Thursday, January 31, 2013

Recovering into my first race back

After running 26.61 miles on January 13th, I had to back it off for a bit. I hired Mary as my coach, because I wanted to shoot for some spring goals and also make sure I played this recovery safe. I've been injured before and had to sit out a race, and I didn't want it to happen again. I've read about how long the recovery period takes, but it's still surprising to know that it takes one day per mile you run in long distance races.
Mary encouraged a full week of rest, which I successfully enjoyed, and then getting back at it with cross training before starting a full week of running. That's where I am now. I did 4 miles at 9:01 pace Tuesday and 5 miles at 9:03 pace Wednesday. While not outstanding speed for a shorter distance, they're paces I'm happy with for the effort exerted and the feeling that I had after finishing.

This afternoon I'll have 4 more miles, which I'll try to take a little easier, and then I'll have my first post-marathon race on Saturday morning! I'll be running a 10k (that I decided to sign up for last minute in the last two weeks), and it's only my second go at the 6.2 mile distance under racing conditions. I'm really excited about it, because it's so so short compared to all the other races I've done recently. I'm also excited about it to see where my fitness and speed currently sit.

I'm doing the Best Damn Race that almost everyone else I know who runs in Tampa is doing in some distance. Since they're offering a 5k, 10k, and half marathon, it's got something for everyone! I'm excited to see friends after finishing before high tailing it out of there to get ready for a baby shower I'm throwing on Saturday. It'll be a full day. 

I'm hoping I'll feel like this while I'm running...
...but I'm also hoping to PR. My current 10k PR is 55:18, which is 8:55 per mile. I ran it waaaaay back in the beginning of my racing career, on September 11, 2011, so I didn't even seem to write about it anywhere. I remember being so excited that I ran under 9 minute per mile. It probably birthed my focus on numbers. I can't deny it.

But for this weekend, I do think running under 8:55/mile is doable and still acceptable in this recovery plan. I don't know how much faster I'll be able to go, but I'm going to hold back a little in the first couple of miles (to a point where sub 8:55 is still a manageable average). Then after I see how I feel racing a couple of miles I'll decide how fast to push the last half+. I can't wait to run that distance. Making decisions at mile three about how to finish the last three (point two) will feel so nice.

And the course is going to be beautiful as well:
A lot of time is spent along the water, which will be lovely. Since the race starts at 6:30 am and is completely separate from the 5k and half marathon, the weather and crowd conditions should be optimal. In fact, it's almost making me wish I was doing the half and I was aiming for a goal. Everything should be lining up perfectly.

And then the realization that I hired a coach will kick in on Sunday morning. Check out what's sitting pretty on this training plan for Sunday after a 10k on Saturday.
That's right! 9 miles. It was one of the shockers when I first got it. But I know this will mean improvement. And I start speed work next week! I'm excited to see the payoff of working harder.

And thanks for your comments yesterday about routine versus change. I ended up having a much better day Wednesday, even though most of my routine was followed. I think I was just in a funk on Tuesday. All sorted out! No harm, no foul. And in regards to your comments, I'm loving them so much! For all the non-blogger commenters, thank you for filling out the blogger form! I'm having a hard time figuring out how to reply to them besides visiting your blogs and commenting, because it leaves no email address. Any suggestions? I'm starting to think about transitioning to WordPress to make commenting and replying easier, among other reasons. Any thoughts for those of you on WordPress or who have recently made the transition?

Any race plans for you this weekend? 
What is your long run or workout plan?
How were your January goals? I'll post some February goals tomorrow...I didn't make monthly goals for January.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

{Routine versus Change| plus race discounts

Some days feel like such a routine. I don't mind it completely, but I definitely thrive on change so like mixing things up so all my days don't follow the same schedule. Yesterday, though, was the epitome of a groundhog day for me.

I woke up around 6:00 to be able to leave for work by 6:45. Though I don't have to be there that early, I like having time in the car and at work before everyone gets there to just soak in the quiet and me time. I headed home when my meeting ended, relaxed for a couple of minutes before getting ready for a run, ran, showered, then made dinner. I got in bed to watch TV and do some blogging, and then it was time to go to sleep to be able to wake up and do it again...

My run was good; my legs felt happy, and I smiled and mouthed the words to the music I was listening to as I ran. I ran 4 miles at 9 minute miles. But again, nothing outstanding. I then came home and, after showering, made dinner. It was tasty and not overly difficult, and it actually fit some of what I am learning clean eating to be about.
Summer Vegetables with Chicken Sausage and Potatoes
It's funny because as I write this, I think what I had was just a not great day. I've come to be so happy, outgoing, and peppy on a regular basis that just another day comes to seem so plain. I guess I can be thankful that it wasn't a bad day; just average. Do you enjoy getting into routine or do you like change more? What do you do to ensure you have more good days than average or bad?

But I do have two exciting discounts to share with you!

The first coupon code is for the Athleta Iron Girl race series that I'm running in April in Clearwater. If you're going to be in the Tampa Bay area or want to make a trip, you can get 10% off the 5k or half marathon with the code TBBLOGGERS13. You can find more information and sign up on their website. That discount code expires February 28th.

The second is from Pretty Muddy. I ran it in 2012 and had the best time! I would highly recommend signing up for one of their races if there's one near you.
You can get $20 off through today (January 30th) using the code GIRLTIME. The price increases in February, and you won't see the race offered at a lower price at any point; they're guaranteeing it. You can use that code for any of the races that they're offering, and you can find the list of races offered on their website.

