January 20, 2014

The Road to 50... Confidence

I had a pretty good week of training- hit just under 100 miles, including a tempo run, track workout, 21 miler, and 14 on the trails. A few random points about that-

1. I was not sore AT ALL from the marathon last weekend. And yes, I realize how lucky I am. Haha. I felt so good, that I was able to do a 12 x 400 workout two days after the marathon, really only a few seconds slower than usual, and I'll credit that to the overall mileage rather than just the marathon. I take that as a very generous sign that I'm good to go with my long runs.

2. I am baffled by the tempo run. BAFFLED. My goal tempo pace has pretty much been the same for years, roughly my half-marathon pace (6:40 give or take). However, coach has given me some wiggle room- I dial it in faster if I am feeling good or maybe doing a 2 mile repeat session (6:30 give or take), or if I'm feeling "off", I will aim for marathon pace (just under 7). Some days, sub 7 feels absolutely MISERABLE. Yes, MISERABLE, and the very next week I can go out and kill it in high 6:20s. And really, my training weeks aren't changing much; so there is no rhyme or reason for that. I just try to take in stride and not read too much into it.

3. I struggled on my 21 this week, and I'm not too happy about that. I've had mostly good long runs this cycle. I did everything right- UCAN before, hydrated, etc. All I can say is it was just one of those runs. I did do a 2nd run Friday evening kind of late, and maybe I was still tired from that? Not sure. Once again, I'm trying to view the training cycle as a WHOLE and not zoom in on one run or even one week.

4. I've come to the conclusion that unless I bust my face or fall and have a bone sticking out, I'm pretty sure I can FINISH the 50 miler. Until recently, when I could finally see the pieces coming together, I still wondered if I could finish it. Now, I'm pretty sure I can, even if I have to walk some when I get to that scary 40 mile mark. Leading to... CONFIDENCE.

Last spring when I chose to take the focus away from the marathon it was because the stupid 26.2 had absolutely stolen my running soul. I pushed and pushed so long and hard for Sub 3, and to repeatedly fall short of that goal honestly made me feel like I didn't have any worth as a runner anymore. Crazy train, right? My decision to train for and complete a 50 was because it was something NEW. It was a challenge. I could do what I love to do- run long and still accomplish a big goal. Somehow my 3:00:XX marathon had reduced me to a complete and utter mental head case. On paper, I am not a better runner. I have no PRs to show for this training cycle, no super fast races, but I do have one thing that no one but those that know my heart can attest to- I have a tiny, bity, little shred of something I haven't had in a LONG time- CONFIDENCE.

Truth that I still have a ways to go. I still flip out over crap people post in the ultra group on FB I am reading. (Like, what the CRAP is that 3 page document of numbers all about the race that was posted? And I'm still losing my head over the darn drop bags.) I still have my moments where I read about other runners' training and feel less than adequate. BUT...

I'm not sure how he did it, but somehow Coach was able to pull me out of the self-destruction of my own thoughts. I'm sure there are lots of tricks up his sleeve that I don't know about, I do know this from reflecting-
1. Coach will not butter me up, or give compliments where they aren't deserved. However, he acknowledges a solid workout. I know coaches that will sugar coat and cheerlead. Some runners need this, but I think I'm a mature enough runner where he knew I needed HONESTY. I have people in my life that are cheerleaders. When I'm doing it right, though, he lets me know.
2. He calls me out if I act like a crazy person. Yeah, like when I freaked out after reading the 13 page document of the 50 miler.
3. He gave me workouts that allowed me to feel success.

On my own, I...
1. Ditched the Garmin. Yep, I only use my Garmin on tempo runs, and that is for my own safety. (I might blast off a 6:00 mile at the start.) I have done every long run, race, and track workout Garmin-free. This taught me to TRUST my body.

2. I took control of my time. Yeah, that school talent show fundraiser for some random organization that I'm not invested- yep, I said NO. The running store asked me to coach a couch to 5K running program, and I declined that, too. I'm making an effort to maximize my time in the areas that mean the most- my relationship with my husband, my teaching, my coaching (youth), and my running. The rest is getting very little attention. Harsh? Yep, but oh well. One way I've sabotaged my own training in the past is by overextending myself.

3. I quit judging my body. *Ok, I still have my moments, BUT... Vicky, shout out to you right now- what you said a billion posts back really impacted my thinking. How would I feel if my future daughter had body image problem because of what I modeled? What kind of role model am I to my athletes if I'm constantly worrying about how "fat" I am or how "non runner" I look? I've been working to change how I view myself. How did I do this? Well, any time I would have one of "those thoughts", I would try to refer to my most recent workout or long run. Would someone fat be able to run 37 miles? Who cares if my butt looks terrible in khakis? I just ran a MARATHON as a training run and qualified for BOSTON while doing it! Take that, low self-confidence!

And as I approach the dreaded taper, I think for once I don't feel the need to do more. *I am at liberty to change my mind at any given point, though.* I recognize my body's need for rest. I've done more weeks over 90 than I can count. I've done more 100s than any other training cycle. I've done 2 ultras and 2 marathons, all as training runs. If I'm not ready by now, I probably never will be. I know I need to focus on rest and nutrition. I'll be doing a 3 week VERY gradual taper. And I'm actually okay with it. *This, too, is at liberty to change. We all know I can change from sane to batsh*& in 0.2 seconds.

With all that being said, I still have my worries and my doubts. Some of those are natural, and some of those are me still being a work in progress. Here are few things in my negative brain...

