Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ultra Training vs. Megan

Ultra training: 0
 Megan: 1

The biggest difference between ultra training and normal marathon training is, of course, the back-to-back long runs. I seriously underestimated how hard these would be, and have found myself knee deep into my training, wondering what the heck I'm doing. I used to have flexibility on when I did my long run over the weekend: it could be Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon. Now, my long run must be on Saturday because I have another long (albeit shorter) run on Sunday.

Balancing everything is proving to be a lot more challenging than I anticipated. For example, few weekends ago, we had a Cross Country Invitational and left the high school at 5:30am. Being an assistant coach is something I find immensely rewarding and an opportunity that I am very lucky to have. But our Saturday meets take up half the day, leaving me on my own for my 20 miles around the Back Bay.
Normally, I would have just switched my run to Sunday morning. Everyone who does distance running knows that the hardest part of a run like that is mental, and when you're by yourself the mental part is even harder! Not being able to run with my training group (they were doing the same mileage, but meeting at 7:30) and being faced with all those miles by myself was difficult. To stave off the monotony, I listened to Once a Runner for the first 13 miles of the run (it's a much better book than Murkami's book on running). But, just like Gatorade can only sustain you for so long before you need something more substantial, I can only run to an audio book for so long and then the words all blur together; I'm no longer paying attention and my pace has slowed. When I'm really tired, I need music and switched to Watch the Throne by JAY Z and Kanye for the last seven miles. I was out there for 3 1/2 hours and during that time, did a lot of self-talk, and had a lot of doubt. Not doubt about this run...but doubt about
the training...and the next 8 weeks of it. 

And, then October 1st, I participated in the NAMI Walk with my family and friend, Elizabeth. Participation in this with my family was really important to me but, again, I missed running with my group. I also had to cut my visit with Elizabeth short...forgoing dinner with her in favor of another run alone. I hadn't seen Elizabeth in months, and was really enjoying my time with her. When you're with a good friend you haven't seen in a long time, it goes by too quickly. But, I didn't have a choice and headed out around 5pm as I walked her to her car. I finished just after dark eking out a 11:09 total pace. I forgot how much I enjoy walking/running at night when you pass by people's homes and have a little glimpse into their lives. I almost enjoyed that, but it was the only part.

See, all this running has had me a bit burned out. I'm running tomorrow has turned into I have to run tomorrow and I've caught myself starting to complain about my long runs to just different people on several occasions! When you find yourself complaining to your mailman and cat, you kow you're in troble.

But just when I thought I wasn't going to make it through, I had a pretty awesome weekend last week, running-wise. You might even say I enjoyed it. And, my double run was my highest mileage to date: 16 miles on Saturday and 13.1 in the Long Beach 1/2 marathon on Sunday for a total of 29.1 miles in 24 hours. I ran with Candace and Justin (who just completed 64 miles the previous weekend in an ultra) on Saturday, and on Sunday had a group of my running friends to carpool with and start the race together. Finally, I didn't have to run alone! The 16 miles were tough, which usually isn't the case when I've gone higher in my mileage the week before. We ran 12 together, and then I headed out for another 4 miles. I was exhausted when I returned, and the half marathon the next morning was on my mind as I layed on the couch that afternoon watching Toddlers and Tiaras. See, it's not just the time spent while running, but also the fact that it sometimes wipes me out for the rest of the day. It's a huge time sink! I set my alarm for 4am, and went to bed early.
Snapped this walking to the start.
The was the usual pre-race excitement that morning as we drove to the start line before sunrise. But there was also the uncertainty of the uncharted territory of my longest back-to-back runs. Around mile 4 of the Long Beach 1/2 I actually thought to myself 'If I weren't in this race, I would stop now.' But, when you're in a race you can't drop out and that's one of the main reasons I sign up!

My pace has slowed by about 2 minutes per mile, and it was a bit humbling being passed by people I seemed fitter than, but I got through it. And actually, now that it's over and I'm sitting here writing about it ... I can say that I did enjoy it. And I may even be looking forward to 16-18 miles of El Moro trails with Delia this weekend. I guess that's part of what keeps me coming back for more - something Gretchen Rubin calls fog happiness. More about that in my next blog.

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