Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Marathon Training *gulp*

"The hill set is not an easy one to pace evenly at first, but you'll figure it out quickly. It goes a long way to helping you develop strength and good form, that will really help when you get into the meat and potatoes of the marathon training in 6 weeks or so."

When I read the above sentence in an email earlier this week, it took me back for a moment. Not the part about the hill workout , but more the part where it talks about getting into the “meat and potatoes of marathon training”. I think in the back of my mind, I keep forgetting that I am actually going to run a marathon in the foreseeable future.

It excites me, and it terrifies me.

I wonder how many other people are out there that have completed an Ironman, but find themselves more fearful of the marathon on its own – because, let me tell you, I sure as hell am.

Well, maybe fear is the wrong word, so let’s just say; I have a very healthy respect for the marathon.

I imagine being more ‘afraid’ of the marathon than Ironman actually might be more typical then you’d think. By the time you hit the marathon in Ironman, it is about survival (for me at least) and finishing – and while you want to get there as fast as you possibly can, there is so much more to the day.

I imagine, with a stand-alone marathon, the element of “racing” is much more present. I don’t want to run a marathon simply to finish it. Been there, done that, (at the end of a much longer adventure mind you) and I know I can cover the distance.

Of course, “racing” the marathon is relative. I definitely won’t be challenging anyone for the win or breaking any course records, but I do have a goal time in mind and it will be a challenge for me. I know I will have to really focus mentally and work hard to achieve what I want in this race and I definitely want to cross the finish line feeling like I gave it everything I could.

So, I am taking the steps to make that happen....
Right now, training is going well. I’m happily back into a solid routine. My new training plan is similar enough to what I’m used to, to keep me from feeling overwhelmed, but different enough to keep me on my toes and to keep things interesting and exciting.

I’ve had some really good runs lately – like really solid, confidence boosting runs – and have been in the pool and on my bike enough to keep me from feeling like I’m completely deserting my beloved triathlon.

Oh, and you know what else? I’m actually really starting to get excited about TransRockies. It is another one of those things that scares the crap out of me, but I’m feeling more and more ready to embrace the challenge and adventure that awaits me in the Colorado Rockies.

All rambling aside, anyone out there have some good tips for this marathon/TransRockies rookie??   

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January. Oh, January, where have you gone?

I keep looking at the keyboard and thinking “I feel like writing something for the ol’ blog.” Which is completely true. I do feel like writing. I have this overwhelming urge to write in fact, but I’m not sure what I want to write about. Go figure.

[Not that it really matters; I mean there are what, like 5 of you who read this blog? You guys will forgive me if I don’t post every week, right? (p.s. Hi Mom & Dad!)]

Anyway, maybe this is a good thing. Maybe this is a sign that things are nicely balanced and I’m happy and free and am not feeling the need to chronicle my training in the way I have needed/wanted to over the last few years.

Or maybe it’s because I’m coming into a new year, with new goals and a new coach and new everything and it is making my brain explode a little.

When I decided to tackle my first Ironman, I had been around the triathlon block for a couple years. I understood quite a lot about swim/bike/run and was pretty comfortable with what I had gotten myself into. By the time Ironman #2 rolled around, crazy endurance training for 3 sports at once was a familiar old friend.

Fast forward to now… coming into a year that is built around running (and trail running at that ~ yowza); I am realizing I have A LOT to learn. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited to learn and feel like I have surrounded myself with the best possible coach for my new endeavor, but I can’t lie, this weekend’s trail run did make me *gulp* a little.

Let’s take a look at that run shall we?

Well, it was kinda slow, it was kinda painful, but it was also kinda awesome.

Anyone who lives in Victoria (or the lower island) will know that this weekend was pretty much perfect weather for January. It was crisp and clear. The sun was shining and sky was nothing but blue.

Kirsten and I decided we would take our long run to the trails and met at the main parking lot of Thetis Lake, with the plan to try and run the Stewart Mountain route. I say “try” more for the fact that we didn’t really know where we were going, and not necessarily because we didn’t think we’d be capable, if that makes sense.

