I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Posts tagged ‘half-marathon’

Fabruary: Awaiting Results

Day 1 of the new month – which I am proclaiming as fabulous, by the way – with my mountain of student loan debt comes the ability to spell all of the months in English properly – has got me nervous. I know I literally JUST said it is going to be fabulous but please, hear me out. I have successfully wrapped up my workouts for the week but my legs are not happy about it. I did a good job in Shamuary of consistently getting in my miles, but if I do not start stretching and adding strength regularly, I’m not going to make it. Stretching daily and full ass yoga and strength routines twice a week, each. Periodt, as my Lil One would say.

I believe that every runner loves results, but I also think that results mean different things to different people. When I started running in 2013, I was not thinking that I would ever become addicted to entering races. I was just a girl trying to continue my habit of working out 3 times a week to lose weight and Couch to 5k was a free, structured way for me to do so. What a blessing that I was able to maintain the discipline to finish the program, enter a race, and have one of the happiest moments of my life as I crossed my first finish line. While I still care about my weight loss, the purpose has now flipped – rather than running to lose weight, I want to lose weight so I can be the most efficient runner possible.

At this point in my life, I am determined to show myself that my best still awaits me. Last night, I started updating the calendar page of my blog to fill in gaps and detail all of my awesome activities and race results. I used the site coolrunning.com, which I have been using for years to check where I’ve placed in my age groups. Would you believe that as of today, February 1, coolrunning.com is NO. MORE?! Had I waited one more day, it might have been impossible to find any of my races prior to my purchasing a Garmin. I am beyond thankful that God moved me to update my calendar and I hope I can bless others as I increase in fearlessness. If you want to do something, people, just grab life by the ovaries! You never know!

About those ovaries.

It was interesting seeing my race times in black and white, all together. There is a distinct before and after marriage line. I have been tempted to make new goals based on Mrs. J rather Ms. J but I am not that old yet! I refuse to accept that the result of getting married is to be slower. That being said, the result of being older and more experienced requires that I do not neglect things like stretching and strength training – when I was at my best I was getting regular massages and not missing boot camp. That girl was great, and this one can be too. THAT being said, I’m no longer mad at Mrs. J for being slower. I am coming to realize that life is like training and it is simply not feasible for me to be in peak condition all of the time. Garmin knows, look at this chart:

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The last year three years have frustrated me as I cannot seem to break the pattern of setting goals and missing them, but check out that calendar – I haven’t been exactly sedentary. I would argue that I have toggled between maintaining, recovery, and overreaching as a married woman. I hope that I am able to become more productive so that I can truly peak! Here’s to good decision making and not being mean to myself when I make not so good ones!

 

 

Over the Humps: Race Report

By humps, I mean bridges. Literal and metaphorical. 

Fewer things make me happier than a family field trip to a new racing destination. EXCEPT! This time Adonis is running too! Whee! The night before the race, I asked if anyone objected to us driving over the bridge I knew would be part of the course. “Bridge?!” exclaimed Adonis. “You NEVER said there was going to a bridge.” Lies. “Well, then you get the bridge!” Both legs have a bridge, dear. “You should have told me.” I did, sweetheart. 

On race day, we carefully navigated our way to the relay point, where I would be dropped off. Adonis was going to run the first leg – the one with the cooler weather, and I got to be the one to cross the finish line. Fair enough. I kissed everyone goodbye and waited with a set of second leg runners for the shuttle. 

I looked out of the windows of the bus in vain for Adonis as we drove the first leg of the course. Over his bridge we went before we had to get out to walk to the exchange. As we waited, I checked and double checked my perfect playlist. “Personal Record.” That’s right, y’all. That’s the level of confidence I was feeling that day. I’ve only run one other quarter marathon and I had a feeling that based on my race from 2 weeks ago, I could beat my time. 

Cold air, warm feelings about running.


After 70 minutes, I started looking over the bridge for Adonis. I saw him 10 minutes later, still looking very strong, handsome, even. I hopped over to the timing mat, where we exchanged his relay chip for my sweater. “Hey!” I shouted as he turned to get his medal. We hugged and kissed, I turned on my music, and I was off. 

