NYC Highlights & Running in Central Park

I ♥ my team

I ♥ my team

I’ve talked a lot about how this trip felt, but here’s some photos of the highlights.

Meeting Bart Yasso

The Soup Nazi “NO SOUP FOR YOU!”

The view from my uncle’s awesome apartment

Fall

My people

Puppies

I finally saw the Seinfeld diner. I’ve been wanting to go there for years!

We were trying to be Elaine and Kramer. We’re really talented actors, okay?

Okay, let’s talk about marathon morning. Well, maybe it’s better if I show you.

The incredible energy began the moment we entered the hotel lobby. Groups were cheering and chanting, and it was NUTS! The energy was contagious, and I couldn’t help but still feel excited. I met my team in the lobby and we headed down to Central Park where there must have been thousands of runners who all decided to run anyway, and for the first time, I felt like a real runner. Race or no race, we were all out there together purely because we love running. Sometimes I wonder if I actually love it, or why it is I do this crazy thing, but I really really do love it. Not at every second, and not even every run, but running has changed my life. It has changed the way I view food, and aided so much of my food related anxieties. It has brought me friends, and even a second mom ;)

I ran through the park with tears streaming down my cheeks, and the dopiest grin on my face. Suddenly, it all made sense. I will get to run a marathon someday (soon), and I will even get to run the NYC Marathon someday, but only those of us that were here on this very day will ever get to experience this display of passion and perseverance by thousands of runners.

Everything happens for a reason, and I needed this moment in my journey. I needed it to inspire me, to reaffirm what I deep down already knew, and to make me feel like I belonged in this community. It would be so easy to say “My marathon was canceled” and give up, but that is not who I am. I wasn’t planning to make this my last marathon, and now my first will just be that much more special.

After a week of so much negativity, this morning was exactly what I needed. People still came out to cheer. They held signs, they had cow bells, and some were even passing out water. I tried to thank every single person on those side lines, I got plenty of high 5s and you better believe I accepted the water from a stranger. I wasn’t even thirsty, I was just so thrilled that they were spending their morning passing it out!

There were teams from all different countries. Brazil was pretty loud, so I distinctly remember them. We ran a loop of the park, then down to the hudson river for a total of 10.6 miles for the morning. It was exactly what I needed, and I’m so grateful I got to be a part of it.

Disclaimer: Please don’t take this as insensitivity to those affected by Sandy. I am simply explaining my experience. 

The Journey

It’s a little ironic. I don’t know how many times I’ve talked about how I just really love the training for races more than the race itself. Fast forward to Friday evening (or flash back since it’s oh, Tuesday now) when my phone started blowing up on my way to the NYCM expo, and despite my best efforts, an overwhelming sadness filled my heart. Yes, I know the best decision was made. I don’t live in the tristate area, and I’ve never experienced a hurricane. I have absolutely no room to comment on the issue, and I don’t intend to. I do, however, know what it’s like to give everything you have into training for your first marathon, and not run it. And I do (finally) know that it’s okay. Ideal, no, but okay.

If I’m being 100% honest, I’m still feeling slightly down about the whole thing, and I feel guilty about feeling down when clearly people are suffering way more right now, but I can’t control how I feel, only how I deal with those emotions. It’s okay to feel disappointed, and to be honest, I knew I would come back from New York feeling down. I always get the post-fill-in-the-blank sadness after big life events, ie: my wedding, my first 1/2 marathon, even a little bit following Christmas and my birthday (you can judge me). I put a lot of build up and anticipation on these things, and when they’re over, I get sad. This one just didn’t end how I expected–or maybe it’s just not over?

I’ve thought a lot about what to do next. I’m trained to run a marathon. I want to run a marathon, like really really badly. Funny story, there’s not as many of those crazy things as one would think. In fact, there’s pretty much non coming up in Arizona for quite a while, and traveling isn’t really in the cards right now. I found a couple that I thought “Maybe I can make this work…”, and then I realized that this is my first marathon, and you only get one first marathon. I don’t want to jump into just any replacement race. I want to make the right choice, and that means waiting until RnR AZ in January when I can still go out and have my friends and family be there to cheer me on. I know that’s not what running is all about, but it’s just something I need for my first marathon, and that’s okay.

So I have 12 weeks to get faster, stronger, and even more ready. Hopefully along the way I will run some shorter distance races and maybe set some new PRs. I am really happy to have a new goal to focus on, and every day I am believing the voice in my head that says “Everything happens for a reason.” just a little bit more. Some amazing things still came out of this trip, and I can’t wait to tell you about running in Central Park on marathon morning, but that is a story for an other time. Right now, I will leave it at: I am still sad, but I’m okay, and I’m refocusing on training and preparing for my first marathon in January.

Thanks to everyone who sent me texts/emails/phone calls/tweets/etc. I felt really loved, and I really needed it. I am so ridiculously lucky, and I honestly still kind of feel like I did it. Running a marathon isn’t about that one day; it is about the months you spend working toward your goal. For 20 weeks, I prepared myself to run 26.2 miles, and although that day I ended up running less than half of that, I gave my heart to that goal for 20 weeks, and one day doesn’t change or define that process. Onward.

Team Chances Brunch

26.2 jack-o-lantern. Genius.

Saturday morning the team met bright and early at Coach Susan’s house for our last “long” run and a big team brunch/meeting/information overload. When we arrived, I was totally blown away at how decked out her house was!

26.2 jack-o-lantern. Genius.

Shortly after we arrived, we headed out for a quick 40 minute run, then returned to sit down for the big informational meeting while many of the Believe Train Become runners slaved away cooking our breakfast. They’re the best. :) It was still chilly out, so a lot of us huddled in close and gathered around the fire.

