Marathon #2 Recap and Facing Failure

It’s been about 10 days since I ran my second marathon. I have mixed feelings on the entire experience. After a week and a half of reflecting, I’ve made peace with the results. When I set out for this training cycle, my goal was to run the marathon in 3:59:59. I failed to reach that goal. And while I know my body can (and will) run under 4 hours, I just didn’t have it in me that day. I’d love to give you a great excuse– I only got two hours of sleep, or it was oppressively humid, or I forgot my sneakers- but none of that was the case. In addition, I failed to accomplish my second goal of running the full 26.2 miles without stopping to walk. Ooof! So far, not great! But here’s the good- I ran a marathon! And I PR’d by 5 minutes! And I walked less than the first time around!

I was trying to smile for the camera.

Here’s a little race breakdown:

  • Miles 1-2: Started out feeling OK, but around 1.5 miles in I knew it was going to be a tough race, and I remember thinking I wasn’t going to reach my goal. My hydration backpack with all my chews felt extremely heavy and my mindset wasn’t great.
  • Mile 3-8: Felt OK, but my glutes and back were starting to get tight.
  • Mile 9-12: I wanted to quit. My legs were tired, my glutes and back felt so uncomfortable and I even said to Nick, “I want to quit.” To which he responded, “no, you don’t” and then we kept running in silence because he was right.
  • Mile 12-20: Dread. My music wasn’t hitting right and it was a dreary day, a boring course, and Nick and I separated around mile 16.
  • Mile 20-26.2: By mile 20 it became obvious that unless I picked up the pace and kept running for the rest of the race, I wasn’t going to hit my goal. I told myself, I just need to do better than I did last time. I walked a little bit, then started running again. I felt awful and I almost started crying at multiple points.
  • Finish Line: My legs felt like jelly. I felt this race was a lot more challenging for me both mentally and physically than my first marathon.

I learned a lot during this training cycle and during the race. First, not all 26.2 miles are created equal. This course was pretty flat and so was the first one I ran in May; however, this one was boring and there wasn’t a lot of spectators because we were running along a parkway. I do better when there’s more to look at. Another big takeaway: running with a hydration backpack is not for me. I’ll do it during training runs but I need to find an alternative for race day. I know there’s water on the courses but I prefer to have something on me so I don’t have to slow down. Plus, it’s easier to drink from a straw or water bottle than it is through a cup when you’re running. I just end up getting it all over myself. Also, I want to get away from using the blok chews as my fuel source. My plan going into the race was to eat a package at miles 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25. I got through mile 15 and then I couldn’t bring myself to eat again. I think that worked to my detriment but I felt full and didn’t want to chew. I want to find a gel because there’s no chewing involved and they’re lighter to carry. Lastly, I need to work on my core strength. During this cycle, I didn’t make it a point to keep a consistent strength training routine, including core work. I think this hurt me, as well, so I want to make sure that I keep that consistent during the next cycle.

Before I wrap this up with what’s next for my running, I want to address the fact that I think it’s important to own our failures. I know that me setting a goal for myself to run a marathon in under 4 hours is something I put on myself and it doesn’t matter to the rest of the world. But I think it’s important to set goals for yourself. It’s a healthy part of being human to try to improve at things and be a little better, smarter, or in this case, faster than I was yesterday. However, sometimes when you set goals, you fail to achieve them. And that’s OK. To me, failing is a sign that I tried to do something that was difficult. It wasn’t something that I knew I could easily do. That wouldn’t be a goal, that would just be any regular day. I’m really proud of myself for committing to run another marathon, completing the marathon and doing it 5 minutes faster than I ran my first one. The goal of running it in under 4 hours without stopping isn’t going anywhere and the good news is that I’m on no timeline to get it done. (But you can rest assured, I WILL get it done).

Next up? I plan to run the Long Island Marathon again in May 2023. They haven’t announced the date but I think it’s going to be the first Sunday in May. I also put my name into the lottery for the 2023 Chicago Marathon which is in October of next year. I am hoping that both Nick and I get into the race and we can run it together. Lastly, I am working with a running coach beginning next week. I’m excited to work with someone that can hold me accountable to running certain paces and challenge me to do track workouts– something I’ve done maybe a handful of time since running track in high school. I’m excited for this new chapter in my running career and will be sure to share updates along the way.

