From 2 to 26.2

When I completed my half marathon last September, the first words out of my mouth were, “I am so done!  I have no desire to do this ever again!”

Two days later, when I had mostly recovered, I started to think about whether I should in fact stop there.  When I did some research, I found that the maximum mileage for marathon training was 20 miles…only 7 miles more than a half marathon!  How could I resist the tempation then?

So I set a reasonable time frame and started training. I completed the training in four months but I had to wait for three months for a more popular marathon (and better weather).  The wait was the hardest but it did give me a chance to fine tune a few things which I think were huge factors for my success: 

  • Dedicated weight training to put let stress on the knees and joints, and to help with speed.
  • Pacing on long runs to avoid the ‘hit the wall’ scenario towards the 20 mile mark.
  • Race day pacing strategy models built on an Excel spreadsheet…I called the models ‘Optimistic’, ‘Conservative’ and ‘Severe Tank’! ๐Ÿ˜€. Believe me, this helped my mental game immensely on Race day.  It helped  me understand how much I could afford to slow down and still finish on time.

After a long three months, Race day came along.  The week leading up to it was the most stressful!  I think it was a combination of things:

  • Fear of the unknown
  • Fear of the known
  • Fear of failure 
  • Fear of unfavorable weather 
  • Did I say fear of failure? ? ๐Ÿ˜€

The course was structured as a loop which resulted in a few mind games.  When I was on mile 14, I saw the elite athletes returning on what was about mile 24!  This made me question whether I even belonged there at all.  It made me feel like I was not made to do this.  It made me wonder why I was putting my body through this.  But I had to put all those doubts aside…I had to get to mile 26…even if it took me twice the time of the elite athlete. 

Four hours into the marathon, most people disappeared, including some of the cheerleaders and volunteers.  This again made me question why I was doing this. It drove home the point that marathons should be completed sooner than what it was going to take me to do it.  Once again, I had to remind myself that my only mission that day, was to get to mile 26.  

After fighting with strong head winds and a lot of self doubt, I willed myself across the finish line! 

It took me six grueling hours!  Interestingly enough, my last mile was my fastest mile.  I wasn’t particularly proud of my time, but I was just happy that I finished! 

The journey that started with a 2 mile training run has finally come to 26.2 end!!!!


๐Ÿ˜€

A.K.

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From Start to Finish

  
I finally get to conclude the Half marathon training section of my blog.  ๐Ÿ˜€

It was a very educational journey.  I learned a lot about myself. It made me stonger…both physically and mentally.  It tested my level of determination. It made me believe in myself. 

The few days leading into the Brewers Race day, life threw a slight curveball (no pun intended) my way.  One of my kids generously brought home a cold virus from school.  ๐Ÿ˜€ Unfortunately, I fell victim to it.  I felt stuffy and miserable for two days.  With only one day left before Race day, it was time to take matters into my hands!  

I used all the home remedies possible to beat the cold:

  • Fresh fruit juice loaded with Vitamin C
  • Lots of Ginger Green tea
  • Black pepper concoction 
  • Turmeric 
  • Eucalyptus steam treatment 

Luckily, the strategy paid off!

When I woke up on Race day I didn’t feel quite as miserable but I knew I would have to be extra cautious and pace myself. 

The nerves prior to start time was probably the worst of it.  This was the first time in my life that I was talking to myself saying,”You can do this!”  I said these words many times on the route.  Along with Imagine Dragons, U2, those words got me through!

When I was approaching Mile 12, I knew that I would see my family soon and my pace for that mile went up by one and a half minutes!  I knew the end was near…I was going to make it!

The smiles from my family and the hugs and praises were actually more rewarding than the physical act of crossing the Finish line. ๐Ÿ˜€

It was a good day!

  
A.K.

Penultimate celebrationย 

My half marathon training is almost done.  There are just two weeks left before ‘Race day’!

Since I believe that you should celebrate every little victory I would like to share my milestone with you.

