Race musings, the 2012 edition

Race musings…that’s what I like to call these…vs. calling this my 2012 race ‘schedule’ or something. Mostly because this list may change…and very likely will. I mean, just look at my last attempt at a race ‘schedule’ for 2012 – it’s already changed since I wrote that post just a couple of months ago!

However, I will say that these musings for 2012 races feels very doable, approachable, very “me.”  Sure – there are other races and things I’d like to tack onto this list (hello, Cleveland half marathon with these fab ladies; or the Little Rock half marathon…purely to race with blog bestie Heather!), but I’m trying to be realistic with this list. Not just physically realistic, but financially realistic too, hehe. Plus, I’m not the type of runner that likes to race constantly. I race for a purpose. I run because I love it. Big difference in my book.

So, without further ado – my 2012 race musings

Black Cat 10/20 miler (March 4): This is the race I alluded to in my previous post. I’m using this as a “reach” race. A race that I can tuck away in the back of my mind as one I’d like to go for this winter if I can keep that run-durance up where I’d like it to be.  It would feel damn good to kill 10 miles in March. To know that I can still hit those double-digits despite lots of treadmill runs and chilly rundates this winter. So, we shall see. It’s practically in my back yard, so barring a major snow/ice storm, I’d like to nail this one.

Boston’s Run to Remember (May 27): This half marathon is just one week before I officially start training for my first full marathon (whoa). My strategy is to start full marathon training with a 13 mile base under me. This race will give me that base. Plus, it’ll give me (and Scott, my running partner in crime!) a chance to race in Boston, something I’ve always wanted to do. Total bucket list item…

Wicked Half – a return (Sept 22): This race holds such sentimental value to me. It was my first half marathon. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It tested me physically but way more so mentally. I’d love nothing more than to return to this race a stronger, happier, more confident runner. The one iffy factor? This race is just three weeks before the Chicago marathon. That doesn’t take it off the table entirely, it just might require me to take a different approach to this race – as in running this race vs. racing this race.  We shall see.

Chicago Marathon (October 7): 26.2. My first. ‘nuf said.

Green Strides half marathon (October TBD): This is by far my favorite half marathon. My proudest moment of 2011. I’d love to return to Newburyport to run this one again. But, it all depends on when this race is. If it’s the week after Chicago? Probably a no-go. So let’s hope it’s late-October next year, mmk? Plus, then I can run this one with my sis, officially or unofficially, whatever she wants. 😉

Wild Turkey Run (5th time running! Nov 22): My favorite race of the year. Even if it’s freezing out. It brings back so many running memories…it’s a race that usually ends up being just Scott and I. And I love that. ❤

(Remembering) a proud moment

I had an opportunity to take a drive down memory lane yesterday – and it brought back a flood of emotions.

…of Pride.

You see, I was back in the same area that the Green Strides half marathon was held earlier this fall and as soon as I drove down the street that made up the last 3 miles of that race, my heart skipped a beat.

I was right back in that moment.

…of pushing my body to go, go, GO.
…of feeling my legs just move, moving faster than I’ve ever felt them move.
…of seeing Scott’s beaming smile and watching him arm pump everytime he looked back at me.
…of whizzing by runners left and right, the wind hitting my face, my eyes blurry from the wind whipping into my eyes.
…of turning the final corner and seeing how close we were to finishing and thinking “this is it. just GO.”
…of crossing that finish line and seeing 2:05:32.
…and thinking “holy hell, I had no idea I had that in me.”

And now? Just revisiting that area, seeing that route again, re-living the final 3 miles of that 13.1 and I am feeling even more proud than I did on that day.

It was that day, that race, that gave me the confidence in my running ability that I never had in me before. That I didn’t think even existed.

Most of all, it gave me the confidence to commit to 26.2. The minute I crossed that finish line, I knew. I want to be a marathoner. Just once. I want that.

As we near the end of 2011, I can’t help but think about how this year has shaped up for me. It’s been one helluva good year, I can’t lie. And in thinking of a way to recap the year, I thought about doing a “memories” style post or a “resolutions/goals” post for 2012.

But really? I’d rather think back on this year and honor proud moments. So that’s what I intend to do in a mini-series I’m calling “proud moments of 2011.” (so original, I know)

…and for starters, I’m definitely calling the Green Strides half my proudest moment of 2011. Without a doubt. 