Michelle and I love bright shoes. LOOK HOW BRIGHT WE ARE! Okay, she is so much brighter, but mine have so many colors! I love running shoes ;)

Susan started off explaining many of the normal feelings of taper–sluggish, irritable, feeling fat. As she mentioned each one, it was like everyone around me just kept turning to look at me because not 5 minutes before we started, I had been complaining about pretty much every single one. Then Jason just had to be a really awesome friend and make sure to call attention to me and my…issues. Anyway, it was nice to hear it was all normal, and despite the fact that I feel like I’ve gained 9 MILLION lbs the last two weeks, people keep telling me I look smaller, so clearly I have no idea what I’m talking about. Shocking, right? Anyway, one big moment came when Susan surprised us all with these bracelets:

A couple of weeks ago, one of my teammates suffered a major heart attack on one of his long runs. I’ve actually wanted to write about it for a while, but I didn’t want to put him out there on display. Anyway, he is doing FANTASTIC, but clearly cannot run NYC, so Susan got each of us TIMstrong bracelets. She also told us that the reason he IS okay is because he is a runner–because he has taken such great care of his body and is so strong. That is where I really got emotional. I started to think about where my life was heading a few years ago, and how I probably would have ended up dying at a young age from obesity complications if I hadn’t made a change. Sounds dramatic, but I was on a steady weight gain spree with no end in sight, and I am just so glad to be in a place where I am taking care of my body, and more importantly, I am so glad that Tim’s lifestyle saved his life.

As Susan made her way through the overwhelming amount of information, she got to talking about something that really spoke to me: The Voice. We all have it, and it’s always our biggest enemy. Runner or not, we’ve all experienced that negative self talk that tells us we’re not good enough, tells us to give up, and pushes us down. She told us the story of when she was running the olympic trials and she was on the 2nd loop of the 4 loop course. Her voice started, and she was certain she couldn’t do it. She knew up ahead there was a trash can, and legit made a deal with herself that she would run until she got there, then hide behind it. Totally logical. As she got closer, she realized that if she hid behind it now, eventually she would have to come out, and then what? So she didn’t stop. She ran past the trash can, and finished 30th out of the entire country. Then she said

“Most of us quit just before we reach our potential.”

I’m pretty sure I’ve always eventually broken down and listened to the voice, and that I have yet to see what I’m fully capable of. This quote really spoke to me, and I hope I can use it to carry me through the last 10k of the marathon, and any time in life when the going gets tough. I feel so lucky to have such a motivating and inspirational coach!! I know I’ve said it a million times, but every day I feel MORE grateful!

After the information session, we broke for breakfast and then took some team photos.

Then I insisted we all play the camera game…

Well, maybe only like 3 people participated, but I’m pretty sure Susan and Tracie nailed it. Check out their faces!

Your welcome Susan, Tracie and everyone else who played along ;)

I chatted a bit more with some of my teammates, and grabbed my marathon packet (it’s filled with SO MUCH AWESOMENESS!!!).

Jaime, Jason & Me. No double chin. Good photography, Bill.

It was a perfect morning, and a great way to end the training cycle. BIG thank you to Susan and BTB for hosting us! 5 days and counting!

Reasons To Be Grateful

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As my first marathon draws closer (ummm, somehow it became marathon week–YIKES!!), I am finding myself even more emotional than usual. If you know me, you know it’s hard to get more emotional than my natural everyday state, but I promise you it has happened. Yesterday, I spent 15 minutes crying in the car because I felt so proud of what I’ve done. Not just the marathon, but every big goal I’ve set out to conquer, I feel like I have achieved. Not many people can say that, and I have a lot to be proud of.

With this pride comes so much gratitude. I’ve not achieved these things on my own, and beyond that, this experience and trip to New York City gives me so many reasons to be grateful. I’m totally overwhelmed by all of it, but I wanted to try to put some of it into words, so that when all I can think about is how badly my legs hurt, I will have a mental picture of why I’m lucky, why I should suck it up and run faster. ;)

  • I’m grateful I can run. Not everyone can. I see people every day who are physically less fortunate than me, and it breaks my heart that not everyone can experience the same joy, release, and freedom that I find in running. I could have a disability, or worse, I could not care enough about myself to make the choice to try. I’m grateful for the ability to run: mentally and physically.
  • I’m grateful for Susan LokenWhen I tell people about Susan, they either know exactly who she is, or are quickly impressed when I spew off her list of accomplishments that I’ve memorized through all my internet stalking. She has given me everything: my plan, tough love, an ear to listen, and most importantly, the belief that I can do this. The other day she told me that I’ve come a long way and shown a lot of improvement. She probably doesn’t know how much that meant to me, or how much I needed to hear it, but it made my month. I couldn’t have done this without her.
  • I’m grateful for my team. I’ve made so many great friendships through this process, and they have shown me tremendous support, love, and encouragement. There really is nothing like training with a team. I would highly suggest it for anyone training for their first marathon. I LOVE these guys!
  • I’m grateful for my parents. They are flying to New York to see me cross the finish line. My dad can’t afford it, but he insists on going to be there for me. My mom hates to fly, but her ticket is booked. Talk about support–flying across the country to watch your kid run a marathon. Yes, I’m still a kid. They are the best.
  • I’m grateful for my friends who are coming out to support me. Some of them live in New York, some of them live here, some of them live in the surrounding areas, but many of them are making special arrangements to be there for to share this moment with me. I will probably have my first marathon lined with some of my very favorites cheering my name. I don’t know what they heck I’ve done to deserve that, but I’ll take it!
  • I’m especially grateful I get to spend time with this friend. Mac is one of my best friends in the entire world. He lives across the country, and I see him more often than some of my friends that live in Arizona. Our friendship was just kind of meant to be, and so we make it work, and find ways to see each other. He is a life-long friend, and has been an undying source of support through this whole process. I cannot freaking wait to celebrate with him!!!
  • I’m grateful for the world’s most supportive husband. The other day we had an argument, and then “surprised” each other with coffee (at the same time), then he showed me he loved me by turning on every single light in the entire house because we always playfully bicker about the lights (I turn on all the lights, never turn them off, then he turns them all off). He is perfect, and I absolutely could not have done this without him.
  • I’m grateful for YOU PEOPLE. With the support of many of you, I have almost reached my goal of raising $5,000. So many people showed incredible generosity, and I am beyond grateful. I know those donations will be put to good use, and I cannot wait until I can attend an event to see kids reaping the benefits of our efforts!
  • I’m just grateful to be. To be alive. To be healthy. To be where I am today. I am beyond lucky. I wish everyone out there could feel a little bit of what it’s like to feel like you have it all. Just for a second. It feels amazing.
  • Oh, and I’m grateful for MARATHON TOES!!! Had to include that ;)
So tell me, what are you grateful for?

