Marathon Training: 18 Miles

I always have to get prepared the night before. I realize I pack a little more than what I need to, but when you’re running from point A to point B and ending 18 miles away from home, well, yes, I needed a few extra things.  I was very thankful that I was able to pack a bag on Thursday to give my Mom though. She works blocks from my house. I packed a fresh set of clothes, my travel skincare, protein powder and nuun for after my run, and a towel for my hair. I realize it seems silly that I packed a towel to go to my Mom’s. I mean, obviously she has towels a plenty in her house. But I have a microfiber thing hair towel that I like to use on my hair, so I brought it. Ha. Could I do without? Absolutely. But I was packing a bag anyway, so I figured I’d just throw it in there.

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Friday night rolled around and I was getting really nervous. 18 miles would be my new farthest distance. Last year when I ran to my Mom’s house, not only was I with friends, but we were nonchalant about it – taking as much time as we needed, including stopping a few times along the way. We went 17 miles.  Because I am now marathon training, I really wanted to make sure that I was pushing myself for time. I can’t even compare the 17 miles run last year to the 18 mile run this year. I’m in a completely different placethan where I was. I actually feels weird to put that in writing. It’s only a mile more. I can see people thinking.  Sure, it might be, but there’s also so many other factors in there. One, I did 18 miles alone (for the most part. I did meet my sister at mile 14, but more on that in a bit). Two, I was trying to go for time and push myself. Three, I was way more exhausted at this point in training. I barely followed any sort of a training plan when I went to my Mom’s. I realize that isn’t the smartest thing to do, but that’s what I did. I ran on the weekends and maybe once or twice during the week, and definitely not as intense as I am running now.

But I digress.

To get ready, I needed my fuel, ID, some cash, Noxgear and headlamp and my hydration vest. Plus my keys to get back into my house. I set out the clothes I am going to wear too – that way I’m not stumbling around in the morning looking for things. I plan to have a dedicated post to how I get ready, so I’ll leave it short and simple here.

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0445 rolled around – I found myself hardcore dilly dallying. It’s really nerve wrackinggoing a distance you’ve never done before. It was also really early so I wasn’t fully awake. I spend some time making sure that my Garmin LiveTrack feature was working. Josh gets a link every single time I run, but I also had my Mom added since I was running towards her house. I texted her making sure she got the email, snapped a photo for her so she knew I had my Noxgear on and was able to be visible when running, and then I headed out the door. I walked for a block or two: I really needed to mentally prepare myself for leaving south Kenosha to run to north Racine… no turning around. “I gotta just go,” I told myself. I knew I needed to start off slower or I’d lose steam. I was proud of myself for not busting out some fast pace that I couldn’t handle for 18 miles. Starting off slow is harder than you’d think, too. But I kept a steady slow pace, making sure to just put one foot in front of the other.

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Before I knew it, I was to the start of the trail. It was just starting to get light out. Dusk is always a comforting time of day for me. I actually hate wearing a headlamp. I have tohave it tight on my head so it doesn’t bounce, but then it just hurts and feels weird… like my head is being strangled. It is not something that I have gotten used to. There are some areas where I run where I don’t need my headlamp because the streetlights are enough. But I knew I would need it today since there were a few stretches of pure darkness.  I do really like running in the dark. Well, for the most part. I wouldn’t ever run on some secluded trail by myself. I mean, what if I fell? The places I run still has some sort of car traffic,even at 0530. I’ve never felt unsafe before.  In any case, I was glad it was getting light out since my Noxgear started to flash red (meaning my batteries were almost dead). It was light enough out to be seen so I wasn’t really worried about it.

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It wasn’t until I was 8 miles in (around 0700) that I saw my first signs of humans. Which, yes, is actually rare. In the areas I normally run around, I see a handful of people running. But not so much on the trail! I really was surprised. It made me a little more aware of my surroundings. Every squirrel I heard bustling about got my attention. I don’t run with headphones in so I hear everything.  

