Right song…right time

Well folks…we’ve hit taper. And for once, i’m SO glad.

For some reason, this marathon training cycle has been a beast. August humidity and warmer temps combined with stress and whatnot just made my long runs way more difficult that usual.

Saturday’s 20 miler was basically my last attempt at redeeming my subpar training (and the disaster the prior 20 was) and giving me any shot at confidence going into Adirondack.

But let me back up… the week headed to that 20 miler was spectacular. We were up in Bar Harbor/Acadia for a few days and while i’d brought running clothes, I also was kind of planning to not use them. Leave it to the hubs to be the one to drag me to the gym one morning. Where I begrudgingly got on a treadmill and then knocked out some sprintervals. It was the next morning, when he returned from walking Gus and told me that he’d seen someone running on the sandbar out to Bar Island and “you should go join them” that i got that gleam in my eye, chugged the rest of my coffee and went. And OMG amazing! Sure, its like a 1/2 mile long so I ran it six times…but I could have run it all day. So pretty being along the sea.

I had stopped post run to text the hubs that I was going to beach comb for a few minutes when I saw another runner grinning coming back from his, so I chatted for a minute and found out, had I been brave enough to run the trail on the island (wrong shoes plus i’m SUCH a trail novice) i’d have been rewarded with deer crossing the trail. COOL. πŸ™‚

But instead…I stepped over to the beach where i’d found oodles of sea glass. And the first thing I find? A unicorn!

That run was exactly what I needed. A chance to clear my head and find my happy on a run. I was still kind of unsure about the 20 miler ahead. But feeling less freaked out about it. (the sea…it heals)

So when Saturday morning hit and I planned my route and headed out into the cool pre-fall air for my run, my head was in the right place. I just hoped my legs were.

Mile 1, right on pace. Mile 2, oops…maybe wanna slow down a little. Mile 3, same as mile 2. Huh…well…okay why not. Because i’m not banking time for later, but hey, if my body wants to go sub-10 right now I supposed I shouldn’t complain. LOL I just am not going to look at my watch.

Around mile 6, I encountered a car wash fundraiser for a girls soccer team. They offered to wash my sneakers. Ha!

Around mile 7 I sailed up and over the steepest hill on my route and stopped for a photo along the river (if there isn’t a runfie, did it actually happen?).

By mile 9, the legs started to go wonky (ummm what is this weird thing in my thigh? Better stretch it) and the brain was getting bored. I had my headphones with me, but i didn’t want to use them yet. I plan to carry them at adirondack and use them maybe around mile 15 when that long flat stretch comes after the hills and I might need them. But this was too early. So I started singing in my head…. Quiet your mind by Zac Brown. This…. right song, right time.

Because the next few miles went okay. I hit a groove and kept chugging along. Any time my brain went wonky, back to the song.

At mile 14 when I came up to another hill I really didn’t want to do I stopped. I told my self “they only way back is through”, took a deep breath and went. Not only did I beat that hill, but I nailed the harder one after it no problem. YAY

Mile 15 I was dying for more water and just trying to get to the convenience store when a car stopped in traffic called out the window “You’re doing awesome!” and gave me a thumbs up. I laughed and thanked him. And was glad for the boost.

At mile 17 I realized I hadn’t walked yet. MAJOR improvement from the last one. But I knew when I took my next gel I would. Just to give the legs a break. And suddenly, coming from the radio of a house I ran by was “Aint No Mountain High Enough” OMG YES! Right song…right time. Because there isn’t a mountain high enough that I can’t get over. And we all know Adirondack is chock full of them. This might just have to go on my race day playlist. πŸ™‚

I finished my run. I walked that 1/4 mile when I had my gel. And I walked another 1/4 mile at mile 19 when I tripped over a bump on the sidewalk and realized I might kinda not wanna fall.

And when I was done I collapsed in the lawn next to my puppy, who had come out to play ball and spectate my last two miles. Thanks Gus…

I am feeling WAY better now. I have set my race day goal to 4:44. A course PR and one that, if I ran like I just did, i’ll have no problem reaching.

So bring on the taper…I want some extra rest days, some extra carbs and some extra time with the world’s cutest dog. While I plan just the right songs for 11 days from now.

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I kissed a unicorn and I liked it

How to train for a hilly marathon…
1. Run Hills
2. Kiss Unicorns
3. Embrace the suck

With 26 days to go until the Adirondack marathon, i’ve reached my peak mileage and am trying to face the fact that I don’t think i’m going to do well at the race.

