Oops, I did it Again…

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After three and a half months of self-doubt, of questioning my abilities, my desire… I decided not to let the race win. I will win the race. I signed up for my third Wineglass Marathon. I am committed to figuring out where I failed in the past, correcting those errors and running one hell of a 26.2 miles.

Last year’s Marathon was the worst running experience I have endured. Read about it here: https://running4meblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/04/wineglass-marathon-weekend/

Toward the end of the post I said, “My Marathon days are over.”

So, what brought me back?

I need to prove to myself that I can do it, to my standards. Finishing is not enough. I survived the race for two straight years. Surviving and racing are two completely different things.

I need a year-long goal, to give me incentive to maintain my fitness.

Marathon training makes me faster. I learned that last year. The marathon will not be my only race, nor will it be my only running goal this year. Running for 26.2 miles is not as rewarding as making the podium in a 5K or other shorter distance. Last year I blew away my 5K PR, with a 20:39. This year I want to break the 20 minute mark.

So, I am doing it again. I will learn from my mistakes. I have to. I have more support than in past years. I will rely on those people, and you in Social Media land, to keep me motivated throughout the year.

Stay tuned. I truly believe the best is yet to come.

 

2016 – Year in Review

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To say 2016 was full of hills and valleys would be an understatement. Not the rolling kind either, there were drop-offs and steep climbs.

The year started with a streak – 54 consecutive days logging miles. The streak ended abruptly when I tore my calf muscle, and was on the shelf for 52 straight days.

The injury was the worst thing that happened all year. The most disappointing event was my performance in the Wineglass Marathon. What was supposed to be my redemption race turned into a painful, plodding final five miles where I questioned why I run at all. Now I am torn between accepting that the marathon distance isn’t for me; or figuring out what went wrong, fixing it and trying again. Stay tuned as I still am not sure which way to go.

2017 was the year I found speed; specifically running a 20:39 5k on Thanksgiving. IN addition, I found the Half Marathon distance is something I can run and feel competitive in. For me it isn’t enough to finish a race, I want to feel like I am competing. This might be one of the reasons I shy away from running another Marathon.

And there was this:

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Yes, it took all year, but I made it!

Here is 2016 by the numbers:

I ran on 177 days, an average run of 5.65 miles per day.

I ran the most times in January, all 31 days; with the longest run being 6.5 miles.

February I ran 23 times, until the calf gave way; again the longest run was 6.5 miles.

March I was on the shelf for the entire month. April I was able to run 6 times, with 4.5 miles being the longest distance.

I ran 19 times in May and June, as I started Marathon Training. The longest run was nine miles each month.

July saw 21 workouts. August I hit the road 20 times and September began the taper to the marathon, with 18 workouts logged.

October was the redemption race that wasn’t. I survived the 26.2 miles, and then took a break. Only logging 6 runs in the month.

November I geared up for the Goal 5K Race, but didn’t put too many miles on the tires. Those 9 workouts kept me in shape enough to PR in a big way, and for that I was thankful.

December I struggled to make running a priority. The Youth Club I coach for had the majority of the month off. Work was busy. The excuses piled up. I did need to finish the 1,000 miles, and with a late-month push, I ran five more times and got there.

I do not know what 2017 has in store. I am still coaching the Kids Club, so I know that will keep me on my feet. I haven’t signed up for any races yet, but the itch is there.

Stay Tuned. More to come! Happy Running!

 

Turkey Trot – 5K PR

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I have been looking forward to running a 5K on Thanksgiving all year. As the date got closer, I had more reasons for the anticipation to build. The first half of the year was spent getting injured and then recovering. That was followed by marathon training. A disappointing marathon left me needing a great 5K to salvage the Season.

I am in the best running shape of my life. All I needed was to choose a race. There are three locally, so I chose the race put on by my local Running Club. It is the only one of the three I had not run in previous years. Race morning brought typical Upstate NY late-fall weather; 34 degrees and dreary, with drizzle. Upon arrival I jogged from the finish line, out .75 miles and back again as a warm-up. This was my first time warming up with a run, but a fellow Kids Running Club Coach recommended it, so I gave it try. I followed the jog with some stretches and then walked to the starting line.

I wasn’t sure where to start, but I knew I didn’t want to dodge and/or fall over kids. So I positioned myself three deep from the front. As the race began I got into a comfortable pace, that felt fast without sprinting. I was passed by a few people, and passed others over the course of the first mile. The warm-up helped, as my breathing was controlled from the minute the race started.

