Category Archives: athlete

This Run Almost Didn’t Happen

Training for an ultra marathon has been a lot of work. The first race I’ve ever done any official training plan and I picked a doosey. The have been challenges along the way, but today was a big one.

Today was the closest I have come to not running at all on a day that my training plan has me scheduled for a run. I was mentally exhausted after a long day at work. I was hungry. I was tired. I just needed to eat and sit for a minute.

I nuked some rice and beans and ate it quickly. Then I just wanted to sit back and close my eyes for a minute. My eyes were burning and my brain was buzzing. Just closing my eyes would help everything settle down.

As soon as sat back my loving dogs swarmed me. Three of my dogs laid on anf around me. Theu snuggled up with me and nearly put me to sleep. After about an hour I was able to pry myself off the couch and change into running clothes.

I got in the treadmill and started running. I needed some motivation for running and REI Presents: How To Run 100 Miles https://youtu.be/iC7Lh4opLsc was spot on.

#1. It Helps To Have A Friend Along

#2. It’s Going To Be A Struggle At Times

#3. You Have To Put In The Work

#4. Eventually You Have To Start The Race

#5. Commit

#6. You Have To Keep Moving

This might have been the perfect movie to watch durring a struggle of a training run.

Then I watched some Jam Jam and some Ginger Runner. They helped get me through.

Today was supposed to be speedwork but after 2 miles at 10 minute miles I tried to speed up to 8 minute mile pace for 1 mile but I just didn’t have it. I was too sore and tired from yesterday’s workout. At about 2.5 miles the combination of the big TV, the space heater, and the treadmill managed to blow a fuse. So I had to get off the treadmill and reset the breaker. It took every ounce of willpower to get back on the treadmill.

The next 4.5 miles were a mental challenge. Being on the treadmill where I can literally stop any time I want with no negative consequences is a real challenge to keep going when it gets tough. Boy did I want to stop. With one mile left I was literally chanting out loud to myself “One more mile.” Over and over until I was done. But I did get it done.

It’s not always easy but it is always worth it.

2018 Running Goals

My running goals generally revolve around types of runs I want to try and increasing distance. I think in 2018 there will be more goals involving increasing distances, but I think I also want to set some different types of goals. Some goals I have already talked about in past posts but some of them will be newer.

  1. Run a trail marathon
  2. Run my first ultra
  3. Increase my mileage from 2017 – 2018
  4. Run a sub 24 Minute 5k
  5. Run a sub 2 hour half marathon
  6. Learn more about running
  7. Learn more about proper running training
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STRC New Years Day 5 Miler

My first Trail marathon and ultra are already on the calendar. I will be running Sehgahunda Trail Marathon and Worlds End 50k. I am super excited about these races. These are sure to push my limits and help me explore ho I am as a person and as a runner. I will be running these races with some of my friends which makes it even better. Training for these races began 1/1/18 and it is something totally new for me. I have never followed an official training plan. This should have me more prepared for these races than any other I have run previously.

After my training throughout 2017 I feel like a sub two hour half marathon is within my reach. I ran at least on half marathon distance run almost every month. Now that I am starting 50k training the training plan has me running a half marathon distance long run almost every week. Seems like this should help me even more even though the long runs will not be focused on speed at all. I have a half marathon on the calendar already for 2018 at the 37th annual Skunk Cabbage Classic. The race is a bit hilly, so not necessarily a fast course but hopefully with the trail running and training I will be doing I will be able to get it done here. I am also planning to run this race with some friends so no matter what it will be fun.

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STRC New Years Day 5 Miler

My other time related goal is to run a sub 24 minute 5k. I haven’t run a 5k in years and I seldom push myself to run as hard as I can like one would in a 5k race. This is the one goal on my list I am least confident I can achieve. I am planning to take some time off running long distance post 50k to try and train myself up for a 5k in the summer. If anyone has ideas for a fun 5k to run preferably in the Finger Lakes region of NY or a good training plan to follow let m know in the comments.

My other goals amount to just becoming smarter and more well informed about running. So everyone share with me their favorite running columns to read to learn more about running and become a better runner. I’d love to see what is out their besides articles by Runners World.

Get out there and enjoy a run. Talk to you again soon.

Even When You Don’t Want To, Still Run

This year I have been focusing mostly on longer type runs. My shorter runs are usually 5-6 miles with long runs of 13 miles at least once a month, since last October. Yesterday the plan was to run 10 miles. I didn’t get there. I didn’t feel right the whole run and ended it with only 8 miles. It never feels good for me to end short of my goal.

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Today I knew I wasn’t going to have time for a very long run as I had a busy day ahead of me. So that was already weighing in the unmotivated to run side of the scale. Not to mention if I had to run I had to be out the door relatively early. No later than 8 AM. More weight to the just don’t run side of the scale. Upon waking up I checked my phone and it was confirmed that the temperature for this morning was 20 degrees. Even more weight to the side of the scale killing any desire to run.

As I got up this morning I was getting things done and literally telling myself, ” I am going to run today”. Once I had my morning chores done I started to think about what to do next. The answer was “I am going to run”. That is what I kept telling myself. I started to think about what I needed to wear and got out my cloths and dressed to run. As I was getting ready, I knew I still didn’t really feel like running and didn’t want to go out in the cold.

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I told myself I would just do a short run. I would run my standard 5k distance route that I know well right outside my house. No thinking no more decisions to make. Just to get out and run. Often when I don’t really feel like running I just go for an easy slow paced run just to get some miles. I knew it was going to be cold, so I told myself I will just run hard. If I run hard I will warm up faster and stay warm longer no matter what the weather brings. And the weather sure brought it. It was cold and windy.

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Also I didn’t take any tech with me other than my watch. No phone, no camera, no music. Anyone who has run with me much knows that is a huge deal. I went out to just run by feel and make the best of this run. I checked my watch at the very beginning just to assure myself that I was running a decent pace to start. Then I check it again when it  buzzed at mile three.

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At mile 3 I was very happy and surprised to see that I was at a much faster pace than I expected and I knew I had to push myself for those last .11 miles and maybe I would just do it. Do what? Reach one of my personal goals.

So, what exactly can happen when you go out and run? You can run one of your best runs and reach your personal goals. I have had a goal for a while know that I want to run a 5k at a sub 9 minute pace. Guess what? Today on this day I didn’t even want to run, I achieved that goal. I ran an 8:55 min/mile pace. I got out and ran. I put in that effort when I didn’t even really want to and I made it happen.This is what you can do when you do the things that you don’t really want to do. You reach your goals.

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It’s all about being there and putting in the effort. Just show up, just run. It won’t always be pretty and you won’t always feel like it, but you will be able to achieve more than you ever thought you could as long as you show up.

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Running Challenge

Last night I set a running challenge for myself to complete this morning. I had no specific goals in mind regarding pace or anything. I had one simple target. Finish the run and, spoiler alert, I did. I finished one of my most challenging runs to date.

I have been wanting to start running more trail runs and run distances of half marathon or a little more. My biggest challenge has been figuring out runs that would allow me to stay in shape for those type of events. A friend suggested I run from my house to a nearby nature preserve, Plymouth Woods.

For some people that might not sound too bad, but for me it is a little different. I live nearly at the top of a 1500+ ft high hill. I am not good at hills and have relatively little experience running them. Earlier this year for the first time I ran down my hill and then right back up. But on that run I did not add any more mileage than just down the hill and back up, plus that run was on the less steep side of the hill.

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Today I ran down the steepest side of the hill. I ran down the hill and out along the highway and reached the nature preserve at just short of 5 miles. I felt pretty tired on this first part. Surprisingly so. But once I started on those trails I felt so much better. There is just something about getting out in nature. Those leaves crunching under your feet. Alone except the mammoth trees towering over head. These are the things that propel me.

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I used that energy to hit all the trails available at Plymouth Woods. The Red Trail, The Blue Trail, The Orange Trail, and Another loop on Red. It was a tough hilly run but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wasn’t fast, but that wasn’t the goal. The goal was to get out for a run and enjoy myself and just see what I could do. While I was at Plymouth the weather started to turn against me. I am pretty sure I was being pelted with ice pellets at one point.

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This photo captures a lot of how it felt running in the gloom and darkness of overcast skies and bad weather. But I still enjoyed it.

