Monday, November 5, 2012

Rails to Trails Marathon Race Report

The race for which I have been training is over. Standing at the start line, I thought, I can't believe it's finally here! All of your training has led to this moment. Don't worry about the past two weeks. You're fine. I do quite a bit of self-talk. It's a good thing too, because I ended up running most of this race by myself. I'm patting myself on the back because that is something I don't think I could do even two months ago. It takes mental toughness to run 26.2 miles with only your thoughts to keep you company. This has always been my challenge.

Before the race - a family that runs together stays together!
I'm comfortable enough now to tell you that I ran my first marathon - Des Moines 2009 - in 6:12. My first goal for Rails to Trails was under 5:00. My second was between 4:15 and 4:30. I started off pretty conservatively and then ended up picking up my pace more than I wanted. However, I was so jazzed that my body just felt like speeding up. I don't know. I just couldn't stop smiling. I thought, I'm here, I'm doing this, so I'm going to enjoy myself. The landscape was beautiful and everyone was friendly. One guy ran past me around mile four. He asked me what was my goal pace, and I told him 9:30-ish. He told me his was 9:00 and I told him to go catch one of my sisters! We chatted for a little bit and then he ran ahead.

Around mile six, I came upon the 3/4 mile-long tunnel. You know the part in Lord of the Rings when Frodo gets stung by the spider? That's what the scenery was like - there was water trickling along and high ground on both sides of the trail. I clicked on my headlamp and said, "Let's go."

My legs began hurting around mile 14. Up to that point, I hit my two mile-targets just fine:  at both mile six and twelve I had a Gu with some water. But then my stomach got upset and I actually had to stop at a bathroom. From then on, I alternated water and Powerade and got some pretzels and gummy bears on the way back. I know my mom thinks she wasn't as much help as she was last year, but just knowing she, Cody, and Will were going to be along the course kept me going. I only grabbed a handful of pretzels and then gummy bears, but those handfuls were everything.
Still going...
While running, three songs cycled through my head:

"Payphone" by Maroon 5
"Lucky Strike" by Maroon 5
"Stronger" by Kelly Clarkson

I know, I know. I am NOT a Kelly Clarkson fan, and I was ready to banish this song forever from my mind. BUT, the lyrics were perfect for my situation. Ha!

I got to mile 18 and then set my sights on mile 20. Then 22. Once I got to mile 22, I started talking to myself out loud. "Come on. Anybody can suffer for four miles!" At mile 25 I sang, "Mile twenty-fiiiiiiive!" And mile 26 went something like - fist pump - "Mile twenty-siiiiiix!" When I saw the clock under 4:40 I smiled and kept running to the finish.

That was the most rewarding race. Ever. It's by far my favorite. I had no pressure and I was out to have fun and enjoy myself. I got a little down, and I almost started crying when I got gummy bears from my mom and then when I was heading back into the tunnel and a group of people were cheering for me. This is something I trained for months to accomplish and I was just thinking, These people don't have to be out here. But they are. And they're cheering for me. And they're missing the Packers game for this. I stopped at every aid station on the way back and walked when I wanted to walk. Final time - 4:37. 10:34 pace. Whew! Now, give me some time before I talk about running another one...

On a side note, David ran his first half marathon in 2:07, knocking his goal out of the ball park. He's awesome. And we had awesome gear. Check out my pictures. Live Uncommon made these especially for us! We got so many compliments; it was unbelievable.

Erin, Adrienne, and Steve also ran the marathon, and Brother Dave and my dad ran the half. Grandpa won his age group with a time of 1:56 (and he's 73. Stud). A special thanks to my mom, Cody, and Will. They drove around and carried water, pretzels, gummy bears, Gu, you name it. They gave up their weekend to basically wait on us during the run (and my mom had to drive me home).

Check out the Rails to Trails Marathon. It's definitely worth it!


Sunday, September 23, 2012

QC Half Marathon - PR, Baby!