Yesterday, I managed to run 12 miles!  The most exciting part about is that I completed the maximum mileage on the plan.  After that, it is straight on to the 13.1 miles on ‘Race day’.

I can finally say that I have a little more confidence in myself and that I can actually do it!  But I will remain grounded and take things a day at a time.

There have been ups and downs in this journey; physical, emotional and mental.  I realize now that it is this moment that matters now.  I have come a long way from being exhausted only after 2.5 miles!

The lesson here is to persist and move towards the goal.

Through this journey, I have learned a few things:

  • Start slow…lisen to your body
  • Reading too many running articles can boggle the mind!
  • If you feel your heart pounding too hard, slow down!
  • If you feel overly tired, get your iron levels checked.
  • Training for a half marathon is time consuming 
  • Plan for breaks in the schedule…life sometimes gets in the way
  • Celebrate every milestone…life is short!

A.K.

I would like to take a moment to mention my two colleagues that were training for the Ironman event in Madison which happens this weekend. They were riding their bikes when a car crashed into them. 


May their souls rest in peace.

Top 5 Lessons from the road

I recently participated in a 10k race.  In fact, it was my very first road race.  It was scary, exciting, thrilling and did I mention scary?!

The only thing that eased my fear was the fact that I was not participating to win, come in the top 10, top 20 or even the top 400! ๐Ÿ˜€  If I had those type of expectations, I would have been extremely disappointed!  I ended up in the bottom 40 at an average pace of 11:39 which was a good baseline PR (Personal Record) for me.  Also on the plus side, I came in ahead of many that were almost half my age.  That has to be a confidence booster for anyone!  Simply put, my half marathon  training is paying off.

To conclude this post, I will share some of the lessons that I took away from the race.

  1. Don’t skip breakfast…unless you like the feeling of being lightheaded.
  2. Organize your race stuff the night before…unless you enjoy scrambling to the start line as well as the to finish line.
  3. Don’t succumb to peer pressure and run as fast as the mob from the get go…unless you like to feel like a strong wildebeest about to conduct a stampede…remember “The Lion King”?
  4. Don’t forget your music…unless the rhythm of your shoes pounding on asphalt is music enough for you.
  5. Work on getting over your phobia for Port-a-Johns…unless “Depends” seems like a more attractive option.

Hope these tips help you for your next race! ๐Ÿ˜€

A.K.

Week 5 Wins

After what felt like a long week of rest and recovery, I restarted my half marathon training plan where I left off.

The schedule said 5 miles on Tuesday and Thursday, and 7 on Saturday.  My reaction to that kind of mileage was “Goodness!”

It seemed like a daunting task but I just took it a day at a time ( and totally enjoyed my rest days).  

Amidst a very stressful week, there were some wins that made the week a much better one.  ๐Ÿ˜€

Win # 1

Tuesday’s run went surprisingly well.

I finished 5 miles in about an hour!

  
Mile 5 was my fastest!

Win #2

It was my first attempt at a 7 mile run. I decided to go slow and maintain a comfortable heart rate.  The results were even better than I expected.

  
Admittedly, I liked the negative split i.e.  the second half of the run was faster than the first half.  Mile 7 was my fastest!  I actually felt energetic enough to go for another mile…but I convinced myself otherwise.  ๐Ÿ˜€ This run definitely showed me the importance of a warm up!

Win #3

7 down, 6 more to go.  The journey continues!

๐Ÿ˜€

A.K.

40 is not the new 13!

You have most likely heard the expression “40 is the new 30″ or even ” 40 is the new 20″.  This generally refers to how 40 year olds’ body age (as opposed to their chronological age) is equivalent to that of a 30 year old.  This is generally as a result of eating healthier and exercising regularly.  Simply put, “Living a healthier lifestyle”.  

Of course, in most of Hollywood, their interpretation is primarily centered around the wrinkles on one’s face.  The more inanimate their faces look,(with the help of botox or facelifts) the younger they feel.  It is very sad that they feel pressured into such a situation!