Aretha Franklin accompanied my first steps. My steady feet were rocking to her steady beat. I looked to my right, where I saw the bridge that was waiting for me. “I’m coming!” I smiled. I felt strong. There were some really fun musicians along the course supporting us. May I say that music has helped me through many a race but not ONCE has an athlete helped me once I am on stage! Just saying…

11:03. 11:01. 10:58. Ridiculously evenly paced. Until…


11:55, lol. I was running and running and running – and then I wasn’t. But when that downhill came I started running like a champ for the finish. The best Mom ever was waiting for me. Seeing her made me go even faster. I sprinted and felt like I was going to vomit. Perfect, especially since I didn’t. 

Lil One and Adonis started cheering as I went through the chute. I felt great. Team Salt and Pepper was a great success! Adonis was strutting around looking for snacks, so I know he was pleased with himself. He has even committed to doing a half-marathon with me in June!!!!

Three minute PR!!!!!! 

!!!!!!! 

“I wanna be Pepper,” says Adonis.

Great. Expectations.

It should come as no surprise that since my marathon finish, I have been thinking about not only what I should do next but also my marathon performance. How I handle the first depends upon my feelings about the second.

So. How did I do?

To be honest, while I am proud to be able to check something off of my bucket list, I think I could have done better. I was unsure of my preparation, even though I have never followed any plan perfectly and I have a 100% finish rate *knock on wood,* and thought it best to run conservatively; about a minute slower than my projected ability. I know the next time I have any race, I will not have a wedding with which I must contend to interfere with my training. It was naive of me to think as I was training that I would be a one and done marathoner, the way I have been (thus far!) with my 70.3. Running brings me such joy and while sometimes I hate training, I have never had less than fabulous time at a goal race. That being said, if given the chance to run my first marathon again, I would approach race day in the same way. Had I run at my projected pace and felt like I had to drag myself across the finish line or worry that I would burn out, I think I would regret going too fast and I would be beating myself up for that. Seems silly to beat myself up to do what I felt was best to finish, especially given that it was something to “get out of the way” before Adonis and I try for a Girl J.

What’s next?

I had envisioned 2017 to be the year where I back off from long races so that I could focus on preparing my body for a Girl J. 5ks, 10ks, just working on being fit. However, completing the marathon cemented something for me that I should have realized earlier – shorter races don’t bring me the same joy that longer races do. When I think about how I feel when I finish 5ks or 10ks, it is usually something like, “Whew! Glad that’s over!” Finishing half-marathons has consistently been more thrilling for me. Even in my training, my favorite part of the week is my long run, although it scares me every time. While I don’t want to run another marathon in 2017, I would like to squeeze in one more while I am still running for one, tee hee.

2013 was the year I discovered I can run. 2014 was the year of the triathlon. I don’t know what the hell happened in 2015, but 2016 was the year of the marathon. Here is to 2017 being the year of the half!

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Not the time to ask me which me(t/d)al means more to me. #marathonfinisher #stillmarried

 

Who am I? Race Report

E Major

That’s the key of my alarm that went off in its futile attempt to wake me at 4:30 this morning. 

E Major, but louder. 

I groaned. 4:39. ‘I’m not ready for this race…’ I shut off the alarm. 

My thoughts.

Decidedly louder and less harmonious than my alarm, my thoughts of potential regret are what finally got me out of bed at 4:45. Well, that and Adonis pounding on my door. My fabulous future hubs made me breakfast as I prepared for the half-marathon ahead of me. 

Though I was armed with my bib holder and best running lipstick, I was plagued with doubt. My longest continuous run in my current training cycle was 8.5 miles. I was worried about both my mental and physical stamina. In my previous post I wrote regarding my grand expectations for this race. Knowing how far I have fallen from my 2014 peak kinda bums me out. I hadn’t run a half-marathon since the last leg of my half-ironman. My piano teacher always told me that the reason for practicing is not just for skill building but for building confidence. The guilt that comes with not practicing is enough to sap the most talented of confidence. 

As I walked to get my bib, I stared at the finish line. My eyes started to tear. The half-marathon distance has always moved me. I know that I cannot take any of the approximately 30,000 steps that are between me and a finisher’s medal alone. Though on my feet, I am forced to my proverbial knees in a way that I don’t so tangibly feel for shorter distances. 

