Showing posts with label racing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label racing. Show all posts

Monday, July 12, 2021

12 Things I Learned From My Worst Race

This is an updated version of a post published previously. With so many marathons taking place this fall and everyone training for them, I thought republishing this post would be helpful!

I can say without hesitation that my worst race ever was my first Chicago Marathon. I ran that race in 2011. That first marathon was SO BAD that I was ashamed to even tell anyone that I ran it. I was so disappointed in myself that I didn't feel like a real marathoner after I finished, even though I have the medal to prove that I crossed the finish line.

It took me 3 years to get up the courage to line up again and run the race I knew I had in me. I've run 3 marathons and many more half marathons since, but I still draw on my experience from that particular race to drive me through my training and races. In addition, the mental toughness I've developed since then has helped me push through my battle with RA, which is like an ultramarathon that won't quit. 

Since a lot of runners are gearing up to start training for fall marathons, I wanted to share some of the wisdom and experience I gained from that ill-fated marathon and my races since then. 

Dementia set in early on!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

March Runfessions

March just blew by me--much like a lion, I guess. It's the last Friday of the month, which means it's time to runfess! It feels like we just did that, but here we are again. Of course, I've got a few things to get off my soles...much like the mud from the trails. Thank goodness Marcia opens the runfessional!

Let's get to it...

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Not Every Race Has Bling: 8 Lessons Learned from Running 2019

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog and my experiences should not be used for your medical decision making. I would refer you back to your medical provider. 

Coming off 2018, one my highest mileage years ever, the bar was set high. There was no reason to think I couldn't ride the wave through 2019, right? 2019 started off really well for me, with a half marathon in January, followed by an indoor marathon relay. The polar vortex didn't slow me down!

No, but rheumatoid arthritis had other ideas. In February, I received the shingles vaccine after which I had a reaction. For most people, the vaccine reaction is short--about 24-48 hours, but for this RA warrior, the vaccine triggered a prolonged flare of my disease. For the next 4-6 months, I battled severe fatigue, joint pain, and loss of endurance. While the flare slowly resolved, it was frustrating and I received very little support from my rheumatologist, save for multiple rounds of steroids.

Taking charge of my health, I changed my diet, reducing the amount of 'inflammatory' foods and eating mostly plant-based. I also learned about and started a medication that could help with some of the pain I had been experiencing. I sought out a second opinion from a different rheumatologist and switched my care to her. Time will tell if she's 'the one' for me.

As the year winds down, I am back on track and feeling really good. While I continue to have mild symptoms that remind me that yes, I do have RA, this is the best I have felt in a long time. Instead of doing a traditional recap of all my races--you can find all my recaps on my races page--I wanted to share a few highlights along with some of the lessons I learned over the course of the year. Because running is always teaching us old dogs new tricks.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Runfessions: September

It's the last Friday in September, which can only mean one thing...Runfessions! It's been an eventful month over here at TTLWH and I've got plenty of things to runfess. Sigh. My soles are always black this time of the month.

Do you runfess? If you don't, you need to jump in. Marcia keeps the runfession open and the penance is easy. Just share your running-related transgressions with the rest of us. We get you.

Ok, I'm going in. See you in a bit...

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

How To Be a Complete Jerk at a Race

We've all seen them. Race jerks. Some of us might have other names for them. Anyone who has run a road race knows what I'm talking about. And if you don't, well maybe, you're a race jerk.

A race jerk? That would be a person who is guilty of one or all of the offenses I've listed below. If you've done any or all of these things, it doesn't necessarily make you a jerk. Maybe you've done something once, by accident. Oops! Live and learn right? Did anyone call you out on your behavior? Or did you realize that you crossed a line and became a jerk?

If you do any of these things repeatedly and/or intentionally, that might make you a jerk. We seem to be living in a time of narcissism. Sure, we all want the most of our race experiences. I get that. Life is short and it's all about living to the fullest. Everyone feels this way. Let's run together and make it fun for all.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

11 Race Day Running Hacks That Might Be a Game Changer

I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for advice to make things easier for me on race morning. No matter how many races I've run, I still get those pre-race jitters. Anything that can make me feel well prepared is a good thing. Having run many races over the years, I've got a few tricks help me feel more relaxed.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Book Club Book Review: How Bad Do You Want it?

"It turns out the essential challenge of endurance sports really is psychological"- Matt Fitzgerald, How Bad Do You Want It? Mastering the Psychology of Mind Over Muscle
If you are looking for a book that tells you how to reach your goals, this might not be the book for you. But if you are looking for inspiration, for that push past your perceived limits, or for stories about athletes overcoming challenges, this book provides that and more. In How Bad Do You Want It?, Fitzgerald shares stories of athletes, both well known and obscure who ignored the voices in their head that told them to stop, to turn around, to quit. Throughout the book is advice and information to help the runner build their mental muscles to help them race their best.

It was no coincidence that I chose this book for my April book club selection. With my bucket list race, the Big Sur Marathon, on the horizon, I wanted to read something that would drive me up those hills and across that finish line. Who knew that I would develop severe plantar fasciitis and have to bag my training plan, instead cross-training via bike and pool running? I needed all the motivation I could get, and I found plenty in this book.
"Endurance sports are therefore a game of 'mind over muscle'"-Matt Fitzgerald.
The book starts off with a discussion of the "psychobiological model" of endurance. Fitzgerald does a nice job discussing how the athlete perceives his effort versus what is actually going on in the brain. He says that the brain itself becomes fatigued during exercise, and this fatigue leads to an increased perception of effort. So the goal for the athlete is to change his thought process. He uses the term "the wall" to describe that limit, but states that an athlete can overcome that wall by working on mental fitness.
"The one thing an athlete can control is how she deals with what life gives her" -Matt Fitzgerald.
This quote kind of reminds me of one of my favorite mantras, given to me before my first Chicago Marathon by my friend Sandy, who has completed an Ironman along with many other endurance events. She told me to "go with what the day gives you". I've taken that advice to every starting line since then.  In the book, Fitzgerald says success is all attitude about the way an athlete feels. An athlete with a good attitude will perceive a lower level of discomfort and be able to push harder. Fitzgerald calls it "bracing yourself". He says you should always expect your next race to be your hardest race and prepare yourself for the worst to race your best.

Besides giving the reader a mental pep talk, Fitzgerald shares real life stories of athletes who pushed themselves beyond their limits to achieve a goal. My favorite story was about cyclist Thomas Voeckler and the 2004 Tour de France where he pushed ahead and wore the yellow jersey way longer than anyone would have expected. He was dying out there, but he hung on until stage 15 before he succumbed to the inevitable. But even though he didn't win he was a hero in his home country of France. As riders say, "the yellow jersey gives you wings" to describe the phenomenon of riding better once they have the yellow jersey. The jersey made Voeckler push way beyond his abilities because he believed he could. The crowds cheered him on, and that too pushed him. Fitzgerald describes that as "the audience effect", where the presence of other people has a positive effect on performance. You've probably felt that at a big race, when a spectator calls out to you and tells you you're looking strong. I know I have!

Book Club Book Review: How Bad Do You Want It?

There are plenty of amazing stories, but no book on endurance athletes would be complete without a chapter on Pre. Steve Prefontaine was a legendary runner. There's a great story about Pre running in the 1971 NCAA XC championships. He was challenged immediately by another runner who wouldn't give up. Pre was pushed to the limit but just wouldn't quit. Winning the race, he made it look easy but readily admitted that it wasn't. That's how he approached every race. He is best known for this quote which he stated before a race:
"The only good pace is a suicide pace and today looks like a good day to die".- Steve Prefontaine.
He often asked himself "is it worth it?" referring to pushing himself to the limits of his endurance. Yet he always rose to the challenge. He was tough. No doubt it was worth it to him.
"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."-Steve Prefontaine
But the book isn't just about high performers. This book is for ALL runners. Fitzgerald talks about John Bingham as well. Bingham, who gave himself the nickname "the Penguin" is known for his slow, steady, back of the pack pace. He became the voice for a whole new group of runners. But in spite of admitting that he would never win a race, he still pushed himself to his limits.
"In spite of all my talk about the joy of the journey, at some level I'm a closet competitor." -John Bingham
He encourages runners of all abilities to chase their goals of getting faster for that transformative experience that comes with trying as hard as you can.

After reading this book, hopefully, we'll all be tougher runners. Just ask yourself: How bad do you want it?  Give it your best, no matter what your best is.

What did you think of the book? Did you draw motivation from the stories? How do you get your head in the game during a tough event?


Here's the link up badge! You can find the link up at the end of the post. The link up stays live for 2 weeks--it will close April 1, but the comments stay live forever! Don't forget to link back to this post, and please read and comment on the other reviews. If you want to review a different fitness-related book, please feel free to link up with us as well! Remember, sharing is caring! I'm so grateful to all of you who participate in the book club!

Next month we are reading Running: A Love Story 10 Years, 5 Marathons, and 1 Life Changing Sport by Jen Miller. This sounds like a book any us of could have written! Jen is a writer for Runner's World as well as the New York Times. I'm really looking forward to this one.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

So many races, so little time....

I'm linking up today with MCM mama, Run the Great Wide Somewhere, and My No-Guilt Life to mull over the races I'm thinking about for this year.

Tuesdays on the Run

In my post on Chicago, I alluded to races I've run in the city I love. I also talked about why I haven't committed to much of anything yet...I want to see how I feel as the year moves forward. Last year, because I had a foot fracture, I had to DNS a race I paid for and that didn't make me happy at all. Most races don't sell out and so I feel like I have a little wiggle room. I also am thinking about backup races, in case the ones I want to run do sell out. 

One race I did commit to early on is the Sarasota Half Marathon on March 15. As early as last March, I was considering a go at this race. The timing of this race was a problem, since my boys don't have spring break until the last week of March. I needed to see if my parents would host me for 2 weeks, and if my work would grant me the time off. Luckily, everything fell into place and I was able to sign up. This is a race that sells out and I wanted to make sure I got in. I'm so excited to run this one. The race runs from Sarasota across the John Ringling Causeway to St Armands Circle and back to Sarasota. And if you like bling, this medal is a keeper, with a large dolphin on it. This will be my third Florida half marathon (and 11th overall). To say I'm excited is an understatement!

I've also committed to the Great Western Half Marathon. This is a trail half marathon, held on May 3, run on the Great Western Trail in Kane County. Because it is a trail run, the entries cap at 1200, which keeps it small and safe. The race is relatively inexpensive ($55) and has a nifty train engine medal. I'm looking forward to running this one. My friend Karen, from Trading in My Heels is leading a training group for this race, and I'm excited to do a race with her! I'm trying to rope in a few other friends as well. 

I'm also planning on running the Chicago Marathon again this year. Last year I won my entry, but this year I'm planning on jumping into the lottery. Some of my friends are moving on to a different marathon, but I do love this one and am looking forward to running it again. My first go at this beast wasn't pleasant, but I got my head around that and trained smart and had a fantastic time. I'd love to best my time last year, but even if I don't, I'll be ok with that. As long as it still is fun, that is. Stay tuned. I do have a couple of marathons in mind as a backup plan, but I'm not going to even think like that at this point!

I haven't yet committed to the CARA Lakefront 10 miler on April 18, but most likely I will run that one. The 10 mile distance is one of my favorites and it will serve as a "long run" while I continue ramping up my miles for Great Western in May. I've talked about this race before. It is a "runners' race" and is always fast and fun. Even if the weather is bad.

What else am I considering? I'm still looking at a late summer/early fall half. I have to consider my marathon training plan and the timing of 13.1 miles. A lot of halfs are held here around the same time as the marathon. 

 A couple Chicago races that I might consider includes RnR Chicago, which is on July 19. I've never run an RnR. Could be hot. And the expo is a pain, at McCormick Place, which is a giant convention center south of downtown. No race day packet pickup, which means I'd have to head down to the city two days in a row. The Chicago Half Marathon, which I've run before, is this year on September 27. This is 2 weeks before the Chicago Marathon and I'd have to run it as a taper run. I'm not so sure about that.

I've always wanted to do the North Face Endurance Challenge, which is held in Wisconsin September 14.  But would a trail run mess with my marathon training? What about the Madison Mini Marathon, which I've run before? On August 22, the only issue with that is it is my son's 18th birthday and maybe he wouldn't want to go out of town for the weekend. And do I dare leave him home alone? Um, no. That could mess with my head, anyways... 

While looking for a fall half marathon, I came upon this Lake Michigan trail half/full/50k on September 6, in Cudahy Wisconsin, which is just south of Milwaukee. This looks intriguing! BTW, the full is a Boston qualifier for anyone looking for an alternative to Chicago. This one is moving high up on the possibility list. Another trail marathon that came up is the Nearly Sane Trail Half Marathon which is held on August 23. Considering how hot it can be here that time of year, a trail race does have a certain appeal to it! This one is held in a Forest Preserve about 15 miles from my house. Hmmm....

Depending on how the marathon goes, I would even consider a late fall half. But that's a long way away....

There is also a relay that I'm planning on. The Fall 50, held in beautiful Door County Wisconsin in late October, is either an ultra or a relay. Door County is a peninsula between Lake Michigan and Green Bay, and the race runs from the northern tip down to the end of the peninsula where lies the town of Sturgeon Bay. My parents have a home in Door County and I have been going up there since I was a little girl. Door County has a special place in my heart, not only for the memories it holds, but because it is a place of beauty and peace. I would love to run this relay. Several of my friends have expressed an interest, and I'm hoping to have this firmed up by April, when registration opens. 

Ellison Bay Bluff

The curvy road which yes, you might get to run on if this is on your leg of the race!

Oh, the sunsets over Green Bay!

I think once I know I'm in the lottery for Chicago, I can move forward and commit to a fall half. Until then...I'll keep considering the possibilities. And I'll keep running and training! So many little time (and money!)

I always say, have you ever seen Wonder Woman and me in the same room? I think not...

How do you decide on races? Are you a planner or do you wing it, taking it as it comes? How many races do you run in a year?

And local peeps, have you made your plans for 2015? Are you running any of the same races as me? And what about the options I'm considering for the fall? Have you run any of them? Any insight?