Monday, January 30, 2012

Week 4: Hurts So Good

One word: "Ouch!" I CANNOT believe how different I feel from one week to the next. This week (hopefully just today), I am a HOT MESS. Turns out that running doesn't just stress your legs... I guess a strong back and core helps too. What happens when you have no such strength? Pain. Extreme pain.

Last night was spent tossing and turning. Even a heavy dose of ibuprofen was no match for my sore body. Poor body. The only relief? Sitting in my car on the way to work this morning. Why? Heated seats! It was like sitting on a heating pad for a solid 30 minutes. Everything felt better, from the top of my back, all the way down to my hamstrings. The only bad thing... I'm not allowed to work in my car, so my blessed heat therapy was limited only to my commute.

Fighting Through the Pain
While it's hard to see the good side of running when you feel like you've fallen down a flight of stairs, runners always seem to be willing to fight through the pain. I figure it's bittersweet—when you're hurting, it must mean that your body is getting stronger... right? Please tell me I'm right, or I might as well just lie down right now and take a nap.

Plus, it's not just getting through the physical pain. Learning to deal with it mentally is just as important. Let's face it—there is nothing calming or glamorous about running 26.2 miles. I should prepare myself now, because I've been at that finish line before, and there's not much pretty about it, except the medal.

Theme of Today—Hurts So Good
A wise man, we'll, a man, once sang:
"Hurt so good
Come on baby, make it hurt so good
Sometimes love don't feel like it should
You make it hurt so good"

I wonder if John Mellencamp was a runner?

Daily Miles:  0.00
Monthly Miles:  77.00
Yearly Miles:  77.00

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Week 3.5: Holding Myself Accountable

If any first-time marathoner were to ask for my advice, I would emphasize one thing—
TELL EVERYONE. The fact is that when making the choice to take on such an enormous endeavor, it’s all too easy to start out with the best of intentions, but slowly fade back into extreme couch-potatoeness (sure it’s a word).

The Power of a Blog
As you, a reader of this blog, can obviously see, I practice what I preach. Quite frankly, I’ll tell anyone who’ll listen about my marathon training. Actually, let me pause to formally apologize to those people that know me personally. I do in fact realize that I never shut up about running, but I just can’t help myself. All I ask is that you nod a little now and then, just so I know you’re at least attempting to listen. I assure you that you will not be quizzed on my training at a later date.

Confessions of a Cursed Runner has offered me an outlet in which to share my feelings and opinions on everything from my training program to what’s going on in my personal life. Through my previous training, I know that as my mileage gets heavier, and running takes up more and more of my time, both my running life and personal life will eventually become completely coexistent. My intention of this blog is to share my journey with as many people as possible, allowing myself to remain focused and goal driven, without ambushing my coworkers with tales of weekend long runs, which may or may not have been plagued by blistered feet and/or chafed armpits.

My hope is that if for any reason I bailed on this whole marathon thing, that someone would eventually ask me why I haven’t blogged lately. There is absolutely no way in hell, that after telling the amount of people I have about running the Wisconsin Marathon that I would EVER say “I quit.” THAT is this blog’s way of keeping me accountable. Not to mention the links to my complete training schedule and exercise diary.

Finding a Running Buddy is Key
Running alone can be… well, lonely. By enlisting a training buddy, or being enlisted, it ensures accountability between all parties. Basically, every time you feel like quitting, you can envision a tiny little version of that person (angel or devil style—your choice) sitting on your shoulder, giving you a proverbial look of disappointment.

Trust me, when you’re out at mile 7 of a 14 mile run, and you have to run through 20 feet of 2-foot deep water because your trail is flooded out, followed by blistered feet and sore hips from trying not to run on said blisters, there’s nothing more reassuring than knowing you’re not alone. Whether your training buddy is by your side, or with you in spirit, there’s just something in knowing that someone else is putting in work of equal difficulty, and that your ultimate goal is to get across the finish line… together.

All of this being said, let me introduce you to my running buddy for the Wisconsin Marathon, and hopefully thereafter, Stina. Stina is an accomplished half marathoner in my eyes, managing to take approximatly 30 minutes off of her PR in less than 2 year. To put it bluntly, she used to be slow, and now she's middle of the pack. And don't get mad, I’m allowed to call her previous times slow, because I am still slow. Plodder’s privilege.

