Thursday, September 27, 2012

Post Marathon Blues - Filling the Void

I haven't ever had a baby but I've been carrying this "marathon baby" for months and now suddenly it's over.  I've delivered.......errrr a accomplished my goal! :)  I went through these same post marathon blues after Boston and Utah Valley Marathon.

Once the euphoria wears off I think it is incredibly common to feel a little bummed-out and maybe even disconnected?  Your immune system is still a bit depressed from the pounding you've put it through and the training and preparation that was such a huge part of your life is now gone.  For me it has all been heightened this time around as I'm dealing with some nagging injuries and although I should be reveling in my accomplishment I instead have found myself down and confused.  I am not bringing up this topic because I want sympathy but rather because it is real and something that many runners deal with that is rarely brought to the surface.  Training at the level I was training at for Top of Utah Marathon basically consumed most aspects of my life. It was demanding and required an incredibly high level of commitment.  It was thrilling and I truly loved the training wholeheartedly but it was time consuming and took a lot of my energy.  I was so focused on the goal that even when I wasn't actually running I would find myself visualizing the race or analyzing and researching the course. 

"During the training period, you’re constantly stimulating the body to release endorphins. These endorphins do a wonderful work of improving the runner’s mood and give her a feeling of euphoria during exercises and practice sessions. The high continues through your training and peaks on the days close to the final run. However, once you’ve met your goal and there is nothing more to keep you as stimulated, there is a sudden drop in the endorphin level, which causes a temporary feeling of unexplained sadness and emptiness."

Now that the race is over I'm left with a bit of a void.  Fortunately I was able to acknowledge this emptiness early on and here are some tips I'm using to "fill the void".

1.  Relax!  It sounds simple right?  You just ran the greatest race of your life so take a free ticket and just chill.  This is easier said than done for the typical runner personality.  I've found that for me truly relaxing means doing something fun like going out to a movie with my sister, staying up late hanging out with my family eating popcorn all night, or catching up on the 20 People magazines I neglected while I was training.

2.  Focus on others!  Something that I have found incredibly helpful for me in getting over this slump is helping my friends that are new runners or that are currently training for a race.  I know I am no running expert by any means but I absolutely love helping others discover a passion for running.  Focusing on my friends running has been just as fun, if not funner than thinking about my own.

3.  Get outside!  I discovered that for me part of the reason I love running is that I simply love being outdoors.  So I've been taking long walks with the pup, hiking in the mountains, and soaking in all of the beautiful fall foliage in Payson canyon.

4.  Socialize!  It has been so fun to reconnect with friends I've lost touch with while training for the marathon.  I've been able to meet up with a few friends and just talk and am looking forward to fun trip to Moab this weekend with a bunch of crazies!

So much fun to hangout with this girl over the weekend and celebrate her big half marathon PR!
5.  Revisit your non-running hobbies!  I love to bargain shop, cook, and craft and I have found time and had so much fun enjoying these hobbies that were neglected while I was training.

6.  Revel in your accomplishment.  When I was on the verge of tears last week because running was incredibly painful and I was afraid I would never run again I went back and re-read my race recap.  This helped me so much to appreciate how far I've come and how truly special the race was to me.

Anyone else ever suffered from the post-race blues?  Any tips you would add to my list?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Top of Utah Marathon Recap - Sub 3, Sub 3!!

I wrote a full report of the Top of Utah Marathon on my training blog and since my parents don't know how to find that one I decided I need to copy paste it onto this blog.  Plus I love this little blog and really want to start utilizing it more.  I am currently in the quest for a new at home computer (sadly I'm without one for the time being) and as soon as I get one I will be updating more often.  I've received so many questions about my training, ect and I'd really like to strive to be a better resource to the running community.

Before the report I need to thank a few people that I'm not sure I've had the opportunity (or can ever come close to repaying with all the ice cream in the universe) to thanking enough!