NYC Marathon Training Week 18

Week 1 of taper, check. You know, I read about how everyone hates taper, but this week was kinda nice. I enjoyed a slightly shorter Monday run, still pushed myself at the track, and loved being done with my long run at 7:15 Saturday morning! It was also really great to end a long run and not be totally exhausted. 10 miles felt short, and nice. I could get used to this taper thing! ;) Here’s how it went down:

Monday: 6 mile run. The schedule said “3 miles easy, 3 miles at marathon pace”. WHAT IS MARATHON PACE?!?!?! HOW DO I CHOOSE???? LIFE IS SO HARD!!!! Soooo, I ran 3 miles slow, and 3 miles less slow, ending up with a 10:11 average pace. I was not feeling this run. I had canceled on Nicole so that I could sleep in later, then I had to keep making deals with myself like “Maybe I’ll just run 3 miles….” to get myself out and going, but finally I turned on some relaxing music (because I’m a freak and sometimes I want mellow music while I’m running), and just gave my mind some time to do it’s thing. The run ended up being really good, and a nice reminder that even when I realllllly don’t want to, it’s almost always better to just get out there.

Tuesday: 11 mile bike. Easy ride to coffee with Steve.

Wednesday: Track. Ao about this marathon goal pace. I guess I’ve figured it out? Coach Loken sent me my projected finish time, and it scared the crap out of me. My head immediate filled with “I can’ts” and doubt. I’ve since talked it through with anyone who will listen including my super smart coach (you know the person I actually should talk to about it), and figured out what a realistic goal is mentally for me, and I’m keeping her projected finish time as a dream goal, but trying to run my marathon goal pace miles at that pace. I’m not going to talk about what any of these goals are because when I write my recap about how I ran my first marathon, I want to write it with joy and pride no matter what my finish time is, and if I tell you what I want it to be, and that doesn’t happen, I will feel like a disappointment. Anyway, back to the track. We warmed up, had a mile at marathon goal pace, then 4 x 400s, then an other mile at goal pace, then a cool down. I hit my goal pace miles and they felt easy! It was AWESOME! I also pushed really hard on my 400s running them @ 7:05, 6:57, 6:58, 6:42. The whole workout felt awesome! I completed 5.17 miles in 50 minutes. After track, a couple of people from my team came up to me and told me how much faster I’d gotten!! This is the second time this has happened recently, and it made me feel so awesome!!

Thursday: 3 mile run. Nice and easy recovery run with my speedy friend Ashley. She was practically walking. ;)

Friday: 17.3 mile bike. The usual Friday am bike ride/breakfast/coffee with Nicole.

Saturday: 10 mile run. I came, I ran, I got chased by wild dogs, I ran the second half fast to keep up with my friends, I was done by 7:15 and averaged a 9:57 pace. Ask me about the wild dogs sometime. It’s a really funny story that includes some pretty big embarrassment, but I don’t mind embarrassing myself.

Sunday: Rest. Necessary.

Fundraising update: As you know, I’ve been running with Team Chances to raise money for Chances for Children. I committed to raising $5000, and I’M GETTING SO CLOSE!!! I’ve now raised $4,110 and have just $890 to go thanks to so much support from everyone in my life! Please consider helping me to reach my goal by making a donation or placing an order! Remember that all donations/orders are tax deductible and in the state of Arizona, you can receive a full tax credit ($200 individual, or $400 family) for donations. Thanks to all of you for all the support!! I truly believe I can meet this goal by November 4th!

NYC Marathon Training Week 17

17 weeks of hard work down. 3 weeks of taper to go. I had a lot of thoughts about the training cycle as a whole this week. I was feeling tired physically and mentally. Last week was a step back week, but even though our long run was only 10 miles, running it at race pace made it challenging, and I did not go into this week feeling rested, but I started to realize that maybe that’s the point? If I can run peak week on tired legs, then I can certainly run the marathon on fresh legs, right? I’m guessing that’s why the plans work, but really, what do I know? Basically nothing.

I went to bed last Sunday night thinking about how I had to kill it this week, and make every run perfect because THIS IS IT!! Then I woke up Monday morning totally lacking in motivation. In fact, the only thing that got me to get out of bed for my work outs was knowing that this is the most important week, and after this it will all get easier. Here’s a look at how this week’s training went down.

Monday: 8 mile run. It was a good thing I had plans to run with Nicole, because otherwise it just would not have happened. Something has to be really wrong in order for me to cancel on a friend, but it is so easy to hit the snooze button and roll over when it’s just me. I was NOT feeling it this morning. My legs felt tired from Saturday’s time trial and I was quiet, grumpy, and not a whole lot of fun, but Nicole stayed really positive and pushed me through until the end. I was happy when it was over, but it took me until the moment I was finished to be happy I did it. Ran the first 4 easy, then the next 4 @ 9:46, 9:36, 9:22, 8:30.

