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

Race Recap: Dick’s Greater Binghamton Half Marathon

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I was lucky enough to be gifted an entry in this race by the Southern Tier Running Club, my local Club. I am winding down my training cycle for the Wineglass Full Marathon (TWO WEEKS AWAY). With 12 miles scheduled on this date, I figured running the Half Marathon would serve two purposes. First, I would fulfill the mileage requirement, and second, it would give me a chance to practice my pre-race routine. I had no goal set for this race, and wasn’t even going to keep track of time. I just wanted to enjoy the run.

So here is my Recap.

Packet Pick-up/Race Swag/Pre-Race:

I was not able to get to the Packet Pick-up the day prior, so I heeded the advice from the Race Website and arrived at 6am on the dot, when Race Day Pick-up was set to begin. To my surprise, I was the first car into the parking lot. I drove by it twice, because it wasn’t marked, or even open. Luckily a volunteer was pulling in on my third drive-by. He pulled the cones and directed me to Parking Spot #1. Already it seemed like the day was sending positive vibes my way.

I was also the first person in the tent for pick-up. So grabbing the gear was easy. The swag was about what you would expect, a race t-shirt, sling bag and a nice beer glass from one of their sponsors.

After grabbing the gear, I headed back to the car to get a nap, or at least some rest. The race was scheduled to start at 7:30. Having worked late the night before, I was going to be running on three hours of sleep. I didn’t sleep, but it was nice to have time to keep the nerves in check.

About 20 minutes before the race I figured it was the right time to empty the bladder, and line-up. This was one area I would recommend changes are made. There were ten port-a-potties, and it wasn’t enough. I was one of the lucky ones. I made it through the line and to the Start with about four minutes to spare. Many others did not. Realizing this, many bolted from the line and headed for whatever sheltered spot they could find to take care of business, (the guys that is).

With that excitement out-of-the-way, it was time to run!

The Race:

As I mentioned previously, I was not going for time. I didn’t want to know my time until I hit the Finish Line. So I started toward the back of the pack when the horn sounded. Slowly I started weaving my way through the congested pack. About one mile in, the runners started to string out, and I kept methodically working my way by other runners. The Marathon Runners and Half Marathon runners were running the same course, and started at the same time; so it was tough to know where I was relative to others; but again it wasn’t something I was concerned with.

The course was easy to run, half on a paved walking/biking trail and half on the shoulder of the road. There weren’t too many turns and only a couple of small hills. There weren’t many spectators, but there was a small band every three miles, which was unexpected and nice to see. The water stations were well spaced, but could have used a few more volunteers at each. Given that this was a”fun run” for me, I took the time to thank the volunteers and local law enforcement as I passed each of them. Typically when in race-mode I tune all of that out, but it made the race more fun to acknowledge them. It is something I will incorporate into my competitive runs too. At one point there were a group of young boys standing along the side of the road, so I did a running high-five with them. Truth be told, I enjoyed the heck out of the run.

Although I wasn’t running for time, it is always nice to know the distance. On this point, there is room for improvement. At the Half Marathon turn-around there wasn’t any signage at all. Given that both races were running together, it would have been nice to have it well-marked. The only indication was a couple of cones and a volunteer in the middle of the road. I yelled to the volunteer  to ask if this was the turn-around point and he let me know, so I crossed the road and headed back.

Once I was headed back, there wern’t any Half Marathon mileage signs on the way back, (with one exception noted later). There were Full Marathon signs, and I can do the math; but it would have been nice to have Half Marathon markers as well. Now for the exception, after passing the 26 Mile Marker and starting to shift into finishing mode I saw the first Half Marathon marker since the turn-around, it was the 12 Mile Marker. I was about to pass another runner, and she was as dumb-struck as I was. We both knew there was only one corner to go; but it did cause a momentary skip of the heart beat.

I rounded the final corner and saw the finish. There was a slight hill and I went into my finishing sprint. That is when I saw the clock. I ran at a comfortable pace. I ran with a smile on my face, and I ran fast (for me). A new PR by more than nine minutes!

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Post-Race:

There was a tent with plenty of Gatorade, water, apples and bagels. I don’t stick around after races, but I knew they had a concert and other things for runners.

I was riding the high of a great race all through the day. Now it has me re-thinking my Marathon strategy. If I ran an 8:08 pace, on a “fun-run”; what pace group should I attach myself to for the Full? My original plan was to go out with the 3:45 Group, at an 8:35 pace. Now the idea of running the race in 3:30 is all I can think about, that 8:05 pace should be achievable.

What are your thoughts? I need some help with this decision.

Did you run this weekend? How did you do?

Thanks for reading! Run with a Smile, it will make you go faster!

 

 

Knowing when to Stop – Marathon Training Week 17

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Week 17 training for the Wineglass Marathon could have been the best week, or the worst week so far. It all depends on your perspective.

The mid-week runs went well. Two, five-mile runs at well-below Marathon pace to start the week. Followed by an eight mile run in a downpour. The rainy-day run was the worst conditions I have experienced so far. The forecast called for a 30% chance of intermittent showers. A quick check of the radar and I thought things would be dry for the most part.