The second mile was uneventful. It felt like I was farther back than I anticipated I would be, but I still felt like my pace was going to be fast enough to PR. My fastest 5K to date was a 24:03. I was hoping for something closer to 22:00 this time around, based on how training has gone.

As soon as I began the third mile I started to stretch my stride just a bit. I picked a runner ahead of me, and passed that person. Then it was on to the next, and the next. When the finish line was in sight, I began to sprint. The time on the clock was completely unexpected because it was in the twenties. I crossed the line in 20:39, a new PR by 3:24!

Then came the longest part of the race, waiting for results to be posted. I really had no idea where my time would fall in relation to everyone else. When the sheets were taped to the wall I scanned the list for my name until I found it, 23rd place. I was happy with that finish, and then I looked to see where I fell in my age group. I was floored to see, First Place! It is important to me that I feel competitive, or else what is the point in racing. This race has proven that I can not only be competitive, I can win. With running I know that I can’t rest. I have to keep training to stay at the top of my game. Bring on the next race, I am ready.

Oh, and the whole “giving up on the marathon distance thing…” Starting to reconsider. Stay tuned.

 

Red Baron Half Marathon Recap 11/6/16

I went into the Red Baron Half Marathon thinking it was all downhill. That is a correct statement, there is 800 foot drop from the start of the race to the finish. What I didn’t know, until I was faced with it during the race, were the presence of hills, hills and a few more hills during the first five miles. They call them “rollers”.

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The incline on the “roller” at mile five was impressive. It gets more daunting as you approach, and is a test of wills as you battle your way up. Luckily there was a photographer at the top who captured the incline.

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One thing I learned through the course of the race was that I am better going uphill than I am going down. I had the same group of five runners who I would weave my way through pushing up the hill, and they would breeze by me on the flip side. After we made our way off the mountain and onto the flat, I did manage to reel a couple of them back in.

I didn’t do much to prepare for this race. To be honest, I haven’t done much of anything since the Wineglass Marathon one month ago. I do coach Team SOAR, a youth running club, so I get a few miles in with the kids twice a week. However, when it comes to solo training, I checked out for a while

The day before the Red Baron I realized I had the time, and the itch to race again. So the morning of the race I registered and then lined up at the start.  It was a great day for a Fall race. The temperature stayed at 50 degrees, the sun was shining. Other than a breeze that turned into a headwind at times, it was perfect weather.

I turned Pandora on, and the GPS feedback off. I didn’t look at a map ahead of time, so I had no idea what was ahead of me. Racing without expectations has proven to be a roadmap for success. I found a pace that felt comfortable, pushed on the uphills and ran the downhills carefully. I came into the race with a slight groin strain, and the whispers of pain were screams by mile 13; but it never got unbearable.

When the finish line was in sight I turned on the jets and nailed another Half Marathon PR, 1:39:21, more than seven minutes faster than my last Half. This race confirmed my belief that the Half is the right distance for me. Of course I am still eagerly anticipating a Turkey Day 5K. It has been a while since I raced a full 5K for time. I have a PR to crush!

How about you? What distance do you prefer for races?

Thank you for reading. Your feedback is always appreciated. Happy Running!

 

Wineglass Marathon Weekend

14446029_10211112418835721_1990880199049080665_nIt was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

That cliché sums up the weekend perfectly.

The weekend started with 5k on Saturday, the day before the Marathon. The Corelle 5K is part of Wineglass Weekend. My running buddy, Dan, was using it as a shake-out run before he ran the Half on Sunday. I did have a two mile “easy” run scheduled for Saturday, so it seemed like a good idea to run the 5K.

I did not have any goals set for the race, in fact, my goal was to have an “easy” run. To not run fast. I followed the script for the first two miles. Running an 8:30 pace for each. Then I got the itch. I asked Dan if it was okay if I stretched it out a bit. He gave me the green light and off I went. About a 1/4 mile from the finish I caught one of the Kids from my Running Club Team. I slowed a bit and ran with him through the finish. It was a great feeling to encourage Caleb to finish strong.

