Friday, November 30, 2012

HELP!! What should I do now?!

I really don't have any idea what to do with myself running wise now that the marathon is off my bucket list.

I could:
  • Focus on the marathon and attempt to better my time.  Ideally, I'd like to beat Oprah's time.  Then, once that happens, I'd like to try to go sub-4.  At this point, it seems like such a long ways away.  I'd have to cut 47 minutes of my time.  Then again, I walked so much during the back half of the marathon.  Those darn walk breaks sure added up fast!
The downside to this would be A) a greater investment of my time in the summer training and B) I probably wouldn't be able to run as many races as I'd like to during the season to again focus on the full.  I really felt like I didn't train as much or as good as I should have last time around so maybe doing it again will give me a chance to focus on it.  My schedule should be the same unless big changes happen with my job.  That could go for better or worse though if that happens.

The upside would be that I'd train with the same running group again.  I had a great time running with them.  Also, I feel like it'd be much more feasible for me to drop time in my full as opposed to attempting to PR in my half.  See next idea below.  Oh, and Dad wants to train for the full next year as well.  And, as crazy as it sounds, I think I'd rather run the race than attempt to wander around the city trying to watch him running.

Or I could:
  • Focus on the half and attempt to better my time.  At this point, a PR seems so far away since I haven't been training for speed.
The benefits of this would be that I could easily fit races into my training as either training runs or to try to get PRs in whatever distance the race happens to be.  I can easily see myself pulling off a few halfs next season as well.  I ran 4 halfs one season and didn't have too much of an issue with that. 

Also, the time invested on running could be far less than the half.  I suppose I could do longer distance runs while training for a half (runs over 13.1 miles), but I could easily see myself capping it off at around 12 and being happy with that.  Also, my weekend would open up for non-running related activities since I would not need to do long runs of 3+ hours.

Lastly, I could:
  • Attempt to complete a sprint triathlon.
Has anyone ever transitioned for running halfs and fulls to a tri?  Who did you train with?  What did you spend on gear?  Where did you get your gear?  Did you get hooked after?

Right now, a tri is pretty much just an idea in my head and not really something I think I'd be interested in pursing.  I'd have to step it up on the swim and bike portions big time in order to pull it off.  Plus, I worry about having to train for three disciplines when I could barely manage training for one.  I think if I want to do this, I'd try an indoor triathlon (I've seen this available at gyms by me) before I make the commitment to training for an outdoor one.

All I know is that right now, I have to just focus on getting back into the groove of running.  I'd been lazy again and I haven't run since Big Sur.  But, I've been pretty disciplined about not being a pig and eating everything in sight (unlike what I did in October post-marathon).  Still, I feel like I have to do something.  I've been feeling pretty tired these days and I think working out again would give me some much needed energy.

Race wise, it's kind of a dead zone.  I'm not motivated to do anything outdoors when it is cold unless I absolutely have to.  I'm contemplating running the Warm Your Heart Indoor 5k at McCormick Place, which is in early January.  I'm trying to see if my running buddy will do it with me so we can run together and then hang out (and eat!) afterwards.  We shall see.  Prices go up tonight so I've got to decide soon.

Does anyone else have motivational issues around this time of year?  If so, what have you done to get yourself out of the rut?  Any tips, suggestions or advice would be most appreciated!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Big Sur Half Marathon Race Recap

The Big Sur Half Marathon is probably my favorite half marathon ever.  First of all, the weather in California in November is PERFECT and far better than the cold in Chicago.  Second, the course is amazing.  I ran this race last year and spent time with my family in Salinas, which is close to the race.

Image Credit  For more information on the race click here.  The course is nice as well - it is fairly flat, but there are some rolling hills, which makes it a bit challenging as well.

My results:

I am so proud of myself for actually finishing this race!  I really was worried that I wouldn't finish because I really have not been training like I should.

I'm still getting over the lazy bug that I developed post-marathon (see post below for more on that).  I ran 2 miles 9 days after the marathon.  I ran 8 miles on November 2nd and then ran only 9.5 miles from November 2nd to November 14th.  I think I ran maybe 3 times and all the runs were on the treadmill during work.  The runs were capped out at 4 miles since that was all I could fit in during my break at work.  I was going to run on Thursday with my dad, but I got super sick after the flight so I rested instead.  I ran 5 miles on the treadmill Friday and it went OK.

