13.1 goal: crushed.

My goal for my 4th half marathon: to run (13.1) happy.

That goal?
CRUSHED.

From the moment I went to bed on Saturday night, to the moment the alarm clock rang at 4:50am — I didn’t feel nervous. I felt ready. I felt happy.

Upon meeting up with Christine for the drive down to Providence, we chatted about our goals (goal-less, truly) for this race, both agreeing that running a happy race was our #1 priority. And Sam readily agreed when we met up with her in the parking lot near the starting line.

It just felt…right. That we were all in this to run happy, proud, strong. Much, much, much less focus on numbers than ever before. For any of us. (of course, there is now a big ‘ol number in my head after the fact, but let’s get there first, shall we?)

And that difference? The focus on running happy miles? It put me in the exact right mindset for this race.
…I felt trust.

Trust that my body would carry me through the miles.

Trust that my mind would quiet, allowing me to run freely, proudly.

Trust that I wouldn’t hit that wall, that I’d power through.

Trust in Scott who would push me when I’d start to fall into my comfy little pace on him.

Trust in my training.

Trust in me.

And that, my friends, is what carried me through 13.1 — along a beautiful course in Providence where I’m damn proud to say that I killed every hill that crossed my path and powered through the miles, never once hitting the wall (not truly anyway, though miles 9-11 felt like forever), finally trusting my body to do the work. Doubt was left in the dust.

So when I say that I CRUSHED my goal for this half marathon? It’s true. I have never felt prouder or stronger in my life.

(Pre-race — ready to rock it out)

(Post-race — those are some happy runners, huh??)

Now. Let’s talk numbers. Just for a sec. I finished this race in 2:03:10, that’s about a 2-minute PR off my last half marathon, and a mere 3 minutes from a secret reach-goal of mine. (Yes, I had a secret reach goal!).

Sub-2.

I hate to say it but I just can’t help it. I have a goal in mind now that, yes, is very much numbers-driven. I want a sub-2 half marathon. So badly. It was just three teeny tiny minutes away today. Three. I can eat those three minutes. I KNOW I can.

So now what? Is there another half marathon in my future before the big 26.2?
…I think there may be.

As Scott said to me after the race (and he is SO right)“If you met every goal the first time you tried for it, life would be boring.”

So here’s to living as un-boring a life as possible. One filled with infinite possibilities. No limits, whatsoever.  One where I’m always game for reaching and re-reaching for dreams and goals until I capture them. And one where for now? I’m drinking in these moments. The post-race glow — a glow driven by pride and joy, above all else. <3

13.1_blank

So yeah.

May 6th is Sunday.
…race day.

And quite honestly, my mind is blank.

My mind is usually never blank (um hi, OATT??).

Everytime my mind wanders to race day, it kind of goes quiet on me. And I kind of think this is a good thing.
..a (potentially) very good thing.

Perhaps I will finally be able to run a race as “just” another long run, truly getting lost in that run.
…letting my body work.
…my mind trusting my body to do its job.
…all 13.1 miles of its job.

I suppose I’ll find out on Sunday now won’t I? ;-)

Until then, I’ll be carrying this thought — hell, it may be the only thought on my mind — on race day. It’s a goody.

In.

In.

…run the mile you’re in.

…run the run you’re in.

…love this life you’re in.

…embrace every opportunity you’re in.

…be in the moment. Every moment.

…Be In.

So you all know my favorite running mantra is “run the mile you’re in” right? Well, my blog bestie Heather so thoughtfully reminded me the other day to always remember to also run the run you’re in, not just the mile you’re in, but the run you’re in. Not the one coming up next weekend, next month, or this fall (ahem, Chicago…).

It was a reminder I needed leading into this weekend’s half marathon. It’s no secret that my mind has often skipped ahead to Chicago this fall everytime I’m in “long run” mode. I start to freak out about it, worried as hell that I will never make it all 26.2 miles. So the “run the mile you’re in” mantra comes in really handy for me during those times…but now this “run the run you’re in” concept is another goodie I plan to tuck into the back of my mind for the next training cycle. (thank you, Heather, what would I do without you? Seriously.)