Anyway, Thetis was packed! The main trail around the lake was all sorts of crazy, so when we finally branched off onto our version of the Stewart Mountain route, it was kind of nice. Hilly, but quiet and peaceful.

I enjoyed the feeling of being in the woods and was physically doing pretty well. Time was moving along nicely. We were having some good conversation and aside from the odd twinge of “oh-god-my-calf-is-going-to-cramp” in my left leg, I was feeling okay – slightly out of shape from a few months of downtime, but pretty much where I expected I should be at this time of year.

Then we hit the bottom of “Stewart Mountain” (I’m using quotes, as it might have also been Scafe Mountain, or, you now, just some hill that was a little bigger than the other ones). We were still running.

Then it got steep and I had to walk. Then it leveled and I ran again. They it got steeper (or at least it felt that way) and my quad started doing the “oh-god-cramp” thing and I had to walk again. Then we made it to the top and took a little break and enjoyed the spectacular view. That might have been the best part. Yay for breaks!

Then I realized we were only half way through our run, and we still had to go back. *double gulp*

Of course, it wasn’t that bad. That second half was probably a touch slower and I could tell I was starting to get tired, as I was slipping and tripping a little more that I had on the way out, but it was still fun. Fun to be tramping through mud puddles and fun to be slightly “lost”.

As we were nearing the end of the run I apologized to Kirsten for complaining (which she assured me, I wasn’t actually doing as much as I thought I had been) and she made a comment along the lines of “yeah, it was hard, but at least it is way more fun than running on the roads.” To which I totally agreed. It was. It was significantly harder, but there is just something great about skipping in and around mud puddles, climbing up and down huge hills, and generally just being off the beaten track.

Also, I kept reminding myself that it is early days and this was my first trail run of 2013. I’m pretty sure when we do that run again in August, it will be a piece of cake.

And wow, for someone who didn’t know what to write about, this turned into a very long post.

Anyway, I guess I’m still fully processing everything and getting into my new rhythm of being a single sport athlete (who happens to still swim and bike, haha).

What I do know is that it is nice to be getting back into a regular training routine. I’m starting to feel a little more like myself and perhaps even starting to shed a few of those pounds I put on over the holidays. I’m starting to eat healthier again and I’m even really starting to look forward to having a year full of running adventures.

Oh, and I got some new fancy trail shoes. New shoes help everything.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Be Brave

This is probably super cliché, but sometimes the things that scare us the most end up being the most rewarding.

To me being brave is following your gut and your heart – embracing every moment and remembering that nothing is impossible if you want it bad enough. Brave says, “c’mon, step out of your comfort zone, let’s do this”.

We are all brave – but if you are anything like me, you might just need to be reminded of that now and again.

The last few weeks have been filled with a lot of emotion for me. I spent some time fretting and worrying about a decision that I felt needed to be made, but that I wasn’t quite ready to make. When I finally made the decision, I then spent some more time worrying about whether it was the right decision or not.

I was living inside my head, the only escape being irrational tears at the oddest times. Knowing I had done the right thing for me, but worrying I had hurt people in the process.

Of course, the decision wasn’t something that was going to destroy my life (or anyone’s life really), no matter which way it went, but it still wasn’t easy.

Anyway, about now you’re probably thinking “Get to the fricken point, what’s this monumental decision?”

Well… I’ve signed on with a new coach!

My year of transformation from triathlete to trail runner begins now – under the direction of some uber-athletes/coaches at B78 Coaching.

One fun thing they do at B78 is to have every athlete own a "Be…" word. It is yours and yours alone. Obviously, as you can see from above, I chose ‘Brave’. The part at the beginning of this post (in italics) is what 'brave' means to me.

Anyway, more on this next week. For now, I can say I am feeling really great about the decision I made. I trusted my gut and found a little bit of unconventional bravery in the process.