Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Continuing On Despite Failure

I'm not going to lie, I'm still struggling with failing at Saturday's race. Not crossing the finishing line was never on my radar; I never thought about how I would feel if that would happen. I only dreamt of a new marathon PR, a shiny medal, celebrating another milestone marathon. Instead, my race ended in heat exhaustion before mile 10. 10 miles - an easy run for me! I feel so broken down and defeated. 

When I think about it, I was very nervous and anxious about Grandma's Marathon. Much more those things than excited (which will probably become a story for another post). I didn't have goals that weren't going to result in a PR and that scared me. Even knowing it was hot at the start, I kept that goal pace, never slowing until my body forced me to and even for a mile or two, I fought it. I wanted to forge on because I didn't want to be a failure. 

I keep thinking "if only" .... If only I would have realized that I wasn't trained to run fast in heat and humidity and slowed down from the beginning. If only I would have set another goal NOT based on time. Maybe I would have had a different race. Maybe my excitement about running my third marathon would have trumped my anxiety and the weather wouldn't have won that battle. Maybe now I wouldn't be battling a chronic headache and sun/heat sensitivity. Ugh. 

But I will continue on. I'm trying to figure out how to pick myself up, what's next for me. I love running, a DNF will not change that love. The last two days I've gotten out and just ran what I could. Not chasing a certain pace or distance, but just getting back out there again. Trying to find the fun in running. Trying to find solace in the fact that yes, I indeed can run; Saturday was just not my day. 5 miles on Monday, 6 on Tuesday and more to come throughout week. I'm doing my best to not look at my Garmin and trying not to focus on hitting a certain mileage mark this week. Just enjoy it.

I also signed up for a 5k on Sunday. It's part of Twin Cities Pride Fest. I'm looking forward to it. I'm running with a friend and we're just going to run together and enjoy the craziness I'm sure will be a part of it with the pride parade being held right after the race. No time goal, just for fun. Like running should be! I do struggle with running races for fun, but I think I can do it this weekend. Also, that is why I'm running with a friend and not by myself!

While trying to find out what's next for me, I had a friend message me about a 50k trail race next Saturday about an hour away from my home. She thinks I should do it since I'm well trained right now. It would be something completely different than a marathon. There would be no time goal since it's all off road on trails, lots of hills and, of course, longer than 26.2 miles! It's also a much smaller field, which would definitely help calm some of my anxiety. So, I'm seriously considering it. I understand that I would have to walk a lot of it, carry water and real fuel with me, but it might just be the confidence booster I need. Plus, a 50k is on my "must run" list for this year! I have like two days to decide! 

I'm doing my best to shake off the failure and rise up from it. Find the joy and passion in running, and get myself back out there. It might just look a little bit different than I had thought it would this year, but I'll still be running.

Until next time~

Monday, June 20, 2016

I Failed

I was so excited, so well trained to run 26.2 miles on Saturday. However, I failed. I didn't cross the finish line. I wasn't able to take home that coveted bridge medal. There were many tears, but not tears of happiness. I still don't know how to wrap my head around it all.

Grandma's Marathon was hot this year; it was 74 degrees, sunny and humid at the start, and those temps only rose throughout the race. There was no breeze off the lake to help. I took off around my goal pace and my legs felt heavy, my body tired. I thought it would get better so I kept pushing and the first three miles flew by and I tried to stay positive that things were getting better. I managed to take a few sips of water at the water stops trying to stay hydrated knowing how hot it was, but not slowing. At mile 5 things started to get really tough. The crowds were thick in the shade so I was forced out in the sun. I took a gel at mile 7 and my stomach reeled; I think I took maybe a quarter of it. A mile later I started to feel faint and I had to walk off and on. I was so incredibly lightheaded. At the next water stop I swallowed a salt tablet to see if that would help, but things just kept getting worse. I didn't want to give in, but I was at the point where I couldn't run or walk in a straight line. I started to get really scared. A pacer ran by me just as I almost fainted on the side of the road, ran up to a lady with a cheer station set outside of her house and asked her to help me. She ran down to me as I almost fainted again, helped me over to a chair so I could sit down. I couldn't catch my breath. My head pounded. I thought I was going to be sick. They wrapped a blanket around me, got me some water and I had to sit there with my head between my legs in order to not pass out. I couldn't breathe properly. 

When the bus came by, I climbed on and still needed help walking. I had no strength left in my body. I started to get cold and couldn't stop shivering. My clothes were drenched in sweat, but my skin was dry. I had to get another blanket wrapped around me and I felt like I couldn't lift my head because if I did I was going to faint. I had to be checked out by the medic and was told to keep trying to drink water until I got to the medic at the finish. It was the longest bus ride of my life. All I wanted to do was see my parents and friends who were waiting at the medic tent; I'm sure worried out of their mind. 