Tuesday: Spin. I finally went back to spin! It was a great class, but I just mentally wasn’t 100% in it. I gave it a solid effort and had a good time, but I was just more at like a 90%.

Wednesday: Track–6 x 800. Partner 800s!! YAY!! Stacey and I finally got to complete them together. The way it works is partner #1 (me) runs a lap solo, then partner #2 joins for lap 2. While partner #2 runs their 2nd lap, partner #1 gets a short break. I did a mile-ish warm up over to the track, then completed my 800s @ 8:01, 8:00, 7:42, 7:38, 7:34, 7:22. I was dyyyyying on the last one, but it felt awesome! I did a short cool down jog back and ended up completing 4.4 miles in 37:31 for an average pace of 8:31 including the warm up and cool down! I was stoked!! As soon as I got home, I checked out my paces from the time we did this same work out just one month before: 8:07, 8:08, 8:02, 8:00, 7:58, 7:57. I was so ecstatic to be able to see my improvement!! MAYBE I WON’T BE A SLOW RUNNER FOREVER!!!!

Thursday: Rest. Lots of carbs and compression socks all day long.

Friday: 20.5 mile run. Check it.

Saturday: 15ish mile bike. I literally felt like I had been run over by a truck, but Susan had asked me to bring muffins for the team, so I figured while I was there, I should cheer my friends on. I got my tired legs onto my bike and rode around the canal for almost an hour and a half. It was great to be able to to be there for my friends while they finished the toughest part of the journey as well!

Sunday: Rest. You couldn’t pay me enough to work out today. Rest days are awesome.

Sooooo…..now we taper. Everyone says taper makes you crazy, but I’m sososo excited. My legs are beat. My brain is duuuunnnn. My social life is pathetic. Well, that one probably won’t change. ;) I’m sure after a week or so I will start feeling a little nutty about not running, but for now I can’t wait to tone it way down and give myself a break. My goal is to spend the extra time I would have been running, and focus that energy/time on taking care of myself. Lots of stretching and foam rolling. No skipping PT sessions. Good nutritious food and….no more alcohol (wahhhhh) until after the race. I mean, I’m not a big drinker anyway, and I haven’t been drinking during training except to celebrate long runs, and they’re all over, so there’s really nothing to celebrate until Nov 4. I mean, there’s real life things, but I will celebrate those just fine without. I want to go into the race feeling my very best. Oh and I need to make SLEEP a priority. This 5-6 hours a night business is not cutting it for me.

What do you do differently during taper? How do you prepare for a big race to make sure you go in feeling your best? GIVE ME YOUR AWESOME MARATHON ADVICE!!!!!

Twenty Point Five

There’s something you should know about me. I’m the type of person that goes through life with something to prove. Not to you, but to me. This is a trait that’s always made me ambitious, and sometimes made me successful. It’s also sometimes lead to total melt downs, but I think our biggest strengths are often our biggest weakness. Anyway, this entire journey to running a marathon has kind of been about that–having something to prove to myself. I know that my journey never ends, and really this is only the beginning of my path to becoming a runner, but it feels like this picture perfect ending to my weight loss story. That is why even when Coach Loken (I never know if you’re supposed to use the first name or the last name when you talk about your coach–thoughts?) said to run for 3 hours, I knew I had to hit 20 miles, and then I knew I had to run just a little  further. To prove to myself that I can keep going once I reach 20 on November 4th.

This had all the beginnings of a perfect run. I spent the day before hydrating the crap out of myself, eating carbs, psyching myself up, and I planned out the perfect 20 mile route that would lead my two friends and me to breakfast at La Grande Orange where we would toast mimosas, meet up with Steve and have an amazing breakfast to celebrate. I raced home from rehearsal to be in bed by 9:30, and although I laid in bed having trouble sleeping, I woke up ready to go.

At 4:10 my alarm went off, and I noticed that I had multiple text messages, so I went to check them to find out both of my friends were having extenuating circumstances and had both canceled. I freaked the F out. I started crying immediately (dramatic much?) and telling Steve there was no way I could do this, and my training would be ruined. Just be glad you didn’t marry me, okay? I continued to cry and freak out the entire time I spent getting ready, but eventually put on my big girl pants ruffly skirt and made my way to the kitchen to make breakfast.

I kept telling myself how everything happens for a reason. I knew deep down that I needed to do a long training run solo (I’ve run almost every single training run with friends), but I just didn’t want to, and I especially didn’t want to do it this time. I knew I could go wait, start realllllly early on Saturday, and then finish with the team, but I had carb loaded, I had mentally prepared, I had announced it to the world. I needed to follow through. I asked Steve to ride his bike along side for a portion of it (okay, I kinda cheated on the solo part, but 20 miles is a LONG way!), and finally got my butt out the door just after 5am.

I ran a nice 2.5 mile loop around my hood, then headed out for a longer loop. It was GORGEOUS out–absolutely perfect running weather, and I started feeling strong. I had been able to adjust my mind set before leaving to being excited to conquer this on my own, and I knew it was best for me. Mind set is 95% of the battle. I had woken up with a horrible one, but I turned it around. I was proud of myself.

The initial miles just kind of ticked by. I didn’t turn on my music. I just enjoyed being outside. Who am I, right??? I started off at a nice slow, relaxed pace. I felt myself wanting to speed up, but I know what type of pacing works for me, so I kept checking in with myself and reminding myself that if I wanted to feel strong later, I needed to stick with what works.

Mile 1–11:16
Mile 2–11:22
Mile 3–11:08
Mile 4–11:07
Mile 5–10:59
Mile 6–10:54

I took the same route that I took almost a year ago when I did my first 10 solo. It was all kinds of nostalgic. I realized I was running all around where Kara and I used to run when we were training for PF Chang’s. Then I missed the crap out of her, and was pissed at her for moving to Seattle and abandoning me in my time of marathon training need. I passed by Bosa Donuts.

