Secrets

When I first started running marathons, social media wasn’t around. I guess chat rooms were still kind of a thing (does anyone remember chat rooms?!?!) and social media may have been in its infancy but I was definitely not cool enough to be into it.

So when I started training for the NYC Marathon in 2003, I told everyone by email or word of mouth that I was running. That way, I couldn’t back out. Everyone would know. It was a great motivator to get my training in.

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

I finished! It was torturous, but I finished.

Every year after that, as marathon season ramped up, people would ask, “Are you running?” It was always an enthusiastic “YES” from me. For 9 years, I would share my racing plans with everyone, often times raising money for charities close to my heart.

More recently, I’ve been keeping my big races to myself. I happily train without telling anyone when I’m racing. I don’t share my splits on Daily Mile. I don’t share my runs and progress on Twitter. As much support as the cyber world can offer during training, there is also a lot of pressure that goes along with it.

The Hamptons Marathon (that became a half marathon for me) was a secret race.

The Hamptons Marathon (that became a half marathon for me) was a secret race.

Perfect strangers can track you online during a race and when people know your goals, they also know when you’ve failed to reach them. It sounds silly, but the goals I set for myself are very personal and I prefer to keep some of them private.

When I decided to train secretly (or just less publicly?) for the Hamptons Marathon this past Fall, I was unsure how my post-op body would respond.

From colostomy bag to J-pouch, my little body has been through the wringer.

From colostomy bag to J-pouch, my little body has been through the wringer.

Would my J-pouch hold up? Would I get sick again? Could I really get all that mileage in less than a year after two major surgeries? I signed up for the full marathon, knowing full well that I might need to drop down to the half.

I decided to keep the race (largely) a secret and see how training went.

Clearly, I was happy with my choice to drop down.

Clearly, I was happy with my choice to drop down.

I knew a few weeks before that this was probably going to be the case and I was oddly at peace with it. Because despite the 65 mile weeks, grueling summer workouts, and faster than ever times, I knew what I could do and what I couldn’t do. The half I could do, the full I could not.

It’s not that I’m afraid to publicly fail. I’ve done that plenty of times. It’s just that as I test myself and try new things, I prefer keeping those personal goals tucked close to my heart.

Close to my heart like my Peanut.

Close to my heart, like my Peanut.

Have you ever run a race and not told anyone you were training for it? Or do you prefer to get the support of your friends near and far during training? It’s totally a personal choice and I’m curious if anyone else has switched back and forth like me. Or maybe I’m just crazy…?

Now go out and run!

No Goal Running

Holy smokes, you guys. I gotta give a shout out to Theodora over at Daily Burn for the amazing mention in her article yesterday. I don’t even know what to say. I’m honored.

Welcome to the off-season of running. With the exception of CIM, I don’t think there are many other large marathons happening for a while. Hallelujah.

Hip-hip HOORAY for off season!!!!

Hip-hip HOORAY for off season!!!!

I realize that not all of you love off-season. I agree that it can be difficult to get motivated to run when there’s not a specific goal in the upcoming months to work toward. It’s not easy.

Buuuuuuuuut, there are lots of things to do that will prepare you for NEXT YEAR’s race. Read on.

  1. Get that nagging pain checked out and addressed.
  2. Get in better shape. Not running shape, better shape.
  3. Work on weight loss. If this something you feel you need to do, this is the time.
  4. Get stronger. Every one of you needs to do this RIGHT NOW.
  5. Work on speed.

It may be hard to believe, but the work that you put in NOW is going to determine how those 12 weeks of marathon training next Spring or Fall will go. Really.

So, yeah, go for runs. Have some fun. Play in the snow (or, if you’re in NYC today, the pouring frickin rain) and run the shorter distances (10 miles or less) until your training season ramps up next year.

Get strong before you go long.

Me? I'm Refine-ing to get stronger! Apparently, great minds think alike over at Refine Method. (Image shamelessly stolen from Brynn)

Me? I’m Refine-ing to get stronger! Apparently, great minds think alike over at Refine Method.
(Image shamelessly stolen from Brynn)

I should trademark that. But seriously, get strong now. Work on those weak areas now. Get into the gym and get to know your friendly physical therapist. Cuz off season has its place, too!

