Monday, September 3, 2018

Labor Day Recap...

The weather has really sucked this weekend. When it wasn't hot and humid, it was raining. So basically no great running weather. I've been doing a lot of shorter mileage runs recently and convincing myself that I can "make up" for the reduced mileage by doing extra CycleBar classes (I have a Ragnar Relay in 10 days so we will see if that actually proves to be true).

The extra CycleBar classes included a double workout yesterday...

And another double workout today (including an endurance ride)...

And on Saturday I started off September with a short, slow, and steady 4 miler...

My training really hasn't ramped up for the Fall season yet. For most of the Summer I've tried to stay (and mostly get back into) the groove of regular workouts. CycleBar has been a life saver because I'm not a fan of running outside when it gets as humid as it does in South Florida. And this month I restart swimming so that will also help me improve my overall fitness level. Right now I'm just maintaining...

One of these days I'm going to do an indoor swim + outdoor run + CycleBar ride for my own version of a mini triathlon 😉.

In addition to training, I also have my London Marathon fundraiser planning to do. I started fundraising about a week ago and I've been able to hit my first milestone!

Only 75% to go!!!

I have an exciting fundraising activity scheduled for October also...
(I can't wait to share all the details with you! Stay tuned!)

If you haven't already, please take a moment to check out my fundraising page -- make a donation -- share the link: LeAnne's London Marathon fundraiser for NSPCC.

And don't forget to come back to the blog and check for updates on the CycleBar Charity Ride fundraiser (scheduled for next month)!

How has your Labor Day weekend been? Are you having good weather? I hope so!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

London Marathon Here I Come!

Next on my World Marathon Majors bucket list is the 2019 London Marathon! It will be my 4th WMM and 5th marathon (so far). It will also be my first time fundraising for a big event...

I've been trying to get into London for years (much like most of the marathon running community who want to complete all of the majors - Chicago, Boston, New York, London, Berlin, & Tokyo). The growing demand for lottery placement combined with my affinity for a slow running pace (which rules out any chance of me getting in based on time) has resulted in zero success in getting a spot in the marathon. So for 2019, in addition to entering the lottery (again), I applied to run with some of the charities.

And I got in...
I'm not just excited that I got selected for a charity spot (that in and of itself is pretty awesome), but it's the type of charity I will be running for that is most exciting for me.

I've been a Pediatric Trauma Nurse for over 13 years and worked in various ways to care and advocate for pediatric trauma patients. One special "sub-population" that's close to my heart are those children affected by child abuse. I have spent the most recent years of my profession developing guidelines on child abuse, collaborating with other professionals across the country to improve the way in which we evaluate and advocate for these children, and presenting at national conferences on increasing our awareness of child abuse.

For the 2019 London Marathon, I will be running for the only charity that actively works to prevent child abuse in the UK...
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has a long standing history of advocating for children who have been abused, and recently providing education and resources to minimize the risk of abuse. The stars aligned perfectly to allow me to combine my passion at work with my passion for running.


And so the fundraising campaign begins! Even though the London Marathon is seven months away, all my planning starts now. I'll be putting together my training plans and working on travel logistics towards the end of the year, so for right now I'm going to focus solely on fundraising. That's where I need your help!

I need some fundraising ideas! My fundraising page through JustGiving is live: LeAnne's 2019 London Marathon fundraiser for NSPCC, so please check it out, donate (any amount helps), and share the link if you can (I would really appreciate it!).

But I also need suggestions for other ways I can raise money (please leave a comment below if you have any).

Have you ever run the London Marathon?

If you've been to London... what's your favorite place to eat? And favorite thing to do there?

What are some of the best fundraising ideas you've seen (or tried yourself)?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Happiness Project...

Too often I've found myself faced with disappointments. Whether that be with performance, or pace, or how my legs feel during/after a run etc. I know that's not unique to me as a runner (we've all been there at one point or another) but I've definitely dealt with them often and, it seems, with increased frequency recently.

To be fair, it is entirely possible that my unwavering commitment to elevated expectations is directly proportionally to the frequency with which I am disappointed. And some would say that an "expect nothing" philosophy would unburden me of the daunting weight of unmet goals. But if I approached my running (or my life) with that view... what would be the point? Yes, I want to be happy with my running, but I am most happy when I meet the running goals I set for myself.

That being said... I decided to cancel the Chicago Marathon this year.

The decision was not easy (although I have to admit it became a lot easier when I remembered how much I suffered with blisters during Summer training last year). But once I made it... and cancelled my hotel reservation... I was sure it was the best decision for me.