My many mentors.  Jake and Andrea who blog at Wasatch & Beyond are not only my running idols but also quite likely the nicest people I know.  They have truly both taken me under their wings and literally taught me how to run.  Their support, friendship, and constant encouragement has truly molded me into the runner and person I have become.  I also have to thank Allie who went out of her way to give me all of the details about the TOU course and always had the confidence in me that I was capable of that elusive sub-3!

Allie on the left and Jake in the middle.  Jake not only won the race in a smoking fast time of 2:22 he came back to watch me finish and cheer me in the final stretch!  Seriously awesome! 

My Mom.  This lady is just amazing and as I got thinking about it last night I truly don't think she's missed a single race.  She's traveled to Moab, St. George, Mt. Pleasant, Nephi, ect...literally everywhere I go whether it be to race a marathon or speak at a charity event she has been there right by my side.  Her love and support mean the world to me.

My family.  Seriously they just rock and I don't know what else to say but I do know that without their constant support and encouragement I would not be where I am today.  One of my favorite moments of Saturday's race that I will cherish forever is when I crossed the finish line and my sister had tears streaming down her face.  It was just such a special moment.  Any runner knows that being a runner supporter is the hardest job in running and it is truly the supporters that deserve the medal at the end of the race.

All of you.  So many of you through your comments, facebook posts, words of encouragement, ect helped me on Saturday.  Sometimes I feel almost undeserving of all of the support I get through the blogging & social media community and I just want you to know that I do not take any of the support for granted.  I am so appreciative for every single person that has supported me throughout my training and along this journey.

The quick stats for those that don't have 12 years to read this full report.
Finish time:  2:58:45
5th place female
37th overall finisher

Now onto my race report with some pictures thrown into the mix. 

I went into this race quite frankly not exactly knowing what to expect. When I would tell someone who hasn't seen my training my current PR was 3:12 and I thought I might be capable of breaking 3 just three months later they would laugh in my face. But the truth is I (and those that have seen my training) knew that it was absolutely possible. Sure it was scary and maybe a risk but after I read Jake's quote on Friday "If you live cautiously, friends will call you wise, you just won't move any mountains" it really resonated with me and I realized that I really had nothing to lose. I could go out cautiously and just run a PR or I could compete for top 5 and go for sub-3....I wanted to compete!

Now onto the race. I rode up to the top on one of the later busses with my friend Janice and Smooth was on my bus as well. Such a fun ride up with no real talk about running. Just chatting about life, family, ect...perfect distraction. Once we got to the top I noticed it was about 6:40 and I only had 20 min. No problem. Quick porta potty stop and then down to the start line. In the rush to get to the start I accidently threw my iPod in my drop bag...oh well no big deal I run w/o music all the time and really only brought it as a crutch that hopefully I wouldn't need. I have to admit that the start line was incredibly intimidating to me standing there amongst an entire plethora of amazing runners. I felt out of place but Jake was good to calm me down and tell me I was running completely under the radar and people were in for a surprise today. That gave me the little boost of confidence I needed and I oddly felt relaxed.

From the start I positioned myself with a group of people that indicated they were going for sub-3. Perfect maybe I would have a little pack to work with. The pack would not last long but it was beneficial while it lasted. I started out as 7th female which seemed like a good position. My plan was to run 100% based on effort. I am very good at pacing myself and knew exactly what effort level I was going for. The first 5 mile splits 6:36, 6:38, 6:37, 6:43, 6:45. By mile 5 I had moved to 5th place female and I was bound and determined to hold this position. Everything felt easy my breathing was completely controlled and I was running consistent and just enjoying the canyon. Fall leaves and perfect temps!

Miles 6-10 I ran with Ryan from Boise. He had a PR of 2:58 and our paces were matching perfectly. I thought maybe we could work together the entire race. I got to know him quite well over the next 4-5 miles and both of us were running very relaxed. 6:46, 6:42, 6:27, 6:35, 6:42. I never once tried to figure out splits but Ryan indicated that we were averaging 6:41 pace up until this point.  Unfortunately Ryan dropped back right before mile 11 and the rest of the race would basically become a solo effort. Miles 11-halfway point 6:40, 6:27, 6:22. From memory I think I hit the halfway clock right at 1:27:38. I saw James at the halfway point aid station and was concerned. He reassured me that he was okay and that I looked incredibly strong. His encouragement was a great boost and after basically running a new half marathon PR in the marathon I carried on feeling pretty darn good! The theme of the race for me yesterday was relax. Don't try to strategize, overanalyze, or questions yourself....just relax and run!

