Race day is almost here!

I am so excited and happy.

Race day is two sleeps away and I am calmly waiting for my girlfriends to pick me up so we can head out for a weekend away in the beautiful Barossa Valley. Magic.

As I reflect on my training cycle, it has been up and down as they always seem to be. There doesn’t ever seem to be a perfect training cycle. I have done as well as I could within the parameters of my life. (Remember, running is a hobby!).

The two international trips – one for pleasure and one for work – certainly impacted my training and how I felt. Jet lag is a …. pain.

Four weeks out from race day I was a wreck and my coach and I agreed that I might have been a little over-trained due to two marathon training cycles back to back (thanks to the DNF in October).

Scaling back the effort but not the distance certainly helped to make the last few weeks a joy.

That reminds me of the true up and down of this training cycle. The ups and downs between wanting so desperately to achieve a time goal and also wanting to enjoy my hobby. I made peace with just running for a while.

Again today I am fighting with a tiny little voice that says to me, if you dont get a sub-4 hour marathon you will be disappointed. Thankfully there is a louder voice that says, if you run a smart race and finish another marathon you are a badass!

I love running. I love training. I love seeing my body become a strong machine.

And on Sunday I am going to love running among the vines of the Barossa Valley with my tribe and a group of gorgeous ladies waiting at the finish line.

Come what may.

Breaking 2

What a day!

Started with a four hour run – my last long run before race day. I got near the end and thought to myself, “I had forgotten how it feels to run this long”. It feels tiring. It feels like an accomplishment. You know how far you have come to be able to run for an hour, two hours, building up to the longer runs over the weeks. For me, despite significant attention on strengthening this marathon cycle, my hips always give me the signal first when enough is enough. I think I came close to their limit today…..

It is great to have another four hour run under my belt, or rather, in my legs. My goals for race day are to finish with an empty tank and to master the negative split. This formula will also hopefully bring me a PB. We shall see…

This afternoon I had the pleasure to be able to sit on the couch for two hours and watch the Nike Breaking 2 experiment. Totally inspiring. Eliud Kipchoge dedicated two years of his life to the experiment and finished the marathon (in controlled conditions with everything in his favour) in 2:00:25. Amazing!!

So, they didn’t break 2 hours but they came very close. It is certainly within the realm of possibility.

What was truly inspiring for me as a hobby runner, was Kipchoge’s attitude and commitment. His mantra is ‘beyond your limits’. We limit ourselves in our thinking and attitudes. We limit ourselves by what others tell us about ourselves. For me to finish my marathon with an empty tank will push me beyond my limits as I don’t like to go hard.

I have always said that in my dreams I am a Kenyan. I will be channelling Kipchoge on my jaunt in the Barossa Valley.

Inspiration is where you find it.

 

On the road again

Excited to report that I am back into marathon training. My 20 weeks has started and although feeling a little rusty with the routine I am happy to be back on the road again.

IMG_3421My podcasts this week have invoked some interesting thoughts. I have listened to stories of interpreters in Iraq who have worked for the US military and now find themselves at risk of losing their lives (due to the involvement with the US) with no or little ability to relocate.  I have listened to Another Mother Runner and how to get yourself motivated and stay that way after Christmas indulgence. Of course the podcast included the usual TMI associated with running, which we all love to hear from the AMR ladies. This morning it was listening to an interview with a Canadian runner who delved into the topic of the objectification and perception of women in sport and the impact this can have particularly on young girls. This is a topic that has been of interest to me for a long time and I enjoy hearing different perspectives.

So marathon training is back in swing and so is the time that I have to listen to a plethora of podcasts that make me think. I am in my happy place!

Last week I was feeling a little overwhelmed as I stared down the 20 week plan but then my mother runner community reminded me to take it one run at a time. Such a great metaphor for life. We only have the here and now – what are you doing with it?

And where is your happy place?