The reality is my body needs a break and I refuse to have another disappointing marathon experience. I've trained hard for all of the marathons I've done and my current statistics do not contain the type of motivation and encouragement I need to start training for another one (at least not right now):
# of full marathons completed: 4
# of marathon training cycles with injuries: 3
# of marathon finishes over six hours: 3
# of marathons where I got injured on the course: 3
# of times those injuries included my left knee: 3
# of times I cried after the marathon was over: 2
# of times I cried during the marathon: 4
# of marathons I still want to complete (Plan A goal): 22
# of marathons to reach my Plan B goal: 9
# of marathons to reach my Plan C goal: 3

The 2018 Chicago Marathon would have been my 5th marathon and a good option for a marathon PR (since everything about the event is amazing)... but I need a break.

So instead of focusing on a Fall full marathon I've decided to focus on a Fall half marathon and aim for a PR at that distance. This goal is now the mission of my Happiness (running) Project for 2018. On my way to achieving a half PR, I've also decided to throw in a 10K PR, a 15K PR, some goals for strength training and swimming, and an optimistic (while still being healthy) goal range for weight and body fat %.

I've got 7 months to get all that done... let the challenge begin!

Training restarts next week (as in the week starting on Monday May 21st) and I've tentatively created a diverse plan for myself as a starting point to what the rest of the year is going to look like. There are a lot more cross training activities included in the plan (each one with a different goal) and I'm limiting my running days to 3 days per week. I'm still going to do my group runs with my running BFFs Mimi and Suzanne as they train for Chicago, but I'll do less mileage for the long runs (since I'm focusing on a half marathon PR).

2019 will come with its own set of goals (and yes, I'm already planning for what next year will look like), a lot of which will depend on if I get into the London (or Tokyo) marathon. I'm really hoping for London since it will give me more time to train and would be less likely to disrupt my revised goals/plans for 2018. Because I always have a Plan B... I contemplated trying to get a marathon PR at Big Sur if I didn't get into London (but I revised those thoughts when I read the course description... I'm not a fan of hills right now). Then I thought about the New Jersey marathon (which is the same weekend so training would be the same), or even the Prague marathon (on the first weekend in May).

I still haven't decided.

One thing I do know is that the next time I start training for a full the goal will be to PR (not just finish), and as a result the choice of event will be significantly impacted by course difficulty, weather, and the potential for an overall amazing race experience. Training for "lucky marathon #5" will also be designed to my specific needs... which I'm about 90% 75% sure I'm fully knowledgeable of.

Anyway, for right now my focus is on getting stronger, faster, and healthier... and earning my half marathon PR. All that's left to do is pick a goal race (in December).

What does the rest of 2018 look like for you?

Have you ever had to start from scratch with your training?

What was your favorite half marathon?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

I'm A Runner of Steel!!!! {PGH Marathon Race Weekend Recap}

I got to PGH late Thursday night (05/03) so there wasn't much to do except head to the hotel and go to bed. I stayed at one of the race hotels so they had all the frills for the runners checking in...

Once I got enough sleep, I was off to the race expo for packet pickup and other fun stuff on Friday morning...

Last year I ran with a group during a work related Pittsburgh trip and met Tonya, who I was happy to see again at the expo...

We spent time walking around the expo, checking out the different vendors, and shopping. By the time I was done I had collected quite a few race goodies...
[there may or may not be a few tops and a medal rack not featured here 😊]

Then it was time for the PGH Marathon VIP Reception (and Official Blogger Meetup) on Friday night...
(we took serious pictures also I promise)

I also had the pleasure of finally meeting Erin, who was my main PGH Marathon contact as an official blogger for the race...

And I met Patricia, the PGH Marathon Race Director...

And Aliphine Tuliamuk, elite distance runner...

And of course Chelsea! Chelsea and I were race ambassadors for another race series for a few years and were both official bloggers for the PGH Marathon (I actually met Tonya (from the expo pic above) through Chelsea's running group)...

On Saturday morning 4000+ runners gathered for the PGH 5K event (and part 1 of the Steel Challenge)...

My goal was to walk most of this event because I wanted to ensure my legs were rested for the marathon the following day. I can't say the course was scenic but the event itself was nice and the runners/walkers all seemed to be having a good time. At the end of the event though, I was ready to exit...

After the 5K I went back to the hotel to relax for the rest of the day and I woke up bright and early on marathon morning at 4am. I had a routine planned out that allowed for more than enough time to get ready and walk the mile (or so) under overcast skies to the start corrals... 

