Thursday, April 13, 2017

TBT: My Game-Changing Marathons

Even though I am currently not training, or even running at all- it doesn't mean I don't think about it or even take the time to reflect on where I have been with my running. Between 2011 and 2016 I ran 14 marathons, 10 of which were personal bests and 6 of the 14 are races I consider big turning points in my running "career". It feels a little odd to call it a career because it's far from my job- but at the same time we all know training for marathons is essentially adding another job time wise.

I decided to look back at the 6 races (and the training cycles that led up to them) that I consider to be pivotal to my "personal success" as a runner and athlete. 5 of the 6 listed were PR's at the time, but no my current PR and 2:58 marathon I ran at Erie isn't on the list. While it was a breakthrough for me in many ways, it was mostly because of the things I learned and took away from these other races. I found a lot of my turning points came from breakdowns whether in training or the race itself.

Marathon #2: Rochester Marathon 2011 {3:41}

Rochester was the slap in the face that I needed. We've all heard people say you need to respect the distance and what it takes to get to the start AND finish line of a marathon. I know that going into this race I 100% didn't respect it. My first marathon was 6 months earlier and I finished in a strong and respectable 3:46 off very minimal and basic training. After spending the summer doing many runs with friends who have run Boston many times- I felt like I just HAD to qualify. I felt like a BQ was the only way to define a successful runner (my friends never told me that EVER, but being around them made me want it THAT bad). I dove in maybe 2 months before the race and "trained"- my miles were all over the place, I didn't practice fueling, and I didn't set realistic goals. When race day came, I made more mistakes. I went out way too fast being cocky and arrogant and by some grace of God managed not to completely crash and burn until after mile 17. The last 6+ miles were a death march, only made worse by the fact that I didn't fuel (at all), I was under-trained, over-confident and had no right to PR let alone BQ.
The Mile 20 something death march

I did managed to PR by 5 minutes, but missed a BQ by a minute (it was the last time the BQ was 3:40 for open women) while being 11 minutes off of my unrealistic goal time. Looking back I am so glad I didn't BQ, otherwise I don't think I would have gotten the lessons that I needed to really drilled in my brain. Setting a PR and coming close to a BQ was the spark I needed to change. If I wanted more I needed to earn it.  I started pacing myself, actually fueling, training more consistently (though still not great), and set a goal to run my third marathon without wanting to jump in front of a bus in the later miles. Less than 10 weeks later I ran a 3:37 (still missing BQ since it had changed to 3:35) but finished feeling confident, smiling, and proud of a solid race performance.

To this day, after all of the races (any distance) I have run- Rochester is the race that humbled me and taught me the most. I will forever be grateful for the ugly crying that happened in the later miles, and that not only did I not meet my goal time but I also didn't qualify for a race that I had no business being in yet anyways.

Marathon #4: Marshall University Marathon 2012 {3:21}

This marathon was run 7 months after a car accident in which I broke my cuboid bone (foot). Doctors originally told me that it would be 6 months before I could even try to run but instead I did everything they told me to and bounced back stronger than ever. I was running in far less time, and under the guidance of PT's who made sure I didn't overdo it. For the first time, I made a training plan and actually stuck to it unlike the first 3 marathons I ran. The training and consistency was huge, and paid off even bigger at the race. I took the pacing lessons I learned (the hard way) in my first few marathons and used my new found skills to my advantage. I ran a 7 minute negative split from the first half to the second, focusing on my realistic goal which I then blew out of the water by minutes. For the first time ever I trained smart, raced smart, fueled smart, and reaped the rewards with a 16 minute PR and BQ.

Mentally this marathon was another eye opener though. I had been limiting myself thinking I needed to JUST BQ. I needed to reach a time set for me by an organization instead of allowing myself to determine my own goals. I had been using the BQ as a limit. I never thought of running faster than a BQ (at least not by that much) and this was the breakthrough and turning point I needed to start realizing that I had to stop letting others dictate my limits.

Marathon #7: California International Marathon 2013 {3:13}

This race was a turning point in running, and life for me. Running wise, I took a risk and decided to do this race 9 weeks after a 4 minute PR at Wineglass marathon. I was shooting for a 3:15 and was stubborn and felt I needed to try one more time before the year was out. The 3:15 was to try and qualify for a team, but what I didn't realize was that this race would be a whole lot more than just trying to hit a time.

The best adventures usually stem from my best friend Heather and I's crazy ideas. In this case, it was less than a week after Wineglass where we both said we wanted to run another marathon. We booked flights, hotels, registered for the race- and dove back into training as best we could. Because, why not? In the end I met my goal of breaking 3:15, ran a strong race trusting myself and ignoring people who said a million and one contradictory things about running so soon again, my pace plan, or my life in general.