Now go out and run.

Things I’m Loving Thursday

There are a few things that are blowing my mind these days. Some are running related, some are absolutely not. So, you know, pick and choose.

1. Minions.

Carl.

Carl.

My sister and I joined forces with our husbands and took Peanut and our cousin’s two kids to see Despicable Me 2. It was so much fun seeing a kid movie with kids. Peanut was sitting in my lap, totally zoned out to the movie the entire time. I, of course, was in heaven snuggling with my favorite 2 YEAR OLD!!!!

2. The Sports Gene by David Epstein.

So much information, so little time.

So much information, so little time.

This book looks at about a bajillion studies that search for the true meaning of life: are professional athletes born that way or is it just plain ‘ol hard work? He looks at Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 rule (well, it’s not really HIS, but popularized by him in his book, Outliers) and its significance across the spectrum.

As a science geek, I am eating up this information. As a runner, I am dying to get to the end. The good news so far: yes, it’s genetics and yes, it’s practice.

3. Naturopathica Lavender Honey Balancing Mist, Jurlique Moisture Replenishing Mask, and Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Eye.

'Cuz this face doesn't just happen.

‘Cuz this face doesn’t just happen.

I’m a sweaty girl and the more I sweat, the saltier my skin gets. Solution? This trio. The balancing mist after I wash my face, the mask after long runs (such a treat for my super-dry post-long run skin!), and the eye cream every. single. night. Kiehl’s is a life-saver. Trust me.

4. Oiselle Rogas.

Fly birdie!

Fly birdie!

I am forever in search of the perfect non-compression running shorts. I love the waistband on these and the length is comfy. I’m not sold on the liner but we’ll see how they do on a longer run. So far, I like. Bonus? I dig the company.

5. My CSCS Bible book.

Also doubles as a kettle bell.

Also doubles as a kettle bell.

It’s a monster of a book but honestly, it’s not too bad. Lots of words that are saying all that I know already, which is kind of awesome. It’s reassuring to know that the conclusions I’ve come to are not only valid, but scientifically proven. Yee-haw! Just wish I didn’t have a test looming during my summer “off” time. Boooooooo.

6. 2 x 2 mile workouts.

(No photo cuz I’m not that girl who can take a photo during a hard workout. Too busy trying not to boot.)

So. Hard. I discovered that I could do one of the 2 mile “races” on the track but I absolutely could not do a second 8-lap death march on that oval. I transferred to the East River path for my second 2-miler and felt a world of mental difference. Loved the workout!

And those are latest obsessions! What are yours? Any new running shorts you’ve tried lately? Guys-compression or loose? Ladies-share your skin secrets with me! Running or non-running obsessions alike are welcome.

Now go out and run!

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Change of Pace

In the running world there are all types of paces and pacing strategies.

Marathon goal pace.

Tuck in and surge at the halfway point.

5K race pace.

Draft off the leader.

Half marathon pace for first part, pace down :15 seconds every mile.

The paces and workout combinations are endless. Some coaches will try to tell you there’s a magic formula to pace workouts. I bet my money that for elite athletes, they are right. There is fine-tuning that happens at that level for those individuals that cannot be diminished.

My track workouts are nothing like theirs but it kicks my butt all the same.

My track workouts are nothing like theirs but it kicks my butt all the same.

But for the rest of us, it’s simple a matter of forcing a Change of Pace in our runs.

One thing I dig about a Change of Pace workout is that, by working really hard and pushing well outside of my comfort zone into my shorter race paces, suddenly, marathon goal pace feels like a piece of cake.

...or several cupcakes, if you will.

…or several cupcakes, if you will.

This is absolutely an exercise in confidence as much as it is an exercise to get your body in shape. And we runners love these workouts not only because they feel shorter, but because we sometimes surprise ourselves with the speed we can produce during them.

The 'ol clock and straight-up course of Summer Streets don't lie.

