Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Training for Chicago, Day 1 (...plus, initial goals for the marathon)

Today is the day. I am officially in training for the 2019 Chicago Marathon. I am excited. I feel ready for this running adventure. I am also terrified, but I consider that a positive. To me, that's a testament to the fact that I've chosen to challenge myself. This will be my first marathon—I should be a bit nervous, yes? People tell me I will do just fine. I believe them. Plenty of people also tell me how hard it is to train for and run a marathon. I believe them, too.

I can do hard things.

I have all the emotions right now.
Mostly, I'm just focusing on the fact that I'm really...really excited about this.

I've been waiting for this day.
Marathon Training, Day 1.

I never thought I'd ever say that I was training for a marathon.

But, here I am.

And since I have no idea what I'm doing, I'm turning to someone most runners turn to when they need a training plan: Hal Higdon. I'm using his Marathon 3 training plan, which fits my current schedule. It only calls for three days of running per week, which is what I am already doing.

It's a 24-week plan.
I'll build to 20 miles.
I'll run that three times.

To me, Marathon 3 makes sense. Is it, perhaps, a bit aggressive for a first-timer like myself. Maybe. But I believe in myself. And I've been studying the plan for weeks now and feel as though I have my head wrapped around it (and enough base miles behind me) to be just fine.

I can do this.
I can do hard things.

As of right now, these are my goals:

1) Don't overtrain. Or start too fast.
I am guilty of pushing myself simply because I can. Who doesn't want to win? Or run as fast as they can? I need (and want) to reel that in. And in doing so, I'll prevent myself from overtraining. Watching pace and listening to my body (in training and on race day) will be key to getting myself across that finish line on my own two feet.

2) Cross the finish line on my own two feet (in less than four hours). 
Most people come up with a specific time goal. I have no time goal right now. I'm sure a target will develop as I get deeper into my training. Something to aim for based on the paces I'm putting out, but in all honesty—I just want to finish on my own two feet. Hopefully I can do that under four hours. So maybe that is a time goal? Or just a window to shoot for. Definitely not chasing that BQ.

3) Raise enough money for The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
I am running this marathon as a member of Team CF. This means I need to raise a certain amount of money that ultimately goes to finding a cure for Cystic Fibrosis. I am so very willing to help this foundation. I lost a dear friend to CF, and I'll take his spirit with me as I go. If you feel it in your heart to help, I'd be forever grateful for your generosity. I cannot express enough thanks for each and every donation I've already received.

4) Prove to myself that I can do hard things.
For the longest time, I didn't believe that I could ever run a marathon. And there's still a part of me that is slightly doubtful. BUT—I'm choosing to prove that tiny part of me wrong. Starting now. I am going to believe that I can do hard things, and my goal is to maintain that belief from start to finish.

165 days until I line up at the start line.
165 days until I complete this adventure.
165 days until I become a marathoner.

Let's do this.
Let's do the hard thing.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

4 Things I've Learned While Running Races

In just about a week, I will start training for the Chicago Marathon. I am equal parts excited and terrified. To make this journey a true adventure, and to maintain my love for the sport, I decided to run at least one race every month this year. I ran the Frigid 5K in January—and I've completed four more races since then. Each one of them taught me a valuable lesson.

Ice Fest 5K 

Conditions were not ideal for this local 5K. February in Michigan is a solid guarantee for snow coverage on the ground. A bulk of the course was clear as can be, with a small portion of it covered completely in snow.

Conditions were not ideal for this local 5K. In February in Michigan, you are almost always guaranteed two things: Cold temps and snow-covered streets and sidewalks. We got both. I can deal with the cold, but snow and ice on streets and sidewalks...ugh. The route for this race saw plenty of clear streets and sidewalks, but a portion of the path was almost completely covered in snow. To make matters worse, it was snow sucked your feet down into it. Hard to run through, for sure.

Here's what happened: Ahead of that snow-covered section, I was trailing the lead female by seconds.  I had an opportunity to pass her, but held back thinking it was too early to surge forward.

I should have surged forward. Had I done that, I might have been able to keep her behind me. But I hit the snow-covered section and lost a passable distance. Ultimately, she finished ahead of me.

Lesson learned: Don't hold back. If you get the opportunity to make a move...if you feel ready to make that move...do it. Surge forward and see where it takes you. (Life lesson as well, perhaps?)

St. Pat's Day 5K

I've got a bit of a dance going on with two other ladies in my age group. We keep running the same races, and ultimately sharing that top spot on both the podium and in our age group. At this race, it was my turn to be the first female to finish.

