Friday, February 24, 2012

Surviving my 6th Half Marathon

Early Morning @ The Beginning of
the Inaugural Rock n Roll Pasadena
Half Marathon, February 19, 2012
Pick your saying- I can put another notch in my lipstick cases… punch another hole in my belt… or I can simply say that I successfully completed my 6th half marathon. It feels good, except when it didn’t. From mile 10 on, I hurt. I’ve had more painful races, like mile 11 in Malibu where it was downhill or Long Beach 2011 where I got a DNF (did not finish), and my ego was severely bruised. My first race back after surgery was painful, but pride wouldn’t let me stop. I didn’t get the time I wanted here, but I did better than what I thought I would do. I told everyone I wanted a sub 3-hour race but secretly harbored a need for something closer to 2:45:00 (which is my typical time for hilly races).  I ended up earning a 2:46:07.

Despite being a race in Pasadena, CA the course wasn’t too hilly. Of course it had hills as most races do, but this race could have been more grueling as is characteristic of other races in Pasadena. Maybe, I was better trained for it, maybe the unexpected mental prep I had from running with the Pasadena Pacers several years ago along some of the same streets continued to serve me.  Several days after the race, I am experiencing that runner’s remorse and high. Remorse for not pushing myself more and the high of lemme do it again- I know I can go faster.

As I’m writing this, I know I am and have committed another error in training- I haven’t done my “shakeout run.” I know my muscles would be cranky during this, but it is something you just need to push through after a race (or any long run). I’ve been focusing on sleep.  Am I sleeping enough? NO, there is no time and why should I sleep when I have stories to write or friends to see and an apartment to organize. But, the difficulty of needing to do everything now is normal and my friends who have had brain surgery experience a similar insatiable need to do it all now. This is a whole other story and apparently will plague me for years to come.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Much Debated Taper

I’m wading through that grey area of the taper.  My 7th half-marathon (the Inaugural Rock n Roll Pasadena Half Marathon) is mere days away. There are several schools of thought out on this, and with each runner you speak with, you can get a different answer of the best way to enter into a half marathon. I’ve had races where I do a two week taper, and others where I just train through… meaning I do 10 miles the week before my half, then the half, then do 10 miles the following week, then 15 the week after that. Nothing is perfect. Nothing is correct. Even when you’re on a training schedule life comes up and sometimes it’s difficult to stay on schedule. I haven’t met a single runner who hasn’t had to repeat a week or adjust their schedule because life threw them a curve. I’m told that one can gut through 13.1, but as my half in October showed, gutting through a half marathon to potentially risk injury, is something I’m not prepared to do. While humbling, by repeating weeks, you’ve likely amassed enough weekly mileage to successful complete a half-marathon and be able to walk the next day.

Still requiring more sleep than I am prepared to admit, I have pushed myself during the week and on Saturdays, that I crash on Sunday. This week has been no exception. This work week, I’m sleeping and sleeping.  (Meaning I’m sleeping past 6 so I don’t have time to get my run in.) I’m not thrilled, but apparently, my body has decided to throw the training schedule out the window to stock up on the necessary sleep. Besides logging the necessary miles, nutrition and sleep are the other two important commodities that one needs to have a successful race. With the excitement of the race, sleep the day before does not come easily, so this is stocking up on pre-race sleep is important. One must remember that while balancing sleep, you need to keep running. The distance of daily runs is less and again there is debate on how much running one should do before a race. I have friends that continue to cross-train before a race and others that just do one little run the day prior to a race.

No two races are the same, even if they’re the same course… there’s always a different amount of training and/or nutrition before lining your toes up to the start.  While I haven’t stayed on my training schedule day for day, I’ve managed to log about 20 miles a week and added cross-training in. (This is something I didn’t do with my previous training schedules.) My longest run was 9 miles. (The shortest training distance I had prior to a half.) While it may not be pretty, I know I can gut through the next 4.1.  My priorities have shifted. I know I will not PR on this race, but I know one day that I can re-focus on setting a PR. This race is my first race that I have after my promotion, and while I’m not using the promotion as an excuse, it changed training. Everyone has something that throws a monkey-wrench into training- snow, a new baby, new house, health scare… Nothing is perfect and we cannot hold ourselves up to Dean Karnazes or Kara Goucher and expect to be the same. We can only do our best with the talents that we’ve been given and with the time we have.  

Saturday, February 4, 2012

It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint

For a moment, I am going to take a small detour from the primary concept of this blog. Yes, this is a blog about running, but it’s also a blog about recovery and getting back emotionally and spiritually into marathon shape. 

That said, I had no idea that I took a major emotional and psychological detour in my recovery. While meeting with my supervising producer to discuss my progress at work; what I could do better; and how to put myself on a trajectory for supreme success, she looked at me, and blew a kiss and then dealt my ego a crippling blow. It took me a moment to recovery and I almost felt the need to tap out. But, after she told me everything I was doing wrong, (and what I could do to improve) she looked at me and simply stated, “I get it. We all know that there is a limit to our lives and that the clock is running. Last year, it became extra apparent for you. But, you’re living your life like you can’t live it fast enough.”

WOW. What a realization.  I had no idea that I had become so manic and so driven to reclaim my life and get to where I want and need to be. In July 2010, I left a desk-job and boss I love so I could work in television production full-time. My original position, I was still a desk jockey, but knew that I wanted to work towards being an associate producer. Brain surgery less than six months after taking a career jump, put my life and job on hold and I perceived that it set me back. I’ve struggled and worked hard to get back to where I was. Sleeping 8-10 hours a night was unconscionable in my mind and after the first hump of not consistently needing 10, I pushed myself to sleep less, and then sleep less than 8 so I could maintain the same productivity I enjoyed years prior to surgery. The problem with this (more than adding in morning runs) is two-fold: 1. My body is still healing & now that I’m running more, it needs to have restorative sleep so that muscles can mend and function properly. 2. Most people need 8 hours of sleep and there is no shame in requiring it.
"Let your light so shine before men, that they
may see your good works, and glorify your Father 
who is in heaven' Matthew 5:16

My supervisor is right; I do feel like I’m playing catch-up. I have two options now, I could judge myself based off my peers (which is easy since you always want to be as good as the people you work with), but I think the I’ll take advice of a friend, just strive to be the best that I can be that is within my capabilities.

I’ll tell you the what, the moment I accepted I was acting manic and living my life with the fast-forward button jammed on, it allowed me to take a step back to breathe, accept and love what I currently have.