Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rainy day disasters and sunny disposition

I had seven miles on my calendar yesterday, and mother nature had rain on hers. I don't exactly love running in the rain, but I will tolerate it for training. And truth be told there are much worse weather conditions to endure. Cold being one of them. But yesterday was not cold. It was gorgeous. I pulled my hair into a ponytail, topped off with a baseball cap and my trusty Disneyland Half Marathon windbreaker. Yes I realize I may look a little silly wearing a mouse on my jacket. Not exactly the serious runner type, but maybe that's the point, maybe all running should not be taken so seriously.

Seven miles through the rain, sure beat seven miles on the treadmill. It was not my best run, my breath was short and I knew exactly why. I had neglected to pack my Flovent for the weekend and hadn't taken it since Saturday morning. I was really starting to notice what a difference it was making to take it not just once a day but twice. And now I hadn't taken it in two days. Never the less I managed to make it the whole way. I marveled at the beauty of the misty evening, wondering if the sidewalks would be mine alone or if other runners would be braving the weather. Much to my surprise there were more than I could keep count of.

I could't believe that I was running seven miles on a Monday. Four weeks ago seven miles was not even my mileage for the WEEK let alone for a day. I was so pleased with myself after completing that run. I know a lot of people who would have skipped running, or cut the mileage in half and spent an hour on the dreadmill. But that thought never even crossed my mind. I knew that no matter how much it rained I would go out there and put in the miles. Sometimes that is even more an accomplishment than a time or a distance. Just having the determination to go out and train no matter what (ask me again in November if i have this same attitude about the cold...)

So this morning when I woke up for work, I was feeling fresh and positive. I swung my feet out of bed and headed to the kitchen for breakfast and that's when things started going wrong. I spilled things, I dropped things, I tripped over things, and although I managed to get dressed in a decent outfit the kicker was when I spilled a pot of iced coffee ALL OVER my kitchen. At first I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. This day was starting to blow and it wasn't even 8am! But instead I kicked off my heels, rolled up my jeans and turned on some tunes. The sound of music instantly lifted my mood and I began a thorough cleaning.

Was my attitude about running starting to creep into my real life? Was I not crying over spilled coffee because I knew there was nothing I could do but clean it up? Just like if things don't go as planned on race day, or on a long run for that matter that I just have to suck it up and keep going? Before I knew it was I singing along as I mopped up the floor, thinking that on the bright side my kitchen now smells like delicious hazelnut creme instead of dirty dishes and trash.

Lesson learned? So what if it rains or if it's hot or if things spill or if you are late and nothing is going your way. A positive attitude may be the only thing standing between you and happiness.

xx Sara

Monday, August 23, 2010

Running is a Journey. Enjoy every mile.

One of the reasons I am training for the Philly Marathon, is to conquer my fears. To prove to myself that I can successfully train for and run a marathon, and then pick myself right back up and run another one with our spiraling into dissapointment.

Although it has only been one week since I completed my "running homework" and was forced to face my real fears about this distance, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel like I run freer now that I have in weeks. Mostly because I have accepted this training as a journey, instead of a destination.

Training, for me, cannot be about just getting to race day. It's about every day I get to go out there and run. Every day that I have the strength and physical ability to challenge by body, to exercise it and make it stronger. Every run is an opportunity to observe nature, observe people, enjoy life.

Once I started realizing that these weeks and months are not a means to an end, and that I want so much more beyond this one race, I think my whole body just let go. All I can do is my best and then on race day just go with whatever happens. It won't be my last race. Far from it. And as long as I can set my sights on that, and enjoy every run along the way, I can be happy.

xx Sara

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Third time's a charm

Three weeks into marathon training and I'm finally starting to feel like I'm getting somewhere. Two weeks off is a lot and at first I just felt like I was plodding along to nowhere on my runs. But this week was different.
Running five days a week was not hard on my body, but it's been hard on my social life. Who wants to hang out with someone who's all sweaty and gross? Thankfully I have gained one new running friend and it's worked out well that once a week we get to run together so I don't feel so anti social. Physically though, the easy pace combined with slowly building up my mileage and five days of running has been great. I feel like I've gone 0-60 in three weeks.

