Tag Archives: Motivation

Running 26.2 in the Rain (It’s not as bad as you may think)

26 Oct

Happy Friday, everyone! And happy race weekend to all those running Saturday or Sunday!

Yesterday, I received a text from a friend who is running the Marine Corp Marathon Sunday. She was looking for some tips on running a marathon in the rain, due to the fact that Hurricane Sandy is most likely going to have an impact on their racing weather. I have experience running 26.2 in the rain (read about that experience here and here), so Andrea knew I would have some ideas on ways to salvage her race.

Although you might freak out about the thought of running a marathon in the rain (been there, done that!!), it really isn’t that bad. And it isn’t going to totally mess up your race. My first marathon experience was in the pouring down rain and 40 degrees. And I still look back at that day as being one of the best days of my life. I also got a BQ 🙂

So now let’s talk strategy about preparing for a run in the rain…We will start with at the bottom and work our way up.

Feet
Your feet are going to get wet no matter what, and your shoes are going to get super soggy and annoying. Make sure you put plenty of aquafor/vaseline/deodorant (deodorant is my favorite way to prevent chaffing and blisters) on your feet before putting on your socks. This will prevent friction and blisters from wreaking havoc during the race. I also suggest investing in a pair of dry fit socks. Those will deal with the rain much better than cotton.

Hands
Luckily for the MCM people, it won’t be nearly as cold as it was for my marathon in the rain. I made sure I had back up gloves for the race and switched them out halfway through. Dry fit gloves were my saving grace for the second 13.1.

Core
Wearing the proper clothing will be very important on race day. I tried on every potential outfit I brought for the race the night before, and threw water on each one. This way I could see what instantly absorbed water, and what didn’t.

I also got pretty crafty and made a waterproof vest out of my expo bag. The reason why I didn’t just buy a vest was because I knew I would want to shed this thing at some point of the race. And I didn’t have someone there to throw things to at designated spots. I swear that everyone running that race commented on how smart we were for making our own vests. This kept our core warm and dry, and I ended up wearing it for 24 miles!

Another must do is wearing a poncho as long as you can up until the race start. This will help you stay dry before the race starts.

Running in the bag!

Those ponchos were a life saver.

Head
A hat is a must on race day. This will keep the water from hitting your face and driving you insane. It will also help you not look like a wet dog with sopping wet hair in every photo (the race photos matter, people!). I put an earband over my headband so I could toss it off if I wanted to and not have to remove my entire hat. It also helped hold the hat down because it was windy (which it will be for the MCM people as well).

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I believe I have covered all areas of the body to prep for this race.

As I said early…running a marathon in rain isn’t as tragic as you may think it is. You can do it, and you can still have a great race!!

Good luck everyone, and let me know if you have any questions! I am happy to help out my fellow runners!

XO,

Ali

The proudest moment of my life – crossing that finish line in 3:32!!

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1,000 Miles

14 Oct

Last week, I completed quite the feat..I hit 1,000 miles of running for the year.

Originally when I made my goals for 2012, I said I wanted to run 800 miles. Well, after training for a few half marathons and two marathons, I far exceeded my goal of 800. The few weeks before I hit the big 1,000 mark, I had been monitoring my Daily Mile stats. Every mile closer to 1,000 made me even more excited and motivated.

I realized before going on a 16 miler, that I would hit 1,000 miles at mile 9. As soon as I reached mile 9, I stopped, did a little dance, and took a photo.

1,000 miles was an incredible accomplishment for me. I have never run so many miles or trained so hard in my life. The last year of training has really proved to me what my body is capable of, and has given me so much more confidence in myself.

Although every single mile has not been fun or enjoyable, every single mile has been something I am extremely proud of.

Do you have a mileage goal for the year you’re about to exceed? Or a dream mileage goal you’d like to achieve?

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!!

xoxo,

Ali

“I am bored with this”

8 Oct

A very smart and clever woman recently said I phrase I have grown to love – “I am bored with this”.

Who is this clever woman you ask? Well it is Heather from the Real Housewives of Orange County (Duhhh).

 

Lately I have been inserting this phrase into my life wherever (and whenever) possible, because I think it is so hilarious (and applicable). Whether I am waiting in line at Target, attending a dull meeting or inserted into a dramatic situation I have no interest in being a part of, you can bet that I am “bored with it”.

And let me tell you – I have recently become very “bored” with my marathon training. The long runs are exhausting. The 4am alarm clocks are tiring. And the schedule I must adhere to is overwhelming.

I am so over marathon training, that I am starting to loathe it. I want race day to be here so freaking bad, and yesterday marked four weeks from the New York City Marathon. I am starting to panic that I might not be able to make it another month of these hard runs and early mornings. And that I might lose my drive and determination that I had going 2 months ago.

The first part of my training was awesome. I was running like a rock star, and breaking all my previous training PR’s. I felt like I was on cloud nine and could go out and run a 6:45 pace whenever the heck I wanted. But now? It is a totally different story.

The last two weeks have been full of semi-disappointing runs. They feel so hard, and I feel so tired. Last week I had to QUIT a speed session halfway through. I NEVER quit my training runs, so this was not an easy pill to swallow. Although I have started to feel a bit better the last couple days, I am still not back to “me”, and I am freaking out that I don’t know how to get back there, and that I won’t get back there to break a 3:30 marathon.

Now I request your help….how do I get back to my determined state I was in just a few weeks ago? And how do I get my fast legs back to running sub 7 minute miles without a problem?!

Help!! All tips, advice and suggestions are welcome!!

xo,

Ali

Holy Moly, It’s Marathon Week

14 May

Wow. I cannot believe it is here so soon.

It is officially marathon week. And as of Sunday, before 12 noon (hopefully), I will be a marathoner x 2!

Chicagoland, May 20th

If you have been neglecting my recent blog posts (shame on you), you are unaware that I will be running the Chicagoland Marathon in Schaumburg, IL. The purpose of running this marathon is to get my running buddy Diana a BQ. I will run beside her for 26.2 miles to keep her spirits high, and keep her pace right where it should be. And to be a part of the celebrations after it happens.

Diana needs to run a 3:45 marathon to get her the highly coveted ‘Boston Qualifier’ title. I have NO doubts that she can do this. She has been training like a rock star, and has been nothing but dedicated to this goal over the last few months.

By your side, all the way!!!

Preparations

My pre-marathon preparations are nothing crazy. Basically I try to get as much sleep as possible, eat well, consume no alcohol, and drink tons of water.

I also plan to spend a fair amount of time obsessing over my outfit, as well as the day-of race weather.

Currently status on those two items:

New Lululemon running skirt is in the mail. Top is TBD based on temperature (long tank vs. sports bra).

Hope I love it, seeing that I won’t really get to try it out first…..

Weather looks pretty darn hot.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

How do you prepare for big events (marathons for example)? Any tips for me, and most importantly my dear friend Diana??

Wishing you a great week ahead.

Xoxo,

Ali

#Dedication

10 May

The last couple weeks have been crazy. But crazy in a good way. My travel schedule has taken me to Vegas, and the Kentucky Derby on back to back weekends (actually with only a day in between).

Although I love my busy schedule, it posed an issue in getting in my last 20 mile run before my Marathon on May 20th. After going through all my options, it was determined that the only option for running my 20 miler would be doing it before work. Ouch.

Lucky for me, running buddy Diana was also in the same predicament as I was, and would be running the 20 miler with me. Her too, before work.

Wednesday afternoon I created us a route, as well as a water plan. If the route panned out perfectly, we would have a great 20 m mile course around Lee’s Summit.

Wednesday evening it was early to bed (ok, not as early as it should have been…..), and I set my alarm for well before the crack of dawn.

Thursday morning came much too quickly. And by 4:15 I was out the door to begin our 20 mile adventure.

We planned our run to have two water stops at Quick Trip. This was the perfect plan. We were able to refuel on our GU, and get ice water and Gatorade. I was praying I didn’t run into anyone I knew…seeing that our second water stop was in the middle of the morning rush. Good news – I saw no one!

By 7:40am, our run was over. We rocked it, and most importantly had FUN.

By 8:30am, I was out the door for work.

I got bangs!

 

By 9:00, I was at my desk

By 9:45am, I was ready for a BIG nap 🙂

And all day, I felt like a total bad ass. I mean, how many crazy people run 20 miles before work?!

Have you had a #Dedication moment recently? Or an accomplishment you would like to brag about? If so…let me have it!!

XO,

Ali

Adventures in Pacing

24 Apr

This past Sunday, I crossed something exciting off of my “To Do List” – I ran a half marathon as a pacer. The race was the Kansas Half Marathon in Lawrence, KS, and was expected to have an awesome turnout this year.

The pace group that I was responsible for leading was the 1:55 group. Stacy ran beside me as my co-pacer (she is a seasoned veteran at pacing) and together we had the energy and pacing skills needed to lead our group to their goal!

Smart Pacing

The pacers for this race follow a Smart Pacing strategy. This strategy helps you to run a smart race, and ensures that you don’t start out too fast. It also gives you some cushion on the hills.

I have used the Smart Pace Strategy in all of my recent races, and let me tell you – it works! If you visit the Smart Pacing website, you can learn more about the strategy, and how it can benefit you. There is also a link to Races2Remember, which uses the Smart Pacing strategy to create Pace Bands.

The Pace Bands are genius. They include a number of different races (13.1/26.2) and customize your pace band to that race. These people are SMART. And they know what they are doing. They will create a band just for you, and do it for you cheap. Please, give ’em a try for your next big race. You won’t regret it!

The pace band for my race is shown below.

And it fits to comfortably on your wrist!

Now look at the elevation chart for the race. See how this band compensates for the hills? And gives you warm up time, as well as the inevitable slow down time at the end of the race? Like I said, it is genius. And it will help you to run the way you should run.

The Race

Ok, now I will transition off of the Smart Pacing soapbox, and talk about the race.

Stacy and I lined up at the start, and met our group. We had such a fun assortment of people with us, and all were trying to achieve a goal of breaking 1:55. I love being around people who love running as much as I do, and they were certainly present in our pace group.

The stick is actually quite easy to carry!

The course was hilly, and had some questionable areas (i.e. running at least 5 miles on a sidewalk…..) but it was great overall. And most importantly we were able to keep our group together.

Around mile 11 Stacy encouraged everyone who was really feeling it to take off and finish out the race as hard as they could. We had one guy that wasn’t so sure about this, but after our encouragement he trusted that he could do it, and he ended up setting a BIG PR!

By the end of the race, Stacy and I were crossing the finish line alone. Our group had spread their wings, and flown to the finish. It was amazing to see.

Our official race time was 1:55:11. Best case, we would have finished in 1:54:59, but we stopped right at the end to cheer on some people that needed that extra encouragement (good for them, not so good for our final time).

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Pacing was a blast. And was everything I had hoped it would be! Nothing is more rewarding than MULTIPLE people coming up to you after the race, thanking you for helping them reach their goal. Everyone was so gracious, and so kind. They made the experience so enjoyable, and well worth the time I put towards it.

I hope in the future I am able to pace again (if that additional 11 seconds on my time doesn’t black ball me). I also urge everyone who has the opportunity to pace a race to snatch it right up! You will not regret it.

Have you ever ran with a pacer? Or as a pacer?

xoxo,

Ali

My Love/Hate Relationship

15 Mar

I am in a love/hate relationship. And this relationship is with speedwork.

Every week, I dread my Tuesday/Thursday runs because it means we are doing speedwork. And this week was no different; tempo run on Tuesday, track work on Thursday.

Speedwork is hard. And uncomfortable. Speedwork forces you to put your body in a state of discomfort for an extended amount of time, and makes you feel like death while you’re doing it. Speedwork is also very scary, and intimidating. You see the times you must run your repeats in and immediately think, “Holy crap” (or at least I do).

But one thing is for sure: Speedwork pays off, and makes you run faster than you think is possible for your body.

As I said earlier, speedwork is a love/hate relationship for me. And although last night at 9pm I hated it, today at approximately 6:26am, I was in love…

Diana’s training schedule (I use Di’s, because I have yet to make one for myself) listed mile repeats for today. When I heard this, I said to her, “Oh, well you can do those but I am doing my own thing. I despise mile repeats. They suck. No way.”

As I was driving to meet the girls this morning, I was trying to figure out what I was going to run…800’s? 400’s? A ladder? And when I got up to the track, I still had not decided. We ran our warm up run, and still no decision (It is really hard to think at 5:15am).

Then it was time to start the actual workout. So I sucked it up and said I would do the first mile repeat with them, and then do my own thing (whatever that may be).

Well, I never started my own thing, and ended up running all 4 of those dang repeats.

The times for each mile were as follows: 7:02, 6:43, 6:41, 6:34. I thought anything under 7 would be good, and after the first mile I knew I needed to kick it into gear and pick up the pace. I didn’t think I would have these 6 min miles in my legs today, but it appears I did.

After I finished, I was proud and happy (as I always am after a Tuesday/Thursday run). And on a total runners high (my favorite feeling!!!). I am so glad that I pushed myself to do this workout today and didn’t give up. Diana and Stacy also did awesome on theirs, and we were a happy group overall.

Stacy wrapped up our run with a groundbreaking observation. She said to us, “You know what makes you run a fast race? Practicing a fast pace”. Shut the front door, I never would have guessed!!!

 

How do you feel about speedwork?? Do you love it? Hate it? Or both like me?

xo,

Ali

8 Miles in 8 Degrees

12 Feb

This weekend, I ran in the coldest weather I had ever braved.

It was 6 degrees when we began our 8 mile run at 8am, and 8 when we finished. The windchill was well below zero, but the sun was shining bright.

Diana, Stacy and I had decided it would be fun to wear PJ pants on this insanely chilly run. The PJ pants were also a great idea because they were fleece and were easy to layer over tights.