I took in the crowd. I overheard conversations between other runners. “I’m running with the 1:40 pacer!” Heh. I was trying to decide what a reasonable goal was for me. “Beat the balloon lady?” I thought to myself. I had been thinking this week that considering how underprepared I am I should be happy with 3 hours or less. I searched for the 3 hour pacer. “13:43 min mile,” his sign read. I figured I would be safe but I was not sure if I would be bored. I saw the 2:45 pacer. “12:35.” I walked over to him and told him I wanted to run with him. He smiled and recommended that I keep him in my “rearview mirror” to ensure that I finish in a time I wanted. 

I took a selfie at the starting line and made a face in an attempt to reflect my emotions… 

 I think that captured my Jessie Spano-like state of split emotions. I mean, I did have the morbid curiosity to show up today. Could be fun. 

The horn went off, and off I went. It was good to be moving in the cold weather. I checked my watch. “11:30.” I turned to see if Billy the Pacer was in my rearview mirror. BTP was sho ’nuff in my blind spot! What the hell?! Forever the good student, I sped up. I wasn’t feeling as drained as I thought I might. Yes, I know I still had 13 of 13.1 miles to go. I smiled as we made our first turn. I felt my calves greet me hello. It is here that I am making a public service announcement for all pensive runners – do NOT reflect on the meaning of life before a race instead of warming up. Do them at the same time. I shrugged and kept going. 

I observed the people around me. BTP was talking to a chick who was running her first half. A man was running in memory of a 15 year old who died last month. Some old dude left me in the dust. I grinned. I was moving forward. 

I greeted new people I would encounter. “Good morning!” “You seem happy,” one man responded. “I am!” I said. “I’m alive.” And it was true. Had I had the breath, I would have elaborated that I was alive and could run. My brain had clicked into performance mode and I was freely running without analyzing my preparation or thinking of what would come after the finish. Not even second breakfast was on my mind as I made my way through 13.1 miles. All I was thinking of was the moment, of my current journey, of the blessing of this particular experience. 

I reached mile 7. I thought to myself, “Great! I can do that again.” My knees were angry. At the perfect time, I read a sign that read, “Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.” Race volunteers are a big deal. I thanked God and I thanked the volunteers as I passed them. I checked for BTP. I lost him. Whoops. I shrugged. I ran some more. 

By mile 10, I was starting to warm up. I removed my hat. 10.5 – removed my gloves. 11.5 – damn. I really don’t feel like removing my jacket but it’s hot now. I removed my watch and phone from my sleeve, grabbed both by my teeth, and tried to simultaneously run and disrobe. Almost landed on my face. My youthful lack of wisdom was compensated by my youthful balance. Winning. 

Once I looked at my watch again, I thought to myself, heh. Positive splits. Who cares. I’m a positive girl. This finish line is happening today. No Monday morning quarterbacking until tomorrow. I smiled and waved for the race paparazzi. I turned the final corner and saw Mom, who ran with me to the finish line. 

  
I want to say that I don’t think I could be more proud of myself than I am. I am not worried about anyone who would shudder at the thought of being proud of a 2:41:01 finish time. I fear that someone could read about my concrete goal for the day and think, “Shut up! I would be lucky to finish with the balloon lady. Or finish at all.” I think it is important to note that awesome is relative. I gave 100% today. My goal, in time, is to make MY 100% better. I can’t do anyone else’s 100% because I am Joan. I can’t be anyone else, and it is good to have a day where I am thankful that I am no one else. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 

That’s who I am. 

Precious Medal, Precious Metal, and Precious Mettle

So, a lil girl did a big race last night. Interestingly enough, I was supposed to be by her side rather than blogging about her awesomeness. 

How do I feel about this? Glad you asked. I can’t say that I regret it; I spent the day at the museum with my besties and did some premarital homework with Adonis. However, I am left with some lingering questions. 

1. Could I have done it? 

Probably. Coachie or Blonde Oprah wouldn’t have endorsed my initial registration if I couldn’t. Like Coachie says, though – could and should are different. 

2. Does knowing I could have done it change anything? 

Not really. There are other things I want more right now. I feel like the full iron distance may be like a ph.d. for me – something I could attain but I need to be more sure that the payoff would be worth the investment. 

3. Do I sound like a hater right now? 

I hope not. I could not be more excited for FFF. You watch someone do something big, then you wonder what you could be doing. Told y’all she was a motivator. I just want to be sure I am maximizing my potential. 

4. Well, Joan. Are you maximizing your potential? 

I am not entirely sure. I don’t like how many races I’ve registered for and not done. FIVE. That’s a lot of money. I think I was trying to convince myself I wasn’t tired or that life wasn’t shifting. 

