Wednesday, November 25, 2009
So in regards to the INVITATION... I'm giving it a few weeks to decide, BUT--
After two days, the soreness has faded...but the exhilaration is still alive. It's pulsing through my veins. As we headed east this week, driving through Little Rock, I remembered the invitation I received from my friend to run the Little Rock Marathon in March. Feasible. "I'd still be in shape and good to run...with minimal commitment beforehand." As we drove through Memphis, I noticed the St. Jude Children's Hospital and remembered the St. Jude Marathon in early 2010. "Memphis would be a nice place to run...with the riverside road winding along the Mississippi...now THAT would be a nice marathon."
What?!? I can't be serious.
I now realize, that with minimal commitment, I can prepare for the 26.2 miles and actually ENJOY every mile of the race. By "minimal" commitment I mean: continuing my daily family Crossfit-style workouts...and getting a long run in on the weekends.
And in answering her question about what marathon-training regimen I follow, I have to admit, I've never trained in the traditional manner that most runners train. Maybe because I don't fancy myself as a runner. Maybe it's because I always just set out "to finish" the marathon, rather than race. Or maybe it's because I found a more personally appealing alternative that fits MY lifestyle and exercise interests...
Our Crossfit OKC owner/certified trainer, along with my husband, ran the 2008 OKC Memorial Marathon, with marginal running beforehand. My husband continued his Crossfit training throughout the week, incorporating running into his regimen usually only on Sundays. They both were very satisfied with the level of endurance they built almost solely with Crossfit, and they were equally satisfied with their 26.2 mile run.
THIS is the pattern I followed--continuing with Crossfit and peppering 5K runs throughout my weekly workouts...and running longer runs on Sundays. My training for the November marathon never took me more than ten miles (I poorly managed my schedule); my training runs for the OKC marathon peaked at 16 miles (on a treadmill--YUCK!).
Crossfit serves in my ability to gain strength. Yes, that means gaining some muscle. Granted, I am HEAVIER than most long-distance runners and may run faster if I were thin. But, I deem the muscle more important in the long-run, especially as it is the primary support-structure giving my joints a slight break and placing them where they belong: as secondary back-up support. The last thing I need is to become acquainted with Arthur Itis at a young (or even old) age. Building muscle will not only support my joints, but as a woman, will guard against the common danger of osteoporosis.
(An aside: I know a particular Crossfitter and long-distance runner who drops ten pounds before a race. This is more dedication than I care to muster; I do not take the marathon-thing that seriously. I can face the fact that I'm not the long-and-lean distance runner; my body wasn't built for speed. And I'm okay with that.)
Building mental stamina is my primary goal in training for a marathon. I see this as an effective goal and an essential one, in my novice opinion. It’s one thing to be motivated to begin training. It’s another to stay motivated. But staying motivated and developing the proper mindset will be a necessary tool to both enduring and finishing the race. Crossing the finish line happy and in one piece is the (easily attainable and desired) goal.
For building mental stamina, I have found that running longer distances (anything above five miles) has helped. But most effective were the Crossfit WODs I chose to do beforehand. I chose the longer metabolic WODs--anything that would take me at least 15-20 minutes, forcing me to work at FULL-CAPACITY (i.e. Filthy Fifty). I also found it effective to warm up with the wind-sucking "Fran" and immediately after, setting off for a 5K+ run. Building mental stamina is very individual. But the important thing for me to find was the point where I thought I couldn't go anymore...and then realizing I COULD (safely) push past it. This enabled me to find that feeling of comfortable, yet challenging exertion. Knowing one's body is essential in any run, but more specifically long runs. Knowing when to stop before I collapse is the key to safe and enjoyable running. No "milestone" or accomplishment is worth sacrificing safety.
With that said, I'm thinking Mr. Marathon and I may rendezvous again. I know I said that we were over... But I'm encouraged now. I accomplished more than I set out to accomplish. (Meaning: I ran 30 miles instead of 26.2 AND I finished 30 miles in the time I hoped to finish 26.2 miles.)
What can I say? I like closure.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
There were many reasons for me deciding to train to run the Route 66 Half Marathon. I needed a motivation to get into shape, I wanted to lose a few pounds, an excuse to buy a new pair of running shoes, and a work colleague is always enthusiastically talking about her exciting running and cycling expeditions and making me jealous...
