"Winning has nothing to do with racing. Most days don't have races anyway. Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism, and never, ever, ever giving up."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Securian Frozen Half Marathon Report: Exciting and Upsetting

Saturday, January 29th marked the date of many exciting things: The birth of my manager's baby (Derek Ryan Hale), my cousin Jen and Jeremy's wedding, and my first winter half marathon-The Securian Frozen Half Marathon.

I woke up Saturday morning with time to get my usual pre-race breakfast, a rice cake with peanut butter, honey, and banana slices. The temperature was about 25 degrees, with windchill it was about 18 degrees. Great temps for a winter race! It was nice to only have to wear two top layers for this race. Heather and I met up with Jim and Trey at the Securian building, and we hung out for a bit before heading to the start. It was chilly and windy, downtown St. Paul with the buildings creating a wind trap. We went to the start line with 4 minutes to spare.

The first half of the race has a lot of rolling hills along Shepherd Rd. Jim, Trey, Heather, and I ran the first few miles together. We were holding between a 7:20-7:40 pace/mile. Heather and I were trying to get ourselves to slow down to conserve energy so we could have negative splits on the way back. The race felt great! After running on snow-laden trails for months, it was nice to run on clean pavement, and actually stride out. I didn't do much of a taper. This past week was heavy on the miles, and intense in the workouts. But my legs felt fresh, my body felt strong, and I was content along the course. The turnaround was just after mile 6. We noticed after the turnaround in the course that it jumped to mile 8. Did we hit a time warp? Where did mile 7 go? I kept looking at my watch, wondering why the course said mile 8, but my watch said 6.6 miles? I kept thinking the course would work itself out, and it would all even out in the end. My second half of the race was great. I did exactly what I had hoped to do, run negative splits.

As got back to downtown St. Paul, I knew I had about 3 miles left. I was still conserving my energy. I knew I could pick it up a little but (and run sub-7). I charged up the quick, but steep hill, and was thankful for the hill workouts we've been doing. I turned and ran the less-steep, but gradual and longer hill downtown, and was pleased with my abilities. I knew I was working hard. I felt out of breath from the hills, but knew I had 2 miles to go. I turned a corner downtown, and saw Trey (he had just finished), he ran up to me and said, "the finish is right around this corner." WHAT?!?! I'm only at 11.5 miles. My plan was to pick up the last mile, and finish strong. So I dug in, turned the corner, saw the finish, and made a mad dash for it. I saw a guy a few seconds ahead of me, and decided he was going down. With a strong finish, I beat him, crossed the line, and stared at my watch in disbelief. 11.6 miles. My finishing time was 1:27:52 (average pace 7:35/mile). I was on track for a CAREER PR for my half marathon!

My half marathon PR is 1:41:07. Had this been a full half marathon distance (13.1 miles), I absolutely would have PR'd! So I am celebrating the fact that I now realize I'm in great shape! I also learned that the New York Marathon is a lottery; however, for my age bracket, if you run a 1:38:59 half marathon time, you receive an automatic entry into the New York Marathon! That would have been achieved yesterday, had it been a certified course. This was the first year they changed the course and this was the first year the course was not certified. That was upsetting. Even still, I accomplished everything I had set out to do. I wasn't looking for a career PR, I was looking for a fun race, running with friends, running on pavement, and feeling good about the work I put in. All of that was accomplished (the career PR for an 11.6 mile race was an added bonus)!!!

Trey, Heather, and Jim all had great races too! Trey likes to say he's not in shape, but he had a fantastic race! Heather dropped the hammer, and ran like a crazy lady! Jim had an awesome race too! We all felt satisfied with the work we had done.

I also had the privilege to see my client Pam, running another 5K. She has made exceptional progress in her training. Pam has accomplished more than any other client I have had. She is a beautiful and inspiring woman. I am honored to be her trainer :) She had a career PR in her 5K!

