NAASFP Certified Marathon Coach

I just received notification that I passed my certificatation and am now a NAASFP Certified Marathon Coach, which also allows me to coach other distances of running and walking programs.

The whole process took me about a year to complete, and I really feel like the program taught me a lot. In particular, the practical that I completed with a volunteer client helped me learn the ups and downs of coaching and how to be adaptable. I chose this certification because of the depth and breadth of the learning.

In early March, I will be attending a RRCA Certification course in Ft Lauderdale as an addition to my NAASFP credential. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my plan is to offer coaching in exchange for charity donations. My next steps will be to set up accounts with some charities so that clients can make direct donations to their charity of choice. I’m really excited about the opportunity to share my love of running and do some good at the same time.

Getting Back to Myself

Hi there, strangers!

 

My new purse

 It’s been crickets here on my blog. Things are fine, I just have been hanging out on Star Wars message boards liked the obsessed weirdo I am (don’t ask how many times I’ve seen the film — I’ll plead the 5th). I’ve also been trying to declutter my house (no small task) and hauling bag after bag of items to the donation bins. My husband and I also took an overnight trip to Portsmouth, NH, which was fun.

My running is finally coming back after about two months of struggling. It hasn’t been easy tabling my previous goal of PRing at the NYC Half and scaling back to almost all easy runs, but it is what my body needed after I ran myself into the ground. Now I’m thinking I might not get a PR but I can probably safely aim for a course PR, which shouldn’t be hard as long as I’m healthy. The calf and hip flexor strains are all but gone now and I’ll continue to rehab both. And if I’m running a fever or coughing up a storm I will <u>not </u>keep trying to train at the same level through my sickness. Tough lesson to learn. Like a moron, I had to learn it the hard way. 

I’m going to try a little faster running on Friday (I have a 60 minute run with 10-15 minutes of steady state paced running in the middle) and see how that feels. The long runs have gone pretty well, albeit slow. My speed has definitely suffered the past 6-8 weeks, but I think it’s going to come back now that I’m not injured or sick. It’s a huge relief to not be anxious that my workouts will go poorly. Sometimes it’s nice to just run easy and enjoy it. 

A Step Back for Every Step Forward

I’ve been avoiding the blog because, well, my running has been frustrating lately. As one nagging pain eases, I seem to develop a new one. I’m sure it’s all compensation related, but whatever. It’s driving me nuts and is kind of depressing. I feel slow as hell and on the days when I do feel pep in my legs, one of my strains (the latest one is my left hip flexor) yells at me to slow down. For every decent run I have, I seem to have one lousy and one meh run to go along with it. I’m turning 46 in a few weeks, and I’m in serious denial. My aches and pains remind me of the facts. 

I’m trying to feel grateful that I’m still able to run, but honestly I’m just bummed. 

My son turned 21 today. That makes me feel positively ancient (my kid would agree). I’m still worried about him for a myriad of reasons. I have to say, the whole millenial generation baffles the shit out of me. If that statement doesn’t make me sound old, I don’t know what will. 

Aaaaannnnnd to add to my crotchety old lady list of complaints, this weather bites. 

  

 

Running Lately

Belated Merry Christmas. And I probably ought to just preemptively say happy new year while I’m at it.

Running has been a mixed bag. I’ve only done a few runs, and some have been good and some have not. Today’s run was in the “bad” bucket. I had a really good 8.75 mile run yesterday, which was a surprise since I basically had to drag my ass out the door. But this morning my calves felt like I’d run a hard race, even though I averaged only a 9:10 pace yesterday. Today’s run was by far the slowest I’ve run in awhile. My cadence was way up, which is what happens when my legs or hips are hurting.

My endurance seems ok, but my legs continue to struggle. I have only easy runs for the next few weeks, and I may ask my coach to extend that longer if my legs don’t start recovering better. Very frustrating.

At least the temps have been nice and I’ve been able to run outdoors. It looks like it all changes tomorrow. It’s been nice while it lasted.

 I got a lot of cool running stuff for Christmas, mainly clothing. But I also got a Garmin Forerunner 235, which I am still figuring out. I like it so far. I also got a juicer, which is pretty exciting. I’m not sure it’s going to save us any money over going to the local juice bars, but it’ll be fun to experiment.

I’m completely obsessed with the new Star Wars movie. I’ve already seen it three times and I want to see it a few more times before it leaves the theaters. I am sad my husband didn’t get me my requested BB8 for Christmas. It would be an awesome running companion. I’m feeling sorry for myself. Maybe I’ll smash up stuff with my lightsaber to help me feel better.

 

 

One Week Post-Race

 

A picture of me nearing the finish at Kiawah. It’s fitting that the Punisher is running ahead of me. I sure look miserable enough.

 I can’t believe made I through a whole week without running. I don’t like it. But it has been the right thing to do. 

I still haven’t shaken my cough, three weeks later. My legs are finally starting to feel ok, but it’s never taken this long for me to feel like my usual self. The decision to cut my marathon short was 100 percent the right one. 

When I saw my personal trainer Monday, he said he’d never seen me so ragged, like I’d run two marathons. I’ve been working with him over the course of three of my four marathons, and he noted that I’d always snapped right back after the previous ones. Not this time. He said at least my color was looking better when I saw him again on Thursday. 

Clearly I was not ok going into this latest race. 

I think I’m going to try a short, super easy run tomorrow and see how things feel. Aside from the cough, my lower right leg still isn’t quite right. My chiropractor believes it is a strain near the bone, which is why it feels a little shin-splinty. It does feel better after I’ve moved around a bit, so it’s most likely a soft tissue injury. He feels optimistic that I can start running on it while continuing treatment. My left hamstring, which I think is the primary reason I got a compensating injury and what was really slowing me down pre-race, seems much better. We’ll see how it does with a little run. It struggled the most with speed work, so I’m thinking a week or two of easy runs should be fine. 

It bums me out to not be running right now. Like many, I find Christmas to be super stressful and kind of depressing (many of my readers know I do not have a relationship with my parents, and previous holidays with them do not have fond memories except regarding my grandparents, so I get into a funk), and running helps take the edge off the stress. 

It doesn’t help that I’m still getting through all the laundry from three weeks away. And my house is kind of a mess. But I’m going to see Star Wars tonight, so yay! Even with my holiday and post-race blues, I’m still looking for the bright side :) .

My coach-ee’s 1st Marathon Recap

 

Following the brick road to the finish

 If you made it through the novel that I wrote for yesterday’s post recapping both my Space Coast half marathon and my experience running with my first coaching client for her first marathon (or even of you didn’t), you can read Bethany’s recap of the race on her blog HERE.

Meanwhile, I’m already stir crazy not being able to run. It’s unseasonably warm here at home. But my legs still feel wrong, so I’m not tempted to try to run yet. Yesterday I met with my personal trainer and he did some assessment so we can figure out how to rehab things going forward. I see my chiropractor today then a massage therapist on Friday. 

I’ve also signed myself up for the Wineglass Marathon in October. I loved this course so much, so I figure it’s my best bet at getting a BQ next year. 

One thing I’m super excited about is that my coach, Emily Harrison, is likely going to compete in the marathon Olympic Trials in February! She’s really more focused on ultra running these days, but I’d think a chance to run with some of USA’s best marathoners is hard to pass up. She’s quoted in the Runner’s World Article linked above. My husband and I have friends and family out in LA, so we’re thinking we might go to watch the race. I might pee myself getting to watch my coach lined up with some of my other favorite elites, like Meb and Deena!

Space Coast Marathon & Half Recap

I’m stuck on a plane en route to Charleston, so it seems like a good time to get cracking on a race recap. Maybe it’ll inspire me to feel better about my marathon on Saturday. (Spoiler alert: see previous post. Ah well.)

 

The view from our room on Cocoa Beach didn’t suck.

 My plane from the funeral in Iowa got into West Palm Beach airport at about 9pm. We had a rental car waiting for us, then made the drive up to Cocoa Beach. We stayed at the Hilton right on the beach, which I spent zero time enjoying except through my hotel window. My husband did take a yoga mat out a couple mornings, and I watched him practice handstands from the hotel room window while in my PJs and drinking coffee. #doingrecoveryright

We made it to the hotel just after 11pm. I spent about 30 minutes organizing my race stuff for the morning then hauled my tired butt to bed. For a 3am wake up. 

Everything went as planned in the morning, although my stomach was a little off. In Iowa I ate foods I don’t normally because that was what was available. Fried stuff and mayonnaise-y salads the nice church ladies provided after the services. 

I had arranged with the race for a day-of bib pickup, which went super smooth. I was a little anxious about that, especially as I was meeting my coaching client between 5:10-5:20am. We easily found each other, and I gave her last minute instructions and we dropped off gear check bags.

The race wanted the half marathoners in the corrals by 5:35. I also had to use a porta potty, something I try to avoid doing at all costs by good planning, but, again, my stomach was kind of off. I managed a super fast bathroom break and booked it to the corral with just a couple minutes to spare. I left my client Bethany with some of her friends, family and my husband. 

It was dark and super humid at the start. Somewhere around 70 degrees with 95% humidity. A big change from the 38 degrees in Iowa and 45 degrees from home and Connecticut. I used a spare hair elastic to strap my sunglasses to my hand and wore a visor. I also had my Simple Hydration bottle tucked into a SPIbelt. I think I put UCAN orange cream in there, but it might’ve been UCAN hydrate. I think it was the former.  

I’d placed myself well behind the 2 hour pacer. My goal for this race was to run a progression that ended at around marathon pace. I also had another bunch of miles to run afterward, so I didn’t do a warm up. I figured I might take over 2 hours to finish if I paced appropriately, but I wasn’t going to look at my watch and run by feel. I wanted to use the crowd to hold back my pace so I could warm up slowly and get adjusted to the weather. I maybe misjudged my placement because the two ladies I started behind jogged across the start line mat then immediately began to walk. :-/

Mile 1 (9:48)

I did a lot of dodging and weaving that first mile, which also had some turns, for making it somewhat rough going. My Garmin watch clocked in right with the mile marker (just making the point that weaving and running poor tangents has very little affect on added mileage). I tucked behind some runners running four abreast but going a pace that felt OK to me.  I eventually passed the foursome, although one of their party, a guy with a ginormous Ironman tattoo on his calf, later passed me in the last few miles. 

I noticed that to the side there were quite a few run/walk interval runners who were very conscientious about the other runners around them when stopping for their walk breaks. Many even used hand signals. I thought that was pretty cool as I think the Galloway method is a great thing for many runners (some may remember I ran my first half in 2:06 this way). I also didn’t want to get stuck behind them when they walked, so I stayed in the center lane. 

Miles 2-4 (9:15, 9:11, 9:07)

The race took us through a lovely seaside neighborhood, and many of the residents were out with their families and some even provided race refreshments. One family had a whole cookout going! To the left was the ocean, and I got to see the sun rise. I put my sunglasses on and felt a bit better about the humidity. There was a lot of tree shade on the road, which was welcome. This was an out and back course, so around 5 miles in or so I began to see the front runners come back. I love that. 

I ran as part of Team in Training, my first time running with a charity bib. I wore the singlet and have to say, I loved all the call outs of “Go Team” as people passed in the other direction. I also had fun cheering for the pace groups as they headed back to the finish. 

Miles 5-6 (9:03, 8:57)

My left hamstring has been bothering me for a few weeks, which makes my left knee feel like it’s “catching” and experiencing the sensation of weaknesss. I’d taken Saturday off completely, and the leg felt pretty decent during the race. Just before the turnaround, I spotted the 2 hour pace group. I was pleased at how close they were to me. 

I made it to the turnaround (a weird short jaunt over a patch of grass, sorry for the trampling, grass) and some super happy dude passed me. I forget what he said, but it was one of those things where I felt like he was feeling a little overconfident and thought I’d pass him before the end. (It was something like him telling me how great I was doing that struck me as a little condescending).

Miles 7 & 8 (8:37 & 9:02, but probably closer to actually 8:50-ish each due to GPS error)

After I made the turnaround, I could still see the 2 hour pace sign in the distance. I thought to myself, “I’ll get them. But don’t rush it. Don’t even watch them too hard.”

My watch, which had been vibrating very close to the course mile markers got off bit. I think the turnaround was most of the cause. My mile paces there look a little funny, but I think my pace was pretty consistent. 

There was a nice headwind going this direction, which helped with the copious sweat from the humidity. I heard tons more “Go Teams!” and called out my own. I also cheered for the pace groups going in the other direction. I was beginning to enjoy myself. One new strategy was utilizing the water stops at the race. I want to use them in my marathon rather than carry my own so I can carry more actual fuel (UCAN). Most of the water ended up <u>in</u> me rather than on me, and I didn’t feel like it was too awkward. 

Around mile 8, I felt like I needed another bathroom break. I’d taken Imodium pre-race, so I don’t know what the deal was. Don’t eat fried cauliflower or church lady salads before a race? I almost stopped to use a bathroom, but there was a line, so I just kept going. Not very comfortably, but the urge came and went. 

Every so often I would look ahead and see the pace sign getting closer and closer. The pace group was also thinning out. Around mile 10, I passed Confident Man from the turnaround. He was looking kind of beat.

I think I passed the 2 hour pacer during mile 11. 

Miles 9-11 (8:55, 8:48, 8:44 – near marathon goal pace)

Once I hit mile 12, I started doing this countdown thing I do. Basically, I count down from 120 seconds, figuring it’s “roughly” 10 minutes to the finish line and I’ll countdown 5 times. For some reason, this makes me pick up the pace without thinking about it and doesn’t feel any harder. 

I passed a lot of people this mile. This race has a less competitive field and chill atmosphere, so I think it was more that people had gone out too fast and were fading than that I was super-speedy, although I had accelerated somewhat. 

Mile 12 (8:43)

The course takes a hard right into this cute brick walk, which takes you to the finish line in a park. I just focused on running a strong finish. 

Heading to the finish. I don’t love the SPIbelt look, but it was functional I guess

Mile 13 + .1 (8:21, 7:45)

The medal for this race is spectacular. I mailed mine off to my 5 year old iRun4 buddy, Liam (his mom sent me a pic of him with it — it looks better on him than me). Runners also got a beach towel and an iced face cloth upon finishing. I loved the iced cloth and shoved it down the front of my jog bra to cool down. 

 

this thing weighed a ton

 Finish: 1:57 (one of my slower half marathons, but I am very happy with the pacing as a training run)

I texted my husband, who let me know where he and Bethany’s spectators were, and I went to gear check to drop off some stuff, including the medal which was too heavy to tote around. I took in a SiS gel with caffeine (berry flavor — tasted awful, like cough medicine. But my stomach took it fine. I’ll stick to the non-caff pink grapefruit.)

I completely forgot about using a bathroom. :(

I headed back north where the marathon traveled first and did a jog/walk because I really needed a bathroom and running made it worse. I finally found a porta potty around the marathon’s mile 11-ish. I found my husband a short time later. I thought about waiting for Bethany with her crew, but I was feeling antsy. I knew she was around mile 8-9, so I jogged her way. I was so excited to catch up with her and see how fresh and relaxed she looked. I was a little worried because she’s chosen to wear a long sleeved technical shirt (she’s fair-skinned and worried about sunblock wearing off) and she prefers cold. 

Bethany was using a Galloway method 5 minute run and 1 minute walk ratio. She wore a hydration vest with Gatorade and was taking water at the aid stations. She was also eating a few bites of Lara Bars every 40 minutes or so, as she had practiced. 

About halfway through this section, I desperately needed another bathroom. I sent Bethany on. After my stop, I ran to catch up to her and noted she was ahead of the 6:30 pacer. She and I had a nice chat over the miles. Running with her is very fun. 

She and I ran to the halfway point, which was near the start/finish, where her fan club was waiting. I sent her on and went to grab my gear bag. We then piled into Bethany’s brother’s car to meet her at the next cheer place. (My husband is a total pro at race spectating, btw.)

I think we caught her at mile 16? Then hustled back to the car for another quick drive. I think we were at miles 18/21. This part of the course was where the half marathon also ran. I mixed a bottle of UCAN vanilla and guzzled it down. I also removed my timing chip so I wouldn’t trigger anything weird by retracing parts of the half marathon course. 

Bethany passed by and we did a 5 person wave. She was looking a little tired (she later mentioned that just before seeing us was a rough time, but she snapped out of it and it didn’t come back). We spectators stayed put, but crossed the street to continue cheering. We cheered for everyone, which was super fun. Several runners recognized Bethany’s crew from the other points of the race and were happy to see them (Mostly. By mile 21, a few people weren’t interested at all in anything but finishing the damn thing). The weather was perfect if you were spectating.

Then Bethany arrived! And I jumped into the race to run the final miles with her. I’d spent time on the sidelines stretching my hamstring. It mostly felt OK, but it was tight. I was glad to get it moving a little again. 

Bethany was running strong, although she had slowed down some. We had some great conversations here. I really enjoy running with Bethany — she’s one determined young woman. She has outstanding cardiovascular because of her endurance swimming, so she has no trouble carrying on a conversation. Her legs get tired before her heart and lungs do for sure. I joked that my hardest job just then was keeping her from jumping into the water and swimming to the finish.  
 

Still going strong!

 One of the interesting turns of our chat was discussing how she felt with about 40 minutes to go in the marathon vs 40 minutes to complete her English Channel swim. Answer: not really comparable. 

We saw Bethany’s cheer squad again around mile 23 or so, then they scooted off to meet us at the finish line. 

I tried to be positive and motivating (tried is the operative word here — I stumbled with a few boneheaded but well-intentioned remarks) as it was warm in the sun and Bethany was understandably tired. In the last few miles, after Bethany took a bathroom stop, the seven hour pacer caught up to us. We decided to ensure he didn’t pass us, so that kept moving things forward. 

Soon we reached the brick path that signaled the finish line was near. We were both all smiles. The music blasting was Dirty Dancing’s Time of My Life. The announcer called out, “Give it up for Bethany!” and I cheered and waved my hands like a Muppety fool. 

She was a rock star and I am so proud of her. We had two big goals of finishing with a smile, uninjured and in good shape and beating the course time limit. We did all of those.

After, we went to grab some food. I was really glad to see Bethany had an appetite as she had struggled with some stomach issues post-workout during training. Fueling and hydrating on the run had been two big components of her training plan that she experimented until I think we finally got right. (Sorry, Bethany, for being such a pest about this!)
 

Shark tacos! I liked the Ahi ones I’d eaten the night before even better

 The day after the race, we met Bethany and her sister-in-law at the Kennedy Space Center. She was sore but moving around pretty well (going up and down stairs not so fun, but to be expected). We enjoyed a fun afternoon, although I fell asleep a couple times during the IMAX film — a warning precursor to me getting sick as I never fall asleep in the movie theater — then went out for fantastic fish tacos. 

I was in bed Monday night by eight, then slept in the car on the way from Cocoa Beach to West Palm Beach. We got to my step-mother-in-law’s by five and I laid down for a nap until 8pm, ate the plate of dinner that had been set aside for me, then was back in bed asleep before 10pm. I was not feeling well. If you read my last few post, you more or less know the rest of that story. I still have a phelmy cough two weeks later. 

I ran another half (Palm Beaches) the following week as another training run. probably pushed my luck

So, it was a great time in Cocoa Beach, but the funeral and travel and 23+ miles on Sunday seem to have been a bit much for my system. Still, I’m lucky and grateful to have been a part of Bethany’s journey and was thrilled to see her finish in great style.