Eating all of these will give me the same result as running my 20 miler right???

I started mentally playing through all of my PF Chang’s training, and how far I’ve come as a runner since then.

I started to feel excited, and I started to pick up the pace a bit. I also found that by not taking the canal, I surprisingly had less stops. It felt like I was able to catch every green light, and just go. It’s so easy to take a break when you have to push a button before you go, haha.

Mile 7–10:29
Mile 8–10:19
Mile 9–10:10
Mile 10–10:11
Mile 11–9:52
Mile 12–9:55

Just after mile 12, I ended up back home, refilled my water, grabbed more fuel and my awesome husband, and we were off again. Somehow I thought running to Dutch Bros and back would give me 8 more miles. Apparently after 12 miles, my math abilities get a little fuzzy… We went the long way through the neighborhood and down towards the canal.

Mile 13–9:56
Mile 14–9:46
Mile 15–9:38

This is where shit got real. It was getting hard, and I was getting scared about finishing. Over the next few miles, my feet and ankles progressively started to get more and more tender and irritated. Every step felt like I was pounding on the pavement, and it was like the hundreds of miles of marathon training were all weighing on my 2 little feet right in that moment. Every time I had to stop to wait for the crosswalk, getting started again seemed impossible. I was mentally doing okay (with Steve giving me tons of support!!), but physically, I was HURTING.

Mile 16–9:45
Mile 17–9:46
Mile 18–9:47.

Once we realized that getting to Dutch Bros would more like 12 miles round trip than 8 (see what I mean about that math…), the new plan became for Steve to turn around at mile 18 to get the car, and for me to do an extra loop to meet back together at Dutch Bros. I tried something different and ate a kind bar here because I was feeling just depleted even though I had fueled at 5, 10 and 14.5. Turns out that was not a good idea. It felt so heavy in my stomach and made me feel sick, but lesson learned. I won’t do that in the race. The next 2 miles felt like an eternity. I tried to decide if I really wanted to go over 20, but since I had committed to the idea of doing just a little bit more earlier in the run, I knew for my brain, I needed to follow through.

Mile 19–9:44

As I was about half way through mile 20, this song came on and I proceeded to cry, Loudly. I should have been embarrassed, but I was too happy and proud.

Mile 20–9:26

I took a breath after mile 20. I stopped for a minute and let everything sink in, and then I ran my little heart out to Dutch Bros and all around the parking lot until my garmin looked like this

Last .5–9:12

20.5 miles, 3:30:03, 10:14 average pace.

And then I thought “Hey, I just trained for a marathon. Cool.” It’s pretty amazing what our bodies are capable of, and all of the sudden 20 miles doesn’t feel impossible. It just feels Fing hard, but that’s okay. I like a challenge. :)

 

NYC Marathon Training Week 16

LOOK COACH SUSAN!! I ran your marathon pace for 6 seconds. I think I'm ready for the olympic trials now too. 6 seconds is basically the same as a whole marathon, right?

Good morning! It is an absolutely perfect fall morning in Phoenix. It is a beautiful 68 degrees with the most perfect breeze. We’ve got the front door and all of our windows open. It’s fall break so I have a much lighter schedule this week. My run is done. I’m just hanging out, enjoying the breeze and a pumpkiny breakfast. It.Is.Awesome. I can’t even tell you how happy I am to have a little bit of a break right now, especially since it’s peak training week. I’ve got a big scary 20 miler staring me in the face this Friday, and I’m super pumped that I have an easier week work-wise to prepare for it.

Anyway, that’s this week, but I’m here to talk about last  week. Here’s a look at how my training went down:

Monday: 8 mile run. Ran with Nicole. 4 easy miles, then 4 moderate @ 9:38, 9:40, 9:25, 8:37. My legs weren’t quite ready to get back to work yet, but they made it through and we averaged a 9:58 pace. Those stupid easy warm up miles totally kill the average. I should track them separately. Just kidding. Kind of…. ;)

Tuesday: 10.4 mile bike. I didn’t feel like working out at all, so I just took an easy bike ride to coffee with Steve. I broke all sorts of records with my amazing cycling speed and averaged 13.6 miles an hour. It’s okay Lance, I’ll take your spot since they won’t let you race anymore. Clearly, I’m at your same level.

Wednesday: Track. Warm up, then 2 x 1200s with 90 second rest @ 8:33, 7:54, then 800 @ 7:45, then 4 x 400s at 7:00ish. Ummm yeah, apparently the work out was so hard I forgot how to work my garmin. I kept forgetting to hit the lap button, then accidentally stopping it–it was just a hot mess. When I went in and tried to figure out my paces, it looked like they were all between 7:00-7:05. My type A brain was a little annoyed to not know every single pace EXACTLY (shocking, right?), but I got a pretty good idea. This workout was HARD. I thought my 400s would be closer to my ridiculously fast 400 at track a couple of weeks ago, but I did my first intervals really fast (for me), and didn’t account for the fact that 4 400s would be hard than, oh, one. It was awesome, though, and I ended up covering 4.77 miles in 42:28 for an average pace of 8:54. Not too shabby.

Thursday: 12.8 mile bike. Had a recovery run scheduled, but I found out when I woke up that I’d be going alone which sounded not at all fun, so I swapped it for an other ride with Steve. Stepped it up to a 13.9 average pace. Watch out cars. I will pass all of you.

Friday: 21.4 mile bike. I guess I rode my bike a lot last week! Nicole and I took a new route and rode to breakfast at Essence Bakery. It.Was.Amazing. My breakfast was, um, a little heavier than I expected, and by heavier I mean covered with cheese from top to bottom, but it was soooo delicious. We also both got some mini macarons for the road. The pumpkin spice and hazelnut were my favorites, but they were all amazing! Oh wait, I’m supposed to be talking about exercise, not cheese and macarons. The ride was great. We chatted the whole time (obviously), and it was nice to ride somewhere new! Oh, and I averaged a speed demon pace of 12.9 miles an hour.

