Thursday, October 16, 2014

Why I’m not worried before my big race

Lately around the running blogosphere, I’ve been seeing a lot of negativity.  So many runners seem to be in a constant battle, putting so much pressure upon themselves to set PRs and complete new distances.  I’ve heard of runners quitting races because they weren’t hitting their time goals, or complaining nonstop through weeks and weeks of training yet vowing to run their race anyway for who knows what reason.

My question is why?

Do I complain about running?  Hell yeah.  Does running make me grumpy and tired and sore sometimes?  Hell yeah x 2.  Do I occasionally think about all the free time I would have if I quit it?  What sane person wouldn’t?

But ultimately, despite the blisters and the black toenails and the occasional blown time goals and the hours of training, I still love running.  It keeps me balanced in this crazy world.  No matter how much I might think I’ve leveled off at certain points, I find myself constantly pushing past what I thought were my limits.  Running gives me something to look forward to and to be proud of.

And I’ve learned firsthand that putting pressure upon myself doesn’t lead to the greatest outcomes.  When I ran Rock ‘N’ Roll in 2013, I convinced myself that OMG I MUST PR AND I MUST DEFINE MY ENTIRE TRAINING SEASON BY THIS ONE RACE.

Well, we all know how that went (not only did I fail to meet my pace expectations, but I hated every minute of that race).  I was darn stupid for doing that to myself.

The races and regular ol’ runs where I have done best have been the ones where I just let myself be.  Yes, it’s great to strive for goals (I certainly have some going into Hershey), but attitude is the most important thing in all of this.

I really want that sub-2:00:00 in Sunday’s race, but more than anything, I want to enjoy my run.  I’m going to soak in the (most likely really cold) crisp fall air and sunshine, and I’m going to delight in the fact that, hey, I’m achieving what used to be my impossible.  If I don’t make that sub-2:00:00, it won’t be the end of the world.

And yes, I’m still getting the normal pre-race jitters.  Did I train enough?  Should I have practiced on more hills?  How am I going to carry water?  Should I dress warm or cool?  Where will I meet my family on the course?

Every time this anxiety flutters to the surface, I shake it off.  Because, just like the song says, it’s gonna be alright.

I honestly can’t wait for this weekend.

~Tomato Face

Monday, October 13, 2014

Marathon Monday: 2014 Fall Marathon Training Week 12

Oops, I did it again.  After a respectful weeks-long running streak, I skipped a workout, and it was a big one: 8 miles.  I felt cruddy after getting my annual flu shot (excuses, excuses), and the last thing I felt like doing was hitting the trail.  Unfortunately, I might cut down again this week (weather, travel, etc.).  I’m a bit disappointed in myself, but I also want my body to be fully rested before my half marathon.  At this point, I have put in (most of) the training, and I need to focus on the other things that will power me to the finish line: sleep, nutrition and positive thinking.

Thankfully the workouts I did hit were solid:

Monday: Butt Bible upper body Level 2 with 2 & 3 lb. weights—30 minutes

Since I skipped my cross training the week before, I squeezed in a routine on my usual rest day.

Tuesday: Running, tempo, 3.67 miles @ 9:21 minute mile pace—34:17 minutes
+ Running, tempo, 1.98 miles @ 9:39 minute mile pace—19:08 minutes

There are tons of run groups I have been wanting to try over the past year, and on Tuesday I finally joined one of them, the YIP (Young Involved Philadelphia) Running Club.  The group ventured out to the Woodlands cemetery in West Philadelphia, which is the final resting place for many notable Philadelphians, including the Drexels, Thomas Eakins and Samuel Gross.  It happened to be pitch black by the time we arrived at the cemetery, so the exploration was treacherous.  I did learn that the Woodlands houses a 1 mile trail, and since it is so close to the Penn campus, I am eager to incorporate it into a future daylight run.

Wednesday: Butt Bible lower body Level 2 with 3 lb. weights—30 minutes

Thursday: Rest day

The aforementioned flu shot on Wednesday knocked me out for the next two days.  I could have sucked it up, but I was afraid I might be fighting off something more serious (half of my office has fallen ill over the past week from various ailments). 