1:52:41. That's my new PR for a half marathon.

I wasn't quite sure how this one was going to go. Whenever I get myself hyped up for a race, I tend to crash. My training hasn't quite been where I've wanted it to be since I started coaching. I'm not complaining about it one bit. No, it's more of an acceptance that to do one thing I might have to adjust another. So, I've been getting in my miles at practice and sometimes after (sometimes). For me, today was all mental.

I told a few people this morning that before I didn't understand why people set numerous time goals for themselves; one should be adequate, right? How times change. Well, goal number one for me was to run under 2:00. I know I did this at the OUCH half, but that was a short course and I just couldn't get that out of my head. Goal number two was to run a 1:55. I figured I would start conservatively and then go from there.

The weather this morning was chilly. I had on a long-sleeved shirt under my race shirt but opted to remove it before the start. This proved to be the right decision as the sun came out and warmed the air a bit.

The cannon went off and it took me a little under one minute to get to the actual start line. I ran with Jen Hart and Anne Ryerson for the first two miles or so. I was surprised when my watch beeped indicating the first mile had passed. I felt good and wasn't breathing hard at all. The first mile takes runners onto I-74 and it was  a little jarring. I hate running across bridges, and this one was no exception as I could feel it moving with each foot fall. Needless to say, I was glad to get off.

I saw the PV girls' cross-country team at one water stop (around mile 3?) and then the PV boys' cross-country team at the next. Boy, were they busy! Adrienne caught up to me right around mile 4 and we passed my mom and Jessica cheering us on together. Adrienne was able to find me because of my sweet LU race team shirt! She booked it to catch me as she was at the back at the start, and she just kept going. We ran together for maybe three minutes exchanging a few thoughts. Her goal was to run sub 1:50 and I told her she was crazy. I picked up my pace to keep up with her for a little while, but then I told her I wanted to focus more on picking up my pace the last 5k.

However, I just couldn't let her out of my sight, so I ended up going faster than planned. This is just  what I needed. I run conservatively because on these longer races, I don't want to die and then have to crawl to the finish line. I caught up to Adrienne around mile 8 and we ran together until the Arsenal bridge. The surface of the bridge threw me off a little, especially because there was carpet, but it was only wide enough for one person. So, Adrienne went ahead and I just tried to keep pace. But once I got onto the road I knew it was going to be a mental battle to finish. My legs were dead.

Adrienne ended up pulling away at mile 11 (she says she kept the same pace and I slowed down - that's probably more of what happened!). I told myself I only had two more miles and then found my mantra, courtesy of Coach Troy - Now's not the time to slow down. Now's not the time to quit. Now's the time to dig deep and show some character. I tried. I really did. I'm proud of the fact that I never had a mile over nine minutes. But I slowed down at the end, and that's something I did not want to do. Oh well. I was telling my dad that the hills on Arsenal Island are what got me; keep it flat and I can keep going. He argued that there are no hills on the Arsenal, and then he figured out I was talking about the incline in the parking lot. I told him at that point in a race, if it's not flat, it's a hill!

I kept looking at my watch toward the end wondering when I would see the finish. at 12.65 we were still on the island. At 13 miles we were crossing the bridge back into Moline. I actually like the finish because once runners turn right off of the bridge, the finish is there. I'd rather that than being able to see the finish from a mile away. The course ended up being .17 long, but I'd rather it be long than short.

Overall, I'm really happy with my performance today. I cut off five minutes from the OUCH half, which was short anyway. I've got a little more than a month until my marathon and I'm feeling good about it. Goal number one for that (right now anyway) is 10:00 miles, which is a 4:22 marathon. Since all of my training runs have been under this, I have no doubt I can do it. Goal number two is 9:20-9:30 pace, which would be a 4:04-4:09. Looking at these times, I could make goal number three to run under 4:00, but one thing I learned today is that it's more difficult to drop pace time than I tend to think. I ran with Adrienne in sight much of the time and she still finished three minutes ahead of me. I ran 8:29 pace today and my legs died and I was breathing hard the entire time (in a good way). If I would have run 10-20 seconds per mile slower, I could have kept a conversation easily. I'll just have to see what marathon day brings on November 4.