When I finally made it the medic tent, they said it was the beginning of a heat stroke; I say heat exhaustion, but either way, it was a good thing I stopped and didn't try to keep going. I held it together on the bus. Mostly because I was just trying not to get sick! But once I saw my parents, I saw the worry in their faces, I broke down in tears knowing that I failed. I had to go into the finisher chute to get my bag and I was so embarrassed. I saw everyone wearing those medals and I hated myself for not being one of them. I just wanted to get out of their and go home. 

At the start line so excited.
Two days later and I still feel incredibly embarrassed. I'm disappointed. I'm sad. I'm mad at myself for what happened. I trained so hard this year, and I failed. The race was supposed to be my victory lap of all those miles in training with a beautiful medal to show off all that hard work. I know deep down I did the right thing. One race or one medal isn't worth my health or my running future. However, at this point, I don't know how to get past this. I don't know what I'm supposed to learn from this. I don't know what's next for me. I feel like a failure.

I'm grateful for my support system. My loving and worried parents for being at the finish line, my amazing friends for coming out to the race and texting me kind words while I was freaking out on the bus, the kind stranger for coming to my rescue on the side of the road, my wonderful neighbors for taking me out to dinner to distract me on Saturday night, and all the kind words of encouragement from my friends on Facebook and Twitter. I feel like I disappointed you all.

Until next time~

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Bring on the 26.2

My third marathon is just days away and although I'm experiencing typical taper madness, at this point I'm also anxiously excited. Because I love to train and run all the miles, I have a hard time believing how many miles I've ran and that I'm trained for this goal race. I have to keep looking back at my training log to ensure that yes, I did run 927 miles these last 18 weeks! All I have left is to run the William A. Irvin 5k Friday night as easy and slow as possible to shake out the nerves, then bring on the 26.2 miles!

People often ask if I've always been a runner. I love telling them that I've only been running a little over three years and am training for my third marathon! Growing up I was into cheerleading and dance, but otherwise hated anything athletic. I wasn't supposed to be the athlete in my family, but the bookworm, the straight A student. My brother got the title of athlete. I was okay with that. I thought running was the most awful thing.

Then, when the most awful thing did happen, I eventually needed something to help me deal with my grief; I need an outlet for my heartbreak. Thanks to an amazing friend who encouraged my first run, I found not only my outlet, but also my passion, in running. 

I'm not a naturally talented runner. Speed is definitely hard for me. Long, slow distance is my perfect comfort zone! But I've set my goals to try to be faster each year and each marathon to eventually qualify for and run the Boston Marathon. Little by little I'm making my way there! I'm a perfectionist and it's difficult for me to not just reach that goal RIGHT NOW, but I'm trying to understand that it's going to take me time. There are other more talented, gifted runners who have been able to reach that coveted BQ by now and some days that hurts because I feel as if I'm putting in all the work as well. I'm happy for them, but get down on myself for not being as awesomely fast. I think this holds me back from running more races as well. I feel as if I'm not going to be faster, what's the point of doing a race? How do I not get disappointed with the result? How do I tell everyone that I didn't PR? I do envy those who run all the races so happily! Maybe I need to find a running buddy to run with me and yell at me to "calm down"! 

For now, I am aiming for a PR at Grandma's Marathon on Saturday, but not a BQ. That will come in time, but I knew trying to train at that level (to finish around 3:35) would be too much of a jump this time around; however, my A, B and C goals are all PR goals! My D goal is just to cross the finish line happy and injury free if all else fails! After Grandma's, I would love to do some more races and continue with training to run a fall marathon. First, let's see how Saturday goes! Good luck to everyone running races this weekend!

Until next time~

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Race Week!

I can NOT believe that it's race week. In just a few short days I'll be running my third marathon!! If you asked me yesterday how I was feeling, I would have told you that I was suffering anxiety attacks and was so tired. It was a bad day! Today, I'm feeling much more confident! On my six mile run this morning, I thought about all training I've put into this race, all the hard work, and tried to find some confidence.

Race outfit ready - all the colors!!
Reflecting back, I've ran over 900 miles during this training period in snow, freezing cold, sunshine, humidity, lots of rain and perfect spring days. I've ran happy, sad, angry, frustrated, sleepy and joyful. I've ran though doubts and insecurities. My body is trained and strong. I know the race is going to hurt, but I've trained my body to handle it. I'm going to make it to that finish line!