But the main reason was that this challenge has been unmarked on my “bucket list” for many years. I’m not sure when exactly I decided that I wanted to complete a half marathon, but I’m pretty sure I was still a teenager. I do not consider myself an athlete by any means. I was always last in every kind of race at school and have very poor coordination. Therein lies the beauty of the half-marathon. Almost anyone can complete it IF you put in the training. I was not crossing the starting line dancing through confetti because I wanted to race. I just wanted to finish the race, have fun and feel good at the end.
The weather conditions for the race were perfect. Cool but not cold and almost no wind. I started out at the 10mile per hour pace group and plodded along with a friend taking it easy. During my training I realized that the first 2 miles for me are always the most uncomfortable and race day was no different. I was feeling sluggish but happy to enjoy the scenery and the crowds and take it easy looking around for a bathroom stop since I realized I probably should have gone one more time before crossing the starting line. I tried to strike up conversation but it seemed like everyone was so busy listening to their iPods that they had trouble hearing me, or perhaps that was a deliberate response. Back home when I used to run 10km races (also just for the fun of it) people were a lot more open to chattering and running at the same time. I guess the reason is that there are more running clubs and so it’s a more social activity. Perhaps the lack of conversation was beneficial to my race.
Since everyone else was so concentrated on their pace I was naturally inclined to do the same – shut up and run. (Or perhaps I was so concentrated on holding out for the next port-a-potty stop.) Either way, the first down hill after the two-mile mark was the time that I started stretching my legs out, dropping my arms and increasing the pace. It felt good. I didn’t want to stop at the first two water-stops. I wasn’t sure how much more my bladder could hold so I just kept on moving. At this point it seemed like I was passing everyone except for two ladies who seemed to be just one step ahead of me. I tried to keep them in sight as we passed the 4:15 full-marathon pace group. I stopped for a few steps to get water and a Gatorade. When we hit a couple of hills at about eight or nine miles, the two ladies I was following started walking. But I couldn’t stop.
I then found a row of port-a-potties without a line outside of them!!! What a relief. And from there I only had three miles left. I picked up the pace a little more knowing that no matter how tired or how sore my knees started feeling that it would all soon be over. If I was only going to do this once, I may as well give it everything I have. The most discouraging part was that even though it felt like I was sprinting at this point and passing all the half marathoners I came across, the marathon runners whizzed by me like I was standing still. Like I said, fortunately running is a race against yourself, or at least it is for me. I kept the pace up and crossed the finish line right as the clock turned to 2:05:00 (chip time 2:02:25). That is probably the best time I could ever hope for.(I can’t remember ever completing a 10km or 15km at that pace.)
I scanned the crowd to find my husband, but apparently I wasn’t the only one expecting that the clock would be further along when I crossed the finish line. The feeling of euphoria at that time is hard to explain. But I was also a little sad. It meant that all the training was done and the challenge was over. Someone asked me what was to next? That’s the tough part. I might have to get that old bucket list out again and see what else I have listed to do. Or perhaps I need to add an item to the list: Full Marathon.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Conditions couldn't have been better for yesterday's race. Granted, it was 43 degrees at the start, but most anyone knows that any amount of physical activity soon helps your body forget the chill. I began with my two training buddies at the 10:00:00 per mile pace group. As my tradition goes, I crossed the starting line, started my stopwatch, wished them a fun race, and departed, weaving my way ahead to an optimum pace group for ME.
The course was rather hilly in the beginning. I didn't anticipate it, nor did I care for it, but I used it to my advantage. I gain much ground on hills, increasing intensity upward to maintain my pace, and then using the hill downward to really propel me forward. I noticed that many people tried to stop the momentum (like pulling the reins on a horse) created by the descent. Not only do I imagine this is NOT good on their knees, but why not use the hill as a natural propellant?
I was a machine. My legs were moving through the pain or discomfort. I was being thrust forward by sheer competition.
