Guest Blog- Philadelphia Race Recap

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I hope y’all are enjoying these race recaps as much as I am!  All of you writing them, thank you!

Philadelphia Marathon Recap by Laura Beth Gabriel

Disclaimer: I’m normally not an overly sentimental person, but this article, much like a marathon, is a little emotional—especially towards the end J.

It is with sore legs and a full heart that I write this race recap.

My Philadelphia Marathon experience was not an uncommon one. My first half felt great, I started to lose steam around mile 18 or 19, and the last six were worse than a big, red beet on top of an ice cream sundae. I’ll let you know about the miles (you’re welcome), but I want to tell you about what was going on inside my head—because I think that’s what means the most during a marathon.

I started off with a rush of adrenaline (try starting off slowly while the Rocky theme song is playing) and a pace that was a bit on the fast side. I’m normally a slow and steady runner, but I was hoping to cross the finish line at 5:00, and I knew that every second mattered.

My first ten miles felt great. I kept my run pace at 10:30 or better (though not much better), and I tried to walk as quickly as I could on the walk “breaks”. The weather was cool and overcast, and I had Stephanie Molz beside me. Stephanie had just finished the Dublin Marathon a few weeks prior, and was dealing with some back pain, so we lost each other at a water stop around mile 14. I was on my own.

I hated losing Steph, but I know I wasn’t the best running buddy that day. I was watch-obsessed and not very talkative. This was a very different experience from my first marathon where I ran with a group and only wanted to cross that finish line. I had a goal, and though I knew I wanted to reach it, I didn’t realize just how much I wanted it until race day.

Miles 15 through 20 weren’t too bad, either. The route contained two out-and-backs, so in a span of five minutes, I saw both Matt (my husband) and Stephen Molz (Steph’s husband). As much as crowds help, nothing beats seeing a familiar face. Seeing them both still running strong perked me up and helped me maintain my 10:00-10:30 run pace.

Then I hit mile 20…

Around mile 20.5, a girl came up to me while I was on a walk break and said, “No! Don’t stop now! I’ve been following you for a while, and you can’t walk yet!” I explained that I wasn’t quitting, I was doing a run/walk, and she was intrigued. We talked for a while, which kept me occupied until mile 21. Thanks, random inquisitive stranger.

At mile 21, the dull aches and pains became…not dull. I hadn’t thought of a power word to get through moments like this, but I did see something at work that stayed with me for the entire marathon. 

I work for ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and, while I don’t work directly in the hospital, I’m over there a few times a day—because that’s where the food is. A few days before leaving for Philadelphia, I went across the street for coffee. Walking through a hallway toward the exit, I saw a patient using a small walker. His dad gently took the walker away, and the boy had a panicked look in his eyes. His dad nodded at him and said, “You can do this. Just a few steps.” The boy moved one foot in front of the other so slowly that you almost couldn’t tell he was moving. He cried out in pain with each step, but his Dad kept assuring him that he could move without the walker’s support. I thought about that boy the entire race, but I especially though of him those last six miles. As much as I was hurting, I was healthy. And, for that, I am thankful. For that, I run.

For those of you who don’t know, the last few miles of a marathon are as mentally tough as they are physically tough. I thought of the young patient, but I also thought of others. I thought of Star, cheering us on and tracking our splits via the internet, making our pace bands, wearing all of her clothes to stay warm while we did sprints on the high school track. Her dedication pushed me through those last miles. 

I thought of Stephanie, who would tell you that she felt negative during the race, but is always the most positive and encouraging running buddy and friend. Her friendship pushed me through those last miles.

I thought of my parents and in-laws, who were tracking our splits even though they couldn’t have told you what a running split was (a tricky gymnastic act?) before we started and were now enthusiasts— even though they probably thought we were a bit crazy. My family pushed me through those last miles.

I thought of the other Star Runners. Rebecca, who was braving the San Antonio heat in her marathon that very same day. The Star Runners got me through those last miles.

