Last winter, I ran through the cold weather because I was training for the Toronto marathon. Each long run was a new challenge. How to dress warm enough, but not too warm when the wind chill is zero degrees. It is always hard to believe you really will get warm during the run. The big difference for me last year was that I was training with Julia, so every weekend we had a date that I looked forward to. This year, I am training by myself for the Eugene marathon. And it’s still really really cold!
How in the world do people here stay motivated to run all year? The real answer I’ve discovered is that they don’t. The number of runners goes down A TON in the winter. Honestly, they are stronger braver runners than me, because there is no way, I mean NOOOOO WAY, I am taking my running to the dreadmill. F that.
So I head outside… even when the Charles River is frozen! Obviously, it is super gorgeous! But that just doesn’t do it for me when I am warm and cozy inside. It is such a struggle to decide it’s a good idea. Probably because it really isn’t! The other night, my face mask froze to my face. WTF I’ve even had to wear my Nike Frees instead of my glorious five fingers, so I could run on the snow.
So, obviously I have made it out the door in the freezing cold. Just not as much as I’d like to. So here are the things that motivate me to get out there…
1. A training plan. You can’t beat it. I’m following Hal Higdon’s Intermediate I marathon plan. I haven’t always gotten all my weekday runs in, but I always get my two weekend runs in because I know it’s the bread and butter of his theory.
2. A good running playlist. My mom came up with the coolest idea. Since we are both on the same training plan, and we have the same long run each weekend, we trade off making a Spotify playlist for both of us to listen to. Sometimes, I am just so excited to get out there so I can see what she made for me. It’s also fun to listen to the one I made and imagine her reaction to each song.
3. Preparation. I know this might not work for everyone. If I spend the whole week looking at the weather report, planning my route, and deciding which weather accessories will be right for each run, I get pretty into the idea. This only really works for long weekend runs though. I don’t really need to plan out my route for the 4-mile midweek run…
4. Leave work early! This is just awesome in general. But… since it’s busy season, I work pretty long hours, and it’s hard to get in the midweek long-ish run. Right now it’s 7 miles. Since I am definitely not waking up an hour and a half early before work, and I am definitely not running at midnight, I’ve asked my team permission to leave early one night a week. Now don’t get too excited! Early just means 5pm instead of 7pm. But I’ll tell you what… I NEVER skip that run. I would feel like I was lying to my team and cheating.
Unfortunately, Nemo left me a little more than I’m comfortable with right now, so I am waiting a few more hours…
Stay warm out there!
Last year, Brendan and I signed up for a turkey trot in Salem, MA. It started really early in the morning and it was pretty far away… so we slept through it. Never doing that again! This year, I signed up for the race that was just a few minutes from our house and started at 9am… much better. Brendan was still not convinced it would go any better, apparently, so he just drove me to Starbucks and then to the start line. I take what I can get.
It was 40 degrees outside, so I was pretty pumped for a chilly, but comfortable 4-mile run. I started the morning off with a bowl of pumpkin pie oatmeal at home (old fashioned oats cooked normally, add canned pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and brown sugar. Finish with a dollop of vanilla yogurt on top!) Then Brendan took me to Starbucks for a caramel brulee latte.
I pretty much wore all my favorite running gear: Lululemon tank, highlighter warmer-than-normal half zip, full length Zella tights, unisex Nike hat, Garmie, and Five Fingers. I ended up wishing I had worn a lighter half-zip when I got warm, but it was freezing at the start, so I think it was the way to go.
This race truly was my last race before jaw surgery, so I wanted to push it, but I also knew I hadn’t been watching my pace at all recently, so I had no idea what to expect. Brendan and I talked about my game plan the night before, and we decided a 9-minute pace was realistic. I knew I could do better since I ran last weekend’s half marathon at a 9:15, but I’ve historically not been very good at changing my pace. My marathon pace is my half pace is my 5k pace.
I know I’ve said this before, but there is just something so cool about people coming together to run as a group. It is so magical when you are walking to the start of a race and runners are appearing at every corner, all waking up to meet and share this common love. It’s like we are all in on a secret. Runners are scattered on the sidewalks creeping towards the start, until suddenly we are less discreet…
How cool is that?! I don’t have Garmie with me right now, but my splits were approximately:
Mile 1) 8:15
Mile 2) 8:15
Mile 3) 8:30
Mile 4) 8:00
For a 4 mile race PR (I don’t think I’ve run a 4-mile race before) of about 33 minutes! I was more than happy with my time! The race was hard. It was hilly, it was cold, my left leg sucked the whole time. Did I mention it was like REALLY HILLY! But it was really fun, too. A lot of people dressed up with turkey costumes or hats, a lot of families came out to run together, and a lot of neighbors brought their Thanksgiving coffee outside to cheer us on. It was a really awesome community event, and I will definitely be signing up again next year.