I finished in 24:10. A 5K PR for me, but since I haven’t run a 5K Race when I have been this fit, the time is much slower than it could have been. I look forward to the Thanksgiving 5K, when I do a race specificallty ro run fast and get a PR. Usually after a race, I check my time and then bolt.The Timing System was slower than usual, so I would have normally left and checked it on the web later. However, since I was there with Dan, I hung out and was still there when the time sheets started to get hung. I was surprised to see I placed in my Age Group. Again, my time was slow, compared to what I am capable of, and compared to what my Age Group Times would be in any other competitive 5K. Still, it was fun to Place, and to get the Glass Mug that came with it.

That was the beginning of what I was sure was going to be a successful weekend.

Race day prep went well. I did my carb loading leading up to Race Morning. Breakfast on Race Day went down well. Arrival at the Start was peaceful. The necessary restroom trips were all taken care of well before lining up for the Marathon. I didn’t have any nerves to speak of. My mantra for the day was, “Nothing to it, but to do it.”

I was still unsure what Pace Group to attach myself to. When the race started my plan was to hang with the 3:45 group and move up if I felt like I could handle something faster. Last year I ran the race in 4:16:23. My “easy” goal this year was under 4 hours, but I was confident 3:45 was in my grasp.

The horn sounded and we were off. I stuck to the plan, running with the 3:45 Group for the first mile. Then I started to ease ahead. I continued to run what felt like an easy pace, passing the 3:40 Pace Group by mile six, and catching up to the 3:35 Pace Group by mile 13.

The 3:35 pace felt a half step faster than what I should be doing, but I got caught up in what the finishing time would sound like, and tried to hang. By mile 16, the gravity of what was in front of me started to sink in. At first it was the mental battle, what pace was the right pace? What pace can would get me to the finish? How do I get through the next ten miles?

My first coping mechanism was to walk through the hydration stations. Once through I would resume a slow pace, until getting to the next station. This strategy worked, for a while. I didn’t mind seeing stronger runners passing me as I jogged, because I was still moving forward. Still following the “walk for water, jog to the next one” plan. Then we came to a section in a park, that was preceded by a steep, short downhill. This was at about mile 21.

Something happened, and then began, the worst of times…

Not long after the steep downhill I collapsed. My legs literally gave out. I sat in the grass. Took a few seconds, and then tried to walk. I took a few steps, and then went down again. Everything hurt from my hips to my feet. I repeated the walking, then collapsing, a handful of more times. Finally, I laid at the side of that path and thought about it… a DNF.

I thought about all of the people I would be letting down. I thought about how I could explain it, how embarrassing that would be. I thought about all of the bravado I spewed leading up to the race. I was humbled by the experience in a way that I have never felt before.

I needed help. So I took out my phone and tried to find it. The text messages I sent were not so much a cry for help, as they were seeking permission to give up. Luckily, I have the right person in my corner. Someone who believed in me. Someone who knew what the ramifications of a DNF would be for me.

So, I got up. I made myself walk, slower than I have ever walked before. When I could walk, I tried to jog. Bad idea, I went down again. But I got back up, and I walked. Those final 4.5 miles were the most painful miles I have ever logged. At the same time, they were some of the best I have ever logged. I shared the experience with the Running Club Kids who showed up to cheer me on, with the friends who spotted me on the course, and most importantly, with someone who believed in me and would not let me give up on myself.

When the final two-tenths of a mile of the race was in front of me I did run again. It wasn’t easy. It didn’t feel good. I was humbled. When I crossed the finish line the gratitude I felt for the person who helped me through those final 5 miles was, and continues to be, indescribable.

I finished. My official time was 4:09:29. Seven minutes faster than last year, but the time is not sitting well. I don’t know how to respond to the “congratulations” I receive, because I don’t feel they are deserved.

I do know this. My Marathon days are over. I love running. I will continue to train, and to run races. In order for me to feel like a runner I need to feel competitive. I do not think my lifestyle will ever allow me to feel like a competitive marathon runner. I do not have the time necessary to train to the point where I would want to do it again.

The Half, that is a different story, I do feel like I can and will run more Half Marathons and be competitive. I already have one planned for next month. Any shorter distance, sign me up. Like I said before, I am pumped for my next 5K.

Final thought, running seems so simple to the outside observer. Heck, I even thought I had this race mastered. I was wrong. I was humbled. Running is complex. Running is hard. Running will knock you down, but will be right there to give you a reason to get back up again. I got back up. I am a runner, so I will run. Stay tuned, great things are yet to come!

What are your recent running successes? What is your preferred Race distance, and how did you figure that out? What do you think it means to be a Runner?

Thank you as always for your feedback. It is always appreciated! Run Happy and run with a smile, you will go faster!