The team I was trying to make lowered the time right after that so I no longer qualified, but I didn't care. I got so much more out of this race than just a time to meet someone elses' standards (see turning point at marathon #4...stop living by others standards or goals and limits). I had built so much trust in my abilities and my own instincts and this was the eye opener. This was a game changer for my running but also my life- a few months later I used that trust and personal instincts to start over in life in a lot of ways- one of the hardest but best things I have ever done and led me to where I am today.


Marathon #9: Rochester Marathon 2014 {3:11}

Training ALL summer on my hometown course
Returning to this marathon wasn't something I was sure I would ever do even being my hometown race. After the 2011 race, I learned so much but was also scarred from a running aspect of not wanting to repeat that course. Earlier in 2014 I made some big life changes (see previous marathon lessons) that left me with a lot of other scars, on top of years of other ones. Fear held me back in some ways and pushed me in others. I spent the entire summer training for this race, and to face the fear of going back to the death march of 2011. I ran myself into the ground the first half of the summer trying to prove something to myself, to take back something (control) that I felt I had lost. I was happy but on a dangerous path with my running.

Eventually things started to get bad and instead of fleeing in fear I reached out and got a coach for help. Eventually I started actually dating again. Eventually I started doing things with purpose instead of doing things just because I could. I realized that taking my life and running back, meant getting some help and that is not a bad thing. When race day came, I ran a small PR and finished feeling frustrated but knew that I was on the right path. I was taking control of my life in a smarter way, asking for help when needed, and accepted that some things just take time. Getting my life and running to a place I wanted them to be at wouldn't happen overnight. Patience.

Marathon #11 Boston Marathon 2015 {3:04}

I refer to this marathon for me as "setting fire to the rain". It was about taking all the bad, the negative, and the flukes and throwing all that shit out the window...or setting it on fire in the middle of a rainy windy day in Boston. Four months prior I ran a 7 minute PR for a 3:04:30, and I was ECSTATIC. It was the breakthrough I was looking for in the fall and had been working towards. The patience after the tough summer, and rocky race at Rochester paid off and I finally felt like I was racing more to my potential. I also received some negativity following that race though which soured my emotions a bit. A lot of disbelief in my time, as in it being a fluke or just a good day...even a "friend" telling me I got lucky! Unfortunately I let those negative thoughts affect me and wondered myself if Memphis was a fluke. It made me wonder if my other goals (sub-3 mainly) were unreasonable or further off than I thought they were.

I trained my ass off that winter, in all sorts of crap Upstate NY weather- and many treadmill miles too. I was building upon the great foundation I had been building for years now and it was paying off. When Boston came, it wasn't perfect but I made the absolute best I could of it. My grandma was literally on the last few days of her life (ended up passing 2 days after the race), the weather was far less than ideal, and I was feeling pretty frustrated in my personal life with friendships and relationships. But you know what, I didn't let any of that noise in and ran a negative split into the wind and rain and proved to myself and others that Memphis was not a fluke. It was a small PR that day in Boston (27 seconds) but on a much harder course and in much worse conditions. Before the race I had made my goal known that I wanted to break 3, not necessarily at Boston but soon and this race proved to me that it wasn't as far off and that letting what others say needs to stop affecting me as much. I mean I know we all try and work on that but even as adults it's hard not to let the noise in.

It also was a great catalyst to get me to stop focusing so much on weather for races. I've ran some of my best races in the worst weather, and reality is that we all have the same weather and have to deal with it in our own ways. You can complain constantly about all your bad weather races, or just suck it up and work on getting better at handling it or adapting to it. Would it be nice to have ideal weather days when we want or need them? DUH. But its' not a personal vendetta from mother nature, don't make yourself a victim of something as trivial as weather for a race (you know, when at the same time that horrible weather could be destroying peoples homes or lives). *Steps off soapbox*

Moving on...last but not least...

Marathon #14: Boston Marathon 2016 {3:16}

This is a different turning point than the others, in the sense that it has less to do with running and more to do with life. A year ago today we found out we were going to be starting a family. I was without a doubt in the best shape of my life, wrapping up one of the strongest training cycles, and prepared to go big mentally and physically on the Boston course in a few days. The race was nothing I originally planned, but was an eye opener in many ways. I left my pace band in my luggage on purpose, I started steady and a little slower than planned and went in with 100% knowledge that I may pull the plug. I hit the half at sub-3 pace and shut it down. My head and heart were not there, my body was telling me it didn't want to run fast....so I didn't and I was A-ok with that. I ran and walked the second half. I took many bathroom stops. I soaked in the sights and sounds, and I crested heartbreak without even realizing it and finished completely ready for the next step in life and not worrying about finishing 20 minutes slower than planned.