Saturday: 10 mile time trial. EEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

10 weeks ago, we were asked to run a 10 mile time trial. I ran it up in Portland with Tali and Camille. I called it the best run of my life. It was perfection–perfect weather, perfect company, perfect mind set. I finished that run in 1:34:45. Well, it’s 10 weeks later, and I’m 3 minutes faster! Pretty good, right? I was NERVOUS about this run to say the least. The last time I went after a specific time goal was at AFC in San Diego. I posted my big goal of a sub two half all over the internet for the world to see, then I crashed and burned. Hard. I didn’t really tell anyone my goals for this run, except for Steve and Nicole. I didn’t want to set myself up to tell everyone I failed again. Of course, I had a few goals–the main one was just to be faster than last time, which I actually was not sure I could do. Everything last time seemed so perfect–what if I couldn’t do it again?? I really wanted to be around 1:32. 1:32:30 is a 9:15 pace which seemed like a big jump from my previous 9:28, and I knew that would be something I could be proud of. My dream goal was to magically be able to pull a sub 1:30. That one obviously didn’t happen, but I am totally okay with that!

Towards the beginning of the run, I found myself running right behind to other ladies, so I asked what their goal was and they told me 1:32. Perfect! I ran with them until about mile 6, and we chatted most of the way. It was an awesome distraction. A little over haf way through we all started to split off a bit, it was getting harder, and I was starting to doubt myself. I put on my music, and told my brain to STFU. I really started to understand the mental battle part of running. I was sure that I was too tired, and that I couldn’t do it, but I really fought back this time instead of giving up, and I ended up really surprising myself!

Mile 1: 9:32
Mile 2: 9:15
Mile 3: 9:20
Mile 4: 9:08
Mile 5: 8:56
Mile 6: 9:11
Mile 7: 9:09
Mile 8: 8:53
Mile 9: 9:31 <—SOOO TIRED!!!! WHEN WILL THIS BE OVER?!?!?!
Mile 10: 8:43

You know something I love? When you’ve sprinted at the end, and you go and look at your final lap pace on your garmin.

LOOK COACH SUSAN!! I ran your marathon pace for 6 seconds. I think I’m ready for the olympic trials now too. 97 feet is basically the same as a whole marathon, right? Also, I really need a manicure.

Anyway, the time trial was awesome. Really awesome. So awesome that McMillan seems to think I can now run a 4:17 marathon. Silly McMillan. I’ll be happy with half an hour longer than that! Also, I just wanted to say that 9:09 for 13.1 miles = 1:59:59ish half marathon, if I ran the tangents perfectly…. Lost Dutchman, I’m looking at YOU!

Sunday: Rest. Much needed. I’m getting better at this whole rest day thing. I might even go so far as to say I LIKE them! :)

TOTALS:

Running: 22.85
Biking:  44.55
Eating: Everything in site. 

Tell me about your training!! Any big goals coming up? Record breaking bike speeds? Long run PRs??

 

One Month

CFC

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but today is October 4th. I mean, sure, you probably have a calendar, and could have figured that out without reading this post, but October 4th marks exactly one month to go until I run my very first marathon. That means I have 1.5 weeks left until I taper. When did that happen??? Wasn’t I just whining about how I’m so burnt out and training is hard, and woe is me? Watch, in 2 weeks I will be all “I miss running! Taper is hard! Let’s do an other 20 miler!” Runners are strange, strange people.

Wait. Hold on a sec. I think that’s the first time I ever actually referred to myself as a runner. I had the urge to go back and delete it, because I still don’t 100% feel like part of the club yet, but that’s silly. I run multiple times a week, and I’m training for a marathon. I’d say I’ve earned my title, and I’m gonna try to go with it, because it’s a title I’ve longed to hold for a long time. Ari: Runner. Not Ari: Girl Who Tries to Run, But is Really Slow. Just Ari: Runner. A lot has changed in the past year, and even more has changed in the past 4 months since I began this journey. I’ve literally spent almost half of this year training for this race that is now just 1 month away.

I am the following:

  1. Excited
  2. Giddy
  3. Nervous
  4. Proud
  5. In disbelief
  6. Anxious
  7. Honored
  8. Fortunate
  9. Hopeful
  10. Ready

Or at least, I will be ready after next weekend’s 20 miler brings my peak training to a close. I’m starting to believe I can do this. Every day, I have my doubts, but every day I surprise myself, and remind myself of why I can.

With one month to go, my fundraising could use some help now more than ever. Please consider making a donation to Chances for Children AZ to help kids find fitness, health and happiness in their lives. It is so important, and they deserve it! Every penny helps (I know it sounds cheesy, but I believe it!).

NYC Marathon Training Week 15

GUESS WHAT!!!! In September, for the first time ever, I ran 101 miles! My first time breaking the triple digits. I am aware that some people run that many miles a week, but whatev. I’m excited. In September I also got sick and took a week off running all together, so basically I ran 101 miles in 3ish weeks. I like it. Here’s a look at how last week went down.

Monday: 8 mile run. This run was just okay. I was still not feeling my strongest, and my breathing felt off from being sick. But this girl got me through it, and we averaged a 10:09 pace. Slower than usual, but not terrible.

Tuesday: 13.7 mile bike. Rode with Nicole at a faster-for-us-but-still-easy pace. Averaged 14.4 mph which is slow for all you speedy cyclists, but good for a couple of girls who really just ride their bike as an excuse to hang out and be social. I miss spin class. I haven’t been in weeks. I have a million excuses, but I think it really comes down to two things: I don’t like waiting until 9:15 to start my work out, and I’m really physically tired from marathon training, so a nice easy bike ride outside just seems so much nicer.

