Tuesday, December 20, 2011

LA to CR and Beyond

After I get home for the evening I typically log my workout stats in for the day on a spreadsheet I started back in January.  After realizing that I have logged over 100 miles for the month of December, I wanted to see just how many miles I have run all year. 

I added up all  my monthly totals to find that I currently have run 1,795.3 miles in 2011.  I am surprised that my legs have carried me that far. 

I feel confident that it is safe to say that I will run over 1,800 miles this year.  For a frame of reference, that is farther from Los Angeles, California to Cedar Rapids, Iowa (a city located in the eastern part of the state between Des Moines and the Mississippi River).

Back in January I would have never guessed I could have run this much and felt so good while doing it.  My body  never ceases to amaze me.

If I log just as many miles in 2012, I'll be just as happy.  If I log more, great.  I don't really care about the number of miles I run, although it is fun to look at, I really care more about being healthy.  I'm excited for 2012 and all that it has in store.

Do you keep track of how many miles you run?  I used to never do it, but 2011 was the first year and I'll keep track of everything from now on.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tis the Season

Favorite Christmas Cookie: A Reese's peanut butter cup in peanut butter dough.  So, so good.

Favorite Christmas Song: Christmas in Killarney by Bing Crosby.  It is not well-known, but I love it. 

Favorite Christmas Tradition: Every year my parents get a real Christmas tree for their living room (they have a fake one in the basement).  As a family, we decorate the tree on Christmas Eve together.  My dad is in charge of getting the ornament hooks untangled, while my mom, sister and I put ornaments on the tree.  Typically, my brother watches, although this year he is not coming to Iowa for Christmas (he'll be in LA instead vising other family members).

Christmas Plans: My immediate family always exchanges gifts on Christmas Eve before going to church.  On Christmas day we travel south to see my mom's siblings and their children (my cousins), and my grandma. 

Number of People I know that have a Christmas birhtday: 1 - my great aunt was born on Christmas. 

Favorite Christmas ornament: I wish I had a picture of it, but you'll just have to visualize it.  When my brother was young - like 5or 6 - he made my mom a teenage mutate ninja turtle ornament - I believe it is Michelangelo.  He drilled a hole through a round rock and painted a face on it.  I'll take a picture of it and post later.  It is pretty quality.

What I'm hoping to get this year:  I don't ask for a whole lot for Christmas.  In my family, we always make lists of items we want my parents/siblings/grandparents to buy for us.  This year I asked for a running medal hood that was custom-made and purple.  I'm not sure if my mom found one/got someone to make it.  I hope so.  My birthday and Christmas gifts are typically combined, and I'm sure I'll get stuff, I just don't know what.  It is a mystery.

Favorite Christmas Movie: White Christmas by Irvin Berlin.  It is old, but my favorite movie.  My sister and I typically watch it together and she quotes the entire thing.

What tops my Christmas trees (both in Illinois and my parents in Iowa): Angels.

Do I send out Christmas cards: I used to, but now I only send a few out to my favorite people and friends that live far away.

Do I wish I had a birthday a different time of year?  No, not at all.  I love my birhtday being in the middle of December.  I love the whole month.

Thoughts on Snow: I love the first snow and think it is absolutely beautiful.  I hate driving in it, though.  I get very nervous, even after living in Minnesota for 3 years.

Ultimate gift i want but never get: I wish I could be chauffeured around everywhere.  I really do not like driving, in the summer or winter.  If someone offers to drive me somewhere, I'll happily agree.

Family and Christmas: No matter what place I am in in my life, I will never have Christmas away from my family.  They mean too much to me, and I love seeing them.  It is the only time of year I am guaranteed to see my sister, which I enjoy even though we are complete opposites. 

Favorite Gift Ever Received: This is a tough question for me.  My mom framed old artwork that she made in high school a few years ago for me, my sister, brother, and dad.  I got a flower piece of artwork which I love and have displayed.  Last year she gave us each the Time magazine from the year we were born.  A few years ago she framed old post card stamp envelopes that had my (deceased) grandpa's name and address on them and gave them to the kids and all of her siblings.  Each of those gifts is very special to me.  None of them were asked for, but things my mom gave just because she is generous. 