And with that I just kept running by myself down the canyon. How could there be 3,000 runners in this race and I am all by myself? There was an awesome tailwind through miles 11-15ish and I literally felt like I was flying. It was fun! Miles 14 and 15 came in at 6:14, 6:27. Seeing the first cheering section at mile 14 was a huge boost and I was feeling great. I really love this section of the race but it was also at mile 15 that my feet started burning. I knew this was coming but I was hoping it wouldn't present itself with 11 miles to go in the race. Crud! To make a long story short I run on my toes when running downhill/uphill and have metetarsalgia. I wore inserts and was hoping they would be enough to protect my feet but alas they were not. I am used to running through this but knew I needed to slow my pace and lighten my landing if I wanted to finish this race.

Physically I still felt great but I slowed down my pace through miles 16-20. 6:49, 6:46, 6:46, 7:03, 7:11. I had a biker pass me at mile 16 and she told me I looked way strong. I told her my feet were on fire and asked if she had any Motrin. She said she would ride up to the aid station at mile 17 and see if they had any. Thank you random biker! She road back to me and told me they had it ready for me. I was so incredibly excited to see my cousin Travis when I ran into mile 17. He was ready with my 1 200 mg Motrin and a bottle of Gatorade. Travis ran with me for a half mile and was incredibly encouraging. I thanked him, took one more swig of Gatorade and carried on. At mile 18 I was shocked to see my family. I was not expecting them until mile 20 and this was such a pleasant surprise. My feet were absolutely killing me and as I flew passed them I shouted IB profin 800, IB profin 800! The 200 mg was great but I knew it was not going to cut it. The hills through miles 18-20 that I didn't even notice when I paced the half were definitely apparent this time around. With my feet killing me at this point I just kept reminding myself to relax. I just needed to relax!

Out of some freak miracle my parents had 1 IB profin 800 in their car and handed it to me at mile 20. I fumbled and dropped it but knew it was worth losing seconds to turn back and grab it. I quickly swallowed the IB profin and carried on. My family was seriously awesome and basically met me at every single mile until the end of the race. This was huge as still with the exception of about 2 guys I kept leap frogging I was still running solo! Miles 21-23 were probably the toughest of the race for me. 6:49, 7:02, 7:19. My feet were just really bothering me and every step hurt. I knew I would be okay once the ib profin kicked in and just had to mentally distract myself from the pain. My Mom road her bike with me for a little bit during miles 21 and 22. She was encouraging but kept getting in my way and was having a hard time keeping up so it was decided that she needed to just go back to the car. I'm told from my Sister and Dad it was quite comical watching her try to keep up with me. They were both laughing hysterically when I ran into mile 22 about 1 minute ahead of her. haha leave it to my family to find something funny about the last 6 miles of a marathon. Seeing them laugh helped me to relax and I just started laughing too and thanked them for being there. Love my family!

My feet felt much better the last 3 miles once the medicine kicked in but I realized for the first time that my quads were shot. Every little incline hurt but one thing never changed for me in this race and that was consistency. My legs were locked into the effort at this point and baring a catastrophe I was not slowing down! Miles 23-26 paces were 7:06, 6:58, 7:00.  I saw my family for the last time at mile 24 and thanked them again for the support as I ran towards main street.  The little hill at the end of mile 24 looked intimidating but once I got to it it really wasn't so bad and was over before I knew it.  It was after I reached the top of the hill and the 25 mile aid station that I realized that sub-3 was not only possible but it was going to happen.  I was overwhelmed with confidence and just kept telling myself to relax and finish strong!  I was not going to be satisfied with 5th place female I wanted sub-3!! 