At 0718 I hit the county line road between Kenosha and Racine. Soon after, at 0729, I hit halfway through my run. It was the point of no return. It is hard to not want to turnaround sometimes, but at least when I got halfway, I knew I didn’t really have a choice. I had planned to do the last 4 miles with my sister. She was going to meet me and run the rest of the way to my house. So I let her know when I hit 12 miles. I got to mile 14 before she was there, so I paused my watch and did a few stretches. I needed some sugar anyway, so I got out my trusty Honey Stinger Waffles.  I really like this. They are a bit messy though so unfortunately I don’t have them often. My sister got to our meeting point, and we headed out.  I knew I had 4 more miles left to go. It was hard pushing through those last couple of miles though. I really just wanted a nap.  My quads were holding strong. My my calves were tightening up more than I anticipated they would. My hips were started to tense up. DeAnna kept encouraging me that I could do it and keep going. 

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The hardest part about the run was needing to run right by my Mom’s street and keepgoing for another half mile out. I hit her road around mile 17. I wanted to just be done. Having DeAnna there really helped. So instead of turning down her road, we went a half mile down and turned around. I pushed with everything I had in order to finish the run.  I get so overwhelmed with emotions when I accomplish something I didn’t think was possible. We walked a few blocks before going back to the house. I knew that I needed to stretch. My whole body felt really tight. I hold a lot of tension in my back when I run. I’m working on a more proper form, but old habits are hard to break.

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As soon as I got to my Mom’s, I pulled out my protein powder from my my bad and had that right away while I was stretching. I took close to 15-20 minutes to stretch before taking a shower.  My original plan was to drop my car off at my Mom’s on Thursday night and have Josh drive me home, but my Mom told me that she would just take me home after my run. So I was very thankful for that since I knew I would be really tired.   That shower felt so relaxing. It was like I was washing away all the doubts I thought I had about the run. I finished it. I was still walking. And I didn’t tripall once. Ha!

As soon as my shower was done, I started getting really hungry. We decided to go to Meli’s Cafe. If you haven’t been there before, I highly recommend. The food portions are HUGE. I usually get 2.5 meals out of it. The omelet is basically the size of my head, and it comes with a side of pancakes… which are also the size of my head. I always get an omelet and pancakes because I eat the pancakes at the restaurant, and i pick at the omelet a bit, but take most of it home. Omelets and potatoes are MUCH easier to reheat then pancakes, so I save those for later.

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I was really thankful that my Mom had offered to bring me home. I would have been awake enough to drive myself home, but I’m not the biggest fan of driving, so it was nice to not have to do that. Thanks Mom! 

It made me a little more confident in my training, but also still really nervous. This run was 18 miles which was hard enough already, but knowing during the race I will have 8.2 miles more? Yikes.

Cheers to nap time.

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Oh We’re Halfway There

At this point, I definitely feel like I am living on a prayer…

 

But let’s back up a bit.

JANUARY

January seemed to creep up on me. It was as though from Sept 28th, the day I signed up for the marathon, to Dec 31st, just flew by. And all of a sudden it was January and I now had a specific schedule to follow. January didn’t seem as daunting as I thought it was going to be. I kept up my running through the end of the year – doing running between 3 miles to 5 miles max. I tried to find a balance between not wearing myself out to not January“losing my base.” I also very much so enjoy running and my running club, so it was easier to keep going through the holidays. I felt prepared for January. There were a few days in the middle of the week that I was unable to run – or even truly think about reworking my schedule – so I didn’t feel all that guilty about it. In the past, I beat myself up if I didn’t follow my schedule exactly. I found that I would let that affect the rest of that week and I would miss even more running. I swore not to do that this time.  I had an important two-day work conference. Life happens. I didn’t let myself miss any of my long runs. I typically run Sat morning – in fact, about 90% of my long runs are on Saturday morning – but if something came up, I would do it on either Fri or Sun. As long as I got the long run in, I felt great.

It is really hard to not get caught up in the numbers game. I try to have a minimum of 80 miles per month; however, I ended January with 51.90 miles. I reminded myself what more frozenoverwas to come in March and April… more than I have ever ran, so I let myself not be so focused on the number.

January had it’s challenges though. Cold weather running is a beast all on its own. I had to learn what worked and didn’t work for laying my clothes. The photos looked pretty, but it was chilly.   (Photo Frozen Over. ) We even hit some Canadian-cold weather with a -21 degree day… before windchill. And no, I did not run outside. In fact, I didn’t even get in my car to go to the gym. Our “feels like” temp was -50.  Frostbite in 5 minutes. No thanks. But alas, this was during the week so my long run wasn’t moved around.

FEBRUARY

Now, I know that this is Wisconsin, and I know what winter in the Midwest means. I’ve lived here my entire life. Snow. Cold. Dark. I was prepared for that. Well. I was more prepared for the cold than I was for the dark. The thing is, I’m actually a morning person. But there’s quite a difference in “Oh it’s 0430 and I can’t sleep, so I’m going to lay in bed Februaryand scroll through Facebook and scowl at the fact that Josh is a heavy sleeper and still sound asleep” to “Oh my gosh is 0430! I need to get out of bed and find my 576439 layers of clothes and get out the door and START RUNNING by 0500/0530.” It’s a way different feeling. The darkness made it very hard to get up.  When I was asked, “How did you get up?” “What was your motivation? It’s so early!”  Part of it is the fear of “well if I don’t slowly increase my mileage, I could overexert some muscles and pull something.” And it’s true. There are reasons that professional lay out a training plan they way they do. Slowly increasing mileage is the safest way to train. So part of my “motivation” was fear. May sound silly I realize this, but it’s the truth.

Another part is having accountability buddies. It really makes such a huge difference. I will not cancel a run if I know I’m meeting someone.  Plus, sometimes my work days are just too unpredictable. I cannot always guarantee that I can run by a certain time, so early morning plans were necessary. Did I whine about it? Absolutely. It was barely 0 degrees. We are allowed to whine about it.  I truly tried to give myself the first few minutes of running to whine about how cold it was. But that was it. Why focus on it? Unless I plan to move, this is what I get. (Let’s be real though… if I move more south, I’m going to whine about the heat in the summer…)

February is the shortest month, yet I somehow jam packed a lot of things into my month.hearthimom I started doing more cross training – which included lifting weights at the gym and snowshoeing.  I had done weight training in the past, but just never kept up with it.  Snowshoeing is a new adventure that I am learning to love. If it’s going to snow, I may as well enjoy it right?? I planned a Valentine’s Day run with the Kenosha Running Club. It was another early morning run but I have to say, making fun shapes really helps the time go by quicker!  I planned a weekend get-away in Galena with Josh the last weekend of the month (it was our 6 year anniversary), which prompted me to have to run on a Friday instead of the weekend. So I created a route for my mom as a surprise. I mapped out a “Hi Mom“- it truly helped get me through when I just wanted to be done. I closed out February with 91.60 miles. 

It might look like I have it all together. I’ve been asked for advice, “So how do you do it? How do you fit it all into your schedule?” And the truth is — I don’t. I have inner struggles every day that I don’t always advertise to people. Some days I do. Some days I don’t. I’ve had to rearrange social events. I’ve had to tell people “no you can’t come visit in March and April because I will be too exhausted to actually hang out with you.” I have really long days. I typically work 45-50 hours a week, so in order for my work to not suffer, I NEED those 0500 or 0530 runs.  I try my hardest to commit to hill training with the running club, but being somewhere by 1700 on a weekday is incredibly difficult. I’ve had to tell people “No I can’t hang out Friday night – Sat is my long run.” more times than I can count. And now, Wednesdays are up to 7 miles… starting 8 miles next week.  I’ve pushed off cleaning my house, which was NOT a good idea. It stressed me out even more.  (Don’t worry, it’s clean now! Josh and I spend 4 hours cleaning last Sunday.)  Finding a balance it really difficult. I’ve felt like I needed to apologize to people for not being around… and I’m only half-way through this journey. The next two months are going to really pick up.

Fitting in time for Josh, my family and friends, running/working out (including Hot Yoga and cross-training), my job, including some social media work on the side, meal planning and keeping up with the house and the dreaded laundry, it has left little time for blogging – which I really love to do – but most importantly, just me time. I need a mental health day.  I am trying some new time management tactics this next month, which is starting with taking a mental health day on Monday. No work. No running. No social hanging out. My plan is to go to Hot Yoga in the morning (I will need it since I’m running 15 miles on Sunday), then get my office at home organized, and then just catch up on some TV shows. Knowing myself, I will probably only be able to sit on the couch for two hours, but hey – baby steps.  Whiteboards are my new best friend and I have ordered one for my office… I’m slowly putting together a post of what’s been working and not working for time management, so after a month, I should have something ready. Boom.