With one surging ahead of me and the other staying close behind, I knew I had to run a really smart race. I kept tabs on the girl behind me and set my sights on the girl ahead of me. I slowly increased my speed, reserving as much energy as I could for that surge I knew I'd need. This allowed me to create some distance between myself and the girl behind me, while shortening the space between myself and the girl ahead of me. When that space became nothing more than a step or two, I made my move.

Lesson learned: Run smart, not fast. Fast will be smart when the time is right. Practice patience, and you'll find that time.

Shamrock Shuffle 8K

This was a fun race. A test of my ability to keep up. I ran it with my running buddy, who is much faster than I am when he wants to be. One of the reasons I like running with him: He pushes me. Or, in this case, pulls me along. This race was his way of getting me out of my comfort zone, which he did quite successfully. I pushed myself—hard. And it hurt. But I believed in myself largely because he believed in me, too.

When my clients tell me an exercise felt especially hard, I tell them it's because they can handle it and they're pushing themselves to new levels of strength. I remembered that as I was running this race.

Lesson learned: Trust your training and embrace the suck. Don't shy away from the burn. Embrace it because you can. And you will.

Sarett Spring Stampede

Oh, trails. How I loathe (and love) you. This 5K was my very first trail race. Sure, I've clocked miles (and races) on grass before, but never up and down hills in the woods. Official hiking trails these were! This race was hard. I chased the two girls in my age group I always seem to be dancing with. They ultimately beat me, but that's okay.

Lesson learned: We all have our strengths and weaknesses. My weaknesses are trails. But it's our weaknesses that present the greatest challenges, and taking on those challenges makes us better runners. Work on your weaknesses, don't shy away from them. 

Next race?
Another local 5K in May.

But first, just one week until I kick off marathon training. I am so excited for the Chicago Marathon. Nervous, but excited. Every step I take will be for The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. If you feel it in your heart to help me find a cure for cystic fibrosis, I would be forever grateful for your donation.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Running for Charity: Why I joined Team CF for the Chicago Marathon.

There are a handful of ways you can enter the Chicago Marathon. By lottery, which is not a guaranteed entry. With a time qualification, which I clearly do not have. Or by running for a charity, which is the direction I chose to go—but not without giving it some serious thought.

When you run for a charity, you are given a guaranteed entry. But you must raise a certain amount of money, and if you don't, you must pay the remaining amount. It's a daunting task, added on to the fact that I'd need to raise this money while training for my very first marathon.

No pressure. None at all.
(She says with sarcasm in her voice.)

But I really wanted to run this year's Chicago Marathon. Before the lottery opened, I looked at the list of potential charity partners. There were a number of viable options, none of which really stuck out to me as "from the heart" choices. I didn't want to join a charity team for the guaranteed entry, and for that reason alone. To make the effort worthwhile, I wanted the charity to represent something bigger.

I went back and forth: Lottery or charity, charity or lottery?
And then I found Team CF.

If you're not familiar with Cystic Fibrosis, it's a rare, genetic, life-threatening disease that has no cure. People living with CF—well over 30,000 Americans at this point—struggle to breathe every single day. To breathe! Something so many of us do without even thinking. These people are moms, dads, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, friends and co-workers. They are my friend Jonathan.

He was the closest thing I ever had to a little brother. A dear family friend, perhaps my sister's best friend. He had an incredible zest for life and a spirit that brightened just about everyone around him. To know him was to love him. To know his family, is to love them, too.

Jonathan missed out on the cure.
A cure that The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is still looking for.

Real progress has been made, but the lives of people with CF are still being cut far too short. So that's why we fight. That's why Team CF runs the Chicago Marathon. To raise awareness, and to gather funds to maintain momentum toward a cure.

As a member of Team CF, I am given a fundraising goal.

I take it very seriously—as seriously as crossing the finish line on my own two feet. I realize now that, while running for a charity adds an extra level of action required of me, it's a level that motivates me greatly. Jonathan never let a challenge stop him. He looked challenges in the face and took them on, knowing that life was far too incredible to let anything stop him. I'll take that face with me, and I'll run with it.

I can already hear him heckling me on. Because that's what he'd do, he'd heckle you, but from the heart. He was a punk, and we all loved him for it because he was the most loving punk you'd ever meet.

I don't expect you to make a donation to Team CF. But if you do, please know that I am forever grateful for your generosity. Your gift will motivate me through the marathon, but more importantly, it will support lifesaving research, as well as medical and educational programs for Cystic Fibrosis.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart—and my lungs.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Runner Behind You: Frigid 5K Race Recap

One of my goals this year is to run at least one race every month. Obviously, the Chicago Marathon will be the biggest one of all. It will also be my toughest, and I don't want it to suck the running life out of me. Hence, the one-a-month goal. Running can and should always be fun. I'm hoping monthly races will remind me of that. And later this year, I'm hoping they will help me through some tougher training runs.