1. Jealousy and it's not for what you think. So... I don't expect my family to bend over backwards for my running anymore, and I know my mom is not particularly thrilled about me running 50 miles, but... I really, really want them to come. Like, really. Last weekend at the marathon, and every marathon I've ever been to, SOOOO many runners have their families there. And they bring posters and hugs and flowers. And I know that I've done a TON of marathons, and a lot of them have not been special, but THIS is special. This is something new that I've training a LOT for and trained HARD for. This has been my goal for half a year. And my dad is so indifferent. He hasn't even called it a 50 miler. The past two times I've brought it up, he's called it "your really really long run." And, since this blog is about me and my feelings, that hurts. I hoped being home for Christmas would spark something back between us, that maybe it was just hard for him to communicate on the phone now. But, no. My dad definitely is not that same. And it's a huge, big pill to swallow that he doesn't care about my running at all. I dropped hints to my mom about coming. I would never ask her directly to come, but I did ask what they had planned in Feb, asked if she felt like my dad was ready to fly yet. (For 2 years, he was not allowed to fly because of some sort of risks associated with his brain injury. And he hasn't flown since before his accident.) She said she thought he could fly soon, but that Feb was a pretty busy month for them. Of course, January is NOT a busy month for them, as they've already been on a church retreat and a camping trip with their old motorcycle club. And because his job sucks a big one, Keith isn't coming, either. I'll be okay. I know I'll have Adrienne there who will give support of like 50 people, but what I wouldn't give to have my dad at the finish line and for him to WANT to be there and for him to know how much it means to me.

2. On a lighter note, I still haven't chosen my shoes. I'm leaning towards the Ghosts, but may switch to the Launches at the last minute.

3. I have a nutrition plan, but I'm crossing my fingers that my stomach won't revolt.

And there you have it, my road to 50. Run Happy, friends!


  1. BOOM. this is a pos I've been hoping to read for a long time! I will try to give the support of 51 people! ok, seriously though, I'll do my best...

    I can't wait to watch you take on the 50 "for everything that it is":)

  2. LOL, my butt looks terrible in khakis, too! One of my students right now is a former fashion designer (!!!) who is launching a second career in pharmacy (yeah....). He actually called me out on my khakis today! LOL!
    So 50 miles? Sure you can do it. You can probably place....or win. You're fast!
    And I feel for you about your family. My parents are very distant, cold to their kids, disinterested. So they aren't big spectators! They have watched my brothers run a few times when they were too young to have licenses to drive to races (and inadvertently watched me, since I would happen to be registered for the same race!) but they just aren't supportive. Heck, they didn't come to my pharmacy school graduation, and they only live an hour away! But that's cool. My husband almost always drags himself out of bed at the crack of dawn for my races <3

  3. 50 Miles is easy, it's just a long time...

    OK I've run Comrades (here in SA) it's 86-89km so about 50 miles... and it's easy, just a long way. Now while you would love to run fast and get it over with, let me tell you this. I but it was easier for me to run 7 hours them the slow guys to run 12 hours...

    Keep the training solid and aim at spending as little time as you can out there...

    Now I know you focus is on you 50 miler, but I bet if you play your cards right 2014 can bring a lot more than a good 50... I think after the race it's will be time to hunt a couple of PR's...

  4. You are ready. I wish I could come support you, but know I will be anxious to hear how it all plays out.

    RE nutrition, I carry ginger candies with me during Ironmans and when I was throwing up on the bike at Placid, I stopped all nutrition for 30 minutes, then had some ginger candies and was good to go. Maybe you could try that?

  5. BIG HEARTS to you, girlie! <3 <3 <3

    I think it shows just how far you have come that you CAN ditch the Garmin and CAN ditch the body-judgement and CAN think positive about your accomplishments and your progress! Yay!

    I totally sympathize on the familial support thing. My husband usually doesn't come to my races at all. I was so delighted when it worked out that he could come to CIM! But I'm really used to not having my family around for my races - and you will know that it's because of Keith's job that he won't be there, not because he doesn't support you (because of course he does!), and hey, you will have your bestie Adrienne!

  6. Dang, I really wish I could be there for you at the race. Well, sending you lots of hugs.

    Good luck and can't wait to hear about it.

  7. My heart goes out to you.

    My dad was a huge sports fan and *LOVED* to attend any and all events. So, I've put in a request that he spend your 50 miler checking in on you and the race in general. This means that he's probably recruiting lots of other folks up in heaven (including my gran and papa) to be spectators -- he's a ridiculous extrovert.

    I know how much it hurts not to have your family there on your big effort days, but I do think it's important to be open to the idea that in some incarnation, they *are* there.

    Kick Ass!

  8. You can do this. When I decided to race a 100k, it was my second ultra... I drove to Syracuse alone... and ran without any help and took 3rd female. It was amazing. I was and continue to be incredibly proud of myself for being brave enough to just go to that race solo than I am of almost anything else I have done in my life. You can do it too. I know it!

  9. You can do this. When I decided to race a 100k, it was my second ultra... I drove to Syracuse alone... and ran without any help and took 3rd female. It was amazing. I was and continue to be incredibly proud of myself for being brave enough to just go to that race solo than I am of almost anything else I have done in my life. You can do it too. I know it!

  10. First of all, you are going to totally KICK ASS at this race. I am so proud of you for ditching the Garmin and the body judgment and focusing on what you can do. That is hard, but you are awesome!!

    As for the family thing, I'm on the other side of many of the commenters. I ran my first marathon and my first ultra marathon with no family support. Running isn't a spectator-friendly sport and as runners, we should know and respect that. My husband came to the first marathon I ran after we started dating, but after that - there's no reason. He comes if he is also racing. Why would I make him stand around all day like that to spectate? I can't imagine asking someone to FLY to watch me run for a few minutes of an hours-long race.

    Anyways, I am really really sorry that things are difficult with your dad. I can't imagine how hard that would be. But for this particular thing, I'd urge you to see it from their perspective. Maybe suggest a weekend together where you guys can spend time together after the race?