“So if it’s that much work and you don’t have time for it, why are you doing it?” (Yes, I’ve actually been asked this…)  Because it’s a challenge. Because it’s pushing my beyond a point I’d never thought I’d be. Because it’s helping me grow. Because it’s helping me better my time-management. Because I’m healthier at nearly 33 than I was at 23. Because it’s teaching me discipline. Because I am capable.

Because. I. Can.

As of March 3, 2019, I am halfway through marathon training. I’m halfway there. HALFWAY! Livin’ on coffee and dreams (and carbs and Honey Stingers and protein powder) over here.

Here’s what’s to come:

March

April

(Special thanks to Molly who put together this calendar!)

On that note, Happy International Women’s Day! And thank you to everyone who has been supporting me along the way!

Cheers to early morning and frosty hair.

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New Challenges. New Beginnings: Marathon Training – How I Got Here

The second I crossed the finish line for my first half-marathon in 2016, people started asking me, “So, when’s your marathon?” Running a half-First Half-marathonmarathon for the first time was so emotional. My family was there at the finish line. I kept telling myself to “keep it together,” but I could feel my eyes started to get watery. And from so much mental fatigue, I just let it happen. A few tears had started falling down my face: first because I was just so happy to have crossed the finish line, but second because I was laughing at myself for crying in the first place. And my niece was the cutest. I wanted to hold her, but I was so exhausted, so a photo on the ground was the safest.

I did not think I’d run a marathon.

At the end of July 2016, I did one of those Inflatable races in Madison and jammed my knee. You’d think it was because of the running — nope. It was because I slid down a slid and the ground just came up too

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quickly and BOOM. My knee jammed when i hit the ground.   I did some PT stretches and weights for my knee, and I was cleared to run my half-marathon at the end of August. I knew I wasn’t going to be going for a PR, but I had already signed up with my work, and we were sponsored. So I ran it, well, I walked most of it.

I definitely did not think about running a marathon then.

I’m pretty sure I had some major runner’s high in 2016, and not because I had racked up a ton of mileage, but because I was doing new things. I had signed up for 3 half-marathons. I couldn’t tell you now what possessed me to do that. I do remember that I had signed up for these right away, not realizing how close the dates were to the last two, but I was just really ready to take on the challenge. The 3rd one was in September 2016. This half-marathon went pretty well, despite the rain. The scenic route made it easy to forget how far I had left to go.

Third Half-Marathon

Even though I had a 4 minute PR, I still didn’t think about running a marathon.

2016 running season ended. Not a marathon thought passed through my mind. It only came up when other people would ask me about running a marathon. I had zero intentions of it. “You really want me to run 26.2 miles? I think not.”

May 2017, I ran a half-marathon by myself. And, by that I mean, I trained for it alone. I drive up there alone. I had no one waiting for me at the finish line. I grabbed lunch Kings&Queens Half-Marathonby myself. And drove home by myself.  Any race that I do, I typically end up running by myself, even if I come with other people. I know everyone is at different places in their running journey, so I can’t expect someone to run NEXT to me the whole time. But Pewaukee, I was literally by myself. It was something new for me. Not having anyone around to celebrate. While that may seem sad and depressing, it was a really powerful feeling. Doing my absolute best with no one watching was oddly satisfying.

I still didn’t think about training for a marathon.

My 5th half-marathon was in Colorado. I did want to train to actually run it, but my friend was nervous about the altitude change, so we agreed ahead of time to walk it. This particular race didn’t have a time-limit, so it was perfect for that. I brought my camera and took some breathtaking photos in the mountains. It was amazing to have finished my 5th half-Colorado Half-Marathonmarathon, but there was also this feeling of “did I REALLY finish it?” just because we didn’t run it. It didn’t feel as much like an accomplishment as the rest of my races, but I was still really happy that we did it.

I most definitely didn’t think about training for a marathon after this.