Although I’ve never run a half marathon quicker than 2:41:52, and she’s never run a full marathon, well… ever, I think we’re the perfect pair to help each other achieve our goals. If I can push her mentally, and she can push me physically, there will be no need for the Heelys I suggested in our early discussions revolving around race strategy.

Hopefully between Stina’s camaraderie, this blog, and my desire to not utter the word “six” at the beginning of my marathon time, I’ll be able to hold myself accountable, and finish my marathon in under 6 hours.

Daily Miles:  0.00
Monthly Miles (Jan.):  60.00
Yearly Miles (2012):  60.00

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Week 2: Finding Balance

First and foremost, I’m finally feeling good in my training.

Now that that’s out of the way, let me just say that week 2 was one hell of a week. Not just in marathon training, but in life. This week was a fine example of finding the balance in all aspects of my life, including family, friends, work, running… and me. It’s so easy to forget that last one.

Tuesday’s run went as planned, an easy 4-miler on my treadmill, where I was motivated by watching The Biggest Loser. Cheesy I know, but it always makes me feel a little better to see someone else working harder than me. It’s all about perceived effort. Good thing that run went well, because it was about to go downhill very quick.

Unforeseen Circumstances
Mid-day Wednesday, I received a call that someone very close to me had to be hospitalized. Out of respect for their privacy, I won’t go into details, but it was someone I care for very much, so the whole thing definitely knocked me off my game. Thankfully, that person was okay, and was able to be released from the hospital late Thursday. By that night, they were back to feeling physically normal. As for me however, my mental state would take a few days to catch up. The situation scared the hell out of me to say the least.

So… no run on Wednesday, no run on Thursday… and Friday is my normal rest day. I’m not gonna’ lie. When Friday afternoon hit, I had very little motivation for anything, let alone a 4-mile run. I had been worn into the ground. THIS is why I normally rest on Fridays. I don’t think I’ve ever left work thinking, “What a long week. I think I’ll go running to exert what little energy I have left!” It’s usually more like, “What a long week. I wonder if I already have a bottle of wine open at home, or if I’ll have to exert what little energy I have left trying to open a new bottle.”

Getting Back on Track
Even though I knew it was going to suck (because I was exhausted), I laced up and ran, bitching and moaning to myself the entire time. I’ve found that while most times, a positive mantra will get you through tough times, sometimes a little self deprecation is in order. I think I needed that time for me.

Saturday got me back on track. I was feeling better emotionally, and feeling better physically after my run the previous night. The only thing that could make me feel better? Watching the Olympic marathon trials while running my required 7 miler. BEST PLAN EVER! I spent 1:36:00 watching the top runners in the U.S. battle it out for 6 spots on the Olympic team. The race was great, with very different race dynamics between the men and women. And who managed to take one of the top spots? My favorite runner, Kara Goucher. I was ecstatic! I don’t think I’ve ever smiled on my treadmill half as much as I did that day.

All in all, I took a wildly emotional ride this week, but things have now leveled out. I’m feeling positive and healthy, although a few extra hours of sleep still couldn’t hurt. It’s time to shift the balance back into my life. Week 3 is looking up… way up.

Daily Miles:  3.00
Monthly Miles (Jan.):  39.00
Yearly Miles (2012):  39.00

Monday, January 9, 2012

Week 1: In the Books

 I’m proud to say that I have successfully completed my first week of marathon training. By “successful”, I should clarify that this did not include throwing up and/or passing out. Yay me!

Week 1 in Review
Wow. I really should have been working out these past few months. I’m pretty sure that I shouldn’t be gasping for breath while running a 13:20 mile. With every step of every run, I just kept reciting my new mantra (that I stole from someone, but can’t remember whom), “Progressive forward motion. One foot in front of the other.”