I made my way into a group...of MEN...and realized I was one woman in the midst of men. It was this way for many miles. Granted, I KNOW there were women ahead of me, but just like in the Midnight Streak, if no woman passed me, I was satisfied to maintain my pace. It was at that moment that I realized I wasn't just RUNNING the marathon, I was actually RACING, pushing my limits. I pushed forward hard and found a pace runner from Elite Feet. These guys carried balloons indicating the pace they were setting. I was excited to see that I had made it to the 3:40:00 pace group (this means, by staying with this pace group, I could finish the race, with a pace of 8:36 minutes/mile, in 3 hours and 40 minutes). I was ecstatic--that would have been 58 minutes faster than my April 2009 marathon time! I was at a comfortable pace, and I saw it feasible to maintain this pace for the duration of the race.
I pushed ahead of them a bit after a few miles. I did this as a proactive measure; in the instance I had to STOP (i.e. for a port-a-potty break), they wouldn't get ahead of me. THIS IS WHERE I MADE MY MISTAKE. At this point in the race, we rejoined the half-marathoners. Once again, the group was HUGE. I lost my orientation, apparently, as the pace group was my familiar group of runners. I saw a sign: "15 miles, Halfway Turnaround", and I assumed this was the full marathon turnaround. I, being in a space, alone, with no other runners immediately around me, decided to turn at the turnaround. Being unfamiliar with the course, I didn't realize my mistake.
I kept running hard, maintaining, of course, the pace I had set for myself. I didn't bother to look behind me to see if the pace group was there. And apparently I didn't bother to notice ahead of me to see the group that had continued straight, before the turnaround. Imagine my surprise when I saw the finish line ahead...and crossed...and heard my name announced as finishing! I immediately became bewildered...my watch kept ticking as I stood there , looking for MORE FULL MARATHON BIBS to come by way, trying to determine what happened. I found a volunteer and asked what I could have done wrong...how I could have separated from the FULL marathoners. He wasn't much help and got another volunteer, who then asked an official what could be done. "Nothing really. I'm sorry." They apologized profusely (for MY mistake) and told me how disappointing that must be.
Yes, it was. I considered giving up...not finishing. What was the use? I don't even know WHERE I lost the full marathon group. Where would I go back to? Would I even be able to catch up?
It was a risk I was willing to take. "I HAVE to finish", I explained. "Is there any way I can just run back? Just to see if I can find the full marathoners?" With a look of surprise and disbelief, the official said, "well, I guess...GOOD LUCK!"
Just as I began running, tracking backward, I passed my training buddy, coming in for the finish. I yelled out to her, and gave her a "five" as I passed. She looked so excited coming in...and a bit confused as I passed...
...to be continued...
exhilaration she was feeling and twisted it into a semblance of confusion... Sorry, Tarah!
accommodating; he removed his headphones and began talking to me. I told him what happened...and he told me where I made my mistake. He was very encouraging, and he gave me a bit of an edge to push forward again.
By that time, the first time since the beginning of the race, I felt tight. The minutes that had been wasted in STANDING at the finish line, talking to volunteers and determining my next course of action, had served to stiffen me. I'm good while running, but once I stop, my muscles seize.
I felt despair...discouragement...hopelessness...(sad, right?). All over a silly race. I can't explain the type of discipline and emotion...over the body and mind...that is committed during those 26.2 miles. The satisfaction in watching the mile-markers pass and meeting a goal (or even setting a new one mid-race) is hard to describe. By running with the 3:40:00 pace group and considering the prospect of completing the race with a sub-four hour time... I had entered a new realm. I didn't realize I could push myself that hard...pushing past discomfort to meet a goal.
this was my original goal time. Granted, if I could finish with them, my goal would have been attained. (But in my mind, I considered what I could have done, and that bothered me a bit.) I had backtracked over 2.5 miles...my rank had gone from 179th to 601st...in a matter of 35 minutes...and I had lost, in backtracking and speaking with race officials, 35 minutes.
At that moment, I determined to stay with the 4:15:00 pace group. And I did. When I saw the 26-mile marker, I felt the tears forming in my eyes. For this mark meant I had almost completed THIRTY miles...
As I rounded the first corner, this route was all-too-familiar: I had been here before...I had finished once already. Upon rounding the second corner, I saw my family. My eyes connected with my husband's eyes; I saw the sweet faces of my two boys. I waved, smiled, and pushed...through pain, discomfort, and disappointment. I sprinted to the finish, passing the girl in the fuchsia shirt that had gained on me at mile 26...and I then heard my named announced...AGAIN...as finishing. I had finished nearly 30 miles in 4:16:10, putting my pace at 8:31/mile.