But once I got to thinking about the whole concept of being “in” whatever it is you’re doing, running or otherwise, it all started to come together for me. Being “in” is something we could all use a really good dose of. I know I talk a lot about being present, and taking disconnected or unplugged weekends from time-to-time, but I honestly think we all need to do more in the way of being “in” this life we’ve been blessed with.

…it could mean being more “in” the moment during your next workout. Focusing on the mind/body connection. The way your body moves and changes and transforms with every step, every drop of sweat, every punch, kick, jab or plie.

…it could mean being more “in” it to win it — going for that dream that always seemed so out of reach. Saying “effit” and just going for it.

…and sure, it could also relate to running. But I think we already covered that one. ;-)

Bottom line: “In” is a really great place to be.
(This post courtesy of the “Chronicles of things I’ve learned through Running.”)

 

Last long run before 13.1: the “get outta my way” edition

Saturday marked our last long run until the half marathon on May 6th in Providence.

I woke up and immediately thought “I am soooo *not* in the mood for this.” I whined to Scott, I procrastinated a bit.  And then I let the wheels start spinning — hmm, what could I do to get myself motivated?

I thought over a couple of routes that seemed more appealing given the weather was chillier than I thought and there was a definite wind I wasn’t in the mood to battle by the ocean (two of the routes I had in mind go right by the ocean). We finally settled on running Wakefield Lake, about ten minutes away from our house — it would takes us three loops around to get to 10.8 miles (it’s 3.6 miles once around). <–and no, Heather, it didn’t annoy me that we didn’t run an extra .2 miles to make it a nice even 11 miles, hehe ;-)

Three loops. “I can do that.” I thought to myself. Three loops somehow seemed faster than an out-and-back route. I figured if I tricked my brain into thinking it was a much shorter run, maybe it would go by faster and I’d settle into a nice groove.

And it kinda worked.

I say “kinda” because the first route downright sucked. I was NOT in the game, my body felt sore (particularly my obliques — standing ab work I taught during class on Thurs AM clearly did it’s job!) and I just wasn’t into it. We passed our car, stopping briefly for a few sips of water and a honey stinger and pushed on. Scott tried to give me an “out” – saying we could do two loops and call it a day, but being the stubborn ass that I am, I refused. Actually got annoyed that he’d even suggest it — and I’m now thinking he did that by design, knowing that would only fuel me to push through those second two loops just a wee bit faster. (He’s a tricky one, that Sutera!)

The third and final loop was upon us before I knew it — and after stopping once more for water and a stinger, we carried on. This time, we both got a little more chatty. And started noticing just how rude the walkers and other runners were on this lake path. Not one single person got out of our way as we approached. Every single time– we were the ones to swerve into the street, run into the dirt on the side of the path or literally stop while they passed us, refusing to move even just enough for us to pass by, single-file. Seriously?? There should be some unwritten rule about this — if you’re walking or running with two or three other people, shift into single file so others can pass you now and then. There were these three women we passed twice who were so caught up in their little chit-chat that they legit didn’t budge an inch. We were practically in the bushes trying to pass them – Scott even tried stomping his feet as we approached them but even that didn’t work. Good grief. Get outta my way people!! That’s all I wanted to say, I was seriously peeved by the end by their lack of etiquette.

<<annnd end runner’s rant>>

But ahh, the end was upon us, just a straightaway before we turned down the street to where our car was parked. I suddenly found that second wind I didn’t realize I had (the second wind I’m hoping I get come race day that’ll help me power across that finish line like a rockstar!) and pushed it until the end. It felt downright awesome. I was so proud of myself for pushing on, getting it done, not giving up and feeling great by the end.  It was definitely the confidence booster I needed, and was looking/hoping for. 

And now? We’re totally ready to rock 13.1 next Sunday. <–wheee!

Running on ‘happy’

Now that I’ve been blogging for awhile, one of the things I’ve been noticing more lately among *some* runners out there is that it seems as though there is no joy in running for them anymore. They’re so caught up in getting their miles in, sticking to their training plan, beating their pace time after time after time, and racking up as many race medals as possible. Which *may* be fun for some — please don’t get me wrong there, I’m not here to bash my fellow blog friends at ALL — but I sometimes wonder if, amidst all of that planning and scheduling if the joy in running gets lost in all that clutter, so to speak.