Holy Moly! I just switched roles and spectated at a marathon for the first time EVER… and not just any race! The mother of all marathons! It was such a blast. There were so many times today when I just had goose bumps and chills running up and down my body.
The excitement spreading down the street as the circling helicopter gets closer and closer… the leaders are coming!!!!! OMG I was giddy… I thought I was going to just roll over and cry and laugh all at the same time… and guess what? I didn’t even know who anyone was. All the runners I follow are in the Olympics this year, so they didn’t run today. But holy cow… it was so epic to see someone run past you… mile 23… so close… so fast… so inspiring…
I’ll stop word vomiting about my excitement and get to the pictures…
On Sunday, Julia and I jumped off the T at Copley to check out the freshly painted finish line…
Apparently, we weren’t the only ones…
The whole city gets so excited… even my favorite burrito joint…
We went to the expo to check out all the events… it was absolutely EPIC! Desiree Davila (running on the US Olympic marathon team in London 2012) was at the expo talking about the course and giving tips for the hot weather conditions…
I spent most of the day in Brookline with my friends, camped out at Mile marker 23…
And then the lead women were coming… !!!! They ran a relatively slow race today because it was SO HOT and the race officials spent days warning runners that they should not plan to set records this year. And then soon enough the lead men were there… SO EXCITING! so fast…
And then… Boom… tons of amazing athletes went zooming by… and then more and more and more…
I’m so glad I shared this experience with someone who thought it was just as cool as I thought it was! We are so pumped to run our marathons in just a few weeks… Hopefully it won’t be 80+ degrees!
I’ve spent a lot of this past week since the Great Bay Half Marathon processing some uncomfortable emotions around running. A lot of questions have come up for me…
Do I care that Julia beat me?
Do I want to get faster?
Will I ever qualify for Boston? Is that a realistic goal? Is that a goal I can set for the near future?
Do I want to run marathons anymore? Should I run marathons?
These questions led me to the big question…
Why do I run? WTF am I doing?
It was interesting because I talked through these issues with my mom, Brendan, and one of my coworkers, and each of the conversations brought up different sides. One thing I thought was super interesting was my conversation with my coworker. We’ll call him Matt. I told Matt all about my conflicting thoughts and emotions.
On the one hand, I had a pretty good race last weekend. I PR’d by 10 seconds for my hilly race PR (I can classify PRs if I want to), I had a really strong last few miles for the first time in a long time, and I learned a lot about my struggle with pacing. On the other hand, it wasn’t a true PR and that sucked. Julia ran quite a bit faster than me and she got an enormous confidence boost that day, which made me super jealous all of a sudden. The day after the race when I went out to do an easy four miles, I COULD NOT RUN. My injured hamstring from 3 years ago did not like our 20 mile run and then it did not like the hilly half marathon. I was devastated to realize that I probably won’t be going into this marathon completely injury free. It won’t be ideal. That sucks. It sucks so bad to train for something for months and then realize that I will have to start all over to try to achieve an injury-free marathon. This made me question whether I was really cut out for marathon training. Maybe my body just isn’t responding well to high mileage. Maybe it never will. If I were to run a flat half in a month instead of the full, I would probably PR. But now I feel like I just maybe will take a few minutes off my marathon time and find myself needing rest for months. EEEEWWW MY LIFE.
Matt responded by bringing up the fact that in the end I am still getting exercise and isn’t that why I run anyways? LOL LOL LOL I died. I died because that is absolutely why I started running. I started running years ago to exercise, to burn calories. Do I enjoy those same benefits every time I go running now? Yes. Is that why I am training for a full marathon?! Absolutely not. and that’s what I told Matt. I LOVE running. I LOVE training. I live for weekend days spent out on a well-planned long run of at least 2 hours. I live for the planning of that run, the execution, and the RECOVERY. Oh the recovery. I love the whole day. It is so luxurious. Now… if I suddenly did not love running, did not love training, would I still run? Probably. Would I run long? Absolutely not. I can manage my weight a million times more easily if I run 3-4 times a week for 30-40 minutes. I struggle to manage my weight when I start marathon training. BUT I LOVE IT!
