Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Not Racing

Happy Tuesday and welcome to Taper Town, NYC Marathoners! Now that you’ve made it through the vast majority of your long training runs, that 26.2 behemoth is looking much more do-able, isn’t it?

(Image courtesy of RunnersConnect.com)

(Image courtesy of RunnersConnect.com)

You beast.

Congratulations to all of you.

But there are the other runners out there now, aren’t there? The ones who trained, ran far, worked hard, set their sites for the start line and now have to DNS for some reason or another.

That sucks.

Surgery instead of Marine Corps Marathon last Fall. Womp, womp.

Surgery instead of Marine Corps Marathon last Fall. Womp, womp.

There’s no way around it, not racing when you’ve trained your heart out sucks. I’m sorry.

But, as someone who has both trained for the full and only run the half AND had to DNS another marathon in the past, I wonder if I can’t encourage you to look at it in a different way.

Yes, it’s hard to accept that you won’t toe the line at your race. Yes, it’s frustrating to send in your deferral paperwork. Yes, it’s depressing to tell your friends (the ones you bragged to all through training) that you’re not running.

But then there’s the other side.

Just because you’re not racing doesn’t mean you’re not in awesome shape.

Just because you’re not racing NOW doesn’t mean you won’t race EVER.

Just because you’re not racing doesn’t mean you can’t go and cheer your friends who are still racing.

Cheering at marathons is SUPER FUN!

Cheering at marathons is SUPER FUN!

Just because you’re not racing this race doesn’t mean you can’t look for another one in a few weeks or months.

Just because you’re not racing doesn’t mean it was all worth nothing. It was a goal you set out to achieve. You pushed your mind and your body to the edges of physical sanity–and found out it’s kinda fun.

Running a mile uphill was fun...sort of.

Running a mile uphill was fun…sort of.

Allow yourself the time to grieve over your loss. It’s ok. But then look forward. What do you need to do to achieve your goal next time? Get a coach? Get a better coach? Start training earlier? Strength train in the off season? Not get pregnant mid-season (can’t tell you how many lady runner friends I have in this position :))?

Onward, friends. Onward.

If you are a life-long runner, not racing here and there is going to be something that happens again. It’s life. But it also teaches you that there’s another opportunity in the future for you to tackle.

And isn’t that way Better Than the Alternative?

Yup.

Now go out and run!

 

Hurricane Sandy: DON’T PANIC!!!!

Oh man, I’m already hearing about people deferring and registering for a Spring marathon. While I totally get this kind of panic, I want to warn against it.

The weather isn’t really a sure thing until the night before.

Weather people often overstate for dramatic effect. See: Hurricane Irene.

Damage from Hurricane Irene in NYC. Staggering.

The decision to defer or to just not run is a very personal one.

On the one hand, you’ve trained for this for months and  to have Mother Nature screw you at the last minute just plain sucks. One of my friends said she’d run another one that is also nearby but is two weeks later. That’s one way to go.

Uh-oh, spaghetti-o’s!

On the other hand, if the race coordinators are going to hold it despite a little rain (read: not during a hurricane, but a rain storm), I’d run as long as I felt safe. I mean, we train in the worst conditions over very long, hot summer days. Why should a little rain stop you?

You’ve battled the heat (you sweaty beast, you!), why not the rain?

Get a hat. Wear fitted gear. Make sure your shoes have good tread. Smile.

This is what I would wear. Fitted tank, fitted shorts (both made of Luxtreme), rain resistant lightweight jacket (if it’s lower than 55 deg), and a hat to keep the rain out of my eyes.

The choice is, obviously, yours. But remember, you can’t predict Marathon Sunday weather, which is why we don’t abandon a long run just because the weather isn’t optimal during training.

If you’re not obsessed with getting a PR or hitting a specific goal (anyone left?), give it a shot. Have some fun. Be the badass who ran a marathon in the rain and lived to tell the tale.

My last two marathons, I was just happy to finish feeling good. No PR. No BQ. But I was really proud of my performance and felt seriously awesome for powering through.

I earned that medal. I’m proud of that medal. And I didn’t PR, not even close. Totally worth it.

Just a thought.

Now go out and run!

“How Do You Stay So Motivated?”

…JB asked. Last night, this very unexpected question came my way from my gorgeous husband and I struggled to give him a concrete answer.

If I’m being honest, what comes to mind first and foremost is vanity.

Gabrielle Reece, courtesy of SI.com

Gabrielle Reece has always been an inspiration to me. She’s strong, she’s healthy, she’s visibly athletic and she’s had two babies…and still has THAT BODY. She is a testament to clean living and exercise and I want to be like her some day…you know, 6’3″ and blonde ;) Let’s be honest, I am not genetically metabolically blessed and I’m ok with it. I’ve had to exercise my entire life to stay in decent shape so working out is nothing new to me as I venture deeper into my thirties. I guess I should probably be grateful for that.

The other component of my devotion to fitness has nothing to do with motivation at all. Fitness is part of my LIFE, pure and simple. In my world, there is no option to skip workouts just like there is no option to skip brushing my teeth in the morning. I started the habit of exercising for life very young and now it’s just as much a part of my life as breathing.

 

I have always liked cake = must work out. Coincidentally, this is also the year I started running.

Public shame is another tool I use to stay motivated. I set goals, tell everyone I know about them, and then am forced to give updates on my progress when people inevitably ask, “How’s such-and-such going?” That’s what got me to the start line of my 1st marathon in NYC.

I'm not ashamed of this less-than-flattering, heavier Abby picture. That is me ROCKING NYC for the 1st time!

Sharing my fitness and life goals with others has motivated me to stick it out on many an occasion. Twitter and Facebook have opened up an entirely new community for me to seek motivation and encouragement from, which is an awesome benefit of social media.