…at the end of the day, shouldn’t running make you feel joyful and happy and ‘high’ on life?

Or is that just me whose ultimate goal is to walk away from as many runs as I can feeling as though I ran happy and strong and proud (*most* of the time, anyway)?

I guess I should preface this all by saying that every runner is different, I totally get that. Every runner runs for different reasons. No two runners are alike. And really, who am I to say that “my” approach to running is any better or worse than the next runner’s approach. Right??

(Wow. This is a very, very long preamble to the entire point of my post today – sorry!!)

Anyway…

My point today? That it feels great to “run on happy.” Casting aside training plans, distance goals, pacing, etc. And just running, and running happy.

That’s exactly what Scott and I did on Sunday. We had no real plan in mind – just to run. Once we got out there we knew it would be on the shorter side because it was kind of gross out and well, to be honest — neither of us were in the mood to go all that far (we were still really feeling the 11 miles we ran two days prior).

So we set out to run…something. Maybe 3 or so miles. Who knows how far we actually went. All I do know is that it ended up involving lots of hills and speed. What started as a “few miles to shake the legs out” became a really, really fun hilly rundate on a dreary Sunday morning.

About halfway through, I found myself chugging up a hill and actually enjoying it. Like legit enjoying the hill work. Huffing and puffing alongside Scott and just letting my body work. No mind games. No worry over how I’d feel aftewards. No real thinking at all. Just working those hills.

And it was just the reminder that I needed — that not every run needs to be pre-planned, nor does every run need to be focused on distance and endurance. A switch in my running focus was exactly what I needed on Sunday. The past few weeks I’ve talked a lot about how my mind has been far too chatty when I run. And truly? It was causing me to miss out on the joy that running brings me. I wasn’t having fun out there anymore.

Now that I’ve realized that that was the reason my running was feeling fairly lackluster the past few weeks, my mind has calmed way down. I feel confident and strong and ready to run on May 6 (note that I didn’t say ‘race’).

I’m going into this half marathon with one goal in mind now — to Run (13.1) Happy.

That is all.

12.5, Proof.

This would be the smiling faces of two very-pleased-with-themselves rundaters:

(pardon the giant forehead shot, haha)

Saturday marked that 12.5 prove-you-can-do-this-half-marathon run I talked about earlier in the week. I needed this long run to be a good, solid, rockstar run. To prove to myself, to that brain of mine, that I can — and will – rock 13.1 on May 6.

And wouldn’t you know — that’s exactly what Saturday’s run proved to me. It was the #PROOF I needed that my body — and my mind — are more than ready to nail the Providence Cox Rhode Race half in just a few weeks. *Such* the confidence boost I needed.

A quick recap of how the run went down:

Set out around 7:45 after a *really* good night’s sleep on Friday. Sushi the night prior apparently makes for really good pre-long-run fuel. Highly recommended.

Didn’t eat much before I left. This was by design — I just can’t run with much in my stomach…unless I have hours to digest it. I didn’t have that luxury on Saturday. So a handful of fiber one cereal (random, I know) and a bit of water and off we went, handheld water bottle in hand (er, in Scott’s hand) and Honey Stingers stuffed in my pocket.

Utterly gorgeous Saturday morning — bright, bright sunshine, gleaming blue skies, birds chirping. Slight chill in the air. The first leg of our run was fairly uneventful, ‘cept for a really good push up this long, rolling, hill that totally sneaks up on us no matter how many times we run this route. That hill’s got nothin’ on us, for the record. ;-)

The second leg of our run was admittedly tougher. Mostly physically tougher vs. mentally. I tried to push the thought out of my head that we had a good 6 miles left to go, but my body was the constant reminder that the miles were starting to add up. My knees were a little achy (mainly the ache from piling on the miles, not an achy/pain/something-is-wrong ache) and my upper back was starting to get tight. (I think I’m focusing a little *too* much on keeping proper upper body form when I run now…I totally blame that on my barre n9ne practice which is *all* about form. I need to relax that ‘shoulders down and back’ b9 form thing a bit when I run I do believe…note to self.)