I love running. I love training plans. I love running vacations with friends. I love distance races.
I like getting better. I like running a PR. I like feeling like I am good at what I do.
I ABSOLUTELY DREAM of a BQ. And so I realized… sometime soon I will sit down and get serious. I will plan speed training and actually do the reps that are on the schedule. I will do tempo runs. I will get uncomfortable during training runs. I know I will not be able to do those things until I really commit to them. That isn’t right now. I will not BQ in Toronto. I didn’t get serious this training cycle. I ran three days a week or less. Sometimes once. I did exactly two speed workouts… the first two. A BQ wouldn’t mean so much to me if I could just qualify after this training.
I will BQ some day. I don’t need to worry about that today.
I just ran my first half marathon on the East Coast! Last year when I was training for the Eugene Marathon, I worked the Race for the Roses Half Marathon into my training schedule and I PR’d for the first time in YEARS! I had pretty high hopes for this race because I knew that my confidence with the 13 mile distance during marathon training had the potential to lead to a great half. Unfortunately, the race website refers to the “roller coaster hills,” but never says “WARNING: THIS COURSE IS SO HILLY YOU WILL DIE.” So I had some unrealistic expectations going into this race.
So here is my mile-by-mile race recap:
Pre-race: I picked Julia up around 8:45am at her apartment. I know, 8:45am! So luxurious. Most races are almost over by then. This race started at 11am, which is good because it was pretty freezing out at 7am. We drove the hour and 20 minutes to Newmarket, New Hampshire, which is a small rural area near the coast. I was feeling really prepared. I think I brought everything I own related to running in the car… OH SHOOT!! Except my GARMIN!!! Which I didn’t realize I had forgotten until we were halfway there. At this point I had a minor almost crying panic attack. Not because I NEED my Garmin to race, but because I had spent my ENTIRE day at work on Friday (so busy at work these days!) reading about a new pacing strategy I was going to try.
We got to the parking area and got on the race shuttle to the start without any problem. Of course, the bathroom lines were SUPER long, so Julia and I grabbed some paper towels and headed out to the woods!
At this point I hadn’t taken the time to calmly think through a new race strategy and I got a little caught up in Julia’s race strategy. She was planning to stick to the 8:00 pacer they had running the race and just try to hold on. So I thought, YEAH, I can just hold onto a pacer. WTF was I thinking (you may notice below that my lovely running partner is about 20 feet taller than me)!! I decided to start with the 8:30 pacer.
Miles 1-4: I started with the 8:30 pacer, but then I felt comfortable going a little faster, so I just decided to go a little in front of him… and then I didn’t know where he was. And then I knew I was an idiot because I had gone out too fast. My whole plan I had developed on Friday at work was to go out super comfortable like a 9 or 9:30 pace and then push at the halfway point or later. I had wanted to try this because I always always go out too fast in a race and then die and all running literature/scientific studies show that this is the worst race strategy ever for having a good time. So pretty much my plan went in the crapper. I started getting really nervous about the moment when the 8:30 guy would pass me. I was worried it would really mess with my head and I would feel like walking or slowing down a lot if I felt really defeated. And then it happened. at around mile 4.5 the 8:30 pacer passed me… and I dropped off immediately. Cool.
Miles 5-9: I kept trudging along. The course was ridiculous. The hills NEVER EVER STOPPED. I mean, this course was 100% rolling hills with some enormous hills dispersed throughout. I got my iPod out when the 8:30 pacer passed me so that I could get the negativity out of my head. I’ve been reading a blog by a woman training for a 50 mile race and she recently discussed the ebbs and flows of a race/training run and the importance of letting yourself believe that the bad times in a run or race will pass. It is so easy to struggle and immediately give in to the race just being “a bad race.” But really that hard time could just last for 2 miles if you decide to let it pass. So I tried really hard to just accept the struggle and not let it dictate the rest of my race. I also started thinking about this saying that I had seen on Pinterest:
I walked up the killer hills and I took an espresso GU at mile 6.3. PS… espresso GU is delicious!!! Coffee frosting in a pouch! I decided to try GU out today because I had a SUPER hard time getting myself to chew on anything during our 20 mile training run and I ended up really suffering during that run.
Mile 9-12: Did I say I liked that GU? WTF was I thinking trying that out today??!! That was all I could think as the promised 2X caffeine in the espresso GU went rolling through my stomach. My portapotty radar turned on and I started feeling really angry that this was actually happening to me during a race. The 9:00 pacer passed me around mile 9 and told me he was on pace. I thought I would tag onto the group running with him, but then I just didn’t. All I could think about was my stomach. But then I realized I was still running pretty strong for such a hilly course, and he didn’t get tooooo far in front of me.
