Thursday, November 29, 2012

Getting healthy

I'm not going to sugarcoat this.....after my second marathon in a month (Indy), I got really lazy.  I had just almost tied my marathon PR, got married, ran a marathon PR...I deserved a break.

However, I told myself that one too many times.  I completely believe in taking a week of recovery after a marathon.  That's totally normally and definitely deserved.  Except when it then becomes abused.  The Saturday after the marathon, I ran what would have been a 5k PR, so figured that I could just keep training since it was obviously working for me.

I started biking more so that I would relieve my legs a little, but I still kept up the intensity and scheduled workouts every so often.  Cari is currently not coaching me as my goals are different for 2013....she'll be my coach again as soon as my goal is met, which will hopefully be October 2013 (more on that to come in my next post).

As great as it was that I was now cross training, I was still NOT doing some very important things: strength training, massage, extra stretching.  These things were the staples that have kept me injury free for so long.

Last week, my shins began feeling really sore.  I only ran three days (one of them on Thanksgiving, of course) to attempt to heal my shins.  It worked, but apparently I compensated a bit while running on either Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday.

This past Tuesday, I went to do a workout on the treadmill and my plantar fascia on my left foot was just killing me.  I did two of my mile repeats because the pain was barely noticeable when I would go harder.  Well, it worked until I had to get off the treadmill....once I got back on, my plantar fascia just screamed at me.  I knew I had to call it a day and just bike.  I immediately texted Dave Davis, massage therapist expert, and set up an appointment with him.


I would get massages religiously throughout my training for the Trials.  Dave was one of the critical people that were keeping me injury free...and just because the marathons were over, I could cut him off? I am one of those people that believe everything happens for a reason.  My plantar flared up to remind me of the importance of stretching, strength training, and massage.  Ironically, I was at LifeTime (running my workout on the treadmill) for the sole reason of lifting after my run, so it worked out, just a little more painfully than what had to be.

SO, to recap: while running a marathon is a HUGE accomplishment, don't let it be an excuse to take too much time off of things you should continue doing.  This will only set you back, after you've worked SO hard.

I've also decided that not only will I focus more on my stretching, strength training and massage, but I will also be watching more of what I eat.  When I was training for the Trials, I had an unreal amount of self control: I only ate healthy foods (barely anything processed, good portions) and truly saw a difference in how I felt on my runs.  All runs just felt SO easy and smooth....yes, it's the holiday season, but if I have these big goals I want to accomplish in 2013, I need to start working my way towards them right now.

I am going to try to post more frequently on here, in hopes that people who read this DO hold me accountable.  I know next time Ryan (who chooses to read this, I'm always surprised when he tells me something about it as I never tell him when I post) sees me eyeing a cookie or some ice cream, he'll call me out on it and remind me that I have BIG GOALS for 2013.  Do the same--hold those you care about accountable.  Motivation is extremely hard to hang onto near the end of the year.  If we can help each other, we will all be so much more successful (and, in turn, happy!).

GOOD LUCK as we approach the holidays.  Hopefully some motivation to follow in my next post.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

How is this even possible?

Remember how I ran a marathon last Saturday?  Well, my legs definitely didn't.

After a lot of debating with the husband last night, I decided to go to Melrose Park today and race the Prodigy Run 5k.  Last year, it was won in a 17:18, second was 17:32 and third was 17:58.  Last year, first place won $1,000 and second and third got like $500 and $200 or something.  So I knew there would be a likelihood that fast girls would show up.

I was right.  The winner and second place from last year were there, plus my teammate Columba, who had just rocked a 2:51 in the Chicago Marathon five weeks ago.  I pretty much wanted to just go home as soon as I saw the three of them there.  But, I had already driven all the way to Melrose Park, the least I could do is see what kind of shape I was in.

This race was, um, unique.  I parked in a parking lot by the village hall and a track and was then shuttled over (with Columba!) to the start line on a trolley.  The packet pickup/registration was in a Best Buy parking lot area that was roped off.  My name and city was just written down and I was assigned a bib number.  No age or gender (though the second was hopefully obvious).  There were literally three tents with registration, registration and massage.  Oh, and a stage that was later used for some aerobics-style stretching.

Did I mention there were no bathrooms?  Yep, not one single porta potty.  Luckily, there was a Dunkin Donuts pretty close so me (and about 15 other runners) chose to use that.  I then continued my warmup and ran into (and with) my teammates Dave, Matt, Jesus, Columba and Emma.  We did some drills and strides and headed over to where the race was potentially taking place.  We didn't know what direction the race would start or anything as nothing was marked, so we just kind of hung around.