It was the final mile of our run when the whole #PROOF thing really settled in. I thought to myself that we literally just ran almost 12 miles and I still felt pretty darn good, all things considered. And if I was feeling that decent on a training run, I sure as hell ought to feel pretty decent running all 13.1 on race day. I got this, why yes, yes I do.

And guess what? By the end of the run, I was tired, sore and ready for the oatmeal I’d been dreaming about for the past 12.5 miles (hehe), but I didn’t feel half bad otherwise. No pukey feeling (as has been known to happen to me in the past on long runs and post-race…I think this fueling thing is finally working for me), no I-want-to-die feeling.

Just spent, worked — and proven.

It’s all I needed. Well that – and a good long stretch, too.
With picture #PROOF of course (see? I really DO stretch now, look at me!)


PS – remember that time I mentioned I was itching for change? Well – I went for it on Saturday. In a big way. This is by far the sassiest haircut I’ve EVER had. Not gonna lie — I kinda love it ;-)

Tweaks in training, and mind/body connections

This half marathon training cycle continues to feel very different to me. I’ve been thinking long and hard about why that is and I think it comes down to this – I’m a more seasoned runner this time around vs. previous half marathon training cycles.

A seasoned runner.
…me.

Yet, why do I have such a hard time wrapping my head around that concept?

It struck me this weekend that my brain hasn’t quite caught up with my body. And not just running-wise. But let’s tackle the running piece first, shall we?

This training cycle has been much shorter than previous half marathon training cycles. Previously, I would choose a half marathon in the late-summer/early-fall to train for and basically spend all summer loosely “training” for it. So I had loads of time to get my head in the game on those longer and longer runs, so by the time race day rolled around, it would feel like “just” another long training run for me, mentally. And that worked really well for me, overall.

This time around? I have just 8 weeks to condition the body to run longer and longer distances. Which, quite honestly, hasn’t been all that taxing (‘cept for that snotty run on Friday, but I blame the cold on the ‘taxing’ part) – or at least far less taxing than I remember it being in the past. Which leads me to the whole ‘seasoned runner’ thing. I am proud of the fact that I was able to keep my base at around 7ish miles throughout the winter. Something I’ve never been very good at before…my base mileage in the winter would *really* dwindle and I’d find myself basically starting over in the spring, slowly building back up my run-durance.

So you’re probably wondering what exactly the problem is here then, huh? It’s simple, really. My brain is telling me “you’re not ready” to run 13.1.” Because well, my brain “knows” I’ve only just now hit the double-digits this past weekend. Which means I’m just three long runs away from the race. And my brain is telling me that that is just simply not enough.

But really? My brain is wrong in this case. My body is strong and conditioned and can handle the miles. My brain hasn’t quite caught up to that fact.

…which leads me to the whole “tweaks” piece I mentioned in the title of this post.

To get my brain to catch up a little bit, my next two long runs will be 12.5 miles (basically combining two of our favorite running routes into one long running route). Call me crazy, but I think this might do the trick. (I know, it’s a big jump in miles from my last long run). Instead of 11 miles this week, 12.5 miles next week and then dropping down to 10 miles as my last long run, I’ll do 12.5 this week and again next week and then close out with a 10-miler before a “mini-taper” to race day.

I think this little tweak to the schedule is what my brain needs to catch up to what my body is capable of. This goes back to the whole mind/body connection thing I’ve been all about this past year. Barre n9ne is all about the mind/body connection. My food log-filled journey this past (almost) year on my quest towards intuitive eating is all about the mind/body connection too. So it only makes sense that I continue to make those connections through running. Connecting my mind, to what my body is capable of doing, and trusting it to do just that.

(much more on the whole mind/body thing in a future post or two, especially as my sis and I inch closer and closer to our one year barre-versary, the date when our lives changed forever, thanks to the 60-day challenge and all that has fallen out of that, from re-learning how to eat mindfully, to working our butts off to re-shape our bodies, to paying all of that learning forward by teaching at the studio. Clearly, based on this little preamble alone, I have a LOT to say on the topic. So stay tuned, please. ;-) )

A very stuffy 10-miler

Friday morning was a rare treat – Scott had the day off from work due to Good Friday. Of course, I wanted to take full advantage of his time (hehe, I’m sure he had other ideas for how he wanted to spend his morning off!) so we decided that Friday would be our long run day ‘o the week.