As I finished, I saw the first volunteer I had spoken with. His eyebrows raised and he was shocked as he asked if I had finished the full. He hugged me and called out to the second volunteer. She congratulated me for finding the full-marathoners and finishing with them. After receiving my medal, my children made their way to me. Their hugs were warming...and somehow, as kids always do, my oldest managed to say the perfect words:
"I'm glad you finished, Mom."
SO WAS I.
TULSA, OK --The winner of The Williams Route 66 Marathon broke the Guinness World record for running with a stroller on Sunday morning.
The first and second place winners were the two dueling for the record. Zac Freudenburg won the Route 66 Marathon and broke the Guinness World Record for running a marathon while pushing a stroller with a time of 2:32:10.
The second place finisher of the marathon is Michael Wardian, who also was pushing a stroller with a time of 2:34:37.
Elite marathon runners Michael Wardian and Zac Freudenburg and their children 11-month-old Grant Wardian and 10 1⁄2 month old Liam Freudenburg finished in the top two at the Route 66 Marathon.
The current Guinness World Record was set by Wardian and his older son Pierce at the 2007 Frederick Marathon in Virginia.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
|overall place:||507 out of 1222 (I ranked 507 at the finish of MY 30 miles--4:16:10, 23 minutes faster than the April 2009 marathon. I gained SOME ground, but couldn't recover my dramatic loss of time. Bummer.) |
|division place:||28 out of 70|
|gender place:||142 out of 468|
|10k:||45:55 rank 162 |
|15k:||1:14:59 rank 157 |
|half:||1:44:51 rank 179 |
|27k:||2:43:27 rank 610 (THIS is after it all fell apart. My rank plummeted.) |
|32k:||3:12:5 rank 577|
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Whether it be 13.1 or 26.2 miles, may we that run tomorrow do so diligently...that we may patiently finish the race set before us... The prize comes in the finish.
To the Williams Route 66 Marathon...here we come!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Phys Ed: Why Exercise Makes You Less AnxiousBy GRETCHEN REYNOLDS
Researchers at Princeton University recently made a remarkable discovery about the brains of rats that exercise. Some of their neurons respond differently to stress than the neurons of slothful rats. Scientists have known for some time that exercise stimulates the creation of new brain cells (neurons) but not how, precisely, these neurons might be functionally different from other brain cells.
For years, both in popular imagination and in scientific circles, it has been a given that exercise enhances mood. But how exercise, a physiological activity, might directly affect mood and anxiety — psychological states — was unclear. Now, thanks in no small part to improved research techniques and a growing understanding of the biochemistry and the genetics of thought itself, scientists are beginning to tease out how exercise remodels the brain, making it more resistant to stress. In work undertaken at the University of Colorado, Boulder, for instance, scientists have examined the role of serotonin, a neurotransmitter often considered to be the “happy” brain chemical. That simplistic view of serotonin has been undermined by other researchers, and the University of Colorado work further dilutes the idea. In those experiments, rats taught to feel helpless and anxious, by being exposed to a laboratory stressor, showed increased serotonin activity in their brains. But rats that had run for several weeks before being stressed showed less serotonin activity and were less anxious and helpless despite the stress.
Other researchers have looked at how exercise alters the activity of dopamine, another neurotransmitter in the brain, while still others have concentrated on the antioxidant powers of moderate exercise. Anxiety in rodents and people has been linked with excessive oxidative stress, which can lead to cell death, including in the brain. Moderate exercise, though, appears to dampen the effects of oxidative stress. In an experiment reported at the Society for Neuroscience meeting, rats whose oxidative-stress levels had been artificially increased with injections of certain chemicals were extremely anxious when faced with unfamiliar terrain during laboratory testing. But rats that had exercised, even if they had received the oxidizing chemical, were relatively nonchalant under stress. When placed in the unfamiliar space, they didn’t run for dark corners and hide, like the unexercised rats. They insouciantly explored.