Maybe its the weather, maybe its the strength training affecting my runs, maybe its stress, maybe its just a major slump. But even Big Papi had one and came back better than ever, so if it is a slump, I just gotta hang in there and muscle through until it breaks wide open.

Saturday was the first of my two 20-milers. And I spent a couple of days debating which I needed more – hills or an easy route I could build some self confidence on by doing well. I consulted my sole-sister coach. And she reminded me that running is 90% mental and the rest is all in your head… and to do what my instincts told me.

They told me – chase the unicorn.

Buried in the middle of the hilly park that I had to avoid a couple of weeks ago because of a 5k, is a unicorn statue. And I hadn’t visited in a while, so I mapped out an out and back (with a couple of loops in the middle).

My Adirondack simulation route – elevation chart…

Saturday morning was delightfully chilly…so I put on my lucky shorts, my disney marathon tee, my favorite turquoise sparkle visor, packed my buddy pouch full of gels and took off.

I wanted to run easy…to not push and save energy for the later miles. I cruised along enjoying the cool air and crushing the hills. And after a fun short steep one on my first loop of the park discovered this view…

As often as i’ve driven through there, i’ve never noticed. We just see SO much more on foot. And I continued on. And when I hit the ‘zoo’ after a long downhill, I said hi to the goats.

Second loop I found the unicorn. And with a kiss for luck (and a couple selfies) headed down the hill. 
 And down to a lower section i’d never been too. Where I found some crazy wooden flowers (and a nice clean portapotty). Of course, I regretted that detour when I had to go back UP the hill i’d been down. But its all good.

And when my watched beeped mile 10 I decided to stop on the stone wall and relax a minute to have my gel and water before heading out of the park and back along the route. Which was now some long downhill with a few ups. And by mile 13 my calves were mooing. Uh-oh. I stopped to stretch and knew I needed to refill my water because it was getting sunnier and warmer.

Yet, when I stopped at the only store between myself and home to buy water, it kinda didn’t work. It’s a small cafe in a garden center. And there was a group of girls getting fancy coffee drinks and after 5 minutes I gave up and left.

And at mile 14 when I had my next gel I kind of had a meltdown. I was hot, I was thirsty, and had my iPod had wifi service where I was, I might have called for a ride home.

And I had an epiphany…my body was reacting almost exactly like it did when I ran Adirondack in 2015. The hills had my legs like burnt toast and knowing how far I had left my mind started to play tricks on me and the doubt crept in.

So I stopped for a moment. Took a breath and sucked it up. I started walking. And made a deal with myself – 1/4 mile run, 1/4 mile walk, repeat. And sure, each mile got a little slower but I was still moving.

At mile 18 I was home and ran in to get some water before finishing the last 2 miles. I was hot and nauseous and SO dehydrated. But I was not giving up. I dry heaved a bit and the hubs said to me “well, if you’re going to throw up, maybe you shouldn’t go back out. Then again, if you throw up outside, its all just nature” hahahaha thanks babe!

I went out. With the plan to just walk the two miles. Also knowing, no way was I just walking. So I threw in some short run sections, just because. And…I finished all 20. The overall pace was slower than i’d hoped. But, I survived. I managed my mind and my legs and I never truly gave up.

And what have I learned from all this? That my next 20 miler i need to:
– Wear compression sleeves or socks
– Plan better water stops
– Run more hills
– Let it go 

The Adirondack marathon will never be a PR course for me. I think I will always struggle. Its the nature of the route. And while sure, i’d like to think i’ve gotten wiser and stronger as a runner and that I should be able to run it better than in 2015, I also have run enough to know that you can’t predict what will happen in a race.

So, I need to view this less as a race and more as a 26.2 mile adventure. A loop around the lake with something shiny at the end. And I love shiny things. 😁

Hello August…

The worst part of fall marathon training is that most of it occurs in the summer.

I don’t like the heat. I mean, you probably wouldn’t know because i’ve been doing my share of mid-day runs along the river…outside…in the heat and sun. But it usually involves stopping at ALL the water fountains during the second half.

And sure, I did do three races in July…but none of them were quite as good as earlier in the year when the weather cooler.

My poor garmin is getting dusty because I refuse to have digital proof of how awful my paces have been. I mean i’ve actually been eying this training shirt. LOL

But i’m 54 days out from the Adirondack Marathon, which means its time to really get serious. To decide if I have a PR goal, or merely a course-PR goal.