The ‘ol clock and straight-up Park Ave. course of Summer Streets don’t lie. 20 miles on the road is 20 miles on the Garmin is 20 miles on MapMyRun. And yes, those negative splits are real.

I don’t know about you guys, but I definitely was in need of a Change of Pace after this year. Summer has been blissfully and purposely slower for me.

I needed it. I needed it so badly. I needed to slow down, regroup, and recharge.

Peanut kisses recharge the soul.

Peanut kisses recharge the soul.

It’s good to have a Change of Pace every now and again. In running and in life, we get so wrapped up in one pace, one goal that it becomes a daily burden. 

And now that it’s marathon season, all you hear from runners is “marathon goal pace” this and “sub-whatevertheircurrentPRis” that. It’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of race pace anxiety three months out from the actual race.

But when you have a Change of Pace workout and speed it up or slow it down, suddenly you are no longer obsessed with the goal number, but your current number. You’re {maybe} enjoying and {definitely} living the workout you’re doing right now.

Right now, at this moment in the this 5K, I am hating it. It was hot. It was humid. It was close to the finish. But I did feel kinda badass PR-ing my 5K time in the middle of marathon training.

Right now, at this moment in the this 5K, I am hating it. It was hot. It was humid. It was close to the finish. But I did feel kinda badass PR-ing my 5K time in the middle of training.

Sometimes it takes a Change of Pace in our daily routine to appreciate the day-to-day things that make up lives. Sometimes it takes a Change of Pace to rejuvenate a love of the {seemingly} ordinary. Sometimes it takes a Change of Pace to gain perspective on what’s important.

It’s true in running for sure.

And when you go back to that goal pace, it somehow seems more attainable. You’ve done harder workouts, this pace ain’t nuthin.

And that feeling is certainly way Better Than the Alternative.

Happy Tuesday, friends.

Now go out and run.

Getting High

I’ve been away and loving life for a little bit. Being off from school and free from many of they day-to-day stresses of “normal” life has offered me the opportunity to take really good care of myself and spend time with people I love.

JB and I were lucky enough to spend some time at the Obi-wans’ house in Colorado with some of my siblings. It was a ball and included waking up to a little angel every morning.

Nope. It sure doesn’t get any better.

Fortunately/Unfortunately, being in beautiful Colorado also means running at a mile above sea level. The air is thinner and every run felt like a death march.

Breathtaking. Literally.

Breathtaking. Literally.

I love running back home where there are trails and paths and great, safe places to run all over Colorado. Everyone–I mean EVERYONE, says “good morning” or head nods and traffic actually stops for pedestrians in crosswalks.

Which is good because I’m pretty sure if anything at all had made me stop I would have sat down and given up on every run.

Because there is less oxygen in the air, my blood became more viscous (thicker) and was operating on less “fuel” per breath = I got tired a whole lot faster than I normally do at sea level.

So, what’s a girl (or guy!) to do when getting all “Rocky Mountain hiiiiiiiigh, Coloradooooo” while training?

  1. Bring fluids everywhere. You can get severely dehydrated at altitude in a flash. Even my 6-milers required water. Do it.
  2. Don’t look at your watch.
  3. Try cross-training in addition to your run if you’re really itching for more of a workout.
  4. Run slower. Run shorter. Your body will not function the same at 5280ft. so don’t expect it to. It’s maybe not the time to do your longest run of the season.
  5. Plan runs when the sun is low. You are 5280ft. closer to that burning ball of fire and will get burned/dehydrated much faster. Also, sunscreen.
This is one of those times to just enjoy the run.

This is one of those times to just enjoy the run.

The longest I ended up running in a single stretch was 9 miles. And I was totally spent by the end of it. Good thing I had someone to give me a hug when I got back.

Peanut hugs are the best kind.

Peanut hugs are the best kind.

You can totally keep your training up while traveling above sea level, but be mindful that your body is working much harder up there than it does down here. And if you feel any of the symptoms of altitude sickness, seek medical attention immediately. It’s no joke.

Enjoy the run when you’re up in the mountains. And don’t miss out on those little person hugs. They’re worth more than any finisher’s medal at any marathon in the world.

Now go out and run.