“It looks more and more like the positive stress of exercise prepares cells and structures and pathways within the brain so that they’re more equipped to handle stress in other forms,” says Michael Hopkins, a graduate student affiliated with the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory Laboratory at Dartmouth, who has been studying how exercise differently affects thinking and emotion. “It’s pretty amazing, really, that you can get this translation from the realm of purely physical stresses to the realm of psychological stressors.”
The stress-reducing changes wrought by exercise on the brain don’t happen overnight, however, as virtually every researcher agrees. In the University of Colorado experiments, for instance, rats that ran for only three weeks did not show much reduction in stress-induced anxiety, but those that ran for at least six weeks did. “Something happened between three and six weeks,” says Benjamin Greenwood, a research associate in the Department of Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado, who helped conduct the experiments. Dr. Greenwood added that it was “not clear how that translates” into an exercise prescription for humans. We may require more weeks of working out, or maybe less. And no one has yet studied how intense the exercise needs to be. But the lesson, Dr. Greenwood says, is “don’t quit.” Keep running or cycling or swimming. (Animal experiments have focused exclusively on aerobic, endurance-type activities.) You may not feel a magical reduction of stress after your first jog, if you haven’t been exercising. But the molecular biochemical changes will begin, Dr. Greenwood says. And eventually, he says, they become “profound.”
Monday, November 16, 2009
I say this NOW, before the adrenaline-packed, sweat-filled, pain-free (ha!), I-love-running-and-won't-stop-for-26.2-miles, Tulsa Route 66 Marathon 2009 raceday.
This day will occur in three days. Believe me, I am counting down the days.
I am a little excited. I've done this before. I know that feeling of adrenaline pumping through your veins, and the endorphin-high you experience for the first couple hours after the run...and the peaceful rest you experience after the high is over. I know the sense of accomplishment felt for a few days after its over. But then something happens: I feel the need to do it again. You know, to do better...to beat my time by fifteen minutes (okay, I'd settle for five).
Oddly enough, I am already anticipating the end of this race. (Yes, I want it to be over. Like, now.) This is highly unusual for me. I've always greatly and most fondly anticipated marathon day...and the run itself...and then the NEXT big run to follow. Not this year. I've come to a new season in life, or so it seems. I'm a little bit tired of training. It seems I have a reputation for being "hard-core". (What's happening to me?) I'm finally experiencing a little bit of burnout. I desire to stay fit...but for once in four years, I don't care about hitting that next PR. Maintaining is good enough for me...for now. I've thought it through, and I have my reasons for NEVER wanting to run another marathon...
Reason #1 I will not (at least I say this now) run another marathon:
I do not think they are good for your body...long-term. Running, by nature, is high-impact...especially road-running. Many aches, pains, and injuries are experienced by seasoned runners. These include "runner's knee", shin splints, pulled muscles (hamstring comes to mind), twisted ankles, tendon problems, stress fractures, etc. Apparently stress fractures are fairly common in runners that train at a high volume or intensity. Repetitive stress on the same tissues without enough time for recovery or running with improper form can lead to many of these issues.
Reason #2 I will not run another marathon:
Priorities. My family, especially my husband, has always been super-supportive and encouraging of my fitness endeavors. In fact, my husband PREFERS that I set lofty goals, rather than NOT EXERCISE AT ALL.
My goal of remaining in a constant state of fitness is driven by the fact that 1) I am a mom and a wife. I live not only for myself, but my health affects my family and 2) I have had a cesarean-section (C-section). Upon releasing me from the hospital, the doctor told me that the likelihood of my having a successful "natural" birth from here on out was imperative to my level of fitness. Yes, I had an amazing all-natural homebirth with my second...and in the instance I am called to go through labor again (after being pregnant, of course), I MUST be in shape so I can avoid any and all possibility of having to experience the joyful C-section again.
Yes, my family. My kids are growing at a rapidity I NEVER anticipated. (They grow MUCH faster than I run.) I leave for training runs, I miss two hours of their growth. Yes, I am exaggerating, but the commitment involved in training for these runs can be excessive...and a definite diversion from certain priorities. I'm ready to channel the time, the discipline, and the effort into something else.
