Writing has been a little distant lately. I am the type of person to take time to internalize big events before I let out my thoughts and feelings. I may not even mention some of the biggest things happening in my life at any moment, sometimes when things get too ‘personal’ I tend to clam up and keep it all in my head. Its not good or bad, its just the way I process the world.
This winter running got a little like that. Running and life. My step dad got diagnosed with cancer early in the winter. I wasn’t even sure I was going to share that, my extended family is usually excluded from this blog, its just too personal, and the details of everything will remain so. But I am sure most of you know how much cancer sucks, and how at a loss you can feel when someone you love is hurting and how much you want to fix it but cant. The way I usually deal with things like this, is to get my own stuff together. Keep my ducks in a row, keep my life as stable as possible so I can be there as much as I can for these people I love. I pare down my emotional energy into the few things I really need (introvert much?). This may seem like something that is not running related. But if you find personal relief and mental clarity in any hobby or passion you may understand how running can help. Running has always helped me process hard things. When my chest feels tight, when the world gets a little overwhelming, when things that are out of my control rear their head. So this was no different. And I have to say… I am so glad I didn’t give up on running these past few years.
I have so so much momma bear love for my children, so much joy in their lives and so much wonder in their even existence. But giving birth to a human is a bit life altering. Sometimes I would think ‘why run at all?’ When I spent the last few years trying to find even an ounce of extra physical and mental energy to get my gear on and butt out the door. When my body went through the double roller coaster of two babies and breastfeeding in 3 years and 20+ lbs sticking around after my daughter. If I couldn’t give it my all, if I couldn’t be fast again, if I couldn’t race like I used to, if I couldn’t finish a long run, why even do it at all? There were weeks when I said, Im done, I will find something else. But then after a few days I just got back out there. I did, because this tiny little voice in my head said…. you will need it.
You will need to have a base. Even if its just 10/15 mile weeks for a whole year. You will need, really need, running soon and you will be so thankful you just went out a few times a week. That you kept it in your soul and body enough to be able to turn it into something bigger when it was needed.
When I started this past training cycle, my first real one since 2009 I didn’t know I would NEED it. Even during it I didn’t know. But now, a few weeks after the goal race, I realize. When the world gets messy, when my mind gets cluttered there is NOTHING like those endorphins. There is nothing like being able to set a goal and get shit done. Something about my mix of personality, body and life just really fits with running, I am sure if I physically could not do it anymore for whatever reason I would find my new ‘running’. But because I can, I will and so I do.
So… phew, now that that is on the table here is a quick recap of the two races I did this winter:
Shamrock Shuffle 5 miler March 20th in NY
I got to visit my family and run a race. Something I like combining if I can! There are so many races all over the place I really enjoy finding them on vacation, or including them in visits to new areas.
Goals: 7-7:15 pace for as long as I could.
I was not tapering for this at all and was pretty much in peak weeks for this half marathon training cycle. Being said I knew I could run faster for these 5 miles than I could for a 5k I did on Jan 1st right before this training cycle began and that was awesome. A good amount of improvement in 2.5 months!
Results: 36:22 – 7:16 pace. I would count this races as a success even though I was hoping for my legs to feel a bit more spunky and go just a bit faster per mile. I really mentally won in mile 3 when I stuck to a woman who went by me and really used her to help me grind it out and pull me along. I have noticed I run in ‘no mans land’ during races and I wanted to try to stick to someone when things get rough and it did help so much!
Then I got back to work for my goal race
Unplugged Half Marathon April 9th
(I did order this pic, it just hasn’t arrived yet. I think I look pretty focused!)
Goal: Under 1:40. I had a hope that I could even pull out a 1:38 on the right day
Thankfully my friend Katie said she would pace me, she had just run a PR half marathon a few weeks before and was looking to just get out for a upbeat run (she’s quite a bit faster than me). She SAVED me. I don’t know what happened. I started out really good running 7:20- 7:30’s but from the half way point on I kept getting strong waves of fatigue and even almost dizziness. Turns out I did get a cold (that the kids had had all week) a day later and that might have been my body fighting it off. But I am so happy I pushed and gutted it out. There were points around mile 8 where I said to Katie “WHAT IS HAPPENING?!” It was like I was treading water, every slight uphill would stop my turnover. I had done lots of long runs and speed and I was very ready for this race. All I can say is 7:35 pace for that long just finally got me. I was hoping to go faster the last few miles but instead it was all I could do to not go much slower that 8 min miles. I fueled well too, taking Honey Stinger gels and Katie handed me water when I wanted it (really it was so helpful!). But I was crashing hard at the end, it honestly felt like the last few miles of a full marathon, not a half! I thought I was going to be coming in around 1:42/1:43 so when I turned the corner to the finish and saw 1:39.40+ I screamed!
(proof of said screaming)
I still had a chance to break 1:40! I pushed and gave it a final surge to finish in 1:40.00.3.
So, so happy to be done and get a post baby PR. But I didn’t quite know how to feel after. I know I did the best I could on that day. A part of me really thought I could have had more of a miracle race. What I have come to realize is my body has gone through even more than I have realized these past few years. That I have basically taken 3+ years off from any consistency and it is just going to take more time to get really back into the swing of things. My next post is really going to be about this. About how I have found a good grove of training for races, running, time off, and the rest of my life. Or how I THINK I have figured it out a little bit, who knows whats up ahead.
Lastly I just want to leave a few highlights of this training cycle that I look back on and really am proud of myself for. There is so much more to running than the goal race:
* I only missed 1-2 days of my scheduled runs
* I got into a really good weekly groove of timing and planing my runs
* I didn’t drive my family crazy or miss out on too much, I think!
* I finished 4-5 12+ mile runs! I really missed those long days
* I wasn’t over tired at all. I really was gentle to myself with my sleep and recovery it helped so much.
* I felt the most mentally stable and up that I have felt in years. I wasn’t in a deep depression prior but the endorphins, being able to finally get back into something I really love and accomplish my goals really did a lot for my day to day happiness.
* I did 2 track workouts! – LOVED getting back on the track and I found a good local one I am sure I will use many more times in the years to come.
* I got help when I needed it. When something started to hurt I didn’t ignore it, I addressed it.
* I had an epiphany about how I can fit running into my life as an adult. (see next post for more)
* My new mantra on long progression runs or track repeats was. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going…. GET GOING”
Thank you again to Mollie from Piece of Cake running
for the awesome schedule and feedback. I know the motivation I got from having a coach again is really what made the big difference this winter!