But beyond those reasons, I find that fitness has taken over a new space in my heart these days. With my flare-ups threatening (and sometimes succeeding) to derail every single workout I try to do, I have started to realize just how important exercise is to me as a person. I guess you really don’t know how much something means to you until it’s taken away.

Working out makes me feel better about how I look and who I am. Running makes me feel a sense of accomplishment. I feel powerful and strong (duh, I know) when I lift. I feel a sense of camaraderie with my fellow classmates when I spin. I feel peaceful and like a dancer when I finish yoga. I am exhausted in the very best way after I swim.

I am my best me when I am happy in my fitness life. I guess that’s the final thought.

I want to be my best me for my husband, my family, and myself. So I make time to run, spin, flow, swim and move in a way that makes me feel good. And that is the best motivation of all: to feel good.

Me. Feeling good, post-sweat.

What motivates you? What gets you to the gym/on the road/in the class? Share with us.

Now go out and run!

Kiss Post-Marathon Blues Goodbye

I ran my first marathon in New York City. It was an amazing experience that I’ll always remember and cherish. I was so excited to have finished a marathon and to have done it in New York!

Me and my very first marathon medal the next morning. Yay!

But I also remember being seriously bummed out as the post-marathon high wore off. What the heck? Wasn’t I supposed to be walking on airs for at least a few weeks, basking in the glow of the finish line glory for all the world to see? Well, yes, buuuuuuut, that died down after about a week. People stopped asking about it and life, you know, moved on.

My high was gone and I was still in marathon recovery mode, so I couldn’t exactly just pick up and race again. So sad. I had reached my goal! Now what?

I eventually came out of my funk but it took a whole new experience to get me going again. That’s when I found Achilles International and started volunteering on Saturday mornings as a guide for disabled runners in Central Park. Running with these amazing athletes definitely helped me get my groove back and even gave me a goal for the next marathon season.

Me and my friend, Leol, who also finished the NYCM this year!

So what’s the key?

Do something else. Anything else. Maybe even do something besides running (gasp!) or do something running-related, like volunteering at a local race with kids or something cute like that. The Girls On the Run 5K is on December 10th, which I’m going to use as my post-marathon, holiday season, do-gooder, get-off-my-post-marathon-a** and do something new event.

But what gets YOU going after a marathon? A new challenge: triathlon, 30 day yoga challenge anyone? A new activity: indoor cycling/climbing/kickboxing? Something completely different: book club/rearrange your apartment furniture/clean out all your closets/volunteer at a homeless kitchen…what else?

Or maybe you caught the marathon bug and are already searching for your next race and a new training schedule to have an even better finish time. That’s what I’ve done after the past few marathons. I got to a place where my marathons didn’t leave me as spent as they did in the beginning (don’t get me wrong, I was TIRED and I worked HARD, but I recovered faster) so I decided to switch up my training schedule to accommodate two marathons a year instead of one.

The result was Jersey. Which…well, it wasn’t a success where time was concerned BUT it was a HUGE success where my training was concerned. I finished super-strong and on pace despite having a hideous middle eight miles. To me, that was the biggest success of my running career.

Yay! Proudest finisher at the NJ Marathon!

So, if you’re finding yourself down in the dumps post-marathon (or any other race/goal), set a new goal. Don’t have one? Sit down with a friend who motivates and encourages you and get the conversation going in the direction of a new goal.

I cannot stress enough to you how very real this problem can be. You’ve achieved a goal that many people never even consider attempting and that can be a very difficult high to come down from. This is the best way I have learned how to deal with the post-marathon blues. What are your tricks?

Tell me all about it and then go out and run!

Marathon Friday (OMG!)

Happy Marathon Friday everybody!

It’s late, I know. But I have been running all over town seeing friends and making final preparations for the BIG day. Can you tell I love cheering at this race? It’s something I look forward to every year. I think JB is finally getting into it…a little bit, anyway. Poor guy has to put up with all my crazy and I’m not even running. It’s possible that I’m much more calm before my own marathons.

Also, I am definitely sympathy carb-loading. *sigh*

Anyway, there isn’t much going on in the fitness world besides the marathon, so here is your last-minute guide to all the details regarding the ING NYC Marathon happening this Sunday.

*Remember that Daylight Savings happens on Sunday morning at 2AM. Set your clocks BACK one hour before you go to bed on Saturday night or you’ll be a little bit confused as to why everyone is running an hour late for everything that day.*

  • If you’re curious about stats (like, there are 441 POJs on the course!), here are a few.
  • Between this interactive map and this detailed subway map, I got you covered with how to get around on Marathon Sunday.
  • Wave start times are listed here along with some random course information.
  • Be sure not to miss your athlete and take advantage of the app you can download off of iTunes to track your runner or also do it via SMS text. Remember to get their bib number and wave start time in order to properly predict when they’ll be where.
  • These guys have some suggested viewing locations. I prefer further north on both 1st and 5th Avenues to avoid the crowds. 125th Street sounds like a nice spot.
  • Runner’s World has an anywhere guide to watching the marathon.
  • If you missed my last minute tips on how to get yourself all ready for the big day, try here and here.
  • Keep your eyes peeled on the course. There are a few celebrities who will be out there slogging through 26.2 with you. And one very famous Chilean miner who, apparently, is back with proper above-ground, non-poisonous gas-filled chamber training.

On that note, best of luck to all of you who will be running this weekend. I know there’s also a marathon happening in Savannah and LUCK to all of you, too. Remember, you can do this. Keep going.

Look for me at mile 22 with the lululemon athletica cheer station. I will be the one with the cowbells.

Now go out and run!