Friday: Rest day

Saturday: Running, hills, 5.53 miles @ 9:44 minute mile pace—53:53 minutes

I still was sluggish on Saturday, and it was absolutely hideous weather, but I dragged myself outside to tackle my final hills before Hershey.  Thanks to the recently opened Schuylkill River Boardwalk, I was able to add the ramp to the South Street bridge as a new incline in my rotation: it shall henceforth be known as the “South Street Beast.”

Sunday: Running, long, 10.30 miles @ 9:29 minute mile pace—1:37:41 hours
+ Yoga for Runners—36 minutes

A funny thing happened on this run: I repeatedly tried to slow myself down, but I kept muscling close to my recent long run paces.  Hopefully this relatively speedy clip bodes well for Hershey: I would hope that running easy for 10 miles at 9:29 pace means I have gas in the tank for sub-9:00 minute miles in a half!  We shall find out soon.

~Tomato Face

Monday, October 6, 2014

Marathon Monday: 2014 Fall Marathon Training Week 11

The Philadelphia Marathon takes place less than seven weeks from now.  Gulp.

Truth be told, my training has kept me so occupied that I haven’t really thought about the race itself.  Sure, I’ve been worrying about logistics nonstop (what will I wear?  What’s my fueling plan going to be?  Will I carry water?), but I haven’t even begun to process that I’ll be covering 26.2 miles on foot.
Maybe ignorance really is bliss.  So let’s get right to reviewing this week’s training plan:

Monday:  Foam rolling + the Stick—5 minutes

Since I ran 17 miles the day prior, I figured I needed to make a real attempt to stay loose.  Too bad this extra effort only lasted me through the first part of the week before I got lazy.

Tuesday:  Rest day

No comment.

Wednesday:  Running, easy, 8.19 miles @ 9:38 minute mile pace—1:18:59 hours
+ foam rolling + the Stick—5 minutes

This run was remarkable for the fact that I ran without stopping (save for one stoplight at mile 6) for such a long distance.  I kept the pace steady and even, and amazingly, my overall pace almost mirrored my tempo runs.  Sadly I do not think I could enact such a strategy for race day, especially on a hilly course like Hershey.

Thursday:  Running, tempo, 7 miles @ 9:15 minute mile pace (estimated)—1:05 hours

Philadelphia Runner was hosting one of their awesome Urban Scrambles, but my friend had to cancel last minute.  Not wanting to miss out on the fun, I went solo, and whaddya know?  I made some super cool and speedy new buddies because of it.  And I won a gift card!  A win all around.

Friday:  Running, fartlek, 3.55 miles @ 9:25 minute mile pace—33:26 minutes

Saturday:  Rest day

To be fair, I did break a sweat wrestling with this beast:

And this one:

Sunday:  Running, long, 18.01 miles @ 9:44 minute mile pace—2:55:19 hours
+ Yoga for Runners—36 minutes

All those calories came in handy for Sunday’s run.  I needed to be properly fueled to take on my longest run to date.

The eighteen miles gave me an excuse to practice my race day fueling.  I started off at 0:49 with a Clif Shot in the chocolate flavor.  It tasted disturbingly like hot fudge, which normally I would love.  But when I’m running, I really don’t want to feel like I’m gorging at Ghiradelli.  Despite the weird flavor of this gel, it was more palatable than the vanilla GU I tried the week prior.

At 1:29:00 I had another Clif Shot in citrus.  It was also gross, but I think I can handle it for my long runs.  I would stick exclusively to gummies (I had some Shot Bloks at 1:59:00, 2:29:00 and 2:49:00), but I feel like my body needs a mix of sugar to stay upright.  

The most notable thing about this run was that it was DARN COLD.  I’ve been wearing summer gear for the past five months or so, so it was a shock to have to put on capris and a long sleeve shirt (I really should have added gloves too).  

I’m not sure how I feel about the sudden shift in temperature.  I’m amazed that I stayed below 10:00 minute mile pace, but I dislike the sensation of shivering and sweating simultaneously.  Hopefully I’ll have adjusted to the chill come race day.

~Tomato Face