You see, that sucker is HILLY.

And while the first half is crazier hills than the second, the last time I ran this my goal was to beast the hills. And I did, and then the wheels came off by mile 17 and the ‘rolling hills’ in the later miles felt harder than the spikes.

So I plan to spend August ramping up both the strength training (adding a 3rd day a week), the hill training (wherever I can) and, as usual, distance (August’s schedule includes a 16, an 18 and a 20 miler). Dusting off the garmin so I actually know how fast (slow?) I’m going. And hoping that August is mild (yeah, I know….likely not happening).

I’m also going to up my hydration game (my running buddy h2o is about to get in some more miles) and maybe go back on the music (my single-ear sports bud isn’t getting its exercise either). Might be a good month to run to Zac Brown and Jimmy Buffet. oooh – virgin pina coladas in the h20 pouch? LOL

So, if you need me this month…i’ll be out running hills, feeling tropical and thinking fall.

Adirondack Marathon – run ALL the hills

Sunday I ran the Adirondack marathon. 

The race bills itself as “the most beautiful 26.2 miles you’ll ever run”. And they are right. What they forget to tell you is that it’s also the most challenging 26.2 miles you’ll ever run. 

I’ve completed the second half of this course three times. And it’s not easy. There’s a lot of rolling hills. And not much shade the last six miles. But I’ve done okay. 

This year I thought it was time to see what’s on the other half of Schroon Lake. It was….impressive. 

And makes for a good story.  So let me tell it. πŸ™‚

The race started at 9am in downtown Schroon Lake NY. 

  
I headed up early with Kevin & Gus to get our usual prime parking space. And spotted a set of portapotties with a very short line. While we waiting we heard a loon. Cool! Had to be a sign right? 

Hung out in the car for a bit after, finishing my large pumpkin coffee and watching the runners. (Runners so make for great people watching. We’re such an odd breed). 

Then – time to head to the start. Where we met some fellow cairn lovers who of course had to pet Gus and talk dogs. πŸ™‚ And was a welcome distraction from my nerves. 

I lined up, strategically placing myself ahead of the 4:30 pace group. I had a goal of between 4:30 and 5:00. And knew that what mile they passed me at would determine what my chances were. 

We took right (exactly on time!) and headed north.  For about two miles before the turn across the top of the lake.  And down an impressively steep hill. My first thought? Reminds me of hopkinton. My second? That’s gonna hurt later. 

Crossed a little bridge and was just overwhelmed by how beautiful it is. 

Around mile 3 we turned at a farm onto a gravel road through field and trees. Yep, they weren’t kidding. So pretty. One of those races you just want to keep stopping to take pictures. 

I knew the hardest stretch of the race would be miles 4-12. So I wasn’t surprised when we hit the first hill. 

What surprised me was how easily I got up it. (Hill training does pay off!)  and every hill had at least a short level section where you could recover. 

Around around mile 6(7?) was an incredible long downhill. In the forest. No cars, and only a few runners. Peaceful. I was cruising and smiling and thinking “I just want to run this road forever”.  Singing the ‘I love downhills’ song Karen invented (sole sister shoutout. Lol) Followed by “uh-oh. The further down I go, the higher I have to come back up”

And I shared my thought with a runner who pulled alongside me. Who was thinking the exact same thing. We kept each other company and chatted until the next water stop, where she grabbed a drink and I kept going. 

And sure enough, the next hill came. And I was up and over and back down. And again. Refusing to walk no matter how steep it looked. Because I knew at the top I’d get a chance to recover. 

And I was charmed by how much the locals come out for this. The group blasting “born to run”, the elderly man playing “feeling groovy” on an organ, the teenagers lining the course cheering and screaming. 

And then…mile 11.5ish? Godzhilla’s father. And I dug down and headed up. And an older gentleman to my left said “I’ve been waiting for this one.” And I had to laugh because I knew exactly what he meant. This was the hill your mother warned you about. This was the “man or mouse” hill. And I was not going to walk it. 

And I didn’t. I kept moving, feeling like I was running in place but somehow making progress. And I got to the top. And tried to keep going and realized if I didn’t walk for a minute, I wasn’t gonna make it. πŸ™‚ So I walked, for just a moment, to the Taiko drummers. And then continued on. 

To the downhill that I knew lead to where the half started. The “harder” half was over. And I’d met my goal of slaying those hills. I crossed the 13.1 marker in around 2:14. 