The last 2 miles of this race are hard, daunting and painful but I was so incredibly focussed.  I dedicated mile 25 to a girl from my hometown who was recently in a terrible car accident and paralyzed.  Whenever my quads would scream I would remind them how grateful I am that I can feel them and I ran for Sam.  The last mile was all for Trevor.  The pain was intense but I managed to pass two guys in this mile and oddly still felt relaxed.  I kept wondering where in the heck the finish line was?  It is totally a blind turn there at the end and I was way to focussed on running to look at my garmin so I didn't know where I was time wise until I saw the clock.  Jake & Andrea were there cheering for me.  Jake told me to get up on my toes (yes I heard that), Andrea told me I was going to get 2:59 and to push it, My Mom was screaming, My Dad and Sister were waiting right at the finish line and I was bawling like a freaking baby!  And now I am bawling again as I relive the moment.  Had I seriously just broke not only sub-3 but sub-2:59 with time to spare?  I was elated and just so incredibly proud!  I had medics come jumping up to me at the finish because I had tears streaming down my face but I assured them I had absolutely never been better!  What an incredibly journey! No pace band or strategic pacing plan just good hard consistant running!  24 hours after the race I am still smiling and everything still feels extremely surreal to me.

It was exciting to talk to people after the race and hear how well everyone had run.  Jake running a solo effort and winning his first marathon!  So deserving and so happy for him.  4 girls breaking 2:55?  What?  Wow just some amazing runners out there and so cool to say I was in the top 5!  After the race we walked up to my Grandma's house .25 mi from the park and then went back for the awards ceremony.  I was so excited to place 5th. 

  I can't believe I just started running when I was 23 and ran my first sub-7 minute 5k about a year ago and now a year later I ran a sub-7 minute marathon!  I am not saying this to boast myself or because I think I'm awesome but because I am proof that a lot of hardwork, smart training, and dedication combined with a whole lot of heart truly pay off!

Congratulations if you made it to the end of this report and thanks again for the continued support!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pacing & Racing

It's been far too long since I've updated the blog.  I have really missed it and am hoping to get into some sort of routine with updating in the near future. 

The past few weeks have been chuck full of lots of fun and adventure!  I've been logging lots of miles, pacing races, and I even managed to set some new short distance race PR's .  Life and running has been good and I have been thoroughly enjoying running higher mileage and being healthy and happy!

On August 25th I paced the TOU half marathon and had a great weekend spending time with my Dad & Grandma up in Cache county.

Pacing 1:45 at TOU.
Spending the day at the Zoo with my family after pacing TOU half marathon.

At dinner the night before TOU half marathon with my Dad and Grandma.

The next weekend September 1st I headed up to Pocetallo Idaho to pace the Pocatello half marathon.  It was such a fun weekend with amazing friends and I had an absolute blast getting to know new people and helping runners reach their goals.

The awesome Pocatello Pace group! 

Gotta love Idaho!  Every runner got a free bag of potatoes. :)
On Labor Day I raced in the annual Payson Onion Days 10k.  This was my 3rd year participating in this event and it is definitely one of my favorite races.  I love small town races and the fact that this one runs on the roads I train on every single day makes it even that much more fun.  You can read my full race report here.  I finished the 10k in 39:53 which was a huge PR for me and I was very pleased with my time coming off of three of my highest mileage running weeks ever.

I placed 3rd overall female and 1st in my agegroup earning me my 3rd Silver Dollar.  My sweet friend Rachel set an awesome PR and placed 2nd in her age division.

My amazing support crew after the race.
This past weekend September 8th I raced the Spanish Fork 5k.  This was a new race for me this year and I jumped in on it as a last tune up in prep for TOU marathon this weekend.  You can read the race recap here.  I really surprised myself by running sub-19 and finishing in 18:48!

Next on the agenda is TOU marathon this weekend!  I have been anticpating and training for this race for 8 weeks and am starting to get excited.  I've been fortunate enough to make it through the marathon training cycle with minimal set backs and look forward to pushing myself hard and having fun this Saturday.

Thanks so much to everyone that continues to read this nonsense and support me along this crazy running journey.