However, the course totally kicked my ass.  I dominated it last year and almost got a PR, but that was not the story this year.

First, I violated my rule of not eating too much fiber in the days before the race.  One of my aunts ordered this delicious pasta that was served with a salad with an awesome dressing, which I gobbled up.  I most certainly regretted the fiber choice the following morning.  So yeah, note to self: no high fiber foods before the race!!

I was super worried and nervous before the start since my stomach was churning.  Also, I felt super unprepared for the race.  It's funny because I really didn't feel that nervous for the Chicago Marathon at all.  Then again, I had my running buddy Cindy with me most of the time so I had something to distract me and take my mind off running.

This was not the case with Big Sur.  My dad ran the race as well, but he started way back in Corral J whereas I was up in Corral C.  My goal was simply just to finish.  A PR was definitely not going to happen since I haven't been training for speed.  Also, I've been running half marathons around 2:11 and 2:15 while training for the full.  So, I figured that ever going sub 2 would be a bit of a stretch.  So, I'm happy with the 2:02.

Jim, Dad and I got to Monterey a little bit before 6:00.  We parked the car and walked on over to the McDonalds which is right by the start.  I figured using an indoor bathroom would be better than using an outdoor one.  The McDonalds is always packed and the seats were full, but at least the line to the can was short.  At this point, my stomach was in absolute knots.  Things were not looking good at all.  I love how my stomach and nerves can literally give me the shits.  TMI, I know, but this is what I was dealing with before the race started.  I blame my lazy self for undertraining, but there was really no turning back at that point.

I wanted to go again, but got distacted talking to a group of runners about the Chicago Marathon since I was rocking my shirt.  One of the ladies was originally from Chicago so she got it when I mentioned points I had run to along the marathon course. 

The lines to the bathroom were long and I was cutting it close to 6:45 so I decided to forgo the bathroom and get into my corral.  I was super nervous, cold and trying to do my best not to shit my pants. :(  Not a good way to start off a race whatsoever...

Miles 1 through 4:  These went by OK and I was still running at a sub 9 pace.  We ran through a tunnel that seemed to have a little incline, which killed me big time.  By the time we reached the hill in Pacific Grove I was pretty much dying and wondering why the hell I was even out there.  My lazy bug was tempting me to drop out and go back to bed.  But, I forced myself to keep on running.

Miles 4 to 7:  I pretty much had a shit fit at this point.  Mentally, I just wasn't feeling it and I really wanted to stop.  My body wasn't really hurting - I was just mentally out of it.  At this point, I passed Lovers Point and was running up to the turnaround at Alsolimar State Beach.  Also, I started spotting bathrooms and I was debating whether to use one and lose time or try to hold it through the finish.  There were bathrooms right past 7 miles so I pulled off to use one.  I felt so much better after my short break and returned to the course with some energy.  Also, I decided to take off my headphones and enjoy the atmosphere.  If you listen closely enough, you can hear the waves, which is nice.  The scenery is pretty amazing.

Mile 7 to Mile 11:  My pace slowed from slightly under 9 to around 9:15 - not too bad, I suppose.  I felt much better having taken a break and taken off my headphones.  I willed myself to keep on going and reminded myself to take deep breaths and focus on finishing.

Miles 11 to 13.1:  I lost it again here and slowed down some more.  A woman at Mile 11 yelled out 1:53.  I started 9 minutes back so that put me at 1:44.  I did a little mental math and figured out that a sub 2 would not be happening since there was no way in hell I was going to run 2.1 miles in 16 minutes.  So, I accepted that my run would be over 2 hours.  The 2 hour pace group also caught up to me a little bit past Mile 12.  I knew I had to keep them in my sites and if I finished in front of them that I would be finishing sub 2:03 since they were in the corral behind me.

On the home stretch, I passed the 2 hour pace group leader so I knew I went sub 2:03.  I felt like complete crap afterwards and my lovely stomach decided to act up again, which made me super cranky.  And, Jim decided to wait by the hotel as opposed to in this plaza area where the runners were being filed into after the race so I was not thrilled about having to walk over there.

We waited a bit for my Dad to finish (2:41 for Dad - he struggled @ the end and cramped up in the final stretch) and then went back to Salinas.

