Archive | January, 2015

Taking a Break…

29 Jan

Recently, I have had quite a few people ask me “what’s next?”

The past 3 and a half years, I have had an answer to this question. But today, I do not.

Since fall of 2011, I have had a marathon planned. I knew what race was coming up for the fall and spring, and had it marked on my calendar when the 12, 16 or 20 week training would begin. While some days I hated the training, most days I loved it.

I loved the accomplishment of getting up in the 4am hour to complete an insane workout, checking it off my training schedule and documenting it on my daily mile. I loved talking to my running friends about our upcoming races and the goals we had. And I also loved the miles and miles of thoughts I had to myself, or those that I shared with friends. While there were days I despised my alarm clock, cursed the Garmin and was over the training schedule, I really did love it. As we discussed in my run group today, we hate the training schedule, but we love it more.

Today, I am not experiencing any of that. And I know I won’t experience it again for a while.

Over Thanksgiving, I decided that after I ran Phoenix, I would force myself to take a break from marathons. My body hurt, and I didn’t love running like I thought I should. With this decision, I removed the Boston Marathon from my list of upcoming races. It was a hard thing to do, but I knew it was the right thing to do.

I have done Boston the last two years, and had quite the experience at each one. I am not sure that any race will every top that of Boston 2014, and for that fact I accepted that I was OK with not going back. Now instead of running a marathon on April 20, I will be coming home from a wine trip with friends. I decided that a new experience with people I love took precedence over running the same marathon for the third year in a row. I also knew that the break was much  needed and would be good for me.

Taking a break while I am still on top and healthy is much better than being forced to take a break because I am seriously injured or hate the sport.

I also do not have any marathon planned for the fall, which is very strange. My husband and I are planning a big trip to Europe late summer, and I know it is not feasible to train for a marathon while on a two week trip. I want to enjoy every minute of this adventure, not be worried about hitting 50 miles a week while I am there.

One of the reasons why I decided to run Phoenix was because I had a feeling it could be my only marathon of 2015…and it looks like that will be right!

Even though my marathon schedule is obsolete, I do have some halfs on the schedule. I am beyond excited to run the United NYC Half Marathon in March! After that, I will be running as the 1:45 pace group leader for Running with the Cows, and the 1:50 pace group leader for Hospital Hill (my favorite KC race!)

Since I am focusing half marathons now, my flexibility will be much better with my training. If I skip a day, it isn’t the end of the world. And goodbye to 60 mile weeks. Which means more sleep and more of a social life (my friends haven’t seen my out on a Friday night in 3 years 😉 )!

My goal is to maintain 25-30 miles a week this spring, and focus much more on my cross training. I went to a class on Tuesday and I am still sore…which proves that I have got to get my strength training back! I will do a couple speed sessions here and there, but nothing intense like I had been doing. Hopefully with this rest, my body will heal and I come back to my next marathon mentally and physically stronger than ever!

IMG_6747

xo,

Ali

Have you ever taken a break? How was the transition?

Advertisements

Arizona Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Race Recap

22 Jan

A few months ago, Stacy and I got this crazy idea. We decided it would be a fun idea to sign up for another marathon just six weeks after we were to run St. Jude.

Coincidentally we both had our minds on the Arizona Rock ‘n Roll marathon. It was fate. We both signed up, and convinced Nicole and Diana to sign up too. It would be a fun and relaxed girls weekend, where we could also check another marathon off the list.

When I told people I was running this race, I pretty much got the same reaction – “you’re crazy”. I brushed off the comments and then stopped telling people my crazy plan. Which is why it was never mentioned here or on my other social media obsessions.

I didn’t realize how crazy of an idea this actually was, until I finished the St. Jude Marathon and could barely walk….I began to really question the decision and wonder if it was even possible for me to run another marathon. My body hurt, my feet still hurt, and my heart was not there.

It took until a week before the race to start getting excited for the race and to accomplish marathon #8. Stacy and I decided that we would run the race together and just have FUN. Diana, Nicole and Diana’s husband Lee were running the half marathon and had also had a plan to start the race together.