Congrats to all runners today. Adrienne, my dad, and I ran the half. Brother Dave ran the 5k. Steve ran the marathon and finished under 3:30, using this as a training run. LU had plenty of people representing! Jessica and my mom were there to cheer us on throughout the race, which was great. Oh, and my studly husband ran 10 miles today. Ten! He's well on his way to a successful first half marathon at Rails to Trails.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

One More Week...

I know it's been a while since my last posting. Life has gotten in the way (as it has a tendency of doing). I have one more week to raise money for the LU Race Team, so if you haven't donated, now's the time! Click on my race badge below to get to my Race Team page. All proceeds are donated to various non-profits around the QC area. Thank you for your support!

Marathon training has actually been going really well. I am not following a specific plan; rather, I have mapped out my long runs and am getting in runs throughout the week. This is the most mileage I think I've ever gotten in. I feel very confident about my running. Last weekend Sam and I ran 18 miles. I thought it was going to be mentally tough because I tend to run with others during long runs. I am happy to say that the run went well and was even enjoyable; if I end up running my marathon alone I think I will do just fine.

The Quad Cities Half Marathon is next Sunday and I am aiming to PR; I'd like to run sub-1:57. My easy days have gotten quicker, so, again, I'm feeling confident. I've been taking Gu's with me on my long runs and they seem to help. I've also discovered my pre-run breakfast - two Toaster Strudels. Really. They sit well!

I do have to mention that I'm so proud of my husband David. He is training for his first half marathon at Rails to Trails. He ran seven miles this morning, which is the farther he has ever run. His average pace is coming down and he's finding it easier to run. I think the fact that we're both training for longer races has helped both of our training "plans" because we encourage each other to get out and go.

I'll leave you with a picture of me planking at sea level in Israel. I couldn't help it!

Monday, September 3, 2012

5-Mile PR

This past week was a good training week; low in miles but high in energy. Saturday was the first cross-country meet of the season. I met up with Adrienne and Ali Kirsch for a shorter long run (next week is an 18 miler). This proved to be a great start to the day. The junior high kids ran really well; none of the girls walked up the last hill!

The Run with Carl was this morning and I PR-ed in the 5-mile run. My PR before was 42 minutes and some odd seconds, so my goal was below 42 minutes. I started quite quickly and saw Phil Pancrazio ahead of me. I decided to keep him in my line of sight for the first mile and then picked up my pace a bit. My legs were feeling fine and my breathing was steady. It wasn't until mile 2.5 that I felt myself not able to talk comfortably (not that I was talking...). At mile 3.5, I wanted to stop and walk. My legs were tired and I hadn't run this fast in a 5-miler before. However, I knew my training. I had run up Devil's Glen Road quite a few times and felt confident.

---You know, there is something to knowing the course. On Saturday, I yelled at our runners as they began up the last hill at Crow Creek to use their training. They know that hill. They have run it before and know how to get up. They know when they're halfway there and, by the time they got there, Coach Kirsch was there to encourage them the rest of the way. The end of a race is all mental. You have to tell yourself to keep going. You hurt. Everyone hurts. It's your mental strength that overcomes that pain and helps you finish strong. ---

David M., Adrienne, Kyle, and Kelli ran the 5k. Jessica and Brother Dave walked the 5k. Will, David Z.,  and I ran the 5 mile. Ben ran the 1/2 mile. Overall, it was a great race which led to a great family get-together at our house afterward.

