Declare It Day 2017

Declare It Day 2017 is in the books!

Knock on wood, my running’s been going well lately and I’ve been kicking around the idea of a fall marathon, most likely the Twin Cities Medtronic Marathon given that the course is  going to be (practically) in our new neighborhood and it’s a course I’ve run four times already.

This will also be my tenth marathon, which seems like a cool milestone.

Putting something out there for everyone to see has usually been an effective motivator for me in the past, so here’s my Declare It Day goal for 2017:

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And yes, I want to go for a PR!

 

Marathon Recap

On Sunday, 8847 other runners and I finished the 2014 Medtronic Twin Cities marathon.

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This was the fourth time I’ve done the course and my eighth marathon overall.

How did it go?

Overall, I’d say pretty good. I wasn’t thrilled with my time (4:34) and wished I’d been about 10 minutes faster.

But… I’m not beating myself up about it because I had a great day and a fun time along the way.

Leading up to the race, I was curiously numb about the experience. I didn’t tell many people about it until the final week or so. I think part of that was to give myself an out in case I decided that I wasn’t going to run after all.

Like always, I had so many doubts about my performance.

Did I train enough?

Did I taper too much? Too little?

Am I getting too old for this?

Why am I doing this in the first place?

(Spouse’s comment to that last rhetorical question: “But don’t you do this because you love to run?” Answer: Yes).

The 30 degree temps and high winds the day prior also sent my confidence reeling.

On Saturday, I had to check out the official marathon site for some information about bib number pick-up and came across some great advice for the week leading up to the marathon. 

I can’t find the link now, but there were also some coaches who posted advice and one piece in particular really hit a chord with me.

I’m paraphrasing here, but the gist of the message was this:

At the starting line, in the midst of all the chaos leading up to the gun firing, take a moment to be grateful.

Grateful that this race exists.

Grateful that you are here.

Grateful that you are able to run.

Grateful that you can share this moment with other like-minded people.

And that’s what I did.

I’ve posted in the past about feeling gratitude toward being able to run as well as the influence that my father had on my running.

On Sunday I channeled all of those emotions and it turned into a great race. Mentally, I’ve never felt better during a marathon.

I always think about my Dad when I run, even though he died more than a decade ago. Even though I am not a particularly spiritual person, I really felt a connection to him on Sunday. I could hear his voice in my head and would ask him to give me a push up the next hill, and I’ve never tackled hills better than this.

I also shamelessly got about 200 high-fives along the course from anyone who would dole one out. I love high-fives!

The last thing that really got me going was a surge of crowd support near the end.

In this particular race, there is a turn between miles 21 and 22 where you enter the appropriately-titled Summit Avenue, which takes you up a gradual 2-3 mile incline until the final turn to the finish line at the Minnesota State Capitol.

Since I’ve done the course before, I knew that turning onto Summit meant I was going to make it. 

When I rounded the corner, I felt like sobbing with gratitude but instead I grinned from ear to ear and pumped my arms overhead in victory. The crowd went nuts! There were at least a few hundred spectators at that turn and they all started to cheer.

It was the single most awesome moment I’ve ever had while running. That surge kept me cruising to the end.

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P.S. Here’s another recap of the race. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Weekend

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Yesterday was my last long-ish run before the marathon next weekend. 

And oh, man, am I nervous for next weekend.

The run wasn’t exactly bad, it just wasn’t good.

Four miles in, I asked myself why I was so ready to throw in the towel.

Was I physically unwell? No.

Thirsty? No.

In pain? No.

The answer came back that I just felt kind of bored. 

So I definitely need to spend this week getting into “Eye of the Tiger” mentality and get my game face on.

While I was off running, Spouse took the kids to a parade yesterday in our hometown, celebrating the week-long binge drinking event known as Oktoberfest. 

The kids came home with mountains of candy and other assorted ephemera like stickers and Mardi Gras beads.

And cheese.

You read that right: cheese.

Some group was giving away cheese slices along the parade route, and after more than a day of no refrigeration at the bottom of a bag of candy, I made the executive decision that the slices would be 86’d to the trash.

Hopefully no one will freak out too much.

 

 

 

 

Staying Motivated

Today is Day #18 of my 100 Day Self-Improvement Challenge and I am happy to report that it’s going really well, even better than I expected.

I haven’t been 100% compliant with all of my daily goals (missed maybe 3 total things over the time thus far), but the goal has always been improvement, not perfection.

Even in this short amount of time, I have noticed many positive changes such as:

  • Better sleep
  • More definition in my arms (thank you, push ups)
  • Recalibration of my food intake (truly humbling experience to document – honestly! – my dietary choices)
  • Better food choices (eat this, not that)
  • Genuine happiness via daily connections with different friends

Potential negatives:

  • Occasional enthusiastic proselytizing 
  • Lack of sufficient rest time to recover from exercising. I didn’t adequately calculate for days off in my plan.

Since I’ll be a quarter finished by the end of next week, I also thought it would be prudent to think now about strategies for staying motivated until the end.

Some tips I gathered in my research about ongoing motivation:

  1. Set a concrete goal and work toward it. It could take the form of a specific date or an event, like a race you sign up to complete or a vacation you plan to take. A great example would be getting in shape for a trip in October to hike the Grand Canyon. This would be a date and an event.
  2. Make a commitment. Specifically, a financial one. I am so, so nervous about the marathon I am running in a few weeks, but I went forward with gusto and booked a non-refundable suite at my favorite hotel during race weekend for some pre- and post-race R&R. I can’t let that opportunity go to waste.
  3. Tell people. Openly committing to something gets others excited for you. Having people ask about your progress provides external accountability.
  4. Think about the WOW factor. This could take the form of visualizing how great it would feel to see the Grand Canyon from top to bottom when you reach your goal or perhaps the feeling you’d get if friends who haven’t seen you in a while would be awed by your physical transformation through weight loss and/or exercise. Or how wowed you would be to slide right into smaller jeans in the dressing room.
  5. Build on the power of momentum. Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion. Capitalize on your successes so far. I also find on days that I don’t feel like exercising, I tell myself that I’ll just do 20 minutes. It almost unfailingly turns into double that or more. Showing up is half the battle.
  6. Consider everything an experience builder. Not all workouts are going to be great. Not everything you try will stick. Consider everything an experiment to gain experience, and the more you try, the more you will learn.
  7. Reward yourself. Use smaller awards along the way and a bigger one when you reach a major goal or milestone. The goal itself may be the reward, like a vacation.
  8. Spread the energy! I half-jokingly said that I am prone to compulsive proselytizing these days, but talking about the project ends up motivating ME and keeps my momentum tank full.
  9. Make it fun. My friend S. is an ultra-marathoner and just completed a 100 mile race last weekend. When we’ve run races together in the past, I’ve been amazed to hear her talk about stopping to take photos along the way (she is much, much faster than I am so I hear about it in the aftermath). I usually figure that if I stop, I won’t start again, and my usual strategy is to forge ahead. I envy her ability to enjoy the moment, literally stop at times to smell the roses, and I can guarantee she has a lot more fun during races than I do.
  10. You may not be ready yet, but don’t take yourself out of the game. Change takes commitment. People who study change know that before it’s going to happen, there is a time of contemplation before action. A half-hearted attempt will likely fail. In my own experience, I can say that I’ve had an app to track my food intake for, oh, at least 2 years, but it wasn’t until this project that I started to religiously (and honestly) use it. I’d make small attempts before that were quickly abandoned when I didn’t feel like seeing those two glasses of wine, two slices of pizza, and handfuls of M&Ms staring at me, so I simply didn’t use the tracker. You may not be ready for action right this minute, but surround yourself with the tools you need so that when you reach the tipping point, that app (or those running shoes, or that gym membership) is waiting right there for you. Keep the barriers to change low.

 Keep on keepin’ on, my friends!

 

Running Like A Girl

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I just finished this inspirational book about running, which details the author’s journey from sofa to marathon.

Sample quote:

Running ceased to be about what others might see when they looked at me. It became about what I saw when I ran. I started to find the change in the seasons more interesting than the changes in my body. This weight was the heaviest I could have shed. I was no longer running to prove that I could finish a marathon, or to impress my dad, or to sound good on dates. I was using these runs to give me clarity and focus, to remind myself of what I was capable of, and to spur me on in all areas of my life. I felt unstoppable.

My favorite part was when the author described running the 2012 Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. I ran it, too! Reading her description of the course and the foggy weather brought back great memories, especially of getting a Tiffany necklace as a finisher’s medal.

 

 

New Sights

Several friends and Ever Patient Spouse all ran distance races last weekend, and many set PRs or competed for the first time.

Me? I was running around with the kids, attending two graduation parties, tackling Mt. Saint Laundry, and getting up five times during the night to appease our barky, semi-continent toy poodle. 

Doing much of nothing proved exhausting.

The low point was being awake from 2 to 5 A.M. on Sunday, when I failed to return to sleep after the third trip outside with the dog.

When overnight cable TV turned out to be unwatchable, I had a chance to catch up on people I know. Living vicariously through my friends’ social media posts was really inspiring. My good friend L finished her first half-marathon with an impressive time of 1:51. I was so proud of her!

It also prompted me to think about what’s next on my list. After a flurry of races in the first few months of the year, I found myself without a new goal in sight.

At roughly 4:37 AM, I signed up for a half-marathon in August.

At roughly 4:38 AM, I signed up for a marathon in October.

How am I feeling about this in the light of day? Pretty psyched.

This time I plan to use a marathon training plan developed by legendary runner Hal Higdon.

There are a variety of plans available, and I’m going to follow Novice 2. The plans are free, but there’s also an app available for $9.99, which I decided to buy. After entering my goal marathon date, it generated an 18 week training schedule.

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Now it’s just time to get moving!