As soon as we landed in Phoenix on Friday night, I was beyond excited for the weekend and to run another marathon. I knew the weather would be gorgeous, there was no pressure, my body felt back to normal, and I was with some of my favorite people!

We were greeted at the airport by Diana, Lee and Nicole. It was great to see their smiling faces. I am sure the wine consumed prior to our arrival had nothing to do with their extreme excitement 😉

We went back to the hotel, had girl talk time in our room, then fell fast asleep.

Saturday morning we woke up rested and refreshed. Without the pressure of trying to PR a marathon, I slept like a rock. It was awesome.

After we got dressed, Nic, Stacy and I hit the Phoenix roads for a 2 mile shake out. I couldn’t get over the gorgeous weather and the SUN! We had not felt the sun like that in a very long time. KC has been a bit brutal lately!

After the shakeout, we grabbed coffee and breakfast then went to the expo (which was a really good expo btw). The whole morning was great. In Memphis I was a nervous wreck the day before the race. So nervous that I didn’t have as much fun as I should have. In Phoenix, I was so relaxed and able to enjoy every moment.

IMG_6693 IMG_6698

Following the expo, we went to the pool for lunch and relaxation. I made sure the group stayed in the shade so we did not use up any extra energy. I also made sure we were all drinking plenty of water…even though fruity pool drinks sounded SO much better.

Saturday night we went to dinner at 1130 The Restaurant. It was a great place and perfect for a pre-race meal. After dinner, we drove down to Tempe to check out the Half starting line and the finish line for the race. It all made me so excited!

FullSizeRender IMG_6705 IMG_6707 IMG_6708

After we got back to the hotel, the pre-race ritual began. Numbers were pinned, tags were added to shoes, and race strategy was discussed. We were all ready to run 🙂

Sunday morning, Nicole got up first to get ready for the half and meet Lee and Di. The half started in Tempe by the finish line of the marathon and half marathon. Therefore they had to drive down there and get situated much earlier than we had to be at the start of the full.

Pre race mirror selfie.

Pre race mirror selfie.

Stacy and I got ready and were out the door by 7:05am. We walked a few blocks from our hotel to the start and prepared for our 26.2 mile journey ahead.

Our pre-race nerves started, but overall we were still very excited for the adventure ahead.

And now begins our 26.2 mile journey…….

As soon as we crossed the finish line, our strategy began. Stacy and I decided we would warm up the first few miles, then get into a groove of 8:15-8:20 miles.

The first few miles flew by, and before we knew it, we were at the halfway mark! Our pace was steady at an 8:20 and we were having fun and enjoying each others company.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 9.45.43 PM

Miles 13 – 20 were a weird out and back. I am not a fan of the out and back races because you get to see what is ahead for you. If you run down a hill, you know you have to run right back up the thing when you turn around. But it was nice to see other faces while we were running and do some people watching. That is certainly a benefit of the out and back.

Side bar I am still in SHOCK over the number of people running in long sleeves and pants. How did they not suffocate!!! I even saw someone in GLOVES at mile 20.

When we hit mile 20, the race started to get hard…as it always seems to! Someday I want to run a 20 mile race and see how much better it feels than the full 26.2 does 😉

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 9.45.24 PM

Stacy and I continued to run mid-8’s and tried to maintain pace. By this time of the race, there was no avoiding the sun. I forgot my running sunglasses at home, so I ended up running in my huge bug-eyed Tom Ford glasses. While I might have looked a bit ridiculous, I am so glad I decided to wear them! Had I not, I would have been miserable from the squinting and likely added 5 years of aging to my face.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 9.45.09 PM

It was also getting warmer. I don’t think the heat really had an affect on my race, but I could definitely feel it. It was so weird, because while I knew it was warm (mid 60s) I never sweat. Apparently in the dry heat, your sweat evaporates as soon as it leaves your pores, which is why I didn’t sweat yet had salt all over me.