What is your next race?
What is your next goal race?
Have you done a mud run before? If so, through which of the race series?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

It starts with breakfast

Cross-Training Sunday

On Sunday I needed to get in some Cross-Training, and after some thought, I decided to pull out the TurboFire DVDs that I bought a few months ago. I did a little more research to find a couple of DVDs that would give me what I was looking for. I did the fire 30 DVD again, which is a cardio class that incorporates two "fire drills" that are HIIT for one minute each. Then after that I did the Tone 30 DVD, which is exactly what it sounds like. You use weights and resistance bands to tone arms, abs, and legs. 
After I finished my heart rate settled back to normal pretty quickly, which was nice to see on my heart rate monitor. Over time my recovery has gotten shorter; it's nice to make the rest of the day useful and productive. I in fact recovered so quickly that I definitely decided that it wasn't enough of a workout. I  even posted this on DailyMile:
See that little line that says "I need a longer Tone 30"? Well...I underestimated that workout. When I woke up Monday morning I was sore in places I haven't been in a while. My back and shoulders were hurting! It felt awesome. Do you ever feel like you got more of a workout when you are a little sore the next day? I definitely feel a bit of a reward.

I'm going to commit myself to really sticking with Cross-Training on days that call for it. I've got enough DVDs to choose from, and my neighborhood has a great fitness center with weights and even a  lap pool. I really have no excuses. I'm writing it all here to hold myself accountable.

Cleaning up my diet

Aside from cross-training, I'm also planning on cleaning up my diet now as well. One of my goals for 2013 is to learn about and transition to lean/clean/green eating. I asked on a FitFluential page yesterday for some advice on where to even start. I read so many great blogs of people who eat like this on a regular basis. They share shopping lists, meal plans, and pictures of meals, yet the overwhelming influx of pictures and meals hasn't helped me understand what to keep, what to add, and what to leave out of my diet and when. 

The response from fellow FitFluential Ambassadors was great! Two books I was recommended specifically were these:
I went ahead and ordered the Eat-Clean Diet book, and a co-worker is going to let me read the It Starts With Food book. I don't have any ideas on what changes I'll make, how I'll incorporate the tips, or what I will or won't do. At this point, I'm up for anything. I know that me (and my husband) could use a major overhaul. The refrigerator and pantry contain too many carbohydrates that lack any complexity, dairy-based foods, and unhealthy snacks. That's what I know I want to change.

I'll share with you my thoughts along the way. I may go for a Whole 30 (per the recommendation or review of too many to list here), or I may just implement little changes here and there. That's still up in the air.

But the first place I need to make some changes? Breakfast. Everyday when I make smarter choices for breakfast I make smarter choices throughout the day. I generally stop by Starbucks most days, and it just has to stop (mostly because the very berry coffee cake becomes a go to more regularly than the oatmeal). I got a LOT of gift cards for Christmas, so through the month of January I've been using those gift cards up. They're almost gone. I think I'll probably get another day or two out of them, and from there, I just must start making coffee and breakfast at home. 

And that's where this posts all comes full circle. It's figuring out what I'm supposed to eat at each meal that will enable me to feel better, eat cleaner, and ultimately continue the path to toning up and hitting a goal weight. And starting each day with a solid breakfast is what will get me on that daily path. 

I feel like these are all a lot of broad generalizations, but it's exactly where my mind is. I could list out so many healthy foods for you right now, but I overcomplicate things and end up making them a lot harder than they need to be. I'm starting at the beginning.

And quickly, before going (and then I promise I'm done), I did want to share a favorite recipe that we eat quite a bit that I know will be sticking around no matter the eating plan.
Mashed cauliflower! It's incredibly tasty; it's smooth, and it wouldn't take a fool to mistake them for mashed potatoes. 

Thanks for sticking around with me for a bit of a longer post. I'll share with you my commitment and journey as I go! I'm really lucky that Tim always supports any positive eating changes I want to make. He'll dive into anything new with me and doesn't complain for a second. Sometimes he even stays more committed than I do!

I feel like this is all a long time coming...I've done a lot of talking. Now it's time to put my money where my mouth is.

What do you do to try to eat healthy?
Do you eat paleo, vegan, pescatarian, etc.?
Have you read either of the books recommended?
And lastly, do you have any tips for me?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Weekly Workouts Recap: Back to it!

After my post-marathon rest week last week, I was going a little stir crazy. It was good to get back to cross-training and then running again this week. Though I only ran 8+ miles, they were some good ones.
Monday and Tuesday I did SarahFit's Makeover Workout on YouTube. I really enjoyed that workout a lot and will definitely be doing it, and others, again.

Wednesday I rode our stationary bike for 35 minutes and got a pretty good workout out of that.

And Thursday I finally got back out on the road. I didn't wear a Garmin because I was afraid I would push myself too hard, but in reality it was just the perfect run. I wore my Polar FT4 and ran for 30 minutes. I know I was keeping a pretty solid pace, though it's a shame I have no idea how far or fast I went. I guess I can't count it for my 1,000 miles in 2013.

Saturday I ran 5 miles at 9:38 pace. It was another good run, and I was glad to be back. I wore one of my favorite lululemon skirts and my marathon shirt. It was a little warm for long sleeves, but I wanted to wear that shirt. I'm sure you can imagine why.

Today is cross-training. If you have followed these posts before you've definitely seen that I'm not good at getting in cross-training, but things have changed. Now that I'm working with Mary, she has explained how important cross-training is and how necessary it is that I get it in. So I'm either going to do a weight circuit or a DVD of TurboFire later in the day.