I didn't run for almost a month after that. I focused on everything else, the things that I hadn't during training and the new things I was dealing with being pregnant. A few more weeks after that we found out our story wasn't going to have the happy ending. After wading through all of that I decided to train for another marathon, one that would be my last for a while so we could focus on building a family in 2017. But as the summer went on, my head and heart still weren't in running. They hadn't been since before Boston and before we found out we were pregnant.

So when we got pregnant again, it all made a lot more sense. That April when I chose my health and my baby over some meaningless time goal in Boston, my head and heart never switched back. So here I am, 33 weeks pregnant today and happy as can be. I'll be watching Boston coverage for the first time in 3 years from my couch, while probably eating ice cream from a bowl that can currently sit on my stomach without falling (unless little loo decides to kick it off...which is a good possibility. I may have spilled an entire cup of water that way already).

Boston 2016 may not have been the epic running race I planned or thought it would be, and since day one I have been okay with that. I chose my family over running that day and something I will never hesitate to do. One day I'll get back to running/racing and I'll get back to Boston(because I love that race and city and not because I feel I have something to prove)- but right now I'm going to enjoy this turning point in my running and my personal life as one of the most important(to me) yet.


It all boils down to...

I've learned so much over the years from ALL of my races, and I'm grateful for where I have been and what I have been able to do. It's also taught me that coming back to it will be so worth it, but doesn't mean the time away isn't worth it either. Each of these turning points and breakthroughs built upon the last, and doesn't even include the things I learned and took away from the other marathons and races I have done. I love that I am a student of the sport, always learning and trying to get better. I love that I can use those lessons in running AND life. It's a good reminder that even the bad times (literal and figurative!) can have silver linings.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Second Trimester



I'm really not sure where time has gone and how I'm already posting about my second trimester- but somehow here we are. There are many things about second trimester that were great, and some not as much- but I expected that to be the case. Overall we are just getting more and more excited to meet our little one! We found out IT'S A GIRL in January which was a great way to start out the new year. All we want is a healthy baby regardless of gender but I had a feeling all along it was a girl so it was cool to have my instincts me right! :)  We did our baby registries, we nailed down colors/theme for the nursery and we started planning out some of the bigger things as well (pediatrician, hospital stuff, starting to look into child care options). Not that this will shock anyone who knows me, but I have a pretty in depth spreadsheet working for this kiddo! To-do lists, lists of things we need, name ideas, hospital packing list, reviews, Shower lists, everything! #Nerd
photogrid_1484065203077
We did have three things this time period that heightened my anxiety a bit and/or required some further info/testing but we managed to pretty much come out on top and relatively unscathed.

In my first trimester, I saw the doctor VERY frequently. Not only did this make time go by quicker, it helped keep me feeling at ease. During the second trimester, you see the doctor about every 4 weeks. I mean, some people may think that seeing the doctor less would be nice break- but for me it left 4 weeks between appointments for me to worry. The good part of this was, as I got further into the trimester I could feel our little girl moving around and kicking me a ton. Her kicks and flutters are wonderful reminders that she is doing okay. But, about 2.5-3 weeks after each doctors appointment my anxiety would spike. I felt like it had been too long, and that a whole week and a half more of waiting would be the end of me. Obviously I lived, and our little girl is doing just fine- but man that parental worry kicks in hardcore!

Changing doctors/practices/insurance at 5 months is not ideal by any means. This stressed me out, made me emotional (my doctor has been with me for 12 years, and through a lot of ups and downs), and definitely added a whole new element to pregnancy hormones for me. In the end the change in insurance was the best financial move for our family even if it meant changing docs. Just because it's the right move doesn't mean it was easy. I thought I was critical while reading reviews of car seats- trying to find a new doctor was 10X harder.

The only other real hiccup during this time was my Gestational Diabetes (GD) testing.  I failed the first test by so much, that by my research I found that most doctors wouldn't even bother making me do the 3 hour test and instead just diagnose me. My doctor got a second opinion from someone else in the practice and they decided to send me for the test anyways, just in case. The 3 hour test was probably one of the worst feeling days I had in a long time. It requires fasting 12 hours, drinking the glucose drink again and then getting blood drawn 4 times over 3 hours. By the time I was done, I was nauseous, tired, and simply drained (with a very bruised arm). Brian drove me to and from the test which was my savior. It turns out they were right to make me do it- as I passed with flying colors and they concluded that my 1 hour test must have been a fluke. It all worked out for the best, but I admit I was a bundle of nerves for a while there.