Here's my log for the week:
Monday: PM Treadmill run-5 miles
Tuesday: AM 6 hill repeats plus 6 mile loop-11.5 miles
Wednesday: AM Outside 5 mile river run; PM Treadmill tempo run 3.1 miles (8.1 miles for the day)
Thursday: AM Outside 9 mile loop.
Friday: AM Outside 4 mile run.
Saturday: Frozen Half Marathon (11.6 miles)
Sunday (today): Will be running 13 miles

Weekly total: 62.2 miles-->New high mileage week!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What Goes Around....Keeps Going Around

What goes around, keeps going around. At least that's the story I am sticking to in regards to yesterday. Knowing how cold the temperatures have been the past week, we decided it wasn't safe (or worth it for that matter) to take our long run outside. We have run in -10(windchill) before. But when it's -5 (airtemp), and the windchill hasn't been factored in yet-no thank you! As much as I love going outside, yesterday was a little too cold for me. So Heather and I went to TC Lifetime in an attempt to run 23 miles on the indoor track! I had had too many days on the dreadmill this past week, and knew I wouldn't be able to go for 23 miles on the dreadmill. so we decided to run the track. We broke it up into sections, run for an hour, stop for a minute to get drinks and nutrition, run for another hour, stop for a minute to refuel, run for 40 minutes, stop for a minute to refuel, and run the last 25 minutes. We ran for a total of 3 hours and 5 minutes (we stopped our watches on the refueling breaks). I estimated our time, and I am sure that we were running sub-8 minute miles, but I don't think we were holding 7:30s/mile the whole time. So based on that math, we feel confident saying we ran 23 miles. 7 1/2 times around the track is equivalent to one mile. That's 173 laps on the track, but who's counting?

The run was work, but a day after, I feel better than I have felt compared to any of our outdoor runs from weeks past. As proud as I am of getting this beast of a workout done, I am hoping to get outside more this week!

Next weekend is the Frozen Securian Half Marathon! I've never done an outdoor race longer than a 5k. I'm not hoping to be fast, just looking for a race experience, with community, and a good time! I am told it is an extremely hilly course. Results to follow.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Personal Achievement

5:00AM this morning: 12 mile treadmill run--without stopping. Enough said......

And that's all she wrote.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I Ain't Sayin It's Easy....

“The thing that most often determines success or failure is not skill but hard work and determination”

This week was another 56 mile week, tied with last week, I believe this is my highest mileage week. Monday I ended up sleeping in, which can be mentally defeating, to start a week off that way. Tuesday I met the group in St. Paul and we ran the two part hill 6 times. It had snowed on Monday night, so it was slick and tough to drudge through. It had not been plowed. My quads burned charging up that hill, but I felt accomplished to have completed the work I set out to do. It's just under 6 miles, doing the hill 6 times, so to the hill, 6 times up and down, back to the club, and around the block totaled a nice 7 miler workout. Brutal but beautiful. On Wednesday, Heather and I ran the Olie Run, plus the Stone Arch, and 10th St bridge for a nice 8 miler. Both of us felt like toast from the hill workout the day before. But we finished the 8 mile run, and were happy to have gotten the mileage. And to no avail, we ran the 12 mile U of M loop on Thursday. Again, not much time for recovery. Friday I set off to do a treadmill run, in hopes of running a little bit faster than I am able to do outside with the snow and ice. I ran 5 miles at the Target Center Lifetime, and a decent speed. It took me about 38 minutes to run 5 miles, which is a lot faster than I've been able to run outside lately.

On Saturday, we were supposed to do a 20 miler, but it snowed, and I was fearful that the sidewalks weren't going to be plowed early in the morning. So I decided to bail on the group, and sleep in. I was fortunate enough to have my friend Ginger come to Lifetime with me, and run next to me on the treadmill. As much as I dislike the treadmill, I was pleased with my workout. My longest run on a treadmill is only 8 miles. However, yesterday, I set a new record. I ran 12 miles on the treadmill. Lifetime got new treadmills with built in TV's. So I hooked up my ipod, and turned on the TV--talk about mental stimulation! Definitely helped pass the time. Neither Ginger or I could talk much while running; however, there is a comfort that can't be explained, simply by having a friend next to you. It creates a sort of comfort and peace, knowing there is someone next to you, who believes in you. So 12 miles. On the treadmill! I didn't run as far as the group who went outside, but I am so happy to have set a new personal record on the treadmill. I hope I don't have to do that again, but it's nice to know I've got it in me.

