice as long as our usual runs, if not longer, which is why we tend to save it for the weekend as we need the extra time to get the miles in.  For my high school cross country runners, unless we have a meet, it's no different.  Saturday is our official long run day.  From the start of the season, during those first few sweltering weeks of August, all the way through the chilly days of October, we gather together for a run that's a minimum of an hour for some and as much as two hours for others.  We meet at 9:00am, warm up, get into groups of various sizes depending on desired pace, and then head off to Battle Road, a beautiful, historic dirt trail in Lexington, MA that goes on for miles.  As a coach, I always look forward to this workout.  It gives me a chance to run with a bunch of different groups, to check in with the girls I haven't talked to in a while or simply to relax and enjoy the morning with my team.  For some of the girls, particularly those new to cross country, the long run can be pretty daunting in the beginning of the season.  And by October a lot of those same girls not only feel comfortable with the longer distances and time on the road, but they look forward to it.  It's incredibly rewarding for me to actually see this shift in their mentality as they begin to understand the long term value of running and all that it can do for them.  This past Saturday, our team gathered for our last long run of the 2015 season that we would all be doing together.  After November 2, only 10 of our group of 50+ girls will continue to compete.  So, this particular long run was a little bittersweet.  As many of them, particularly the seniors, had the realization that their cross country season is coming to an end.  I took some time to ask the girls and what they love most about their Saturday long run.  Here's what they told me.

WHAT THE LHS LADIES LOVE MOST ABOUT THEIR 
SATURDAY LONG RUN


1. The team bonding.
2. Talking to someone without any distractions for a long a period of time.

w/ Paige & Grace on Battle Road

3. The trail and the scenery.  
4. The feeling of accomplishment when you're done.

Megan, Kelly, Kesinia & Lexi all smiles.

5. I like that we're running for a long distance but still having fun.
6. It helps you start the weekend clear headed and refreshed and with a good attitude.


Grace & Sophie warming their hands w/ my coffee

7. Spending time with people that you might not always get to catch up with.
8. Feeling accomplished and productive.

Maya (always happy), Georgia, Lorna, 
Anna (grumpy lately), Becca & Elise

9. I love seeing all our fellow runners (other non-LHS runners) out on the trail.  I love that camaraderie.
10. The long run?  It gets me out of bed on the week-end.  And that's a good thing.

Eleanor & Haley #twins

11. You can start with someone you don't know, learn a ton about them and really feel like you know them by the end.
12. Getting into a rhythm and feeling one with the earth.

Ashley (the photo says it all)

13. I can arrive to practice tired and in a bad mood and by the end of our long run I'm almost always laughing and having a good time.
14. Putting our legs up at the end.  That's the best.

#doneanddone #golex #happyfeet
Listen to this:
Kamikaze - MØ or listen w/   

Monday, October 19, 2015

MUSIC REVIEW:AUSTIN CITY LIMITS

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Every October, I get to live vicariously through my dear friend/Oiselle teammate, Ashley F., who makes her way over to TX for the Austin City Limits (ACL) music festival. Ashley loves music as much if not more than I do and since I, myself, don't get to go (yes, I'm jealous) I am more than happy to hand the RWM floor over to her so she can give us the low down. Take it away, Ash!


So happy to be back guest blogging for one of my favorite Oiselle sisters!   I read “Running with Music” religiously, not only to keep up with Rebecca’s incredible coaching and running pursuits, but also because she’s always recommending tunes that must immediately be added to my “What I’m Listening to Now” playlist.  


So while our favorite speedy blogger was out kicking *ss and taking names at the Mohawk Hudson Marathon last weekend, my hubs Cody and three dear friends from back home in Alabama ventured down to Austin for the three-day Austin City Limits Music Festival.  Each of us are part of the Bonnaroo crew I’ve written about before; Kimberly (who has since joined Rebecca and me on the Oiselle team) originally put our little music-loving group together.  


Every year, Austin hosts several major festivals, including South by Southwest in March, ACL in early October and Fun Fun Fun Fest in November.   ACL is held over two weekends, with most of (but not all) the bands repeating for second weekend.   We hit up Weekend 2 this year.  


Tens of thousands of music fans flood Austin’s Zilker Park, ready for ACL 2015.


