2014 Wrap-up and Racing Resolutions

I know, I know.  It’s almost February 2015 and I am just getting around to posting my 2014 wrap-up.  If you go by the lunar calendar, then this post is just-in-time.  The tardiness of this post pretty much sums up the year — 2014 was insanely busy.

On the home front, my poor boys were constantly sick.  I think my 18-month-old had a fever every other week!  My 4-year-old started pre-school and brought home all kinds of germs.  Also, I think I can sum up pre-school with two words: Birthday Parties.  Holy cow.  For a period there, we had a birthday party EVERY weekend.  I should stock up on pre-schooler birthday gifts just to have it handy!

On the work front, it was a great year.  It took me a couple of years but I stood up an awesome team at work and things were just starting to come together and getting some serious recognition.  Just in time for managers to move me to lead another project!  Now, the move did come with a nice promotion to a senior position and a nice raise, so no complaints.

Running, Racing, Resolutions

On the running front – this has been an epic year for me as a runner.  Starting in March 2014 with meeting my goal of running a Marathon within a year of having my second baby.  Not only did I complete the Marathon (prior to the course time limit), I achieved a personal record by shaving off 36 minutes from my previous personal best.  Then again in November 2014, I was able to slim down my marathon time by 12 more minutes when I completed the Richmond Marathon (new PR: 5:26).

IMG_0252

What I Have Learned In 2014

I don’t know if it is easy for anyone to run a marathon.  It is a mental and physical challenge, one that I have fallen in love with.  What I want to celebrate as a result of my running in 2014 isn’t the PRs but what I have learned from racing:

1. Do Not Let Others Define Your Limits.  People don’t say negative things out of meanness.  In fact, the most discouraging comments about my running have been uttered by close family and friends with the best of intentions. You know yourself best.  Don’t give away the power to define your own limits.

2. If Your Goals Don’t Scare You Just A Little, Then It Is Not Set High Enough. Do what scares you. Just a little.    It is a wonderful feeling to know you conquered your fears.

3. Celebrate Your Achievements. It’s OK.  It’s not self indulgent to do it. Now, I’m not talking here just buying new gear (though I am known to do that…).  I found myself minimizing my achievements.  “You ran a marathon?!  That is amazing” “oh, yeah, I did.  But I’m so slow…”  Can you imagine if your best friend or family just ran a marathon after training for it all winter long and you say to them “yeah, I guess you finished, but man were you slow!”   I would never say that or feel that way so why should I tell myself that?

Looking To 2015

I don’t usually set “new year’s” resolutions.  I guess I usually set goals all throughout the year. But this year, I decided to do things a little differently.  In fact, I am not setting any racing goals… I am setting anti-racing goals.

1. No Marathons for 12 months.  I want to focus on getting faster.  Focus on shorter races, nothing longer than 13.1 miles. Do more speed workouts.  Incorporating strength training and swimming.

2. Incorporate My Family Into More Runs.  The shorter runs will allow me to achieve this goal.  In the fall, my son started riding his bike.  We went on many family runs and it was so much fun, and challenging keeping up with him on his bike, that I resolve to do more of it this year!

IMG_0258

I hope this belated post finds everyone happy and healthy.  I wish all of you an awesome New Year 🙂

Be fearless and run on.

Advertisements

Marathon Countdown: 6 Weeks and Freaking Out!

Three months ago when I signed up for the Rock N Roll USA Marathon, I thought it was a great idea.  I wanted to complete a half marathon within 6 months of having the baby and a full marathon before he turned 1.  Now that I am 6 weeks away from the marathon… WHAT WAS I THINKING.  Ok, yes, I am freaking out.

Physically, I am prepared.  I have been training consistently.  I even signed up for marathon training program with a local (and awesome) running store, Potomac River Running (www.potomacriverrunning.com).  I have made all of my long runs and some in the freezing cold.  My long run yesterday went great.  It was a recovery week yet I still managed to sneak in 2 miles towards the end of the 12-miler at marathon race pace.

Mentally, however, not so much.  I have read many blogs and articles that discuss the mental aspects of running and racing.  But I always thought, “those are for real runners, not me,” or “I’m not going to qualify for Boston, or break any records.  No pressure to finish!”  It is exactly this self-defeating thought process that has made me mentally weak for the upcoming race.

The Mental Un-Preparation.  I didn’t tell many family members or friends that I signed up for a marathon.  In fact, my husband only found out when he saw the charge on the credit card bill.  I purposely signed up for a marathon that included a half marathon option so that, you know, in the event that something came up…  I can switch (read: wimp out).  As for my goal time? Well, no big deal, I just want to finish before the courtesy bus picks me up.  I have been talking myself out of running this marathon before I even signed up for it.

Reset and Reboot.  I just posted on Facebook that I will be running the RNR USA Marathon in March.  In fact, 2 friends signed up to do the half marathon so they can run the first 13.1 miles with me and make sure I go on to run the second 13.1.   As for records, I am hoping to break a record – my personal record.

