Coming to Terms

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who replied to my last post about being injured! You’ve made me feel so much better about everything. I felt like I was giving up/being a wuss/completely disappointed, but you’ve helped to put my injury in perspective: It’s one race, and it’s not worth injuring myself worse over.

So, I’ve decided: I’m just running the half marathon instead of the full Green Bay Marathon.

And I have to say, I feel totally relieved.

Before, I was truly dreading the thought of the marathon. I wasn’t stoked for the race, the thought of 26.2 miles didn’t seem just daunting—it seemed impossible. I knew I would most likely have to drop out at some point, or limp through the last 10 miles at a slow walk. No thanks. I was not excited at all about the race weekend…which is such a bummer, because I am going with a whole bunch of running club members, and it will be a blast!

With just 13.1 miles (just?) on the docket, I’m pretty excited just thinking of the whole experience: Running a half marathon with my training buddy (who is also injured now) and simply soaking up the running love and atmosphere the whole time. My other training buddies, Liz and Lela, dodged injuries and will be completing the full marathon, so we’ll be rootin’ for them at the finish line.

I’m glad I could come to terms with the fact that it’s okay to change a big goal and aim for something new. Life requires recalibration. A half marathon might not be what I was shooting for, but it’s still a damn good goal, so I’ll take it.

On the other hand, I guess that means I have another marathon in my future… Some day. 😉

2014 Goals & Running Plans

I’m not normally a New Year’s resolutions type of gal. If you decide you want to do something, you should do it any week of the year, any day of the week, any time of day. But last night, our house was finally quiet and I had time to reflect on what I’m looking forward to this year. With that in mind, I have a few things I want to work on in the near-future…I refuse to call them “resolutions,” but I am excited to have these goals to work towards!

• Train for the Sister Run-cation Half Marathon in March
My sisters and I finally picked our run-cation half marathon, but I’ll wait to reveal that in another post. You’ll have to wait! Think warm & sunny. Here’s a hint from the event’s Facebook page…

2014 Sister Run-Cation preview

I am stoked to have a 13.1 miler to train for—I already feel motivated and amped to start my workouts and get back to more consistent running. I don’t know if I’m in any shape to PR for the half, but I’ll evaluate a time goal after I get a few longer runs under my belt.

• Cook More + Share Recipes

Southwest Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

With a busy workweek, plus getting home after 6pm post-workout, I tend to fall back on cooking the same meals. I want to spice up my cooking life and try some new recipes, including a lot of lightened-up meals to help me shed a few pounds! And lucky you, lovely blog readers, you get to be the guinea pigs.

• Lose 20 pounds
Alright, I gotta pull the cliché bride-to-be “I want to lose weight” card.

I'm on a diet until the wedding's over.

I’ve wanted to do so for the last two years, so this will be good motivation, right? Losing 20 pounds should be easy to do before August.

• Blog more often
I love writing and it makes me happy, so I want to set more time aside every day to do what I love!

And last but not least…

• Run the Green Bay Marathon
Cellcom Green Bay Marathon
The granddaddy of them all: I signed up for my second marathon! After I ran the Chicago Marathon this past October, I knew I wanted to run another marathon. I felt like I could have trained better and run faster, so here’s to an injury-free year of running and a marathon PR at the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon in May.

– – –

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? 

What are your goals for 2014? 

Running with Marathon Man

One time, I got to run with a superhero.

Have you ever heard of Marathon Man? No, not the movie, but the real man. A guy named Trent Morrow, an energetic Aussie with lots of spirit and an infectious love for running. A man who’s on the quest to break the Guinness World Record for the most marathons run in a calendar year.

Marathon Man with some Frost 5 Challenge runners.

Marathon Man with some Frost 5 Challenge runners.

[source]

How many marathons is that, exactly? Well, last year a claim to the record was made of 157 marathons run in one year. Marathon Man is aiming to run over 160 marathons this year. That means Trent has to run at least three marathons a week. Can you even imagine?!

I can’t. But, I got to be a part of the experience when our running club pulled together a series of races to help Trent make a dent in the number of marathons left for the year. In order to reach his goal by the end of December, he needed to run almost one marathon per day this month. One of our club members, David, stepped in to organize the “Frosty 5 Challenge” series to help make that happen.

For the “Challenge,” Trent got to come stay in our lovely little [frigid] Wisconsin town earlier this month, and while here, ran five marathons in a row. WOW!

David recruited volunteers for the course, as well as runners (at least two marathoners each day) to race with Trent. A lot of people jumped in to run the first 6-13 miles with the [crazy?] marathoners as well.