I’ll be back with more “proud moments” in the next couple of weeks leading into Christmas and the end of the year. But for now – I urge you: think back on your year and pinpoint your own moments of pride.  And once you do, bottle them up, harness them into continued pride, strength and confidence as we start a brand-new year.

2012: I have a feeling you’re going to be a goodie…

Racing towards 26.2

After following along while so many fantastic runners took to the NYC streets yesterday for the ING NYC marathon, thoughts of my own 26.2 plans were not far from my mind. I’m already starting to mull over how I want to approach this ginormous goal of mine — and finding a way to make this marathon training my own.

…making it (26.2) mine is so important to me. 

I fully realize that this is going to be both an incredibly rewarding experience but also an incredibly hard road towards 26.2. The “hard” part I’m totally ready for, but I also want this to be fun. It’s also something my husband feels pretty strongly about — making sure we’re having fun along the way, and not getting too caught up in running and racing and nothing else. <Expect a few more posts on how we plan to approach training for 26.2… there’s just so much I want to say…!>

One way I think we’ll make this whole thing more “fun” is by picking a few really great races to weave into our training plans for next year.

So far, these are just a couple of the ones we’re mulling over — and in some cases, we’re going to have to decide pretty quickly given when registrations open for a few of these! (nothing like planning ahead, right??).

May 27, 2012:  Boston’s Run to Remember — I’ve always wanted to run in Boston and this might be our best shot of doing just that. Plus, this would help us both ‘stay honest’ with our running endurance over the winter months…knowing a half marathon is on the schedule for early-spring and all. And, this would be a great way to officially kick off our marathon training — by running a killer 13.1 (no pressure or anything?!) and starting full training with a nice base to go on.

July 15, 2012: Napa to Sonoma wine country half marathon…remember my “half marathon bucket list” race in Healdsburg I have been dying to run? Well, that one isn’t until late-October which is *after* the Chicago marathon, but this one? It fits *way* too perfectly into our training schedule to not at least consider it. Plus, this would quasi-qualify to me as a bucket list item checked off the list. And it would kind of make up for missing out on the wine country three-peat this past fall. A colleague of mine has run this one twice and LOVED it. C’mon, any race with wine at the hydration stops the last few miles is an *awesome* race in my book. **This one fills up fast (shocker) and registration opens on Nov 15…I’m thinking we just HAVE to do this one, can I get an amen on that??

Hmmm…that’s two “training” races which feels about right. *But* I loved the Green Strides half marathon so much this year that I definitely plan to run it again. The 2012 date hasn’t been announced yet but I’m hoping it’s either earlier this year so I can run it before Chicago…or that it’s later in October so we can run it *after* we run Chicago. Either way, it’s on my 2012 race list ‘fo sho!

Other than that, though, I’m not sure if we’ll sign up for many other races — I sort of want to run a 10k at some point, mostly because I’ve never run that distance in a race before and like the concept of breaking down 26.2 miles into two 10ks and one 5k. So that’s lurking in the back of my mind, too.

But what’s really lurking in the back of my mind? Just how excited I am to run the Chicago Marathon on October 7, 2012 — with my best friend by my side. Racing towards 26.2, having as much fun along the way as we can. We got this babe, yes we do. 🙂

So, 26.2.

Yes, I’m* still* riding runner’s high from Sunday.
(hope you don’t mind…) 

And no, I haven’t run since then and don’t plan to until Saturday.
…just like I promised. (running smart, my new mantra…)

But, I have to get something off my chest.

I can’t stop thinking about 26.2.

Sunday’s race showed me that my body *is* capable of much more than I ever thought or ever trusted it to do.

Before Sunday the sheer thought of 26.2 miles sent my heart racing and my palms sweaty.

Now the thought of it excites me and energizes me, drives me.
…to continue strengthening my body.
…to continue to build my endurance.
…to continue to run smartly, proudly, happily.
I’m ready to conquer 26.2.

But now the question becomes – which 26.2?

I’ll be honest and say that there is one race that’s on my shortlist right now.
And it’s Chicago.

And here’s why.
…it’s the weekend of Columbus Day (so the hubs won’t have to worry about time off from teaching).
…it’s the day after my 33rd birthday (whoa).
…it’s nearly a year away, plenty of time to train (in the summer especially).
…and my mom has already agreed to RV it to Chicago to cheer us on, act as race day photog, *and* provide me with my own personal bathroom on the course. (HUGE bonus!)

