Hit me with Music?

 I LOVE music.  When a good song comes on the radio I cannot help but sing along and move my body to the beat.  Music makes me happy.  It cheers me up if I’m feeling BLAH.  It is there for me when I am sad – I can always find a song to relate to and somehow feel better from listening to it.  Music feeds my soul and I do not know what I would do without some good tunes.  I like ALL kinds of music – country, pop, ska, jazz, r&b, bluegrass, rap – ALL of it.  There really is not a style of music that I can’t appreciate in some way.  My husband and kids are the same way.

We have a “dance party” in our kitchen every night after dinner.  Each of us gets to pick one song and then we rock out and groove around the kitchen like it’s nobody’s business.  The dinner/bed time hour is by far the most stressful time of day for me but that 20 minutes of dancing and singing around our kitchen laughing and being crazy is medicine for all of us.  It’s a great way for us to expend that last bit of energy before settling down for the night.

My kids and I listen to Radio Disney and Kids Place Live when we are in the car every day.  I admit, I am a huge fan of Radio Disney and find myself listening to it when I am alone in the car just because I love the music most of the time.  Other than time alone in the car though I don’t usually get to pick what music I get to listen to, so when I run with my ipod that is the one chance I get.  When I am on the treadmill, I almost ALWAYS listen to music.  It is a basic necessity for treadmill running in my opinion.  The only exception is when I am running on my home treadmill and Will is playing in the play room – then I keep it off so I can hear him easily.  I also listen to my music sometimes when I run long outside by myself.  I rarely race with headphones, but this training cycle I have raced with them a few times and I have been glad that I did.

I have had issues with headphones though.  Goodness knows how much money I have spent on trying to find a good pair that will stay in my ears!  This past spring, I splurged and bought myself a pair of Yurbuds.  They are awesome.  They have never – not once – fallen out of my ears even on the longest of runs.  The problem though is that the wiring has been faulty.  The first time the sound went out, I bought a second pair because the warranty had expired.  When the wiring went out on my second pair  after only wearing them a handful of times, I called the company.  The customer service at Yurbuds is AMAZING, people.  They believe in their product and want their customers to be happy!  It turns out that there was a bad batch of Yurbuds made and they were having a lot of troubles with the wiring. They have since improved the product and are looking to get a lifetime warranty for them.  They sent me a new pair the other day along with a performance tee and I am pleased as punch about it.

Will I run with music in my marathon on Sunday?  Not sure.  I brought it with me to Lehigh Valley Marathon and did not even turn my ipod on until Mile 20 when I started having my serious stomach issues.  I thought it would help distract me but instead it irritated me.  I really want to soak up every bit of MCM on Sunday.  I don’t think I will need my music to help motivate me when the going gets tough since the race is so exciting and the spectators are so incredible.  I may decide to bring it with me just in case though, like I did at LVM.

What about you …. do you listen to music when you train?  When you race?  What head phones work best for you?

let it be

Let’s press rewind on my life, back to the spring of 2010.  I had just become an RRCA certified running coach and realized there was so much I could to do improve my running.  Especially the way I trained for and raced the marathon.  I had run 6 marathons at that point, the fastest one in a time 4:35:09.  I was brimming with excitement and could not wait for summer to arrive so I could start training for my big huge enormous PR at Marine Corps Marathon 2010. I knew with complete certainty that I had not yet tapped my potential as a runner and was very excited to apply all my new knowledge to my running.