It was inspiring to see how quickly people stepped up to run the marathon. Some people had, like me, just run their first marathon in Chicago in October. Others made this marathon seem like a walk in the park, no big deal. Another guy found the marathon to be his vindication after he bonked the Chicago Marathon—he had a blast and, better yet, set a PR for his best marathon time yet.

The Frosty 5 Runners, ready to take off!

The Frosty 5 Runners, ready to take off!

I, on the other hand, took the easy [sane?] route and signed up to run simply 6 miles during one of the night marathons.

When I first saw Trent, he bounded into the hotel lobby where all us runners were waiting to start. For someone who had already run two marathons the two days before, I was expecting him to be quiet, maybe moving a little slow and walking gingerly like I had after my marathon. But no! He was lively and seemed excited to go run 26 miles again. No limping, hunching or waddling in sight.

Start & Finish Line for the Frosty 5 Challenge with Marathon Man.

Start & Finish Line for the Frosty 5 Challenge with Marathon Man.

Once we were off, I got to run three miles side-by-side with Marathon Man himself. I was so excited to ask Trent lots of questions about himself, his journey to break the world record, and other running nerd questions in general. But, after my friends informed him that I had just run my first marathon this year, I only got one question in before Trent whipped out his phone and announced I was being filmed on “Marathon Man TV” and started interviewing ME. Ha! I’m waiting for my 15 minutes to fame. 😉

I did find out that the Chicago Marathon is Trent Morrow’s favorite marathon EVER, out of the over 200 marathons that he’s ever run. Can’t beat the crowd support there! He also raved a few times about making a hot cocoa stop at the 13-mile turn-around during his marathons here. Who would have thought, hot cocoa instead of a water stop? Probably because the water here was frozen, it was so cold.

Running in Wisconsin winter = Frozen water!

Running in Wisconsin winter = Frozen water!

[source]

I also wondered how on earth Trent manages to get in enough calories while logging so many miles, and his host for the few days he stayed here said he had been eating pretty much constantly. Now that I think of it, when I first saw him before the run, he was carrying a bag of baked Cheetos with him. Pre-run fuel, I guess.

Another night, I volunteered to hand out water and gels on the course. It was freezing out—literally, 15 degrees—and the wind was growling. I told myself not to whine about standing outside in the cold for 20 minutes when these six runners were tearing up 26 miles. Soon enough, Marathon Man trotted up, smiling and waving. His pace had slowed down, his foot was bothering him, but never once did he sound discouraged, crabby or whiney. He gulped some water and thanked me for coming out—even remembered my name from the night before!— and then he was running again, off to face the dark, cold miles ahead.

Check out that reflective gear. Just before Marathon Man took off along the marathon route.

Check out that reflective gear. Just before Marathon Man took off along the marathon route.

Trent is such a positive, friendly, endearing and inspiring individual. I don’t think anyone could help but want to help him reach his goal. Big kudos to my friend David for organizing the “Frosty 5 Challenge” to help Trent on his mission to beat the World Record. And most of all, thanks for allowing me the chance to meet Marathon Man and absorb some of his passion and enthusiasm for running. In my mind, he’s already a legend, and I’m glad I was able to be a small part of it!

If you would like to help support Trent on his goal to run over 160 marathons this year, you can buy a “Team Marathon Man” t-shirt, or donate here to help him cover lodging, food, marathon entries, and more. Whatever you do, be sure to follow him on Facebook as he sprints down the road to the World Record!

Getting Back to Running Post-Marathon

It’s been nearly a month since I ran my marathon, and tonight I’m [finally] planning to go for my first run since.

I’ve read a lot about post-marathon recovery and how much rest time one should take. It’s no surprise that suggested recovery time varies depending on who you talk to. And, of course, that time also depends on how you felt during and after your race. Did you finish feeling good, with only (understandable) soreness? Or did you hurt during the race, something felt injured, perhaps you were limping around when you finished? If that’s the case, you need some extra time off your feet to heal.

We all know running 26.2 miles is a HUGE stress on your body, and even your mind. The training leading up to it can also impact your social life, work life, and other aspects of your everyday well-being. For those reasons, I think it’s even more important to take ample time off after a marathon to not only let your body heal, but also so you play catch-up with those other areas of your life: family, friends, work, neglected home duties, etc.

I’ve heard for years that elite runners take off one day for every mile of a race, so typically they’ll take around 21 days off after a marathon. THREE weeks?! Most runners out there cringe thinking about taking that much time off.

In my case, I felt I needed to take at least a whole week off of ANY working out after the marathon. My right knee hurt quite bad right after the race, so I knew the overuse had probably done a little damage. Plus, I was looking forward to the mental rest, being able to come straight home from work and relax, sleeping in on Saturday morning, working on organizing & setting up neglected rooms in our new home, and more. I told myself I could take two weeks off completely, and I didn’t feel guilty about it one bit.