So that I can focus on the incredible tunes at ACL in this post, I’m putting up some pics of our adventures in Austin outside of the festival gates on my blog, including some fun pics from my last easy run for the week on my Houston 2016 training plan, the long run for the weekend (hubs joined me for part of it!) and our incredible BBQ “tasting” tour south of Austin in the small towns of Lockhart and Luling, TX.  I’ve also compiled a list of my top tips to maximize your enjoyment of a music festival.  Check those out here!   


ACL has compiled an official highlights video, but here are some of my own personal favorites from the weekend, including some videos and pictures I took around the festival grounds.  
Festival-goers like to bring flags or make homemade totems to hold up so friends can find them in the crowd. I loved this jellyfish totem; the other side read “#RUJelly?”


The Golden Porta Potty (and yes, that’s air conditioning!)


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View of Downtown Austin Behind the Venue Flags at Honda Stage


Overall Best Set:  alt-J


The guys from alt-J took the prize for my favorite overall set of the weekend.   They were assigned the Sunday “witching hour” slot on the festival schedule (what we call the time of the evening where the sun hasn’t yet set, but is no longer beating you down with intensity).  alt-J certainly made the most of this sweet spot.  They played all of our favorites from their debut album as well as their 2014 follow-up, including “Fitzpleasure,” “Something Good” and “Hunger of the Pine.”  Hardcore Lauren Fleshman fans will remember from Rebecca’s interview that alt-J is one of Lauren’s favorite bands and “Every Other Freckle” is one of her favorite tracks, so this vid is for our Fleshman Flyer. <3


View from the Opposite Side of Venue Flags; alt-J Takes the Honda Stage


Best Rocking Out from a Seated Position:   Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters
You’ve probably heard about Dave’s broken leg and his abject refusal to cancel the Foo Fighters’ world tour after his stage-dive accident and resulting surgery.  A consummate professional who knows the show must go on, indeed.  We were really impressed by the level of energy, head banging and guitar shredding Dave was able to accomplish from his specially-built on-stage throne. Unfortunately, there were some sound problems during the set which prevented us from really hearing and enjoying the Foo Fighters’ performance.   Big bummer.   However, a concert-goer the previous ACL weekend caught a pretty good vid of the whole show, which you can check out here.    


Your humble author taking a brief respite from the heat and the masses in the shady VIP grove.


Best EDM: Disclosure;  Runner-up: Nero
Brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, better known as Disclosure, deserved their Friday night prestige spot on the lineup.  Of course “Latch” was amazing, and they brought it out for their last encore.   But their first encore track was an awesome new song -- “Moving Mountains.”   Incredible sound, fabulous light show and the guys were really getting into it onstage.  I’m linking you to a professional video that depicts exactly what we saw but captured the light and sound way better than I did, considering I couldn’t hold my phone steady and still dance!  (My fave part is the last minute or so if you want to just hit the high parts.) Nero also brought it over on a smaller stage on Sunday night.   “Promises” was a highlight.    


I hear A LOT of complaints from festival purists (aka snobs) about the inclusion of hip hop, rap and especially EDM in festival lineups.  I can sympathize with their argument that the lineup spot “taken” by an act coming from outside of the rock/indie/folk/jam-band genre is one less opportunity for a traditional festival-style band to be on stage and gain exposure, but I’m one of those “taste the flavors of the rainbow” music lovers….I enjoy all kinds of music and musicians.  As long as festival attendees come in with open minds, they might find something new that leads to greater support and understanding of the festival vibe and the musicians who built these events into the big deals they are today.  The same club kid who showed up to check out deadmau5 at ACL may walk by and be exposed to the Father John Misty set; the pop fan who came for Florence and the Machine might check out Kurt Vile while hitting up the food truck area; the rap enthusiast at ACL for Run the Jewels might also get into the BØRNS set.   Keeping that in mind, I think good EDM -- and admittedly, not all of it fits that category -- has a place at a varied, multistage festival like ACL.  Newport Folk Festival?  Probably not.    


Best R&B/Soul: Leon Bridges
For the uninitiated, Leon is a favorite son of Texas, born and raised in Ft. Worth.   He brought his 60’s-infused R&B/Motown soul down to ACL and gained many new fans with a strong Friday afternoon set.   Great voice and cool throwback wardrobe.  