Mostly, I thought of Matt. After we got married, we decided to make a change. We began running a few miles, and those few miles led to a half-marathon, followed by a full-marathon. Thank you, Matt, for being my support system literally and metaphorically every step of the way. I’m so glad we’ve made this amazing journey together. You inspire me, and I love you. You pushed me through those last miles.

To sum this up, I did make my goal—4:58 and change. While the Philly finish line could use a boost of awesome, I still felt grateful. And thankful.

Awesome race, LB!!

40

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One of my favorite “you’re 40” gifts, sent to me from one of my athletes (i love it so much, i thought i’d share 🙂 ) : (and the picture above because they’re my favorite people to bring 40 in with!)

40 Reasons I Love My Coach, Star:

1.       She loves running and teaching people to run.

2.       She is a runner herself.

3.       She put in the hours and training it takes to be a certified coach.

4.       She labors over coaching her runners and works seven days a week to support us.

5.       She sits out in the cold when we run even though she hates it.

6.       She never asks us to run a route she wouldn’t do herself.

7.       She helped me PR the Cooper Young 4-miler, twice.

8.       She helped me PR the St. Jude Memphis ½ Marathon twice.

9.       She helped me PR the Rock n Roll New Orleans ½ Marathon.

10.   She, in short, has helped me PR every race I’ve run so far.

11.   She trained me all through my second pregnancy and helped me stay strong.

12.   She worries over those who struggle as a former social worker.

13.   She has spirit, and spunk and snark (things I appreciate).

14.   She believes in the power of cross training.

15.   She believes and teaches ANYONE can be a runner.

16.   She won’t ever let me quit or slack in any way.

17.   She gets up at the crack of dawn to coach us even though she hates mornings.

18.   She helps foster a community of runners.

19.   She fosters said community be taking ridiculous pictures of us in the dark in running gear and then makes and emails out a team roster.

20.   She emails us and beats us into liking each other for our own good (see above directory).

21.   She teaches us to believe in the uniqueness of every run and to respect every distance.

22.   She cultivates and appreciates strength and will highlight the power of an individual who achieves.

23.   She is a planner and follows through on every part of her promised plan.

24.   She speaks her truth…always.

25.   She obsesses about her runners…even following us online at races when not present.

26.   She pushes herself…learning to swim so as to better coach her triathletes.

27.   She brings her runners together… to drink…after they have earned those drinks.

28.   She answers emails and texts and calls even when we encourage her to ignore some.

29.   She married a runner and supports him fully.

30.   She beats safety into our heads for our own good.

31.   She freely shares tips and tricks and recommendations on all things needed to be a runner.

32.   She blogs to give us perspective, and encouragement and laughs.

33.   She is making Memphis a better, healthier place.

34.   She has impacted the health of countless lives.

35.   She is a passionate animal lover and encourages us all to be the same.

36.   She knows what is good for us even when we doubt ourselves.

37.   She pushes, but she also knows when to walk away.

38.   She passionately advocates for what she believes in and what makes us better.

39.   She is friends with her clients and truly cares about them.

40.   She taught me to be a passionate runner when I never thought I could be one.

GOALS

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Goal by definition is 1. The purpose toward which an endeavor is directed; an objective. 2. Something that you are trying to do or achieve

Nowhere in the definition of GOAL does it say that it is a guarantee.  It is something you are working towards, something that gives your training purpose but it is not a guarantee.

I believe in goals and place a lot of emphasis on goals, not only in my running life but in my life in general. I believe this is what motivates us as people.  Thomas Carlyle’s famous quote, “A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder”, is one of my favorite.  Not all of my goals are epic and life shattering but they’re still goals.  They keep me moving in a positive direction.

I have found that with running you must have a goal.  It sets the stage for your training.  It gives you something to reach for and gives you purpose on days you don’t want to train.  It keeps you moving forward.   “The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the far greater value than what you get, ” says Jim Rohn.  Having a goal teaches you discipline and sacrifice.  Goals teach you about yourself.