In my training past, I’d always managed to catch my best stride anywhere from miles 2-4. My mood would slowly roll up and down from there, just like this hills I was running, eventually ending up somewhere on the exhausted end if I’d done my job well. This time around, I’m experiencing mood levels across the spectrum… and all in no particular order. “I’m so glad I’m doing this,” “Ugh, my legs are killing me,” “It’s going to feel so good to get that finisher’s medal,” “Why can’t I feel my face?”… and so on. To all of the runners out there, you know what this feels like, but my problem was that this happened on a 3-mile run. Looks like I’ve got a long way to go.

Looking ahead
This week was really tough, but I know that the longer I train, the easier my pace goals will become. I have a history of slacking on my training, but this time around, I NEED to make sure I’m following through. If I can just stick with it, my training will get me to the finish line. It’s comforting knowing that.

Daily Miles:  0.00
Monthly Miles (Jan.):  19.00
Yearly Miles (2012):  19.00

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Off and Running

January 3rd, 2012 marked the official kickoff of my marathon training. By blending the Hal Higdon Intermediate 1 Schedule with the personalized Runner’s World SmartCoach (the free one of course), I managed to Frankenstein together a plan that’s tailored beautifully to MY schedule and MY goals. Not bad if I do say so myself.

My weekly schedule works like this:
  • 2 Easy Runs @ 13:20 min/mile (4.5 mph)
  • 1 Race Pace Run @ 12:36 min/mile (4.76 mph)
  • 1 Long Run @ 13:52 min/mile (4.33 mph)
  • 1 Day of Cross Training

Week 1 (this week) starts out relatively slow, although it feels more difficult than I’d like to admit. How difficult you ask? Difficult enough for me to swap this week’s pace run for an additional “easy” run. I figure that for the first couple of weeks, I can adjust my pace slightly, as long as I’m getting in the mileage on my scheduled days. If anyone out there would like to endorse this change of plan in the comments section below, I’d greatly appreciate it. A little validation wouldn’t hurt.

I figure I can ramp it up a little bit each week. It’s not as though I'm shooting for unattainable paces. I’m only training for sub-6 after all. I think that by the end of January, I should be right on target. As for this week, it’s three 3-mile runs, a 4-mile run, and a 6-mile run.

Wish me luck on my first long run of the season!

Daily Miles:  3.00
Monthly Miles (Jan.):  6.00
Yearly Miles (2012):  6.00

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Starting Over

With 2012 on the horizon, it’s time to leave my cursed running past in the dust, and focus on bigger and better things… completing a successful marathon. Historically, I’ve been plagued by a slue of unfortunate circumstances in my races, including everything from inclement weather to nagging injuries, but I’ll leave those stories for another day. Today I’m focusing on the future, the success that 2012 will bring, and the good health that running will ensure for the rest of my life.

When setting my running goals for 2012, I knew I had to be realistic. I needed to select a race that would ensure my highest chance for success. And so the research began.

For my chosen marathon, I had many criteria that needed to be met.
1.     No earlier than April 30th. Anything earlier than this would not allow me enough time to train.
2.     No later than May 13th. Although spring in the Midwest is typically mild, unseasonably hot days can begin to pop up in May, and that was a risk I wasn’t willing to take. As a side note, I’ve taken that risk before, and it did not end well.
3.     Not too hilly. Some hills are okay, but I’m not up for killing my knees on terrain I’m not used to.
4.     Close to home. Something in a 2-hour radius was ideal.
5.     Cheap. Well, maybe not cheap, but preferably something that didn’t cost $150 (cough… Chicago Marathon).

After a month of research, and many hours spent on running websites, I had pretty much made my decision, but I was still a little up in the air. Through the beauty of Facebook, I was able to ask some fellow listeners of my favorite running podcast “Two Gomers,” their opinion, and the Wisconsin Marathon was the hands-down favorite. Everyone said it’s impeccably run, the weather is nice and cool, and that the scenery is beyond gorgeous making its way up and down the shore of Lake Michigan. Plus, they’re “Serving up the Cheesiest Marathon Ever,” with giant cheese-shaped medals… and for only $68. Sold!

So its official—I will be running the Wisconsin Marathon on May 5th, 2012 in Kenosha, WI. I will run it, I will enjoy it, and I will finish it in less than 6 hours… even if it kills me. Wisconsin here I come!

Daily Miles:  0.00
Monthly Miles (Dec.):  0.00
Yearly Miles (2011):  ~200.00