Pre-Race Report to calm the nerves: the night before the Silver Comet Marathon

I’ve found that it’s kind of therapeutic for me to write a pre-race report, so here’s my pre-race report for the Silver Comet marathon. Why is it that writing things out always puts things into perspective?!

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Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been refining my goals for something practical given what I *think* is my current fitness level for my upcoming marathon. I think most people go through similar doubts during the taper when we start to visualize the race and realize how much work (and a little pain) are in front of us. In my head I haven’t done nearly enough. This training cycle is the first real training cycle where my goals were a bit more competitive but I didn’t have a coach. My previous training pretty much involved 100% intensity with my old coach, and that worked for me until I started to get injured.

This training cycle started out at a limp as I rotated cross training with running to try to protect my shins. I may not have gotten the speed that I wanted, but I also didn’t get a stress fracture. So I can consider that a little invisible victory. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also wasn’t able to complete some of the “extras” that would help me with speed.

As I thought over this past training cycle, I was reminded that there is ALWAYS something that steals from the perfect training cycle, and that’s part of what makes us even more resilient. When it gets tough, we have to learn our bodies and improvise. So I’m going to consider this a successful training cycle, even before race day, because I learned different strategies for training, I learned some good recovery techniques for my shin, and I grew closer to God in the process.

Reading back through my training journal to the first week of training reminds me that I have put in the work with a variety of long running, intensity running, trail running, stroller running, cross training, and strength training. I’ve met new people along the way, and I’ve been able to run with some pretty incredible people.

So my Pre-race report is going to go ahead and call this training cycle a success. Now for my real goals.

  1. My ultimate marathon goal is an Olympic Trials Qualifier of 2:45. This is not my goal for this marathon, and I’m kind of excited for the opportunity to chip away at this goal. I got my sub 3 marathon on the first shot, and I kind of like the idea of working for an OTQ. (Not trying to sound insincere, it took me three shots trying to get a BQ–3:35:01, 3:37, 3:29. I know what it’s like to work for a time goal.)
  2. I would like to PR. My current best marathon time is a 2:58. I ran San Francisco in 3:01, and I think that I can do better on a flat course. You never know what race day will bring though.

And I had two process goals:

  1. Learn more about how I respond to different training strategies.
  2. And understand my body and it’s limits as I increase volume and prevent injuries.

Tomorrow’s weather is looking a bit rough with thunderstorms exactly when the race is supposed to start. My mind can’t help but think of all of the possible scenarios, but at the end of the day, I can’t do anything to help the weather and show up hoping to run.

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Thanks for following along on my training journey and good luck to all of the other racers!

 

Choosing Joy (in running and social media)

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Cadence will say “cheese” just once for the camera and after that, she’s done. ๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿ˜‚ Quick family run after work tonight. ๐Ÿ™Œ. It’s one of my very favorite things to do. โค๏ธ Love tank full. โœ”๏ธ Maggie even got to join because it’s just a tad cooler lately. ๐Ÿ•

Lately I have seen a few people write posts about how “fake” everyone is on social media and how we only post the good stuff. I don’t know that I think it’s such a bad thing to write about all of the good stuff going on in our lives. Do you? As runners, we know more than anything that the mental side to running and life is more than half the battle. If we look at all of the good in our lives, it’s got to make the dark days look a little brighter, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I think transparency and honesty are great with the right medium and the right audience. But I really think it’s pretty great to post our good days and smiley babies on social media. Sometimes I start to write something about a crummy day, and then I realize as I type it out how incredibly blessed I am. Who am I to complain that I had a bad night of sleep with my baby? I have a friend who just lost her baby. I’m going to enjoy waking up with Cadence until I’m blurry eyed.

I have posted some of my tougher days on Instagram, mostly involving Cadence and being a working mom.ย  Even then, I feel a little trite because I have an amazing job (I work for my dad) and I have amazing co-workers (who all support my passions).ย  Don’t get me wrong, I think reaching out when you are struggling is a great way to use our community.ย  I have gotten SO MUCH support from the community of runners and mommas!!! But I don’t feel like it’s fake to not post about every headache and traffic jam. I’d just rather post about the delicious cake that I’m eating or morning baby snuggles.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

I also think it makes us better runners to focus on the positive things in our lives. Daily stress is just as bad as the cumulative stress of training. I’m sure that I’ll have days when I just want to complain, and I know that this community of runners will be so supportive to lift me up and cheer me on, but in the meantime, I’m choosing joy when I can.

Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

What do you think? Is it fake to not post the good and the bad?

I mean, how can I complain when I’ve got this cuteness right beside me?!

Unstructured training (break) between training

I’ve been enjoying a little unstructured time since my last race, and it’s been great to get extra sleep and decide how I’m feeling in the morning to determine what kind of workout or run I want to do. Cadence still does not sleep through the night at 19 months, and I feel like I’ll be digging myself out of this sleep deprivation hole until she graduates from high school.

My favorite runs have been with Cadence in the stroller, and I forgot how challenging that can be!ย  It’s so fun, but we haven’t done any high mileage together, and I think Cadence is at an age where she’s not about to fall asleep and risk the chance of missing anything. We ran 13 miles together on Saturday, which I managed to extend from our usual hour by bribing her with Cliff bar bites throughout the run.

I’ve been getting at least 45-60 min of cardio a day, as well as 3x upper body and 3x lower body strength work each week.ย  My legs don’t feel quite as fresh and fast as I’d like for them to be, but I have no goals this month that require for me to push hard, so I’m enjoying a little less speed and a little more baby time.

I plan to keep May unstructured and move back into training in June/July for non-goal races.ย  I am signed up for the Peachtree Road Race 10k on July 4, and I’m also running the San Francisco Marathon (as an elite!) on July 23.ย  Neither of these races are A goal races, but I want to perform well and have a good time.ย  There are a couple of other races that I’m considering, but nothing else on the calendar.

I will most definitely be focusing on road racing for a bit now that Gorge Waterfalls 100k is behind me.ย  I just don’t have the bandwidth to run on trails enough to be competitive on the technical stuff.ย  Plus, I really like road racing.

Based on my last race at Gorge, and my future goals, my two main areas of focus are 1. getting stronger on the hills (San Fransisco!) and 2. being mentally tough and confident.ย  I felt so strong for my sub 3 hour marathon in January, but it all kind of unraveled for me when I got out on the course of Gorge. But that’s how you grow. ๐Ÿ™‚

There’s a quote by Alan Webb that I love: “Experience is something that you gain… after you need it so much.” So true, huh?

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What are you working on right now?

