Marathon Madness…

A few years ago, when running was really bad for me for a million reasons, I kind of swore off the full marathon. I had no interest in doing another one for a long time, pretty much indefinitely. I never said never, but…I also couldn’t imagine WANTING to do it again–it hurts, and I found the training stressful. And then my running life was reborn, and that old familiar itch for distance came back. So I started poking around and looking at options. While Pittsburgh seemed like a natural choice for my return, the fact of the matter is that I HATE spring marathons. I hate training in the crap of winter to have it be 100 degrees on race day–No, Thank You. That’s the worst. Fall marathons are much more up my alley–train through the awful heat and humidity of summer, and get rewarded with cooler temps on race day. Worst case scenario is that the temp doesn’t break and you run in what you trained in–and you’re already used to it. So I came up with a short list of fall races I was interested in running and started to debate the merits of each. Then a friend posted his race schedule for the year and I was inspired–I could combine running my fall marathon with spending some time with friends I don’t get to see very often. We talked dates, he offered the hubs and I a place to stay if we wanted to come out, and I was sold on the idea–but I wouldn’t register until I knew the date of my other favorite fall race in Pittsburgh. The 10-miler should be in November, but they’ve moved it to October before and I was NOT willing to give up my streak on that race. I have done it every year since it started, and I intend to do it every year they have it as long as I live. Finally the  date was released, there was no conflict, so this weekend I bit the bullet and registered. And this fall I’m running…

the Baltimore Marathon.

I’m excited and nervous. I’ve been scoping out training plans and finally found one that I really like–though of course it will undergo modifications because I have a habit of racing as often as I can. I have a goal time in mind–though like the Pittsburgh Half, I’m not keen to share it publicly yet. The race ends on Raven’s Way, so you know I’m going to be decked in black and gold to represent my beloved Steel City.

I have a few more weeks before the marathon training cycle starts. I know it’s going to be intense, but I’m looking forward to the hard work, and first I have a few more races–a 10k this coming Saturday and the hardest half marathon in the country the following week (I’m a glutton for punishment and a buddy convinced me to sign up…).

Happy Monday, Friends.

 

Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend Recap

One of my favorite weekends of the year–Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend! The Pittsburgh Half was the first big race that I ran back in 2011, and it was in training for it that I really fell in love with running, and I suppose with racing. Starting on Friday, with the GNC Live Well Health and Fitness Expo. Usually I’d just go on Saturday, but this year I signed up for the Steel Challenge–a 5k on Saturday and one of the longer races (half, full, or relay) on Sunday, so I wanted to pick up everything before Saturday. I took a half day at work so I could wander around at the Expo and spend money. Which I did (with my husband’s blessing) because RUNNING and ALL OF THE THINGS. I get so excited for Expos, but then I’m always somewhat disappointed when I actually get there. It’s always a little chaotic by the nature of being an Expo, but still I wandered around for quite awhile and found some great stuff, ran into a friend, and signed up for the P3R Mega Ticket–Liberty Mile, EQT Pittsburgh 10-Miler, and next year’s Pittsburgh Half Marathon (or full, but I’m doing the half again), so hey, first race for 2018 is officially lined up and paid for!

Next up was the 5k on Saturday morning. The course runs around the North Side near the stadiums, and the science Center, then into town where you finish at the Official finish line. They have offered the Steel Challenge for 3 years now, and this is the first time I’ve taken part. I LOVED it. I told myself the 5k was just going to be a fun run. I wasn’t trying to PR, I wasn’t going to push myself, I needed to save all that for Sunday. And I didn’t. I ran a nice easy 5k, came in with a solid 32:42, though I did manage to negative split (each mile was a little faster than the previous one),  which rarely happens in my world so I was pretty pumped about that. One of the SCRR crew managed to capture this shot of me near the finish line and I LOVE it! One of my favorite race photos ever:

Good form, I’m smiling even though it rained the entire race. I’d just slapped 5 with a random lady and there was a kid ahead with his hand out so I left mine out to get him. And I was completely unaware of the camera. I wasn’t cheesing for him, I was just genuinely happy and in the moment. It’s how I feel when I’m racing (though admittedly I’m not always smiling).  The race went well, and I was happy. I definitely want to do it again.