We got all lined up...and luckily my teammate Mark yelled out that the gator (the golf cart like vehicle, not a real gator) was in the way....turns out the driver was just hanging out waiting for the race to start.  The gun was in the air (to start the race), though, so I'm glad Mark pointed it out as I am pretty sure a lot of us would have run right into the gator!

Off we went....20 minutes past the original start time.  I immediately situated myself with Kathryn (2nd place last year), and my teammates Emma and Columba.  I told myself to just stay with them as long as I could and I might surprise myself.  I looked at my watch at 3:35, as my legs were telling me to stop.  Yep, just over 1/2 mile into the race and I'm ready to drop....didn't seem like it would be a good race.  BUT, I hung in there....if I felt tired on Mile 2 of my 26.2 last weekend and finished the rest, I could finish this stinkin' 5k.

Mile 1--5:42.  Not marked, but my watch beeped and the group looked at their watches.  Not bad.  Emma and Kathryn kept the even pace for the next mile.  At 1.55 (halfway for a 5k), I saw my watch say 8:48 and about screamed with excitement--if I could hold onto this pace, I could run a PR!!!

Mile 2--5:43.  How am I doing this right now??

I started realizing where we were now pretty close to finishing and the course could potentially be short.  I made my game plan and decided to "go" at 2.80.

This would have been great....had the course been accurate.  At 2.80, we made a quick zig zag type turn, during which Columba had to yell out "which way?!?!?" So needless to say, we were all a bit out of it and I didn't take off at 2.80 as planned.  Columba and Kathryn did and I tried to stay with them, but fell just a little short.

Columba and Kathryn finished in what seemed to me (from behind) a photo finish in 17:12/17:13.  I finished just behind in 17:15.  I couldn't believe it.

Photo finish!

...and then I looked at my watch.

3.03miles.  No wonder.  Teammates Matt and Jesus talked with me (and a few other runners that came up to us) about the course...and Matt and I both decided that even with it being short, we PR'd.

I later came home and went to that website and tried to calculate my 5k time.

Turns out 3.03 miles in 17:15 is 5:41 pace... 3.1miles at 5:41 pace is a 17:40.

Previous PR--17:46 set while training for 10ks and 5ks
Current PR--17:40 set one week after a marathon.

Can anyone explain this?  I know I got VERY lucky, but I still just don't get how that's even possible.  I just ran a marathon a week ago....ALL research shows that your body takes 20ish days to fully recover from a marathon.  It had been SEVEN and I PR'd in a 5k.  I am still trying to wrap my head around this, but am elated that something like this could happen.  If anyone has an explanation on how this is possible, I would love to hear it.

SO, overall--GREAT day.  Although, really, anytime you can run with teammates, it's a great day.  I'm very lucky to be part of such an amazing team--these people are just incredible (both at running and in general).  Thanks, teammates, for a great day!!  Here's to many more :)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Why 2012 really was(is) the best year ever.

Okay, maybe my title isn't meant for everyone.  But for me, 2012 was for sure (and still is!) the best year of my life.  Running wise, I had PR'd in every distance (except the marathon, more on that below), was honored as the Clif Athlete of the Year and even won a marathon.  I married my best friend, moved into an incredible house, and started working in an unbelievable school district.

Well, after the Milwaukee Marathon, I wasn't satisfied.  Yes, I was ELATED to WIN a marathon.  BUT, some people made comments (I never heard them, I was just told about them) that I won with diluted competition.  Okay, true, many of the elite athletes WERE racing Chicago. However, I still had to choose which race to run and got lucky with my decision.  And really, a sub 3-hour marathon isn't anything to poke fun at.  I ran from mile 10 on all by myself, and if you've ever run a marathon solo, you know it's no easy task.

You see, I didn't break my PR, knowing that I was fully capable.  You see, last year when I ran Milwaukee, I tore my hamstring and ran a 2:54:46....this year, I knew I was in better shape so figured I'd just break my PR no problem.

Unfortunately, my IT flared up at mile 17 and I decided to be smart and slow down the pace a bit in hopes of not injuring myself.  It worked, but my goal of setting a PR didn't work.  If I had run a 2:54:45 (yes, just one second faster than my PR), I would have been happy.

So, a few days after our wedding, I signed up for the Indy Monumental Marathon.  I had run the first 13 miles of the marathon course back in 2008 while training for the Memphis Marathon (in December), and REALLY had regretted not finishing it ever since.

Choosing to race Indy was an easy decision, writing out my training wasn't as much.  I just ran when I could after Milwaukee (Sun 10/7) as getting things ready for our wedding (Sat 10/13) was much more important.

I looked at what Coach Cari had me do in between Milwaukee and CIM last year and kind of pieced my own training together.

It worked.

I ended up running a personal best by 1 minute 24 seconds with a 2:53:22 (6:32 pace).  This is how the race unfolded...

