Tag Archives: mental

8.5 Weeks Until Boston…Training Progress, Race Goals, Injury Update

Standard

Helllllloooooooooooo!  Crazy to see on my training plan that I am now 7.5 weeks in, with 8.5 weeks left to go!  Almost at that halfway point!  Training is on schedule and I am feeling pretty good.  I lamented before how it is frustrating sometimes as I notice myself slower on some workouts this year than I was last year, but I then remember that last year I was coming off some strong races in late fall/winter so I was better prepared to enter training.  I have had some awesome training runs, though, and that makes me feel even more confident getting to this halfway point.  The 16 miler I have on Saturday will be my first true test, in my opinion, as it has the mileage challenge and the mental challenge.  I missed my first 16 miler two weeks ago because I was fighting this awful stomach bug, so I need to go out and just get the mileage in.  Nothing fancy, no crazy pace accelerations…just run 16 miles in my long-run pace range (7:48-9:04 per mile).

I also have mentioned before that not having any races lately has made it hard at times to really push my limits.  On February 27th, I will be doing my first event of 2016.  The Hypothermic Half is an event held nationwide and put on by Running Room.  I am doing this in conjunction with my 18 miler that day, so I am not going to race it, just simply use it as part of my training run that day.  The ‘competitive’ events come in March and April, as I have the local Moonlight Run 10km on March 19th and the Trailbreaker Half Marathon in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on April 2nd.  My dream goal at Moonlight would be to place in top 3 women overall.  The race can be all over the place, due to the change in weather, time of year, and the wicked hill climb for the last 3/4 of a mile.  Last year, while I ran faster than the year prior, I placed 5th overall in women.  I ran a 43:47.  In 2014, I placed 4th overall with my 47:27.  This year, I expect to be somewhere in between those times, but have no real clue how I will finish.  It really depends on who shows up on race day….and I don’t mean just what competitors….I mean what Andrea will show up?!?!?

For Trailbreaker, I am planning on pushing myself to the limits and run the best half marathon I possibly can.  To beat my personal best, I would need to run faster than a 1:35:41.  I did that time exactly one year ago in frigid temperatures.  My most recent half marathon time was my less-than-pleasing Lethbridge Police Half, where I had stomach issues the last 4 miles and dropped position and time, finishing with a 1:40.13…well off what I was capable of.  So really, I am aiming for anything under 1:40 at Trailbreaker, as coming off a week of ‘vacationing’ in Milwaukee is sometimes a bit much.  And since I have been training for Boston, I know my  legs are ready for this.  And, the elevation is lower back home, so you never know!  Lets just hope the humidity stays away!

Lastly….my foot.  It’s not an injury, per say, but a nuisance.  I know, KNOW it is getting more aggravated by the day as I keep pounding out the mileage.  The new shoes and orthotics have helped tons, and I am so glad I got them.  However, the only way for it not to hurt would for me to not run, walk, stand, be human.  So, I am just going to keep ruining my foot and build that bone spur up more and more until I have a surgery date set.  I have been putting prescription 10% Voltaren on it as of late, and this has helped numb the pain.  I am set to see my podiatrist next week to talk about pain management, and then I will hopefully be booking an appointment with my family doctor (and sports medicine extraordinaire) to have him inject something into it?????  I have been going to physiotherapy pretty regularly, and I am addicted to the TENS machine…those electric wave pulses (or whatever they are) on my foot feel SO GOOD.  I really don’t know how my foot will hold up on races, as during runs I don’t really think about it. It is after I am done running and my shoe is off that the throbbing really kicks in.  So the Hypothermic half, Moonlight Run and Trailbreaker will all be good indicators on how 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston will physically feel come April 18th!  I don’t really care if my foot feels like it is going to fall off during that race, because emotionally it will feel amazing!

 

 

Bare Bones Race Recap/Still in Shock/Training Pays Off/Didn’t Expect this Today/Love You Dad

Standard

Today was without question the most successful race of my road race career. And I didn’t expect it to be.

Ok, first off, the last two days was spent with the WCHS Cross Country team up in Drayton Valley, Alberta, for Provincials. Don’t know where Drayton Valley is? Don’t worry—-bet most people don’t. It’s 6 hours north west of Lethbridge. And it’s small. Anyway, we took our six qualified athletes up Friday, they competed Saturday, drove them back last night, and got in at 11 pm. The kids had a great weekend, and us coaches were so proud of how they conducted themselves and how they ran.

