How’s training going?
I’ll paint you a picture of the current scene: I just hastily stuffed a nuked piece of leftover pizza into my mouth - that was lunch - because it was the only thing I could find that was quick and didn’t require bringing an excavator into my kitchen. My "clean" laundry has been piled on the love seat in my living room for three weeks. In short, my house looks like a frat party collided with a daycare. The pizza? I justify it as recovery carb loading or something. Because yes, this is what my house looks like when I invite the marathon into my life. And not just one, but two; my husband is also training for the Twin Cities Marathon on October 4. This brings scheduling all our runs to an entirely new a$$ crack of dawn early level.
(I hope at least one person out there reading is nodding their head in agreement. Not that I would wish this scenario on any of you, but there’s comfort in solidarity. And perhaps you can suggest a good housecleaning service.)
On a serious note, my summer marathon training is going extremely well. It’s going better than I imagined, especially when I first looked at my new AMR #FindYourStrong training plan and got a little anxious at the unfamiliarity: the inclusion of speedwork and race pace and negative splits. Even though this journey I’m on is all about Finding My Strong, and I know there are pieces that I really should do, because they will, in fact, make me stronger, my instinct is to balk at the tough things. It isn’t natural to move toward pain. Anyone who’s gone through childbirth can relate.
Here are a few things I’ve noted over the past month:
Cross training is a nice break and actually fun. Every year when marathon training begins, I say to myself, “I should really cross train this time.” This is the first time I’ve followed through. For the last month I've ridden my bike. I am a former biking junkie who stopped riding after having kids, because it felt more like a hassle than a pleasure. I argued it was easier to just throw on shoes and run. But the truth is, once you’ve got your ducks in a row, i.e., your bike tuned and accessories at the ready, it takes no more time to hop on a bike than it does to lace up your Sauconys.
I'd forgotten that the feeling of flying on your bike; it is like no other feeling. I’m not a fast runner by any means, and whizzing down the highway on the way to work – I’ve been trying to bike commute at least once a week – satiates my need for speed.
It’s also gotten me out on more “fun” rides; I took Clara around the neighborhood on Saturday.
I love this training plan. The plan is solid. Coach Christine is no slouch, and the woman knows running. Not only does she have the knowledge and expertise, but she ran 101 miles for crying out loud. There is enough variety for me to not feel like I’m trapped in a rut of the same workouts every week, the same pace, then the death march – I mean, long run – on Saturdays. I’ve been working on heart rate training, focusing on running my easy runs truly easy (by HR and exertion rather than a pace number on my GPS watch), and it’s made a world of difference. I've been able to hit all my paces. No more long run death marches! As a bonus, my ego has survived!
Speaking of my future running, there are four race registrations hanging over my desk at work: The Twin Cities Marathon (my fall marathon), and the Austin Half Marathon in Feb 2016, a race I’m super excited to be running with other mother runners in a new town and at a time of year that I’m typically not running races, because training for a long race in winter in the Upper Peninsula? So. Much. Snow. It will be a challenge, to say the least.
The third is the Ore To Shore Bike Race in Marquette, MI, in August. This was one of those races that seemed like a really good idea nine months ago when I was extremely pregnant and would’ve done just about anything to simply be mobile. Also, I told myself, "Try new things!" I signed up for the 28-mile race, being the more reasonable of the two distances (there is a 48-mile option for the truly insane). The last time I did a bike race was 2006, and it was not pretty. I'll need to draw on my Bad A$$ Mother Rider strength for that one.
The fourth piece of paper, the one I'm most excited and nervous about, is the Fall Back Blast 50K in November 2015, a 50K trail race. In Wisconsin. In the winter.
The ultra has been a quiet goal of mine for a few years. So when Karen, a fellow mother runner I met in Little Rock, mentioned she was running this 50K, it did not take much prodding for me to sign up. I was more than halfway there; I just needed the right race for me, and this particular one seems ideal.
I realize this might be a crazy goal to chase after; I’ll be eleven days short of Clara’s first birthday when I toe the line in Eau Claire. And I've been reluctant to put it out there in the world – on the Internet – because to say so would be to truly commit, which is a little scary. But 2015 is different. This is the year I decided to go out on more limbs, break more rules, step away from convention and really put myself out there. I also reason with myself (and will with my mom, when I tell her about my crazy running plans) that this is a "baby" ultra. It's not like I'm running Western States 100 or something.
The Road to Strong hasn't been easy. At first it was tough seeing slower paces and feeling like my body wasn't cooperating. I was longing for the runner I was and for the runs I'd had a few years ago, but in reality, they were nothing special. This weekend, something I heard on the AMR podcast with Katie Arnold struck a chord with me, big time: I am not running back toward the runner I once was, but the moving toward the runner I am going to be. (sorry for the awful paraphrase, Katie!) As someone who can get stuck thinking wistfully of the past – of paces, of PRs, of jeans I wish I could still wear – this was something I needed to hear.
So I’m thinking ahead and dreaming BIG of the Future Runner that is Me. I have no idea what she will look like or what she will do, but I’m excited to find out. And the best thing is, she is forever evolving. Even after I’ve crossed the next finish line.