Update: I did TurboFire Fire 30 then Tone 30!
How were your workouts this week? Link up with me, Kat, and Genna anytime this week to share!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday's Letters: The I'm stuck edition

Another round of Friday's Letters means another week has come to an end. This has been a pretty busy week with a bunch of commitments to take care of, plus getting back to working out has taken some figuring out! I'm ready for this weekend to relax and catch up on life. Here are this week's letters.

Dear Polar FT4, I've had fun playing with you so far this week. Now I'm just trying to decide if wearing you at the same time as my Garmin would make me look like a crazy person. Probably, right? Dear first run back, you were amazing, and I wasn't expecting it. I thought my legs would feel tired and heavy, but I felt light and speedy. I'm thankful for that. Dear Old Navy, thanks for the cute workout top options that are very lululemon-esque with Old Navy prices. They were a fun addition.
Doesn't the top look like lululemon? If you click and check out the back you can tell too.
Dear readers, I'm stuck in workout land and can't for the life of me come out of it in terms of content. I need something to pull me out of this stupor so that I can continue to maintain the balance between running/workout blogger and style/lifestyle blogger. Any ideas? Dear January, it was really nice this month not to have a car payment. I now need to devote that extra money to savings or student loans instead of buying little things here or there. Dear Sean Lowe, do we really need to see the whole show? I'm fairly certain your last two choices are going to be Des and Leslie (don't worry, I haven't read spoilers...those are just my thoughts). And though I really like Leslie, we have a little work pool on the show, and I'll win if Des gets picked, so I'd be okay with that too. Dear running, I commented on someone else's blog that that I couldn't even begin to list all of the things that running has done for me, and it's true. I'm so thankful that I started running and that I am able to do it today. It has changed me in such an amazing way. Dear Tim, We finally have one show in common that we like to watch! And almost two! I'm excited to finally be able to watch things together that we're both equally excited about! I love you. You're the best. Oh, and four days ago we were married six months! Happy six months a few days late...oops. We both forgot.
What's something non-workout-related that you'd want to read about?
Where is your favorite place to buy workout clothes?
Why are you excited it's Friday?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

MeghanFit (A SarahFit YouTube Channel Review)

As I was training for 26.2, I started to let Cross Training (I capitalize it just because I respect it so much as a necessity that I still haven't conquered) slide quite a bit. I openly admitted it, but I definitely wasn't excited that I was running four days a week but then occasionally only cross training once every 2 or 3 weeks. I knew that it wasn't smart, but at the same time I was just being lazy and lacking creativity. My excuse was that my gym, Lifestyle Fitness, got bought out by LA Fitness and cancelled all my favorite Les Mills classes. I used to do BodyPump and BodyCombat religiously, and that was a downer to find out. It wasn't a good excuse though, as there are literally hundreds of other ways to get in great cross training! I even bought TurboFire and started that (once). I guess because it wasn't habit, I didn't do it.

I could (and will in the near future) write a blog post listing all of the things that I of course know are good options for Cross Training, but for now I wanted to share a recent find that is a great workout for anyone in any stage of their fitness journey: SarahFit.

Sarah is a fellow FitFluential Ambassador, and she writes a fantastic, healthy, and very honest blog. And while I love reading her blog, what I found recently and wanted to share is her SarahFit YouTube channel
I found it on Monday when I knew I needed to get back to Cross Training but didn't have any DVDs or any desire to go to LA Fitness (whose group fitness classes don't excite me). I have a stationary bike at my house, but even that didn't seem that exciting. I had recently been reading Sarah's blog and clicked over to her YouTube page and saw that she does full exercise videos as well as interval demonstrations!

At that moment I needed a video that would exercise along with me. Though I love the Tone It Up girls, they don't always do the whole workout along with you (though they sometimes do, and I admit that it's been a while since I've checked out their channel...so they could have added more). I found Sarah's four video series Makeover Workout that had a warmup, an arm workout, a leg workout, and a core workout. All you needed were two light hand weights, which I had in the garage. I knew I needed to just change clothes and do it.

So I did. And I was incredibly pleased. I've only tried this series, but I've done it twice now. It gives me an idea of what her other videos are going to be like as well. I wore my new Polar FT4 the second time, and this was the data that I collected from the workout:
It took a little less than 30 minutes for the whole 4 video series, and I burned around 210 calories (of course, this is just my calorie burn, and it's just an estimate by a heart rate monitor). Because of the nature of the workout, I knew it wasn't going to be a huge calorie burn; that wasn't why I did it. I did it because I need to tone up other areas besides my running parts. These four videos worked so many body parts, and they were great for muscle toning. Doing it two days in a row really made me feel the effect they had on the parts they worked.

And as far as Sarah's videos, here are my thoughts judging from this first one:

+She has great presence. For a while I forgot that I didn't pay to do the DVDs. The video is high quality, and she even captures different angles of her working out, so you can see certain movements and how to fix yours.

+She talks to you while you're working out, just as you're working out right there with her. She encourages you at all the right times, and she seems to be feeling the same burn, shake, and fatigue that you are as you're doing them. She also tells you how to modify the exercises if you can't do what she's doing.

+The one time that I needed water desperately was also the only time in the video that she randomly said between exercises, "Go grab a swig of water if you need it." It was like she saw that I had run over to the counter to get mine. 

+Lastly, and this is my favorite part, for this video at least, she was working out in her living room too. She wasn't on a beach or in an exercise gym with 4 other people. She was just doing what you're doing, so it reminds you that there are many other people that work out at home in their living room (in this video she even still had her Christmas tree up!).