Sunday was the half marathon, one of my favorite races ever. I LOVE running through the city of Pittsburgh. Had to change the course this year due to some construction projects, which made me really sad. They had to cut out some of my beloved bridges, and replaced it with a loop through the North side (again). It was fine, I still love it, though I sincerely hope they can bring the bridges back because to me running bridges is way more fun, and way more iconic Pittsburgh than a stadium tour (though we do have some nice ones).

I had a really steep goal for this race. I wanted to hit or break 2:15. Earlier this year I would’ve been absolutely crushed and/or pissed that I didn’t do that. I didn’t, and I wasn’t. I could tell pretty early in the race it wasn’t going to happen, so I just adjusted my sights–I really just wanted to PR, even if it was only by seconds. I had a great time. I enjoyed running through the city, I enjoyed the spectator signs, slapping 5 with random strangers and small children. I gave everything I had to the race, I can tell because I’m sore today from a distance my body is used to. And I DID PR, by about 3 minutes, 2:26:49 (previous PR was 2:29:53).

Post race I hung around the Finish Line Festival and killed time until my husband finished the marathon. Didn’t take as full advantage of the SCRR perks as I should have (now that I know what to expect, I think next year will be different). Didn’t take advantage of the cool but goofy photo ops, didn’t even ring the PR bell, because it’s not about any of that for me and I didn’t feel like waiting in the lines, quite honestly. At the end of the day I know I PR’d and I hope to break it again before the year is up. And these beauties are mine:

I have much more to share, but that will come soon. Happy Monday, friends.

Coming Up to Speed…

I’ve honestly started this entry a million times, but never really finished it. Today’s the day. No lengthy catch up, just the basics…

I finished Insanity! and I LOVED it. LOVED. But it messed with my running–I didn’t have enough time or energy to properly devote to my training. So while the process was great and I got good results, I’m holding off on another round because I have some serious running goals staring me in the face.

I’ve done a ton of races so far this year, and I’m looking at another back-to-back race weekend this coming weekend. Still trying to find my groove as far as time management so everything gets done, but damn I love racing. Even on the bad days, running is lighting me up like it used to. Not going to get into details right now, but some new PRs have been set (as I inch ever closer to a sub-30 5k), and you can check out my Race Schedule page if you’re curious about what races I’ve done and how I did.

That said, there have been some bad days recently, and my poor performance at the half marathon course preview run killed me. Yesterday I went out for a 5k to redeem myself and was able to dissect it a little bit, which helps–if I can figure out what went wrong I can correct it. (1) My diet has been absolute crap–I’ve been on vacation so I haven’t been as consistent with my food plan. (2) New shoes–the ones I just bought and have been wearing are the updated version of my standbys, and whatever is different doesn’t seem to be working for me.

So today it’s back to my “diet” and I’m going back to my other shoes this week to see if it helps. Tweaked my ankle somehow during yesterday’s run so I’m resting today (crazy as that’s making me). That’s all I have for now, more soon.

Transformations…

When I was looking up race times for my last post I encountered the photos from last year’s First Day 5k. I shared them on social media on Tuesday, but there was far more to say than I could fit in an Instagram caption. I had a LOT of feelings when I first saw the pics and compared them to the ones from this year.

Not all of them good. My first reaction was admittedly not ‘wow’ and feelings of pride in how far I’ve come. I don’t remember being that big, for one, I was surprised when I saw the pictures. But I do remember how unhappy I was–not so much in or with my body, but just in general. I’m definitely someone who eats their feelings so periods of my life where I’m heavier are generally periods where I am struggling to deal. I was also just running races for the sake of running races at that point. I had fallen out of love with running and it would be another 6 months or so before I started to love it again. The second thought was still not ‘wow’, but more disbelief. ‘Sure, I look good in comparison, but…’ was my reaction as I was very much still spinning my wheels about the progress frustration I’d discussed the Focus entry. Yeah, I look good in comparison, but I’m still not where I think I should be. And that’s very much the headspace I was in when I posted it on Tuesday. I didn’t post it right away, and I was a little uncomfortable when I did. The nag at the back of my head wasn’t ready for compliments and way to go’s, her response was ‘yeah, but…’ and I think that’s what came through in the caption. Still, a part of me knew that I needed to put it out there, so I did.

