One Goal

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For me there wasn’t much running in 2014. Getting injured early in the year can put a damper on any plans for running. And getting a really fun injury does more than put a damper on running it puts a cloud like the one that hangs over Eeyore on your running plans.

 

Last year my friends participated in a wide variety of races. And it looked amazing. There was the Ragnar, Marine Corps Marathon, Newport 10 Miler, tons of races in VA Beach and Florida. As I looked at the pics on social media I was a little envious because everyone was having so much fun.

 

So now that we are onto a new year I decided I need to find a realistic goal. My race calendar is currently very wide open and I plan to keep it that way for quite some time. And while I would love to have some grand goal of getting a PR in a 10k or running another half marathon my goal is much milder.

 

This year I have one very simple goal, I want to run a 5k. I want to be able to run all 3.1 miles. And I want to do it without really hurting myself.

 

To my friends who are onto big races, good luck. I will see you at the finish line.

The Art of Staying in the Moment

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The Marine Corps Marathon was a really difficult race for me. Over the past few months I’ve been trying to understand why it was so tough. During training I had my ups and downs. There were runs when after 10 miles I wanted to cry and quit and other days I felt fantastic like I could run forever. It wasn’t until I was flying down for the Princess Marathon and I ran into Erin (http://lovedisneyrunning.blogspot.com/) on the plane. She ran the Marine Corps and noticed something and it really put things into perspective. The marathon was the day before Hurricane Sandy hit. Because the storm was coming, people were not in the moment; their thoughts were everywhere but the race. This was true not only of the runners but the volunteers and Marines.

She was right.

From the moment we arrived in DC our focus shifted immediately from enjoying the weekend with family and friends to dealing with the storm. Jim and I got found out our flight home was cancelled. I was tempted to throw in the towel on the run and just head home, but Jim thought that was silly. Since we couldn’t fly we worked it out with the rental car company to just drive from DC to Rhode Island.

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This really impacted my run. Instead of enjoying the run, my mind was elsewhere. I was okay for the first half of the race. But then I reached a point where I was worried about sitting in a car for 8 or more hours. I ran the first 20 miles and after hitting the bridge, I decided to walk the last 10k. My mind was already on the car ride and I was thinking about how my legs would feel.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had the same issue during training. It was still the height of surf season. The water was warm enough to not have to wear but a 2/3 wetsuit. During so many of my long runs, I yearned to be in the water. My mind was anywhere but the run. My runs suffered.

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I find I enjoy running the most when I am in the moment, when my mind doesn’t wander off to worry about work, shopping, or bills. I focus on the steps ahead of me and continue to move forward. When I manage to stay in the moment, running is a joy.

My other love surfing is the same; you have to satay in the moment. The minor difference with surfing, if you lose focus on the moment, the waves can be very unforgiving.

Staying in the moment during a run (and in life) is an art I am still working to perfect. Once in a while I am truly able to eliminate distraction and enjoy just being. When I do, my stride comes easy and my breath is not labored. I had this feeling during the Princess marathon. While it was not my fastest race, it was so enjoyable because I was just enjoying running. Disney is fantastic for putting up great entertainment along the course, but I found it wasn’t necessary because I was in the present moment. I was simply enjoying running.

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This is a work in progress. But because I had such a struggle with the Marine Corps Marathon, I am much more aware. Jim and I have the Newport 10 miler coming up in a few weeks. Let’s hope all of the mental training I’ve been doing has paid off and I’ll be able to stay in the moment.

What I learned from the MCM

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In 2010 I set my sights on doing the Marine Corps Marathon. I printed the course map and had it pinned next to my desk as a reminder of this goal. Other obligations kept me away from the race until this year. You would think because of how long I had been planning to run this race I would be filled with excitement as I prepared.

 

That was not the case. Something was different this time, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I trained for many weeks but my busy schedule and some injuries kept me from following the training plan I wanted to do. As my training got derailed I never really got back on track. Jim and I ran the Rock n Roll Providence. My hope was this race would get me excited about running again and propel me to really get into training mode for the MCM. Unfortunately it didn’t.

 

Instead I would go running two or three times a week. During the week I never went more than four miles. And on the weekend I would go for long runs. I increased my mileage and logged two 20 mile runs. The day of my long run varied. The biggest factor was not the weather or my schedule, but the surf report.

 

 

Most of my runs took me past the beach. Instead of finding inspiration in the water, I found another reason to stop running. On the days when the waves were perfect, all I wanted to do was stop running, grab my surf board and sit in the water for the next two or three hours. I guess in a way I was cheating on running with a different and much more fun activity.

 

I was putting on the miles and they were not pretty. I termed my training runs as slogging. I defined slogging as really slow jogging that is not fun at all. The word itself doesn’t even sound fun.

 

The thing that really struck me is how much I was not enjoying running and training. Prior to this race I would get so excited at just the thought of going for a run. I would be dressed and ready to go and couldn’t wait for Jim to get ready so we could hit the pavement.

 

Another difference I noted was how excited I used to be about getting a new Runner’s World magazine. I used to read the magazine nearly cover to cover and would get so excited when a new one was in the mailbox. The magazines were left stacked on a table, untouched.