Today (Sunday), I met Heather at 7:00 (yeah, slept in), and we did the U of M loop again. So another 12 mile day. Two back to back days of 12 miles. And three 12 mile days this week.

Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore,
is not an act but a habit.” My goal is to live a life of excellence, in everything that I do.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Tale of 22 Miles!

"My road calls me, lures me, West, East, South, and North; Most roads lead men homewards, My road leads me forth. To add more miles to the tally of grey miles left behind, In quest of that one beauty God put me here to find." ~Excerpt from Roadways by John Masefield.

One foot in front of the other, just one foot in front of the other. This snow is crunching so loudly under my feet. It's -8 below (windchill), my face is cold, but my body is warm. Too many layers. 22 miles in the winter? My sport beans are frozen. One foot in front of the other. Take it one step at a time. Why is the snow so loud today? All of the above are thoughts/statements/questions that crossed my mind as I ran 22 miles yesterday.

Heather needed to get 22 miles in, so I met her at 6:30AM to get 4 miles more than the rest of the group was doing. We ran our 4 miles and started running back to Lifetime, we then met KG, Karl, & Jim outside, and started our 18 mile loop. I know I am in good cardiovascular shape. I know my legs are in good shape. But it was so difficult! With five top layers on, two pairs of pants, three pairs of gloves, a hat and a facemask on, I felt so heavy! Every step felt like concerted effort just to move! After the run I weighed my wet clothing, and it added an extra 12 lbs. It was like wearing a weighted vest, but all over my body.

At mile 17, David met us with Gatorade and I couldn't have been more thankful and appreciative. I hadn't brought anything to drink, just frozen sport beans, and my body was cramping up. The sweet sugary Gatorade was exactly what my body needed.

We made it back to the club. 22 miles under my belt. Here's the total for the week:
Monday: 6 miles
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 5.5 miles (6 800m speed intervals with a warm up and cool down); swam for 20 minutes.
Thursday: 12 miles
Friday: 5 miles
Saturday: 22 miles

I wish I kept better track of my lifetime miles, but this may be the highest mileage week I've ever run. I am very pleased with my successful training so far. I have added hills, speed, long runs, and swimming. I am thankful for good health (finally) and strength. I can't quite find to words to express how I feel when I'm working hard. I am reminded of God's faithfulness and love for me as I press on to do things I never imagined. I never want to take for granted the opportunity I have to get up and run or lift, or simply work hard.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Slow Start to the New Year Isn't Going to Stop Me

"We can not direct the wind, but we can adjust our sails."

Most people begin making New Years Resolutions, fair enough, I am also one of those people. However, more often than not, those resolutions revolve around gym memberships and being healthier. Since that is already a part of my lifestyle, I try to set resolutions revolving around bettering myself as an individual. I set spiritual resolutions, physical resolutions, and hobby resolutions. My spiritual resolutions involve praying with Jeremy every day (or as often as I can), reading through the Old Testament again, and being intentional about praying for people. My physical resolutions include being intentional about speed and hill workouts, completing P90X, and being prepared to run the Boston Marathon. My hobby resolutions include trying to make new recipes (I got a new cookbook for Christmas), reading more, and discovering a new hobby.

Unlike most people, who make a mad dash to the gym on New Year's Day, to start their year off right, I was home sick on the couch with Jeremy (who was also sick). I took Friday and Saturday off from running. My physical activity for Saturday (New Years Day) involved running stairs in my building for 20 minutes--only because I felt lazy and lethargic. Let me tell you, running stairs for 20 minutes is work when you're healthy, but when you're sick, it's a whole new beast! On Sunday I felt decent enough to try a run on the treadmill, so I met Heather, and ALL THE TREADMILLS WERE TAKEN! I could not believe it! New Years Resolutions in full effect! We had to wait a few minutes to find two treadmills next to each other to get our run in. I ran 5 miles, alternating between a 7.5-8.1 pace, going up and down, just to pass the time. It felt good to get it done, but the breathing piece was still tough. I'm still a bit congested, but my heart was pleased to be able to run.