By week two, I was starting to crave the run again: The cathartic steadying breath, watching the scenery float by as my mind cleared of all thought, the sweaty feeling of triumph after pounding out the miles.

I missed running.

And that’s SO important! After 5 months of training, it’s easy to get burned out on running. Take some time off so you can remember how much you love it, what it means to you, and don’t start again until you WANT to—not because you feel you HAVE to. I have several friends who had signed up for races after the marathon, who felt pressured to get back to running after just a few days off. Don’t stress yourself out like that, don’t make yourself HAVE to run. Want to.

Right when I planned to pick up running again, I came down with this cold/bronchitis terrible twosome. But yesterday, feeling 95% back to normal (minus a naggy cough), when a friend asked me if I wanted to join her for a run this evening, I knew it was time to jump back in. I’ve felt ready for it, I’ve been craving it, I’ve been feeling that tickle in my feet to get back out there. And I couldn’t be more excited for it.

Now…if only it weren’t going to be a balmy 40 degrees, I’d say it would be a perfect running night. 😉

How long do you take off to recover after a big race?

What do you do to recover?

The Stages of Marathon Recovery (a.k.a. What the Heck to Expect When It’s Over)

Ever since I ran my first marathon about 10 days ago, I’ve been on a post-marathon high. I’m probably one of those cliché, annoying runners, who talks about it every chance she gets. But, hey—I ran a freakin’ marathon! I worked hard for months, I’m super proud of myself for getting there… People get to talk about their kids or pets all the time, so I am going to talk about my running. 🙂

102313_ran_marathon

Luckily, you’re all here voluntarily.

I have to say, recovering from the marathon didn’t take as long as I thought it would. People keep trying to tell me that’s because I’m only 26. Ha

But for me, I went through what I shall call the 4 Stages of Marathon Recovery…

Stage 1: The Day of the Marathon (a.k.a. PAIN)
I shuffled around; groaned a lot; and had trouble lifting my legs, er, at all. I popped Advil like it was my job. Stairs were a joke. Sitting = heavenly. My right knee felt like a 90-year-old’s. I probably looked like a 90-year-old. Passersby and strangers stared a bit—I just made sure my medal was blingin’.

Why yes, I feel like I'm about to fall over and I'm caked in salt. Please take my picture.

Why yes, I feel like I’m about to fall over and I’m caked in salt. Please take my picture.

Stage 2: The Day after the Marathon (a.k.a. Why is that sore now? )
Walking was halfway back to normal. My knee felt akin to a 70-year-old’s knee—quite painful going up and down the stairs. Working from home, sitting on the couch with my legs propped up, was the best ever. But, every time I stood up, the soreness came flooding back like a tidal wave. Ooph. With slightly less leg achiness came newly sore body parts—my back, my shoulders, my lower abs, my arms. What a lovely surprise! I wanted to go to bed by 7pm.

Stage 3: Two Days after the Marathon (a.k.a. Advil = Life)
Popping all that Advil over the last few days must have helped. Walking around felt pretty normal. But, after sitting at my desk for an hour or more, getting up and stretching my legs felt like straightening out tightly-wound Slinkies. My knee was progressing to a 60-year-old’s doesn’t-yet-need-to-be-replaced knee. My appetite was voracious. My fatigue was returning to normal, and I stayed awake until almost 9pm. Woo.

Stage 4: Three Days after the Marathon (a.k.a. Did I really do that?)
The return to normalcy! Walking, sitting, standing, even squatting to pee = normal. Joy. Only the outside of my hips still felt a bit sore, and that was only if I jiggled them around weird to see if they still hurt. Ha. The pain had worn down, the euphoria was still in full-swing, but with passing time the marathon began to seem like a dream.* My appetite wasn’t slowing down. A giant bakery cupcake may or may not have made a minor appearance at dinner before disappearing into my bottomless pit of a stomach.

And now I suppose I’ve entered stage 5…

Stage 5: Ten Days after the Marathon (a.k.a. What’s Next?)
I’ve enjoyed taking the last 10 days off from running. I’ve been relaxing, getting a lot of ignored housework done, and just spending time with friends and family. It’s nice not rushing to leave work to go run before it gets dark; or just simply come home after work to make dinner and relax the rest of the night with my fiancé. But, the itch is creeping back up…The urge to run and see how these legs feel again…To get out in the crisp air, eating it up by the lungful as my feet kiss the road and leave it behind me. Soon, I will get back out there.

But not today. Today, I’m enjoying the triumph for just a while longer.