Anywho, I just wanted to share, because I've definitely subscribed to her channel and will be referring to it when I need a quick workout to help in toning up.

This isn't a compensated or sponsored post in any way, and she has no idea I'm even writing it. I just wanted to make sure that I share with you things that I really enjoy myself.

What YouTube channels do you love? 
What do you do for at home workouts?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Next up...

It's been 10 days since I ran the Disney Marathon. Oh, did I mention I ran a marathon? ;D
There is so much going on in this picture! James looks so intense, but his shirt is pretty awesome. And the guy behind me, well he just looks like he's out for a Sunday stroll around the block. Sir, we just crossed the 13.1 mile marker. Why do you look so fresh? Oh, you negative split your race? Oops. My bad.

Though I swore off running forever at mile 19, I decided about thirty minutes after I crossed the finish line that I needed a redemption marathon. I was thrilled to be a marathoner, but I was still a little sad that I had been 6 minutes off the C goal that I admitted I shouldn't have created. So I came home, and I started plotting my path to the National Marathon to end Breast Cancer, also known as 26.2 with Donna. I knew I had a better race in me, and I was sort of mad that all the hard work had been 'celebrated' on a hot, humid day that hit a record high for the Disney Marathon.

But then I talked to Mary about it. She's a local Tampa speedster/blogger who does e-coaching and consulting, and I had started freaking out before the race and payed her for a month of consulting. I had already been thinking about hiring Mary as a coach at some point, but that seemed like the ideal time. So when I came back, I emailed her a few times with ideas and thoughts, and though she was supportive and even offered to run the last few miles with me so I didn't mentally go down like I had before (she didn't use those words), she also said she really didn't recommend it as being the best idea. 

And as time passed and I began to swallow that I could potentially go slower and get frustrated and disheartened, Mary helped me devise a new strategy: a shiny, new PR for a spring half marathon! I liked it! I've never really done any planned or coached speed work, and I still love the half marathon and would love to get a big PR in a race I've come to feel a bit more comfortable with. So that became the goal in my mind. And Mary is working on a training plan (I went ahead and decided to continue coaching, because she knows what she's talking about). 

She also helped me think through some other races for the spring as well as how to recover from a marathon, because apparently running 26.2 (or 26.61) miles isn't something our bodies can get over in a day or two.

And this is the schedule I have in mind now for spring:

February 2nd: Best Damn Race 10k 
No goal for this one. Just running to get in a 10k. If I PR, great! If I run it as an easy 6.2 miler, just as great.

The race from last year still stands as my current half PR at 1:57:44. I know I've got faster in me, but I'm going to hold back for a little bit and try for a big one later on. I'm running this one with the goal of 1:59:59 or better to cross the finish line with Tori at her first sub 2 half marathon (and possibly Beka if she doesn't run that the week before at Best Damn Race).

February 17th: No Race, especially not 26.2 with Donna

This race I'm looking so forward to! I'm running with a group of girls completely for fun! We're going to take character pictures at every stop and dress up like all kinds of characters: princesses, mice, villains. You name it! I can't wait for this one to come!

I'm excited to run another in this series. This one is the same course as the Halloween Halfathon in Ft. DeSoto, so if I don't race this one I know the wind will provide some outstanding resistance training.  

This will be my goal race for the spring. This is the one where I'll be shooting for a big PR. It makes me a little nervous for it to be so late in the spring, but I'm going to impose my "run no matter the weather" mentality to get some warmer training runs in preparation for this event.

Plus, the warmer race will prepare me for what will happen this summer. Marathon training! I'm already looking ahead to the fall for a fall marathon. If I do Chicago, which is one I'd really like to do, I'll have to train through the entire Florida summer. Yikes! That'll prepare me for whatever the weather. There are other options at this point, as Chicago registration doesn't open until February.

I'll probably fill in this schedule with a few shorter races, but through April, this is where I stand! I'm excited to have a coach for the first time, and I'm looking forward to training and starting speed work for a half marathon! This should do me a lot of good.

What's your main goal for spring?
What race on your schedule are you most looking forward to for the year?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Menu planning for the week

I really enjoy cooking, but when I get busy or have a big week of running, it's one of the first things I shove off my list of things to think about. I hate picking out recipes and grocery shopping, because I get so overwhelmed by the millions of options on Pinterest, have trouble finding healthy but tasty recipes that don't have numerous or odd ingredients, and feel like grocery shopping is such a time suck. And at that, I need to make sure that the guy at the Greek place will still say, "Oh, so you're trying something new?" when I get something different than my standard Greek salad. 

But, when the stars align, I do meal plan, grocery shop, and cook food that does taste good and is pretty good for us. I had some extra time this past week because of rest week, so when Friday came around and I realized how many takeout meals we'd had, I took the time to pick out several delicious looking recipes on Pinterest and make out a grocery list. I even went to the store on Saturday morning so that I could start cooking said meals that evening.

Here are the meals I picked out. I've already made the first two, so those are my pictures. I'll share my thoughts on those underneath the link.
Saturday: Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash Boats with Grilled Chicken | Skinnytaste
This takes a bit of time between roasting the spaghetti squash and cooking the chicken, but it was really good. It looks like a lot of cheese, but I used reduced fat mozzarella and probably used less than 1/4 cup between the two halves. I needed to add a little salt to the chicken, but other than that both Tim and I were pleased and ate it all up!