Going into Gorge Waterfalls 100k

I don’t know if anyone ever feels ready going into a race. I mean, I’m ready to go ahead and get this show on the road, but there are always the questions about whether I prepared enough and whether I prepared in the right ways. This course will be different than anything I’ve run lately, including my training runs, but I know that it will be beautiful, and I’ll be there with my husband and baby, so what else is there to want?
A little info about the race
I signed up for Gorge 100k because my husband said that he wanted to travel if I was going to keep signing up for races, and my coach recommended this race as one of the most gorgeous races out there. (I have the best husband in the world in case you didn’t catch that.)ย  From the videos and pictures I’ve seen, I think I’m in for quite a show of God’s glory!ย  Gorge Waterfalls 100k is a golden ticket race, meaning the top two male and top two female winners get entry into Western States 100 for 2017.ย  So this will be a very competitive race with everyone going for gold, but it also means that I’ll get to race with some pretty impressive runners!ย  The course is out and back with about 12,000 feet of elevation change.ย  I have read that some parts of the course are very slick and rocky, while other parts are fairly rolling and easy.ย  With that much elevation gain, I don’t think my legs will get bored.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  The RD is James Varner, and everyone who talks about this race also says that James is a great guy.ย  I look forward to meeting him at the finish!
It looks like the weather will be in the 50s with a 90% chance of rain.ย  We are also told that the trails may be icy and snowy in parts, so might be slick!ย  I mostly feel bad for Cadence and Jon to have to stand outside crewing for me if the weather is so unpleasant.ย  Hopefully the scenery will make up for it!
How I trained
I ran a goal marathon in the middle of January, and then my coach had me cross training for about a month.ย  During that time, I built up my strength with weights and continued with a pretty big weight schedule until the middle of February when I started running again.ย  My training plan is also heavy on speedwork and weights, and that’s what I’ve been doing for a little over a month now.ย  I haven’t had any really big long runs, but that’s not really part of my plan.
It’s so hard to trust the process, but so far, my coach has gotten me to the start of every race in good shape for a solid run!ย  As a working mom, it has been hard to get in the “extras” in cross training.ย  If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I incorporate Cadence into my training as much as I can.ย  Most mornings, I workout solo before work, but after work, Cadence is with me so a stroller or a baby carrier are often involved.ย  Time is so precious, and being present with Cadence, as well as a good night of sleep, have won in this training cycle.ย  We’ll see how that translates to race day.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚
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What I packed
Everything.ย  Just kidding!ย  I have all of my race food in little ziplock bags divided by aid station.ย  I’ve packed a lot of Honey Stinger products and Bonk Breaker bars.ย  I tried on my race outfit (same thing I wore for my marathon), and packed up extras just in case.ย  I have a race plan written up, but I know that that may fly out the window as soon as the race starts.ย  I bought extra pepto bismal after what happened for the first 66 miles of the Yeti 100.ย  Ha!ย  Packing for a baby is also another challenge, so hopefully we won’t be doing any last minute shopping out there for stuff that I forgot!
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Last Thoughts on Mental Toughness
I read an article yesterday saying that the best way to help train an athlete for endurance is to toughen them up. Hands down being a mom is the best mental toughness training out there!ย  The guilt (working mom + training), the late nights (still not sleeping through the night), the emotions (mine and hers, ha!), the breastfeeding (yep, still breastfeeding)… and still getting out there to train and do the hard stuff.ย  When I start to doubt myself, I don’t have a huge log of training runs or past performances to draw from, but I do have the confidence to know that I grew a tiny human in my belly, brought her into the world, and have kept her alive and thriving.ย  And my reward will be to see that tiny human and my strong husband at aid stations cheering for me as I pursue one of my passions.
Thanks for all of your support on my running journey!ย 
What do you do to relieve race nerves?

(Un)balanced

The other day someone asked on Instagram if I have balance in my life in reference to all of my training.ย  I use my Instagram account as a running account, and it’s full of training pictures, but it still made me feel a little defensive.ย  I read the post right before I went to bed, so I went through various stages of answering this question in my head throughout the night (made possible when your baby wakes you up in the night and starts the thought process over again).

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I woke up clear headed with my answer.ย  No, I don’t have balance.ย  That’s not my goal.ย  If we’re honest, not many people have balance, whether they are training for crazy goals, or just trying to survive motherhood in a world that has traffic and work and grocery shopping and housework and relationships to attend to.

I don’t think there have been many stages in my life where I lived a balanced life.ย  I’ve always lived in extremes. I finished first in my class in high school, skipping my senior year and going to college early.ย  I didn’t drink before I turned 21. I was not good at math growing up, so I majored in engineering and ended up getting my masters degree in it.ย  I finished the masters degree in 1.5 years, while my peers took 3+ years to finish.ย  I married the first person who I ever went on more than three dates with.ย  I never missed a workout until I hired a coach and she made me so tired that I finally took rest days seriously.

Like most runners, I’m a bit A type, and I also really love to train and get stronger and faster.ย  So this past year of running postpartum has been a lot of work, but it has also been extremely rewarding.ย  I compared my Boston Marathon experience to Disney for adults.ย  In that case, training for my first 100 mile race and completing it was heaven.ย  And the feeling of satisfaction in training a little harder to get my sub-3 marathon was the icing on the cake.ย  While I can do it, I’m going to keep going.ย  I have a supportive husband and a baby who fits right in to the schedule.ย  It’s hard work, and I have to make sacrifices, but that’s where I am in life right now.ย  Unbalanced.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

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Is balance one of your goals?

Selecting a goal race: things to consider

Recently I ran the Warner Robins Aviation Marathon as my goal race for a sub 3 marathon. Aside from wanting a more flat course, there are a lot of other factors that went into my race selection.ย  I made a list of considerations.ย  Some of these items may seem obvious, but I really struggled with settling on the Warner Robins race, so this list might end up helping someone trying to decide on their next goal.

Some really basic things to consider:

  1. Terrain: Do you want for this to be a trail race or a road race?
  2. Distance: Are you looking for speed or distance? Any PRs that you want to chase?ย  How long do you have to train? What shape are you in, and how soon do you need to be recovered?
  3. Type of run: Is this a goal race, or is this just a fun training run?ย  If it’s just a fun run, many of these considerations won’t make too much of a difference. But for goal races, it will be nice to focus on what will best help you succeed.