Until next time, ✌🏻🏃🏽‍♀️❤️

Marathon Training Chronicles- Installment #12

The whole year of 2022 has been the busiest I’ve been in my entire life– between my kids, work, personal goals, and all the many things out of my control, I feel like I’m drowning at times. And as much as I’m enjoying training for a marathon, I’m looking forward to the race being over because it’ll be one thing knocked off my priority list for now. I didn’t post an update after Week 12, so today’s post will cover Week 12 and Week 13 runs. Here’s what’s been happening in my running world…

Week 12 was great! I clocked the most miles I’ve ever run in a week- 37.9 with four runs and I felt really good. My runs looked liked this the week of March 21st:

Wednesday– 8.2 miles; Friday– 4 miles; Saturday– 19.2 miles and Sunday– 6.5 miles = 37.9 miles

Extremely proud of this weekend of training- 3 hours of running on Saturday, followed by 1 hour of running on Sunday. Never imagined I’d be doing that… but I did.

Week 13 was good, as well. However, I decided, after a 137.7 miles in March, to back off the total amount of miles for the week of March 28th, which looked like this:

Wednesday– 8.4 miles; Friday– 4.1 miles; Saturday 13.1 miles and Sunday– 7.1 miles = 32.7 miles

I’m using my non-running days to do a lot of stretching and foam rolling. All together, it’s about 90 minutes for the week. And that doesn’t include my stretching before/after my runs. I think taking the time to really focus on releasing my tight muscles is making a difference so I’m sticking with it. I’m also getting in some ab work and glute activation work if I’m up for it. I would like to get back into more traditional strength training but I am hesitant with my shoulder still not being right. I’m going to reevaluate everything after the marathon and see where I’m at.

The next few weeks are a crucial part of my training. I have 4 more Saturdays until race day. My plan for long runs looks like this:

April 9th- 21 miles; April 16th- 15 miles; April 23rd- 10 miles; April 30th- 2 miles (easy jog the day before the race)

The rest of my runs will likely be the same length that they are now- give or take a mile or so. I’ve been doing two runs a week outside and two runs inside on the treadmill. As it gets nicer, I’ll do all my Sunday runs outside unless it’s raining. I enjoy the treadmill runs for the opportunity to push my speed a bit but it gets a bit boring after 60 minutes.

That’s all I have for this week’s installment. Nothing too exciting going on. Stay tuned for next week’s update!

Marathon Training Chronicles- Installment #7

I’m a little behind this week. I really want to stick with recapping the previous week as close to the end of it as possible. Otherwise, I forget how I feel, what happened, etc.

Week 6 of training came to a close on Sunday, Feb. 13th. I had an amazing week with my workouts- I felt great! Thursday was a short run day. I wanted to do 3-4 miles and I ended up doing 4.1. On Saturday I was thrilled to see and feel the weather be 46 degrees when I started my run. It felt amazing! I set out to do 13.1 (a half marathon) and I pushed myself to get to 13.2. My legs were tired but they weren’t completely dead. I started blistering up on both of my ring finger toes. I ended up bleeding through my sock on my right foot. When you’re putting these kinds of miles on your legs and feet, you’re bound to get a little banged up. I think that over the course of the next few weeks that stuff will subside a bit because my feet are getting used to running long distances – the calluses and blisters will just be part of me and at some point I won’t even feel it. (I know, it’s so gross. But if you run, you understand). I almost forgot to mention that I used the water backpack thingamabob on Saturday too. It was a little weird to get used to but I liked it a lot better than the waist belt one. I’ll definitely use it again for my longer distance runs.

Sunday was a treadmill run day. I’m really enjoying going to the gym on Sundays to get my run in. I think it’s good for my breathing, good for my knees and ankles to get a little rest from the pavement and it allows me to play around with intervals a little bit. I had 5 miles on my training sheet but I ended up doing 6.2 again. I get a little annoyed because my Apple Watch and the treadmill are not tracking the same. I don’t know which to believe!