Happy Merry New Year

I hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas, Chanukah, or whatever it is that you celebrate at this time of year. I know mine was very full with laughter and some very touching moments as well as some frustration, stress and chaotic looking organisation. It is all part of the mixed up ball that is Christmas for me.

colorful-new-year-pictures

But this is a running blog…. As per usual at this time of year, my running gets a back seat and my mojo hides itself under the couch. I will have to dig it out soon as I have plans. I am not one for New Year’s resolutions. I have already made my plans for 2017 and the end of the year isn’t quite upon us. No surprises, nothing shocking, no revelations here…. another marathon. Another BQ attempt.

I am continuing with Heart Rate training with my coach, Mary-Katherine Brooks Fleming. I am committed to this approach for at least the next couple of years if not longer as I want to see how big an aerobic base I can build. I know I have a long way to go in this regard. I also know that I have to take a good hard look at my nutrition and work out what is the best way to fuel my body. My body. What works for me.

Running is a part of my life now and I kind of take it for granted. At times I lose perspective about how brilliant it is to have the motivation and ability to run four or five times a week. Some people don’t exercise at all. Some people cant. My mantra for this next marathon training cycle is “be grateful” and I am backing this up with “how bad do you want it?”.  I have issues with pushing myself – that is, I am not very good at it. My plan is to spend this training cycle working on that mental strength as it is a critical component of achieving a time goal.

I hope you have something to look forward to this coming year. Would love to hear your plans.

Ros

Taper time!

T – 10 days until marathon day. Obviously I am excited and nervous. No different to normal.

I have to apologise for not posting very often on this site lately. There have been a number of things going on. Firstly, my work life is exceptionally busy which is a great thing, however, creates time pressures. These flow into my ability to keep everything ticking over in my home life and we have had some extra demands there this year as well.  Totally ridiculous that I added marathon training to the mix. But I do love it.

There is also a private facebook page for all of us that are training via Mary-Katherine Brooks Fleming’s heart rate training program. I have posted there regularly and have had the immense pleasure of being part of an amazing tribe of mother runners. If this kind of virtual group training appeals to you, I can highly recommend the Train Like A Mother (or Father) heart rate challenge. I guess I have satisfied my desire to pour out my feelings and thoughts on marathon training through that medium and have neglected this blog. I will remedy that!!

not-going-to-staySo, where am I at? I am a week and a half out from race day. I have run five to six days a week for the last 20 weeks. Missed only about two runs and have no sign of over training or running injuries. That, my friends, is absolute magic. The magic of MK and heart rate training. I have had to put my ego aside over and over again to deal with the slow paces that I run. I have also had to put aside my favourite winter boots as they are getting tight on my newly bulked up calves. I have re-evaluated my nutrition, increased my meditation, learnt how to assess perceived effort and that small things add up to big things. I am #winningatlife.

good-and-badDuring the course of the training I have undertaken Enhanced Anaerobic Threshold runs which provide some interesting pace and heart rate numbers. I have plotted these into an excel spreadsheet, digested them, and tomorrow morning I get to chat to my coach about paces for race day and how to run a smart race. I cannot wait to hear her perspective.

Do I feel that I have a BQ in me?

Yes.

Do I feel that I can execute it on race day?

Hmm… there are too many factors out of my control such as the conditions and whether I will get a good night’s sleep. Then there is my inability to hold strong and let myself off the hook during the race. It is a very old pattern and one that keeps me from pushing. I think it comes from being an asthmatic – if it feels hard, then stop. When I ran some of my race pace miles I let myself off the hook. It is ok if I run 5:25s rather than 5:15s as you have to think about how you will feel after running them for an hour… etc etc.

So the question really is, how bad do I want it?

Which then always leads me to, why do I run marathons? What do I get from them? What are they really about?

Feeling strong is always the first thought. Quickly followed by, they are something just for me. I also feel incredibly fortunate that I CAN run, that I can have a hobby and recreation time. Running makes me happy and more happiness in this world cannot be a bad thing.

Why would I like a BQ?

It is a romantic notion really. To run the infamous Boston Marathon. To have a time goal that puts you in touch with your cohort. I cannot imagine the atmosphere of such a race.