This was fabulous! It was super healthy and had every food group I could want in a healthy and filling dinner. It uses balsamic vinegar and chicken stock to create a base, and that is soaked up by the onions, spinach, and shrimp, adding a lot of depth of flavor. I'm not a big fan of sage, so I just left that out. Plus, fresh herbs that can only be used in one recipe for the week add a few dollars that can be saved at the store.

I'm going to serve these with lettuce wraps (instead of tortillas), avocados, and salsa verde. This should reflect our lack of following the meatless Monday plan that I set out at the beginning of the month. We essentially go meatless at least once per week anyways, and because I'm out of school today I wanted to use the slow cooker. I'm afraid of leaving it on while I'm away from the house.

I adore the peppery flavor of arugula, so I'm looking forward to that element alone.

Wednesday: Loaded Bowl
We've had the loaded bowl a few times before, and it is super healthy and flavorful at the same time. Without meat, it gains its flavor from lime juice and tomatoes and also has black beans and avocados in with the quinoa. I'm only saving it for Wednesday to put a spacer between two nights of chicken dishes.


Friday: Hmm...hopefully we'll have something leftover. I just realized I only went through Thursday.

I will update as we make our way through these meals, but I'm looking forward to all of them.

Do you meal plan? How many days in advance do you shop? Who does the cooking in your house?
And the most pertinent of all: do you leave the house with the slow cooker on?!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Weekly Workouts Recap: a rest week

Notice the title. There's no "Marathon Training: Week XX". It's over, and I'm a marathoner now! Now I'm working through my calendar and figuring out my next races. I'll post on that this week. Though I originally considered running another full in February, Disney really got the best of me. I don't want to go to another marathon without enough recovery and go slower. That would be so mentally defeating.
 
My workouts this week look like this:
dailymile rest week
DailyMile probably thinks I forgot to record my workouts. Nope! There weren't any. I was so sore I couldn't climb stairs without a railing until Wednesday. I still won't get back to running until the end of this week, but I will plan on starting up cross-training tomorrow.

Not working out has been a nice break, but I'm now stir crazy and ready to jump back in. Nothing makes you want to work out like taking a necessary break. I've got some fun stuff coming up in February, so I'm going to finish January carefully, listen to my body on runs, and keep up my fitness for a few weeks with shorter runs and maybe a longer run towards the beginning of February. 

I did, though, start the #plankaday last night. It seems like such an easy little addition to the end of a day, whether I've worked out or not!
I'm setting my sights on some halves in the coming months, so I'm really excited about running short and cross training for a while. Marathon training is a time suck that I'm excited to take a break from for now. I'll definitely be back in the fall, though! I just have to pick my race!

How were your workouts this week? Grab a button to the left, and come linkup with me, Kat, and Genna! We were all running Disney last week, so sorry we missed the week!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

6.2 things I learned in my first marathon + official race pictures!

I posted my Disney Marathon recap yesterday, and when I posted it I was worried that I would scare people or that it was negative. That wasn't my intent. My goal was just to be real, as I wanted you to get an honest sense of what I experienced in that race. I hope that is what I accomplished. That race was absolutely amazing in the sense that I felt so powerful and strong for running it, but I didn't want to be dishonest and say that it was all rainbows and puppy dogs.

 I mentioned that I would share what I learned and what I would change for my next marathon, so I thought I'd share exactly 6.2 things that I learned. I also got my official race pictures and interspersed them throughout. I'll say, though, that this isn't the last you'll see of them.
Lesson 1: You can't change the weather. Disney was hot and humid, and it wasn't supposed to be! The last few years of the race have been cool, cold, or hailing. That's what I was expecting! So when January started in an unseasonably warm way and continued as so, I spent a lot of time and energy checking the weather and willing it to get cooler and less humid. I even packed arm warmers, layers, and gloves in hopes that my packing choices would sway a change.  They didn't, as you read.

Change for next time: I'm going to say this, and I hope that I follow through. I'm the queen of running in ideal conditions. I'll check the weather and find what time of day it will be cooler, less windy, warmer, or rain-free, and that's how I'll plan my runs. After a really windy Halloween Half, I started realizing I should run even when it's windy, because it could be windy on race day. I didn't, though, run when it was hotter, because it was definitely going to be cold at Disney! I didn't have to worry about that. So for future training cycles, I'll run in less than ideal conditions. Yikes. Hold me to that.
Lesson 2: Start out slower than slow. When I was doing all of my planning and goal setting, I was thinking a lot about time and pacing. I knew I was supposed to start out "slowly", but in my head, slowly meant long run pace. I didn't want to start out too slowly and not hit a goal time because I gunned it to the end but couldn't make up for my slow start (did you read my recap? Are you laughing out loud? I kid you not that this was my concern). Though my 9:45 miles at the beginning felt difficult, I thought they would have to start feeling easier as I went. Then I could pick it up.

Change for next time: I will start at 10:00-10:30 miles for the first 6 miles or so next time, unless that feels hard, in which case I'll slow further. I'll re-evaluate then and only speed up if I feel like I'm walking or somewhere around that pace. Otherwise I'll maintain that pace and shoot for even splits. I learned the hard way that a pace does not get easier as you continue running a marathon (I'm going to start charging for this comedy).
Lesson 3: 13.1 is not the halfway point. Though I'm fairly good at math, I can tell you that half of 26.2 miles is most definitely not 13.1. I even mentioned in my recap that the miles were still going by pretty efficiently at 9, 10, and even 11. It wasn't until I got well past halfway that I even thought about hitting 13.1. It was at the 14 mile marker that I thought about having to do that same distance again, and I'd say that it was at about 18 that I'd say felt like halfway. It doesn't make mathematical sense; don't try to make it. It won't work out.

