FearlessĀ 

I’ve been thinking about the word fearless for awhile now. As I read race recaps of people who ran Boston this week, including those who PR’d despite rough weather, I wondered how I could be more fearless in my life. 

Because, frankly, I have a lot of fears.

Most of these fears are sublimated and relate to fear of failure. It’s not like I sit around shaking in my boots, more like an excess of being conservative. In my training, I’ve had to convince myself not to take the easier pace when approaching a tough interval workout. I tell myself to go for the harder pace and if it’s too hard THEN I can dial it back. About 98% of the time, I find that I can do the harder pace just fine. But before I allowed the doubts that I could hit those paces dictate the workout. 

I suffer from a bit of an inferiority complex (I suspect most people do, so I’m no special snowflake in this regard), and the thing I keep repeating lately is, “why not me?” It’s a shift in perspective, a tiny one, but I need to acknowledge that with all the work I’ve put it, I too deserve to do well. I’ve watched people blossom in their running and felt envy that I wasn’t progressing like I wanted. I missed my Boston qualifier goal last year, and it made me feel less than charitable, which really has nothing to do with the runners I envy but rather disappointment in myself. 

I’ve mentioned that I get “tall poppy syndrome” in part due to my upbringing, and it often leads to massive negative self-talk that sabotages my performance. One way I’ve mitigated it is by running by feel. It’s a lot harder to doubt myself if I don’t know what pace I’m running and it just feels right. I haven’t decided if I am going to run all my races Garmin-blind this year, but I might. It’s kind of a risk when I get to the Wineglass Marathon for my BQ attempt, but if it continues to work through this training cycle, it might be the way to go. 
 

How could I not stop with this view?

 On Sunday, I did an 11 mile run in my favorite park. My speed workouts during the week have been tough, and I gave myself permission to just enjoy my long run in the gorgeous weather. I wore a spanking new shirt from Inknburn that made me feel like a rock star and I had the last 90 minutes of my audiobook, “The Kind Worth Killing” to keep me company. I had to briefly stop to cross streets in traffic a few times and I stopped once when I was struck by a view in the park and had to take a photo, but otherwise ran without breaks. 

  

Maybe its the fierce shirt that made me run faster

After I was done, I checked my splits. 9:20, 8:55, 8:49, 8:47, 8:49, 8:30, 8:23, 8:40 (hill), 8:24, 8:21, 8:21. If I’d been running a half marathon and kept it up, I would’ve probably met or beat my PR. But running at what felt like an easy pace and even effort. 

 The moral of the story is: I need to get out of my own way.  

I don’t know that any of this is leading me towards being “fearless,” but I like to think that if I am not quite unafraid, I am making progress despite the fear. 

 

I must be fearless to go out in public with this hair

  

Stupid Rest Day & a Skirt Sports Coupon!

around mile 2 of last week’s 10k

I had to talk myself out of running an impromptu 5k this morning because I was past due for a day off. I think my past two race successes have gone to my head. I have a half marathon training run on a hilly course next Sunday, so rest day it is. But I don’t have to like it. It’s so pretty outside and I’m grumping around because I’m not running. 

This spring has been all about improving speed, and it’s been fun watching the line move on what feels “easy” to me. I feel like the three marathons last year put me into a plateau, and I was feeling frustrated. I guess I know now that if I want to improve, it’s probably better to not do so many marathons. 

I’ve been testing out some new running shoes, the On Running Cloud. Verdict: loving them. They’re super lightweight and comfortable. I’m really hoping these will be good marathon shoes for me.  

 

Tomorrow is a medium long run for me, and it looks like more beautiful weather. I’m going to be doing the Skirt Sports 261 Virtual Run in honor of Katherine Switzer’s game changing Boston Marathon run in 1967. If you don’t know the story, she was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon and was almost knocked off the course by an irate race director who wasn’t happy about a female in the running. Her bib number was 261 and you can read more about her Fearless triumph here

  

I love Skirt Sports and will be sporting one on my run tomorrow. Their clothes are super comfortable and I love the leg pockets on the Gym Girl Ultra. For a discount on your own Skirt Sports purchase (men, you know you want to wear one too), use the code SSAMB20NE for 20% off. 

Thar She Blows

I mentioned in my last post that the wind doesn’t typically bother me when I run. Let me take that back right now. 

 

 I ran a hilly, multi-terrained 10k today, and we ran up the longest, toughest hill with headwinds of 17-25mph. The thing that kept me from the temptation of walking was reminding myself that this was a training run and the hills were speed work. 

There may have also been some swearing. 

I ran without looking at my watch again. Except for that 2 mile or so stretch of uphill into the wind, I felt really good. We ran through farm country, and a good portion of the race was on dirt/gravel roads, including a muddy short-but-steep hill near a cow farm. The beginning of the race smelled like manure. Not my favorite race aroma. 

Once we finished the big climb, I was able to recover back to a decent speed for the last 1.2 mile. 

My husband surprised me by showing up on the race course just before the 6 mile mark. He hadn’t told me he was going to come and he had gone off to do his usual swim & yoga earlier. He ran with me to the finish, which was neat especially since I wasn’t dying at the end like I have been the other times he jogged alongside me. I was able to speak to him in full sentences, one of which was, “My legs are kinda toast.”

My goals for the race were to not walk and to run it under an hour. I finished in 51:30, just 32 seconds off my 10k PR on a mostly flat course. This was good enough for 2nd place in my age group. 

My splits:

7:58, 8:09 (short/steep hill), 7:48, 9:08 (hill), 8:54 (still hill), 8:07 (incline, but felt flat compared to previous hill), 7:25 (.2)

One of the interesting post-race analysis observations is that many of the runners were back from the same race last year, but their times were significantly slower this time, I’m guessing due to the wind. The woman who won my age group won the whole woman’s race last year, and her time was almost 4 minutes slower this year. The same for the 40-44 year-old lady who finished less than 30 seconds ahead of me, who ran it 4 minutes slower. Both these women are people on my local race radar because they have routinely beaten the pants off me in races, but it seems like I am creeping up on them (race-wise, not like a stalker) in my times. Not that I’m so much trying to get all competitive on them, but rather, I see this as a benchmark of how I am improving. And I still need all the confidence I can get. At least this was another race that I didn’t have stomach issues at all. 

I’m trying to do more of the stuff that scares me this training cycle, I have two more races on my schedule that are hilly that I’ll be using as training runs. I don’t mind hills when running on my own or if they’re rolling, but when racing up long ones or when I’m given hill repeats on my schedule, I tend to groan. Putting me in a race with slightly less pressure and giving it a hard-but-not-race effort seems like a good way to nudge me out of my comfort zone. 

I think I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing because I think it’s working.  

I won a deep dish cookie!

 

I met a fellow blogger today, Darlene of My 1st 5k & More. She ran the 5k and won her age group (they got pie). She reported that the wind gusts were up to 40mph. No wonder it wore me out. Darlene took some great pictures from the race, and you can check them out (along with her race report) by clicking here.


Well Dressed

I finally made it to a yoga class tonight. I haven’t been since *eep* August. I had a day off from running and thought it was a good opportunity to get some stretching. 

Apparently I don’t know how to go out in public because I left the house in slippers. Good thing yoga doesn’t require workout shoes.  

Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve left home this way. But it’s a step up from the time I wore two completely different shoes. As in they even had different height soles too. 

 

New 5 mile PR

 

Today’s shoes, dedicated to my running buddy Liam

It was supposed to be a really nasty morning of 40 degrees, rain and 20 mph winds, but I got lucky. The rain stopped! 

My town hosted a new race that benefitted the local Code Blue charity, which is an emergency homeless shelter in the winter. As I stood shivering both before and after the race, I remembered that it was nothing compared to what the homeless have to deal with. 

We’ve had enough warm-ish temps this past week to dissolve most of our snow and ice, and I’ve been able to get in some good outdoor easy runs. There were several treacherous spots in my usual park where the sun hasn’t penetrated the trees, but I was still able to make a decent path, only having to double back a couple times. 

 

Remnants of winter

 Yesterday I went to check out a run/walk paved trail that I’d never been on before that would be part of the race today. As of mid afternoon, there was one slightly icy patch under a bridge and another big, icy, sludgy mess right around the 7k mark. But I saw two volunteers from the race clearing out the bridge ice and again when I headed back towards the sludge. I don’t know how they did it, but they cleared out the sludge. Huzzah! I’m a wimp about squishy feet when I run — I don’t mind the rain, just when my shoes are soaked through to the insoles. I was ready to suck it up for the last bit of the race, but the race organizers saved me from my wimpiness. 

My goal for today was to run by feel (put my sleeve over the Garmin) and at a moderately hard effort. I haven’t had a day off from running in awhile, so this was a tired legs run. It was pretty windy, especially through the last half mile, but I tend to push into the wind and run faster. It’s not on purpose and I’m sure would destroy me if I tried to do it throughout a half marathon or longer. 

350 people lined up this morning despite the dire weather reports. The race only had a timing mat at the finish, but I didn’t line up near the front anyway. The road was pretty wide for the first several miles, so dodging around slower runners wasn’t an issue. It was basically single file on the trail portion, which was a little awkward because you didn’t want to run into the front runners coming back on the out and back. I had to do a little fancy footwork to pass a dude breathing like he was about to die. Good for him for working himself that hard; I think I’ve forgotten how to push myself like that in races. Still, his death rattle was really annoying and I wanted to put it out of my range of hearing. Sorry, dude. 

To keep an eye on my pace, I picked a couple just ahead of me to keep in sight. There was also a woman in Newton Running shoes right behind them, and I ran behind her. I felt a little bad because my windbreaker is kind of noisy, but she had earbuds in and probably couldn’t hear me. I tried to chat with her a bit when I pulled next to her for a stretch, but she ignored me, so I’m hoping that it was because of her music. Or maybe she took a dislike of me and my vociferous Brooks jacket. 

I guess I did ok because not only did I crush my previous 5 mile PR by 1:25 and negative split, but I came in 1st in my age group. I beat the next woman in my AG by one second — the one I’d trailed for the entire race until the last kick. I turned to her to say, “good race!” but she didn’t even give me a spare glance. Me and my Brooks jacket weren’t making any friends today. 

The race was extremely well run and organized for an inaugural event and I definitely want to do it again next year. I’m excited because the speed work I’ve been doing the last several months seems to be working. At the end of 2014 when I ran races by feel at the same effort level, it was 20 seconds per mile slower than what I ran today. Fingers crossed that this is real progress. 

Running Happy, Blogging Fatigued

I haven’t been the best blogger lately. Life is going fine, training is good, but I’m sort of bored with myself in terms of blog post writing. I’m still reading and commenting on blogs, but whenever I think about drafting a post of my own… meh. 

 

running through Times Square

 You’d think it’d be otherwise since my race in NYC was so fun. And today I went for a gait analysis. In May, I’m going to do metabolic testing. I’m trial-run coaching a fantastic athlete and new-ish runner for her first half and full marathons as I work towards my coaching certification. I’d like to say I’ll write more about these things soon, but the way things are going, I don’t want to make a promise I won’t hold myself to keep. 

As far as the gait analysis, that was super fun. We’re going to do a follow up outdoors to see if my gait is different on the track than the treadmill and also to see what I’m doing technique-wise when running downhill to cause me hip issues. He suspects it’s actually the opposite of what I worried — that I’m landing behind my hips rather than the typical  overstride. This is something I need to fix if I want to run any race with notable down hill. 

My gait and running form are quite good. He even said that it was close to ideal. So, yay! The way I land is beneath my hips and in such a way that I use my whole foot to propel me forward. Which is also likely why I run faster on the road than the treadmill. He had me run both barefoot and with two different shoes, and basically he recommended that I use shoes that the least get in the way of my natural running form. We talked about some minimalist shoes with good cushioning for me to try as I prep for my marathon in October. 

I’m feeding my running shoe problem: this week I bough some Newton Fates, I got my order of the Altra Superior 2.0 trail shoe and I just ordered some On Running Cloud shoes. 

That’s all the exciting stuff. Oh, except I was chosen as a Skirt Sports Ambassador! More on this as I hear more from the company. But you might’ve noticed that in 95% of my race photos that I am wearing Skirt Sports and have been since my 4th race (I forget how many I’ve run now, but it’s close to 40). 

I hope everyone is doing awesome!