And then I found out I was pregnant.  An amazing blessing and a total surprise.  I knew I would run throughout my pregnancy, but I had NO intention of running a marathon while pregnant.  That is just not the way I roll.  So I deferred my registration to MCM 2011.  I ran and walked and moved my body as much as I could for the 41 weeks that I was pregnant.  All the while, thinking and dreaming about my comeback to running after baby was born, when the time was right.

me 40+ weeks pregnant, on the treadmill

My baby boy is now almost 9 months old.  It has been an amazing journey towards the start line of the marathon that I will run on Sunday.  When I first started to run postpartum, I was scared.  Parts of me hurt that I didn’t realize could hurt.  I didn’t know if it was “normal” to feel the way I was feeling – I had never tried to run so soon after having a baby.  A one mile run would cause my pelvis to ache, my tailbone to throb.  I had to run to the bathroom constantly, even during the shortest of runs.  But I made a plan and I respected my body and I made sure the hurt was not the “dangerous” kind of hurt and I got through it.  I forged ahead and kept my eyes on the prize.  I have had many ups and downs over the past several months.  The ups made the downs worth it though.  I have never had to fight so hard for my strength.  I am a firm believer that to experience the truest of joys in life, we have to know what it feels to struggle and to suffer.  We have to persevere and it will be worth it.

The thing is though, anything can happen on race day.  The past 7 marathons that I have run have taught me that.  I have been thinking about my goals for Sunday’s race and I DO have them – I really believe I am capable of a sub 3:40 marathon, of qualifying for Boston and shaving another 25 or more minutes off of my current PR.  I truly honestly believe it and I want it to happen.  I am going to do my very best to make it happen on Sunday.  I will give it whatever it takes and fight to the finish.  Race smart, race strong.

But I want to enjoy the experience, no matter what the outcome is.  I have been dreaming about this race for far too long to let the time on the clock be the ultimate decider of whether or not I have a good day on Sunday.  There has to be a balance between striving and giving it all I’ve got, and also trusting and surrendering myself to what will be, will be.  I read an amazing post yesterday but Elizabeth Waterstraat.  Do you read her blog?  If not, you should.  She is awe-some.  Anyway Elizabeth is an Ironman and a mother.  What she said yesterday really struck a cord with me.  She talked about The Power of Stillness especially as it pertains to racing.  She says “The best races come from executing your plan, going on “autopilot.” In other words, trusting your stuff.”  On Sunday I am going to have to TRUST MY STUFF.  To know with all certainty that I am doing my part – that I am giving it my all – and then I have to let it go and just BE in the moment.  Not over think it, and perhaps not think at all even.

I know I’ve poured myself into this race for the past several months and that I want so badly for it to have a certain outcome.  But now, with a few days left between me and the Start Line, I am realizing that I need to surrender my control of that a bit.  To trust my stuff, to run my heart out and to let what will be, BE.

long run reflections

Today I hit the trail for my last long run in preparation for MCM next Sunday.

I hardly ran all week long – 12 miles total over the course of 6 days.  Do you know how crazy that made me?  Completely.  Completely Crazy.  But, I believe in the taper and know my legs need the rest so I that will be ready on race day.  So that there will be no doubt that maybe I did too much leading up to the race. 

My legs felt fresh today.  I was ready to run.  My long run pace has been a comfortable 9:00 mile this training season, and I knew that even though I felt like running faster than that today it was not wise to do so.  The first mile was too fast – 8:34 – but I pulled myself together and slowed down.  This is a skill I am going to need to be sure to have in those first several miles of the marathon on Sunday.  I do not want to go out too fast and risk burning out or hitting the wall later on.  My goal is to run negative splits and finish faster than I started.  My goal is to feel strong and powerful towards the end of my race, not defeated.

Mile 1 – 8:34
Mile 2 – 8:59
Mile 3 – 9:00
Mile 4 – 9:00
Mile 5 – 8:52
Mile 6 – 8:38
Mile 7 – 8:54
Mile 8 – 9:15
Mile 9 – 9:08
Mile 10 – 8:55

The last two miles of today’s run were to be run at race pace.  I didn’t exactly do that – the first mile was right on target but the second was too fast.  That’s okay with me though.  I’m happy with how it went.  I felt strong and in control.

Mile 11 – 8:14
Mile 12 – 7:46

I am ready for my marathon next week.  I have put in all the work.  I have been smart.  It is time to trust in my training, time to believe in myself.

10 days

In 10 days I will run my 8th marathon.

