Because I’m Just A Little Crazy: Seneca7

Call me a mad woman, because I just got roped into something crazy! My friend Cassy was on the hunt to replace a runner for the Seneca7 race she’s participating in on the 27th. What’s the Seneca7 you ask?  Well, it’s a 77.7 mile race around Senenca Lake, the running is split between 7 runners responsible for 3 legs each.

I’m runner #5 responsible for these 3 crazy legs!  I’m a wee bit nervous for this endeavor, but it’s going to be fun!

The first leg is 3.8 miles with a steady climb.  This is where the nerves come into play. I am not the best with hills.  To be accurate, my hitting a hill during a run is much like watching a child try to go uphill on a slip and slide.  It just doesn’t end well.

Screen shot 2014-04-17 at 3.53.03 PMLeg 2 seems a bit more promising.  Seeing the term “rolling” in the description  gives me a little bit of hope.  The scary part is the 5.2 mile distance that it’s paired with.  During my marathon training, 5.2 miles seemed like a small number, a short run if you will.  As of recently though, pretty much since I crossed the finish of my first  marathon, I haven’t run anything over 4.5 miles.  Part of this was due to the bitter cold and part of it was due to my constant state of unwell.

Screen shot 2014-04-17 at 3.53.24 PMAnd lastly, my final leg, a short 2.6 miles sounds like a slice of heaven.  I’ll hold on tighter to the descriptor of “gentle” over “uphill”  as my little piece of sunshine.

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Despite my nerves and dislike for hills, I am excited. This will be my first big running race post-marathon.  It’s definitely something that will gear me up for the bigger races that I have planned for this year and next.

Race Recap: Walt Disney World Marathon 1/12/14

WOOOWEEEE!!  I did it, I completed my first ever full marathon!

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It was such an amazing, torturous, and inspiring experience and I am proud to say that I am an official marathoner.  BUT, I wish (I know, I know, I’m ridiculous) I would have pushed myself a bit harder to get closer to my goal finish time of 5:30:00.

My friend and husband rolled their eyes at me when I told them that I was disappointed in my time of 6:30:10.  How on earth could I be disappointed?  I just ‘ran’ a freaking marathon!!  After all, how many people can say they’ve completed a full marathon?!? Not too many.

Well, that’s just me, I am stubborn and tend to look at the negative of positive events (and I’m my own worse critic).  This doesn’t mean I am discouraged or despondent, only slightly disappointed.

I am okay with the minor disappointment because it’s motivating me to push on and do better on the next one.  Yes, I said next one.  I definitely want to run another marathon and I want to kick this one’s ass. I may even be crazy enough to try out the Dopey Challenge in 2015, but that’s dependent on what our future baby making plans are.  Anyway, let’s get to the point of this post, the recaps!

1521458_653335481385006_113596622_nRace day started super early.  Buses to Epcot began pickup at 3 AM and we were up and at it by 2:45 AM.  I wanted to make sure I got there early enough to be at the start of my corral.  The first corral left the start at 5:30am, I was in corral O and didn’t start until 6:30am.  I think this part is what threw me off.  I hadn’t planned for such a long wait (silly me, I didn’t think to do my research) and my measly breakfast that consisted of a tiny Clif bar was likely burned up from the long walk to the corrals.

In the hours leading up to the race I nibbled on some Clif shot bloks to keep me energized.  My friend had left me at this point to go to a later corral so I was on my own.  To pass the time I chatted it up with a few fellow runners who were also doing their first marathons.  It was fun to talk about the stories that lead us to the start line.  Most of us never thought we’d be crazy enough to attempt such distances.  It wasn’t too long ago that 5k’s seemed like arduous tasks.

Talking to these ladies really helped to calm my nerves.  We were all here with the #1 goal being to finish.  Meeting a goal time would be the bonus or icing on the really big cake that is a marathon.

Despite trying to keep my mind off the task at hand, the fireworks at the gun of each corral’s start really built up the anxiety.  I WAS NERVOUS!  Like any big event that you spend months planning for you can’t help but think about the outcome.  Hell, the night before I had a nightmare that for some reason I didn’t make it to the race in time and was disqualified.  Not the best way to start out your first marathon.

Soon enough we were moving to the start and before I knew it we were off.

I stuck to my game plan of pacing myself based on my HR and kept it in the zone of 155-165.  This worked out fairly well for the first 10 miles, but then the sun came out and despite the temperatures being in the comfortable 60’s it was a shock to my system (I had been running in sub-freezing temps the week prior).

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At mile 5 my pace was 13:18 with an estimated finish of 5:48:22.  I felt good at this pace and confident that I was going easy enough that I would be able to see negative splits towards the end of the race.  But as each chunk of 5 miles passed I slowed down, by mile 10 my pace dropped to 13:41, and by mile 13 to 14:06.  I was a little disheartened.  Even my last long run, which went horribly wasn’t this bad.  I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on.