And knew that I had a few miles of flat, and should have been able to just chug merrily along. And yet my legs? They had other ideas. 

Around mile 15 my legs started to feel heavy. The lack of elevation changes actually worked against me. My legs were beat. And I needed my brain to convince them otherwise. 

So, I gave them a 1/4 mile walk break. And it helped. Some. And I just kept going. And walked the hills if I had to. 

And around mile 17.5 I entered the Word of Life campus. You want to feel like a total rock star? How bout a hundred kids all screaming your name and handing out high fives and telling you how amazing you are. πŸ™‚

At mile 18 I walked through the water stop. And got passed by the 4:30 pace group. And realized it so didn’t matter. And while they all told me how much they loved my skirt, one guy in the group declared me “most stylish runner of the day”. Awww thanks dude!

And I found it in me to keep running. Past the timing mat checkpoint and back into the main road. And the rolling hills that would continue until the end. 

And I ran along and took short walks at the water stops, now hitting them all and alternating water and powerade because I was hot and getting dehydrated. 

And the sun blared down. And the road kept winding and when I hit mile 20 I looked at my watch. And I knew I could pretty much walk the rest and still be under 5 hours. And I also knew that wasn’t going to happen. Because I’m a runner. It’s what I do. And I was going to run what I could. 

So I ran the downhills. And flats if I could. And walked the water stops. And the uphills. And thanked the volunteers. And encouraged the other runners. And smiled and tried to take it all in. To remember the race. 

And at mile 24, I saw two runners stopped and pointing at a tree. I asked what they were looking at. It was a bald eagle. Wow…magic. 

And shortly after the 4:45 pacers passed me. And that was okay. Because they were run/walking too. And if I kept them in sight, I had this. 

And then my friend from back on the hills passed me with a “you got this” and I yelled back “see you at the finish”

I ran up to where the bridge was that my friends had stood at last year.  And then walked a bit, past the group of Taiko drummers and the 26 mile sign to the gazebo and the turn to the finish.   

And said to myself “you can do this” and started running. 

I spotted Kevin and his uncle sitting on the bleachers and waved as I passed by. 

Crossed the mat that gave the announcer my name, raised my arms in the air, and then kicked to the finish. 

  

 Got my medal, a Coke and a brownie, and headed for the lake. πŸ™‚

 

So stats…4:46:12 finish. 8th marathon. 4th state. 5th in my age group and 137th overall. 

And those hills? One of a kind. πŸ™‚

  

A hill so big we named itΒ 

This was a banner weekend for my sole sisters! PR’s shattered all around. 

First, a quick shout out to the unstoppable Lori.  The amazing runner and friend who helped me with my marathon PR in May, scored one of her own. A stellar 3:28:58. Which is both a PR and a BQ (Boston Qualifier) by a nice wide margin. Yay, Lori! So proud of and excited for you!! πŸ™‚

Second, I had the great privilege of running beside the equally unstoppable Karen while she hit a goal that was years in the making. Her first 10k. 

A little bit about Karen. Like me, she was never a runner in her younger years. She started running a couple  years ago and trained for a 5k. Then continued to PR them. And this year, was finally ready to tackle her goal – the 10k. 

She trained hard all summer – in heat and humidity. Fitting her runs into a crazy schedule, but through hardwork and dedication, got it done. 

And Saturday morning, on the streets of her hometown. She had her victory parade. 

We wore matching sparkle skirts, because life is better in sequins. And we got TONS of complements on our outfits. We got cheered on by a little girl with pom poms. We thanked volunteers. We sang songs (love that downhill song. Lol) We cruised along having an absolutely awesome time. 

And…we slayed Godzhilla. 

The course description had said a “significant” hill at mile 1. I’ve run a lot of hilly courses. I’ve tackled the Newton hills. But this? 

We had just turned a corner. And looked up. And swore. Because this, was facing us. 

  

 And I said to Karen “eh, hills are never as bad as they seem from a distance” 

Yeah no…I was wrong. This was a monster. A hill so big we had to name it. 

  
 But Karen tackled it like a champ. Small light steps. Never walking. Just running slow and steady to the top.   
And after Godzhilla, all those other hills (who would have thought Plymouth was SO hilly) were cake. 

And just after mile four, Karen’s brother-in-law found us. (Think we were easy to spot. Lol) and we stopped for a quick photo op. 