Mile 1: 6:04 on my garmin, 6:20 on the race clock... YIKES. SLOW DOWN!!!
Mile 2: 6:39...MUCH better. I've got this.
Mile 3: 6:42...Hmm, why is 6:40 pace feeling like a struggle? Did I try to come back too soon?  Nope. there's my husband cheering for me like crazy and making me smile so big. I've got this.

Mile 4: 6:24... okay, this one felt easy, I can totally do this thing
Mile 5: goal pace. sweet.  I kept telling myself that Ryan devoted 5 hours of his Friday to drive out here (4 hours, plus one for eating) with me to watch me run a marathon. The least I can do in return is not drop out, and hopefully win us some $$.  Dropping out, regardless of how much I hurt, was no longer an option.
Mile 6: 6:31...heck yes, this is perfect and feeling great.
Mile 7: 6:33...I can bust these out all day. AND I'm gaining on the girl in front of me.  what? I'm 5th place girl?  That's $100. I like the sounds of this.
Mile 8: 6:44....umm, woah. I know there was an "incline" in this mile, but a 6:44? I need to focus.  **the 1/2 marathoners left us just before this point, so the race thinned out quite a bit. It was hard for me to get back up with a group. This guy in a blue singlet with arm warmers talked to me a little so I decided he was the guy I'd fall back on if things got tough (so I'd have someone to run with)
Mile 9: 6:31...back on track! Stay focused like Chicago 2009 (in Chicago 2009, I had some guy running with me from 3 through 21, which helped me PR HUGE, so I liked having the guy in the blue singlet with arm warmers nearby...I figured the same situation was about to occur)
Mile 10: 6:28...went through at 1:05 on the clock, 6:30 pace, YES YES YES! Ryan took an AWESOME picture here of me with the clock, but told me he wouldn't see me again until Mile 20... there was no way I could drop out at this point, even if I started feeling bad/fatigued from Milwaukee.

Mile 11: 6:33...just passed the 4th pace girl, 3rd place is in sight, this could be a very good day
Mile 12:'re catching her, just stay calm and relaxed, the race isn't won in the first half. Started to feel a little fatigued, knew it was from Milwaukee, decided not to care.
Mile 13: that Dave Schaefers?! OMG. Dave, why am I running another marathon 4 weeks after I just ran Milwaukee?  Jacqui, go get that girl in front of you, she's fading, c'mon Jac, PUSH.
Mile 14: 6:26...thanks for that little push, Dave:)
Mile 15: 6:33...alright, back into the groove. Blue singlet guy is up with me again, made some comment about my pink arm warmers (something good), so I figured we'd stay together again.  He commented to me, "The race doesn't begin until Mile 20.. you can see this girl in front of you is dying...focus on timing now"  (I had been about 10-20 seconds behind her for the past 5 miles at this point)
Mile 16: 6:40...this is not when the race is won or lost. Stay focused and you'll still PR and still get 3rd place. Time for a gel soon and then Ryan will be at mile 20...get through this.  Blue singlet and arm warmer guy and I pass the girl in front of me at right as 16 turned to 17.
Mile 17: 6:30...back in the 6:30s and feelin' good. YES.  Plus, I'm now in 3rd place which is $500... gotta keep this up.  Almost missed a turn at this point as we hit a water stop and then have to quickly turn....and the volunteer almost didn't tell us!  It was me, blue singlet guy, his friend (white singlet, arm warmer guy) and the girl I had just passed (she was about 3 seconds behind as i had just passed her).  I apologized to my group, who nicely said it was the volunteer that didn't tell us where to go.
Mile 18: 6:34....still feelin' pretty darn good.  Blue singlet guy told me I'm now 5 seconds ahead of the girl.  AND I SAW RYAN AT 18.5!!!!!!!!!! He had Alex (little brother) on speaker phone so I yelled out some nonsense and started to break away a bit more.  We were 7 seconds ahead of the girl going into mile 19.

Mile 19:  6:25....okay, um, this is way off.  (we basically went down an exit ramp, but my watch AND the two guys' watches beeped for the mile split at the top of the exit ramp...and then we still had to curve around to get to the this is where the course became long)  UM, as we hit the off 19mile mark, this girl is now attempting to not only repass me, but also have a conversation with me ("are you from around here?" "No, Illinois, you?" "Oh, Ohio."). Whaaaat??? And then white singlet arm warmer guy asked me if I had raced Huntsville (ironically enough, one of my teammates from college whose blog I follow is actually doing that race!!) as multiple people had cheered "Go Jacqui" for me...I'm sure he was thinking of the phenomenal Jackie Pirtle-Hall, but I was flattered that he thought I was that good :)
Mile 20: 6:34...this is where the race begins.  Get away from this girl now.  You've GOT this.  This is YOUR day.  You dragged your husband out here to watch you ROCK a race, not get beat in the last 10k.  Let's GO.  Blue singlet arm warmer guy and I broke away.
Mile 21: about consistent.  If I can keep this pace, I'm looking at a 2:51...SWEET!
Mile 22: 6:34...well, not bad, but probably a 2:52 at this pace.  Which is still a HUGE PR so YES!!!
Mile 23: 6:34...OMG, Ryan!!!! How happy am I to see the love of my life?! Best "almost done with your marathon" surprise ever!! Ryan told me the girl was fading a bit but to keep up my pace, so I tried my hardest to do so.