Leon Bridges on the Honda Stage


Loudest Set:  Bassnectar
The bass was ALL in your face when Bassnectar took the smaller HomeAway stage, regardless of whether you actually intended to catch their set.  Cody and I were at a nearby stage where a crowd was gathering in advance of Drake’s Saturday night headline show.  We may as well have been right there with the Bassnectar crowd.  Can’t imagine what it would have been like on the front row or next to a speaker!  If you want to see and hear what a nervous breakdown is like, click here.  


Talented Musicians Showing Greatest Range: TV on the Radio
We had a great spot close to the stage for the TVotR set so I was able to get some nice pictures of my own. (As an aside, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for them because Cody and I chose a remix of their track “Will Do” as the song that played when we walked down the aisle out of the Las Vegas chapel after we got married!)  What an incredible group of musicians.  

TV on the Radio on the Miller Lite Stage


To my ears, TV on the Radio sounded like a different band with every track.  They really have no signature sound -- which I’ve heard some music pundits claim is the reason the band can’t get a foothold in mainstream music -- but man, it sure does make for an interesting live show.  One minute, there’s a speed metal-style double bass drum beat, the next thing you know, the bass player puts down his guitar and picks up a trombone.  My favorite was their (longish) instrumental intro straight into their older track Young Liars; I found a pretty good ACL fan video of the intro here.     


Tunde Adebimpe, lead singer of TV on the Radio, breaks it down for the ACL crowd.  


Other honorable mentions for great sets: Glass Animals (“Gooey” rocked!), Gary Clark, Jr. (“Bright Lights Big City”) and Tame Impala  (“Let It Happen”)

Listen to this:
ALL OF THE ABOVE

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

RACE REVIEW:MOHAWK HUDSON MARATHON

On Saturday afternoon, my good bud/running partner, Kirsten, and I headed down to Albany, NY for the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon.  I did this same race last year and it was one of my best marathon experiences, so I've been really fired up for round 2.  Kirsten had signed up to run it last year as well and then had to bow out due to a stress fracture in her foot which surfaced about a month before the race; after she'd done the majority of her training, of course.  That sucked.  So, this was going to be a big comeback for her and I've been as excited about that as I have for my own race.  Last year I ran a 3:11 on this course, my fastest time by 5 minutes.  My goals this year were A) Sub 3:10  B) Place top 3 in the Masters category (40+) and C) Just have fun and make the most of it.  In the beginning of this year, I decided, along with my coach, to ramp up my training with my A goal in mind.  On Saturday, I would be putting it all on the line after having worked my tail off for most of this year.  Needless to say, both Kirsten and I were nervous as hell.  We struggled to stay calm during our three hour drive down the MA pike.  Lucky for us, the fall foliage was at its peak and lovely to look at.  That was a bonus.

FALL FOLIAGE

We arrived in Albany around 4:30pm and headed into the expo.  This is a small race, a little over 1000 runners, so we easily grabbed our numbers and shirts and then took a little stroll through the rest of the expo to see what was what.  About two minutes later, we were approached by some students of Albany Medical College who asked us to fill out a survey for a research project that they were doing on marathon runners.  Neither of us felt like we could say 'no' despite the fact that there were about five sheets of questions to answer and we didn't really want to deal in general.  But, we've been on the other side, having to ask for help for things like this in the past, so we decided to give them support.

TAKING SURVEYS

After our surveys, we continued to stroll, looking at all the gear and collecting samples and cool giveaways (ie. rainbow highlighters) to bring home to the kids.  We made a quick stop over at Janji where we met and chatted with co-owner Dave Spandorfer.  I've actually done a couple blog posts and giveaways with these guys over the past few years.  It's a really cool company that does so much good for others and if you have the time, I'd recommend checking them out.  Kirsten bought a sweet t-shirt and Dave and I talked music.  And then we took a selfie.  I also ran into my friend and fellow Runner's World Loopster, John P. who would be running the half the next day as part of a training run.  He's coming back from an injury, too, so we talked turkey for a while and then wished each other good luck.