Fitness is a lifestyle. It is a lifestyle naturally embraced by our family. The desire to be fit is not driven by vanity (but to say that vanity plays no part in it, I'm sure to say would be fibbing). The example my husband and I set for our boys, coupled with the desire we instill in them to be fit and live an active lifestyle, will hopefully build a firm foundation for their building strong temples. All things fitness will still peak my interest. I will still enjoy the exercise that will help me maintain a level of fitness to aid in longevity and quality of life.
But as for me and Mr. Marathon...our love-affair is over. I think I've got 5K's number...
(I say it now...I'll get back with you after the two of us meet up on Sunday. Especially with a weather forecast like this: Sunday's forecast calls for near perfect conditions for the fourth running of the Williams Route 66 Marathon. The temperature will be in the mid 40's at the start with light winds and partly sunny skies. The afternoon high will be in the low 60's. Ah, perfect.)
Thursday, November 12, 2009
2x10 Single Leg Thrusters (1 set/leg)
3x20 Romanian Deadlifts, 110#
3x20 Front Squats (65#-75-75)
3x5 Dead-hang pull-ups
3x10 Push Press, 753
2x10 Single Leg Thrusters (1 set/leg)
1:00 planks (front/side/side)
2x10 Single Leg Thrusters (1 set/leg)
2x10 Single Leg Thrusters (1 set/leg)
Workout: 3x30 Kettlebell Swings (1.5pood-1.5pood/1 pood)
3x20 Barbell Thrusters (45#-55-55)
4x5 Dead-hang pull-ups
2:00 front plank
1:00 side plank (each side)
20 miles of running so far this week, combined with the two workouts above...my.legs.HURT.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I have been training recently in my new Puma running flats. I decided, last night, to wear my old Mizuno Waves to determine what shoe I will be using for the race. These shoes have accumulated some miles, yet, I've never been convinced I truly like them.
Last night's 10-mile run was productive. I will rest up for a 16-miler on Sunday, and then my "training"will be done. I look forward to that pre-race relaxation and rest week. There will be PLENTY of time for pre-race stretching!
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
"I just want you to know I'm behind you. Don't want to scare you."
Now being caught
The song that I was listening to was the instigator of my unusual running style. What was the correlation between my increased energy and this silly song?
Recently, I have been running to the beat of Mendelssohn's "Elijah", and I've found some portions of my run to be a bit depressing and downright slow. But in the spirit of preparation, I consider running with "Elijah" productive, as I can rehearse my high soprano part (yeah, right) while running in preparation for the upcoming Tulsa marathon. Yesterday I removed the slower, more sobering pieces from "Elijah" and added a new album that I'm loving by Plumb. It's called "Blink". Her voice is mesmerizing; the lyrics are all written by her to her three children and are all very uplifting. But after running with these tracks yesterday, I realized that albeit inspiring, "Blink" is not a running album. I began reflecting on my own thankfulness for my children and began slightly weeping while running. The weeping led to a brief scare of hyperventilation. Counterproductive, really.
Running music should pump up your running with energy, intensity and, in my opinion, fun and/or inspiration. If you've managed to find the right music for YOU, you can attest to the difference the right music can make. I think I found the perfect running song for ME, for now. Indeed, it is only ONE SONG. This will ultimately cause a problem if I repeat this song for 26.2 miles. But at this point in the game, I found such results with it yesterday that I'd be willing to listen to it for four hours. While running to "Say Hey (I Love You)" by Michael Franti and Spearhead (never heard of them, except for this song), I gained more ground than I had in any of the previous miles I had run prior with Mendelssohn or Plumb. (What is YOUR running song? Let me know!)
This peaked my curiosity, and I looked into getting some running playlists for the Tulsa 26.2 run. I found that there are legitimate playlists designed with BEATS PER MINUTE according to your running pace. (I didn't realize it was so scientific.) Unlike any other music, running music is supposedly produced for maximum motivational impact. You get high energy, non-stop songs at the perfect pace for optimum running results. Theoretically, the beat sets your pace.
HOW DO YOU DETERMINE what beat per minute (BPM) is right for you??? http://www.run2r.com/Technical+linking-bpm-to-running-speed-usa.aspx
WHERE DO I GET BPM MUSIC??? Google it. I found two sites, amongst many, that peaked my interest (okay, they were the first two I opened):
and in the spirit of my FUN run: