Monday, March 17, 2014

What worked for me

When I decided to start training for my 50K, I reached out to a friend of mine who is a personal trainer and has been leading core classes for Fleet Feet for about 2 years.  I've been attending the classes and doing other types of strength training - TRX, yoga, BodyPump, and spinning - but not really seeing the results I wanted.

See I'd get to a certain point in every marathon or every half and feel like "I'm done.  This is it, I can't go any further."  I've never DNF'd but maybe I should have.

Enter Marie.  I laid out for her my plan.  I had changed from race walking to running shortly after the Columbus Marathon.  Okay, pretty much immediately after.  Every training season, I'd cut back on the strength training thinking it'd affect how I'd perform during a race.  I was wrong and I know that now.  We discussed my goals and she dared me to make a commitment to them.  I sat down with a training schedule for running, some classes to use up at PAI and once a week with her for the month of December and I made it work.  Eventually we moved up to two times a week and I've not looked back.

I've been trying to lose the "last 10 lbs" for the better part of 18 months.  That was a part of my plan as we trained to the 50K as well.  I stopped being a slave to the scale a long time ago, so I am not sure how much has been lost but with my renewed commitment to strengthening my core, I can see a difference from October until now.

Has it been easy?  Not a chance.  Has it been worth it?  Absolutely.  Not only do I look better - I feel better too.  It was unfathomable to me that I'd feel this good a week post 50K.  I remember with my first marathon in October 2012, my legs literally throbbed so much I couldn't nap afterwards.  Post 50K, I thought I'd be feeling the same way but I didn't.  In fact, I was so excited to see Marie the next morning & share with her how it went, I could hardly sleep that night.  I kept expecting to need Aleve or another pain reliever but didn't.  I trained.  I was ready and I couldn't have done it alone.

Adding in personal training worked for me because I can always hide during a class at the gym.  1-1, you can't hide.  You have to be on your game or your trainer calls you out on it.  It's about what works for you and I wanted to share what worked for me.  We've still got to finish up some goals but we got through the big one.  Now Marie can have a bit of fun with me!

Have you trained with a personal trainer?  


Saturday, March 15, 2014

50K Reflections

A week ago, I did my first 50K.  I trained through a long, hard winter and arrived at the start line ready to go.  I've been thinking a lot about what helped it be successful for me and I thought I'd share a few things.

1.  Friends.  If Steph and Richard hadn't been there to support me, I am not sure if I would have finished.  Richard saved me.  I didn't pack extra clothes because the weather report didn't seem all  that bad.  When I needed it, Richard ran to his car, whipped out a bag of clothes he had brought for his run and I changed clothes in the middle of the trail.  Not sure I would have stayed warm for the rest of the race without that.

2.  Ultra runners.  They are a whole other breed.  Kind, generous, willing to help a stranger.  Without John's stories, the 50K would have been really dull.  Without his missus, my left hand would be on the trail somewhere.  The only comment I have is that everyone I spoke to during the race - everyone - was using this as a training run for some exhaustive list of 30Ks, 50Ks, 50 milers & 100 milers.  This was my goal race.  Those folks are bad asses.

3.  Race nutrition.  I didn't practice too much of anything more than GU and these power balls during training.
Next time, I'll try PBJ sandwiches, pretzels and other snacks as well.  I hadn't so I wasn't sure what to take at the aide stops.  I was super disappointed that the promised flat coke at the aide stops wasn't there.  And the finish was out of coke.

4.  Overprep.  You can never prep too much for a race.  Next time I will have clothing changes, hat changes but maybe not socks or shoes.  It is Cleveland afterall.  In March.  The weather is guaranteed to be unpredictable.  If I do it again next year, I might go and do the warm up run they hold a few weeks before.  It would have been good to know about those rolling hills to the finish and that's the part they ran.

5.  Back to back runs & a training schedule.  As much as I questioned the multiple 20 milers in February, they proved to be very beneficial for me.  The back to backs on weekends?  Crucial for stamina.  Buddies training for longer distances were awesome too as I had people to run the long miles with!  And for me, working on strengthening my core is why I crossed that finish line & was found smiling throughout the race.

Thanks, Ohio Runs for the great picture!

It's not always about the bling but for some reason, I love how this one looks:

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Green Jewel 50K Recap

"I definitely would do that again," I said, shortly after finishing my first 50K last weekend.  It was the first time ever that those words came out of my mouth after finishing.

The Green Jewel 50K is held annually in Cleveland and is a road 50K.  Its a point to point race leading from Rocky River, OH to Brecksville, OH.  After completing 4 marathons, I wanted to step it up a notch and try a 50K.  GJ was the perfect fit since I don't think I'd like running in the woods all that much.  I'm a klutz and that could prove to be ugly.

After a grueling training season that included a full marathon & a half marathon (both PRs!), I was ready mentally to hit that starting line.  Of course work had to get super busy the week before the race but looking back, I am thankful it did!  It definitely distracted me.  The race start was close to 3 hours away from me and I was extremely thankful my friend Steph decided to join me and be my crew.  I didn't know how important that would be until race day!

She dropped me off at the marina and it never crossed my mind that I'd have to run 31 miles before I could leave with her.
At the start!
We're both used to a lot of pomp and circumstance at the start line of a race but there wasn't much.  You arrive, pick up the bib, use the restroom & stand around to wait  When I asked the director where the start was he said "over by that orange SUV."  When we started, the temps were around 37 according to the apps on our phones but that wouldn't last long at all.

They had aid stations around every 5 miles which when I first started looking at this made me nervous.  By the time race day rolled around, I had told Steph I thought I'd be better off seeing her at 15.  I am so glad she didn't listen to me!  The first 5 miles were very similar to terrain I run on all the time here.  Even included the black ice I've run into before.  Somehow I lost my footing around mile 3 and went down on my left side.  Not worse for the wear, I continued on very thankful to see Steph and my friend Richard who surprised me at mile 5.

After sucking down my GU, I headed back out.  It's strange to actually stop during a race but I ended up being really grateful for those stops.  Somewhere between miles 5 & 10, I joined another runner named John who became my companion through mile 24.5 at least.

John & I coming into aid 15
Somewhere between 10 & 15, the temperature started dropping and my Raynauds got really bad.  My left hand was so cold I couldn't move it well & John gave me his glove so I had 2 on one hand.  I worried Steph at this aid station because my shirt was wet but I didn't think so.  Thankfully she & Richard had cooler heads about it & insisted I change.  Stripping in the middle of a race is a new thing for me but it was needed.  John's missus Gerri gave me a pair of gloves that I wore the rest of the race.  The feeling in my left hand returned quickly.

Being Cleveland, the temperature started to go down from there on out instead of getting warmer.  I've honestly lost track of where it started snowing because John was sharing tons of stories with me and the miles were just flying by.  Steph had a plan of jumping in for some of the miles to get her run in and with Richard's help, we were able to do that after the 24.5 mile aid station.  John headed off from us and we watched his back for the rest of the race.  They warn you there are hills in the race but made it seem like it was only mile 25.  My elevation chart showed differently:

Since I had knee issues early in the season, the physical therapist had told me not to do hills and to walk them so I walked a bit through those last few miles.  Steph, with her fresh legs, had to put up with a bit of my whining through those last miles.  We ended up playing a little name that tune as I sang what was playing through my phone.

The last few miles did seem to drag a little bit but I think that was mostly because of the ice/snow/crap mix we were getting pelted with.  After a bit on the road, we were back on the trail & suddenly I was turning the corner to finish!  Richard was awesome and somehow snapped a picture of my finish with my exact finish time!

Where's the food??!!
They had a huge picnic area set up that had the best food ever waiting for us.  The potato soup was hot & awesome!  And as Richard told the world, I ate the best pretzels ever!

My awesome support!  Thanks!!

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