Getting more into the specifics:

  1. Destination: How far are you willing to travel for the race?ย  Will a long car ride or plane ride affect how you perform?ย  Will the stress of a new city add to your race jitters or make you feel more motivated?ย  Is it in your budget to travel, and will you need doggy/childcare if you leave town?ย  My next race will be a destination race, and my husband and I are really excited about the opportunity to travel. But we decided that my sub-3 marathon attempt was best run closer to home.
  2. Weather: What will the weather be like for the race?ย  Will you be able to train in conditions similar to race day?ย  One other element of weather to consider is humidity. Georgia, where I live, typically has really humid weather, but we can typically let that slide in the winter.ย  This is a really good website when thinking about humidity (and dew point).
  3. Running crowd: Do you like big races or small races?ย  Big races are great for feeding off of the energy of other runners and using the talent of other runners to push you to run harder. However, the larger the crowds, the more likely that you may have to weave around runners to maintain your pace. I love running Atlanta races, but they are always really crowded. For this reason, I intentionally selected the Warner Robins race so that no one could interfere with my paces.
  4. Fan support: is the race very accessible to spectators and how important is this to you?ย  Trail races very rarely have many locations for fans to gather.ย  Out and back races are more likely to have fan support because you get to see the same fans twice.ย  I did not realize how much I like some fan support when I’m road racing until the Warner Robins Aviation Marathon where there was only one place along the race at mile 13 for fans to stand.ย  I was fine, but it definitely would have helped to have a few more cheers.ย  The Boston Marathon is by far the best fan support I have ever experienced!
  5. Elevation change: If you are going for speed, are you willing to sacrifice some of the effort toward climbing hills?ย  For the right race, it’s always worth the sacrifice!ย  I really like hills (and the more the merrier on the trails), but for my sub-3 hour marathon attempt, I really wanted to limit the hills that I needed to climb.

It’s always fun to fill out the calendar.ย  I like to switch between trail races and road races. My next goal race will be on the trails, and I’m really excited to get back out there in my training and focus more on hilly distance over flatter speed.

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Ready to run at the ATC Thanksgiving Half

What races do you have coming up?

Goals for the next (marathon) training cycle

img_20161015_172000My husband and I took a road trip this past weekend for a fun weekend of hiking and hanging out with friends.ย  On the way, I asked him what upcoming goals he has for the future.ย  (Sidenote: they say the best marriages are those where the couple talks about the future together.) My husband’s response was like any normal person related to his hobbies and his career; mine however, are all running related. Haha.ย  (No, but really, there are always goals about being a good mom and wife, finally making it to work on time, and organizing my house.)

First, my big goal for this next training cycle is to run a sub 3 hour road marathon.ย  It gives me a knot in my stomach to even write that, but my coach believes in me, and I’ve gotten faster by running through pregnancy and now running post-partum, especially after training with my coach for my 100 mile race.ย  So, now I’ve put it in writing, and I can start chipping away at my big goal!

I’ve got my big goal, but in order to give myself the best chance of a successful training cycle, here are my three sub goals:

  1. Nutrition: reduce the processed food that I eat and reduce the sugar in my diet.ย  I am a chocolate bar-oholic.ย  I do pretty good throughout the day, but at night I eat a lot of candy.ย  Sugars increase inflammation, and I am already stressing my body enough with all of my running and strength training.ย  I’m kicking off this goal with the 7 day challenge to eat real food proposed by mskatieblaze here.
  2. Sleep: I have said this for a year now, but really, this time I mean it. My (one year old) baby is still waking up several times in the night. That means that I really need to get to bed earlier to get a semblance of good rest.ย  It’s a shame to not give my body time to repair and get stronger after all of my strength work and running.
  3. Stretching/foam rolling: This should be a no-brainer, but I know that I’m not alone in this struggle. We’d all rather get in just one more mile than cut the run short to do some foam rolling and stretching.ย  I just signed up for a program that sends me a new range of motion activity every day.ย  I’m excited to see how much it helps my performance and recovery.

What are your upcoming goals?