I have come across a few scenarios in my profession in which I feel people are really missing the point of having a goal:

1) “I raced but didn’t get my goal…(so I failed) or (my training didn’t work)” – Goals are not guaranteed and a missed goal doesn’t mean you didn’t work hard or train properly.  Goals should be tough to attain.  That means it’s a good goal.  That means it is something you have had to work hard to either attain or get near.  If you know that you put in 100% during training and 100% on race day, you just have to know that some days simply aren’t your day.

2) “I may not race (or I may quit mid-race) because I don’t think I can get my goal” – What?!  You’ll certainly never get it if you don’t try. This is one that drives me nuts.  Many professional runners will begin a race and if the race starts to slip from them, they’ll bail.  I get it when they are battling an injury and they have their career on the line but I don’t get it one bit when it’s about ego.  I know people who aren’t professional runners who live by this same attitude….”i’ve gotten behind, my goal is out of reach, i’m not about to walk it in…i’ll just quit”.

These people are absolutely missing the journey of the goal.  Why throw away months of training to let a little ego get in the way.

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.” Bruce Lee

“Glory lies in the attempt to reach one’s goal and not in reaching it.” Mahatma Gandhi

I have probably missed as many goals over the past 12 or so years as I have met.  Having tough goals had made me a better runner and the journey to attain these goals has made me a better person.  I missed my most recent race goal by 19 seconds.  I never once thought about quitting and I certainly don’t blame my training.  I worked my tail off and I know I didn’t leave 19 seconds on that course so while I can’t say I achieved my goal that day, I can say I had the best race I could have possibly had.

One of my favorite runners of all time is Meb Keflezighi and he set the greatest example in the most recent NY Marathon.  Meb isn’t a runner like the rest of us are runners.  He is an Olympian, a front runner, a contender at the largest of the large races, and among the fastest American runner to ever represent the US.  He showed up to run the 2013 NY Marathon and at mile 19.3, he said he could not run a step further.  I can imagine the overwhelming majority of professional runners and a good number of rookie runners would have stopped all together.  Instead he chose to walk it in. What an amazing display of realizing that some days there’s more to racing than hitting a PR or getting your goal.  Sometimes it’s just about the journey.

Take a moment to watch this short video with Meb.  If you’re not already a fan, you will be. http://www.flotrack.org/coverage/250963-New-York-City-Marathon-2013/video/723689-Emotional-Meb-Keflezighi-after-NYC-Marathon-2013

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Lessons from Ryan

I am a Ryan Hall fan.  I have rooted for him since he first hit the Olympics scene in 2008 (and before as he worked to qualify).  I want him to succeed.  But so often we don’t get to watch him perform.  It seems that he’s often injured and pulling up lame in a race or pulling out all together.

He was scheduled to run the NY Marathon last week and just days before, it hit the news that he was pulling out.  Ugh.  Again, I was rooting for him.  I wanted to see him run that and was hopeful he would finally show up and run the race he’s been trying to run for so many years.

Then I read the following article: http://running.competitor.com/2013/10/training/lessons-learned-from-ryan-halls-new-york-city-marathon-withdrawal_87419/1. What an incredible article with such great insight and plenty of food-for-thought for all of us!

The three main points that we should all adhere to:

1) Break the injury cycle: Until we’re injury free, we shouldn’t push to start training for a race.  I know we all fall into this.  We want the goal, we want the run.  We’ll do anything to get there, even if it means training before we’re ready.

2) Train to your CURRENT fitness level: The article talks about how Ryan is training for a 2:03-2:04 marathon but is more of a 2:08 marathoner.  What a difference this makes.  The article states, “Training for paces you’re not fit enough to handle is the easiest way to overtrain, get injured, and stagnate.  Base your training off your current physiological fitness and let your recent races tell you how fit you are and what your goals should be.”  I cannot stress this enough.  Of course you want a sub 2 Half but if you’re not yet a sub 2 half runner, train for the 2:05 that you are!

3) Don’t train for the same race all of the time:  I think this is great advice.  I find that once people start to train for the marathon distance especially, that’s all they want to train for but it might not be a bad idea to throw a Half season or 5K summer in there too!

Still rooting for Ryan but I do think maybe he should sit back and take a quick read through this article too 😉

Are Marathons too Dangerous?