…despite the fact that we were both in the “snotty nosed” camp, so to speak. Both coming back from annoying-as-hell colds, but both really committed to getting through our first double-digit run together (since this summer!), regardless.

If I could sum up our run in pictures? This is what it would look like:

Let’s just say Scott called me out around mile 8 for being a “stubborn ass” (his words!) when he suggested we cut it to 9.5 miles vs. the full 10 (meaning skipping the final loop before turning down our street).

My response? “I said I’m doing 10, so I’m doing 10. You can go home if you want, but I’m finishing this thing!”

He shook his head (and probably had a nice little running tirade going on up in his head), but agreed to continue on. And I’m pretty sure we were both really glad we stuck it out — it was that final loop (the one Scott suggested we skip) where we both got a burst of energy and found some energy to kick it up the last hill before turning towards home.

And in the end, we did just what we said we were going to do.
…We ran 10 miles. We didn’t stop because we were tired. We stopped when we were done.

It wasn’t our fastest or our “best” by any stretch, but it was a proud 10-miles. It was an ego-tempering 10-miles, too. A really, really good reminder that no matter what – those “tough” runs are always lurking just around the corner, ready to teach you a thing or two.

A couple of lessons learned on this one?

  • Three tissues is *not* enough. Seriously, what was I thinking? I used all three up right away. Duh. The rest of the run was spent snuffling along, annoyed as hell that I couldn’t breathe at.all. out of my nose. Hot.
  • Side cramps are plentiful when mouth-breathing is all ya got. Given the tissue problem noted above, mouth breathing was my only option. Which left me fighting side cramps galore on this run. Excellent.
  • Fuel and water is hard to manage when unable to breathe *and* when fighting side cramps. Have you ever tried to chew something with your mouth open to allow for breathing to occur while running? It’s a comedy show. I was trying to breathe, trying to chew, trying not to choke, and trying to keep my legs going without tripping. I am so cool.

Lesson learned – running while stuffy isn’t pretty, but it *can* be done.  Trust me on this.
<sniffle>

 

Running (wicked) smart

(Editor’s Note: Back to regularly scheduled programming up in here – thank you all for indulging me in yesterday’s post. I clearly needed to get that off my chest – couldn’t stop pinning, tweeting, FB’ing about it all day yesterday. ;-) )

Lately,  I’ve been thinking about the whole working smarter, not harder mantra and how I’ve been trying to apply that to my running.

I like to think of it as running (wicked ) smart. <– a total Boston phrase, “wicked”

Thus far, my half marathon training schedule has certainly been changing on the fly week-to-week, depending largely on how I’m feeling in between taking and teaching barre n9ne classes and ramping up my running mileage week-to-week (I’m now hovering around  25-27 miles/week compared to my pre-training weekly mileage of about 15-24).

The whole “week-to-week” thing has been working out really well so far. I told you how “not a fan” I am of training plans overall and that I like to train by feel, training loosely week-to-week versus via a very regimented schedule. However, with the balance I’m trying to strike between teaching/taking barre classes and half marathon training, I’m glad I created an actual training plan this time around (even if I’m constantly adjusting it).

For example – just this week I had to make an adjustment to my running plan. Not because of a conflict in my schedule for the week. Nope.

It was simply because my body was telling me “No!” – and I chose to listen.

And really, I think that’s the key in this whole thing – choosing to listen. I am such a stubborn person and am the first to openly admit that it’s often hard for me to listen to my body when it’s telling me something. But I’ve learned from previous experience (and injuries!) that *not* listening never tends to work out very well.

So rather than risk junk miles (which I’m no fan of), I simply postponed my run from Tuesday night to this morning (as you’re reading this, I should be just finishing up said run!). That gives me a full day and a half since my last workout (6am barre method on Tues, rest day on Wed) so my legs ought to be very, very happy with me. Plus, getting my endorphins rushing before heading over to barre n9ne to teach is never a bad idea in my book. The 9am-ers ought to brace themselves – I’m bound to be full of energy for a nice little barre n9ne-style butt kicking. ;-)

My running “schedule” for this week remains intact, with slight modifications, and my body will be stronger and happier for it. And to be honest, if that run had simply been canceled vs. postponed for this week, I would have been ok with that too.