I was even exited for this weeks 11 mile long run. I was so un-phased by the distance I even went a little wild and crazy and had Indian food with a glass of wine for dinner. Followed by an english muffin, chocolate chip cookies and a large glass of ice water. A little out of the box from my usual Friday night dinner of pizza and water.

When 6:30 am saturday rolled around I hopped out of bed, collected all my running gear and tiptoed out of the bedroom. Step one: spray myself down with sunscreen. Step two: awkwardly stand around as it dries. I ate a quick breakfast, got dressed and threw on a baseball cap. I always make sure to wear sunscreen but lately I like the added protection of a hat. I grabbed my camera, a bottle of gatorade and threw my phone in my SPI belt and headed out the door.

The morning was gorgeous, cool and quiet. I enjoyed the quiet two mile trek down to Falls Bridge, and then once I had gotten onto Kelly Drive I watched all the other running passing me by in every direction. Young, old, tall, short, men and women all our running. Some with fuel belts, some with water bottles, some slow and some fast. But for a moment we can all share in the same thing. Running.

The father I run, and the closer I get to the museum, the more people crowd the trail. Short distance runners maybe but runners non the less. I stop every now and then to take a quick picture, a sip of gatorade and keep going. I expect that as I head back home I'm going to start feeling tired, but tiredness doesn't come. I don't even stop to walk when I get to the almost three quarter mile long uphill climb at mile ten.

Before I know it, I am done. I have finally completed a long run with out taking walk breaks. I would have been feeling on top of the world but my eyes are burning. I can barely keep them open. It seems that my sweat has dripped sunscreen into my eyes. Thankfully Boyfriend is at the door when I walk in, ready to get me a tall glass of ice water as I rinse my face. So now it would seem I am on the lookout for a new brand of sunscreen, only for my face. Previously I have been using Neutrogena Ultimate Sport 75+ for face. Specifically for my face and it burns my eyes! What kind of crazy is that?

Apart from the eye burning, the rest of my recovery went smoothly. One tall glass of chocolate milk, one toasted english muffin with peanut butter and banana, one quick ice bath, a shower and back to bed. I ended up sleeping from 10am to 3pm, with a short break to wake up and eat again. Some people would say I am sleeping the day away, but I just know I am the type who needs to make up for all these early mornings.

So week three is done. Today is all about resting, and eating, and on Monday week four begins. Here we go!

xx Sara

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Are you afraid of the marathon?

I'm not particularly. But I have been throwing around the word afraid a lot lately. Mainly in reference to a certain 26.2 mile race, the marathon, maybe you've heard of it? I should have been smart and kept my mouth shut, but we all know I'm not very good at that, and if I had I wouldn't have gotten to write this awesome essay for Jack as my "running homework". Basically he caught on to the fact that I was continuously noting how "scared" or "afraid" I was of the marathon and made me face my fears by writing down exactly what my fears were. My guess is it was an attempt to make me face my fears, until I realized I was already facing them.

When I was first given the task, I had a million thoughts running through my head. I wanted to start writing right away. But then I started letting it settle and figured it would be the perfect thing to think about on Saturday's long run. I talked about it with Katie, I talked about it with my mom, I talked about it with Boyfriend, and I thought about it when I ran alone.

I really like running, I can finish a half marathon, it's just that extra 13.1 that has me feeling a little nervous. It has a lot to do with my disappointment in my prior performance. It has a lot to do with my asthma and feeling like I would never be as fast as I used to be. It has a lot to do with me always being hard on myself and always thinking I can do better, push harder, run faster.

And then yesterday, on a solo five miler on the quiet streets of my hometown, it hit me. Yes I was sometimes afraid, yes I realize I have to adjust my goals for this race, and yes I have to deal with my asthma. But I was already two weeks deep in training, I was working with a totally different coach, I had built up a great base running all year long, and the pure and simple fact that I had signed up and committed myself to this race was proof that I wasn't so scared after all.

I need this race to prove to myself that 26.2 is not that scary. It will not chew me up and spit me back out barely alive. I will not need to quit running for months afterwards I will not get burnt out. I will train smart. I will race smart. And when Philadelphia is over I will keep going.

xx Sara

Monday, August 9, 2010

What's so bad about the word 'jog'?

