Thursday, January 29, 2015

What's Scarier? Creepy Clowns or 18 Miles?

What's scarier? Creepy Clowns or 18 miles?

You might be surprised by my answer...18 miles! Well, that was true until this weekend anyway.

I've done many, many, many 18 milers. I've done 20, 22, & 24 milers. I've done 21 races of marathon distance or longer. Why would I be afraid of an 18 miler? Well, you see, I haven't done one (that wasn't a marathon) in 2 years! I wasn't sure how it would go. Would I be ready. How would I feel after?

Sure I've done them before but this feels almost like I'm training for my first marathon again. In a way, it's kind of nice. It's like I get to experience the joy/fear of the unknown and what I'm capable of all over again. The Lisa Before Cancer did it. Will the Lisa After Cancer be able to do it too? I can honestly say that I know I WILL do it. That I know. But how well will I do it? That's the question. And a little bit of where the fear comes in.

Coming back from cancer has been stress free and a lot of fun. I didn't really put any pressure on myself last year and mostly just tried to build a good base. I ran some fun races and ran in costume and traveled a few places. It was a good way to come back.

But now, I'm really focusing on training so I have a vested interesting on how my runs go. They are the foundation for a good marathon. I know if I feel confident about my training I will do much better while I'm running LA which will then help me run that much better.

So I was nervous about the 18 miler on Sunday because I wanted it to go really well. I can say that it went pretty well. Actually I think it went very well considering a few things:
  1. I ran on Saturday and then did a short hike on Saturday afternoon so my legs weren't exactly rested.
  2. I only slept a couple of hours on Saturday night.
  3. I had a little bit of an upset stomach the last 4 miles.
  4. It was a little smoky and warm (71 degrees when I finished).
The great news is that I wasn't very stiff after and I was sleepy but not tired. I feel pretty confident that my training is going in the right direction now thanks, of course, to Justin. Rather, I should say that I feel like I am running up to the level that Justin believes I am at. You know?

So, the 18 miler wasn't scary. I look pretty happy, right?

But I sure did get freaked out by this clown at Griffith Park on Saturday! It still gives me the heebie jeebies!

Yeah, clowns are way scarier than 18 milers! ;)

In other news, I signed up for the Surf City Half Marathon on Sunday! Woo! It is part of the Beach Cities Challenge. I was in the process of doing it in 2013 when I found out I had cancer and would have to have surgery, I'd run Surf City and the OC Half and only had Long Beach to do but I had surgery 2 weeks before. :( But now I'm going for it this year! I think this time it will be much, much more fun. 2:39 was my time for Surf City in 2013 and 2:29 was my time for the OC Half. I think 2015 will be faster! Cross your fingers!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Star Wars Half Marathon Recap

On Sunday, I ran the Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Recap. What a blast!

I love runDisney races. I know they are expensive but I think they are fun and completely worth it. I have run races with terrible support and terrible logistics and race directors that just don't seem to give a damn about the runners in their races. Say what you will about runDisney but they know how to treat runners right.

I had a goal going into the race. One goal actually. And it made me nervous! Which is a good sign that I'd picked a challenging goal. Now all I had to do was use the force to execute it! Yes, I had to go there. Come on! I HAD to! :)

On Saturday morning, I did a 5K shakeout run then headed down to Downtown Disney and the race expo. I was hoping to get there by 9 to see some of the kids races and I made it just in time. The kids races were a riot. The kids were so cute in their costumes. I loved it.

Then it was time for the expo. Bib pick up was fast and so was shirt pickup. Then it was time to do some shopping and some having fun. I listened to a couple of speakers (Sean Astin & astronaut Steve Lindsey) and bought some stuff. Took a few pics. A fun time was had by all. Well, by me at least.

I ate lunch in Downtown Disney at the ESPN zone. Maybe, sort of, because I heard a rumor they had Storm Trooper mugs...and they did! Yes, I am a total geek. Here are some of the things I picked up at the expo & Downtown Disney (clockwise from upper left hand corner: car magnet, I Did It! Wookie shirt, another Raw Threads tank top (OMG the back! I guess it's supposed to be a wolf but I am calling it a coyote!), vinylmation Mickey (a gift from another runner!), postcards from WonderGround, some BeeCause shoe charms, and that Storm Trooper Mug (being inspected by Jenks)

After I left the expo, I went home to finish my costume. I had decided to run as Chewbacca and last week I decided I wanted to run with ears. But did you know that they DO NOT have Chewbacca ears? How is that not a thing? Hello? So I decided to make some! I think they turned out pretty good.

I spend the rest of the afternoon finishing Gone Girl (wow, wild!) and resting up. I set my alarm for 2:30 and then went to sleep. Or tried to. I tossed and turned most of the night. I may have been a little more nervous about my goal than I thought! I got up with my alarm, ate breakfast, and got ready. I was out the door by 3:30 and drove down to Disneyland. Parking was a breeze and I paid for the parking of the car behind me (I promised the runner who gave me the Mickey vinylmation that I would pay it forward - done!).

It was race time! Let's do this!

The thing about Disney races is that it's a complete show. They keep the theme of the race from beginning to end. Pre race had CP30 and R2D2 and Jedi knights. Their were short clips from Star Wars movies playing too. And it was fun to check out the costumes of everyone around me.

The race started right on time at 5:30 am. First the wheelchairs, then corral A, and finally Corral B, my corral. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1... We were off!

AND I was so excited I didn't start my Garmin! LOL. Oops! I started it late and settled in. The course was different from the other Disney races I'd run before but we still got to run through the parks, different routes too that went through Tomorrowland and Cars Land. The most beautiful, jaw dropping moment was running into Radiator Springs as the sun rose. The sky was on fire with a spectacular sunrise and it was perfect for Radiator Springs. Seriously cool! I wish I had a go pro so I could share it with you. :( But I was there to race! Speaking of...

So, since I forgot to start my watch right at the start, I was off on each mile marker at the beginning. It wasn’t until about mile 4, I think, that I started a new lap when I passed that Mile Marker clock and got back on track. I hadn’t looked at the time either when we started so I didn’t know how much time had passed before our corral started. I would see the time on the clock but didn’t have a clue how close that was to my time. Oops!

My ONLY goal for this race was to finish between 2:05 and 2:10. I had intended to run the first part at 9:55 pace (2:10) and then pick it up the 2nd half. But that didn’t happen. Ha! I have zero discipline at the start! The gun goes off and I take off! I actually did force myself to slow down a little at times in the first 5K and I actually did look around when we were running through Disneyland and California Adventure. And I also checked out the behind the scenes stuff too. I think that kept me from getting too crazy at the start. So I was only a little nuts.

Once we left the parks and got on to the street, I was more focused and conscious of my time. I know some people think the street parts are boring but I like them with all the bands and the cheerleaders. I get pumped but I’m not distracted. Well, maybe a little by the costumes. There were some very, very cool ones! I was just cruising along and I felt good until 10K when my energy started to lag. I had a gel at about 6.5 miles. With the energy drop and me not being too coordinated when it comes to eating gels, I slowed a little then. I also slowed some when we went by the Star Wars cosplayers group which TOTALLY ROCKED! So much fun and you have to high five them! The 5K between 10K and 15K miles was my slowest but not too bad.

When we hit 10 miles, I looked at the clock and saw the time and I was pretty sure if I kept my pace below 10 min miles that I would hit 2:10. I think I pretty much left it all out on the course because I didn't have an extra gear at the end liked I'd hoped. I'd wanted to run the last few miles at about 9:20 or faster pace. That didn't happen. But when I saw the 13 mile marker, I gave one last kick and then I was high fiving Minnie and crossing the finish line! Then I got my medal! Woo!
It's so shiny and pretty! I saw my mom waving at me and said hi then walked through the finisher's chute to the after party to meet up with her. We hung out for a little bit and I found my friend Richard from Instagram (who was Darth Tink!) and watched the awards ceremony for the speedy people. Then I went on-line to find my finish time and surprise! 2:07:31! Woo!!!
As you can see, I did slow down for each 5K. But I think I did really well. :) I think I could have done better if I'd had 2 gels instead of 1. I'd planned on 2 gels but my pre-race energy bar I was going to eat was as hard as a rock so I had one of my gels instead. It might not have made much difference but I think it would have helped. I think.
So yeah, I was pretty happy about hitting my target time and being under 2:10. I wasn't sure until I looked it up which felt kind of weird. :) I really need to not be so excited to race! No, scratch that. Hopefully that never happens. Racing is fun! Especially runDisney races!
So, like I said, runDisney races are expensive but I love them. Here's my top 10 reasons why:
  1. They are really well organized and pre & post race and especially the race go off very smoothly.
  2. The aid stations are plentiful and also really well organized. They tell you as you get to them whether water is first, etc. They volunteers were really encouraging and funny too.
  3. There are a LOT of people running these races but I have never had a problem running the pace I want because they are very good about corral placement AND then making sure people get in the right corral. So I have never had to dodge around slower runners/walkers at runDisney races.
  4. Hello? Running through the parks! And behind the scenes! This is a nosey, people watchers dream!
  5. Seeing all the characters along the course is a blast. One of these days, I'll relax and stop and take pics during the run!
  6. The Disney park employees totally ROCK! They are awesome cheerleaders and I love high fiving them with their Mickey hands!
  7. The cheer squads and spectators also rock and make it so much fun.
  8. Running races is a celebration with other runners. You feel like you belong. These are your people. But a Disney get to be your geekiest, nerdiest, craziest self and be completely normal! These are my people!
  9. You get high fives from Disney characters when you finish!
  10. And last, but not least...the bling rocks! Cool race shirts and awesome medals! Notice anything familiar in this pic?
Thanks for reading! My next runDisney race is the Pixie Dust Challenge! I'm already working on my outfits for the 10K and Half! 

Friday, January 9, 2015

A Year In The Balance

So, we're 9 days into 2015. It's been a pretty good year so far. I mean, what can go wrong in 9 days, right?

I started off 2015 with a 15 mile run and I think that was a good way to set the tone for the year.

I am focusing on running in 2015 but still have others goals to achieve throughout the year (like rock climbing and traveling). My coach, Justin, thought it would be fun to end 2014 with 14 miles on Wednesday and then start 2015 with 15 miles on Thursday. I was a little nervous about it but it went really well. I'd split Wednesday's run into 2 runs and ran to/from work. I hadn't done that in a while and it was good to get back to run commuting. Of driving, riding, and running to work...running to work is the least stressful and most fun. Especially if it's raining.

So with those 2 runs plus the 14er I did on Sunday and the other runs for the week, I finished/started the year with a 60 mile week! I remember back this summer when I was running 20 miles per week and so tired and thinking how am I ever going to run 50-60 miles per week without being exhausted? But I felt pretty good at the end of the week! Yay for progress! I feel like I am ready to up the mileage and put in the hard work as I get ready for the LA Marathon in March.

Which leads me to my goal for 2015 - PR the 5K, 10K, Half, and Marathon!
BUT...not kill myself trying to do it AND make sure I never lose the fun factor!

I had a conversation with one of my Twitter friends this week where we talked about fears and being hard on ourselves. I told her that after my cancer scare, I found that I am more determined to do the things I want but also more relaxed about things. If I miss a run because I'm sick, it's not the end of the world. If I have a cupcake or have a couple of splurge days, I'm not going to balloon back up to 200+ lbs. I know that I need to stay focused and work towards my goals but I also need to live and work and have fun.

The way that I have taken a little bit of the pressure off myself is by hiring Justin to help me with my running. This way, he has to do all the hard work of designing my training schedule and I just get to have the fun of running it. I trust him and his methods to know that if I put in the work, I will get faster and will be able to PR. It might not happen right away, but it WILL happen.

I saw this really great quote a couple of weeks ago and I think it's kind of key to how I am approaching my PR goal...

So, I don't know exactly what it will take to get to my goals (and I sort of don't want to know) or how difficult it will be (also don't want to know this either) but I for sure am cocky enough to believe I can do it!

And what I mean about not wanting to know what it will take or how difficult it will be is this:
  • I don't know what speed work, tempo runs, etc will help me get there. I don't know what pace each of the workouts should be. I don't know when to do this and then do that, etc. But Justin does. So, like I said, I'm letting him do that for me.
  • I also don't want to know that at some point I'll have to run mile repeats at an 8 min pace or whatever those workouts will be because I'm not ready for them yet. Thinking about what I will have to do is scary and the fear might make me reluctant to try. But if I don't KNOW what's coming, I can just focus on what I can do NOW. I'll get stronger as I do what I'm supposed to and then I won't be scared later when I get the crazy workouts (which hopefully won't seem crazy by then).
Does that make sense?

BUT as I said above...I absolutely BELIEVE I can pull this off. I WILL see my PRs drop in 2015.

I know it.

I hope you'll follow along for the ride. :)