Saturday, January 26, 2008

This post is answering a comment that I recently received: What were some of the emotions felt by the Marathoners that you could pass on to us? What do you feel is the greatest hurdle to overcome while finishing a marathon? What is your motivation?

The answer to the first question is rather tough to answer. Each individual has different emotions when running. There's a rush of adrenaline when you're doing well, it is overwhelming when you finish a top runner, complete and utter accomplishment when you cross the line, no matter what time you receive at a marathon, but then there are also negative emotions. I watched first time marathoner Leah break down during the marathon. If you train, and your body and mind are ready to take on a race this long, it is easy to have good feelings, but if you are inexperienced or under-trained, the pain is sometimes unbearable. Some people feel disappointment and lack of self worth if they fail at something they've worked so hard to accomplish.

The greatest hurdle I have to overcome while finishing a marathon has got to be the last 6 miles. No matter how much I improve these last miles are always a battle against myself, both emotionally and physically. By mile 21 my legs always feel like lead and each step hurts more than the last. I would be rich if I had a PENNY for each time I told myself I wanted to quit - that it just hurt too bad - but as each mile passes I am more and more motivated to finish the race. It is NEVER easy, and I've talked to a lot of elite runners that say it never does get easier, you just get faster. I believe this with all my heart.

As for my motivation, it comes from a lot of things. When I first started running I was on my own. No one was telling me I should run. I did all my runs by myself and everybody thought I was crazy. Running was the one thing that put me in the perfect state of mind. When I run I feel like I am in a place between being awake and dreaming. It is my time, time where no one can bother me. I can think about anything in the world, and I really just feel like ME. As time went on I met more and more people that shared my passion. This amount of people has grown to an uncountable number and I am thankful for each and every one of them I've met since I started training in 2006 - for they are now part of my motivation. Now I run because it keeps me healthy, it makes me happy and it is still my ME time, but can also be a social activity during group runs. I can't think of anything that makes me feel better than running.

Hope this helped!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Spirit of the Marathon

A column I wrote for the AFN

Motivation is the one thing all athletes need in order to succeed. After pushing through the pain and agony of finishing the 2008 P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon Jan. 13 with a personal best time of 3:25:33, not to mention the miserable week or so I spent hobbling around afterwards, I have to admit I was in need of a little motivation to get moving again.
In fact, I knew I would need a push because, honestly, I always do after big race. So when I saw the preview for Spirit of the Marathon in December, I bought tickets online as soon as my fingers could reach a keyboard.
Spirit of the Marathon is a non-fiction documentary that follows six individuals through their journey to complete the 2005 La Salle Bank Chicago Marathon. The movie played around the country at select theaters Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. local time.
I’ve ran four marathons in the past year and a half, not to mention five half marathons and numerous sprint and half-iron distance triathlons, so I didn’t expect to get emotional over something I’m exposed to so often. But as soon as the movie started, just scenes of runners on the boardwalk in Chicago made me start to tear up.
Two of the contenders, Leah Caille and Lori O’Connor, were first-time marathoners. Big deal, I thought, been there done that. Who really caught my eye and motivated me to see the movie were 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor and world-class marathoner Daniel Njenga of Kenya.
These two people inspired me. Both Kastor and Njenga’s goals were to win the marathon, and the documentary took us through their training process.
At one point, when Kastor was lying on a massage table stretching, she told the camera she had run 145 miles that week. I immediately did the math in my head – that averages out to at least 20 miles a day. How does someone who runs that much prevent injury? But sure enough, Kastor soon suffered a foot injury.
Last spring I suffered from Achilles tendenitous because I picked up my weekly mileage too fast when training for the Rock’n’ Roll San Diego Marathon. I was a baby - the bike and elliptical machine became my best friends and I complained about my injury non-stop. Turns out I just needed new shoes. Kastor took eight weeks off training on the road, aqua jogged, biked and kept a positive attitude. She went on to win the marathon. I guess injuries aren’t the end of the world.
This year at Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona I was chosen as a local favorite. I got to wear a red bib and was assigned a number under 1,000. This was exciting and made me feel special; however, this also meant I had to start the race up in front – next to the Kenyans and Ethiopians.
Just two weeks ago as I stood next to these elite runners I looked at them in awe. I was jealous of how fast they could run and the glory they feel crossing the finish line knowing they are the best in the world.
Daniel Njenga is a native of Kenya. He lives and trains in Japan, but the documentary took us to his hometown of Nyahururu and showed life isn’t so peachy for these elite runners.
Njenga said by the time he was seven years old he could run 10 miles. When I was seven years old I was playing with barbies and worrying about how the braids in my hair looked. Njenga ran five miles to school and five miles home each day.
Winning marathons has its financial benefits, and Njenga taught me that it also has its downfalls. A few years ago his nephew and sister-in-law were killed, and his house was burned down by jealous gangs from his hometown. Now, Njenga dedicates himself and his money to providing for his family and assuring their safety. He placed third at the marathon.
After watching Kastor and Njenga finish I found myself itching to see when the other contenders would cross the line. I watched as 65-year-old Gerald Meyers finished in over six hours and realized it doesn’t matter how fast people finish, just finishing a marathon is a feeling incomparable to any other.
And so I got out of this movie more than what I asked for. I am motivated now in more ways than one. The marathon is something that brings the world together. Thousands of people of all races, classes, genders and ages take on this challenge year-round. The Kenyans, Ethiopians and elites win, and we follow in their footsteps, all bound for the same feeling of accomplishment and glory waiting for us at mile 26.2.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