Random thoughts on Marathon Weekend

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The hours are winding down. Soon the horn will sound and the Journey will begin. Less than four hours later, and it will be time to set a new goal. Until then, my mind is racing, before my legs start to do the work.

Most thoughts are questions, that will only be answered on Race Day.

Take your Marks. Get Set. Go.

-Is it going to rain? I started checking the weather two weeks ago. It isn’t looking good, or is it?

-If it rains, will my feet hold up? I trained in the rain, so of course I am ready. Am I ready?

-What Pace Group do I join? I feel faster than my initial Goal of 4:00:00. Do I go out with the 3:45:00 Group and pull ahead if I feel strong? Do I go with the 3:35:00 and risk burning out?

-I know you aren’t supposed to change anything on Race Day, but one ear in my corded ear buds shorted out. So I bought cordless yesterday. I will use them in the shake-out 5K tomorrow. Is that enough time to break them in?

-What music do I listen to? I trained listening to Pandora. So of course I should continue doing that, but, I don’t think I will have cell signal the entire race… or now that I have bluetooth ear buds, my battery might run out. So, of course I should buy music and create a playlist. But, I have never done that, so why would I do that now?

-I am ready. I followed the training plan. I feel great. I am confident. Did I pick the right plan to follow?  I didn’t follow it exactly, so did I do enough? Am I over-confident and setting myself up for a fall?

-My nails are clipped, my outfit has been picked; I am ready. Did I clip too much? Is the shirt I chose the right one, I have only worn it on one other run?

There are more questions. More doubts. More “head trash” cluttering my mind.

However… I am latching on to one thing. I am going to #RunHappy.

It worked for the Half Marathon two weeks ago. I sang during the race. I high-fived spectators. I thanked every volunteer and police officer along the way. Why? Because there was no pressure during the race. So, why should there be pressure now? I did put in the work. I do love running. I do run better with a smile. So, that it what I plan to do!

I am ready for the Wineglass Marathon. I can’t wait to tell you all about it, after I cross the finish line. Remember… Run Happy!

Five Days, but who is Counting… ME!

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Yes, the days are numbered. We are down to just one hand needed for counting!

The past nineteen weeks have led me to this. The Wineglass Marathon. Redemption. Glory. A once in a lifetime opportunity to prove to myself that I can do it, (until the next time of course). Last year I survived this race and swore, “never again”. Until registration opened and I told myself, “you can do better”.

This race represents a year of ups and downs. The year stated with promise. A running streak! I was committed to running some distance every day for the entire year. Along with the Marathon, I set a goal for 1,000 miles in the year.

Then, it happened. A severe injury (torn calf muscle), something I have never experienced in my life. Rehab, setbacks, perseverance.

I was ready to start logging miles the day my 20 week Marathon Training plan began.

Hal Higdon is my friend, (well the plans and data I found are). Thank you Hal, for the free plans, published online. Yes, if this Marathon goes well (and I am counting on it) the time has come for a Coach; but for now, I put my faith in Hal Higdon’s Intermediate Plan.

Marathon training plodded along at a steady pace. I did my best to stick to what was on the spreadsheet. A few weeks ago something changed. My pace seemed to improve overnight. My weight started dropping. I started to feel like runner. I am still not sure what to attribute it to, but I am loving every minute of it.

So, here we are, Marathon Week. I am not concerned with surviving. Now, the biggest question I have is, what pace group do I attach myself to? My goal at the beginning of the year was 4 hours.  Then my pace picked up. Then I ran a half marathon in 1:46.27, nine days ago, when I was just “running for fun” and not paying attention to time.

As I write this, I still don’t know what to do. Instead of this being my “redemption marathon”, I am now dreaming about BOSTON. At my age, the time is still ambitious, 3:15. A 7:26 pace is not in my grasp yet. I have been checking my training runs against “race pace calculators” trying to find the right group. I find anything from 3:30 to 3:45. Some advise me to go with the 3:45 group and “speed up”if I feel it is too slow.

I am still not sure what to do. I just know, I am ready. As ready as I can be.

The Wineglass Marathon will not be my redemption race., The Wineglass Marathon will be a race I run, to get the best time I can get on that day. I am proud of the work put in so far, and I will be proud of the time I achieve.

What about you? Do you have a Goal Race? If so, what is it? What do you hope to accomplish on that day?

Thank you for reading, Your feedback is always appreciated. #Run Happy