Change for next time: I really think this just relates to slowing down. I think that the 18 point is where I would re-evaluate again to judge for future pacing. And I think from a training standpoint, I would spend a lot of time internalizing that 13.1 is not the halfway point.
Lesson 4: Having a time goal only matters until it doesn't matter anymore. I made some time goals, not knowing what I know now, and I don't think I really understood why people were telling me not to have one. I had one for my first half marathon and beat it by 4 minutes. How different could this be? As I saw pacing groups pass me that matched up with time goals I had set, I cared less and less as the race went on. That main goal of finishing became more important, and the reality that the marathon is a completely different beast from the half set in. 

Change for next time: This is the only one where I won't change for the future. Now that I've run a marathon, my time goal will be to beat this last time. But let me take my place in the gospel choir of people who have run a marathon: don't set a time goal for your first full (please feel free to leave me a 'told you so' comment below if you did indeed tell me so). I know what I'm getting into now, and I have more respect for the distance. Remember how I said that this was like a mountain that I couldn't see above the clouds? Well now I can see it, I've been on it, and I know it's a lot bigger and scarier than I even planned it would be. My sub-4 hour marathon for the year is also being adjusted.
Lesson 5: Start out at the front of the corral and/or don't waste energy weaving. I started in the front 1/4-1/3 of my corral, but I don't even really know what pace that aligned with. As we started and everyone was going so slow (they were onto something...), I spent precious time, distance, and energy weaving around them so I could get to my "slow pace". Heaven help me. I know part of that extra .41 that I ran came from those first three miles. 

Change for next time: I think I stated this pretty clearly. Either get to the front of the corral or don't weave.
Lesson 6: Have and practice a fueling strategy. I had underfueled for most of my training runs, and though I knew what worked with my stomach and what didn't, I didn't realize how much fuel I should be taking in. I took in a lot more in the marathon than I did while training, and between the GUs, honey stingers, water, and powerade, I just felt full by mile 20. Though I burned 3200+ calories in the race according to Garmin, I was carrying it all with me and just wish I had simulated this experience previously.

Change for next time: I will practice fueling more to get it right. I need to find a balance between having enough and having too much that will carry me through the marathon. I stopped eating anything after mile 19. I couldn't think about eating anything else besides that one mini bar of chocolate at mile 22. They had bananas that I skipped, I had Gu and honey stingers that I didn't want, yet I crashed. Had I taken another Gu would I have gotten any kind of last minute boost? Who knows. I didn't, and I should have practiced this all ahead of time. Next time, I will. I'll know.  And I'll be prepared.


Lesson .2: Have fun! I have now run three Disney races without stopping for a character picture. Though I'm going to remedy this in February when I run the Princess Half completely for fun, I still think maybe sometimes I take myself a little too seriously. I can't see myself stopping for character pictures in a race that I trained for to run a best time, but maybe that means running Disney more for fun than for serious times. 

Change for next time: Whether I change my strategy on running Disney races or not, I think I just need to look up a little more and soak in what's around me. I think I got inside of my head a lot and got so set on doing my best that I forgot the "have fun" part! I wasn't headed out there to qualify for Boston, and as the pacing groups were passing me I should have lightened up. It's not something I'm good at in any area of my life, that lightening up thing. That is definitely going to be with my "beat my Disney goal" time for next marathon. 
What are some lessons that you've learned in any race of any distance that you look back on and are glad to know now? 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Disney Marathon 2013: Race Recap

I did it! I finished my first marathon! And I smiled for all the race photographers!
I already wrote about the expo and getting to the start. I left off just as I was waving goodbye to Mickey and starting on my Marathon journey. This is going to be long. Read what you'd like, but I'm putting it all out there to look back on later, and for first time marathoners.

I included my splits from my Garmin in the recap, and I've also got a bunch of thoughts down below as well. For now, I thought I'd start with the race recap every few miles. I didn't bring my camera with me, but I'll share the official race photos that I bought in another post (they're not ready to download yet and I wanted to share this). Tim snapped a video of me in the Magic Kingdom, so that is in this post.
As I started, the temperature was around 65*, and the humidity was 100%. It was not ideal running weather.
Miles 1-3
People had told me before the race that for the first few miles my legs would feel amazing and I would have to hold myself back. I had experienced it before in previous races that I had trained and tapered for, so I knew what it should feel like. Disappointment ensued when I realized that my legs didn't feel like that at all. The first two to three miles included some serious weaving around people going a pace quite a bit slower than what I wanted to be going. When I was able to get into any rhythm at all I'd feel like I was going too fast, look down, and see a 9:40 or 9:50 on my watch. That pace on long runs had been easy peasy, and many of my long runs averaged at least 20-30 seconds faster than that.
I had two thoughts during these first couple of miles:

a. My Garmin must be picking up satellite from someone else's pace. There's no way that a 9:45 feels like this right now.
b. Oh no. It's humid. This is going to be a long race.

When I hit mile one on my Garmin and was already a little bit before mile marker one on the course, I knew the weaving had been pretty serious. When I saw that I had run that mile in 9:49, I realized my Garmin was not in fact picking up someone else's signal. And when I thought about how I felt, I just decided that even if this pace didn't feel easy at first, it would probably start to feel easier later (LIES!).