It’s destiny, no?
(I can think of at least one, two, ok – three people who are probably really excited that Chicago is on the shortlist).

So now what?
Do I call Chicago “it” and start preparing (i.e. “training”…my way)?
Or do I really have to wait until February when sign-ups open to throw the gauntlet down on 26.2?

I’m thinking the former….whatcha say? 😉

…347 days and counting.

Snapshots and snippets from 13.1

Well. I’m *still* grinning like a fool (as my blog bestie Heather would say!) over Sunday’s race day PR.

I *still* can’t quite believe we ran 13.1 in 2:05:32. 
*OR* that we ran it at a 9:35 average pace according to the official race results.
…does that mean I am speedier than I thought?!

Who knew. Apparently my body was waiting to surprise the sh*t out of me on race day, and surprise me it did.

Now that I’ve had a bit of time to digest this fact, I’ve been reliving portions of the race in my mind (which makes for quite a distracting Monday, lemme tell ya!).

So I figured I’d share some snapshots and snippets from the race on Sunday since it’s basically the only thing I can think about right now!

…it’s mile 10! Right around the time that my body totally took over and my mind let go. I have never run the last 3 miles of 13.1 that strongly. Unreal.

…giving mom the thumbs-up, feeling good, feeling strong, feeling proud!

…and now it’s back to business, game face on, about to round the bend towards mile 11.

around the bend we go (um, wtf is up with the guy in the orange vest? Just noticed that..haha)

my sis and M, running strong. GO YOU!! Love the unofficial racers, running strong. Proud sister alert 😉

and DONE! 13.1 strong! (if you look really close, you can see the wiped look in my eyes, beneath all that pride, of course 😉 )

Just looking back at these pictures from yesterday makes my heart soar with pride. And…it makes me want to run another half, and another and another…and then 26.2. Which is now really weighing on my mind (in a good way)…but that’s a blog conversation for another day. For now? I’m basking in runner’s high/PR glory for as long as I can. I hope you don’t mind. 😉

…but before I go, I’ll leave you with a few funny snippets of things overheard while running 13.1

“I heart sweat! Keep going, you’re not sweating enough!” (says the guy practically taunting me to run harder after he saw my super cute “I heart Sweat” shirt ala Ali).

“I heart sweat! Now you’re sweating! Keep going!” (says the same dude at mile 10, guess I proved that I was indeed sweating hard enough for him!)

“Remember that time, we were driving with Bob…and he was totally tripping on acid…but didn’t realize it, so we kept asking him if he was ‘feeling it yet’ and he kept saying no, and then we asked him again and he finally started laughing when we asked him if he was tripping…” (says some random woman re-living her Dead Head days…um what? acid?? seriously? Is this really race day fodder??)

“5k to go! 5k to go! 5k to go! 5k to go!” (says the woman at the mile 10 marker who made me smile SO BIG knowing that we’d gotten to that ever-elusive final 5k of the half)

“Just 300 more yards, looking good!!” (says the guy 300 yards from the finish line…this is when it hit me that whoa, we’re thisclose to being done, PUSH IT!!)

The day I worked for that PR

Holy crap.

I just PR’d my third half marathon by 8 minutes. 
This after PR’ing my last half marathon by 10 minutes.

But this PR? It feels quite different.

Today, I worked for that PR.
really worked for it.

Sure. I went into this race with the same goal I had for the last half marathon – to run happy, to run proud, to finish strong. No PR time lurking in the back of my mind.

…well, not *really* anyway.

I knew I wanted to run this half faster than the last, but I didn’t have a number in mind, I just wanted to run strong. I knew the weather conditions were going to cooperate and the course would be much flatter and less hellacious hill-wise. Which gave me a confidence boost – I could remove those two barriers from my mind and just run. Run strong, run hard, run proud.

I repeated those three things in my head throughout this race.  Almost like a chant. Just to keep my mind from running wild on me – which it threatened to do quite a few times for the first half of the race. I told Scott I was struggling around mile 5 or 6 and he looked at his watch and told me, “no, you’re not – you’ve just run your best miles yet.”

And then it hit me: I wasn’t struggling, I was working for those miles.

It was in that moment that a switch flipped — as soon as I realized what was happening, that my body was working for those miles – and ultimately for that PR – that I started to trust it more. To let my body do what my mind kept trying to tell me wasn’t possible.  