Running

Well, this was really a roller coaster. First trimester I made the choice to stop for the most part with occasionally throwing in a workout. Second trimester I went through waves of motivation to be active, and times where it was furthest from my mind. Best advice I got was to take it each day at a time. I tried to follow a VERY loose plan for a few weeks but it just didn't work out. I tried small attainable goals and that was fine- but nothing that kept me super motivated. During this time I realized how much my love of running is tied to competition and pushing myself. This is something I am working on, as I fully plan on embracing
casual running mentality postpartum. I plan on getting back to racing eventually but it isn't my first priority.

In my Mid-February update I was at a point where motivation was higher, and I was even considering a "race". The roller coaster took a pretty big dive after that, and the 5 mile race also didn't happen. Neither of these things bother me, worry me, or even make me feel like less of a runner. I'm rolling with how I feel each day and not allowing anything to get in my way of a healthy pregnancy. I ran a handful of times this trimester and I'm proud of that. It wasn't much, and it was rarely more than once a week and honestly I am okay with that. Walking, occasional yoga, and nesting have been much more common. I'm also making good use of my Fire Stick for TV & Movie marathons(hey, at least I'm honest).

Symptoms

Dry itchy skin- seriously, thank god for Belly butter
Acid reflux- this was easy to manage by simply cutting out trigger foods
Acne- Not a huge deal since I've lived with this for most of my life. But I did swap out my regular body wash with an acne one, and I have been doing face masks more regularly, both of which seem to help.
Shortness of breath- Mainly if I eat too much at once, or the times when little lady likes to hang out up under my ribcage and put pressure on my diaphragm.
Round Ligament Pain- Body is expanding, naturally things get sore.
Sinus infection- This was tough, and forced me on antibiotics for 10 days. Being sick + pregnancy is a whole new world...
Adductor/Groin Pain- I will talk about this one more in another post as it more directly relates to my running (or lack there of)

Cravings

Chicken wings, Veggies & ALL the hummus, berries, rice, chips/salsa/queso. Sweets becoming a bit more common but not over the top (yet).

Notes/Thoughts


  • If you are a pregnant woman with no current health problems and are not in labor- expect to wait 30-75 minutes every time you are at the doctor. Bring snacks, entertainment and charging cords as needed.
  • It is equally amazing and creepy being able to feel your baby moving around/kicking inside your belly.
  • If you go to the gym in January/February as a pregnant but not overly pregnant woman- you WILL get looks as though you simply indulged. Finally around mid February did I get a comment from someone telling me "OHHHHH you're pregnant" at the gym as I waddled on the treadmill.
  • My list of foods is growing that I cannot wait to eat after little lady is born. The order of priority is ever changing though. Basically someone bring me a Philadelphia Sushi roll and a Dibellas sub to the hospital and I will forever be grateful.
  • Fun fact- you CAN actually bruise from your little one kicking the same spot repeatedly. Just ask the spot right below my rib cage.
  • I gained 20 pounds total during 1st/2nd trimesters (it's a number, who cares?). My doctors have felt this is good, and we expect I'll gain around 30-35 total. It's mostly all in my belly, my chest and my face/neck.
  • Making a baby registry is fun, but exhausting. We spent a few hours in the Babies R Us store doing it and crashed the rest of the evening afterwards. The Amazon one was much more low key as we sat in sweats on the couch making it and eating ice cream. Then again, when isn't Amazon easier because of that?
  • We haven't picked a name yet but we are narrowing it down. For now she is lovingly referred to as baby, nugget, little lady, little loo, kid, and "the thing that makes me go to the bathroom ALL the time".
  • I still think an at home fetal monitor was the best investment for us...for when the anxiety kicks in it's a beautiful thing to be able to listen to our little girl. We use it far less now than before, since we can feel/see her kicking but its still a nice thing to have.
  • Maternity Clothes- my best finds have been at Old Navy online. Also, leggings are a godsend. I've never been the person to wear leggings every day,(in fact I think it's weird when grown women cannot wear a pair of regular pants)...but for now I'm embracing the legging life just about daily.