Miles 4-6:
The approach to the Magic Kingdom wasn't as bad as I had remembered from the relay last year, but there was a pretty nice hill to get up before hitting ticketing and transportation. This was the first of the huge crowds, and that was a nice mental boost that I needed just at the right time. As we passed the Contemporary and entered the Magic Kingdom, I started looking out hardcore for mom and Tim. This was the only spot where we had planned for them to be, so I didn't want to miss them. The crowds running were still thick, so I stayed to the left where the spectators were. I had kept my headphones off to this point to make sure that I saw them. I heard Tim yell! And for 5 seconds of those numerous hours I had spectators cheering just for me. Here's the video Tim captured of me running through Magic Kingdom:
video
Leaving the headphones out for this time was kind of funny, as I heard a guy chanting phrases in very scary sounding voices. He was taking himself far too seriously at this point, saying things like, "don't call it a comeback, I never left!" as though someone had personally offended him. For Pete's sake, we were running through the Magic Kingdom!

When we got to the castle (a lot earlier this year because of the new route), another guy yelled out, "well! We've all signed up to run 26.2 miles for this moment!" That encouraged me to stop to get a picture with the castle. That's why my mile 6 split was a bit higher. It was the only picture I stopped for for the whole race, but I decided that I needed it to signify this race for me. There was a bit of a line and it ate up 20 or 30 seconds, but I'm glad I did it; I'd do it again.

Miles 7-9:
I saw Mary, what was volunteering in the cheer squad, at mile 6.5, and it boosted my spirits. She ran with me for a second and I told her that I didn't think I was going to be meeting my time goals today and that I had stopped for a castle pic, but she said I was doing great and looked good! After those encouraging words, I pressed on (it was a theme of the day). 

Mile signs 7 and 8 came and went, and though the pace felt harder, I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly the miles seemed to be going by. At about 8.5 I cursed pacing groups forever, as I got stuck behind the 4:15 Galloway group who walked and took up an entire water stop. I said a few less than ladylike words and ran around them. Soon, we would approach the speedway and a huge sign warning us of a steep hill ahead. I was hoping it was a joke and that it would be a downhill. It was! But unfortunately right at the bottom was a super steep uphill of the same height. 

Then, we were on the speedway. There were tons of cars parked along it, including the cars from Disney's Cars! It was tempting to stop for a picture, but I decided not to to try to maintain my time. It was daunting to see how big the speedway was! You don't realize how big they are until you're running a race on one. Soon, though, we were off and running the Animal Kingdom!

Miles 10-12:
The sun was finally peeking out a little bit and the humidity was dropping to an incredibly dry 95% or so, and I finally started feeling better. There was a bit of a cloud cover, and for the only time the whole day, I looked down at saw an 8:XX on my watch. I pulled myself back a little bit. During this time I ran into Kate, the girl that I had spoken to for a little at the start. We discussed that it was not a great day for a marathon, what our favorite parks were, and what we do. It was nice to have company for a mile or two. I told her right before we entered Animal Kingdom that I'd have to pull back because I couldn't keep this pace up. 

Nothing exciting happened during this time, and there were very few spectators along the back freeways of Disney.

Miles 13-15:
Running through the park was fun, but somehow I was hoping it would cause me immense relief and a boost of speed; it did neither. It was a bit hard running on the rock that made up the sidewalk of Animal Kingdom. I loved seeing the rides, and I enjoyed all the different cast members and characters that were dressed up. I again kept thinking about stopping but knew I'd be doing the Princess in around a month and would get another shot then.

When I left the Animal Kingdom I suddenly realized that the cloud cover was gone. The sun was out in full blast, and the temps were probably in the high 60's by that point. I read somewhere that when you're running it feels like it's 15-20 degrees warmer, so I basically knew we were in for a scorcher. 

One of my favorite moments on this long stretch from Animal Kingdom to Wide World of Sports was seeing the mile 14 sign. Up to that point in my racing career, the highest mileage sign I've ever seen was 13 for the half marathons! Suddenly, I was at 14! And I realized I still had 12.2 to go. It got real at that moment, and that's when I pulled back a little more. This was a key moment that I'll definitely look back on for future races. It was the moment that I realized I actually was running a full marathon and that I couldn't maintain that pace that I had set out with in the temperatures and with the humidity that we were experiencing. It was somewhere along this stretch that a man at a water stop was just opening bottles of Dasani and pouring it on people's heads instead of having us pour cups ourselves. It was great.

Miles 16-19:
After the freeway overpasses that felt like hills to the sun, my mind started playing trick on me. I had to walk for one minute at mile 17. I decided at that point that I would run walk intervals of 9 minutes run 1 minute walk. That worked for a few times before I decided that I would just walk for thirty seconds at each water stop and at each mile marker. 

Running through Wide World of Sports was hard. There were so many turns and twists, and running around a track and baseball field were daunting by this point. I had picked up a sponge they were handing out right before mile marker 17, so I carried it through these miles wiping my face and neck as I went. It was also during this time that I had to stop for five seconds at a medical tent for a kleenex (I had had a cold the week before, and I was probably at about 90% health when I started).

Around Champions Stadium was a loose rubbery-like substance that was a bit hard to run in, but there were a lot of crowds in the stand, so again that pumped me up a little bit. I do remember at one point, though, I heard the announcer say, "You're all looking great!" and I said fairly loudly, "No we're not." Someone did look at me kind of funny, but I'll be darned if they weren't thinking the same thing. 

It was during this time though that I realized I had hit the wall. I was getting a bit delusional and at one point decided that I was going to take my phone out of my arm band, call my mom, and tell her that I couldn't do it anymore. When that thought subsided somewhere along the way, I decided that as soon as I finished I would be quitting my job and spending my time sitting on the couch. At one point I also swore I would never run again. As though perfectly timed, I saw a guy with a sign that said "Humpty Dumpty had wall issues too...". I appreciated it at that moment, though it didn't get me through the wall.