Since the start I felt like I had the urgency to pee and my stomach was a bit uneasy so I tried to stop a few times for bathroom breaks. It wasn’t until mile 16 that I actually found a line short enough to wait it out.  Peeing for the first time was AMAZING.  I had been sucking down liquids like a fish and my bladder was in desperate need of being emptied. I felt a little better after this, but the 5 minute break from running tired me out.

My muscles and feet ached more than they had before I stopped and I just knew this would mean I would need to take intermittent walk breaks through the remaining 10 miles.  I was right, by mile 20 my pace dropped to 14:40, but I felt like I had it in me to finish strong.  Then I had to pee AGAIN and I tried to poop AGAIN without any luck (yes, I said poop–we all do it!).  I was not feeling the greatest at this point, but with 6 miles left to go the end was in sight and I was confident I could make it through.

And, then came mile 23–in perfect timing, my urgency to go to the bathroom finally reached it’s limit and I was ready.  Lucky for me there was a restroom right past the mile marker.  I was FINALLY able to relieve myself of the pain I’d been harboring since mile 5 and I was lucky enough that it didn’t happen mid-run.  How horrific would that have been?!

With 3 miles left to go, I started an inner dialogue, “You can do this, run the rest, you don’t need to take walk breaks for a measly 3 miles!”.

The last part of race was such a blur, I was so ready to be finished at this point and I didn’t care what my time was as long as I was at or under 6:30.  I didn’t want to go more than an hour over my goal finish and had set this as a last-minute goal.  If I could break that time, I would be happy.

Let me tell you something, when you have been running for 23 miles, those last miles are the longest freaking miles known to man!  I never felt like a mile was so long in my entire life.  Well, that was until the last 0.2 miles of the race!  Once I hit mile 26 I figured it would be cake, but nope, those last 0.2 miles could have been another mile.  It felt like I was moving at a snail’s pace, but I ‘sprinted’ to the finish.

I threw my hands up and smiled big as I crossed the finish (hoping someone was there to capture it–they weren’t).  I had just finished my first marathon and was thrilled (and exhausted)!

Screen shot 2014-01-14 at 1.50.11 PMAll in all, I feel proud and accomplished.  I finished my first marathon and didn’t place dead last OR get swept.  Admittedly, I was (and still am) disappointed with my finish time, but that’s only because I expected to do better based on my training runs.  There are a few things I learned from my first marathon and I’ll be sure to put my knowledge to use for future races.  In the meantime, I’ll wear my medal proudly and gloat until people get tired of hearing “I ran a marathon”.

2014 Fit Goals

With 9 days to go until my first ever marathon I can’t help but think about goals and how awesome it feels to accomplish them.  Last year I set a HUGE goal to run a marathon and began training in July of 2013.

Today, I’m just 9 days away from completing that goal.   I am nervous.  I am excited.  I am READY.  I’ve spent the past 6 months training for ONE race.  The race.  Hell, I have butterflies in my stomach as I type this post.  I can’t believe the time is almost here.  In just nine days (God willing), I will be able to wear my medal proudly and shout “I did it!  I ran a freaking marathon!”

This will be my first accomplished Fit Goal of 2014!  It’s not my only goal though, I have many more and honestly believe that with hard work and dedication I will accomplish each and every one of them.

2014 Fit Goals

  1. Run the entire Walt Disney World Marathon on January 12, 2014
  2. Sign-up for and complete either the Wineglass or Empire State Marathon.
  3. Sign-up and complete a Tough Mudder or similar obstacle race.
  4. Sign-up and PR in at least one Half-Marathon.
  5. Complete at least one unassisted pull-up.
  6. Run faster/more frequently (aim to triple mileage).
  7. Complete 1 round of p90x3.
  8. Sign-up for and complete a few 5k races.
  9. Eat cleaner!  I struggle with this one and often fall off into old habits.
  10. Start biking during the warm months.
  11. Sign-up for the 100 mile Ride for Life
  12. Lose the weight/lose inches–ideal weight=150lbs, size 6/8
  13. Sleep more!
  14. Blog more about fitness! (not really a fit goal, but related–I’d like to make sure to keep you updated on my progress and struggles)

There you have it!   I’m so ready to bust through these goals!  What are your fit goals for 2014?  Are you setting big goals or small goals?

How I Came To Love Running

I’m not a runner.  I hate running.

That used to be my stance on the sport.  I detested running and pulled out every excuse to find ways around it when it was required for team sports.

I blamed bad knees (which I genuinely had) and exercise induced asthma.  When team runs were required, I was always the one huffing and puffing at the back of the pack and trying my best to keep up.  I could run one mile at a 9 minute pace, but after that I didn’t want to have anything to do with running.  I was ready to quit.  I was constantly suffering from patellar tendonitis and IT band syndrome.  Rather than run, I’d get my cardio in by erging or biking, but it wasn’t really enough to improve my athleticism.

