Friday, May 31, 2013

Running Authentic

I know this is one long race report. But this one deserves it.

What can I say about a marathon journey except to expect the unexpected and roll with it in the most positive manner possible. That is my goal every time. I surprise yourself with my willingness to shift course, which brings an unexpected well-worth journey. There is a challenge around every corner. I think that is why I love marathons and I really love the Bayshore marathon in Traverse City. Besides being only a 35 minute drive for me, the course is fast and beautiful and the crowd is enthusiastic and kept meeting us at different points along the course by the bus load. My run buddy, Evie, and I decided to go for 4:17 PR and I was the pace master to keep us going. This would mean a 15 minute PR for me and a 21 PR for her. The McMillian calculator said we could do it faster. So I thought this was "playing it safe" as well as a challenge. We knew that things could change mid-race and were prepared to accept what ever came.

Medals are not for eating, but we had to try it one more time.
We wore matching "Sole-Sister" shirts from Another Mother Runner and Fellow Flowers for running in our hair. I wore the orange flower and I just realized that it was assigned this by the maker: The Original. Bold Honoring the journey of friendship. Fiercely United...To cherish, to protect always.

Wow. How true it was this day.

It was awesome to have the crowd yelling "Go Sole-Sisters" throughout the course. And slapping free high-fives is always a charge for me.

At the coral line-up, we ran into a friend of Evie's who was running her first marathon and she decided to join us for the race. She was extremely talkative and we enjoyed her company for the first eight miles and then we lost her at a rest stop and she rejoined us mile 15. I loved her enthusiasm and that she was  into slapping high-fives with the crowd with me. We had to space ourselves out to each get a chance to do that. Hysterical!

Pacing was going very well. Every time we sped up too fast, I pulled us back and we were well on our way until mile 18. There is where things went a little off course. My run buddy just wasn't feeling it and I totally understood that. She was having trouble breathing freely. Evie had had bronchitas 2 weeks prior and when you are feeling off your game hitting a faster speed than you are use to, as in a race, it happens. To her credit, there are many days she out-runs me, so I get it. She has run 7 Ultras and I have ran zero. She knows the mind game it is, but I had to make her dig deeper, so I did pull out thoughts that I knew would inspire her and have her pain feel not nearly as significant. I felt like I was playing dirty, but I came prepared. Digging deep can go to an emotional core to find that strength that we all have. She said it worked after the race and felt she needed to write about it.

Our newbie racer was complaining about pain and suffering more and more, and although it did not effect my mental state (because hey, try dragging your leg in pain like I did in last year's Charlevoix race, when I could hardly bend it and I finished it after 5 hours), I just kept shuttering her down. NO ONE needs any negative thoughts during a hard race. Especially when you are suffering like my run buddy was. A marathon is pain at some point, and you have to respect it and welcome some of it or you will never get beyond it or to your goal. I know she didn't mean to do this, but "no doubt" and pain talking is allowed on my race course.

My buddy let me know twice that it is was alright to move on to finish strong since I was obviously pulling us along. I told her "no way" the first time, and the second time I looked her in the eye and said, "There is only one Evie Ultra and there is always another marathon." I sincerely meant it. I am not about to write my journey any other way. It is a team event at times. And that just isn't the marathon I wanted. Running 6-8 miles alone to shave that 7+ minutes would have seemed like agony, loneliness and completely idiotic. Again, not who I am or want to be.

When she gave me the final, "This is all I got" at mile 22, I knew it was time to back off. That is our code. I looked at my watch and thought okay, we can accept this and cruise in at a 10-10:30 pace. 30 seconds here and there is just fine and still a good finish.

In the last half mile we found a familiar face. Karen: a teacher, track coach, amazing runner, friend and yeah we needed her right now. She coached us to the track and I have to say, boy is she GOOOOD
…she inspired me and got my mind in check.

I saw my family waving on that last quarter mile. There is a wonderful feeling I have every time I see my husband at a race. I look right at him and I feel like I am home, and I feel a calmness and happiness. It helps that my kids look pretty darn happy too. This man lets me train for hours on weekends and takes care or our children while I am away without any complaints. He doesn't necessarily understand it, but he supports my need to achieve and listens to my remarks on running. THAT takes a lot of patience. He has kind words for me daily and I could make a list that doesn't have must to do with this race report, so I will refrain. I am grateful to my lord for giving me this partner through life and I don't say it nearly enough to him.

We hit that last half mile in close to a 9 minute pace and sprinted (well sprinting to us at that point) down the track side by side. In the last 30 feet I looked at Evie and said, "Take my hand," and we crossed victorious arms up and holding hands. Now THAT is the marathon I wanted!