I left Plymouth woods and headed back down the highway towards home and the hill that lie ahead. The way back was a little down hill so I actually achieved a decent pace for me. But the whole way back I was consumed of thoughts of the hill that loomed ahead of me.

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This is what it looks like if you look out straight ahead from one of the slopes you descend at Plymouth Woods.

I got to the bottom of Combs Hill Rd felling pretty good, but I knew I could never run up that slope. So I didn’t and I didn’t feel bad about it. I did the best I could so that I could cover the rest of the distance to get back home once I got to the top. If I had tried to run I would likely have ended up just slowly walking the last mile or two back home and I was not having that. I wanted to have something left in the tank to get me home. It did not help that the weather was turning or it was just getting colder due to the increased elevation, but it was getting windy and cold. But I pushed on. It actually helped to motivate me to run. It was too cold to walk.

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This is what the slope actually looks like if you look down the hill, and it gets steeper as you go.

When I got back home I wasn’t quite to 12 miles so I actually ran past my house and then back to it so I could get to 12. I was hoping the run would be closer to 13 miles but it wasn’t quite as long as I thought it would be. Maybe I will add another loop in the woods next time.

I got back and I was exhausted. My legs were wobbly and sore. I walked more than I would have liked, particularly after surmounting Combs hill on the way back, but I made it. I achieved my goal. I challenged myself and I pushed myself and I did it. This is why I love running. I can challenge myself. I can test my limits and I can learn about myself and I can adapt and get stronger. Now, what is the next challenge…..

Check out the profile of this run on Garmin Connect.

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I arrived back home happy and tired. Feeling accomplished.

Running the Binghamton Marathon Relay

 

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I started off the 2016 year thinking I would only run a few events. As the year has progressed I have found myself running more events than I thought I would. Sometimes things just fall into your lap and you can’t pass it up.

I knew going into the year I would run Glassfest 8K and the Wineglass Half Marathon and maybe two other events. One of which would likely be a longer race like a half marathon. On Friday 9/16/16 A friend and fellow runner put out the word that he needed a new partner for the Binghamton Marathon Relay. I figured surely another of my running friends or a runner that I didn’t know would jump in and take the spot. As I saw the responses coming in from other runners saying that they were busy and couldn’t do it I began to think, well maybe I could do it. The only problem was I had a prior engagement I would need to be back home for by noon.

I began thinking about what the race entailed and the distances of the legs we would have to run. I had been training for the Wineglass Half Marathon already. If I ran the first two legs of the Binghamton Marathon Relay and ran it in around the times I expected from my training I determined that I could run the first two legs of the relay and then head back home. I was planning to run a long training run on Sunday anyway, right. What’s the difference? So, I talked to my potential teammate and we decided that this would work and he would either find another runner to run one of the other legs or he would run both of those. We were able to find another running friend to run the final leg of the relay.

The Binghamton Marathon Relay was on 9/18/16. Just two days away. Did I really just sign up for a race on basically  1 days’ notice? I’ve never decided to run a race on such short notice. I was excited to be doing something I have never done before in the Marathon Relay but very nervous about being prepared for it considering that I had not planned to do this at all. It doesn’t help that I am the kind of person who is always nervous and anxious no matter how prepared I am for something. I have also never run a race that I had to drive an hour to before and that made me nervous.

On Race day I was actually prepped, dressed, and ready to go on time. On the drive out to the race venue my hip was feeling like it was tightening up every minute I was in the car. Trying to stretch a hip while seated and driving a car is let’s just say interesting and mostly unsuccessful. I arrived at the race right about the time I was planning to and was ready to run and at the start/finish line in plenty of time. I was ready perhaps a bit too early. As they were calling racers to the starting line I was one of only a few that were ready so when I went to the starting line there was nobody else there and I ended up being at the very front of the field. At the front of the field in any race is not a place I should be nor is it a place I want to be. At the start of the race I was off with the other racers. I wasn’t intending to run fast but it’s hard not to get swept up in the enthusiasm of the runners at the front. For the first couple of miles I knew I was running a faster pace than I wanted to or had trained for. I also did not want to spend the race looking at my watch to check my pace. I just wanted to enjoy the run. I spent the opening miles of the race just trying to slow down and let the other runners pass by, which really isn’t a great feeling even if you are not racing hard.

