Monday, April 29, 2013

The Goal Post

Last Tuesday, the day after I wrote my last post, I went for a run. On pretty much the last step of my run, at the bottom of our [not-so-smooth] driveway, I landed funny and felt a weird poppy-crunchy sensation in my knee. It wasn’t an intense pain, but it kind of jolted me and really just felt ‘off’ (and continued to feel ‘off’ for the rest of the day and the day that followed).

I’m not going to lie - it freaked me out. A lot. So much so, that I didn’t tell anyone for a few days aside from Shane and Adam (and it took me a day and a half to send the "PANIC" email to him). I think I felt like if I didn’t admit it, it didn’t happen. Couple that with the typical anxiousness that comes with the taper and well, look out!

Maybe it was because the marathon is so close, or maybe it was because I realized I didn’t want to be fighting an injured knee all summer training for TRR, but I did something I know a lot of runners don’t do well (myself included), and I listened to my body. I trusted my gut and I rested. I skipped workouts that were planned for Wednesday and only did yoga on Thursday. I iced, I elevated. Yeah, I probably babied my knee more than I needed to, but I think it was the right thing to do.

By the time Friday morning hit, my knee was feeling significantly better – definitely less tender and less stiff. I could walk up and down the stairs without any weird sensations, and so, I went for a run. It took a bit to get warmed up, but once I did, I felt pretty good.

I followed that up on Saturday and Sunday with similar success. Decent runs without too much strange stuff happening in my knee… and so, I'm feeling cautiously optimistic.

Anyway, I know I need to be careful and not overdo things in the coming week, but I feel like maybe I’m actually learning. Learning how to listen to my body, learning how to not be so obsessed with “getting the workout done” and learning to just kinda go with the flow.

So, minor injury scare aside, I think it is time to make a note about some of my goals for this marathon.

Of course, I have time goals…
I would like to say my ‘A’ goal would be to run a BQ, which is 3:35:00 for my age group, but that is more of a dream than an actual goal. I think one day I will be able to do it, but at this time, I feel like it would probably take absolutely everything going perfectly, and well, rainbows shooting out of my butt or something magical (like a unicorn sighting?) to help propel me to the finish line in that time.

So, my real ‘A’ goal, and the one I have been training for, is a 3:45:00. I think it is doable. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t in any way think this will be easy, in fact, holding a 5:20/km pace for 42.2km will be very challenging for me, but I feel like I’ve trained well and it is achievable. I believe I can do it. Of course, even though I believe I can do it, I’d still appreciate everyone crossing their fingers for me and sending positive “speedy” vibes my way on race morning.

My ‘B’ goal would be sub 4. That is totally arbitrary and based on nothing other than the fact that I feel like I should be able to go sub 4 and well, it seems like a lot of first time marathoners aim for that mark. So yeah, that is that.

‘C’ goal is to finish. Although, you know, I don’t know if that is really a "goal", as I know I can finish a marathon. I guess I don’t need a ‘C’ time goal, do I? I guess, if the day turns out to be a "just finish" kinda day, my goal is to cross the finish line without feeling disappointed – to finish the race holding my head high and smiling.

My Non-time Goals are more pace related...
I would like to run a smart race. I want to run a nice even pace and not go out too fast. My goal is to be patient. My goal is to stay steady through 30k-35k and then, if I’m feeling good, try to pick up the pace a bit. I guess what I’m saying is I would like to negative split. I think a negative split is kind of like a unicorn sighting to a lot of newbie marathon runners and, well, I want to see what the negative splitting unicorn really looks like. 

Also, no urgent bathroom breaks please. My goal is to have all that business taken care of before the gun goes off. Good goal right?

So, these are my goals. My race number is 2016 if you'd like to follow along online or if you’ll be in Vancouver and want to yell nice things at me. I’ll be in black tights and a green shirt (haha, that totally narrows it down, doesn’t it).

Oh and one more goal... maybe a good race photo if I’m lucky. :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

2 Weeks

The Vancouver Marathon is now less than 2 weeks away.

That statement right there (yup, ^ that one) is both scary and exciting.

First, might I say, that ~holy crap~  the last 14 weeks (?) of training has absolutely flown by. Something tells me, the next two weeks will zip past equally as quick.

Training is starting to taper off now. I’ve still got some decent workouts to do over the next 2 weeks, but the hard work is mostly done.

It’s been good ('it' in this case, being this training cycle). Really good in fact. I keep saying that, and I actually believe it. I really truly feel like I’ve been running well. Strong even. I’m getting better at judging my pace, and I feel like my head is usually in a good, positive space when I’m tackling a workout.

This past Saturday I had one of my final ‘long’ tempo workouts (the main part of the workout being 90min at marathon pace). Instructions also included a note about “being honest with it” - 'it', in this case, being marathon pace.

I often go a little faster than what my planned marathon pace is, and I know I can’t do that on race day. The last thing I want to do is to go out too hard and suffer through the back half of the marathon. Been there, done that. The agony of IMC ‘12 is still fresh enough in my mind that I don’t want a repeat (granted, that was a fueling issue, but still – I imagine the suffering would be similar in a ‘fade from the front’ race strategy). Anyway, I know I need to be able to settle into my desired pace right away at the marathon and not sprint out of the gates. Patience should be my motto for the day.

So, back to Saturday’s workout...
I felt like this was a great success and a very teeny-tiny, minor failure at the same time.

Let’s talk about the success first, because, well, that’s more fun. Simply, I felt great through the whole 90min at marathon pace. I felt relaxed and comfortable and like everything was really clicking and I was in a good mindset the whole time. The time flew by and my legs were turning over nicely. Good stuff.