And what my body was trying to tell me was this:
That I could run faster. That I could run stronger. That I could run prouder.
…that I could run 13.1 miles in 2:05:32. 

And for that? I am so proud.
…proud that I let my body do the work.
…proud that I learned to shutter those self-doubt thoughts lurking, those “struggle” thoughts.
…proud that I finished what I started.
And ran a race to be proud of.  

The day that I worked for that PR. Today was that day. 
13.1 all done.

Editor’s note: pictures to come tomorrow thanks to my mom, official race day photographer. And special thanks to my sis and M for not just showing up to support us but to run a portion of the course “with” us (9.5 miles, they might as well have run the whole thing! Next time?…). ❤

Chasing 13.1

It’s getting to be about that time.

Racing time!

And I am quite honestly the MOST excited I’ve ever been to chase 13.1: 
…I feel ready.
…I feel strong.
…I feel happy.
Because I know I’ll cross that finish line proudly.

Know what else is *totally* exciting me about race weekend? 

The weekend forecast, for starters – could that *be* any more perfect running weather??

The fact that I already have my race day outfit all picked out. 
I heart sweat– obvs.

(paired with these which I’m totally buying later today!)

The race course, which I’m DYING to run – it’s in a beautiful area, with lots of gorgeous views, annnd it’s wicked flat:

The sheer fact that I’m running this race on my two year (whoa!) blog birthday is pretty unreal. Very fitting if you ask me. What’s also fitting? That I’ll be seeing one of my oldest blog friends, Alicia, this weekend for a sushi date with my sister! Also fitting? That my even longer time blog friend, Heather, is celebrating her two year blog birthday on the same day of her second half marathon, just a week after me. Stars aligning…must mean something, yeah??

And finally? It’s making me so happy to know that I’ll be seeing familiar faces on race day my sister and M will be there as our cheering squad (and may even hop in for a few miles!), and my mom – team photographer. Means the world to me to have them there. More than they probably know. That and the fact that I’ll be running side-by-side with Scott, my #1 fan and favorite running partner ever. We’re gonna rock it, babe. ❤

…and someone else I’m super-excited to see on race day? This girl! She is so frickin’ inspiring – I can’t wait to meet her in real life, especially now that she’s moved back home and wouldn’t ya know, that “home” is wicked close to where I live. Small world!

So yeah, all sort of excitement going on for me today. I’m ready for you 13.1. Ready to kill it.
…Yeah, I said it
. 😉

11 miles closer…

…to 13.1 

Yup, Saturday was our last long run of our training in preparation for the Green Strides half marathon next weekend! Weee! 😉

And, I have to say, despite 40 mph wind gusts and a hip that started to bug me about halfway through the run, I was amazed that the 11 miles seemed to fly by. I feel the most conditioned I have ever felt as a runner – and it’s for this reason that I am totally and utterly excited to “meet” 13.1 again next weekend.

So this “most conditioned” feeling I mention? It feels so great. I feel privileged to feel so strong and ready to rock this race.

…but I almost  feel *too* privileged, somehow. Almost like I don’t deserve it or something. Or that I’m on the verge of an injury or something else horrible that would prevent me from continuing on this runner’s high I’ve been loving the past few months. Sort of like the “waiting for the other shoe to drop” mentality. And that’s the one thing I do not like about this whole thing. It’s a weird feeling, and it sort of crept up out of the blue after our run. Dislike.

So why am I suddenly letting fear come into play? Why am I suddenly feeling like I haven’t earned this and/or don’t deserve this? I sure as hell have been working my ass off for this race, for the last race, for all of it. Why now?

I don’t know.
And I don’t care. 

After Saturday’s long run when these thoughts started to creep in, I made myself a promise: do not let self-doubt in. Not now. Not ever.

Instead – let’s look at October 23 as the pay-off of all this hard work and commitment and let’s celebrate that. It’s earned. It’s deserved.  It’s something you’ve more than worked for. Don’t back down now. Finish what you started. 

So 13.1? I’m coming for you. And if I were you, I’d watch your back.
Just sayin’.

Running “things”

There’s just one long run to go before the Green Strides half marathon. 

That’s the first thing that came to mind as soon as Scott and I finished our 12.5 miler on Saturday.