But, I was worried about how the mixture of standing/running back and forth at the meet, plus the sitting in a bus for 6 hours each way, plus my still having a cold (and the fact I ate poutine from Wendy’s for dinner on Saturday) would effect my race on Sunday. When I got home at 11:30 pm, I was still wide awake, so I sort of unpacked and laid my race clothes out for the morning. Then I was still hungry and ate Brie cheese with Triscuits. And then I had a beer at midnight, because I always have beer the night before a race. OK, now you just know all my dirty secrets. But, please know I am not saying that drinking beer makes you run well. I just know how my system works and I have it set in my mind that I run better the next day if I drink beer the night before.

My 7 am alarm came fast. I ate my oatmeal, drank my coffee, taped up my quads with KT tape, got my hydration belt set, and off to Softball Valley I went. My husband dropped me off with about 20 minutes before race start of the Bare Bones Half Marathon. This is a small race benefitting the local humane society, and all race distances are canine friendly. The most popular is the 5km, then the 9km, and lastly the half marathon. Over 300 total participants in all three events, but only just above 60 in the half.
20131020-185605.jpg

The 9 am start came and off we went. The morning was absolutely gorgeous, and I got wrapped up right away with keeping a quick pace. I was passing people who had 9km bibs, and men with half marathon bibs were getting in their spots. At about half a mile, a very petite Asian woman passed me. And by petite, I mean 5 foot, about 95 pounds, but intimidating. Back to her later. My first mile was at 7:19. Crap. That’s way too fast. Mile two clocked in at 7:36. Then mile three was 7:32. Holy shit, what am I doing? I was going way too fast. But in my head I kept telling myself that since I actually felt great, to keep this up, because I knew that ridiculous hill up to Scenic Drive would slow me later.
20131020-185752.jpg

At the mile 4 turnaround, I slowed to 7:44. This is a mentally tough location, as you are in the river bottom and the trails turn every 20 feet. They wind so much that you can’t see anyone in front of you. I had no clue really how far the woman was in front of me, because before we looped back we had gone around a circular part….and when I came out of that loop she never ran towards me. I knew she was close.

I hit the hill, which I have now ran a few times during training and races, and knew I could not start walking. As I climbed the hill, I saw my competition walking. She was quite a bit ahead of me but she was speed walking up the hill. This gave me that extra push to keep going. I now have officially entered a competition between me and the 95 pound woman.

After getting onto Scenic Drive, what I am still amazed by is how I actually got my pace back on track. And I’m not saying this in a bragging way—-I honestly have no f’n clue how I did it. I have never ran this fast before in my life…but I was in a zone.

At a little past mile 7, we turned around and headed back north on Scenic Drive. I kept telling myself to stay on the inside curve when possible and that the downhill at just past mile 9 would feel fantastic. Mile 7, 8, and 9 were 7:58, 7:53 and 7:41, respectively. As I descended into the river bottom, I could still clearly see my competition, and I knew that getting a personal best was possible….just didn’t know by how much. The first thing I kept thinking about was dropping some time off my 1:46:42 best time solely so I had a better shot at getting Corral A at Dopey Challenge. As I thought this when I was going down the hill, I then immediately pictured my dad standing there telling me “You Got This!” I honestly kept replaying that as I rolled out onto the trail and into the last 5km.

20131020-185459.jpg

The last 5km is an area I know all too well, and have written about before. This is the part that slowed me down my last mile at the Police Half Marathon in September. The reason why I slowed down then was partly because 1) I was chatting with another runner and 2) after he passed me, I never cared enough to try to catch up.

Today I had a pace bunny ahead to get, and I saw her clear as day around every turn.

As we headed into our last mile and a half, one of the event organizers said this to a volunteer as we passed “lead female and number 2 right here.That was honestly the most amazing thing I have ever heard while running. I was number 2, and mentioned in the same utterance as the lead. I all of a sudden felt like one of the high school athletes from the day before as they were in the Nordic ski trails running the race of their life. I wanted to make the podium.

Sorry to say, but this isn’t the fairy tale ending you may be hoping for. No, I did not hover past my competition with ease, nor did she do something dramatic that caused me to win in the end. And no, as I crossed the finish line there were not people there to lift me up on their shoulders and pour champagne on me. But as her and I turned into Softball Valley and the finish line was straight ahead, I heard Erin from Runner’s Soul on her microphone say “Looks like we have our first female half marathon finisher coming on in…….and number 2 is right behind her!” They had binoculars to look up our bib number and name and as I heard her saying my name as I came in to finish, I didn’t care that I didn’t get 1st overall. I just didn’t have a care in the world—-I was so overcome with excitement that nothing else mattered.