2008 Schedule

Today I wrote up my 2008 race schedule. I am so excited for this year! In July Chino Valley will mark my one-year anniversary as a triathlete. My first race will be a sprint triathlon in Chandler Feb. 17. I'm excited just thinking about it. I love doing a lot of small races between big races. Tri Family Racing events, Splash and Dashes and open water swim are among my favorites! They're so fun and the people that do them are just as into it as Brian and I. And by the end of 2008 you will, hopefully, be calling me an Ironman!
I've taken recovery from the marathon pretty seriously. I've been doing the elliptical plus a little swimming and biking this week. Today I'm going to try and run about 6 miles and Tomorrow I'm going to start back with my usual training weeks... Thank God! I can't wait to get back into tri-mode!

Monday, January 14, 2008

P.F. Changs Marathon

I ran a 3:25 Sunday which was a PR for me by 12 minutes! I'm pretty impressed with myself that I improved 12 minutes in 6 months. Brian ran a 3:10 and qualified for Boston too!
We carpooled to the start line with Ted, Ken and Jorge and arrived at about 6 a.m. I was given a red bib for "local favorite" racers, which I have no idea how I got chosen for, so I started in the corral with the Kenyans. This was very strange, but cool! After they took down the corral barriers I scooted back to the 3:20 pacer and started running with that group. I was going to start with the 3:30 group, but I was too excited to go for 3:20! I felt awesome running 7:38 pace and passed my family at mile 5 with a smile on my face. I had my gels and was fueling correctly for the first time - every 6 miles. Everything was awesome until mile 20. This is my usual downfall, but it wasn't as bad as it normally is. I slowly watched the 3:20 group get farther and farther ahead of me as I slowed my pace. With every mile I kept telling myself "I cant do this anymore, it hurts too bad" But when I kept running and seeing each mile marker I told myself I had to finish. I pushed through those last painful miles and crossed the finishline in 3:25:33, which is still pretty AWESOME!
My family was there and they carried me to the family reunion area where Brian was laying on the grass and all our friends who ran the half marathon were there. It was an awesome feeling to say I ran a 3:25. I placed 12th in my age group out of over 300 and I was the 97th woman to finish. The East Valley Tribune said I was the 8th East Valley woman to cross the finish line, so that was pretty cool too!
Now I can barely walk, but am looking forward to recovery and getting back out on my weekend bike rides, back into the pool and getting some tempo runs in for the upcoming Ragnar Relay!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Taper Time

Tapering is really not my thing. I never used to race much because I don't like doing it. I would rather just stick to my routine and stay happy and, most would say, extremely active. But then again, the emotional benefit of racing and doing well is amazing, and after I cross that finish line I know the two weeks I took easy were worth it.
So on Sunday I took Luanne to the Ahwatukee Y. We went on the treadmills for a half hour and I took it easy walk/running. I did some stretching and a little abs as well. Yesterday I ran 6 miles around race pace and stretched a bit. Today I ran about 4 miles easy but it was hard for me to stop as my body wanted to keep running. I really can't wait until Sunday to give it all I've got!
I've been doing a lot of online research about tapering for a marathon, and it seems to me I'm not alone. No one really has figured out what's right and what's wrong to do a week before the race. Some professionals say they take 3 week almost completely off before the big day, while others run right up to the day before the marathon. Maybe the right thing is different for each individual, and we all have to figure out what works for us as each race passes by.
Brian keeps telling me that there is nothing anyone can do the week before the marathon to improve their race. But if I dont at least get out there for a little bit I start to feel sluggish and tight. It begins to be harder to get up in the mornings and to get my body loose and ready to go. I think for me, short easy runs each day up to the race is a good road to take. But then again, we'll see after the race!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Starting the new year off right

Today is Saturday, and if it was any other Saturday I'd be on my 70 mile bike ride. But, it's a week away from P.F. Chang's marathon and I don't want to over do it. In the past, tapering has never been my forte, however, this time I want to do it right. I'm going to give my body some time to rest before the big day - something I've never been able to force myself to do. I'm pretty sure the day before my first half marathon, I ran a half marathon on my own. And the week before my first marathon I kept up with my long weekday runs too! For San Diego in June I kept running all week long, an hour a day probably. This week I'm gonna chill and try to keep the millage down, like most smart people do before a 26.2 mile race! And maybe, hopefully, I wont cramp up at mile 20 this time!
Today I'm going to run 8 miles. I would normally run on Sundays, but because there's no biking today, and it's supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow, I'm going to run today.
I've also been thinking a lot about nutrition during the race. I've never ran a marathon where I fueled my body properly. This time it's all about that. I'm going to bring my own GUs (mistake made at Las Vegas marathon), carry them myself (mistake made at San Diego marathon 2007) and actually eat one every 6 miles (mistake made at San Diego marathon 2006). Everybody is different, but I've learned from my own mistakes that I need to fuel my body in order to make it 26.2 miles comfortably. Nutrition - another thing I'm going to do RIGHT this year!