I was wrong. The sprinkles started a moments before I hit the “Start Workout” button. Those sprinkles turned into a torrential downpour before my first mile was complete. The once-dry streets were covered with puddles before mile two. I gave up dodging pools of water by mile three. At times I even ran with my arms outstretched, as if I was Tim Robbins in Shawshank Redemption.

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To be honest… I loved doing that!

It continued raining until mile 6. I finished the eight miles, and told myself, “If it rains on race day, I will be ready!”

Then came the weekend. If you have read my previous posts, you know my life can be busy. This weekend was the worst so far. Work had to take priority, and I did my best to fit running around that schedule. Saturday I had to work from 7am-8pm. Five miles were on the training schedule. I hit the streets before the sun came up, at 5am. I killed those five miles, faster than my last “official” 5K pace. I felt great and it was the best way to start a long day at work.

The schedule Sunday didn’t offer any relief. Another 12 hour work-day, starting before 8am, and I had my second 20-mile training run on the calendar.

My plan was to start the run by 4am. I succeeded in getting out ahead of schedule. The beginning of the run was not easy. It rained, and the wind was persistent. Those conditions subsided by mile five, and I was in cruise control. The run felt right, they way it should. I felt in control of the pace. I didn’t have any physical discomfort and my mind was in the right place.

At mile 11, the realization of what was behind and what was ahead started to set in. I knew I could push myself for the full 20 miles. Of that I have no doubt. I also knew that if I did push myself for the full 20 miles, there would be serious repercussions.

Why?

I did not hydrate properly the preceding day. I knew this because I had almost exhausted the four bottles in my fuel belt by mile 11. I had not fueled properly the preceeding day. That was easy to assess, I just didn’t eat enough due to being too busy. I also was not well-rested. I woke up at 3am to get myself out the door. Less than five hours of sleep on consecutive days is not a recipe for success.

Those are not excuses, they are realities. I had that internal discussion after mile 11. At 11.5, I walked. That was that. I was still three miles from home and I knew the best thing for me, for my body, was to live to fight another day.

So I walked the three miles back home. I felt content. If this had happened in prior training cycles I would have felt defeated. Not now, not this time. I have run 20 miles once already in this cycle, without a problem. So the distance doesn’t bother me.

Knowing when to stop was the wake-up call I needed. I can’t just run and get it done. I have to pay attention to the other three legs of the stool. Hydration. Nutrition. Sleep.

I have three weeks to figure that out. Wish me luck.

One benefit of walking back after the 11.5 mile run, I was able to appreciate the dawn (see picture at the top of this post).

How about you? Do you have a diet you follow when training? If so, what tips do you have to share?

Happy Running!

 

Is there a switch? If so, did I flip it?

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First, a disclaimer. I use the Map My Run App to track all of my runs using my iPhone. I have heard/read some questions regarding the accuracy of the GPS Tracking of this App. I also have add reason to think some of the feedback I receive is not 100% accurate.

That being said, it is what I use. It is what I have used for 3+ years. Now that running is becoming a more serious part of my life I know the time has come to graduate from this method of tracking. However, since I am one month from my Goal Race, the Wineglass Marathon, I will not make any changes until after the race.

So the data I get from the App, is the data I use. It is the only apples-to-apples numbers I can go by to measure progress/regress.

Okay, disclaimer complete.

Something happened. I feel like a runner, Yes, that is a Shania Twain reference.

If you have read prior blogs, (first, thank you), you know that I have struggled with weekday runs. Also, my pace has remained fairly consistent. Not mentioned in prior blogs, my weight has remained fairly consistent too. I am not at the “ideal weight” for my age/height, but I am not “obese”.

Two weeks ago that started to change. My weight started to drop. Initially my habits were not altered, but now, yes, I am paying more attention to what I ingest. Also, my pace dropped. Dramatically.

The “holy crap” moment came six days ago. I headed out on a 5 mile training run. I started at a quick pace, and tried to maintain it. The results were a PR by more than 5 minutes, 34:56 to be exact. I ran a faster pace for those five miles than I have for any 5K race. I ran my first sub-7 minute mile, for four of the five miles. I didn’t set out to break my records. I had the voice feedback turned off. I had no idea whatthe end result would be. It just felt like the right pace.

To jump back to my initial disclaimer, this is a 5 mile route I run frequently. The apples-to-apples comparison to those runs, tracked the same way, shows one minute/mile improvement.

What I have found is, this was not a fluke. Subsequent training runs have all been markedly faster than all prior runs. Yet the effort feels the same.

So, what changed? The first answer is, I don’t know. When I look closer, my mindset towards running has altered. I have been trying to #RunHappy. Meaning, I focus on the good parts of the day, instead of what I am experiencing during the run. I have had runs in the heat (90+ degrees), long runs (20 miles), and every run in-between. All have been faster. When the pain of a run starts to creep in, I tell myself to smile. It is working.

I still don’t know what flipped the switch, but I have no interest in switching it back. All eyes are on the prize, the Wineglass Marathon, 24 days away. At first I was running for redemption. Last year, my first marathon, I survived. This year, my goal was to finish. Now, my goal is to RACE. Yes, I feel like a Runner!

How about you? Was there a point in your training cycle where everything seemed to change?

If so, what do you attribute it to?

What Goal Race is on your calendar? How is your training progressing?

Happy Running!