In any case, I am not a Hollywood star but I am a 40 year old. ๐Ÿ˜€

I started training for a half marathon about a month ago.  Last week, I decided to do some “interval training” with my 13 year old son.  Interval training basically involves running at alternating speeds of fast and moderate paces for short distances.

My enthusiastic 13 year old runs at about a 6  to 7 minute mile so he wanted to get me to a sub 10 minute mile.  The best I had done up until that point was 10:28.  We started out quite well with my tracker showing me at a 8 to 8:30 minute mile (I was clearly giving it my all). That pace lasted for about a quarter mile.  At that point, I thought my heart would pound open my chest (maybe that’s a slight exaggeration) so I slowed down immediately!

We continued the training for another 1.5 miles but the best I could do after the first crazy run was a sub-11 mile. Not terribly shabby but there was a slight price to pay for that over-aggressiveness…as I was about to learn.

I realized the next day that I was experiencing some discomfort in my legs.  As hard as it was for me to accept, I knew that I had to rest and avoid running until my body was ready to go again.

There were two beautiful days that were so ideal for running, but I had to resist the urge to run…it was really hard but I reminded myself of the importance of healing to make it through that phase. 

I had to slow down this week so I waited until yesterday to resume running (I would call it more of a jog though). I ran for an hour and felt no pain after the run.  I also resumed lifting weights to build my quads and hamstrings. My lean pilates/yoga muscles needed some assistance to power my runs a little better.

I am happy to be back on track and on the track!

The key lessons I learned this week were:

  • I am not 13 anymore – I need to pace myself i.e. Build up to the sub 10 minute mile rather than forcing it. At 40, the body doesn’t bounce back as fast.
  • Aggression slows you down a.k.a. “Slow and Steady wins the race”. This is similar to speeding on a freeway. If you get pulled over by a cop, the time you spend squaring things away negates any time you save by speeding.
  • A short break doesn’t mean “The End”. They are as annoying as commercials but are needed to keep the show “running”.
  • Don’t give up! Patience will help you through this phase.

That’s it for the week.  I wanted to share with you that there will always be bumps or potholes in a journey, but there is usually a detour available.  Sometimes that detours also ends up providing a good snack or refuel break which makes the rest of the journey more enjoyable!

๐Ÿ˜€

A.K.

Every sculpture needed moulding

Beautiful pottery starts with a blob of clay.

Intricate Ice sculptures starts with a slab of ice.

The structures of the city of Petra began as mountains of sandstone.

In all of the cases stated above, there is a beginning, a vision and a final product.  Between the vision and the final product, there are small and calculated steps that the artist takes in order to get to the end state.

They can plan their moves to the most granular level but until they start chipping away they will not know what exactly they can expect.  As they move along, they may need to veer from the course that they set in order to maintain the integrity of the final product.  The end product may differ from their original vision, but it definitely would be of a higher quality.

This is the same principle I am trying to apply during my half marathon training.

Being that I was always active and athletic, I thought it would not be a terribly difficult task.  My only goal, initially, was to finish…period.

About a month into training, I have a better understanding of the time and training needs, how the body responds to the exercise and how it adapts to the increasing mileage per week.

It is not easy!  I have seen an improvement over the month…slowy, but surely.  I hope to still improve my pace to get it closer to a 10 minute mile…but I have to remind myself that patience and persistence are key…this is probably my biggest lesson.  My goal  is still to finish…but not to crawl across the finish line in the nick of time.  So an additional goal is to improve my pace…to the extent possible. ๐Ÿ˜€

I can celebrate a small win this weekend.  I “chipped away” three minutes off my 10K run.  When I was running, I actually felt as though I was running slow…so I guess that’s a sign that I am getting stronger.  I keep getting this image of me looking like Lou Ferrigno (the original TV Hulk) with the bulging quads and the tattered pants…but of course I probably weigh more than a hundred pounds less than him! ๐Ÿ˜€. 

 

No 13 minute miles and enough energy to speed it up over the last 1.25 miles….yeah!!  Chip #1 was a success!

The sculpture, I mean, the journey continues!

A.K.