Something interesting I wanted to share because this comes up a lot. When I talk to people about running I often get the “I’m not a runner” response from people. And to that I say, I understand that running is not for everyone but it certainly can be for most people. I didn’t come into this life with a natural ability to run long distances. In fact, when I ran track in high school, I was average, at best. I’m not super fast. I don’t have super lungs. I just work really hard at it. I have a baseline of fitness that allows me to take 2 months off of a running and still be able to go out and run 5 miles when I want to. However, it took YEARS to get there.

To me, running is the ultimate test of physical and mental strength. If you are looking for a challenge, challenge yourself to run. Do a mile: jog for 1 minute; walk for 2; jog for 1; walk for 2. Over time, increase the time and flip those intervals to jogging for 2, walking for 1. You’d be surprised how quickly your body repsonds.

On the docket for this week: bonus active recovery day on Tuesday (stretching and foam rolling); 3-4 mile run on Thursday; 14 miler on Saturday and a 10k on Sunday on the treadmill.

Until then,

Marathon Training Chronicles- Installment #6

Week 5 is in the books and it was a great week overall. I started a new strength training program that I’m doing on Monday/Wednesday/Thursday. Monday is lower body, Wednesday is upper body and Thursday is full body. I’ve done this program before and I really enjoyed it. The workouts are about 35 minutes long so it’s right in my sweet spot time-wise. It’s fast-paced, a lot of volume, and it gets my heart rate up. I decided that Tuesdays are going to be a cardio day- usually HIIT or some sort of callisthenic-type training. However, after this past week, I realized I might need to use Tuesdays as a second rest day (if I feel my body needs it). Thursday, Saturday and Sunday were my run days.

Let’s start with Thursday. Thursday has been a shorter run because I have to wait until after I drop the kids at school. I like to get it done as quickly as possible so I can get to work and get on with my day. This past Thursday was a little rainy but not too cold. I’ve been staying in my neighborhood for my Thursday morning runs. I have a big loop I can do twice to get me somewhere between 3- 3.5 mile depending on how big I make the loop. It’s been working out nicely.

I like having my rest day on Friday (well, not really. I’m not a fan of rest days from a mental standpoint, but I know my body needs it from a physical standpoint). My point is, I like having my rest day the day before my long run day. It stops me from coming up with an excuse about why my legs are tired during my long runs. I try to minimize the amount of things my brain can use as excuses. Even though I enjoy running and training, I don’t always want to do it in the moment.

I woke up Saturday with a GREAT attitude about my run. I was ready to take on 11 miles. When I went outside, I was hit with that 21 degree air and I wasn’t happy, to say the least. The rain turned to ice the night before so I knew it was going to be an interesting run the minute I started trotting down my street. I figured it wasn’t the worst thing in the world considering I was trying to keep my pace a little slower. The first 6 miles weren’t bad. I was trying out a new route which took me a long ways from home (on foot, in icy conditions). In hindsight, it probably wasn’t my smartest move, but I had to do what I had to do. I turned on Whiskey Road around mile 6 and the air felt like it got 10 degrees colder. I wasn’t happy. I continued until I reached my next turn where I spent almost 3 miles cursing– the wind started up and was cutting through my gloves, my shirt, my sweatshirt. I was freezing. I was miserable. I wanted to cry. I wanted to stop and call Nick or my dad to pick me up. But I knew my hands probably wouldn’t even work to make a phone call. By the time I got back to my house my watch said 10.75 miles. On any other day I would’ve ran past my house and made it an even 11; but I was so cold and frustrated that I just stopped at 10.75 miles.

It took my hands hours to warm up. Frostbite, maybe? I don’t know. They were red and not too happy with me. I decided at that moment that I wasn’t going to torture myself with running in conditions like that- especially for runs that were longer than 3-4 miles. After running some errands with the kids, I ran into Planet Fitness and reactivated my account. I knew that Sunday was going to be cold again and I didn’t want to run in 17 degree weather.