Favorite Gift Ever Given: I am not a very good gift-giver for the holidays.  As far as gift for my family are concerned, I once made a generous donation to a domestic violence shelter in honor of my parents one year for their gift.  I also made my brother a scrapbook of various pictures from our childhood and adult lives which I was quite proud of.  This was before my blogging days, otherwise I would have photographed it.  It took a lot of time to assemble, going through a lot of old pictures. 

Absolute favorite thing about Christmas: I get to spend time with my family.

Your turn: answer one or more of the following questions.  Are you like me or different?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Week 2 of Marathon Training

After completing week, 1, I set 2 goals for myself:

1.  Complete track workout - success!
2.  Run slower on Sunday. - fail.

Week 2 didn't go according to plan, just like week 1.  I  hope this trend does not continue.

Week 2 started off great when I completed a modified ladder workout.  It was so nice outside which made it pleasant to run in circles around the track.  Originally I was disappointed with how my ladder went, but after further review, it is decent.  I have to remember I have not completed track workouts in 2.5 months so it is kind-of like starting over. 

Wednesday was a nightmare of a run.  I was feeling okay to start, and then things turned awful.  My stomach hurt so bad and I just couldn't continue.  Thursday was better, and I ran 7 easy miles with a friend. 

Then came Friday.  I was all set to go running right after school got out before meeting up with friends for dinner.  But, other things came up and my run didn't end up happening, so it ended up being an unplanned rest day.  Saturday my legs felt great and ran well.  Today, my run was okay, but I felt sluggish throughout the entire thing due to improper fueling. 

What went well: I successfully completed my track workout, and had a great run on Sunday.

Goals for week 3: Complete all runs according to schedule.  Run slower on Sunday.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

I cannot believe there are only 18 weeks until the Illinois marathon.  I am looking forward to it.  Another runner from my running group ran a marathon this weekend and qualified for Boston.  This will sound mean, but I was shocked.  She occasionally ran in my track group this summer and I was ahead of her.  On tempo and long runs, I was also ahead of her.  If she can BQ, then I know I can do it.  But, that is not the way I want to be thinking.

The mind is powerful.  I have run races where I believed I could truly run a certain time and have succeeded.  I have run numerous races where I told myself I could do it, but not actually believed in myself and my ability.  For each of those runs, I came up short of my goal. 

When I ran my last race, the Hot Chocolate 15k, I truly believed I could run a sub-1:09.  What happened?  I have 1:08:27.  There were some other motivating factors for me to run well, but my mind truly believed I could do it. 

As 2011 comes to an end and 2012 is just around the corner, I am starting to realize that my mind is holding me back.  I feel proud of what I accomplished this year, and know next year will be even better.

Does your mind hold you back?  Or, have you mastered that area?

Monday, December 12, 2011


Tonight I was going through old blog posts, re-reading them to remember what my life was like last year at this time.  The winter is always hard - cold temperatures for the most part - although this year thus far has been abnormally warm - little sunlight, a lot of darkness, wind, and many gloomy days in Chicagoland.  I am a person who is always cold, so when the weather turns cold, it is more of a challenge to me than most people. 

However, the coldness of winter is not what this post is about.  I was reflecting on how different I am today than I was one year ago today. 

Last year at this time I:
  • Was still trying to build up my iron
  • Was sick with a cold
  • Went out to bars on weeknights
  • Went to bars on the weekends
  • Was skiing in Wisconsin
  • Thought 10 miles outside in winter was a long distance to run
  • Thought I knew what my race schedule would be for 2011
I can say I am a far different person than the person above.  It almost amazes me how much I have changed in just one year.  When I turned 26 last year, I was in a post-college-wish-I-would-have-enjoyed-college-more mindset.  Every weekend was consumed by staying out late at the bars with friends.  Although I grew out of this behavior after only a few months, I think it taught me a lot.  In college, all I did was study.  I spent more time at the library than 99.9% of people.  I studied, and then studied some more.  I can probably count the number of times I was in a bar in college on my two hands.  My college experience was very different than the typical person, which is why my phase of life last year was necessary.  I'm just glad I grew out of it rather quickly.