HANGING W/ DAVE SPANDOFER OF JANJI

Shortly afterwards, Kirsten and I decided to head over to our hotel and settle in for the night.  We brought our dinner from home in fear of not finding a restaurant that would satisfy our needs.  So we dined on pasta, rice, potatoes and salad on our beds, while watching Iron Man and trying very hard to relax.  We eventually turned in around 8:30 as we had a 5:45am wake up the next morning and wanted to get as much sleep as possible.  If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that an 8:30pm bed time is not too far off from my norm, so I was sawing logs pretty quickly after we said good night.  At 5:15am, my lids popped open and my nerves kicked into high gear.  I started checking email just to keep myself busy while Kirsten slept a bit more.  Finally, we both got up and got ready to go.  Our hotel happened to have a Starbucks in the lobby which opened at 5:30am.  That was a HUGE perk.  We grabbed some coffee on our way out and then drove over to where we'd be getting on the bus to ride out to Schenectady, which is where the race was starting.  It was pitch black, very early, cold and damp, so we huddled into the seats together, sipping coffee, eating our bagels and working really hard to wake up.

EARLY MORNING BUS RIDE

The bus dropped us off around 7:15 and as we made our way over to the bag check area we were treated to the beautiful music of a bagpiper who happened to be playing next to a pond as the mist was rising up behind him.  That was pretty surreal.

BAGPIPER BY THE WATER

As we always do, Kirsten and I used the bathroom about 5 times each.  We also did a little stretching and chatted as we waited.  Both of us had cold hands and feet and Kirsten generously donated her gloves when I let her know I couldn't feel my fingers.  She's the best.  Finally it was time to head over to the line.  We walked together, gave each other a few last words of encouragement, hugged and then lined up with our pace groups.  After the national anthem and a quick Ready, Set, Go we were off.  My plan, which I'd made with my coach the day before, was to tuck in with the 3:05 pace group for a few miles to see if I felt comfortable running at that speed and to hopefully get a sense of whether I could potentially stick with it.  Around mile 4, we made a turn to get on the bike path and the sun was just starting rise up over the Hudson.  The view was stunning and I took a moment to let it all soak in.  Funny, Kirsten, who runs with her phone, had noticed the same thing and took a picture while she was running.

THE VIEW AT MILE 4
(taken by Kirsten)

THE RACE
As I mentioned, I hopped in with the 3:05 pace group from the get go.  Our first mile was a 7:05, which was right on the nose.  But then the pacer picked it up to around 6:55 for the next few miles, which I didn't know at the time because I had decided to run by feel and not to look at my watch.  So much for that.  It definitely felt a little fast and for a while I wasn't sure if I could hold on with the group but I tried to settle down and told myself to do what felt right and not worry about sticking with them if that didn't seem feasible.  I let them go and ran solo for a while, trying hard to just zone out.  I ate my first GU at mile 6 and got an immediate boost of energy, so I joined the group again and held tight.  The pacer was a very friendly and insanely energetic gentleman name Jamie.  He was pretty chatty at first, and despite his efforts, I couldn't really engage as I was too focused on maintaining my pace and focus.  He was incredibly supportive, often filling us in on our progress and helping us navigate the water stops.  I started to feel a certain level of comfort by running next to him and this worked in my favor for miles 6-12 which were all in the high 6s or low 7s.  Again, I didn't know this at the time, but checked my splits after the fact.  In hindsight, if I'd known I was pushing the pace this hard, would I have reigned it in?  I'm honestly not sure.  We hit the half at 1:31, which was a little faster than we needed for our 3:05 goal, but still pretty close.  Nice work, Jamie.  At this point, I'd just taken my second GU and my body was responding well, so I began to pick up the pace.  My thought was that I'd just go on without the group and fall back if it felt like it was too hard to hold on.  But, things were clicking really well and my miles were ticking off smoothly so I rolled with it.  The half is a little early to switch gears and in looking back, perhaps I unleashed too early, but it felt right and I decided at the time that the risk was worth it.  Miles 15-19 were all in the 6:40 range and by mile 20 I really started to feel it in my legs.  Holy shit they were heavy and each rotation felt monumentally harder than the next.  I began to worry that I wouldn't be able to hold steady for the last 10K.  This is when I started talking to myself.  I don't remember the specifics, but it was something like, there is NO way you've worked this hard to peter out now.  You can run a 10K in your sleep.  And you've held on for much longer than this in your workouts.  You need to dig in now, Rebecca and do what you know you are capable of.  I've never eaten more than two GUs during a marathon, but I was a little desperate for fuel so I grabbed a third at mile 22 and sucked it down.  That was hard as it didn't go down very smoothly.  I could sense that miles were getting slower at this point.  And even though I was holding steady in the low 7s, I felt like I was running 9s because of how tired and heavy my legs were feeling.  I refused to look at my watch and focused on trying to catch up to the people in front of me.  Miles 23 and 24 were brutal.  But, once I hit 25, I knew I had it locked in.  I caught up to a girl and passed her in the final mile, but she wasn't having any of it and came back and passed me in the final stretch.  Kudos to her!  I had nothing left in me to fight it out and I didn't care.  I was done.  My watch said 3:03.  I wanted to scream.  But, that would have been akward, so I didn't.  I made my way over to the bag check and grabbed my stuff.  I sought out my dear friend and Oiselle teammate, Mollie, who I knew had just run the half.  I found her nursing her 3 month old with a medal around her neck.  WHAT??  Yes, she's insane and such a badass.  I walked over to the results booth to get my official time.  I stood in front of the computer and read the screen which said 3:01:47.  Again, WHAT??  I didn't believe it.  I asked them to check again.  Same time.  I still didn't believe it.  I told Mollie I was going to try to track down the girl who came in right before me and check my time with hers, but I couldn't find her.  So, I went back to the results booth and stood in front of the computer again.  The people behind the table were like, weren't you just here?  I told them I wanted to see it again.  It was the same time.  The lady who was working the computer and now seemed a little annoyed, told me to take a picture so I wouldn't have to keep coming back, so I did.