My time was 1:41:07. 1:41:07!!!!!!!!. My last personal best was in September with a 1:46:42. I dropped basically 5 and a half minutes in five weeks. And last year when I did this same race, I ran a 1:57:32. I improved a whole 16 minutes since last year. I was just in reflective happiness mode and complete disbelief. How the hell did I manage to do this? This shouldn’t have happened today….my weekend was out of whack…this course had a terrible hill for 3/4 of a mile….how…was….this…possible?

20131020-185934.jpg
Later, my cousin Erin told me simply “It’s called training! Turns out it works!” And she’s right. Now, what I did or didn’t do the past 5 weeks didn’t magically allow me to run this time. It’s what I have been doing the past 10 years and more importantly how I have been busting my butt during 2013 with my runs. I have done so many races and also have been intrinsically motivated by my fundraising in memory of my dad and my pinnacle race of the Dopey Challenge. The distances and effort I have put in during my runs have paid off, and I am now seeing the results—-results I am not used to seeing. And I can’t believe are mine. But they are.

Running still is, in my mind, as much about physical ability as it is about mental strength. If someone is just a beginner runner, yes, they need the base and the mileage to get them going and ready for a race. But they also have to be mentally ready to handle any challenges they might face. I was in a mental rut for the last few years with my running and was doing it without any motivation or goal…it was just getting done. So I had to kick up both my physical, and mental game. Trust me…as much as I would like to say that this race was all about my athletic ability, it wasn’t that. It was about my mental ability to let myself go and push myself to my full potential.

I am still in a “can’t believe this happened” mode, and I’m going to be smiling for days now. And you better believe that after I showered, I sent my updated race info in to Disney for my new and improved proof of time for Dopey Challenge. Now let’s see if that 1:41:07 can get me Corral A in January!

20131020-190026.jpg

Race Recap-Lethbridge 10 Mile Road Race!

Standard

The 40th annual Lethbridge 10 Mile Road Race was Saturday, April 13th. I signed up for it when registration opened and opted to participate in the 10 mile distance—There was also a 4 mile distance to participate in. I had never participated in this event before, but knew it would be a well-put-together race, as Runners Soul was sponsoring it.

20130414-102415.jpg

I honestly hadn’t really done much preparation for this race as far as being aware of the course and start times. I was so busy this week after coming back from Milwaukee that package pickup kind of snuck up on me Friday! The course this year was apparently different than years past, as it was an out and back situation. The race would start and finish at the college. The first part of the course on Scenic Drive is relatively flat, with a few small “bumps”. For those participating in the 10 miler, we had something special in store for us—after winding on Scenic Drive for 3 miles, we would descend into the river bottom down quite a steep hill, approximately 3/4 of a mile long. This would be a nice descent, but after winding through the pathways and turning around and coming back, we would have to head up this wretched monster! I spoke about this hill in a previous blog about hill training…it is still as ridiculous as I said initially!

20130414-103348.jpg

The race day itself couldn’t have been any more perfect of a day for Lethbridge. There was hardly any wind, there was sun peaking out of the clouds all morning, and the temperature was somewhere around 45 degrees. The 9:00 am start time for the 10 mile was awesome also! I had this 9:00 am start time last week for the Trailbreaker Half and while I know many races, especially in the summer, start earlier, I love having this almost “late start” time. I was able to get up at 7:00, have coffee and oatmeal, get ready slowly and be set for the race. I had it set in my head I would go out at a decent pace, but my goal was to be around 8:20-8:30 minute miles. I was nervous for that hill climb back from the river valley, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t collapse.

But of course, like always, I got wrapped up in the excitement of the race and completely ignored my pacing plans.
Pacing Breakdown Map from Nike+

So, my first mile of 7:33 was one of the fastest miles I have ran in a longtime. For real. I decided to just keep my legs moving for mile two. And three. And four. I figured if I felt this good there was no reason to slow down. If I had slowed down to what my planned pace was suppose to be, I would have been frustrated at the finish line if I had energy still left.. Running through the river bottom was probably the toughest part mentally. The trail curves quite a bit and I don’t know how to say it, but the visibility is only about 100 feet in parts. For the whole race I always had at least one guy (it was always a guy) close enough to chase. In this area of the river bottom, all of a sudden those people who I was chasing disappeared. It was like I was racing alone again. Once you got spit out by Whoop-Up, the path opened up a bit and you could see people ahead of you again. I started concentrating on paying attention to the number of people turning around and heading back.. This kept my mind off any pain I may have felt or the possibility of slowing down. I started counting any ladies who had turned around and headed back, and also started figuring out what age group they fit in. I realized at the five mile I was in 8th place for the ladies so far, with what I assume to be probably two people ahead of me in my age group. This was enough to keep me moving after the turn around and now I had it set in my head I was going to place in my age group

