Lessons Learned – The Story of My Soggy 15-Miler

Well, the longest run I’ve done in almost two years is in the books. And it was…OK. Yeah, just OK. Some parts were good, some parts were great, and some parts just plain sucked. But it’s done, and I’ve taken a few lessons away with me.

Intended to run about 2:10-2:15. NAILED IT.
Intended to run about 2:10-2:15. NAILED IT.

Let’s start with the good. It wasn’t knock you on your feet, take your breath away hot and humid, like it so often is here in the good ‘ol midwest. Since I’m forced to do my long runs at 2PM on Saturdays, I pray every week for a cool, or at the very least, cloudy afternoon. Saturday’s high was in the mid-80s, but thanks to off and on rain showers, and herd-of-cattle-like thunderstorms, it was in the low-70s when I started. It felt fresh and downright Springlike when I started, which was a nice change of pace from the migraine-inducing 90-degree highs I had suffered through for the previous week’s 14-miler and my 12-miler earlier in the month.

So the run started off on a positive note, thanks to an abundance of precipitation. My legs felt less than fresh, which I think was due to putting in the most weekday miles since long before The Cheese made his arrival. But, I reassured myself that training on tired legs would pay off at mile 20 of the marathon, when I would need the experience.

The first few miles ticked by uneventfully. My goal was to keep the pace easy, around 9:00-9:15 minutes per mile and then run close to MGP (Marathon Goal Pace) 8:15-8:30 ish, for the last 3-4 miles. But as I settled into my easy pace, I glanced at my Garmin to see 9:35. 9:35???Surely, I was going faster than that. But I wanted to stay true to keeping the pace easy and when I tried to speed up, I felt like I was pushing too much. And so the plan was already out the window from the get-go. Awesome.

Way to stick to the plan.
Way to stick to the plan.

I felt my confidence wavering at this point. So much of marathon training and racing is mental and if your mind isn’t right, you’ll falter. If you let doubt creep in, it’s so hard not to just give in and completely fall off the pace, cut the run short, or give up completely. I faltered. Maybe I should just cut the run down to 8 or so, since obviously my legs were worn out from the week’s miles. This would just be a rest week, and I’d try again next week. Yes! My worn-out jello legs screamed. Just quit! 

And then, the bad. It started to pour. Up until this point (about mile 6) it had been lightly drizzling. It was only slightly noticeable and, if anything, was actually quite pleasant. But now the rain was coming down in waves, soaking me from head to toe instantly. The sky had literally opened up and was dumping. It was all my addled brain needed. The tiny voice that was being swayed by my worn down legs was now shouting, This is ridiculous! Why are you running in the rain? You’re not Shalane Flanagan. No one’s paying you to do this. Go home! 

Shit. I was seriously thisclose to grabbing my one-way ticket to give-ups-ville. But, for the love of diet coke, if I quit now, then what? When would I do this run? Between working 40+ hours a week, spending as much time as possible with Max and my husband, and trying to keep my house from becoming so disgusting that the Board of Health doesn’t step in, there is literally no other time in my schedule to run for more than two hours. I had to suck it up. I promised myself a chocolate milkshake and some new clothes, and that was enough of an incentive to get my feet moving.

A time when I was running and much, much happier.
A time when I was running and much, much happier.

So I slogged on as the rain kept on coming down. And then, magically, the clouds parted and the sun came out. Now, if you’ve ever run in the pouring rain, you know that it’s not so uncomfortable when it’s actually raining. It’s when the rain stops that you’re really screwed. Because now you realize that your clothes are sticking to your body like heavy, wet Saran Wrap. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that I wasn’t going to be mistaken for Heidi Klum, what with every lump and bump on embarrassing display, my hair in a wet, matted mess, and yesterday’s mascara smeared under my eyes. But, I kept on picking up my feet. You don’t run marathons to look hot.

My plan to run MGP the last 3-4 miles didn’t pan out, as you can see. I had enough mental fortitude to finish out the run, but I just didn’t have enough to kick it at the end like I wanted to. I felt defeated. I felt over it. And I’m not proud of that. But what I am taking away from this run is that I do have some strength, as I was able to keep from quitting, but I have to focus on pushing harder. What I have always done in marathon training and in actual marathons is continue to put one put in front of the other, with no thought to pace. If I’m going to meet my goal of going sub-4 hours, I have to not only put in the miles, but put in quality miles. But that is hard. It is so much easier said than done. But I’m ready, and excited, to keep on trying.