At mile 22, Stacy told me she needed a little pep talk. I proceeded to give her the worst pep talk ever and gave her my “shut up and run” line. Sorry Stac. I was finally able to pull together a semi-inspirational message for her and that got us through the next few hard miles. My body was hurting too, and I probably used up all the good pep talks on myself in my own head!

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 9.45.56 PM

I tried to distract us from the race as much as possible and get us to the finish. We reminisced on our runs together, and the fact that this was our 4th marathon we had done together. And our first marathon we did just the two of us the whole time.

Stacy is the reason why I started running marathons, and it was so much fun to run this one with her. If you want to have a real bonding experience with someone, run a marathon with them!

At mile 24, we finally saw the half marathoners and hit our first real hill! This race was INSANELY flat. I still cannot get over how flat it was. Once we peaked the bridge, we could tell we were getting really close. I loved this race because we stayed separate from the half marathoners the entire time. We could see them, but we didn’t have to share a road with them. This is a MAJOR bonus when the race is bigger like this one.

The last mile of this race was one of my favorite finishes I’ve had (behind Boston and NYC of course).

We got to run across a bridge over water, and looked down to the finish line. We could also see the finish line village and Beer tent which was extremely motivating. As we left the bridge and were almost to the finish, we saw our cheering squad!! It gave us both the biggest smiles to hear Di, Nic and Lee cheer for us. It also gave us our boost to get to the finish.

Seeing our friends and SO excited to finish!

Seeing our friends and SO excited to finish!

Stacy and I crossed the finish line just as we had in Boston 2013. Hand in hand.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 9.16.16 PM

We were done (finish time 3:41:10)! Marathon #8 for me and #15 for her was complete and it felt GOOD.

We immediately went to the reunion area and saw our friends. Then we got a beer and headed back to the hotel.

Pre-race glow!

Pre-race glow!

Thanks for being such a trooper, Lee!

Thanks for being such a trooper, Lee!

Di and Stacy

Di and Stacy

Nicole and Di ran together almost the entire race!

Nicole and Di ran together almost the entire race!

Such a fun weekend with my BFF!

Such a fun weekend with my BFF!

IMG_6714

Much deserved beer.

 

Looking back on this race and weekend as a whole, I have to smile. We had a great weekend together and the race was perfect. It was so great to run this entire race with Stacy and spend this time with her. She is such a great friend and I am beyond thankful and blessed to have her in my life.

As for the Arizona Rock n Roll marathon, I thought it was a great race and I would highly recommend it.

Thank you for all of the support for the St. Jude Marathon, and for this one as well.

xo!

Ali

I didn't even notice the climb the first half! This is from my Garmin.

I didn’t even notice the climb the first half! This is from my Garmin.

Splits aren't totally accurate because I had an auto pause incident during mile 17..

Splits aren’t totally accurate because I had an auto pause incident during mile 17..

 

St. Jude Marathon Race Recap

12 Jan

I am officially a marathoner x 7!

Last month, I ran the St. Jude Marathon. I started writing this post 4 weeks ago, and I am finally forcing myself to wrap it up and post.

Here we go…

The weeks before St. Jude I kind of fell off the radar with my blog training updates. Part of the reason was because I was busy with life. The other part was that I wasn’t feeling well and just didn’t have anything positive to say. Halfway through my training I started having Plantar Faciitis pain in my left foot. Then it hit my right foot too. Somedays were better than others, but most days it hurt – and it hurt pretty bad. As I was approaching the race I was very uncomfortable and discouraged. I had multiple therapy sessions (I did lots of Graston therapy), bought myself a foot spa, and got many foot rubs. Leading into the race, my legs felt good, but the feet felt bad. And that had me all sorts of grumpy and stressed. I was so worried that my months of training would go down the drain because of my dumb feet.

When we arrived in Memphis on Thursday, I started to get more positive about the race and told myself I wouldn’t let my feet put a damper on all of training. I was with my Mom and two friends, so I knew it would be an entertaining and fun girls weekend.