This week I have felt all the expected taper craziness.

My emotions are zippy –

up
down

up
down

up
down.

There is an encouraging voice in my head through it all, though.  Reminding me that this insanity is “normal.”  Assuring me that I am doing all the right stuff and that I will arrive at the Start Line ready to realize my dream.

I’m fully aware of the pain I am about to face.  I’m completely ready to step up to the challenge and make my dreams a reality.

I am preparing for battle.

Everything will be put on the line.  I will not give up.  I will fight to the finish.  I will pursue my dream with relentless passion and grit. 

10 days from now I will meet my hero, and it will be me.

long run reflections & some taper thoughts

This weekend my long run was *just* 16 miles.  The plan was to execute the first 10 miles of it at my long/slow pace of around a 9:00 mile and then run the final 6 miles at marathon race pace.

For the past month I’ve been doing my long runs on Sunday mornings because my Saturdays are packed with my kids’ soccer and tee ball games.  This has meant running on my own because my training group meets on Saturday mornings.  This weekend though my husband and I had plans on Saturday night.  Plans that involved actually not being in our pajamas by 8:00pm – we were going to go have a grown up evening with good friends!  So with that in mind Robert and I decided he would hold down the fort and get everyone to/from their sports while I ran on Saturday morning.  That way we could be out late on Saturday night and I could even drink some wine without worrying about having to run Sunday morning. This was a good plan, until 10 minutes before we went out our daughter started complaining of a headache and then proceeded to get very sick. Date night derailed.  Such is our life with three young children!

So anyway, Saturday morning I was super excited to meet up with my running buddies and share some miles with them.  It was a beautiful crisp fall morning and the run was delightful.  I ran the first 10 miles with my friend Justin.  We haven’t run much together this season so it was especially great to chat and catch up with him.  We executed those first 10 miles right on plan, staying somewhere around a 9:00 pace.

Mile 1: 9:14
Mile 2: 9:18
Mile 3: 9:02
Mile 4: 9:03
Mile 5: 9:09
Mile 6: 8:45
Mile 7: 9:04
Mile 8: 8:59
Mile 9: 8:50
Mile 10: 8:52

For the final 6 miles we wanted to run race pace.  I am still trying to figure this out for myself, but am thinking I am going to aim for around an 8:20 average pace for my marathon.  What!??!?  Wow, yes that is my plan.  With 2 weeks til race day I have to figure this out now, not in the last day or two before my race.

I felt really strong on Saturday and these last 6 miles were great, though not completely consistent.  I am happy with them though:

Mile 11: 8:02
Mile 12: 8:22
Mile 13: 8: 23
Mile 14: 8:02
Mile 15: 8: 08
Mile 16: 7:54

I capped my week off yesterday with a three mile recovery run during which I had stomach issues.  Total mileage for the week was 36.  This week I am planning to cut that even further and run closer to 20 miles ALL WEEK (including a 12 mile run over the weekend).

I have been thinking a lot about my taper, and am coming up with some goals for myself.  I will elaborate more, but these are my taper goals in a nutshell:
1) reduce mileage reduce mileage reduce mileage, as much as I may be itching to run I need to cut it back.
2) foam roll, stretch and use my “stick” every single night for at least 20 minutes
3) sleeeeeeep. as much as humanly possible given that I have a baby who does not really like to do this at night.
4) eat CLEAN. hello, stomach!?  Do not let my food choices sabotage my race day. The sweets can be a reward after I kick the marathon in the booty.  Enough said.
5) hydrate like it’s nobody’s business, every day for the next 2 weeks. nuun and water galore.
6) figure out my marathon goal and pace strategy. It has been floating in my head for months, and I am dreaming big but have been hesitant to really put it in writing.  I think it is time for me to buckle down and face these goals and really get myself excited to tackle them.

That’s it for now.  Next post I plan to dig deeper into these taper thoughts and really commit myself mentally and emotionally to this phase of training.  It is almost Go Time!!!