Oh yes, I was doing week in review posts

Not a terrible fitness week, all in all.

After last weekend’s running/biking/kayaking extravaganza, my back was super sore.  So I avoided the weights for much of the week.  Not ideal, but my back is feeling a lot better, so next week should be better.

I missed one mid-week run due to a scheduling issue.  Unfortunately, that meant no speedwork for the week.  While I don’t expect to be any sort of a speed demon at the marathon in January, I do have two half marathons this fall as well as two ten mile races. Last year, I nearly missed the cutoff point for the Army Ten Miler, not because I was slow but because they have a 9:35 am cutoff at mile 5.  It took a while for me to get across the start, and I didn’t realize how close I was to the cutoff.  This year’s plan is to run hard for the first five miles, then slow down.  Not the ideal race strategy, but I’ll do what I have to so I can stay on the course.

This week, I also got my bike adjusted, which is a great feeling.  Didn’t get a chance to ride it due to the weather (unless the rain clears up this afternoon – fingers crossed).

Total miles run – 17.6

Total miles biked – 0

Days lifted – 1

Can’t complain.  As my mid-week runs step up, I’m thinking I’m going to have to start getting up even earlier.  As Betsy likes to say, there’s something about getting up at an hour that starts with 4 that just sounds awful.  But it will be worth it, even if it means going to bed at an hour that starts with 8.

 

You Can Do This!

As I have posted before, I like looking at the search terms people use to find my site.

And it looks like there are a lot of people signed up for upcoming races who are worried about finishing.

“Is there shame in the sag wagon for Tinkerbell”

“What if I don’t finish the race”

Don’t think like that!  YOU WILL FINISH!  You can do this!  Think positive.

First off, if you’re the person running Tinker Bell, that race is in January.  You have plenty of time to train!  Get out there and get running.  It’s a half marathon, so find a half marathon plan that has you run at least one long run of ten miles (or more – but ten is plenty).  Will you do all the training runs?  Probably not.  I don’t know that I know anyone who has set up a training plan and stuck to every single run.  Life happens!  Get in the long runs and believe in yourself and you will be fine.

The key here is to do your best.  Is there shame in ending up on the sag wagon (meaning that you’ve fallen behind pace and been picked up and transported to the finish).  Absolutely not.  It’s sad, and I know I would be bawling if it happened to me.  But it happens.  Even the best laid plans sometimes fall apart.  People get injured during races.  People get sick before the race.  These things happen.  And there is no shame.

Now, I’ve talked about the idea of taking a medal even though you don’t finish the whole race.  To summarize – I don’t like it.  Yes, you trained.  Yes, you paid the money.  But it’s a finisher’s medal.  If it weren’t, the race organizers would hand it out at packet pickup.  But that is your choice.  Personally, I would want something good to come out of my bad experience so if it were a runDisney race, I would take the medal and then sell it on eBay (there are Disney collectors out there who don’t care that it was a race – they want everything Disney) and then I would donate the money to a charity.

But you know what?  You’re not going to have to worry about that.  You’re going to earn that medal.  You’re going to cross the finish line.

The fear of not being able to finish is familiar to a lot of runners.  During my first half marathon, the 2010 Disneyland Half Marathon, I wasn’t convinced that I could do it until I hit mile ten and realized that I had well over an hour to finish within the 3:30 time limit.  At that moment, I teared up.  I knew that I could run 3.1 miles in an hour.  I could walk 3.1 miles in an hour.  I was going to finish.

And that first finish… it’s a beautiful moment.  It’s an amazing sense of accomplishment, and if you’ve never experienced it, I am so excited for you to finally have that feeling.

I admit it.  I am terrified of my first marathon coming up in January.  I’m crazy excited, but I’m scared.  I’ve never run more than 14 miles.  But I have a training plan and I’m going to stick to it as best I can.  I’m scared something will happen and I won’t get the (beautiful) medal.  But I have to stay confident.  Sure, I’ll have moments of doubt.   But I know I will have a moment during the race where I realize I will finish and I know that I will cry when I cross the finish line.  I can’t wait.