5. So you’re blaming Adonis? 

Not entirely. 🙂 I mean, I’ve not gotten as many medals this year, but wearing medals all the time isn’t as socially appropriate as wearing my engagement ring. Feels fair. Moreover, the injuries I’ve sustained had nothing to do with him; I may have had to bow out anyhow. 

6. So what’s next on your agenda? 

Well, I’ve GOT to run a half-marathon this year. Otherwise, why even, like, bother. I have to test myself and keep growing. Not racing is simply not acceptable. I do see myself returning to triathlon (shorter distances) in 2016, because I have too many questions about what my body is capable of. Plus, I like taking selfies by the pool at the gym. 

  

15. Bloody. Seconds. Race Report

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So my plan had been to run with the 2:30 pace group. My best time to date is 2:27 and change, and I had received instruction from Coachie to take it easy. There were 2 of the 2:30 pace teams – one that planned to run continuously and one that was to do intervals of running 5 minutes and walking 1. I figured I would go with the run/walk group to A. Ensure that I was indeed not pushing myself too hard physically and B. Pace myself mentally. I thought this would be especially beneficial because I had been loathing struggling with running and this would be a way to not focus on having to do it for two and a half hours. Plan in place. Rock on.

I wandered over to the chick holding the 2:30 sign. Y’all already know. I don’t tend to open my mouth unless I feel the need to speak. Or flirt. I listened to the pacer explain to someone else that the run/walk pacer couldn’t make it. I’m sure you can imagine how disappointed I was. “Oh, well! Guess it’s just me and G and G.” G and G being God and Garmin, of course. I figured I would stay behind the group, keeping them in site to make sure I didn’t go too fast in the beginning. New plan in place.

While the race officially started at 6:30 AM, my corral didn’t arrive at the starting line until about 10 after 7. As we were about to start, I gave my cousin a hug, listened for the horn, and off I went. Garmin’s on. Music is on. Chicago is so pretty! Almost immediately, we went through a tunnel. “Uh-oh.” My Garmin was angry. I figured she would be better as soon as I got through the tunnel and I could check my pace again. I wanted to err on the side of slow because I was feeling all the feels and didn’t want to burn out because my adrenaline was pumping. Out of the tunnel, my watch looked more accurate. I passed mile marker one feeling awesome. The official time clock read about 53 minutes.

Mile 2 took us through some of Chicago’s most iconic sites. Over the river. Through downtown. Oh, no! The ABC building headline read that Maverick died! I arrived at the next mile marker to see that my Garmin was only reading 1.8 miles. Um. I began paying closer attention to my watch as I ran the next mile. I noticed it was auto-pausing even though I was running. Apparently, all of those iconic buildings were interfering with satellite reception. By the time I completed mile 4, I realized that the only thing I could rely on was the time on the watch – the pace was all over the place. 9:30! 16:20! 7:50! Fan. Freaking. Tastic. Okay, Joan. New plan! I passed the pace group and thought, what the hell? Let’s try to keep each mile around 11 minutes and go for a PR. So now I had to run and add at the same time. Piss off!

Looking back, I think my Garmin’s acting out was a blessing in disguise. I had thought my main concern would be my brain being bored of running. There was just way too much going on for that even to be an option. My legs felt great. The city and weather were lovely. My only lament was that I didn’t want to stop and take pictures OR stop at Giordano’s! It just isn’t natural to pass Nordstrom and not go inside. I pressed on.

Along the course, there were rock bands playing. I had my own music, but I’m sure you can imagine that these bands were quite loud. Of course, they were playing loudest when my favorite pieces came on my iPhone. “Sigh. Don’t these people know that Earl Wild’s Chopin Etudes ARE SACRED?!” I gave them the benefit of the doubt that they were only playing so loudly to motivate me to run faster and out of earshot. In addition, I had been smelling ALL kinds of fantastic Chicago food during the race, but mile 8 brought the most pleasant scent yet.

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I don’t know who had it, but I thanked them. I remember when that used to smell like old people to me. Either I’m maturing, an old person, or both, but that smelled so soothing! I thought “YEAHHHHHH guuuuuuurl Imma get me some of that in less than an hour!” Still feeling good, I kept running.

Then there was mile 10.