This week proved to me that I am mentally and physically stronger than I tend to think I am. I don't feel stronger from day to day, but it's hard days and race days that show me just what I can do.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Night Running

I recently had the honor of joining the PVJH cross-country coaching staff. I coached two years ago but then entered graduate school, and there was no way I was going to try to take two classes and coach. This semester, though, I am down to one class, so I jumped at the chance to coach again. I love it. Cross-country gives me the chance to get out of school, do a bit of running, and see the kids in a different setting. There are close to 100 runners on the team, so one more body was needed to help wrangle them in!

Today was a tempo day for the runners, and I took the kids who need to work on running continuously. I stood between the two ball fields and yelled "Go!" and "Stop!" The great thing about this was that I could see all of the kids and encourage them as they came around. The bad thing was that I couldn't do any running of my own. Therefore, when I got home I talked David into taking Sam to the dog park so I could run and meet him there. Since the jh kids did a tempo workout today, I figured I'd try something like one too.

My splits were as follows:  Total distance - 6.0 miles. Total time:  50:55. Average pace - 8:29.
Mile 1 - 8:19
Mile 2 - 8:11
Mile 3 - 8:10
Mile 4 - 8:50
Mile 5 - 8:35
Mile 6 - 8:48

Now, in my defense, the route I chose is uber-hilly. I mean, after three miles, it's pretty much all uphill. I ran from home to the bike path, got off at Devil's Glen Road, and then ran to the dog park at Crow Creek. I considered the last mile and a half as a faster cool down. 

This was a solid run. I felt great the entire time and I tried to push the hills. I signed up for the 5-mile at the Run with Carl and I'm confident I will push myself. 

As my watch was locating satellites, a neighbor and his son were out for a walk and we had a nice chat. The boy rode up to the corner on his tricycle and yelled, "Hi! Hey, hi! Do you want to pet my dog?" I hesitated because I wanted to get going, but after a moment I agreed. I'm so happy I did. We chatted about his dog, his new bike that he got for his fourth birthday, and his sweet seahorse temporary tattoo. 

This past week I had a 40 mile week - all running miles. I'm really proud of myself. I don't know if I've ever run that much in one week, and that was with Monday off. My long run of 16 miles I ran on Saturday morning, meeting up with Leslie for ten miles of it. I'm more of a lone runner when it comes to shorter runs, but I love running with people on my long runs; the conversation makes the miles fly by. David needed to get in a long run of six miles on Sunday, which was a perfect way for me to get the lactic acid out of my legs. I'm hoping to get in another solid week of running. David is really upping his mileage and has been awesome at getting in his workouts.

If you haven't already, please check out my LU Race Team page. I have less than a month left to reach my goal of raising $700 for charities around the Quad Cities. I'm getting close, but I'm not quite there yet. Click on my badge below to get to my page. Thank you so much for your support!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

OUCH Half Marathon

Well, race number six of seven is crossed off of the LU Race Team list. Yesterday was the OUCH Half Marathon. I'm happy to say I reached a PR of 1:57! The course was actually short by about .27 miles, but since it is an official race, I'm counting it.

I talked Adrienne into running the race with me, and we both had excuses before the start of why we were going to run slowly. Adrienne had pulled a side muscle and I had allergy stuff up the wazoo. We decided to make this a training run and aim for a 9:30 pace. This is a slower pace for both of us, but you know how it goes when motivation isn't knocking at your door. I wanted to set a low goal so that I knew I could make it. What generally happens to me is that I have strong training runs and then I fall apart during the actual race. I work myself up so much, stressing out about my time, how I'm feeling, if I drank enough water the past two days - you name it. So for this race I expected nothing.

Neither Adrienne or I had run this race before, but luckily my dad told her the route. We started at a slow pace and made our way from Trinity into my neighborhood. (If I had known the route, I could have told David to walk 1/4 mile and cheer us on.) Adrienne stopped to use the restrooms at Middle Park, which cost us at least two minutes. But I didn't care. I grabbed some Gatorade and watched people go by. A high school girl came out of the bathroom and her friend said, "Come on! Half of the race just passed us!" I laughed, but then I realized she was right. Just then, a group of four runners went by and I looked down the bike path --- no one else was there. The end of the race just went by! Adrienne popped back to the table and I told her we needed to get going!