I ran/walked the 2008 Marine Corps Marathon in 06:12:45.  I want to obliterate that time.  My goal time for this marathon is 05:12:00.  And if I can finish under that time, I will do a happy dance at the finish line and then probably collapse.  This is it.  No more self-defeating thoughts.

Hey Everyone, perfect strangers, I’m going to run a marathon on March 15, 2014!

Race Review: Rock ‘N Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon 2012

Overall: Awesome race.  Great energy.  One of my all-time favorite races and courses (yes, I liked it even better than the Kailua, HI half marathon).

Race Tips: The hotel that is connected to the Philadelphia Convention Center is nice and where most of the runners stayed.  It is also convenient since packet pick-up is in the Philadelphia Convention Center.  However, in the two years that I’ve run this race, I’d recommend staying at a hotel off of Benjamin Franklin Parkway.  It is much closer to the start and end of the race (at the “Rocky” steps).  I’m not endorsing any specific hotels, just like to point out that logistically it was much more convenient on race day.

If you’ve run in any of the Rock N Roll series races, you know that there are 10s of thousands of runners.  I usually like to put myself in a slower pace group to start, but I’d recommend not doing that here due to the sizes of the corrals.  I got stuck in the back for quite awhile and took me 2 miles of weaving in and out of people to get to a good pace group for the rest of the race.  Another note about corrals, if you’re in the later corral, you will not start the race until a good 30 mins AFTER the official start.  Just so you know to keep warm.

Course / Elevation: Flat as a pancake!  That’s probably why I love this race so much.  The bands and the cheerig crowds were also great.  The start is at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (and the steps in front of them are from the movie “Rocky” which also makes it kind of cool).  The two years I’ve run this race, the course has changed, but generally you do the first 1/3 of the race downtown Philly, then the race circled back to the start and goes up Kelly Dr. and comes back down W. River Drive.  Miles 5 through 11 are along the River – beautiful and nicely shaded.  I can’t remember any big hills.

Logistics: All great things.  I always love Rock N Roll races.  Very well organized.  Lots of gatorade, water and gu at the dedicated, well-placed and well-manned stations.  As with any race, just becareful not to slip on the cups at these stations.

Anything Else? Both times I ran the Rock N Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, I beat my personal record (PR).  It’s just that flat and fast.

If there is one negative thing, it’s not even about the race.  The race ends and starts at the same place.  And for some reason, the park where the race ends has a lot of dirt.  Who cares?  Well, after running 13.1 miles and just sprinted the last 0.25 mile to the finish, the dirt area (with all the spectators and foot traffic) stirred up quite a bit of dust and dirt into the air.  The air was literally cloudy from it.  Breathing it in at the end of the race was NOT fun.  I used my shirt to cover my nose and mouth and quickly made myself to the bag check area, which was paved.  If you are planning to meet famiy or other runners, I’d recommend you meet somewhere paved and get out of this dirt area ASAP.  I know, I’m probably just being a wimp.

Rock N Roll Philadelphia Half Medal

Race Review: Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon 2012

Overall: Good race, I would run it again.

Race Tips: Highly recommend staying at the National Harbor the night before the race.  My running buddy and I opted to drive the morning of the race.  Bad idea.  Not only was it a super early day (I was up at 3:30am) but with the amount of cars leaving the garages after the race, we were stuck in our parking spot for 35 minutes.  After 13.1 miles, cold, wet, and tired, sitting in a car for 35 mins is not fun.

Another race tip, add trail running into your training.  the last stretch between mile posts 12 and 13 are on unpaved, gravel with occasional decent sized rocks.  The race organizers called it their ‘achille’s heel.’ A little trail running will help you adjust to hitting that patch at the end of the race.

Course / Elevation: Rolling hills – and that’s an understatement.  The course went from Mt. Vernon, VA to National Harbor, MD across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge (hence the name of the race). Miles 1 – 9 is along the GW parkway and very hilly, but gorgeous along the Potomac River. Miles 9 – 10.5 is across the bridge.  Going up the bridge was a challenge, but coming back down and running on the board walk to National Harbor was flat and pretty.  I found the most challenging part of the course to be the gravel between Miles 12 and 13.  I was not used to running on gravel and plus the course narrows and made it difficult to pass or allow others to pass me.  I walked most of this section.

Logistics:  Other than the parking situation that I mentioned earlier, they also ran out of Gatorade at some of the stations.  I was running at about a 10min/mile pace at the time and was surprised to find that they’re out of Gatorade.  There were still more than half of the folks in the race behind me.  Also, since the race started and ended in different locations, runners were shuttled to the start.  Given the road closures, the buses were running super early.  So we were dropped off at the start of the race 1.5 hours prior to the race start.  It’s not good or bad, but something to be aware of.  We made friends with other runners and kept warm by jogging and, of course, hitting the porta potties.

Anything Else? 2012 was only the 3rd year they did this race.  I suspect it will only get better as the years go on.  It is a smaller race (compared to the Rock N Roll marathons that I am used to).  As brutal as the course was, my friend PR’d the course by finishing it in 1 hour 34 mins.  I was on my way to PR the race before I hit the wall.

Race Medal