Oh you know, just ready to rob a bank!

This run was NOT Miles with Style. We looked like fools, and didn’t match at all.

Diana was wearing fleece pants with turtles on them, while I was spreading christmas cheer with mine. Our friend Emily who took the picture had the best PJ pants…complete with robots! Stacy looked the best, donning a pair of navy blue pretties.

I always try to look my best when I run, however in 8 degrees it is semi-impossible to look fashionable. The number one goal of this run was to avoid hypothermia, and get in our 8 miles.

We ended up having a great run, and were so proud of ourselves for making it through. We were also quite proud of the dedication we have to this sport.

Ran in my huge glasses, and they really helped to protect my face!

I hope you all had an awesome weekend as well, and avoided the 8 degree weather!

Wishing you an awesome week ahead!

XO,

Ali

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The Story Behind NYC 2012

7 Feb

Last Friday, I received one of the most exciting emails. It was from NYRR (New York Road Runners) and it was letting me know that my application to run the 2012 ING NYC Marathon had been “accepted”.

I was overjoyed.

I tweeted it.

I facebooked it.

I stared at the badge.

And then I really started to think about it.

The New York City Marathon has always been on the top of my “dream list” of marathons. I love New York, and thought it would be amazing to run through this city.

For those of you who don’t know about the process to get into this race, it is a little complicated. The NYC Marathon is a “lottery” marathon because so many people want to run it. You submit an application to run, and then you’re notified whether or not you were accepted.

There are a few ways to get around the lottery, one of these is guaranteed acceptance using a half marathon or marathon time within the last year.

Based on the above chart, I needed to run under a 1:37 half, or 3:23 full to get automatic acceptance into the race. 2012 will be the last year that a 1:37 & 3:23 will be accepted for women, then the times drop a TON (seriously…the new times are insane).

I knew when I applied that my 1:37 half I ran in October 2011 should get me in, but I was still nervous. I waited to apply, and I feared that this would have a negative impact on my application.

Well, it didn’t. I found out one day after I applied that I was “accepted” into the race.

This is when I had my major “aha” moment.

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I ran the St. Louis Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in October 2011. And if you read this recap blog post, you know that I was quite the cry baby over my performance in the race.

I wanted to PR that race, and run under a 1:34. But I didn’t. I ran a 1:36:37.

The day I ran that race, I wasn’t feeling it. I felt like crap the entire race, and my legs killed the entire time. It was everything in me to keep going and finish the thing as strong as possible. And it required pep talk after pep talk to myself.

At many points I thought about turning around and finishing with a friend I knew was a couple minutes behind me. But I didn’t. And not doing that ended up making quite an impact in my life.

Had I let myself slow down during this half marathon, I would not have made it onto the “guaranteed acceptance” list for the NYC Marathon. And quite possibly not made it into the race at all this year. I would not have received good news when I really needed some in my life. And I would not have been given a boost of motivation that I desperately needed as well.

Upon reflection of these things, it was confirmed to me that there truly are reasons why things happen. There was a reason why a voice inside my head was so strong the day of my half marathon, telling me “keep going”. And there was a reason why I did not give up and run 23 seconds slower.

I never would have thought this half marathon would have such an impact on my life. I used to look back on that race and cringe. Now I look back on that race and smile. That race got me into my dream marathon, and brought me good news when I really needed it.

After this, I will always remember that things are happening for a reason, and there is ALWAYS a reason to keep going and finished what you started.

XO,

Ali

 

A Letter to My Skinny Friend

2 Feb

Dear Skinny Friend,

We have lived in the same neighborhood for about 2 and a half years. I don’t know your name. I don’t know your story. I don’t know anything about your life. But I really like you. And you inspire me.

Our faux friendship started shortly after I moved into my house. I would see you running in the morning, and see the determination within you. Every time we run by each other, we share a polite “hello” and “good morning!”. You also give me a very kind smile that tells me you are a nice person.

So why do you inspire me? You inspire me because no matter what weather – rain, snow, cold, heat, etc. you are out hitting the pavement in our neighborhood. Every single day you run. And every day you look so determined to get to the next step.

You also inspire me because over the two and a half years we’ve been living in the same neighborhood, you have lost at least 50 pounds. Anyone who can take control of their life and do that for themselves inspires me. I don’t what else you are doing aside from running, but skinny friend – you’re lookin’ good.

Maybe someday we will stop and have a conversation during our run. However based on your focus and my tendency to start my morning runs late, I don’t know if that will ever happen.

Thank you for being an example to others in our neighborhood, and proving that being active can make a big difference in ones life.

Also, thanks for all the smiles, hello’s and good mornings these last two years. Keep up the running, and keep up that level of determination.

-Ali

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