The miles ticked by quickly and we were able to talk until we reached Belmont Road. This was the beast I was waiting for. My car can barely make it up this hill. Seriously. I have to turn off the air conditioner and pat the dashboard. I remember when I got my Giant and Dad wanted to take us for a bike ride. We ended up riding UP Belmont and I thought I would die (or fall over). Well, the trek up was not as bad as I thought it would be. I kept my knees up and pumped my arms.

The worst hills, in my opinion, were the ones on Middle Road and 53rd Street. Adrienne and I were able to talk until mile ten, when I had to focus on moving my legs and she had to focus on getting to the finish so she could get to a bathroom. It was around mile ten that Coach Troy popped in my head and I decided I found my new mantra:  "Now's not the time to slow down! Now's not the time to quit! Now's the time to dig deep and show some character."

The finish continued the story of my life - Adrienne dropped me going up the last hill and finished 20 seconds ahead of me. Honestly, I'm okay with that. I came around the turn and some of my former students were cheering for me, and once I saw the clock under two hours, I attempted to kick it into another gear (which turned out to be pretty much the same as the gear I was in) and finished under two hours. That's all I was going for.

Okay, so that was the race. Now I know that I am capable of going faster in the middle of the race, so hopefully I can PR again at the Quad Cities Half Marathon in September. My goal for this week is to get up three mornings to run.

David needed to do a five mile long run this morning, so Sam and I decided to join him. I can't say it was a good idea, but he was able to run much faster than he has been running. However, now the world knows that he can run faster, so he's a bit disappointed that he can't run super slow and just have people think that's as fast as he can go!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Here's to Another School Year...

This past week has been an interesting transition into the new school year. Much of the junior high has gotten quite a renovation, and over half of the teachers moved, so "change" is the buzz word. I moved to a renovated room, and I was able to get in on Thursday. I spent early last week dealing with paper things so that I could spend time later in the week getting my room set up. I will miss the students from last year, but I'm excited for the change and excited for a new school year. For the first time, I will have a co-teacher and am teaching two classes instead of one (though the classes are extremely similar). My team is also digging into the Iowa Core, which means completely changing our curriculum. This is something that needs to be done and will make our curriculum stronger in the long run, but it seems like we have changed our curriculum every year!

Running-wise, I'm getting back into the swing of things. I must make myself get up in the morning, though, because by the time I get home, the last thing I want to do is go running. Yesterday, I registered for the Rails to Trails Marathon and David registered for the half marathon. If you're open November 4th, consider it! This weekend brings the OUCH Half Marathon, which raises funds for wound care around the world as well as here in the United States. Check out the Wound Reach Foundation for more information. I'm actually nervous for this race - 1) I have not run a half since the Quad Cities Half Marathon in May, and I totally crashed and burned on that course, 2) I ran twelve miles a week and a half ago and took a few too many days to recover, so I am questioning my fitness level, and 3) The course takes participants up BELMONT ROAD! My car can barely make it up that hill, so how am I going to keep my legs and arms moving without falling over or tumbling backward down the hill? Ha! So, I'm going into this "race" with the mentality of treating it as a training run. I'll take whatever I can get, and I won't get too worked up about it.

If you have not yet done so, I encourage you to check out my Live Uncommon Race Team page. I'm currently running to raise money for seven worthy causes, and I only have two races left - the OUCH Half Marathon this weekend and the Quad Cities Half Marathon in September. I appreciate any and all support; ALL of it goes to worthy causes, and your donation is tax deductible!

Well, wish me luck as I begin another great school year! I'll have one of my sisters teaching at my building this year, which is extra special, and I will (hopefully) finish my master's degree in May.