That and “wow, we ran that pretty fast” when I looked down at my watch to see 1:57 as our finishing time. And I have to say, it was a damn good run – this in spite of not one, but two, side cramps that popped up during the run (which surprised me since it’s been awhile since one of those bad boys cropped up). 

Like I said the other day, this race in two weeks continues to not be about the PR or any pace goals, whatsoever. It’s about running strong, running happy…but I have to say, seeing us kill these longer runs with a pretty decent time at the end of it? Works wonders for the run-confidence. 

This run was really similar to last weekend’s 11-mile long run in that I felt really good basically the whole time. The only thing that was different this time was how much warmer it was (random heat wave in October, I’ll take it!) and that my joints started to ache just a teeny bit during the last couple of miles. I’ll blame that on wear and tear with the final weeks of half training upon us.

…in fact, I’m pretty sure I’ll be taking a self-imposed week off from running after this race in two weeks.  Give the joints a bit of a breather. Hold me to that one, ok? 

But anyway, what this run also reminded me? To always be thankful for runs like this. Confidence building, challenging-but-oddly-fun runs. I know this isn’t something to ever take lightly and I promise I do not take it for granted one bit. I have to be honest – with every run, I am just amazed at how good and happy and great our running seems to be. I don’t know what it is, but somewhere in these past few months, I’ve seemed to hit my running stride. I don’t know what “did” it, but I promise you, I really, really LOVE it and really, really appreciate it. More than ever.

In other running related news (i.e running “things”):
…I love when funny running “things” happen to good people. Like my sister who ran an unexpected 11+ miler on Saturday, but only because she’s uhhh, directionally challenged, shall we say? If you haven’t read it, you should check out her recap of Saturday’s shenanigans here, it’s pretty funny (especially because I’m pretty sure she jinxed herself with that one!) 😉

…and, while we’re on the topic, I also have to give a big giant shout-out to my girl Heather who accomplished a PDR this weekend. 13.4 miles! GO YOU!!

As you can see, a whole lotta running “things” going on up in my brain lately. I hope you don’t mind the influx of running ramblings lately; I promise I’ll switch it up on ya soon. 😉

11 miles on rested legs

Thank you, rest day.  That is all. 

Let’s just say Saturday’s long run turned into what I’m deeming my best 11 miles ever.  And that’s *with* a rather rainy “blah” start to the 11.

We were up around 7:30 (correction: I was up then, Scott took a little nudging out of bed…ha) ready to hit the road by 8. Scott said “I have a really bad feeling we’re about to get poured on.” So of course, I braced myself for the worst. One look out the window told me it was definitely raining – not pouring, but not sprinkling either, a pretty steady, yucktastic rain.

But off we went. Me in my “I heart sweat” shirt (obvs) for extra motivation. A quick tweet to keep myself accountable (totally worked btw) and we were on our way.

At first, I outright considered turning our “long run” Saturday into a short run and flipping Sunday’s “recovery run” into our long run instead. It was pretty gross out. And I knew Scott wasn’t feeling it but was trying to be all supportive (which I totally appreciated, what a guy).  However, we got into a groove pretty quickly and before we knew it were already about 4 miles into our route when the rain started to let up.

And that’s when “golden hour” hit. The rain was no longer an issue (or distraction) and my legs were running along rather happily. Scott settled into a groove at that point too. We hit our first turnaround point and I bargained with myself – we’re already about a third of the way in, we got this. I was feeling so good and so glad that we didn’t give up like I originally anticipated we might.

Around mile 7, I knew we were gonna finish all 11. Mile 7 is where we run right past our street and it is often painful to know how close, yet how far, we are from the end of our run.  But Saturday? I wasn’t looking at our street longingly, I was ready to power on at that point.  And power on, we did.

Before I knew it, we’d hit our last turnaround, and then our final loop before the home stretch. Scott grabbed my wrist to check the time and told me to ‘push it’ the final half mile. So I dutifully listened and pushed it up the hill and around the corner to the end.

11 miles done in 1:49:59 exactly. 

If I keep that pace up on race day, I could conceivably PR this race. And after watching the race course video (which I LOVE btw), I am feeling so good about this race. Not only is it a gorgeous course, but it is FLAT as a pancake. (If you have a few mins, go check out the video on the homepage of the race,very cool).

Long story short? Rested legs = happy legs. Happy legs = an awesome 11 miles. An awesome 11 miles = a welcomed confidence boost with just three weeks until race day.