  
Thank you Eric! For anyone who might not realize, seeing family/friends on course can be SUCH a boost. πŸ™‚

And right before mile 5, Karen started to hit a wall. Right by a field I later learned was jokingly called the field of dreams. An appropriate spot. Because she knocked through that wall no problem and kept chasing her dream. 

And we hit the turn to the water. And we kept cruising along. And went into the downtown area – trying to pick a bar for post race beers. Knowing the whole time exactly how far we were from the finish line at Plymouth Rock. 

And we entered the cordoned off area to the finish. And Karen dug deep and kicked. And sailed across the finish. 

We grabbed our medals from an adorable veteran with a huge thank you. 

And after hugs and tears, sat on the stone wall, gazing at the ocean and basking in the moment of glory. πŸ™‚

  
So absolutely proud of you my friend. And can’t wait for the next one. 

As for me? I’m now 13 days from the Adirondack Marathon. Which will contain, from what I’ve heard, Godzhilla’s twin. And cousin. And nephews. πŸ™‚  It’s all good. I’m ready. 

Happy Monday! And Happy Running!

To race, or not to race…

Sometimes that’s a harder decision than you think. 

Those of you follow me know I was supposed to run the East Bay 1/2 on Sunday morning. 

It wasn’t a goal race, and it wasn’t something I’d originally planned to run. And here’s why….it started at 7am. Yeah, 7am. Plus, it was only three weeks since the Ultra. 

But…it was free. And I had a friend who was going to run. And it’s a fun course with a stadium finish. 

Yet, I was never completely sold on it. My paces are still a little sluggish and I’ve just been tired lately. 

So on Saturday afternoon when I realized my friend wasn’t going to run, and I wasn’t feeling 100% (I think I got mildly glutened. Ungh) and the weather forecast for race start was high-60’s and humid, I decided to bow out. 

Getting up at 5am on a Sunday to run a race that would be my slowest official half of the year? Nope. Not happening. 

Instead, I slept til 7, had a leisurely breakfast and headed out for a slow/easy 14 miles. 

Actually, it wasn’t THAT slow. Or that easy. Lol It was just long run pace, and averaged 10:14/mi. Which isn’t bad for 70’s and humid and sunny. And the hilliest route I could find. 

  
And – my mile 5 gel stop lined up perfectly with a scenic viewpoint. 

  
I know I made the right decision.  
Because it’s six weeks to my next marathon, and this no pressure hilly training run was more what I needed. Sometimes it’s more about the long-term goal, than the short-term bling. 

And sometimes you get a sign you were on the right path. Like noticing a 50k for the first time on a pole you’ve passed for years. 

  
Sometimes, you have to choose not to race.  πŸ™‚

Happy Monday my friends. And happy running!

Week in review – August 4th

The garmin don’t lie…which is why sometimes it’s best to leave it home. πŸ™‚

This week had some highs and lows…and not just the elevation charts. (See below for Sunday’s)

Let’s see…

The highs? Fast Friday! My garmin awarded me both fastest mile and fastest 5k. Now, granted these are not my historical bests…just for this new watch. But they aren’t too far off and I am extremely happy with them. Mile of 8:24 (which was mile 5 of the 5-mile run) and 5k of 27:15. As a whole I averaged 9:06/mi, which is my fastest Friday in ages too.

Also a high this week was Wednesday’s river run. I ran garmin-free and had just a nice fun easy 8.3 miles. I smiled most of it, just enjoying the sights and sounds and the freedom of movement.

The lows… Sunday’s long run and today’s recovery run/walk. I can tell when my iron is low and my miles are high. My body just drags. The miles become a mental challenge and you have to accept that it’s ok to run slow if it’s what your body needs.

Yesterday I ran 14 miles. The first two were at just under an 11min mile pace. Then a couple at 10:30, a giant hill causing another 11, a few round 10:15 followed by the realization that if I kept going that fast I wouldn’t finish. lol dropped back to the 10:30’s and then pushed it the last two miles for a 10:17 and a 9:53. Yep – went hard that last quarter mile. Love seeing what I’ve got left in the tank at the end of a run and using it all up.

Today I upped to 3/4mi run, 1/4mi walk. 3.5 miles. And for some reason it took exactly as long as running 1/2mi, walking 1/4 mile last week.

So, I followed that with a protein shake and am in my compression socks. Gotta recover from both the outside and inside.

Overall – 31 miles for the week. A good solid total

And 13 days to go to the Narragansett Half Marathon.

Happy Monday – and happy running!!

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