Big picturewhat’s an extra 6 miles *really* going to do for my training? Will it be a make-or-break for me?
Nope. Not even in the slightest.

A wicked smart question to ask yourself (myself included!) next time you’re even remotely questioning the “to run/not run” thang in your mind’s eye.

**********

And, in case you’re a curious person (like me!),  here’s how my training schedule  is shaping up this week (and I’m pretty pleased with it):

Sunday – cross-train (barre n9ne)
Monday – 5 miles, intervals; barre n9ne at night
Tuesday – cross-train (barre n9ne)
Wednesday –REST (oh glorious rest!)
Thursday -  6 (rescheduled) miles; barre n9ne legs (I also teach on Thursdays)
Friday – 7 miles, rundate style (with the sis!) (I also teach on Fridays)
Saturday – 9 miles, rundate-style (with the hubs, and hopefully via a new route we’re hoping to scout out tomorrow!)

Total miles this week:
27 miles
(which means I’m heading for my first 100 mile month!)

Training…by feel.

This post is totally inspired by a conversation I had on Saturday with these lovely ladies:


Meaghan (total rockstar) and Samantha (another rockstar) and moi!

My sis, Meaghan and Samantha – at our sushi date at Snappy Sushi on Newbury Street in the city.

This lunch date was a LONG time coming — we talked about getting together way back in January but it was around that time that Jo and I started barre n9ne teacher training and all weekends were spent training away. WELL worth the effort since we’re now both instructors at the studio but it meant waiting uber-patiently for this “date” of ours to finally happen.

We talked about a million things at lunch – spending over three hours at the restaurant well after we’d devoured a gorgeous plate of sushi (that I’m still dreaming about today!).

But one of the topics that made a big appearance during lunch was running, training, listening to our bodies when injured and everything in between. A biggie (at least for me) was around training for the Chicago Marathon and doing right by my body, both in terms of fueling needs but also in terms of the race day itself.

and training, by feel. Which is how I roll, but very few runners (at least the ones I know) tend not to do.

For me, I know it’s been a good run when I don’t hit the proverbial wall during a longer run, or I hang in there during that last round of speed work on the treadmill, or I have that “I could run for miles” rockstar run like I had on Saturday.  I don’t need a series of numbers to tell me how good or “bad’ or challenging a run was.

I train…by feel.

I don’t train with a Garmin. You all know this by now. I don’t avoid the Garmin to be a running rebel or anything, I just know that for me — I’ll get so caught up with the numbers that it’ll steal the joy from a sport I’ve grown to love, and it’ll prevent me from getting my head fully in the game, both during training runs and on race day itself. (As Meaghan said during lunch, “the Garmin can be a total mindf*ck”…right on!!)

And for me – having my head fully in the game is the key to running strong, running happy and running proud. My ongoing running mantra these days.

But interestingly, this “training…by feel” mentality is also serving me well as it relates to that training “fine line” I blogged about just last week. When it comes to barre n9ne classes — I know what my body is capable of and I try, with every single class that I take, to give it my all. To know that I’ve pushed myself to that shake point and beyond and can confidently walk out of that studio knowing that I left nothing on that floor but my best effort. Every single time. And when it comes to balancing taking classes with teaching classes and training for the half marathon in May — the training by feel mentality has helped me to tweak my plan each week. Even just minor tweaks like turning Sunday into my rest day this week, pushing the 6-miler I had planned for the day to Wednesday night after work instead.

Little tweaks. Training smarter, not harder.

So I guess what I’m saying is this. The bottom line (realizing this way of training won’t work for everyone, per se) is that training by feel is what’s working for me.  It keeps me balanced. It helps me maintain the mind/body connection I’ve fought so long for. And it’s keeping me strong and energized during a very busy training cycle leading into race day.

The big goal in all of this is to have a great race on May 6th (and *maybe* a shiny new PR…maybe), but also to go into full marathon training with the tools I need to continue to train smart, to train by feel, and to toe that starting line on October 7th ready to run proud, strong, and happy.