Once I got there I waited around until I saw the pacers... 

My first stop was the 6:30 pace group. It was the last official pace group for the race and with no time goals in mind (well... except to finish before the 7 hour course limit) I figured joining a group and having company for the race would be ideal. Unfortunately the 6:30 group was going to be doing intervals that I hadn't run in years so my next stop was the 6:00 group. And I lucked out! They were doing 1:30/30 intervals (which is what I used in training) and they were going to walk all the inclines (including the major hill at Oakland). It was a match made in heaven...

We started about 20+ minutes after the official start time and I had a great time talking with the other runners and getting to know my pace partners...

Well, up until mile 15. After that my left knee started bothering me so I slowed down and adjusted my intervals to 1:00/30. This was when the first wave of self reminders started: "Just finish. It's all about the experience. No time goals remember?" Despite the reminders I tried to keep the pace group in my line of sight for a while. Eventually I gave up on that and just concentrated on keeping my breathing steady and not focusing on my knee pain. By mile 19 I gave up all thoughts of running and started to walk. By that point it felt like I could walk faster than I could run anyway.

I spent the last 7 miles of the race walking, greeting people who were still kind enough to brave the overcast and rainy weather to cheer us on, and blasting "Girl on Fire" from my phone. At a couple of the aid stations the volunteers sang along as I walked passed. It was awesome!
(this music saved the day)

I didn't attempt to run again until I turned the final corner and saw the finish line on top of a small mountain hill (whose bright idea was that by-the-way?!). I ran the final stretch and got cheered through the finish by Chelsea and some of the other bloggers/runners...

And just like that marathon #4 was over and I was officially a runner (walker) of steel!

By the time I was done most of the finish line festivities were over so I went to collect my steel challenge medal...
...and walked the mile back to my hotel.

It's been a little over a week since PGH (therefore I've had lots of time to reflect) and the weekend was definitely among the best race experiences I've had. The people were amazing. It wasn't lined with crowds throughout all 26.2 miles but when the crowds were there they were great. The water stations never ran out of water, and the volunteers were happy and encouraging.

I'm not sure I would brave the PGH hills again (certainly not for a full... maybe the 10miler), but I am so glad I did this event!

Monday, April 30, 2018

A (Race Week) Letter To Myself...

Dear Body & Mind,
It's RACE WEEK! Congratulations on making it this far. It's been a long season but you stuck with it and trained hard! The moment you've been waiting for will be arriving this weekend and by next week this time you'll be able to hang your 4th marathon medal on your wall of bling!

There were several "milestones" during Pittsburgh Marathon training that made this cycle stand out from others. First, you got through more distance this season than previous seasons and had 100+ miles months in January & March (congrats)! You did a good combination of solo and group runs with most of your mileage done before 6am (thank heavens for night lights)! You also strategically mixed in a few races as training runs to get that well needed crowd support and disproportionately mixed Gatorade ;)

And yes, you may have single-handedly kept Au bon Pain open with the amount of blueberry muffins you purchased. It's also possible that your "new found appreciation of Merlot" might not have been the best claim to fame this marathon season. And I know you're not happy with the whole marathon weight gain situation, but substituting your weekly hour of cross training for that glass of wine may have had a little to do with it.

Although last week was plagued with aches & pains and strict orders to rest (and not run), getting the official "OK" to toe the starting line on Sunday makes up for all the nights you cried yourself to sleep out of frustration and sadness. Yes, things looked grim for several days... even up to this morning you were worried about stress fractures and whether or not your bones loved you enough to keep themselves together. And while your legs may not be up to PR attempts on Sunday, your new mindset to "just have fun" will hopefully get them through the 26.2+ miles without giving up. 

With that in mind, here are some last minute words of advice and motivation:
  1. Run based on how you feel (there will be other marathons to PR at when you are not recovering from an injury).
  2. Enjoy the race (everyone's finisher medal looks the same so just enjoy the journey to get yours).
  3. Stay grateful (and hydrated) in each mile. So many people are unable to run, to run a marathon, to afford to travel for races. You are blessed to be able to do this so don't forget that.
  4. Warm up gently before you start (compression pants are great but they aren't magic). Warming up will help decrease injury risk.
  5. Fuel properly (you've done this before so I don't need to tell you how important it is).
You are ready. You've trained hard (next time we really need to fix that cross training plan though) and worked hard to get here. Do your best... run with your heart... and remember to smile

Always and Forever,
Your sense of satisfaction after the race.

P.S. Pittsburgh I can't wait to help you celebrate #10YearsRunning!