On Monday I had the privilege of running with Trey, Jeff, and Dan! We ran 6 miles-the Ole Loop. It was decent out, cold but not windy. I was happy to be outside, and catching up with good friends! On Tuesday, I was supposed to run hills with the St. Paul crew; however, since I'm still recovering from being sick, and the windchill was -13, I thought it best to stay inside. So again, Heather and I decided to stick indoors. I ran 5 miles, and then walked another 1/2 mile at a level 6 incline. After the treadmill work, Heather, Shannon, and I ventured to Cari's Total Conditioning class. The class consisted of mostly stabilization exercises using the stability ball. It was a great class, and a nice challenge for my body. Good to switch up the work I've been doing. Today (Wednesday), Heather and I ran 6 800m repeats on the treadmill, with half recovery between each one. When all was said and done, we ran about 5.5 miles (that includes the warm up, recovery periods, and cool down). After our speed work we hopped in the pool and swam laps for a good 20 minutes. It's amazing how 20 minutes of pool work can be so tough! We used kickboards the whole time, so there was no arm work--only legs! I feel like my legs have taken a beating this week. But it's been nice to switch up the work I've been doing. We'll see how the 12 miler goes tomorrow!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome 2011!

Well 2010 has come and gone. And what a year to celebrate as far as running goals go. In June, I set my new half marathon PR at the Gary Bjorkland Half Marathon in Duluth, with a 1:41:23. In September, I set a new 25K(15.5 miles) PR at the City of the Lakes 25K with a 2:00:22. (The year prior, I ran that same race is 2:07:50). That's something to celebrate! In October, I hit my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon by running the Chicago Marathon. Chicago was my 5th marathon, and 3rd time finishing Chicago. With an 80-ish degree race day, I was happy to squeak in with a 3:39:06 finish time! Prior years I ran 3:49:47 (2008) and 3:43:42 (2009). A reminder that with every run I complete, I am getting stronger, I am getting faster, I am getting mentally tougher!

In November, my NCU Runnin Rams placed first in the NCCAA Division II Championship races! Sixth national banner for the ladies, and fourth banner for the guys! Our most talented team of XC runners in the history of NCU. It has been been such a privilege to be a part of this program. This was my third season as a coach. Every year there are challenges and obstacles, and every year we overcome. Looking forward to great seasons ahead!

I know 2011 is going to be a great year, for many reasons. But since this blog is dedicated to racing, I will speak of those reasons. As I sit here typing, it is January 1st, 2011. I will be running the Boston Marathon on April 18th. I am way ahead on my training. I've already run two 18 mile runs, that I feel good about. The first 18 miler I already wrote about. My last 18 miler was this past Thursday 12/30/10. Heather and I decided to do our long run on Thursday because we heard rain, sleet, and ice were coming. I am so glad we went for it. I have been battling a cold (so has Jeremy--he's got it worse). So Thursday morning, prior to the run I guzzled a glass of Theraflu mixed with Accelerade. Got a mix of cold medicine with some sugar and electrolytes. Call me crazy, but it got me through the run. We met at Lifetime at 4:30AM--Let me be clear, we started the run at 4:30AM! We had to get it in before going to work. But at 4:30, it was 36 degrees. It was gorgeous out! I fear we won't see those temps again until March! For most of the run we dodged puddles, sometimes we didn't dodge them, and ended up with soggy feet. The pavement was nice up until the last 4 or 5 miles along Minnehaha Parkway. We spent a lot of time dodging puddles, ice patches, and slick areas. We kept a decent pace for most of the run--until we hit those slippery areas, then we were done for. But regardless, we finished our 18 mile run in 2:29:01. I am pleased to be this far into my training.

This year I have set some training goals. I want to be more intentional with hills and speedwork. I think running with this crew in St. Paul will help with that. I also want to get back to lifting legs. I stayed away from legs last year due to my knee injury the year prior, but I think I'm ready to jump back in, slowly of course!

As it is a new year, I challenge you to think of something you want to accomplish, but never thought possible. Go after it. Your body can do far more than your mind tells you so!

Happy New Year!