You’ve got this and you can do it.  We can do it.

The Next Adventure

As if having my first marathon on my schedule wasn’t enough adventure for me, after some long conversations with Kim, I may very well be doing my first triathlon next year.

Yikes.

Some of it depends on schedule.  I have a lot going on next year, including my college reunion (which I still don’t know if I’m attending) and a week-long cruise in the fall, both during prime triathlon times.  So it might not happen.  Who knows.

But what I do know is that aiming for a tri will help me with my cross-training slump.  For the most part, I run and I lift weights.  I clearly need to do more.  Swimming is amazing cross-training.  Tragically, I am not independently wealthy, so I don’t have a lap pool in my backyard.

Side note: I am now trying to imagine my backyard with a lap pool and I’m pretty sure that it would take up the entire yard.  Oh, to live in an area with less expensive housing.

But I digress.  I have found a community pool with a decent membership fee that I’m going to check out this fall once they return to normal lap swimming hours.  Even twenty minutes of swimming twice a week would be a great workout.  I’m wondering if I can manage to fit it in before work.  It might require me shifting my schedule a bit.  But as a friend would put it, that’s a problem for future Megan.

For now, I’m just trying to bike more.  I took my bike out for a ten mile ride today and it’s clear that I need an adjustment.  I’ve scheduled the bike for a fitting next Friday, and it’s way past time.  I  think the handlebars need to come up.  I feel like I’m putting too much pressure in my hands and my shoulders and neck hurt after only a few minutes.  But we’ll see what the experts say.

Embarrassingly, I still don’t have clipless pedals on my bike – I’m still using the cheapo cages that came with the bike.  I still don’t feel steady enough for the “real” pedals.  But I’m thinking it’s about time.  Not sure it’s going to come about while I’m at the bike shop unless I can find some quality shoes there as well.  But I will probably look into it.  I think I’ll probably try to switch out the pedals once outdoor biking season is over for me (I don’t take the road bike out in the ice.  Or the dark.).  That way I can practice clipping in and out.

So that’s where I stand.  Marathon training.  Tri training.  I might be crazy.

Especially since I somehow hurt my lower back today.  Maybe biking, maybe dragging the bike into the house, maybe doing laundry.  Who knows.  I’m hoping tomorrow’s ten mile run and later kayaking adventure helps.  Because if you can’t do something stupid and ill-advised, why do anything at all?

Race Report – Annapolis Striders’ Dog Days 8K

You know, the name of the race should have clued me in.

Or the course description:

“The course features a variety of running surfaces. You’ll run through sometimes sunny fields, along shaded trails in the woods, down and up hills, and at times on pavement in the heat and humidity that the area is famous for in August. ”

But I just wasn’t ready for the struggle that was this race.  It was hot.  It was hilly.  It was disgusting.

And yet I still had a blast.

This was yet another race in the Annapolis Striders’ Champs Series (I’ve missed too many races to be considered for an award – not to mention I’m slow, but I’m still participating in all the races I can).  And I was glad that Jon, Kim, and Big Jen were all running it too.  Kim is my running partner in crime, and I miss getting to run with her more often.  Jen was willing to be slow with Kim and me, and Jon never seems to mind waiting for us at the finish line, so we knew it would be fun.

The race started with two laps around a field before heading into the woods. I think it was around the second lap in the blazing sun that Kim said “Well, this sucks.”  And it did.  But it was a good challenge – running on different terrains and dealing with the heat and humidity.  We walked more than normal, some of that due to my heart rate issues (the heat always makes my HR higher, which is why I love winter running), some of that due to the fact that we were melting.

At one point, I was so hot that I considered stripping off my shirt and running in my sports bra.  And I am way too self-conscious about my belly for that.  Ultimately, it was the lack of sunscreen on my pale white torso that kept all my clothes on my body.

The race took us a bit over an hour.  No pace records here.  We weren’t last, but we were close to it.  But I think we had a good time, chatting and catching up during the race.  Even a rough race is great with good friends.

Afterwards, Kim and I needed a break.  (And to take a picture of us in our Run for the Dream shirts!)  The break may have included ice cream.