 

Even though I wasn’t having any fun, I had made a commitment to run this race. The training was hard, the race was hard, and there were plenty of times when I really wanted to quit both before and during the run. I cried more during the Marine Corps Marathon than I have during any other race. But what I realized is even though it was hard it was still worth it. Something happened as I plodded along during the race, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. One that had been missing since my first race in 2009.

 

I still don’t have that feeling of attachment with the Marine Corps Marathon. I’m not sure if it was because I wasn’t having any fun with it or because Hurricane Sandy kept my mind elsewhere, but it really doesn’t matter. In the end I learned to push through the really hard stuff. Somehow when everything around just sucks, you need to find a way to keep moving forward.

Mind Over Body

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George Patton once said, “Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You must make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”

 

During my training for the Marine Corps Marathon I discovered just how accurate George was. I haven’t been able to put my finger on why but my training runs have been hard, really hard. Up until now running has been fun and my training has been challenging but I still found joy. This time something is vastly different. The only thing I can attribute it to is my mind. My body is fine, I am physically able to accomplish each run, but my mind is another story.

 

I spent the past few weeks trying to diagnose my issue with this race. There is one common thing on all my bad runs, after I pass 10 miles I get in a funk. My mind shifts focus and I begin to wonder why on earth I am still running and what is the point of all the running. As soon as I drift into this type of thinking there is a change in my body. I go from being light and airy to having legs to heavy a crane would have difficulty lifting them. I shift from having no pain to having everything hurt.

 

During my last 20 mile run I had another discovery. Your body will only go as far as your mind will take it. My plan was to do a 20-mile run. Unfortunately I was a little off when I mapped my mileage. I finished 20 and still had another 1.5 or so to go. I intended to keep going but shortly after my watch beeped indicating I finished my last mile, my body shut down.

 

This training has me terrified about the race. I wonder how I am going to finish 26.2 miles when I barely get 20 in before I quit. But I guess it’s time to shift my thinking. I know I am capable of finishing the race. I know my body has the capacity to go even further. I just have to get my mind to believe this. So on race day I know it might hurt like hell, but if my mind doesn’t hurt my body won’t. And if my mind doesn’t quit, neither will my legs.

 

Semper Fidelis, MCM 2012 here I come.

Vacation Runs

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Vacation, it’s a time of rest, a time of relaxation. It is a time to break from the normal routine and diet. For many this break also includes a break from working out. While a break from exercise is good, you want to make sure that you are making a temporary break not a permanent one.

I recently got back from a week of vacation at Disney World and a few weeks later, a cross-country road trip from Rhode Island to Colorado and back. Jim and I did get a big break from our normal running and workout schedule. The break felt good on the body, but we both knew too much of a break would make it that much more difficult to get back into the routine at home. We are also in a training cycle for upcoming races, the Rock n Roll half in Providence and I am gearing up for the Marine Corps Marathon. This meant a complete break was not really an option.

Jim and I both knew our training would be hampered because of our travels. This helped us temper our expectations for getting a goal time for our upcoming races. Instead we are going to focus on the fun of running and enjoy the sights and sounds of Providence and DC.

Travel and vacation puts limits on your time. You want to be sure to enjoy time with family and friends, so the long run was not an option. We were also well aware that the altitude in Colorado would be a factor on our running ability. So instead of sticking to a hard and fast training schedule, we opted for maintenance.

Our goals were defined by time and not distance. We wanted to make sure we were getting out for 20-30 minutes so we would maintain our cardio. This would keep us in good enough shape so when we returned home, we could resume our training.

Aside from getting in a workout from time to time, we were combating vacation eating. Of course we indulged in eating and drinking. So instead of not eating things, we tried to use moderation. There were times we failed, but it’s okay. The other thing we both tried to do, we keep up with hydration and eating fruits and veggies as often as we could.

Our travels have left us a little less prepared for our upcoming runs that we would like, but I’m confident we’ll be ready to cross the finish line.

  

Rain, rain go away……

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Most race mornings I am so excited. I get my breakfast, pack my stuff, and expend unnecessary energy worrying about being late for the start. Yesterday was a completely different story. We woke up to the sound of pouring rain.

I sat at the kitchen table playing on the computer and drinking coffee. Jim and I were both looking at the weather radar, hoping that there would be a spot that didn’t have green or yellow right above Roger William’s Park. Jim asked me if we wanted to call the registration money a donation and skip the run.

I wanted to say yes. I wanted to just hang out at the house and have a lazy, rainy Saturday. I thought about it for a moment before I answered. Though I knew it would be nicer to not run in the crap weather, I thought about my upcoming races. If the weather at the Marine Corps Marathon is bad, I would still go and run it. We had done other races in the rain. So with some hesitation I told Jim we still needed to go up and run.

When we got to Roger William’s Park we met up with the rest of our Coast(ie) crew. Seven of us showed up on this wet, soggy Saturday. And seven of us crossed the finish line of the Girls on the Run 5k. The weather dampened our clothes, but not our spirits.

Great run and thanks for everyone who participated!