I do have goals, of course. I have A, B and C goals. But I'm choosing to keep those to myself right now. I'm not ready to share with everyone because if I "fail", I don't want to feel as if I disappointed anyone. No matter what happens, crossing that finish line will be a win in my book. I'm going to be happy and proud of myself. 

I will admit, tapering is HARD! Thank goodness with Hanson's Marathon Method I still run my normal days, just less miles. Today I ran an Oreo run - 2 miles easy, 2 miles at goal marathon pace, 2 miles easy - just to remind myself that I can run my goal pace! Honestly, I feel lazy and fat not running ALL THE MILES! Taper madness going on here!

So, I've debated on talking about this, but I feel compelled to mention it. What happened in Orlando is heartbreaking to me. I'm at a loss for words to describe how I truly feel. I'll share here what I shared with my family and friends on Facebook: my hope is that regardless of your stance on faith, religion, the LGBT community, or gun control, that you understand this was an act of hatred. That these acts of hate need to stop. And that we have to be the change in this world. Hate can not drive out hate; only love can do that. No one should be afraid to live their lives, to love who they want to love, to walk down the streets holding hands of the person they love. We need more acceptance and more love in this world, less judgement and less hate; love has to win.

I want to be the change in this world. I haven't figured out HOW I can help yet, but I will. My voice will be heard. I will fight for love.

Until next time~

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Battle Within

Four years ago I was battling some major demons inside of me. I was relatively happy, I had just started running and had fallen in love with it, but I still battled demons. These demons made me worry about every morsel of food I ate, tracked and weighed everything, never ate out because I couldn't control the calorie or sugar count, cut out all grains not because of an allergy, but because I was afraid of them making me fat.

Over these last few years I feel as if I've quieted the demons quite a bit. I understand after training for three marathons that I need to fuel my body properly to run as much as do. I've let up on a lot of the food rules that were driving me insane - weighing my food, tracking everything, allowing sugar in my house on occasion and even allowing a bagel or two be part of my weekly breakfast routine when I want something other than oatmeal. I understand now that my body needs carbs to function as the runner I want to be.

Strong legs in short shorts = strong runner!

However, those demons are never quiet for long. Someone will make an offhand comment about my food choices or my body type and those demons come roaring again. Right now I'm fighting them hard. My marathon is next weekend and now is not the time to cut carbs or overhaul my normal diet. Although I do love to read about ways to properly feed the runners body for optimal performance, now is not the time to be making those changes. 

Here's the thing, I struggle to come to terms with my body. I will never be someone who is perfectly tiny or skinny. I'm definitely athletic. Strong looking. I get that this body type is not everyone's ideal body type (ummm, thanks neighbor for pointing out time and time again how "big" my legs are in my running shorts; I got your message), and I'm okay with that. I like, no love, having muscle. Strong legs to carry me through 26.2 miles. Obviously I wish I had perfect abs and no matter how hard I try, can't get the perfect stomach I want. No shakes, workout video, wrap, or whatever magic potion someone wants to sell me is going to give me that. I'm working hard. I run 55 to 60 miles per week. I lift weights. I do planks and core workouts. This is my body no matter how much I want to change it some days. I still feel incredibly self-conscious in a bikini or running in a sports bra and struggle going to the pool when it's busy.

I have the runners tan down pat! But I feel too self-conscious to go to the pool!

And because of this struggle, my eating and my nutrition easily becomes affected. I tend to stop eating enough food and survive on chicken and salad. I stop eating things I love like greek yogurt or chocolate because someone pointed out my imperfect body; the thing that I keep beating myself up over and over again. Controlling or cutting my calories does no service to my running and fitness. Especially at this point in my training. 

So if you start to feel the need to tell someone how they should be eating because it worked for you or your sister, best friend, etc., or pointing out something imperfect about their body or diet, just pause for a minute. Is it really your place to say something? Does that person have a good relationship with food? Because I'm guessing there are more people out there like me who suffer from disordered eating and body image issues. What you say could put them in a dangerous downward spiral or constantly be plagued by negative thoughts about what you said. If they ask you for advice, that's different. But those offhand comments about someone's body or food choices, be a little careful. Those demons don't stay quiet for long.

Lastly, dear neighbor. I know you will never read this, but please keep your opinions to yourself. I don't comment on your body, please don't comment on mine. I'm not sorry it's not to your liking. I'm also not sorry that I love cotton candy, because it's really strange you had an issue with the fact that I wanted to find some last year during the carnival festival. And no. I don't need to run 10 extra miles if I ever find that elusive cotton candy. 

Working on keeping those demons quiet. Until next time~ 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Two Weeks to Go!