I always figured running just wasn’t for me.  I had thick, heavy thighs and weak knees.  I would gasp and cough after every run.  What I didn’t realize was that I was never going at MY own pace and that was the number one reason I was suffering.

Running is a sport that you can’t rush until you and your body are ready.

Inevitably, you will be out of breath, panting, cramping and in pain if you try to go at a pace that is not your own.  I learned this when I began training for my first 5k in December of 2010.

I had signed up for the 5K because I needed another push to get me through my wedding weight loss goals.  I had noticed a few friends signing up for the short races and thought it might be something I could do.  I had been working out steadily for some time, but per usual was avoiding the treadmill like the plague.

In my efforts I came across the Couch to 5K program and began my own modified version of it.  Since I was already in fairly decent aerobic shape (through biking and erg work), I decided to push myself a little bit harder and go a little longer on the days that I felt I could.

I still remember the feeling of being able to go for 5 minutes, then 10, then 20, and so on.  It wasn’t until the week before the 5K that I was able to finish the full distance without a walk break, but I did it.  I was so confident and proud of myself.  I had never run anything further than the distance before and it was a huge accomplishment.  I finished my first race at around 34 minutes and made it the entire way through without stopping.  It was at that point that I realized I was capable of more than I gave myself credit for.

I had hoped to continue the trend and planned to keep at it, but I didn’t.  It wasn’t until this past year that I decided to hop back into it.  I started off with intervals of sprinting/walking, but I made the mistake of doing too much too soon.  I was already doing P90X and the plyo-X workout is tough on your body in itself and when you add running with 30 lbs of extra weight to it you set yourself up for injury.

I developed anterior shin splints and they were the worse. I had never in my life experienced this type of injury.  I knew part of it was because I was wearing the wrong sneakers for my overweight frame so I made the decision to invest in a new pair with added support. I also knew that over training was to blame so I slowed things down and took it easy.  The pain soon subsided and my mileage increased.

With every run I felt stronger and more confident in my abilities as a runner.  In June the experience drove me to sign up for my first marathon and I began training for it in July.  The first training runs were tough, but with every passing week I learned that most of my limitations were mental and that if I didn’t go too crazy I could go further distances without getting hurt.

Running has become a routine that I now crave.  On my rest days I miss it and wish I didn’t need the break.  Training for this marathon has taught me so much about what I am capable of.  The biggest surprise is that I’ve learned that I am capable of so much more than I can imagine.

Never would I have thought I could complete a 10k, or a half marathon, or a 20 mile run, but I did it.  I’ve learned that I am a runner.  I just needed to find MY pace.  It may be slow now, but I will keep working towards PRs and getting faster.

I love running because it reminds me that my biggest obstacle is my own mind.

Race Recap: Empire State Half Marathon 10/20/13

I DID IT!! I finished my first official half marathon in 2:34:42 (The Empire State Marathon) and I could not be more proud of myself.

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This little “runner” who could barely run a 5K in February of 2010 finished her first half!

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The race took place in Syracuse, NY and the course ran through a familiar path, the Onondaga Lake Park, home to my first (and only) 5K race.  As I pressed through the park passing mile 3 I had such a sense of euphoria and accomplishment.  Just 3 years prior I ran this same path full of jitters and a similar eagerness, but with no sense that I would be capable of conquering any distance greater than that.  And yet there I was, I was in it with 10 miles left to go and I felt great.

I was pacing ahead of my normal training pace and was carefully monitoring my HR to settle at 160-165 BPM.  Based on my prior training runs I knew that I could comfortably maintain this HR for this distance and was letting my body set the pace.  The first 2 miles of the race were slightly uphill, but the majority of the course was flat and very similar to what I had been training on.

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At the halfway point, my body began to feel the stresses of racing and my HR hovered between 170-175 BPM.  I tried to slow down a bit to get back down to the 160’s, but found that it REALLY brought my pace down so I change my plan and aimed to keep my HR as close to 170 BPM for the remaining distance.  I was able to speed things up a bit towards the end, but when I hit mile 12 my feet began to ache.  I could feel it with each step and was looking forward to finishing the race so I used the cheers from the crowd and every ounce of adrenaline I had to push myself through that last mile.

Soon enough, the stadium was in sight and I could see the finish line.  I was greeted by my biggest fans, my husband and son and they cheered me on in that last stretch.  I sprinted to the end and crossed the finish line with dead legs and a pounding heart.  I DID IT!  I ran a solid 13.1 miles at my fastest time yet.

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I still get excited thinking about what I had accomplished and what I still have to accomplish.  The full marathon still intimidates me a bit, but I am miles from where I was and I have faith that I can make my way through it.