As I approached the hill to head back up from the river bottom, I yelled to the volunteers at the bottom HERE GOES NOTHING!. I knew I could not stop and walk, because it would be that much harder to get going again. I kept on my toes and kept moving up that hill, even though the pace felt so slow. I happened to catch up to a middle aged man who was breathing hard on his way up. I don’t know why, but I just started talking to him. I started talking about the stupid hill, my race last week, my pace, etc. I told him how I had ran since I was in high school, but I had only started now taking these road races somewhat seriously. He had started running at age 36 and hadn’t been running that long, and hadn’t done any crazy long distances yet. We kept together up that hill, never stopped to walk, and powered past a few people on the way up. I had a new found energy, as we kept each other going. I passed a girl who seemed to be around my age who had walked. I had this competitive spirit in me that I hadn’t had since high school. I had to keep moving!

The hill made my mile 7 come in at a time of 10:19. I had three more miles to run, and I felt positive I could get the time of 1 hour 25 minutes that I was aiming for. On the trek back to the college, I hugged the curves of Scenic Drive, treating it like running on an outdoor track. My short legs take that many more extra steps than a normal person, so any less distance I managed to run than the other races was helpful for me. Since I was familiar with the road we were running on, I set landmarks in my head for when I would start to pick up the pace. I didn’t want to go crazy too early. I find that this planning and analyzing during a race helps me stay focused, makes the miles pass faster, and keeps me moving.. This is why I don’t listen to music-my mind is filled with a playlist and plan of its own! At the Park Royal neighborhood, I planned to start using whatever energy I had left.. This would be about 1.5 miles from the finish, and there would be a short hill from the Sugar Bowl to climb before I would be at flat road. I got that kick going and kept with it until the finish, improving each mile after that 10:19! My finish time would be 1 hour 23 minutes 14 seconds.

20130414-105954.jpg

I called my mom and my husband to let them know how I did. My mom obviously was home in Wisconsin, and my husband was working in the new Garry Station subdivision in West Lethbridge. At this point I hadn’t seen an unofficial result sheet, so I had to let them know what my time was and that I felt pretty good about placing in my category. They both seemed surprised at how good my time was, and frankly, I was too. I had ran the half marathon in Waukesha last weekend, broke my long standing personal record, came back to work this week after a great Spring Break, and hadn’t had much recovery time. I stand by my statement from earlier this year that running is almost sometimes more of a mental competition, than a skill.. Yes, I need to have the mileage and the training in order to compete and race at the level I want to be at. But if I had gone in to this race with a negative attitude, assuming I would not be able to do well since I had just raced the previous weekend, I would not have done well. There is something to be said out there in regards to the power of positive thinking

Awards started in the gymnasium at the Lethbridge College at 11:00 am.

20130414-110551.jpg. They went through the 4 mile categories first before moving onto the 10 mile categories. I was like a little kid when they called me up for 2nd place in the 20-29 female category. After awards, I had to have Sean from Runners Soul take a photo for me, as I didn’t want to try to do a lame self-shot with my medal. So thank you Sean for taking this photo!

20130414-111254.jpg
I really enjoyed this race and would recommend the 10 Mile Road Race to anyone in Southern Alberta. It is a well-organized event and a beautiful course. That being said, us runners lucked out the race was Saturday, as if it had been today, it would have been a survival of the fittest sort of event. I am not making this up, but please refer to the photo below to see what my back yard looks like 24 hours after the awards ceremony:

20130414-111735.jpg
Real glad Dan and I got the pond pump running…..NOT! Anyways, that’s it for today. For some upcoming posts, I plan on doing an entry on my dad’s middle years while he lived in Switzerland and also reflecting back on some past Walt Disney World vacations. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to comment. Also, share and like my page if you like what you are reading! And the best compliment would be to head to the charitiespage up at top and read about the American Heart Association and Heart & Stroke Foundation and how I am running in memory of my late father, Andrew Lammers. Have a great week everybody!

20130414-112120.jpg