I am sitting in a space of gratitude, of excitement and the pressure that I place on myself. No one else cares what time I run my marathon. As Dimity McDowell mentioned in her blog recently:

pressure-is-a-privilege

I do feel privileged. And a little self absorbed. LOL

Dealing with the craziness of taper I am reminding myself.

My body is fit, my mind is strong, the hay is in the barn.

There is nothing more I can do. I will tell the truth on race day when all will be revealed. And in the big scheme of things, it is just a matter of running a long way for no reason whatsoever. Many think I am crazy, but for those of you who are part of my tribe, you know why we run…..

In my dreams I am a Kenyan.

 

Bit of trust, bit of patience & a whole lot of love

My regular readers know that I now have a coach and with this comes a facebook and strava page. There is a bunch of us all training for a marathon with the same coach – about 100 I think. It makes for a busy and interesting facebook group.

Not only that but we are all undertaking a Heart Rate Training plan. This means running slow to run fast. But that’s not all! Maybe not a set of steak knives, but there are plenty of other bonuses to having our coach and HRT plan. There are super short strength circuits to do, bosu work and using bands to improve hip strength. On top of that, amazing nutrition advice and weekly podcasts on EVERYTHING. This is the kind of training program that changes your life.

I am at week 10 of a 20 week plan and have hit the mid-plan blues. Seems there are many of us that are feeling a little sense of tiredness and being a little disheartened. All part of the process I am sure.

In response to a long thread on a facebook post I decided that at this stage of a training cycle it is all about having three things.

  1. Trust in the process,
  2. Patience in your development, and
  3. Feeling the love.

Love of running, love for your community and the love of your coach. And she always tells us that we are #coachedandloved.

Question is, what am I going to do to get my motivation and energy back? What do you do in these circumstances?

Getting it done!

Many a time I have questioned my mental strength. I have always been very good at letting myself off the hook.

“So I don’t feel like running, no big deal, I’ll make sure I run tomorrow.” I never felt any guilt, I just thought I was being very sensible listening to my body. Unfortunately with marathon training skipping one run here and there isn’t an issue but if it becomes a regular pattern then you REALLY need to take a good look at what is going on. I wasn’t holding up that mirror!

Last Monday I couldn’t get myself out of bed to go for a run. Firstly because I had skied all day on Sunday and was pretty tired. Secondly, it was cold and there was snow on the ground.

After another morning of skiing, I was chilling out at a friend’s house and emailed my coach for advice on how to change my plan to accomodate the fact that I had missed my run. She was very nice about it.

But I kept on thinking about it. Thinking about how I had been able to tick off every run of my training plan so far and how far I had come. And then there was all the mums on my coaching facebook page who had given me amazing advice on how to run in snowy conditions. I couldn’t let it go.

Unbelievably, at 4 in the afternoon, I put on my yak tracks, thermals plus another layer and headed out into the cold and rain. Over an hour of running in less than ideal conditions in complete silence. All I could hear was the rain on the trees and the roads. It was completely magical. The air was fresh and clean smelling of snow gums and dampness. The road was edged with snow and all I could hear was the sound of my yak tracks scraping on the asphalt. It was like an amazing dream world.

IMG_5315 IMG_5316

Here’s to having the mental fitness to go along with my physical fitness in getting it done.

Satisfaction guaranteed.

If nothing changes, nothing changes…

T – 17 weeks.

Three weeks into the official marathon plan for my Boston Qualifying time. And I am definitely changing!

I no longer care about pace.

What? I hear all the hard core runners say. Yep, totally given it away. My watch only shows my heart rate and elapsed time. Even my long runs which have been provided in miles, have a maximum time limit so I can use that if I wish. I must look ridiculous at the pace I am running but I am beyond caring about that as well. I am focussed on my goal and I trust my coach.

I am running five times a week, every week, no problem at all.