Evie was elated that she just ran a 15 minute PR and I had just ran another 9 minutes off mine. Hey man, I just beat Oprah by 6 minutes and I didn't have a pacer!

Crossing the finish line and proof that it's hard to capture the feeling of a moment, which was much better than the photo. Thanks Evie, for giving me this moment.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dig Deep and Repeat

I have found a new love in of all things: hill repeats

What is wrong with me?? I was intimidated to start doing these. 

Why? Because they are excruciatingly hard! At least, that is what my brain told my lungs and legs. 

Enter hard rock'n music…and we have lift off!

The biggest obstacle was actually keeping track of the count. So I came up with something simple: 
Run down the hill and pick up a small rock at the bottom
Run with it up the hill  and place it in the mailbox 
I started with 6 and have added on weekly by one to two repeats (I am currently at 15, yeah me!)
Repeat 2x-3x a week

The reviews I have read from North Country's mentor program echoes that the best training strategies include MANY hill repeats—followed by then by many more.  I have to agree with that after running the half and I literally just want to survive and see my family again. Geese, need to get that thought out of my head.

Not only will this make me stronger, faster and condition my legs for the downhill beating I will take, but I am also gaining mental toughness. I feel like a fist pumping Rocky The Italian Stallion at the end. I am just missing the them music in my iPod to carry out this crazy. 

With the Bayshore marathon this weekend, I am looking forward to see just how strong my run buddy and I have become in these last 6 months. I already have a game plan for what comes next and will share those training changes after the race report. 

Until then, find your Focused Drive.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Seek and you find…Inspiration

I need to search for those that inspire, educate and make me want and believe I can achieve more. I don't have all the answers and this experiment of one is not nearly complete. I want the joy in moving forward and setting new goals...forever and always. But how to get there??? People living their lives motivate me.

Below are some of my recent sources of full throttle inspiration:


Another Mother Runner: I can't say enough about how much I have learned from Sarah Shea and Dimity McDowell on their many informative vehicles: facebook "Tribe" page, blog, books and available in voice in this podcast! I have laughed and chokes back tears during these podcasts and ticked by the miles effortlessly. They interview a variety of experts—and a few of the rest of us—to keep life in perspective balancing running and triathlete goals, career and family to make it all doable. Their facebook group is called the "tribe" and has more than 13,000 members that feel free to ask questions, share moments and obtain answers from anyone checking it. It's actually THE place I went to find support—and got it!—when I was considering running my first full marathon. It's where I learned about Body Glide,  running skirts and TMI Tuesdays. These tale spinning interviews make me believe that all things (and distances) are possible. They make me feel sane! HA! Not only do they interview interesting people—ultra runners—with insight and real experience, but they let them share their journey without much interruption, except to add to the quality of the story. I find myself hardly being able to wait for the next one. I found myself laughing out loud and stumbling listening to Russ Thomas talk about his BAD-past eating habit of grabbing left over food off hotel trays. WHAT!!?

BLOGS: Besides being a gifted trail runner killing it on the Ultra trails and beating the boys (yup, love her already don't you), Keira Henninger lives and breathes positive energy and is authentic in sharing her own struggles with self doubt, work and family. She is a nutrition coach, race director and a thought provoking writer on her blog. I particularly enjoyed her account of what to do with negative opinions that drag you down, but should not hold such value on your day or goals. Her advice: Hit the delete button.

This is her list of top 30 Life's Most Important Stuff. Read it and read it again. This amazing female body builder went from looking 10 years older than she was—think garage sale heavy grandma (see her photo on the left)—to looking 10 years younger than her age....and she is 50! Believe it! Sweat, eating right, positive energy and commitment oozes from her blog and I can't get enough. This woman has so much focus that she transformed herself in three years to a competitor. Catra Corbett is living color and go-go unstoppable energy. She went from being a addict 17 years ago to a frequent 100 mile ultra runner—running more than 250 ultras. She holds the women's record for completing the John Muir Trail twice (out and back), a total of 424 miles. Nope, nobody else can say that. For her 48th b-day she ran 48 hours = 140 miles! WOW! Is all I got!

BTW…she is a fellow Hoka One One shoe lover. So we have one thing in common. Go Catra, Go Catra, Go Catra


How Bad Do You Want It? Part 2: I love what the speaker says in this video. "Success in intentional… You have to be willing to stay up three days in-a-row to be successful…You have 24hours to be successful…" I couldn't agree more.

MUSIC: Free music...let me say that again FREE Music! Download FREE DJ mixes for hours of running specifically geared to 180 beats per minute for that perfect cadence. There are some slower mixes available as well. I don't always have time to create something all new for my ears and feet, and this site has frequent updates and a variety of fresh beats. Load and go!