Yesterday (Saturday) when I woke up, my first thought was "two weeks until race day!" Then, all sort of nerves took over my body and mind the whole entire day. I just couldn't shake out the nerves! I kept scrolling through Instagram and seeing other people running Grandma's Marathon posting awesome 14 to 18 mile runs, and I thought, "crap, I'm only running two 10-mile runs this weekend. I'm going to fail!! Those people are better than me!!"

Then, I took some deep breaths and tried to relax. Those people are awesome, but my plan, the plan I chose and trust, has two 10-mile runs this weekend so that's what I was going to do. And I did! Yesterday's run was cool, rainy and super easy paced. Today's run was warm, sunny, super windy and I pushed the pace more than yesterday on the faster end of my "easy pace" runs. Both were fine runs, but if I could choose, I'd much rather run in cooler, cloudy weather!

My taper doesn't officially start yet. With Hanson's Marathon Method, you keep up the intensity with speed work and tempo runs this week so I don't really think about "taper crazies" until after Thursday's 13 mile run! I think that's a good thing because two full weeks of running less mileage would drive me insane! I still have 55 miles scheduled for this next week, which is perfect for me.

I've already started weather stalking thanks to my neighbors. Currently the forecast calls for 83 degrees high and sunshine. Ummm, Mother Nature, that's a little too warm for marathon day! I would like to order up 50 degrees, clouds, I'll even take raindrops if I must! I'm trying not to freak out about it. Yet. Give me time, I'll get there! This week is supposed to be super warm, like 90 degrees, so I'll plan on trying to acclimate a little bit better to the heat. Make sure to carry water and TailWind Nutrition with me to get used to taking that in during hot runs. I can't control the weather, just prepare myself the best I can!

This week I ran 56.6 miles including easy runs, speed work, hill work and tempo miles. I felt pretty good (other than my nerves yesterday) on each run, and managed to keep up weights, core and/or legs 5 out of the 6 run days! I definitely feel a lot stronger this training season than I have before thanks to having a gym in my apartment building and making time to use it! Now I just need to figure out if I should keep up with weights these final two weeks or phase it out to solely devote my energy to running and recovery.

Hope everyone has enjoyed their Sunday Runday!

Until next time~

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Marathon on My Mind

It's been so long since I did this whole blogging thing, I think I forgot how to do it! I feel as if my blog had no purpose or direction so I just let it go. However, I do like to write and want to inspire others and thought I would re-open Pink Cupcake Runs again!

My third marathon is less than three weeks away (I'm running Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN) on June 18th. I'm a mix of emotions - excited, anxious, nervous, worried - but I feel as ready as I can be at this point. The Hanson's Marathon Method worked so well for me last year and I hope to have success again this year! I do sometimes think the mileage I log is a little crazy, but I do not feel as if I'm overtraining. I know people are worried about that, but I think I'm balancing that line pretty well.

May miles = highest monthly mileage ever!

Often times I think the hardest part of training for me is nutrition. Food is something I ALWAYS struggle with in my daily life and seems to get even more difficult for me while training. I do not want to gain weight, but I also need to ensure I'm eating enough, and enough quality food. Not that I'm eating junk, I just eat a lot of salads, but I can't run my best on salads alone! I try to tell myself to keep it simple - just eat food that makes me feel good and run a lot of miles. Hopefully it will work itself out, otherwise I need to hire a nutritionist!

Currently I'm only signed up for this upcoming marathon and I don't know what I'm doing after that. This is bothering me so much! I know I want to run more races, but I'm not sure when or what. Budget is a big issue for me so I can't run all the races. Luckily, I love to run regardless of races, but I do wish I could race more!

Last year I ran the Red, White and Boom half marathon on July 4th, but I wasn't exactly ready for that two weeks after a full marathon. I loved the course though and am wondering if I should do it again. I also really, really want to run a 50k and challenge myself more. I found one in Wisconsin that looks amazing for my first ultra marathon, the North Face Endurance Challenge, but I'm being a chicken and haven't signed up yet. I also want to run the Whistlestop Marathon in October to try for a Boston Qualifying time, but still haven't signed up for that.

Mostly what I'm worried about is how much can my body handle? Can I do two full marathons in a year (both big goal races) along with a 50k? Will my body (and mind) handle all that training and sacrifice? I know some people run multiple marathons in a year, but I just don't know how they do that. Training is basically a part time job. At least that's how I approach it. Unless I can dedicate all the time to run all the miles, plus keep up strength training, I'm not going to do it. My mind doesn't allow me to run a race "for fun," but to do better, aim higher, train harder each time. I really need to make some decisions!

I do know that for right now I'm loving training. I love running and enjoy most every run, even the runs I struggle through because I know each run is making me stronger and I can't wait to get to that starting line in 17 days!

Until next time ~