NJ Marathon Part 2

Saturday night I prepped everything I would need for race day.  Now, my alarm is set for 5:30 every (week) day, however marathons are generally held on the weekend... I'm sure  you can guess what happened. Thankfully I woke up by myself and I made it to the race on time.  Like, announcing "Runners to your corrals" on time, but there before the race started!

And we even had time for pictures!

I went into this race with a clear fueling strategy.  Fueling began a week prior to race day.  I made sure to feed my body whole foods with plenty of high quality carbs and protein, but not really changing it up too much.  The day before I didn't chug water, but made sure I was fully hydrated.  My race night dinner was early, light and I've eaten it a million times before with no stomach issues.

Race morning I had my usual PB and banana sandwich.  Then I had my first GU in my corral waiting for the race to start.

After my first GU I made sure to take a GU about every half hour.  Unlike my last marathon I was consistent and made sure I didn't forget to take any.  I also drank Gatorade and water at each station, spaced about 1.5 miles apart from each other. 

And of course I had to take a picture with the Elvis(s).

In my race day strategy Lou gave me great advice, which stuck with me. You can’t set a PR during the first 10 to 30 minutes but you can defiantly lose it. He told me to zone out, block out all the excitement, focus on deep rhythmic breathing, and RELAX!  And that's what I did.  I listened to 3 podcasts, Marathon Training Academy, Vegetarian Food For Thought, and Marathon Talk.  On Marathon Talk they interviewed ultra marathoner Scott Jurek.  He's won 100 mile races, so it put my 26.2 in perspective!

I hit mile 13 feeling great!  At 13 I turned on my jams.  Fun. really gets my heart pumping for the record!  At the 1/2 way point my race strategy switched.  It was time to 
kick the tires and light the fires”
It’s now time let’er rip. It’s “hurting time”

 My race strategy now was to pick a runner in front of me and focus on catching them. After passing them, pick another runner and pass them.  It was actually a fun game and it helped the miles go by.

Spread out along the course there was a good amount of people cheering, and I always love a funny sign to get me smiling!  They even had a couple bands playing.  

When we finally hit the boardwalk I knew I had almost made it.  Of course I felt tired but the boardwalk gave me some renewed energy.  After the boardwalk came what I thought was the hardest part of the race.  The sun was beating down and all around you could see people digging deep to keep going. 

I'm pretty sure my Mom and Matthew were REALLY close to the finish line, but when I saw them I just assumed the finish line would be a hop, skip, and a jump away.  I was wrong.  Seriously, those last .2 miles are rough! 

Matthew was shaking his moroccas and yelling "Go Melissa!  You're almost there!"  I picked up the pace but I didn't see the finish line.  I kept up the pace and thinking it would be around the next bend.  I was getting SO mad.  Where was the finish line?!  

When I finally saw it I sprinted and gave every ounce of energy that was left in my body.

Mile 26 was my fastest mile of the whole marathon. Negative splits, what what?!  As soon as I stopped running all the muscle pain hit my body.  My lower back ached and my legs felt like jelly, but I was SO. HAPPY.

I know I did not PR, but I felt strong, accomplished, and oh that runners high! 

After my last 2 marathons I felt burnt out.  Not this time around.  I really think that if I give myself enough time to build up a solid base, and stick with Lou's training plan I can PR.

Each race we always learn something new, but I think we need to have the right attitude going into it.  I knew this race for me was not about pace and being fast.  Instead I wanted to find a way to finish strong and still love running the next day.  I think I achieved this, and am excited for what the running future holds!


NJ Marathon Recap Part 1

Hi!  So um, remember that marathon I signed up for back in January and then I dropped off the face of Blog Land?  Well...I ran it!

But before I can tell you about the glorious moment I crossed the finish line, I'll have to back it up a bit since I haven't talked to you in about 4 months.  I mentioned in my last post I signed up with a running coach at my gym to help me with training.  He is an iron man and really knows his stuff, so I felt very comfortable putting my training in his hands.  I had done the usual, circle the race date on the calendar, decorate it with colorful markers and stars ((oh wait, you don't do that?)) and count backwards...I had plenty of weeks to build up to a 22 mile long run, or so I thought.  

 Lou's approach was that of "Train smarter, not harder".  For someone who has always prescribed to the traditional mid-mileage during the week and you can't miss your long run on the weekend type plan, this threw me for a loop.

I sent Lou what I was currently doing (my new love, hot yoga, had to be included in this plan I told him) and how much I could realistically train each week time wise.  What I got back was a comprehensive plan that included 7 days: hot yoga, various types of runs (all based on training in a specific heart rate zone), strength training, rest (of course!) and the "long" run to be done in an ideal heart rate zone.  I say "long" run and not long run because the runs were just not long.  Seriously, this running gal was thrown for a loop.

Hot yoga shweaty mess!
After a couple weeks of following this plan I emailed Lou with my concerns.  Thankfully he is seriously passionate about running and fitness and there was a method to his madness.  He explained it like this,

"Time is a much more beneficial and useful way of training. Studies have shown that cardiovascular improvement increases steadily with little risk of injury up to the two hour mark, after the two hour mark the risk of injury starts to increase significantly while the cardiovascular improvement diminishes significantly. 

 The reason mileage is a poor way of training is because it does not take into account how long a person exposes their body to stress. You said you ran 20 miles in preparation for your last marathon. I think I would be safe in assuming that 20 miles took you a lot longer then 2 hours to run and therefore exposed you to a high risk of injury. I have a client who is doing the Boston Marathon in a few weeks. He qualified by running a 2:57 marathon. If I had him run for 20 miles I know it would take him a lot less time then you and therefore exposed his body to a lot less stress. Here you have two people running the same 20 miles but the stronger more experienced runner is running a lot less and not stressing his body as much as the weaker less experienced runner. See the flaw in training based on mileage? 

You need to train smarter not harder if you want to achieve your goals."

I still wasn't 100% convinced, but I kept going and put my faith in the training.  The workouts I did during the week were fantastic; I loved the very specific Fartlek and tempo runs.  I especially enjoyed my new strength training routine, which is so so so important to runners.  In the past I had always made the excuse that if I lifted weights I'd be sore and not be able to run...silly Melissa.  Another component to the plan were balance exercises to strengthen and stabilize my weak ankles and really, entire core.  He also made sure I used my foam roller consistently!

 The plan was broken into two phases, the first being a 3 to 5 month training cycle based upon strengthening and building a solid base.  Then the training intensity was turned up a notch for the last few weeks.  However I didn't have enough time to build up a base, so my training plan moved at a faster pace.

I'm gonna tell you something that I'm not proud of now.  Sometimes I slacked a little in the training department...

Two times during training I was legitimately sick, however there was a vacation to Florida and a few days of hitting the snooze button and just going back to bed.

With all that in mind; less running, a new approach to training, and a general "Oh my goodness, I'm not gonna be able to do this attitude" I didn't feel very hopeful going into it.

Saturday I went to the expo and picked up my bib and race swag (great long sleeve technical tees!).  I met up with my friend Stacey, a 2 time marathoner who is unfortunately side lined from marathons with an injury.  However on NJ Marathon day she rocked a 60 mile bike ride; go Stacey!!!!

After we bought some goodies from the expo and were saying goodbye, Stacey gave me great advice.  Just enjoy it.  Gee, I hadn't thought about that!  It's so true, but sometimes you can loose sight of the reason why you sign up to run 26.2 miles...we love to run!

With Stacey's advice and Lou's *Race Day Plan* I went to bed Saturday night feeling newly optimistic about my 3rd marathon.

...to be continued... 


Operation Marathon Nutrition

So with marathon training underway, I thought I'd track what I ate throughout the day, to see how I'm doing nutritionally.  I find it tedious to track my meals all the time, but once in a while I'll plug my eats into Livestrong.com's MyPlate. 

Breakfast: 1/4 c. rolled oats
2 tsp. TJ's organic hemp protein powder
2 tsp ground flax seeds
2 tsp chia seeds
(ran out of bananas and forgot other toppings and it was quite boring!)  
Lunch: 1/2 cup red quinoa & chick peas + nooch
1 1/4 c. steamed broccoli
1/4 c. walnuts + 1/8 c. raisins
1/2 red bell pepper sliced
Afternoon snack: 1 small green apple
2 TBSP peanut butter

 This picture is from lunch the other day.  My big ole batch of slow cooker soup lasted me until tonight!

Dinner: 3/4 c. carrot/lentil/cracked wheat soup
1 slice baked tofu

Not too shabby.  I'm not taking this as 100% accurate, but I like having a general idea.  As a vegetarian/vegan you always get asked, where do you get your protein?  And although I know I get enough from plant based sources...it's nice for that to be reaffirmed!  

Tomorrow when I go to the gym I'll have more calories, today was a bit lighter than usual.  


Did I really just do that?

Yes, I really did just sign up for the NJ Marathon in Long Branch on May 6th. 

May 6th people!!!

I signed up before I made a training plan.  I signed up before I had a chance to go into Google Calendars and count the weeks backwards...and find out today is the start of week 15.  Oh my goodness, 15 weeks to train for this marathon!  I signed up before I could remember the pain I was in on November 20th.  I signed up before I thought it through.

But you know what?

I'm really freakin' excited.

Since running before and after school isn't an option for me (hello winter darkness), I've been stuck on the treadmill/taking some pretty super classes at the gym which I'll tell you about later.  And to be honest, I've been sort of wimpy on the weekends; coming up with lame-o excuses like "It's too cold", "I'd rather go to the gym", "Actually I'd rather go eat vegan pancakes at The Pop Shop and cuddle on the couch in front of the fire all day". 

Today I channeled my inner toughness and went out for a run in the snow.  Wearing this shirt as one of my layers may have helped, thanks Mom!

Ready to rock it!  LOVE that putting a marathon on the calendar makes me remember how much I adore running :) Pop Shop who?  Scratch that, Pop Shop after a run!

After living in San Diego, I was sort of dreading snow.  It wasn't too bad, and the crunching under my feet made me feel...happy

After a few miles my legs, lungs, and body were feeling great...minus my fingers.  I was wearing those 2 pairs for a dollar cute gloves that look pretty but serve no purpose and I was literally worried that my fingers were getting frost bite.  The hurt so bad when I got home and took at least 5 minutes to finally feel normal.  

Besides that my FIRST TRAINING RUN (wow so excited to say that again!) went great!
In another post I'll fill you in on my new gym, the classes I've been taking, the personal trainer/running coach who's going to help me become a better runner, the amazing running app I used today, and much more. 

PS: Yesterday I ordered a Road ID tag and they sent me a coupon to pass along to friends.  Use the coupon code to receive $1 off any Road ID order.  In these times, every dollar counts, right?  This code can be used up to 20x within the next 30 days (until 2/22/12), so if you've been thinking about investing one, here's your chance.  Enjoy friends :)

Use: ThanksMelissa11395552  at www.RoadID.com