Last year I also had all of these dreams about getting certain times in races (see: half marathon goal of 2011), but failed at nearly every one.  In the past month I've realized that when I concern myself purely with time, and not with enjoyment, running becomes a chore that must get done rather than my favorite thing to do.  And I don't like all. 

What have I learned in my 26th year to make me wiser going into year 27? 
  • Running with friends is better than running alone.
  • Some races will go far better than you ever anticipate.  Others will be a complete disaster.  Learn from each one and take that knowledge with you to the next one.
  • Confidence is impossible if you beat yourself up for not being perfect. 
  • Being patient is hard, but it is necessary for success.
  • Never be ashamed of how you did at a race.  If you gave your best effort, that is all that matters.
  • Sometimes what we want and what happens in life are not the same.  Take time to adjust and then move on.  Life goes on and some people/things don't need to be a part of it.
Although life has taken many strange twists and turns the past year or two, I am ready for the year ahead.  I am excited to see what it will bring.

What did you learn this past year? 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Reviewing Week 1 of Illinois Marathon Training

Most marathon training plans take 18 weeks to complete.  Depending on how many you have actually competed, or your goals, they may differ.  I am confident that none of the plans say run 17 miles in week one just for the fun of it.  Although, Tuesday's 17 miler was wonderful. 

Below you can see what I was actually supposed to do this week (in black), and what ended up getting done (in purple). 

What went well: I felt great on both Thursday and Friday during my runs.  Although Thursday's average was a 7:52 pace, the first mile was done in 8:43, with all of the others between 7:29 and 7:45.  Friday I felt so great while running and didn't realize how fast I was going, therefore, it became an unintentional tempo run. 

What needs to be done better: Pace.  Pace.  Pace.  I need to retrain my body to run at training run speed, not race speed, for all runs.  I did better on my 11 mile run today, but the average was still 8:26.  I need them to be around 9:00 pace instead.  Also, I want to do my track workout every week.  Yes, the unconventional 17 miler on Tuesday was rather sporadic and nice, but track will help me become a better runner, which is what I want. 

Goal for week 2: Complete Tuesday track work and run slower on Sunday. 

For this marathon, I am going to keep track of everything, including workout types for track and pace.  Although I kept track of my mileage during Chicago Marathon training, I did not note my pace.  From what I know and have read and learned, pace plays an important role in preparation for the marathon. 

On a side note, I have once again managed to get almost no Christmas shopping done yet.  I have 1 gift for my mom.  Other than that...nothing.  I'm going out of town next weekend so no shopping will be done.  I guess that leaves the few days before Christmas, just as in years past. 

Are you a person that procrastinates shopping for Christmas presents, or do you shop the day after Thanksgiving?  I have never shopped on Thanksgiving weekend (Friday - Sunday after the holiday) and  plan to keep it that way. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rethinking the Plan on Day 2

This weekend I made myself a plan that I thought I could stick to while training for the Illinois Marathon.  I based it off of what I knew worked for my body and what I learned from running the Chicago Marathon.

I am only on day 2, and as far as my success rate goes, I am at 0%.  I ran 10 miles on Sunday, the day before my training plan officially started, and decided to run an easy 2 mile recovery run before biking and lifting. 

And then there was today.  Track Tuesday turned into a 17 mile training run with a friend.  That would be 10 more miles than I was supposed to run.  Although we ran slow, about a 10:00 average, I am hoping it doesn't alter my plans for the rest of the week too much.  I feel great right now, about an hour post-run, so I'm hoping recovery will go well.  It kind-of amazes me that my body remembered running that many miles from marathon training this summer/fall, even though it has been over a month and a half since I ran that distance.  It gives me hope for this upcoming training plan. 

Will I complete my track workout this week?  I'm thinking it will either be on Friday or else I will have to end up skipping it.  I'll make the call later in the week and analyzing how I feel. 

I do not want to make running this many miles on a weekday a regular occurrence.  We were running close to 3 hours, which is a lot of time to devote to running on a weekday night.  But, I'm glad I did it for my friend.  Sometimes it is hard to motivate yourself to run that many miles and having another person to hold you accountable and just run the miles with you really helps.  

Do you make training plans for yourself and stick to them?  When I trained for half marathons in the past, I always had "mental training plans" that I completed.  It is different with marathon training, as it requires so many more details than a half marathon.