During the race I noticed bikers working for the event riding out ahead of runners and back towards the runners. I was not sure what they were doing. I just assumed they were making sure everyone was safe and people were staying on course. They may very well have been doing that too, but what I learned around mile 4 or 5 is that they were also handing out GU pouches to anyone who wanted one. One of the riders cruised up alongside me and coasted and asked if I wanted a GU and made a very easy transaction of passing me a GU while I was running and he was biking. This was totally cool and totally new to me. Now I didn’t have to get into my own pouch to get a gel. Thank you bike GU deliver guy.

One thing that is very strange is when you are running a relay and you come to an exchange point and you see all the other runners who are either waiting to exchange runners or have already exchanged runners for the relay and you know that you are not changing runners. It is especially tough mentally when you feel like you are not having a good race. Which is exactly how I was feeling. I was feeling tired both physically and mentally.

So, by mile 7 I was already feeling less than at my best. I was trying to keep my mentality positive. Telling myself over and over that this was just a practice run in preparation for Wineglass. Treat this just like a training run. I just wanted to log the miles. I’ll be honest it really wasn’t working. The race conditions were really not in my favor. It was warm and humid. I had spent the entire summer trying to avoid running in this type of weather.

By mile 10 I was feeling completely gassed. I was really starting to slow down. I was really starting to get a little down. This was not the performance I had hoped for after all my training that I felt like had gone so well. At some point I shifted into survival mode. I had to change my mentality. It wasn’t about this race anymore. My goal race was the Wineglass Half Marathon in 2 weeks. I needed to make sure I didn’t do any harm to myself that I couldn’t recover sufficiently from in time to run my best at Wineglass. I slowed down my pace, weather because of my mentality or simply because I couldn’t sustain it any longer or some combination of the two I don’t know. I knew this was not the race that was most important to me. This was just a trial on the way to my ultimate test for this year. I just needed to make it through. By the time I reached the exchange point at the half marathon distance and saw my teammate I literally could barely keep going. I had never felt so worn out after a race.

The best things about the race had nothing to do with me. During one of the toughest parts of the race for me mentally one of my friends in the field caught up to me and recognized me. She asked if I wanted to talk while we ran. I said talking would be nice but I am literally too tired and fatigued mentally to carry the conversation so she’d have to do the heavy lifting so to speak in the conversation department. During our time talking I learned that we had a mutual friend. Our conversation gave me some reasons to smile and to laugh on what was otherwise a tough day for me mentally. Finally at one point I told my friend that she could go ahead and run on at her pace, because I was just too tired to talk anymore. A little later a running friend not running this event drove past and cheered me on. And as I neared my exchange point with my teammates awaiting yet another running friend, who I didn’t know was running this event, was leaving the check point and passing me on the other side of the street gave me a shout out and words of encouragement.

Along the course there were volunteers manning water stations providing runners with hydration and speaking words of encouragement. Scattered all along there course there were various people and groups of fans for lack of a better word cheering us on. There were even a few people who were stopped in traffic waiting for runner to cross intersections who rolled down their windows and cheered us on. Every time I crossed paths with someone who had positive words and cheers to share it gave me a reason to put a smile back on my face and lifted me up a little on what was a tough day for me.

I hesitated to call the people watching the race fans but I think the might just be the perfect word. The people watching the race and cheering on runners were obviously not my fans, nor were they likely anyone’s fan except maybe one person they knew who was running the race. But these spectators cheered for every runner that passed them by. They yelled out, spoke words of encouragement, and rang cow bells. Why would they do this? Because they are fans. Not fans of just individuals. They are fans of runners. Fans of people who push themselves. Fans of people who challenge themselves physically and mentally. Fans of the community putting on the event. Fans of people supporting people and people supporting local organizations. It is about people showing support for other people and supporting communities, the local community and the community of runners that have gathered there.

I will remember this day as a tough run for me, but above everything else I will remember it as a day that people came together to cheer on others they may not even know as well as those that they did. It was a day of support and encouragement. A day of pushing ones limits fueled by the encouragement of others.