When Jack emailed me my training schedule for this up coming week, the first thing I noticed was that he had written "easy jog" next to every mileage. This didn't come as much of a surprise since he had been reminding me all last week to take my runs very easy and apart from Monday's four miles, I wasn't exactly listening. It wasn't that I was deliberately disobeying. I was trying to be a rebel. I just couldn't help it. I know what my body can do when pushed, and call me crazy I actually like, from time to time, feeling all out exhausted after a run. But I get it. One week of international travel and one week of sick do not equal a speedy jump back into the fast paced world.

I wasn't surprised but I may have cringed a little bit. I can't help it. I have a strong dislike for the word 'jog'. When running with others I will often use the word 'trot' instead of 'jog', because although they are similar, the first doesn't sound too bad. It burns my mouth to say it, and my ears to hear it. Especially if someone were to call me a 'jogger' instead of a runner. Almost as if they are saying I am not fast enough to fall into the category of runner. But is there really a difference? And should I really be offended?

Jogging is just slow, easy running. So when I went out for my long run Saturday morning, I swallowed my pride, and accepted the fact that if I wanted to train smart and make it to race day in good shape (and let's face it, that is really my ultimate goal here) I needed to get in my miles, no matter what pace I was running. At first there was no one on the street with me and I enjoyed the rest my walk breaks allowed me and how they helped keep my pace on track. But after awhile my route turns onto the west end of Kelly Drive and ever so slowly the path becomes more and more crowded. People start to pass me. But I don't care anymore. It is a gorgeous morning, I am out for my long run, covering the most consecutive miles in over a month. I feel great. No one can get me down. Even after three pairs of old men pass me. Even after ladies in big over sized teeshirts and fanny packs pass me. Even after I have to walk half a mile because it is a half mile uphill and today, I am just not up for it. I was more proud that I had finished the distance, even if it did take me two hours.

Last time I trained for a marathon I went out too early, too hard, and the race fell apart. This time I want different results. I want a race I can be proud of. If that means easy jogging my way through four months of training than so be it. I realize that perhaps the term jogging on its own may sound kind of soft. Somewhat easy and not very much of a challenge. If I said "I jogged down the block" it doesn't have the same ring as "I jogged 8.5 miles this morning".

Maybe the word 'jog' isn't so bad after all. Just like maybe the word 'marathon' or the number '26.2' doesn't totally terrify me and sound impossible.

It just scares me a little bit

xx Sara

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It's been a while, but I'm back now.

It's been awhile since I have felt I really had anything worth saying. And in those brief moments where I really wanted to shout "hey world listen to what I have to say" I would write down my thoughts in my notebook and then forget they ever happened.

In short, I spend a week traveling in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China, for work. The hours were ridiculously long and tiring. Often spending our mornings and afternoons walking around various factories and our evenings driving back to our hotels, dinners, and then answering emails and writing re-caps back to the office until 1 or 2am. My poor faithful running shoes came with me on that long journey, and patiently sat in my suitcase waiting to be bought out. I told myself I knew it wasn't going to happen, but maybe just once, maybe just a mile? I needed some sort of exercise, I was feeling soft and lazy. My running shoes, sadly, never got used that week.

When I returned to the US, after a weekend of much rest and doing nothing, I was ready to begin officially training for the Philadelphia Marathon. This was it. The Big Time. Monday after work boyfriend and I set out for a nice easy two miles, and for me two more nice easy miles after that. I felt great, like I was back in the game, ready to go, ready to train. Until Tuesday morning I woke up and felt like I got hit by a bus. Attack of the post travel, run down and then got on a plane and had a nice multicultural airborne germ cocktail. Sick? I can't be sick! I'm training! Doesn't my body know this cannot be happening? But it was. And it lasted all week. One week of I can handle, but two? This was insanity. Finally by Sunday night I was feeling better and couldn't wait to get running Monday.

So now I'm back. I even got to do a long run yesterday of 8.5 miles. The hardest part is keeping my pace slow. And the scariest part is I am actually training for a full marathon. The seriousness of that sentence has not even hit me yet. My new schedule has me running five days a week with two off days, which is more than my usually four running days three off. As much as I am scared I am also excited. It has been two years since I have gone down this path, and a part of me thought I was done with the 26.2 forever. But now here I am again. Sure I am only on week in, but it's been a good week.

More to come from now on. Promise.

xx Sara