Wednesday: 4 mile run, 30 minutes strength training. WHAT?!?!?!?! Yes. You read that correctly. I was a little bitch still not feeling quite 100% and my ankle was bugging me after Monday’s run, so I ditched out on hill repeats with the team, and decided to make up my own speed work and run with Ashley. I suggested a 1 mi warm up, 2 faster miles, and a 1 mile cool down. For once I was not the queen of ridiculously slow warm ups, and we ran our miles in 9:50, 9:07, 8:39, 9:42. That’s pretty good for me! Then at physical therapy, instead of just asking to get scraped and needled, I actually pushed myself through a bunch of my exercises, and my abs were sore for days. Like, today they still hurt. Talk about needing to get back into strength training….

Thursday: 4.1 mile run. Fun run around Kiwanis park with Jason. We hadn’t run together in so long! It was supposed to be recovery, but he is so fast now! We averaged a 9:33 pace, but it felt harder than it should have.

Friday: Rest. Rest days are so weird when they’re the day before a long run. My legs weren’t really that tired. I didn’t feel like I needed  to rest. I felt like I wanted to go ride my bike and do fun active things outside, but I knew I’d regret the slightest hint of tiredness on my legs the next day (and Nicole was out of town, so I had no one to ride my bike with–problem solved). Instead of exercising, I baked cookies. That seems like the obvious choice, right? It’s actually what I have always ended up doing with the free time I usually spend exercising. They were awesome and Halloween-like, and I promise to share them with you this week. See, you too like rest days. They bring you cookies.

Saturday: 18 mile run. Thank goodness this went well. I was so nervous. Read about it with practically step by step detail, because I have always been wordy and long winded ;)

Sunday: Rest. This rest felt AWESOME and NECESSARY.

I’ve definitely noticed that now that we are in peak training, my body needs more rest. It needs lighter cross training, more rest, and more focus on running. Half marathon training didn’t really feel that way, so I was a little taken off guard at my body’s reaction, and I felt a little bit like a slacker for skipping out on things like spin, and choosing to drive to the coffee shop when the weather is perfect out for a bike ride, but I have 26.2 miles to run, and I need to listen to my body and RESPECT what it is doing for me. My legs carried my butt around for 3 hours and 8 minutes on Saturday. My body is amazing, and it is being great to me. Aside from a sprained ankle and my usual achilles stuff, I have been able to stay injury free throughout this process, and I am so grateful. So I’m backing off a little in other areas to say thank you and give my body a break.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR TRAINING!!! Do you back off from other workouts in the peak of marathon training?

Eighteen

And just like that, my second longest training run is complete. It’s so bizarre. My second longest training is 8.2 miles short of the marathon??? WHO CAME UP WITH THIS CRAP??? It definitely makes me nervous, but I’m sure people much smarter than me came up with “this crap” so I’m going to try to keep my doubts to a minimum ;)

Yesterday morning my alarm went off at the wonderful hour of 3:50am. I actually woke up surprisingly chipper. I had woken up an hour earlier thinking it was time to be up, and when I realized I had an extra hour to sleep I got so ridiculously happy that I think by the time I did have to wake up I was like “I’ve got this!!!” I got ready, got my pre run breakfast ready (uggghhh why is it always so hard to eat before a long run???) and was out the door to meet Stacey at Kiwanis Park for some extra miles before the rest of the team got there. We ran 3 loops of the lake totaling just over 2 and a half miles, and then we were right on time to meet the team and hear some words of encouragement from Coach Susan before heading off for the rest.

Our first few miles were ssssllllloooowwwww. Like the slow that leaves me questioning if I’m actually running or just walking with hutzpah. But ya know what? That seems to be what works for me. It leaves me with energy to push it at the end, and it makes me a super awesome negative splitter, so I’ll take it.

Mile 1–11:40
Mile 2–11:40 (weird)
Mile 3–11:16
Mile 4–11:29

Around that time Tim caught up to us and ran with us for the next couple of miles. It was nice because no matter how much you love the person you’re used to running with, it’s always nice to have someone new around to chat with. It seems to make the time go by faster. It was great to talk to Tim–he told us about some of his previous marathons and his fancy sub 4 hour PR (jealous). He also told us about when he did two marathons about 2 months apart and said it actually went pretty well which was good to hear since I am planning on doing the same thing. Around this time my body started to get warmed up and we started making our way into less turtle-like splits.

Mile 5–10:58
Mile 6–10:45
Mile 7–10:50

These miles were pretty uneventful. We kept trucking along down the same canal path we’ve run a million times, stopped a couple of times to fill our water bottles, and fueled after mile 5. I brought along black cherry shot blocks which I’ve had before and really liked, but this time they seemed so hard to chew! I was not a fan, and was really wishing I’d brought my watermelon gu chomps instead. I’m glad I figured it out then though and not on race day! The next few miles were more of the same…

Mile 8–10:41
Mile 9–10:35
Mile 10–10:18

We turned around just before mile 10 (which I discovered later was too early–lame), and that’s when I felt myself starting to get in the game. We fueled again at mile 10. More obnoxious chewing of less than desirably textured shot blocks. We also ran into Tara and Jamie several times over these few miles. They were killing it with getting in a PDR of over 15 miles! Anyway, I started to feel myself getting into the zone.