Friday morning we went on a little shake out run, then hit the expo. After the expo I went back to the hotel room and just relaxed. It was a really nice afternoon and exactly what I needed.

These ladies raised over $8,000 for Team Ryan!

These ladies raised over $8,000 for Team Ryan!

After relaxing for quite awhile, we hit the town for dinner. Memphis is a fun city and everyone there is SO nice. I could not get over the positive attitudes and charm. There was no way to be in a bad mood there when everyone around you was smiling and happy as can be. We had a great dinner and walking around the city was the perfect way to decompress and RELAX.

It rained ALL day on Friday.

It rained ALL day on Friday.

When we got back to the hotel room, I started all of my pre-race rituals. My clothes were laid out, my feet were taped up and everything was ready for the next morning. I crawled into bed and attempted sleep. It certainly wasn’t the best nights sleep, but it was far from the worst. I will take it.

Saturday morning I sprang out of bed and was the most nervous I have ever been before a race. I force fed myself some breakfast, then got dressed and ready to go.

Gotta take a snap chat.

Gotta take a snap chat.

St. Jude Heros!

St. Jude Heros!

When we got to the start I immediately felt better. I got to see my friend DeEtta, and also had a little moment with Stacy and Diana. Those girls always put me at ease and make me feel better. I am so thankful to have them in my life.

KC girls ready!

KC girls ready!

My Mom told me good bye and good luck and I got in line at the start.

The singing of the National Anthem was incredibly emotional. A former St. Jude patient sang, and she did such a good job. I couldn’t help but cry. I remembered that I only had a 26.2 mile journey ahead of me, while the children at St. Jude had one much longer and harder ahead. Seeing that sweet little girl put everything in perspective for me. I was there to run and support them. The day was not about me, it was about them.

Waving to my Mom.

Waving to my Mom.

When the race started I tried to get into my groove. I stuck pretty close to the 3:15 pacer and decided I would hang onto him as long as it felt comfortable. The first few miles felt pretty good. I was hitting a solid pace, but did have a doubt in my mind if I could actually hang on to that pace for 26 miles. And a doubt at mile 2 is never a good thing.

At mile 3, I saw my Mom! That was the best treat. I love seeing her during races. No one can give me that extra umph quite like my parents. They are the BEST. The next best moment was running through the St. Jude campus at mile 5. There were so many people out cheering, including some of the patients. Another reminder as to why I was running this race. I was doing it for them.

When I hit the first 10k, I still wasn’t totally sure how I felt. People say you know if you’re going to have a good race the first few miles. For me, I don’t feel like I know until I cross that finish line. That is what is so scary about 26.2 – there is so much time for things to awry.

At least I looked happy!

At least I looked happy!

Around mile 9 I decided I needed to slow down a bit. I was still running with the 3:15 pacer, but knew his splits were too fast (not sure what pace band he was looking at…) I didn’t want to blow my race because I was trying to stick to this guy that I knew wasn’t running on pace.

Looking back, this was the best decision. Had I continued to hang on to this guy, I know I would’ve fallen apart at mile 18.

At mile 13 I finally felt in a groove. I was running completely alone and I was ok with that. I had my ipod and it kept me company. Miles 13 – 18 were the best of the race. I felt invincible and knew that I was going to PR. I continued to tell myself that it would be a great day.

Passing the Half.

Passing the Half.

When mile 20 hit, I started to feel a little rough. My legs were burning too much, and my feet were throbbing. The high from the past few miles was gone…and the new tactic was to just hang on and survive.

I gave myself the biggest pep talk of all time and decided once again to shut up and run. I knew that the second I crumbled mentally my race was over. If I admitted to myself just how bad I felt, it would start to show. I decided at this point not to look at my watch. If I was getting slower, I didn’t want to see it. If I saw my times slowing, I would’ve lost it mentally.

I knew that once I got to mile 24, I would feel better. At mile 24 we ran back through the St Jude campus and received some much needed encouragement. I knew I had slowed down, but I felt good and continued to pass other runners.