Random picture of my sweet little Cheese
Random picture of my sweet little Cheese

So, you’re probably wondering what was great about this run, because it obviously wasn’t my pace. Besides getting to stop, the great thing about this run was little to no chafing. I only have a small scrape on my left collar bone, but other than that, my skin is intact. Amazing. I owe that to getting a new sports bra that I love and that actually fits–The Moving Comfort Juno Bra–and to applying Lanolin (otherwise known as nipple cream) liberally to my collar bones and sports bra band area. I usually use vaseline, but I could only find Lanolin in my bathroom. And since I’m no longer breastfeeding and therefore, no longer need to use it, I figured I’d give it a go. Score one running hack for this mommy!

So that’s it, the story of my un-impressive 15-miler. It’s amazing that after running six full marathons and completing countless long runs, I’m still learning lessons. And now I’m going to kick back, drink a milkshake and indulge in my favorite reward for a run sort-of-well done: SHOPPING!

My Return To Marathon Training

Indianapolis Marathon 2010

It’s been a long time since I ran a marathon. In fact, I haven’t crossed a full marathon finish line since 2011. 2011? Can that be possible? Am I still even able to claim to be a marathon runner?

So maybe I’m just a has-been marathoner, but I’m ready to step back into current marathon runner status. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had fun flirting with the half marathon for the last two years. She’s fun and she’s cute, but for me, it’s just not true love. The marathon is what makes me weak in the knees, literally and figuratively, and so I’m after another one.

Way back in the summer of 2012, I was ready to take my marathoning to the next level. After completing six full marathons, all in the 4:20ish range, I was ready to break 4 hours. My PR was (and still is) a 4:15:59 and I was ready to topple it. Annihilate it. KILL IT.

That training cycle, I was kicking some serious ass. By early August of 2012, I was clocking 70+ mile weeks and killing my speedwork. I was going to PR at the Indianapolis Marathon. It was so close, I could taste it. And then I got tired. Not like I needed a nap or an extra hour of sleep, but bone-crushingly tired. So tired I could barely make it out the door for a 6 miler. So tired I dropped out of a half marathon training race. What the hell was wrong with me?

I pushed on. Tried to keep up with the blazing (for me) paces, the high (for me) mileage. Tried to sleep as much as I could. August was a bitch. Then, on September 1st 2012, I got up at the crack of dawn to run another training half marathon, the Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon. It was one of those days where the second you walk outside, you’re dripping with sweat. The air is so sick you can see it, can feel the weight of it on your shoulders. As I pondered what to wear, it occurred to me that I hadn’t gotten my period yet. Not uncommon for someone who is logging a lot of miles, but still, I just had an inkling. Could I be pregnant? I had to know right then. If I was, I would certainly run the race much differently than if I wasn’t. So at 5 AM while my husband slept soundly, I took the test. Surprise, surprise it was POSITIVE! It was the day that changed everything about my life, including my running.

About to pop!
About to pop!

I didn’t run the full marathon I had been training for in October. Instead, at 14 weeks pregnant I ran the half and PR’d. WTF? Yep, even running conservatively and not pushing it, I set a PR of 1:52. Definitely a testament to how hard I had been training. I didn’t run any more races, but I continued to run throughout my pregnancy. I even ran the day I went into labor with The Cheese (our nickname for our little guy).

 

Sweet baby Max (The Cheese)
Sweet baby Max (The Cheese)

Running after having a baby is a whole new ballgame. I work full time, so it’s hard to find enough time in the day to work, run and spend time with The Cheese. I cherish every moment with that ball of fun and when it comes down to it, he trumps running. But he needs a mom who is happy and fulfilled, so I do everything I can to squeeze in my runs on my own time, like at the crack of dawn, on my lunch break, or after he goes to bed. It’s been working for over a year now, but I have yet to train for a marathon while juggling everything else. And now that I’m in week two of training for the Indianapolis Marathon this October, I can tell that things are going to get interesting.

To top it off, I’ve got some big goals for this marathon. I’m ready to go sub 4 hours. I know I can do it. Since having The Cheese, I feel so much faster than I used to be. I set my current half marathon PR, 1:48:30, when he was ~6 months. I had barely done any long runs when I did the Indianapolis Mini Marathon this spring right around Cheese’s first birthday, and I ran a 1:49. I think these times are totally in line with running a sub 4 marathon. There’s no doubt that running with an ever-growing bowling ball under my singlet has made me stronger, faster and more confident. I’m ready.

So, there it is. What I’m after. I’m not the fastest runner by a long shot, but I’m ready to put in the work and crush this race. Bring it on!