THE FINISH
(note: despite asking them multiple times to verify my results, the above time was, in fact, incorrect.  My confirmed time is now 3:04:05. Good thing I took the picture.)

As you can imagine, I was FREAKING out.  Never in a million years did I think I could pull this off.  All my hard work over the past year had come to fruition.  I was totally beside myself.  I grabbed some chocolate milk and headed back over to Mollie to catch up with her and spend some time with baby Natalie.

CHILLING WITH MOLLIE

Then I checked my watch and realized that Kirsten would probably be rolling in soon, so I made my way over to the finish line to see if I could catch her.  I found John P. again and chatted with him about his race, which he was pleased with given that it was 13 miles of a 16 mile training run.  And then shortly after we said goodbye I saw Kirsten cruising down the final stretch with a huge smile on her face.  She claims she doesn't remember smiling, but I happened to catch it on camera.

SHE DID IT!

I grabbed her and hugged her.  I might have cried.  She'd done it.  Fought back from an injury and taken it down.  And she'd run a time that she was very pleased with, to boot.  Amazing.  We slowly ambled to grab her bag and chill out for a bit so she could recover.  I introduced her to Mollie and got to hold little Natalie for a while as Kirsten made some phone calls.  Then we just sat and soaked in the awesomeness of the moment.  Finally, once we were as ready as we could be after having just run 26.2 miles, we headed back to our car.  We took a quick photo by the river because we were both elated and it was just so damn gorgeous.

FINAL PARTING SHOT

And then we headed home.  We made a few stops for food and bathroom breaks and we battled some bad traffic so it took a long time to get home.  In the beginning of the trip, it didn't matter because we were still so excited.  By the end, we were starting to lose it.  After 3+ hours in the car, we were itching to move and everything hurt.  I dropped her off around 5:00pm.  Her family was there to congratulate her and I got those warm, fuzzy feelings all over again.  There might have been another tear.  We said our goodbyes and I rolled over to my house.  My girls were down the street with my husband and some friends playing soccer, so I just sat on my front porch and did nothing but breath, relax, and smile.  It was a really nice moment.

The love and support that poured in from my teammates, my friends, and especially my family throughout this whole training cycle up to the race itself has been incredible.  My husband is the trooper of the year and my kids are close behind him.  I'm not paid to run, but it's something I need to do and even though my training takes up so much time, none of them question it.  Ever.  And that is such a gift.  Am I already thinking about my next race?  Hell yeah.  But, I'm also basking in the glory for a little while longer just because I can.  This.....among so many other reasons...is why I run.