If you are looking for an awesome race to do in November, I highly recommend Big Sur!  Oh, and there are no clocks along the way so if you want to know your time, have your watch with you!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Running on Hold

To be honest with you all, I have felt very lazy and unmotivated since running the marathon.  I totally intended to following Hal Higdon's training plan post marathon.

Well, that failed.  I took off 9 days and ran 2 miles in 19:25.  I was pleased to run sub 20, but my right ITB/knee felt stiff and tight during the run.  However, the pain wasn't enough for me not to finish.  So, I finished the run.

I think that pain scared me so I decided to back off.  And, then the laziness kicked it.  I made every excuse under the sun not to run.  Soon, it became too cold to run outside, too dark to run outside and of course, my legs hurt so why bother running when I can sit at home at the comfort of my couch watching my TV shows and eating junk food?

So, I sat around and did nothing.  But, I had a damn good time not running.  I hung out with my boyfriend.  We went to the Two Brothers Brewery in Warrenville and did a tour and got samples of their delicious beer.  We went to Paddy Long's in Lakeview and binged on beer and bacon.

In those 17 days, I did think about working out.  But, honestly, I didn't want to do it so I didn't.  I couldn't even get my sorry ass to the gym to at least hop on the elliptical or walk on the treadmill.  Nope, my workouts consisted of raising my hand to my face to shove food (or a bottle of beer) into my mouth and plopping my ass down on my comfy couch remote control in hand.

Plus, I'm addicted to "The Voice"!  I promised myself I wouldn't get sucked in, but that failed and now, I'm super into it.  And, it takes up at least two weeknights (three next week) of my life.  Damn TV show.

Also, I am still upset about my time since I really felt like I could have run better if I hadn't been injured, if I had properly trained, etc. etc.  There are so many "what ifs" in my head.  I'm disappointed in my performance, but is is what it is.  I really wasn't smart in deciding that I needed to break a certain time.  My goal should have been to simply finish the race.  And, I did achieve that goal.  I'm proud of myself, I guess, but there's a part of me that feels bitter about it.

I went to the end of the season party with my running group and our group leader announced everyone's times.  He didn't announce mine for some reason and I think that may have been because he may not know that I'm actually part of the training group.  I really didn't care because I didn't want my time announced anyway.  My pace group leader told me to announce it to everyone, but I didn't want to since I'm not proud of it.

So yeah, anyway, I finally woke up and realized that Big Sur is coming up.  I don't want to skip out on the race since I've paid so much money for the race and for the trip.  And, to be honest, I'm pretty much going to California to run the race and see my family.  I had SUCH a great time at the race last year and performed pretty well.

So, this morning, I finally got up off my ass and ran.  My training group is still meeting, but I decided that I wasn't ready for that.  And, I didn't want to meet at 7:00.  I slept in some more and ran later.

I ran 8.03 miles in 1:17:19 (9:37 per mile).  The first three miles were pretty rough.  Maybe I'm coming down with something, but I kept getting a lot of phlegm caught in my throat and I was hocking loogies quite a bit.  And, I think I took it out a bit too quick too.

Anyway, after the first three went down, I started to feel better and I felt like my feet were moving OK. This went pretty well until about 6 miles in.  I planned on doing 8 so I really wanted to make it.  Plus, if I had to stop and walk, it'd take forever to get home.  Or, I'd have to call Jim to come get me and I didn't want to do that.

My left hip had a sharp, shooting pain that was in the area near my groin.  It hurt so bad and I really was thinking about coming to a complete stop.  I ran into a long driveway leading into a park area and i stopped and stretched it.  It felt a lot better after that and I was able to finish the run.  My right knee hurt pretty much the whole way through.  The pain was by my kneecap area.

So, on the one hand, I'm happy that I finished my goal of 8 miles.  It probably was dumb to have run so much off the bad with a 17 day delay in running.  And, I'm totally worried about this hip/knee pain.  I think I'm going to have my legs looked at again.  Also, the race is questionable.  Ideally, I'd like to get a 10 miler in before the race.  If I can do that, then I think I can run 13.1.  Plus, I've already run a marathon so half is not that bad.

We shall see.  All I know is that I've got to fix whatever is going on STAT so I can get back up and running full time again.  The 17 day delay was not a good thing at all, but I do think the break was needed.