October 2017 was the most emotional race I have ever run (even to date.) My brother-in-law’s grandma had passed and running was something he turned to. He expressed interest in running a half, so I said I would do it with him. He trained with his daughter Baylee, pushing her in the stroller every mile. He was THE ONLY one who pushed a stroller in the

screenshot_20190211-165931.pnghalf-marathon.  This race wasn’t even my best time. I actually got sick half-way through it (pretty sure it was from what I had eaten the night before). So not only was there a ton of emotion from pushing through a stomach ache, but seeing my family and Chris at the finish line… I don’t think there will ever be words to describe that.  This could be an entire blog post as it is, so I’ll leave you with our photo.

And, yup, you guessed it — I still didn’t think about a marathon!

 

 

This was of great surprise to a lot of people. I had finished 6 half-marathons with no intention of running a marathon.  I wanted to set some more challenging

2018

goals for 2018, but a marathon just wasn’t one of them. And I was 100% okay with this decision. It wasn’t something that weighed heavily on me. Not one bit. No one was going to make me feel guilty for not running a marathon. I decided to do Ragnar, so that was a huge step for me. And I also wanted to beat my half-marathon time.  I knew I would need to change what I was doing for training. I had slacked on cross-training: whether it was weight lifting or swimming or literally ANYTHING else other than running. My friend Sarah convinced me to sign up at the Kenosha YMCA with her, so I did.  I also signed up to run 2,018 miles in 2018 with my friend Sokhon as a team of 2. (So 1,009 miles a person).  My highest mileage ever for a year was around 650 or so. So shooting for 1,000 scared me.

March 3rd, 2018

My first run with Kenosha Running Club. And the day my life changed — I just didn’t know it yet. I felt so accepted. The first thing I told Josh was, “I found my people.”  I made more and more friends who I eventually opened up and shared my goals with:

  • Running 1,000+ miles in a year
  • Running Ragnar
  • Getting a half-marathon PR
  • Running from my house in Kenosha to my mom’s house in Racine.

I will save the anticipation — I accomplished every single one of these goals. Every Single. One.

My half-marathon was May 5th. I shaved off another 3 mins from my PR time. screenshot_20190211-171855.png

I did not think about running a marathon.

Ragnar was May 18th-19th. This should really be another blog post as well.  My three legs weren’t very long, but running on no sleep, and not a lot of food was challenging! screenshot_20190211-172032.pngI did not think about running a marathon..

Looking back, though.. the next few months is when the seeds started to get planted. I just didn’t know it yet.  Throughout the next few months of making friends in KRC, I had expressed how I wanted to run from my house in Kenosha to my mom’s house in Racine — and some of my friends hopped right on board! 17 miles. It would be the longest I had ever run.  Also during these few months, I was asked to do the Ragnar Trail in Sept. It would perfectly align with running to

my mom’s  so I hopped on board to that too!

When the day came to run to my mom’s I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I was going 17 Miles to be. But there was just not any pressure to be done by a certain time. The day before, I dropped my car off at my mom’s along with everyone’s bag for a change of clothes. I planned the route, including where all the gas stations were for water and bathroom breaks. I was prepared. It was the most fun run I have ever done. We even joked about how we weren’t that far off from the marathon training plan.

For the first time ever, I toyed with the idea of running a marathon.

Ragnar Trail

Ragnar trail came and went, and marathon training was in the back of my head.

“You know, when you train for a marathon, you only run up to mile 20. You’ve ran up to 17 miles already. That’s only 3 runs that you haven’t run the distance for yet.”

 

 

 

And that’s how it happened.

Three weeks after running to my moms and running my second Ragnar trail, it hit me. I COULD do this. I knew I had the support system. I had so many people I could run with. Okay, so there were also margaritas involved.  BUT, whenever people ask me why I decided to run a marathon- it just isn’t quite a simple answer. It took me a long time to wrap my mind around running a half-marathon, and here I am training for a marathon.

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I’m going to honest though, It still doesn’t quite feel like I am training for a marathon yet. The distances I’m running now are all for a half-marathon. I think my mind is secretly tricking me, but I’ll figure it out real quick after the end of this month when I’m not stopping at 13 miles…

I plan to post more of my marathon chronicles every Monday. Time got a little away from me, but better late than never!

Cheers to sore legs.