Listen to this:
BELIEVE - MAPEI or listen w/  

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Longest. Day. Ever.


So, I'm tapering.  And despite the fact that I'm this is my 12th marathon, the process remains as brutal as it was the first time around.  Even with 2 busy kids and a job, I have way too much time on my hands.  I'm also wound up like a top due to my lack of mileage.  I suppose this is the point of tapering.  And hopefully it will pay off on race day.  But still, I always forget how brutal it is to get through.  Take yesterday, for example.  It was excruciatingly long.  Here's how it played out.

5:15AM  Woke up (no, this is not normal.  It only happens when I'm nervous)
5:15-5:45  Willed myself back to sleep. (no dice)
5:45  Made coffee  (aka the nectar of the Gods)
6:00  Let the dogs out.



6:15  Went downstairs and cleaned the basement (long overdue)
6:45  Walked the dogs.  (no, they don't typically get 2 walks before breakfast.  At least someone benefits from this taper thing)
7:00  Watched a little news (Is Biden going to run or not??)
7:15  Made lunches. (didn't realize it at the time, but I accidentally put both sandwiches in Rosie's lunch.  Still hearing about it from Grace)
7:30  Woke Rosie & Grace up for school
----> keep in mind, I've now been up for over 2 hours.  My girls were like...Mom, what is UP with you?
7:30 - 8:00  Pushed through our standard morning chaos (which included, but wasn't limited to, breakfast, missing homework freakout, rainbow loom bracelet making, minor hair crisis, no clean socks, etc.)
8:15  Dropped girls at school.
8: 30 Headed over to my neighbor's house to use her washing machine bc it's bigger than mine and I had a huge comforter to wash. (also long overdue)
8:45  Stared longingly out the window as I checked email and mourned the fact that I didn't have a run on my schedule on quite possibly the most beautiful day ever.
9:00  Reorganized and updated my marathon playlist and wrote some letters to family and friends.  (no, really.  Actual handwritten letters)



9:30  Texted my bud/running partner, Kirsten, (who's also tapering) and told her I desperately needed something to do.  Thankfully, she understood and invited me over for lunch.  
---> So, I now had 2.5 hrs to kill.  What to do?
10:30  Headed to Toys "R" Us to buy a baby gate to put across our stairs so my 14 yr old lab doesn't try to come upstairs anymore bc it hurts her hips (Sniff. Sniff.  Have been putting this off for over a year)
11:00  Grabbed a few groceries and some sandwiches from Whole Foods.
12:00 - 1:00  Chatted, ate lunch, and hung with Kirsten.  Also bought some wrapping paper from her son, who is selling it for his school fundraiser.  
1:15 - 2:00  Reorganized my own and my daughters' closets.



2:05  Got guilted into buying MORE wrapping paper from my neighbor's daughter.  (yes, I am a sucker)
2:15  Grabbed another coffee from Peets.  Just because.



2:30  Headed to work.
3:00 - 5:00 XC practice.
5:30  Grabbed my clean comforter from my neighbor's machine.
6:00  Worked on XC lineups for our two upcoming meets and helped Rosie and Grace with homework.  (usually, these tasks are tedious.  Last night, I was more than happy to do them)
7:00  Enjoyed dinner with the family. (burgers and fries.  Mmmmm)
8:00  Watched an episode of the Last Man on Earth. (because 8:00pm was just too early to go to bed.  Not that I didn't consider it)
8:30  Read to the girls (we're finishing The Secret Garden.  Oldie but goodie)
9:00  Read some of my own book.
9:30  Lights out.  FINALLY

It was, hands down, the longest day ever.  And today?  Today I got to wake up and do it all over again.  Awesome.