By this point, I had been running about an hour and 50 minutes. I’m not sure what did it, but all of a sudden the giggles were gone and I turned into a bitch. I thank God that no one can read minds and that He has blessed me with a functioning frontal lobe because if I were to say out loud some of the things that were going through my head, I am sure I could have started a fight or two. EVERYTHING was making me angry. This joker over the mic saying “you only have 3 miles to go!” Another loud band outplaying Andre Watts and the Atlanta Symphony. The ABSOLUTE worst was my turning a corner to be greeted by a seated spectator doing NOTHING. He was just sitting there, observing. “You’ve got some *bleep* *bleep* nerve CHILLING and watching thousands of people run for their lives.” I was irrationally upset with this ugly ass man. Even thinking about it now makes me grimace, hah! We made the final turn toward the finish line around mile 11. Soon after mile 12, I could see it.

NOT. COOL.

“But Lady J,” you counter. “You’ve got visual confirmation that the end is near!” Indeed, that was true. But from so far away, it feels like a tease. A mirage, even. I looked down at my watch and it appeared my plan to PR was still intact, but it didn’t allow for any wiggle room. I ran. My legs complained. “Mommy will take care of you in less than 10 minutes. You do me, I’ll do you,” I told them. They carried me across the finish line, where I noticed they were feeling quite jelly-like. I checked my watch. 2:24 something, but I knew that wasn’t right because of the stopping and starting it had done. Thanks, Chicago. Still, I thought I had run enough to PR. Rock on.

I received an email later announcing that official results were available on the site.

2:27:53.

Of course, I had to check my previous best from the Suncoast Half Marathon.

2:27:38. Oh, dear. 15 seconds long.

This made me wish I had run with the pace group. If I’m not going to PR, why would I run as hard as I could? Then again, did I really run hard as I could? Did I take it too easy in the beginning? Did I walk too long as I got water? It’s not particularly pleasant for me to rack my brain, wondering where I could have shaved off fifteen stupid seconds. Lots of places, I imagine.

Not proud.

However, I do realize what my not being proud means. I completed my first half marathon only 7 months ago. For me to be whining about 15 seconds over 13.1 miles shows that I’m pretty committed to this madness. That’s probably something.

Welp, I did it. Something.

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July 22 – Update:

I’ve decided to be proud for taking a risk to do my best even though it didn’t come out the way I wanted to. I guess that’s the point of living. I am smiling about the race today. Yay!

Confidence, My Foot.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know I like to roll solo. If not, bring yourself up to speed here.

Heh. Speed. I don’t have that. I’m running with the 2:30 pace group tomorrow, just slightly behind my best
half-marathon time I ran in January. Coachie says I’m not allowed to run the hell out of this race as Augusta 70.3 is in only SEVENTY-ONE DAYS OMG and I shouldn’t risk injury. Can’t be mad at that. Plus, I’ve been sleeping in this:

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Mm-hmm! My strassburg sock brings all the boys to the yard, y’all. Which brings us back to preferring to be alone LOL! Today, I was at the race expo with my cousin. She will be running the 5k. It’s perfect because I had a buddy that I don’t actually have to run with. Everyone wins. As we were walking around, she was lamenting that most racing paraphernalia was geared toward the half-marathon distance. “Some of us aren’t there yet!” She rightly protested. Granted, the race is part of the Rock N’Roll Marathon Series, but if you’re going to have a 5k, why not ensure that runners of that race feel like they are equals? My opinion is not really humble here, but if you’re going out there and doing your best, and the best at that moment in time is a 5k as opposed to a half-marathon, why should you get any less props? I can’t say I remember feeling that way myself prior to running longer distances, but that may be because I’m already so accustomed to feeling inadequate that lack of representation through running swag was the least of my concerns.

And indeed, I did find it odd that I didn’t feel odd at the expo myself. As exhibitors asked me if this was my first half and I said, “Nope,” it further cemented that I am one of these running people. Slow as I may be, whatever distance I cover.

Upon returning to the rest of my family, I met this cool guy who has been running a long time. He was complaining that he could never get his full marathon time under 3:30. Hahahahaha! I regret not telling him what my time goal is tomorrow for my half. I let my fear of inadequacy win, which makes me wonder if I REALLY believe deep down that my 5k running cousin deserves those accolades.

Nah. I know she does. I know I’m awesome too – for being willing to grow and challenge myself. I just have to learn to embrace it.

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