Mile 25 was hands down the hardest thing I have done in my entire life (physically that is). I felt like I was barely moving. Every step hurt more than I have ever hurt before. Looking back I don’t know how I kept going, it hurt that bad.

When I saw mile 26, I finally looked at my watch. With some quick math, I figured out that I could still break 3:17 if I picked up the pace and ran my ass off. So I did just that.

I ran harder than ever before. It was truly an out of body experience.

Hardest experience EVER.

Hardest experience EVER.

As we turned into the stadium (the race finished on a minor league baseball field) I kept my mind on the finish and continued to pump my arms as fast as I could.

Then I crossed the finish line (and maybe fell down on the ground in the most dramatic way, but I am not admitting to anything).

3:16:53!

Working harder than I ever have.

Working harder than I ever have.

I did it. I broke my original goal of 3:20 and PR’ed. I couldn’t believe it. With how hard the last few miles felt I had no clue what I was in for with my time. I was shocked, happy and relieved that it was OVER.

After the race I waited for Stacy and Diana to finish. I was extremely proud of both of them and was very excited to see them at the finish and share our race experiences (the good, the bad and the ugly).

Looking back on this race, I know I gave it everything I had. And I should be extremely proud.

But I won’t lie…I was a little upset and I am still a tiny bit upset about the finish. I had trained to run a 3:15 and knew going into this race that my body could do it. So when I didn’t see that time on the clock when I finished, I was let down and bummed.

Proud of this medal.

Proud of this medal.

And even prouder of these girls!

And even prouder of these girls!

I don’t know why my body wouldn’t give me a 3:15 at this race. I trained for it, and worked my butt off for it. It was not one of those races where everything feels great and the last 6 miles make you feel like you are top of the world. At the KC half and NYC marathon, that is how I felt. At this race, I felt like I was hanging on for dear life almost the entire race.

It is hard to explain, but there is nothing better than the feeling of crossing the finish line with a big PR and feeling amazing on top of it.

I’m sure I sound like a cry baby, and that is certainly not my intention. I just wish that I would’ve felt better. Had I felt great AND ran a 3:16:53, I would have a different outlook on this race. The fact that I didn’t feel well forces me to do the “what if” game and think about how much better I could’ve done had it been a day where my body felt great.

Back to the positive 🙂

I would absolutely recommend this race to anyone looking for a marathon. The course was great. Not too flat and not too hilly. I think it was just the right amount of hills and flat. Our weather on race day was perfect, other than some pretty fierce wind. And as I said earlier, Memphis is a great city.

Now that this race is over, I get to go back to running for fun when I feel like it, not because I have to. I am looking forward to a break from marathons (well, after I run another one this weekend…) and enjoying half marathons.

As always, thanks for all the love.

Post race beer with my best cheerleader. This tasted SOOOOO good!!!

Post race beer with my best cheerleader. This tasted SOOOOO good!!!

More KC runners in Memphis. Great to see these guys!

More KC runners in Memphis. Great to see these guys!

At dinner with our Team Ryan group. So honored that we got to run for their daughter.

At dinner with our Team Ryan group. So honored that we got to run for their daughter.

8pm and barely staying awake. But that didn't stop Stacy from doing some karaoke.

8pm and barely staying awake. But that didn’t stop Stacy from doing some karaoke.

Splits:

  1. 7:28
  2. 7:17
  3. 7:25
  4. 7:26
  5. 7:15
  6. 7:29
  7. 7:14
  8. 7:17
  9. 7:24
  10. 7:24
  11. 7:16
  12. 7:19
  13. 7:19
  14. 7:17
  15. 7:24
  16. 7:27
  17. 7:27
  18. 7:20
  19. 7:33
  20. 7:35
  21. 7:32
  22. 7:38
  23. 7:29
  24. 7:44
  25. 7:34
  26. 7:51 + 3:17

3:16:53

Total Miles on the Garmin: 26.44
Average overall pace: 7:27
Overall Woman: 6th
Age Group: 1st

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 8.59.37 PM

xo,

Ali

%d bloggers like this: