The Boston Experience: 26.2 but how

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Pre-race @Athletes Village

So much of life depends on how you handle what is thrown your way. Too much of it has the power to define you, your ability, perspective, attitude and even cause you to question your belief in yourself..if you let it. My Boston run was everything I could never have anticipated.

As an athletic person – yes, that’s what I consider myself, not a pro by any means but one just the same – you always think you’re ready for the unexpected, you can deal, until it happens. By now you’re guessing it didn’t go down well, and you’re right, it didnt. No matter how prepared I told myself I was, I just was not prepared for my body to check out of the race hardly before it had begun. As it is, I will forever remember mile 4 as the point where my body not just disappointed me, but failed me miserably.

There are always reasons and excuses for not running a good time on any given race day and I will not fall into the trap of assigning blame. Frankly, I’m only interested in what can help me to understand what happened out there on the course, that no matter how hard I pushed or what I told myself during that run on Monday, I couldn’t get my body to co-operate with my mind. Maybe if I understand, there may be a way to make sure it never happens again. If you can, imagine running 22 miles with, not in, your mind; it was just about the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It felt like a mile by mile battle of wits except I was fighting myself and could hardly understand why. This left me confused and unable to truly appreciate the course and crowds, which by all accounts were phenomenal and so typically Boston Strong. In all honesty, I cannot even blame my breathing issue, sure I had a bit of a struggle there, but it was not insurmountable, not like the unknown that I was faced with.

So what did I do? Well , I did what any one in my running shoes would, under those unknown circumstances, I ran with my head; my only thought to cross the finish line with some dignity. You may ask, at what cost? Well dearly I’ll say: an official finish time of 3:59:14 – no where close to my goal and so there goes my pride, my time, training and so many other little investments unrealised. Such high hopes and plans all dashed to pieces, pieces, by the grace of God I was able to pull together and drag to the finish.

Still, I’m thankful I have my life and limbs, with which I live to run again. My health though remains an open-ended question, I can only hope the doctor has good news as I’m in dire need of some just about now.

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Running a Fall Marathon (Part 2)


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If there’s anything I’ve learned over the years, it’s that running long distances in the heat is not for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love summer and I’ll take 100 degrees over -10 any day, but the heat and I do not make good running buddies. So during summer, I run 10 miles and under races and train either at the gym, late evenings or early mornings.  By the time Fall comes around, I’m filled with anticipation and bursting with energy..all revved up and ready to go.

Establishing your base & building mileage

These days I’m running 5x a week and truly that’s the best way to build up you running base and mileage. Each day I try to increase by as little as a mile but the important thing is running consistently. Six days a week isn’t too much to aim for and increasing your mileage by the week is much more realistic. Say you’re running between 20 miles this week, you want to slowly increase that to 25 by next week and then 30 and so on. That’s ideally of course, but there are those with a slower pace, here you want to focus on consistency over pace.  Let’s say you’ve never raced before and this is going to be your first marathon, then you would benefit from starting slowly and gradually increasing pace and mileage but ensuring that you stay consistent with your running.

Building Core Strength & Upping Your Fitness Level

It’s said that good running form is essential to completing 26.2 miles.  There’s really no contesting that. Good running posture ensures economy of movement, which in turn maximizes your speed, strength and endurance.  However, this all begins in your core area, which needs to be strong to help you perfect your running plans.  Core exercises such as planks, crunches and push-ups are very helpful as are Pilates as it deals with contracting your abdominal. Also, swimming, biking and weight-training are great cross-training methods. It is also important to get proper sleep and maintain a nutritious diet high in protein and to ensure post-workout recovery; proper stretching, eat, drink and rest.

Long/Tune-Up Run

This is super-important. About 3-4 weeks before race day do a couple long runs. So 4 weeks before, then 3 weeks before; whether it’s a half marathon, 18 or 20 miler, this allows you to know where you’re at in terms of your race day goal as well as it gives you the opportunity to run at your goal pace, determine your fitness level and practice your nutrition and hydration strategies..which work best for you..that you’ll use on race day.

Race Day

All your perpetration culminates on this day. By now you know your level of fitness, you’re comfortable in your skin and you’re ready to run the race of your life. There is no room for doubt or dissension, you’ve done the work and your body will thank you. Follow your race-day plan which would have included a good night’s rest, getting up early to have a good breakfast, which would entail only the stuff you’ve eaten before, don’t try anything new but stick with the tried and true, says Coach Lindley from Boulder, Colo.,. This is your day, paint yourself a mental picture of your race, see how you plan to run and see yourself overcoming whatever minor obstacles that may turn up. Let the finish line and the celebration you would have earned propel you towards it. As most coaches like to say, finish strong.

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Ready to Race? Here’s Your Checklist!

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We’ve already determined that Spring cannot fly by without us getting out and trying some new things as it pertains to challenging ourselves and pushing our limits. Now, I’m well aware that might treat differently with each person as we all have different goals and have set differing limits on our person. While keeping that in mind, I’m still one for pre-preparing and over-setting and such, so just in case you decide to take that leap or run, you’ll be super ready.

When deciding to take a trip or set out on an adventure, I imagine there are a number of things you take into account before you make your final decision, and upon doing so, you make a checklist of sorts, itemizing your “must haves” to make sure you have a successful trip or rocking adventure. So too, in the running world. Race day requires a similar list, denoting the things you need to make sure you enjoy a successful race.
As to the reasons why this is necessary, well.. imagine that you’re ready to head to the starting line and you’ve discovered that you’ve left yr lucky shorts or God forbid, your running shoes that you’ve trained in all season, behind. Believe me this is not far-fetched, we’ve all done it; forgotten one thing or another, on that day, that we felt we really needed. The list forestall all of this and keeps you goal centered and focused on the race.

Race Checklist

– Race and Hotel Confirmation as well as travel documents such as passport & tickets where applicable
– Bib/ Number/ Timing Chip: this should be attached in the recommended position and properly filled out with emergency contact information included
– Extra Safety Pins and Pen
– Location and Directions to event: ample time should be allocated to get there whether driving or using public transportation. Also, allow for extra time for commuting emergencies such as traffic, train issues etc.
– Course and Area Maps
– Running Shoes and Gear: socks, shorts, t-shirt and/ or sports bra (ideally you should already be dressed but depending on commuting distance you may opt to dress at location)
– Sweats, Extra T-Shrirt and/ or Sweatshirt or Raincoat or disposable plastic: to keep you insulated from unpredictable weather and for post race
– Hat/ Visor
– Sunglasses
– Watch/ Timing Device
– Sunscreen, Lip Balm and Anti-Chafing cream or lotion eg. Vaseline
– Feminine products: you can never be too prepared
– Extra Cash/ Credit Card/ Subway Card
– Energy Bar/ Fruit/ Yogurt: you’ve already eaten breakfast so this is in case you need a little bite before (ideally eaten up to 1 hr prior) and for post race refueling
– Energy Gel Packs or Chewies
– Extra Water/ Energy Drink: this may most likely be provided but you need your “just in case”
– Cell Phone

Most race organizers advise that if and when allowed, your personal items should be encased in a clear plastic bag ( sometimes provided) to meet safety standards and regulations. You should allow additional time for checking in bags at event location if this is the case and make sure to walk with your stuff already bagged and clearly labeled to avoid gate hassle.

Happy Running!

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