*Yes, the marathon seems like a dream, not a nightmare. Like I said, we runners are a rare, special breed…  

How do you feel mentally and physically after you reach a big goal or race? How long do you take “off” afterwards, to recharge yourself?

My running buddy Liz finished the Chicago Marathon, but it didn’t quite go as planned; then she went on to run a half marathon last weekend with a PR for the year. Wow! I guess we all recover differently, huh?

Chicago Marathon Training, week 2 recap

Here’s a recap of my week #2 marathon training.

All in all, a solid week. I am feeling good mentally & physically!

  • Sunday, June 23rd: Long run, 8 miles • 11:19/mile pace
    • I did my long run on Sunday instead of Saturday, thanks to a traveling mishap on Saturday. I waited to start until almost 9am, which wasn’t so smart since it was about 75 degrees when I started, and 85 degrees when I finished. It was a hot one! I went slow & steady since it was my first long run, and I stopped at home to refill my water bottle with ice water about halfway through, so those things helped me to feel pretty good throughout.
  • Monday: 3 mile run, easy • 10:23/mile pace
    • Easy recovery run along the lakefront kept it breezy & cool.
  • Tuesday: Was supposed to cross-train by biking, but it was rainy/stormy out, so I did some core work & Pilates strengthening inside.
  • Wednesday: 5 mile run, easy • 10:50/mile pace
    • Ran with my training partner for a nice, easy 5 miles. Goes by so much faster when running with a friend!
  • Thursday: 3 miles • 10:10/mile pace
    • Ran along some roads in the hot sun & HIGH humidity. Sweat didn’t even seem to drip off…just stuck there. Gross & was glad when it was over.
  • Friday: Rest day
  • Saturday: My usual long run day, I planned it as a rest day due to wedding planning out of town all day, but did LOTS of walking…probably 2 hours total in the city and throughout some parks in Cedarburg (and moved my long run to the next day)

Here’s a look at what I have coming up this week:

  • Sunday: 9 mile long run
  • Monday: 60 minute cross-train (bike ride)
  • Tuesday: 3 miles
  • Wednesday: 5 miles
  • Thursday: 3 miles
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: 6 miles

How I’m Training for my First Marathon

Let’s take a look at what’s ruling my life these days…marathon training!

Running a marathon is truly something I never thought I would do. Over the last couple of years, I’ve run many races & distances, including a handful of half marathons, with a PR of 2:11. The dedication and time it took to run 13.1 miles, and the few injuries that cropped up during those times, were enough to make me swear off even the idea of running 26.2 miles.

Then this past January, something changed. During a “run-cation” (vacation + running  race) with my two sisters in Florida, they talked me into signing up for the Chicago Marathon so we could all run it together.

Translation: They will finish over an hour ahead of me, and I will be cursing them as I near the 20-mile mark & they’re already celebrating. I missed out on the speedy runner genes, apparently.

I’m still not sure what it is that changed my mind… Maybe it was the fact that we’d run a half marathon in the Florida heat that morning and our wine flights at dinner were going to my head. Maybe it was the fact that a half marathon used to seem like an insurmountable task to me, but then, even when I slacked on my training, I was still able to finish 13.1 miles. It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t pretty easy, but a half marathon also wasn’t an impossible feat anymore. So I needed a bigger challenge. Why not take that conquest on with my sisters, my best friends, by my side?

My sisters & me after the Naples Half Marathon.

My sisters & me after the Naples Half Marathon.

I had used the Hal Higdon training plans for half marathons before, and I liked the balance of running with rest/cross training days. I felt like it gave me a great running base without going overboard. A pal from my running club and I decided to train using the Hal Higdon Novice 2 program. I switched around the schedule of my days, but here’s what my plan looks like for the next couple of months…

Chicago Marathon Training Plan, Hal Higdon Novice 2

Click to see the greuling & fun details…

I’m giving myself the flexibility to switch around days and workouts, especially with the summer heat about to descend upon us here in Wisconsin, and all the fun activities that pop up in the sunny summertime months. It seems like here in Wisconsin, we get 3 months of great weather, followed by 9 months of winter, so I have to enjoy the sunshine while I can!

Each Monday, I’ll post the week’s upcoming workouts, and a recap of the past week’s so I can keep an eye on my progress & stay accountable.

This week’s workouts:

  • Monday: 3 mile run (check!)
  • Tuesday: cross train with my bike group, pending storms / alternate: Pilates and core work
  • Wednesday: 5 mile run
  • Thursday: 3 mile trail run with running buds
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: 9 mile long run
  • Sunday: rest, i.e. stretch/foamroll & walk

Any words of advice for a marathon newbie? Do you have a specific training program you prefer to follow, or other fitness that you incorporate into your routine to help you?