Miles 20-22:
Just like everyone had told me and I had refused to believe, mile 20 came, and I thought to myself, "there's absolutely no way in hell I can run another 6.2 miles". At that moment the distance from one mile marker to another felt like a marathon in itself. The mile 20 spectacular was okay; I don't know what I was expecting, but between a Mickey hot air balloon, shouting our names at Champion Stadium, and six big glitter puppets I just couldn't figure out what to think. I ran under the Mile 20 banner and I just wanted an ice pop or something. I definitely think Disney could have sprung for a Mickey shaped ice pop for each of us. That would have been unprecedented, and much appreciated. 
I'm not in any of these pictures, but my twitter friend Jill shared the ones her husband took of she and the Corral G group! They had a ball. Jill and Marcia are shown with the Mike Wozawski puppet above. Thanks so much for letting me show these on my blog Jill!

Though the screws fell off at mile 18, the wheels fell off the bus at mile 22. Looking at my splits for these miles I'm shocked that I never hit above 12 minutes for a mile. Though I was walking every few minutes, I never let myself walk for more than one minute at a time, and I couldn't slow my run down slower than 10:00-10:30/mile because it hurt too much physically to go slower. My hips were screaming at me, but only in a "we're running a marathon!" way, not in a "we're injured! stop!" kind of way.

The 4:30 pacing group passed me up a freeway on-ramp to the mile 22 marker, and I would have been more phased if someone had told me that there were in fact ice pops up ahead. I couldn't have cared less at that very moment, even though 4:30 had been my C goal going into this whole mess.

Miles 23-26.61 (because I just decided to run an extra .41 miles after the finish line. No wait. I ran an extra .41 miles along the course):
This should have been the most exciting part of the race. We ran through Hollywood Studios, past the Boardwalk Hotel, and through Epcot. Both parks were open, and there were SO many people cheering with fabulous and witty signs. I really can't tell you much about it besides that I had to walk more than I wanted. Again, I don't know how my splits stayed under 12 minutes. If you had asked me to guess my mile times on each of those miles I would have staked my life's savings (which isn't much after signing up for all these Disney races) that they were 13-14 minute miles. I just wanted to live, though at the time I thought passing out right then and there might have been a better option.

I cannot tell you how hard these last few miles were. What I can tell you is that I was not sure that I was going to finish this race until I was actually crossing the finish line. I remember seeing the finish line and still questioning if I was going to make it there. I made myself run the last .5 or so miles without any walking, and it almost killed me. I think I tried crying when I crossed the finish line, but there was no liquid left in my body. I got my medal, saw mom and Tim, got my food, and after walking around for a couple of minutes, just wanted to sit down. So I did.

My final time was 4:36:00, which is an average pace of 10:32 per mile.
Fueling:
I forgot to mention the fueling strategy that I had. I took a Gu at mile 6, 12, and 18 and ate two honey stingers every two miles with water. By the time I hit 18 though I just couldn't eat anymore. I felt so full. I drank water and powerade at every stop starting around 14 and ate a dark chocolate mini Hershey they were handing out at mile 23. I've never tasted candy so delicious in my whole entire life. I had carried endurolytes with me, and since salt was crystalizing on me as I was sweating my insides away, I decided to take that salt tab at mile 22 or 23. To be honest the last 6.2 miles just blurred together.

Thoughts:
I've heard from many people that the heat that day made things a bit worse than normal, but I can honestly tell you that I've never experienced something so difficult in my entire life. The last 6.2 miles of a marathon are what turn girls into men. Not women, but full fledged men. I had heard about it, and I had thought to myself, "Oh, I'm sure it's hard". No, it's not hard; it's like nothing you've ever experienced in your entire life. Pushing through those last miles is both a mental and physical struggle, and at the time, I just didn't know how much longer I was going to last. 

That being said, after crossing that finish line and giving myself time to let it sink in, I've come to realize that this experience will always be a milestone for me and a shining moment in my memories. It's something that I worked for 18 weeks to accomplish, and the race itself was a celebration of all of the tough work. Though it didn't go as I had hoped as far as my three time goals were concerned, I crossed that finish line running and with a smile on my face. And I had a smile on my face in almost all race pictures that I've seen. I only write about how tough it was to make myself remember. I don't think anything anyone could have said would have made me give up those time goals, and looking back I know I'd make them all again. So this is just my own personal reminder, because about three hours after my race I was already calculating my future race plans and figuring out how to improve upon that performance.

I am blessed to be able to run, and I am blessed to have had this amazing experience in less than amazing weather. There are so many things that I learned in this race that I can't wait to implement in my next marathon. I don't know when it will be, but I've got some thoughts in the back of my head. I am so proud of myself after all of the hard work that I put in to earn this. I can't believe that I finally did it. After all of the time I spent thinking about it, planning it, working for it, dreaming about it, and of course, running, it came, and now it has gone. It's a little bittersweet in a way.

I'm going to post a separate post on things I learned in my first marathon and things that I will do differently in my next. That being said, I'm so pleased with all of my preparation, and I think it was things that were out of my control that really pushed me over my C goal on Sunday. I did meet my main goal after all--to finish. And now, I'm a marathoner!

Will I do it again? Absolutely!
And will I post more about it? You can bet on it!
Any questions or comments? I feel like I'm leaving stuff out, but after looking at the length of the post I'm not sure it's possible.

Official race photos to come!