Mile 24: 6:33...YES! Ry, I'm SO close to being able to give you a huge hug, I can't even wait!!! A guy in a blue long-sleeve passed me at this point and I went with him for a bit...until we met up with the 1/2 marathoners and had to weave in and out of them (well, technically one lane was for us and one was for them, but they apparently didn't get that memo).
Mile 25:, whaaaaat??? FOCUS, girl. Now is NOT the time to blow up! At this point, a bicycle (race official) came up and brought me in, which was nice because then all of the 1/2 marathoners that were on the wrong part of the course moved over so I could get through.  I also passed a 1/2 marathoner with "this is my first half marathon" on her back, and congratulated her.  The look on her face just about made me break down...she was SO happy to get that encouragement, I wanted to just stop and run her in!!!
Mile 26: 6:32....a little too late, but at least back in the 6:30s.  You are SO close to finishing this thing. And PRing BIG!  Kind of cool that my last mile was what my overall average pace was!
Mile 26.2:  1:38 (6:32 pace)/1:33 (6:04 pace)....YES, YES, YES!!!!!  The reason I have two .2 splits listed is because I split my watch at where the 26.2 actual mileage is.  I knew at 19, when my watch showed 19.3 that it might be a little long.  I finished the course with a 26.51 on my Garmin and a few other people reported similar distances to me...there were a lot of turns, and with the 1/2 marathoners I know it was hard to run the tangents, but I did just want to see what I ran for an exact 26.2 so decided to split my watch.  It would have been a 2:51:51, so that's kinda cool:)

Thanking my blue singlet arm warmer friend (he ran like 8-23 with me!)

I think after having a race like this, my biggest words of wisdom would have to be that running with others truly makes SUCH a difference in a race.  I know there are a lot of times when this isn't possible, but when it is, I will always take advantage of it.  Even if it's the person you're competing against, having SOMEONE there with you really helps you mentally and physically.  For me, when I was running with blue singlet arm warmer guy, the miles just FLEW by!  I'd look up and see the next mile without even realizing it until my watch beeped.

I also am weird (according to Ryan) and "play" certain songs in my head to make time go by faster.  My playlist went like this (and some were randomly thrown in because spectators would be playing them, and the song sounded good enough for me to get it stuck in my head):

Mile 1--let's get it started, black eyed peas
Mile 2, 3--kesha's new one, die young
Mile 4, 5--california girls, katy perry
Mile 6--ghetto superstar (yeah, bringing back the 90s, thanks mister spectator!!!)
Mile 7,8--we found love, rihanna
Mile 9, 10--without you, david guetta/pitbull
Mile 11, 12--california girls, katy perry (they were wide awake, but that's too slow to run to)
Mile 13, 14--we found love, rihanna (got back in my head again)
Mile 15, 16--blend of TSwift as someone was playing her songs
Mile 17,18,19--live while we're young, one direction (hey, it's catchy)
Mile 20,21--train song...hey soul sister, was playing...that's a hard one to get out of your head
Mile 22,23--can't remember these two for the life of me!!!
Mile 24,25,26--locked out of heaven, bruno mars (LOVE the beat!)

On another note, I did frequently think about those unable to run the New York City Marathon this weekend.  Ryan was actually supposed to be out there (PowerBar convention followed by racing); his trip got canceled on Thursday, so he was able to work all day Friday and then come with me to Indy because of it thankfully.  Hopefully all who were supposed to run NYC realize that there are much bigger things happening in that city right now and the people in that city need to recover before being able to host a marathon.  I know that the race being canceled less than 48 hours in advance was a very poor decision (whether political or not), but it was without a doubt the right one.  I sincerely hope that the funds that the marathon received will be used toward relief efforts of those affected by Sandy.  Please keep all of those people in your prayers as the recovery process will be long and they can use all of the help they can get.  Finally, hope all who ran the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k today enjoyed it and got some yummy chocolate at the end.

Hopefully I'll be updating my blog within the next week or so with an exciting announcement for next year... :)