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Overall second trimester was pretty good to us! We're excited and working on our to-do lists with a little more fury now that were in the third and on the home stretch. Time for the baby showers, more frequent doctors appointments, and eagerly awaiting the arrival of our baby girl.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Random Mid-February Update

Phew, been a while since I updated this thing.  Life lately can pretty much be summed up by working, and pregnancy. I mean the pregnant thing is 24/7 and definitely has a huge impact on life, in many good ways (and some not-so-fun ways...but will all be worth it!). This "winter" has been so strange with weather which I think has contributed to 2017 feeling like it's been flying by even faster. We haven't had any long super cold snowy stretches which  would tend to make the weeks drag, that's for sure. A few random updates on how things have been going, and soon I'll have a second trimester post coming. CRAZY.

Running

Since this has been the primary focus for this blog since the start, I'll update that first. Honestly, there hasn't been a TON of fitness going on- but I have seen a boost in my motivation the last few weeks which has definitely helped. I saw a boost in energy when I started my second trimester, but never really saw the effects until a few weeks ago. I'm tired more easily these days, but I have found myself more likely to find something to do that is at least a little productive rather than just binge watching netflix or prime TV every afternoon and weekend.

I have been posting my training logs over on Salty Running, but also copying links to those logs on my blog here under the training logs tab. I've been averaging 1 run a week (whooopiedoo right?), but I've also squeezed in some walking, yoga and strength workouts as well. I see this increasing a bit for the next few weeks with nicer weather and way more motivation flowing right now. I also am considering running a 5 mile race in a few weeks- obviously not as a race. But as a good way to get out, see running friends, and reconnect with the community that I feel a bit more distanced from lately. Plus, who doesn't wanna see a wobbly belly dressed in green? I might end up looking like one of the green ghost blobs in Ghostbusters but it would make for a good story.

A few things I have found that have helped me are wearing a support belt when I run/walk, and staying close to home (or on the treadmill) so I have easier access to a bathroom for pee breaks (hey, it's part of the process). I also invested in some maternity gear, which is mainly some of my favorite Saucony pieces just in a size or two bigger. The Pinnacle shorts are great because of the wider waistband that doesn't dig into my belly as much, and I love the looser tank tops too.

Shoe wise- in the past most of my easy miles were done in the Kinvara's but I have found the Zealots are a better fit for me right now as they are a bit more supportive. I'm carrying extra weight and my body feels creaky most of the time so extra support feels good.

Pregnancy

As I said earlier I have a whole post about my second trimester coming soon, much like I did my first trimester. But, I will still update a little here. As of today I am 26 weeks pregnant and feeling pretty good! Our little lady is very active, and loves to kick. She will kick hard if you place something cold on my belly, or if I go too long without eating. Baby kicks are the creepiest but most amazing things at the same time.

I still check up on her with the heart monitor I bought, for peace of mind. But I do this far less these days as I can feel her moving around a lot which provides entertainment AND peace of mind. Besides the maternity support belt, and the heart monitor, belly butter has been the biggest help through the last few weeks. Growing belly + stretching skin + dry winter skin = very itchy skin.

Life

Life outside of running (most of my time...LOL) is still spent working two jobs, and getting things done around the house. We put off getting the house on the market this spring so we didn't have to rush around for baby AND selling- but doesn't mean we backed off on getting projects done. Adding a second bathroom, and updating the kitchen have been the biggest two projects going on. We've managed to do everything on a smaller budget thanks to being able to find a lot of things on sale, and also on Amazon (we got cabinet hardware on there in bulk, and a few other things for a fraction of home improvement store prices + prime shipping HELLOOOO). Doing the work ourselves (and with help from family and friends) also saves a lot of money too- plus we actually like projects!

Some of my smaller projects I'm working on.
 Refinishing old frames, and a soon to be unicorn for little lady's room!
The nursery is the next big thing, though at this point it's pretty much just painting and putting it all together since we already have most of the stuff. We got our crib way back on Black Friday which was huge, and we are using a lot of furniture we already had for the rest of it. I'm big on refinishing old furniture and re-purposing things (thanks Mom!). Needless to say prime deliveries, trips to Lowe's, and trips to Target and craft stores have been frequent.

I've also been working on streamlining some things in our life, simplifying and just trying to make things easier on us. Part because right now doing dishes is the bain of my existence, and once we have the baby- the simpler things are the better. I started by going all Kon Mari on my closet a while ago and it made a huge difference, I still intend to use this method on other areas of the house as well. I also have been on a mission finding some simple recipes, including one pot meals and being a bit more meticulous with meal planning and making sure I don't get overzealous. I have a habit of over complicating things and I am trying to get away from that.

Beyond all that- really just normal life and doing what we can to prepare for everything to change in a few more months! I have been reading more in an effort to kick my feet up, unwind but still stay mentally active as well. I've knocked off a few books in the last few weeks but would love some more recommendations for new ones!

Anyone help a girl out with some book recommendations?!

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