Mile 11–9:58
Mile 12–9:57

For some reason mile 12 is where it always starts to feel challenging. I know I can keep going, but it starts to feel like more work at this point. It was also starting to feel HOT. I decided to turn on my music for some extra motivation. I’ve actually been running a lot without music lately. And I am the girl that brought headphones to my first track session, so that is a BIG change. I’ve noticed it really is so much more helpful when I don’t have it on mindlessly at all times, but only turn it on when I start to feel like I need it. Then I actually listen to it, and it pumps me up! I actually had a blast the next few miles singing loudly on the canal with Stacey who seemed surprisingly not embarrassed by me as I sang Call Me Maybe at the top of my lungs to other runners and cyclists passing by. They seemed entertained by me too. I like to think acting a fool is more entertaining than annoying to the rest of the world ;)

Mile 13–9:50

And here’s where I messed up my stupid splits by accidentally hitting the lap button in the middle of mile 14. Lame.

Mile 13-13.26–9:40
Mile 14.26–9:44
Mile 14.26-15 (I fixed it and set it back up on even miles)–9:44

This is where I started to feel really tired during my last long run. I remember miles 15-17 seeming impossible, but today I felt STRONG. Yes, it was starting to feel harder and harder, but I knew I still had the energy to make it happen, and I felt so incredibly happy. I kept repeating the things that Susan tells us about running form in my head, and I repeated a lot of mantras, and had many the emotional moment about how far I’ve come (for a change). I continued singing along really loudly to my bad music that only I like.

Mile 16–9:53
Mile 17–9:44

The last half a mile was the hardest. I was ready to be done, and I was hot and tired, but I just kept pushing.

Mile 18–9:19

18 miles, 3:08:19, 10:27 average pace.

I still don’t know how I did it, but I did it. And at the end, instead of wanting to die, I felt only happy. The long runs have always been my favorite (no matter how much I really do love the track). There is nothing like tackling a new distance, and pushing so far beyond the point where you want to stop. Every week in this training, I continue to surprise myself. I always get nervous that I won’t be able to do it, and that I will never live up to my previous good runs, and that some day I will just finally realize that I can’t do it, but I continue to go above and beyond my own expectations, and it is an amazing feeling.

People ask me why I want to run a marathon. I ask you: why would you ever want to stop yourself from fulfilling your capabilities? That doesn’t mean everyone has to run a marathon, but it is a theory we can all apply to our lives as a whole. Why stop yourself? Why not push to your limits? I think we’d all be amazed at what we can do.

What’s something you’ve done recently that surprised you?? Share your happiness!!!!

 

NYC Marathon Training Week 14?

If you’re training for a marathon but don’t run a single step, does the week still count? If a tree falls in the forrest… Okay, but really. Our bodies are funny, funny creatures. Up until this week, I think I had skipped one track work out (my honeymoon) and two recovery runs (tech week, and one week with no good excuse other than I didn’t do it) in 13 weeks. I’d say I’ve been getting little marathon training gold stars. I’d give myself an A on the whole “following the training plan” thing. The whole “listening to my body” thing? Well, I certainly haven’t been failing, but I am definitely the type of person that when someone tells me to do something, I want to do it, and do it flawlessly. I’m a total people pleaser, and having a coach that I admire and respect so much makes me really want to do all my training runs and do them “right” and show Coach Susan what an exceptional little coach-ee she has in me. COACH SUSAN, I NEED GOLD STARS!!!!

Anyway, I’ve ignored aches and pains, chalking them up to being part of the training process, and while 90% of the time I would say I made the right choice every single time I went out to run, I think I have some things to learn about the rest of the whole training process, like you know, sleeping, and taking care of myself in other areas. It’s a hard to come to the realization that marathon training is about so much more than the runs. It’s about me. It’s one of the only things I have ever committed myself to that literally requires me to put myself first, which I actually think is maybe why I wanted to do it in the first place. Not that I am this amazing selfless person that only cares about others, but I often feel guilty about putting myself first.

I thought I was doing a pretty good job battling that guilt, and taking the reins in my life, but I realize  that I’m not quite there yet, and that’s okay. I’ve made time for my runs, for the part of training that someone else sees and can check me off for following instructions, but my mind and body were begging for a ditch day. In college, I called them “mental health days”, where I just called in sick to school for absolutely no reason, and went shopping. They didn’t happen all too often, but they were so necessary, and worth it. I didn’t take a mental health week, and I wouldn’t have, so my body stepped in, and forced me to take some much needed rest.

Let me back track to last Sunday. I ran with Jason in Prescott, rolled my same ankle for the billionth time, and it hurt. It hurt all day, and it was scary, so I woke up Monday and rode my bike in exchange for the easy run scheduled. Then Tuesday I woke up with what my doctor later described as “the same bacteria everyone else has right now”. Actually, that was the nurse practitioner. I feel like my doctor may have been slightly more descriptive. Anyway, I uncharacteristically listened to my body. I rested.

Clementine assisted in the resting process. She’s real good at it.

I even called out of my afternoon classes/rehearsal on Wednesday. I slept and laid around my house in the mornings instead of running while my super annoying body waited all freaking week to get it’s act together.

I did an easy bike ride on Friday with Nicole, and then today when I woke up for the first time all week feeling on the rode to not feeling like crap, I did a more challenging bike ride with Steve (where we averaged like 20 mph for a good 6 miles straight–speedy for this slow poke!!). I went out to dinner one night with some of the AZ Bloggers, and I got through the rest of my work week, but otherwise, I stayed in, ate lots of soup (some cooked by my awesome and sweet husband), and recharged.

I have to admit, it’s not easy mentally to take an entire week off this far into the training, but I am grateful that this was a cutback week anyhow, and I am not missing any of my key runs. It may not be what I would view as “ideal”, but more importantly, I feel like it’s what my body viewed as “necessary”. Bodies are smart. It’s probably best not to argue. I mean, what do I know anyway? ;)

I plan to take the start of this week slow while I’m still getting better, but I have 18 miles waiting for me on Saturday that I plan to tear up! After the week off, these legs are ready for some action!

How do you deal with illness while training? Run through it? Time off? Cry? Tell me awesome things about your training, so I know that somewhere out in the world people are having awesome runs that I can live vicariously through!!