This past weekend, I ran my January race: The Frigid 5K in Niles, Michigan.

True to it's name, the race was very frigid. I ran it last year. It was equally frigid.

To get and keep myself in the right mindset to run, train and race, I've been using the Believe Training JournalI wasn't sure if I'd really like it, but it's proving to be an absolutely wonderful tool.

This training journal is written specifically for runners. It's packed with info and plenty of pages, which makes it easy to log miles from week to week. It also provides the space to contemplate race-day plans:

For the Frigid 5K, I had three goals:

1) Win an age group award.
2) Run at a 7:15/mile pace.
3) Beat last year's time (23:55).

I accomplished two of those goals. I finished first in my age group with a time of 23:50. I didn't quite get to that 7:15/mile pace, but that's okay with me. The course itself was super slick and snow-covered. I did what I could.

I also learned a really hard lesson:

There will always be a runner behind you. Let them fuel you.

Here's the thing, with less than a quarter of a mile to go, I let someone pass me.
Literally slowed down to let someone pass me.

I should have pushed harder. I could have held her off.
I should have ignored her. I could have blocked her out.

She was on my shoulder, breathing down my neck and I just wanted her gone. So I gave in to my frustrations and let her pass just to get her away from me. Could I have held her off? Absolutely. But I gave in. Damn, I gave in.

I should have pushed harder.
I should have ignored her.

Thing is, no matter how hard you prepare for a race, whether you're in peak physical condition or not, it's your mental game that takes you above and beyond your physical abilities. Because if you believe in yourself, you and I both know that you will absolutely achieve for yourself.

But, I had a moment on Saturday. I gave in, and that's something I need to work on. But I'm not going to dwell on it. I came home from the race and this quote was on my calendar:

Forget the mistake, remember the lesson.

Next time, I'm going to hold her off.
Next time, I'm going to block her out.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Running Into 2019: Goals and Dreams

Here we are, 15 days into the new year. I'm running at it full force, completely propelled by a list of 2019 goals and dreams. This is going to be a big year. A good year. I know it—do you?

We say that every year, though.

"This is my year."
"It's going to be the best."

And yet, we somehow never believe ourselves when we make those statements. Friends, let's all of us choose to believe ourselves this year. Right here, right now. Decide with me that 2019 will be fantastic because it can be. I promise you this.

Declare your goals.
Believe in them.
Then chase them down with a fierceness you never knew existed.

And then, decide to be happy. Just decide it!
Because happiness is something we all deserve.

Also, it's something we can easily achieve.

So, goals and dreams. 2019. Let's do this, shall we?
Declaring right here, right now, that I will:

1) Push myself beyond my fears. Never in my life have I ever believed that I could possibly run a marathon. I created excuse after excuse and stood by them wholeheartedly. But then, someone else believed in me. And I started to believe in myself, which is ultimately why I signed up for the Chicago Marathon. So this is my year to push myself beyond my fears. To believe in myself so that I'm not holding myself back. Ever. Because that's just silly, right?

2) Run a race every single month. Perhaps not as deep as the previous goal, but specific and measurable—and fun. With the marathon looming ahead of me, running is going to be a challenge that may shift into "not fun" territory. So to keep myself loving every minute, I've decided to sign up for at least one race every month this year. Running is, and should always be, completely fun. Hopefully by the end of the year, I'll have a set of medals to prove it.

3) Cross the finish line at the Chicago Marathon on my own two feet. I have no time goals. I really don't! This experience will be new, exciting and incredibly challenging. All I want to do is cross the finish line on my own two feet. I have a training plan in mind, and I intend to follow it as best I can to set myself up for that finish I crave.

4) Meditate weekly. Mental health is important. I have a go-go-go mentality that isn't always good for the brain. I hope to calm some of the chaos by developing a much better relationship with meditation. Not sure what that looks like just yet, but I am currently shooting for at least twice a week. Small changes lead to big results, yes?

5) Read daily. I spent the back half of 2018 developing a hardcore reading routine. I did my best to read daily, even if it was one chapter or just five pages of a book or magazine. I want to continue that tradition this year. If there's one thing I love, it's turning off my brain and diving into my imagination via the printed page.

Of course, these are just a few of my goals and dreams for 2019. The items on this list are a bit more applicable to this space. Those that pertain to work or to my personal life at home...I won't bore you with talks of budgets and profits, and some things are best kept closer to the heart. Thing is, no matter what your goals and dreams are, or how long your list is, there's still one major goal and dream we all share:

"This is my year."
"It's going to be the best."


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...