What I looked like on Saturday’s run vs. Sunday’s run

Sunday’s run was A LOT better considering I did it on the treadmill at Planet Fitness. I haven’t run on a treadmill in so long. It felt good to be back in a gym and it also felt good to utilize the treadmill for training. I was scheduled to run 5 miles on Sunday but after missing my goal on Saturday by 1/4 mile, I decided to go for a 10k (6.2 miles) on Sunday. It was good. My breathing felt so much easier inside rather than outside in 20 degree weather. I’m still going to try to do the bulk of my training outside. But on super cold or super windy AND cold days, I’m going to the treadmill option. There’s no need for me to be miserable. I want my training to be enjoyable. And while I understand that it’s not always going to be unicorns and rainbows, I don’t want to put myself in situations where my hands will get frostbitten.

On the docket for this week: a 3-4 mile run on Thursday; a half marathon (13.1) on Saturday or Sunday and 5 miles the opposite day.

In running gear news… I purchased new socks. I prefer no-show, ankle socks but sometimes when I run outside I get a piece of gravel or a pebble in my shoe and then I end up with cuts on my ankles (happened on Saturday). So I bought some news socks on Amazon that will go up over my leggings a couple inches, which will prevent gravel/pebbles from getting in AND will cover the 1/2 inch of skin that is usually exposed to the cold. A two-fer! Nick also let me borrow his water backpack thingamabob. I am not much of a water drinker while I run but I’ve never run more than a half marathon. I know for longer runs I’m going to need water. I want to try it out this weekend when I do the half and see how it goes. I will provide my thoughts next week. (-:

Marathon Training Chronicles- Installment #5

Week 4 kinda blew. It happens. As I mentioned in my very first post about the marathon, I have a plan. And I’m super Type A so that means I really really really like to try to stick to my plan. However, life happens. Sometimes you just need to pivot and make the best of the situation.

My strength training went off without a hitch. Rarely do I have hiccups when it comes to my at-home workouts because I have control over that. The only issues I run into are when my kids wake up halfway through it and whine for the last 15 minutes about being hungry. Other than that, the only way I’ll miss a workout is if I oversleep. And that rarely happens because my body is so used to waking up early. (The power of habits!)

As for my runs, I only ran twice last week and they were shorter runs– 4.2 miles and 5.1 miles. Those used to be middle distance runs for me but when you’re training for a marathon, those are short. Thursday’s run was in 12 degree weather so to say it was a good one would be a lie. I don’t think I’ll ever love running in the cold. But on the bright side, if I can run in 12 degree weather, you certainly won’t hear me bitching about the weather when it’s 30 degrees. Friday’s run was a bit better- I don’t remember the temperature but it was warmer than 12 degrees. Then we had a blizzard on Saturday which led to a snowed-in weekend and therefore, no run. But 2 runs is better than 0 runs. And with that, we move on.

I’ve established a “starting loop” now. It’s the first leg of my runs where I go about 2 miles out and then branch off depending on the number of miles I plan to run. 95% of my runs start off with my starting loop. I like it. It’s my little thing.

We’re down to 17 weeks until the marathon. I’ve built out my training schedule for the next 6 weeks. I know that things won’t go exactly as planned, but I’m going to try to stick to the schedule as much as possible. I’ve scheduled in 3 runs per week but if I can get at least 2 in each week, 1 being a long run, I think I’ll be OK. My long run is scheduled for Saturday morning and I plan to run 11 miles. I am going to force myself to run slower than I am used to- about 9:30-10:00/mile pace. The one thing about running outside is that it’s hard to gauge how fast (or slow) you’re going. I appreciate running on a treadmill for the simple fact that you can force yourself to run slower by adjusting the speed of the machine. Running outside is different- having a the Apple Watch helps but it’s not the same as a treadmill.

Wish me luck as I embark on my longest run in about 2 months… (-:

Marathon Training Chronicles- Installment #3

Week 2 of training went as expected. I had 2 days of running scheduled- Thursday & Sunday and I was able to get both runs in. One thing is for sure, running in the winter creates a ton more laundry because you have to wear so many layers!

Thursdays run was cold. I ran 5 miles that day because I knew I wasn’t going to get a LSD (long slow distance) run in over the weekend so I wanted to get a couple extra miles in during the week. Sunday was the second run in the Winter Run Series. It was at Robert Moses State Park. It was about 18 or 20 degrees by the time the race started at 11 AM. I bought new gloves thinking they’d help with the cold and wind. I was sadly mistaken- there was barely a difference. My legs and feet were numb for the first mile. Luckily, 3.1 miles is over in about 25 minutes so it wasn’t too bad.

I came in 12th out of 281 females in the race and 3rd in my age group. One of the things that I love about running is that you can compete with others, but you can also compete with yourself. If I came in last in the entire race but I got my best 5k time, I’m perfectly fine with that. If I come in first in my age group but my time was 30 seconds slower than my best, I’m perfectly fine with that too. It’s different when you play other sports. A loss is a loss. You can say you played your best game ever and still lose and you still walk away with a L. It’s either a W or L. I’m never going to come in first place in a run. So I focus on beating myself. I rather get my best time ever then say I beat every female in the race.

Nick kicked butt again and came in 12th overall. His age group is highly competitive and he’s having difficulty getting into the top 3, but he’s getting closer every time. Running has been great for us. It’s something we can do together and support each other in. When Nick was training for his marathon, I was his biggest cheerleader. And him doing the marathon inspired me to add that to my bucket list and make it happen too. He’ll be running with me in May and it’ll be awesome if we can actually run the entire marathon together but we’ll see. Even though we enjoy running together, we’re both competitive with ourselves and others– and if one of us isn’t feeling it and the other is, well, we’ll see each other at the finish line because we’re going for it. I’ll probably never be able to keep up with him on the shorter runs but as the runs get longer, he gets slower and I am an endurance machine so it kinda works.

As far as my overall training is going, the workout program I’ve been doing has been leaving me sore. Not sore in a way where I can’t walk, but sore enough to know that I’m pushing myself and getting stronger. I’m not sure what week 3 will hold in terms of my running. I am scheduled for 3 days of runs- 3.1 with speed intervals, 9 mile long run and the 3rd 5k in the winter run series.

Marathon Training Chronicles- Installment #2

I was hesitant about signing up for a marathon on May 1st because that meant that I would have to train during the coldest months of the year. Originally I wanted to run my first marathon in September or October– perfect running weather and the ability to do my hardcore, long runs as the summer was winding down and fall was creeping in. But once I thought about it more, I realized that I have the itch to run this thing now and if I put it off I might chicken out and come up with excuses why I couldn’t or shouldn’t do it. So, in spite of not wanting to run in anything under 50 degrees, I decided to put on my big girl pants and just do it. (And of course my first week of training coincided with some of the coldest temperatures we’ve had so far this winter. )

I am recapping week 1 of my training. To my surprise, everything went as planned. I did all the workouts in my plan– I ran Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday was a 5k speed interval run. I use the term “speed run” loosely, as I haven’t done speed intervals in a while and I’m also not speedy. I warmed up for 1 mile and then did 1 minute intervals of a pace faster than my 5k speed followed by 1 minute recovery which was slower than my 5k pace. I did that 5 times and then I switched it to a 30 seconds and 30 seconds for the 2nd mile. It was cold and windy that day but it was over in 26 minutes.

Saturday was my long run day. I started with 7 miles and plan to work my way up 1-2 miles each week on my long runs. Saturday was a cold day- it was 20 degrees and icy outside (it snowed the day before) and when the wind whipped I felt it in my bones. It was a decent run considering the conditions and I’m pretty sure it was the first time I ran in weather that cold before. It prompted me to purchase gloves that are more conducive for outdoor activities than the $3 pair of gloves I have from Target.

Sunday was the first of 4 5ks in the Winter Run Series that my boyfriend and I signed up for. The first one was at Heckscher Park. My time was OK but I came in 1st in my age group and I was the 14th female out of 318 to finish the race. I was happy with that finish. I am not a fast runner. I’m more of an endurance runner. My best races are the longer ones. My time differential from a 5k to a half marathon is not a lot. My best 5k time is 7:55/mile pace whereas my best half marathon pace is 8:30/mile pace. That’s a 10-mile difference and only 35 second difference in mile pace. I would like to work on my shorter distance race times but that’s for after the marathon. Right now I just want to focus my training on endurance and getting the miles in. Once the marathon is over I can consider training to improve my 5k time.

Next week I’ll recap week 2 and report on how the second race of the Winter Run Series went. It’s supposed to be a cold one on Sunday so wish us luck!