My teeny-tiny minor failure would be that my pace was, once again, a little quicker than my goal marathon pace – especially for the first km or two (oops). When I saw my first km split, I did try and reel it in, and managed to settle down a bit, so that’s good, right?

Anyway, overall I was really happy with the workout. It leaves me feeling pretty confident heading into my taper.

2 weeks to go! (Have I mentioned that yet?)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I’m finding it hard to reconcile my thoughts and feelings on what happened Monday in Boston.
It hit me hard. It felt too close to home. While I didn't have any friends at the race this year, these are still my people. This is my community that was attacked - our comminuty. As runners, as endurance athletes, as people who enjoy pushing our limits. The love of the sport, the celebration that it brings, the amazing history, and the joy - it is ours.
I don't understand it.
I read everything I could find online in the hours following the bombings. I logged onto Twitter for the first time in my life to see if there was anything new. When I finally got home, I watched the news, trying to take it all in – and yet, I’m not sure I actually processed or truly heard any of the reports.
All I know is my heart felt heavy. It still does. Tears welled up in my eyes as I ran yesterday and then again when I heard from my Mom not long after getting back from my workout. My emotions are pretty raw right now and my need for a hug is pretty overwhelming at times.
My mind can’t comprehend why anyone would do something like this – although I’m not sure I ever want to understand or comprehend it.
Anyway, plenty of emotions have been shared online, on blogs and social media – most of it far more eloquently than I can sputter out at this moment.
I just know that last year, I left a little piece of my heart in Boston. No, I wasn’t running, but even as a spectator, that race grabs you and holds you. The city of Boston and all the other towns along the course, they make you feel welcome and alive and it is special and it is amazing. It is easily one of the most incredible sporting events I’ve ever witnessed and I’m so thankful I got the opportunity to experience it – even if it was just from the sidelines. I hope to be back there, experiencing it all over again one day. Perhaps one day I will even make it to the starting line as an athlete.
I feel incredible sadness for the people killed or injured on Monday, and anger at the person/people who did this. I hate that person/people for momentarily taking away the joy of the marathon, the joy and celebration that should be felt at the finish line.
That said, I have a pretty strong feeling the joy and spirit of the marathon will return, perhaps even stronger than before.
Sending love to anyone and everyone affected by the events in Boston.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Training Rambles

While out running at lunch today I started to think about the fact that I haven’t been writing much about my actual training on the ol’ blog as of late. Of course, I then found myself composing a little training recap in my head.

I do this often as I run – composing blog posts in my mind – yet, very rarely do these ‘masterpieces’ find their way to paper (or the computer in this case). Today is really no different, I can’t remember exactly what I was thinking about (running, puppies, food, running, blow torches [don’t ask], trails, running….), but now, here I sit, on a Friday afternoon with some time to kill and so, I figured a little ramble about marathon training couldn’t hurt.

Marathon training.

Gawd, it still seems weird to say that I am in the midst of marathon training right now. I’m pretty sure at this time last year (while in Boston cheering on Kirsten at that little marathon that starts in Hopkinton every April), my Dad asked me if being there, in that incredible Bostonian atmosphere, if I ever had the desire to run a marathon. I’m pretty sure I said no. Actually, I know that I said no.

Running a stand-alone marathon has never been high on my list of things to do – and yet, here I am. One month from today, I will toe the start line in Vancouver for my first marathon. (I’m actually a bit excited about it. Who am I??)

At times May 5th still seems so far away, and at other times, it feels like it is just around the corner. Mostly though, the fact that I’m running a marathon in a month doesn’t seem real.

If I said I’m not a wee bit anxious about it, well that would be a lie. I am. I have lots of little doubts in my mind, as I’m sure most people do when they decide to run a marathon for the first time.

You know, typical little things like:
Am I running enough?
Can I really run my desired pace for that long?
How will my body react after 30k?
What if I get a blister?
Can I trust a fart after mile 1?

Anyway, moving on from the doubts (but keeping with the rambling theme of this post), here are some tidbits about my training as of late…
  • I’ve been running a lot.
  • I’ve been running on hills a lot.
  • I usually have at least one workout a week that makes me nervous. I think the nerves stem from me doubting my ability to hold certain paces for certain times (or some such nonsense). Then, almost without fail, on each and every one of these workouts I nail the paces and come away feeling just a little bit more confident in my ability. It’s kind of cool actually.
  • I have the odd day where I am unmotivated and a bit lazy or my ankle hurts and I wonder how it is going to hold up over the marathon distance, but mostly, I'm enjoying putting in the miles and getting the work done.
  • I actually find myself not missing the swim and bike as much as I thought I would. I am still getting in the pool a couple times a week, and getting on the bike a bit too, but these ‘workouts’ are more for supplemental maintenance than anything else. (I’ll admit there have even been times when I’ve had a swim or bike scheduled and thought, “I kind of just want to run.” There is something so easy about running – you just put on your shoes and go).
  • I’ve been doing the large majority of my training on my own. Even though Kirsten and Shane are both training for Vancouver as well, having a different coach means having a different training plan. It was a bit strange at first, but I’m adjusting and actually really liking it. I’m also trying really hard not to compare my training to others and to just trust in it. My coach is a world record holder after all, so I’m pretty sure he knows what he is doing.

Overall though, I think my training is coming along really well and I am super happy with it. I feel like my goal time is definitely within reach. It’s not going to be easy, but I truly believe it is doable.

I guess I’ll find out in a month.