I passed the portapotty at mile 9.75 thinking I was okay for now and there would be another one soon. IDIOT!!! I spent the next 2 miles scanning the bare trees to see if any of them had a trunk wide enough to conceal my bare bottom. No such luck. So I did the penguin shuffle for 2 miles and continued to scan each rock, bush, and house to see if there was any sign of a bathroom area for me. I also considered for a good 5 minutes the diaper capacity of my running skirt. Conclusion: I would really rather not try that today. So there I was at mile 12.25 (SO CLOSE TO THE FINISH!!) and I went into that portapotty. In hindsight, if I had my Garmin on and knew how close I was to breaking 2 hours I would not have gone to the bathroom.
Miles 12-13.1: Even though I had a struggle in the middle of the race, I don’t think I have ever felt so strong in a race from mile 10-13. My legs felt pretty great considering how hard the course was. I realized that during the last mile and I felt pretty proud of myself for having a positive thought. lol. I also felt a lot better because I went to the bathroom, I guess. I ran a strong finish and I started kicking pretty darn early. I was SHOCKED when I saw the race clock ahead of me said 2:01 something. I immediately felt proud of my race and super angry about every moment I had spent in the bathroom or slowing down at all that had kept me from breaking 2 hours. If only I had known, I swear I would have kicked earlier. Think about the damage I could have done on a flat course. I know I would have PR’d. So I finished in 2:01:32. I felt like crying for a good 15 minutes for some reason. I was so mad at myself for not following my race plan. I really want to know how I would do if I started out slow. I guess I am still young, so I have plenty of time to work on new race plans.
Julia PR’d by like 11 minutes or something and finished in 1:46. WTF!!!! Why do I train with her!!?? I liked this race, I’m glad I did it, I will never do it again. WHY would you ever run such a hilly course? not cool. Next weekend I’ll be running 22 miles with that speedster.
Look who I caught up with just as she was crossing the finish line…
Can you imagine if I had NOT taken my mom to the Boston finish line on her first day here? I can’t. I get so excited every time I see it.
Can you imagine me NOT making everyone take a picture with me in front of this beauty!?
Can you imagine my mom keeping her eyes open for every picture? No?
Hell? Christmas? Not Halloween? Whatever it is, I’m having a hard time being okay with it… Everyone keeps telling me that a snowstorm isn’t actually normal weather for October in the Northeast. Guess what? I don’t care what’s normal… I care what is happening now… I’m just wondering if we are going to skip right over the rest of fall, or if it will be wonderful and beautiful fall again next weekend. Either way, I decided that I needed to wake up and get ready for the winter!
It was so cold every morning I woke up this morning that I only got up to go running before work on one day, as opposed to the three days I had gone the past few weeks. Boo. Plus, it was too dark to go after work, and I hadn’t gotten a gym membership yet. It was still okay because I was still able to walk to work, which makes me at least feel like my butt isn’t becoming permanently attached to the office chair. But on Thursday night it snow/slushed, and I decided enough was enough. I filled the hybrid with gas and took her to work on Friday morning. So, what’s next?
It stopped snowing and started raining and just being ridiculously cold, so I decided I really just needed a gym membership. Check! Brendan and I went today, and I signed right up! I’m pretty excited because they have BodyPump classes, which I HEART!
On Friday night I bought a parka online from LLBean.
I’m trying to figure out which snow boots I should get. I’m thinking I won’t get the furry ones now because that would just be too much with the hood on that coat (although the faux fur is removable). But these were the boots I was planning on getting before I moved here…
Now I;m thinking I might get some more simple snow boots from LLBean because my coat will come with a $10 gift card. Any suggestions? I haven’t owned snow boots in YEARS! Now, If you all think I am just crazy overreacting… I kinda am… but I also just want to be ready so that I don’t HATE my life here. There is snow on the ground right now!!!
Feels like 22…. EEW!! I really want to go running tomorrow if the roads clear up enough to make me think people aren’t going to splash/drench me when they drive by with dirty slush. It will be at least 10 degrees warmer tomorrow!! Great… Otherwise, I will have my first workout of the season in the gym.
PS… It seems we like apples more than I thought because it has not been hard to eat the apples we picked. I have been cooking them in oatmeal and eating them raw for snacks… plus, I made wonderful cinnamon apple pancakes that I will show you soon!