Race Recap – Run for the Dream Patriot’s Challenge (Half and 8k)

Once again this year, I returned to Williamsburg, VA for the Run for the Dream half marathon. This year, they were offering something new – run the 8k on Saturday and the half on Sunday and get the Patriot’s Challenge medal. Considering this is the year of bonus bling, it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. I was already planning to go back for the half, so what’s another 5 miles, right?

Well, let’s just say that neither of these races were my finest. But boy, did I have a blast.

On Friday, a group of us headed down to Williamsburg and hit up the race expo. It’s a tiny expo, but they do have a few vendors there, and what they do have is nice. Also, Dana got a free gun lock. She wins for finding the most random race expo swag. As part of our race registration, we got tickets to Colonial Williamsburg (it’s free to walk around outside, but if you want to go into any of the buildings other than the shops, you need a ticket) and a ticket to Busch Gardens with a meal voucher. And nice t-shirts, tech for the half and cotton for the 8k, plus a drawstring backpack. Definitely nice swag!

Late May in Virginia can be hot, but luckily, it was cooler than last year. I decided to take the 8k at a leisurely pace, since we had a half the next day. It was a fun race. Definitely not flat, but the race organizers were completely honest about all of the hills on the course. This race was also a Masters competition, so there were lots of men and women running with their age groups on their backs. Less than two miles in, we saw a woman in the 80-84 age group go down. She hit her head and was bleeding. We stopped until the medics showed up, and then went on our way, hoping that she would be okay.

The race finished in the William and Mary’s stadium, and it was a lot of fun to run the track and cross that finish line and get a fabulous medal! As we headed out of the stadium, who did we see but our 80-something friend, headed to the finish with a friend. Her head was bandaged, but she was smiling, and we all cheered.

Next it was off to the post-race party, where I hoped I would find the same delicious sandwiches that were there last year.  And I did.  What a perfect ending to the race!

Now, here’s where things went a little wrong.  And it was my own fault.  We headed back, showered, and then went back out to explore Colonial Williamsburg.  And let’s just say that we did a bit too much exploring.  I was exhausted, and I still had another race to run the next day.  I definitely ate way too much that afternoon as well.

Sunday came and I wasn’t so sure about the race.  I felt okay, though sluggish.  But I wanted that medal (and another delicious sandwich).  So I just decided that whatever it took, I was going to get across the finish line.

Best part of the morning?  They had a kindergartner sing the National Anthem!  It was amazing!  So many times, especially in the wee hours of the morning, soloists struggle with the song.  But this little girl rocked it!  The anthem should always be sung by kids!

It was muggy and hilly, surprise surprise.  And my race preparations hadn’t been the best.  So my plan to “start slow, then back off,” definitely went into action.  Looking at my times, I really only did the first mile at any sort of a reasonable pace.  The rest was a lot of walking and even some strolling.

But I’m not complaining.  I had a BLAST!  I traversed the course with a great group of friends and made some new friends along the way.  We just decided that we were going to finish and that was that.

Finally, we hit the track and could see the finish.  I joked to Dana when we were half a lap away that I was done.  I was just going to drop out.  She told me she was going to knock me out and drag me across the finish line if that’s what was necessary.  That’s true friendship.

It slowly started to rain as we headed to the post-race party again for more sandwiches and beer.  By this time, we had heard that there was a problem and they had run out of Patriot’s Challenge medals.  We were bummed, but they took our names and promised us medals as soon as possible.  I can’t wait!

I got my sandwich, got my beer, and sat down in the drizzle to eat.  Even though it was slow and a new PW, it was still an amazing finish to my half marathon season.   And there were some good lessons learned.  Rest is good.  Don’t overeat.  And yes, I’m well aware that running 3 halfs in 4 weeks may have had something to do with the sluggishness as well.

All said, I will be back next year.  I haven’t decided if I want to do the Patriot’s Challenge again or not.  (Some of that depends if I ever get my medal, I suppose!)  But I love the race, I love the crowd support, and those sandwiches.  Mmm… sandwiches…