Seriously. I have had to get up at 5.30am to fit in some of my runs and it is not a problem. Because the pace is comfortable and based on effort, there is no sense of dread. Just more of a question as to which podcast am I going to listen to and which audio books are good.

I am warm.

Now this was a surprise. During a Melbourne winter, I am always cold. Not these last few weeks. I do still feel the cold when I go from my cosy house into the cold air but it doesn’t last long. I am definitely wearing fewer layers than I usually do and it feels good!

I don’t need as much fuel.

Not that I have gotten up to any large distances as yet, but I have run for over 2 hours and all I needed was some water. Easy. Will have to think about my next run which will be closer to 3 hours….

Finally, I am feeling strangely more relaxed. I don’t feel the pressure that I have felt during previous marathon training cycles. I get a little email in my inbox every day to let me know what I need to do the next morning and I think “alrighty then”.

I am feeling very happy to be changing because if nothing changes, then nothing changes.

🙂

Run long and strong.

My heart’s a flutter

Time for an update!

It has been four weeks and I have finished the “holding pattern” for those of us that are on the Outstanding Marathon Plan, wave 4, as part of the Train Like A Mother club.

The holding pattern was an interesting experiment to get me ready for a marathon training plan that is all about my heart rate. It has been a very interesting and introspective experience.

My first two or three runs were fantastic. When you run with your heart rate no higher than 140 beats per minute you feel that you can run all day long. You also don’t feel worn out and exhausted when you get back AND you don’t want to eat the house down. All huge wins.

I also found that I didn’t dread getting up in the dark to run (again). I happily got out of bed knowing it was going to be relaxed and enjoyable.

And let’s talk about just how relaxed it was! I am running somewhere between 8 – 9:30mins per km. Yep! Tortoise. I have to walk here and there to get my heart rate back down under 140bpm. I had a couple of runs that weren’t fun at all because they were almost all walking. There are obviously so many factors that impact our heart rate from day to day and you have to be mindful of them. Not enough sleep is one, not eating right another and let’s not talk about how you feel when you might be coming down with a cold.

The other thing that I need to think about is how asthma affects me. Now that the mornings are getting chilly, I find my chest closes up a little bit and that is definitely going to have an impact. Or at least that is what I think has reduced my pace in the last few runs.

So how does this slow, tortoise pace work when I need to run 5:20s come October in order to achieve my goal…. hmmm….. running slower to run faster….. My coach tells me not to look that far ahead and focus on the now. We will talk race strategy closer to the day.

For the meantime I am building my aerobic base and am going to morph into a speedy cardio monster who can run for hours and hours with no pain and no anguish.

Here’s to the monster. First step is Monday morning as I start my official marathon plan. T -20 weeks folks.

I am committed. I might be crazy. And I am going to give this everything.

My road to Boston…….

boston-strong-run

I’m baaaacckkkkk!

Stop when tired picI am exceptionally excited to announce that I am BACK. My running mojo that went on holiday while I tackled a minor health issue has decided to return. And I think my running mojo has returned sun tanned, relaxed and ready for the next challenge.

I swam 2.5k in the pool on Thursday and then ran almost 15km yesterday morning followed by an easy 20k on the bike today. I am not overly tired and I have no aches or pains or gripes. Hallelujah! It feels really good to be able to do all my favourite activities.

I might need to put a caveat on my success though. It hasn’t been pretty. There was a fair bit of “legs through mud” action going on as I plodded up the hills at the end of my long run yesterday. Obviously no one I knew saw me as I would have received some concerned phone calls.

It is energising when you realise that your body is starting to be able to do the things you ask of it again. It has been a long road back after making some significant changes to my diet. I am feeling a sense of positivity that comes from having applied grit and determination.

I found myself registering for the Melbourne Marathon earlier this week. I have plenty of time to build a good base and then initiate a training plan. We all know I have a BQ in mind and this will be the race to do it. Nice and flat! I am going to give it a good crack. Whoo hoooo!

So for any of you that have lost your mojo, or have not found it as yet, hang in there. With patience and persistence comes rewards.