Today the universe forced my hand–I woke up with pink eye and had to call off of work. Not what I wanted at all, my workaholic side was pretty pissed in fact, and if working from home was an option I would have been doing so today. Which is why the universe forced my hand and made me take a break. I did stuff around the house, went to the doc and the pharmacy (obviously), and I’ll be getting my Insanity workout in because I’m fine besides my eyeball, but I also took a nap and took advantage of the unexpected down time to try on some old clothes. Like I said in my Focus post–I feel tighter and leaner despite the scale and so I needed to see if there was any progress that I could actually see for myself. I didn’t have my hopes up, I wasn’t expecting much of anything, and maybe that’s why I got a pleasant surprise. Most of the things that I haven’t been able to wear for a couple of years were still tight the last time I tried them on. But today way more of them fit than I expected. Not everything, but a lot of things. And I was kind of floored by it.

I wore these shorts on my first date with my now husband. Pretty sure that was the last time I wore them. I’m still about 10 pounds heavier than I was then so I couldn’t believe that they fit. Husband pointed out that I’ve put on a lot of muscle since then. And it finally clicked. My composition is shifting, so I’m heavier but smaller all at the same time. Duh. Still a work in progress–I’m by no means where I want to be, I’m still chasing my optimal racing ‘weight’, though I realized that I need to focus less on the scale and more on other means of measurement as it’s going to be skewed at this point. It also means that in order to progress I need to really tweak my diet because I’m closer to my ‘goal weight’ than I previously believed so I have to strike a more careful balance.

But more important to me in this moment is that for the first time in months I can see progress, and I feel really good about it. (And really disappointed it’s January and too cold to wear most of my reclaimed clothes…)

Happy weekend, friends.

Wake Up Call…

I’ve been holding back, on here, in life, I haven’t quite been myself. It’s taken me awhile to realize it, and to realize that it’s my problem. I’ve lacked direction, I’ve gained weight, I just don’t feel like myself. For the most part I’m happy, positive, cheerful. I give the face of being driven and motivated but underneath I haven’t felt that. I struggle to do things that I know need to be done. I’ve made excuses for things without realizing I was making excuses.

I had a conversation with a friend at the end of last week when I’d slipped into a darker place, and he put things in perspective and snapped me back to reality. It was a kick in the ass that I needed much more than I realized. He called me out on my excuses.

I am not myself. I haven’t been running, at least not much. Not enough. My body isn’t where I want it to be and it doesn’t feel like mine. I felt most like myself when I was running most days of the week. I look at pictures from that phase of my life and that’s me. That’s what I look like, that’s what I feel like. And I miss me. A lot. Running has sucked for me for the past couple of years. I developed IT issues after my second marathon and I haven’t been the same since, and that became an excuse. And then we moved in together and got married and I’ve used that as an excuse. And my job situation sucked for awhile and that became an excuse.

And the conversation with my friend made me wake up and own up to all the excuses I was making, and made me realize that I need to shut up and run. It’s the piece that’s been missing. Ever since I was younger, long before I started running, I’ve envisioned myself as a runner, and that’s still how I see myself in my head. I know what it feels like to be that, and I want it back. And I want it back badly enough to do whatever it takes to get back there. If I can’t manage the IT issues on my own, I’ll go to PT and get help for it. Yeah it sucks and it’s slow going right now–I’m heavier than I should be and out of shape–but that’s not going to change unless I get off my ass and change it. I used to deal with my feelings by running, and that has gradually shifted to using food to deal with them–that has to change back. Now that I’m aware that’s what I’ve been doing I can change it.

The past few days since this conversation and the subsequent realizations have been so different for me. I ran both days. For the first time in ages I wanted to. And I packed my bag to potentially run after work (weather depending). I’ve had fleeting thoughts about missing time with my husband, but the fact of the matter is that girl–the one who ran all the time–is the one he fell in love with in the first place. And I’m missing some of my spark. If running more is what it takes to get it back, he’ll be supportive.

So this journey is finding my way back to myself. As I do that I think the other things I’ve been struggling over will fall back into place.