Listen to this:
Quarterback - Kopecky  or listen w/

Monday, October 5, 2015

ALWAYS LEARNING

"I am still learning."
~ Michelangelo
at age 87


Next week, barring any issues, I'll be running my 12th marathon.  In many ways, I have this whole training thing down to a science.  It's typically a four month cycle and while I do make small tweaks here and there, I rarely deviate from my standard routine.  You know the saying....if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  My workouts are basically the same (long runs, intervals, hills, track), I tend to use the same fuel (Picky Bars, NUUN, chocolate milk, coffee), and I always wear the same clothes and shoes (Oiselle, Skechers, Feetures).  This week, however, I've been reflecting on my past race experiences and I'm realizing that while much of my training typically does stay the same, there have been quite a few changes over the years, too.  I started running marathons in 2007 when I was 32.  Back then, I was running just for the hell of it; because I thought the marathon was a bucket list item that I wanted to cross off and be done with.  Today, despite the fact that I'm 40 or maybe because of it, my passion for running and racing has increased tenfold.  My goals are a bit loftier and my commitment to the sport is stronger than ever.  At the same time, over the past 8 years my body and it's response to running has changed quite a bit, my kids have gotten older and so much busier and my life, in general, is significantly less predictable and more chaotic.  So, I continue to do what works.  And I do my best to recognize what doesn't and embrace whatever changes need to be made so that hopefully it can.  In the end, we learn from experience and every single one of my marathons has presented something new.  As long as I continue to do them, I'm guessing this will always be the case.  Thank goodness.

MARATHON #12: KNOWLEDGE GAINED & LESSONS LEARNED


~ I need sleep. Lots of it.  And a hell of a lot more than I used to.  My 32 year old self could run, work, parent and then head out with friends for a night on the town.  My 40 year old self, not so much.  I can't train, much less function as a mom or coach when I'm running on fumes.  It's a recipe for disaster and a sure fire way to get sick.  

~ Recovery is critical.  I can no longer run 20 miles, jump in the shower and then throw some food in my mouth as I drive to work.  I need to allow time to cool down, stretch, roll, re-fuel and then do all the other stuff required of me.  If I don't, I pay.  Big time.

~ Food is my friend.  I absolutely have to eat breakfast and often a second breakfast before heading out for a hard workout or long run.  Coffee and a GU no longer does the trick.  If I don't get fuel in me, my body will literally shut down mid-run.  And that sucks.

~ It's okay to try new things while I'm training.  Case in point, I used to use vanilla GU only during my training and on the race course itself.  And if I didn't have it or couldn't get it, I would freak out.  This time around, I've tested at least 10 types of mid-run fuel.  GU, RunGum, Chews, Chomps, candy, all of it.  The beauty of this is that my stomach can now handle almost anything.  Thus, if I'm out of something at home (which happens a lot lately) or out for a run in a new location, I don't have to panic.  I can literally grab almost anything and I know it will work.

~ My kids are starting to get it.  At ages 10 and 8, they now understand, to some degree, why running is important to me.  Instead of giving me a hard time about leaving or not being able to make it to something because of a race, they send me off with good wishes, hugs and high fives.  When I come back, they ask how it went.  They're not always there in person.  I don't ask that of them or my husband these days.  But, they are there in spirit, as I am for them.  And that makes such a difference for me.

~ A long run is just a long run.  I used to dread the long run.  I built it up to this monumental hurdle that I couldn't possibly get over.  By the time it was time to head out, I'd be miserable before I even started.  In my last few training cycles, I've done multiple 20+ milers.  I wouldn't say I love them now, but I do get so much more out of them.  Because, really, when you break it down, the long run is just another run.  Sure, there are more miles to tackle, but the joy of running is still a big part of the run.  And when I look at it this way, I find myself looking forward to them which makes them a hell of a lot easier.  Sort of.

~ Just run the mile I'm in.   In the past, I would head out for a 10 mile tempo run and find myself thinking about miles 8,9, and 10 while I was running miles 1, 2 and 3.  As a result, some part of the workout would always suffer because of my lack of focus on the present.  This time around, I've learned to take each workout, break it up in pieces, and focus on the mile I'm in.  Because of this I've noticed the quality of work and my general enjoyment of each workout has increased dramatically.

And finally, I also learned that when my iPhone's camera lens is dirty because it has fallen on the ground and I have failed to take good care of it, it takes really cool photos. (see top photo of my glowing sneaks)  Who knew??  

Listen to this:
3AM - RAC (feat. Katie Herzig) or listen w/