I came across the following article the other day and just had to share.  Too funny 😉

7 Surprising Dangers of Running a Marathon

Thinking about signing up for 26.2? Before you do, consider the risks you’ll be taking.

Published

November 11, 2013

Marathons have never been more popular, as statistics somewhere probably show. This is very good news for people who like to watch marathons, and for businesses that sell Band-Aids and Vaseline, and for whoever holds the patent for the Mylar space blanket.

If you actually run marathons, however, well, heaven help you. Journalists are falling over each other to report on the risks you take when you run 26.2 miles. That’s not to mention the common knowledge that you you’re ruining your knees, which is an obvious true fact, as your non-running friends, relatives, coworkers, and total strangers will tell you. Honestly, you might as well save yourself the entry fee and just stand around pounding your kneecaps with a pair of ball-peen hammers for three or four hours.

But if you thought that’s where the risks ended, you’re wrong. A “deeper dive” into the medical literature reveals several more, lesser-known hazards of running marathons, each more awful than the last. For instance…

1. Ice Cream Headache

Researchers at UC San Diego made a startling discovery when they surveyed finishers of the 2011 San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon: Their subjects were twice as susceptible to “brain freeze,” a.k.a. ice cream headache. Doctors are at a loss to explain it, but in the meantime they urge marathoners to avoid ice cream cones and milkshakes. The risks just aren’t worth it.

2. Rake Accidents

Among healthy adults who report having stepped on a rake carelessly left lying on their lawn, resulting in a comical but painful smack in the face, a full 30% ran a marathon in the 8 weeks prior to their accident.

3. Paralyzing Sense of Existential Dread

Multiple studies have found a link between finishing a marathon and experiencing a sudden, overwhelming fear that life is nothing but a brief and meaningless march from birth to death and that, in the end, we are alone in a cold and absurd universe. The onset often occurs while uploading data to an online training log.

4. “Oh, Come On!” Moments

In a little-noticed 2009 study, researchers at the University of Florida found that marathon runners saw a spike in “Oh, Come On!” moments in the weeks before and after race day. Such moments included: locking their keys in the car, waiting 15 minutes for their bagel to toast before realizing that the toaster was unplugged, realizing that they totally forgot to put the trash out on trash night, and locking their keys in the car again.

5. Spider Eggs in Ears

A small study of lifelong runners in Germany recently found that those who ran marathons were 15% more likely than a control group to have a spider crawl into their ears as they slept, lay eggs, then have the eggs hatch weeks later and feel baby spiders skittter out of their ears.

6. Spontaneous Human Combustion

The International Marathon Medical Directors Association estimates that 1 in 250,000 marathon runners bursts into flames mid-race. Just… Poof. White-hot agony, then nothing.

7. Urge to Sign Up for Another Marathon

This is the most common risk of running a marathon, and also the most horrifying. For obvious reasons.

Guest Blog – Dublin Marathon

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Once again, I’m so excited to have another guest blog from one of our recent marathoners!!

Dublin Marathon – by Stephanie Molz

 In 2012 we decided that we wanted to do the 2013 Dublin marathon. We’ve started to turn a lot of our races into excuses to travel. When you travel for a run it always makes things a little more difficult because you want to make sure you have all the things that make your run as comfortable as possible so running a race outside of the country was even more nerve-wracking.  

Ireland is known for being cold, rainy and windy this time of year and all the weather services leading up to it indicated that this was going to be the case. I wasn’t happy about this at all so I prepared accordingly! I bought a running rain jacket which is very lightweight, and I packed capris, leggings, a tank top and a long sleeved shirt.  I usually heat up pretty quickly on the top so I knew that even if it was cold a long sleeve top and jacket would be plenty. We were also concerned about fueling because we use GU and we weren’t sure if they would even sell it over there so we stocked up!!

I was also nervous about this race because I wanted it to be my “PR” race and I have to be honest, I had missed several long runs so I thought that it was going to be impossible to hit it. Before we went to packet pickup I was dreading this race for so many reasons, the weather was going to be awful, I was disappointed in myself and I was afraid that I was literally going to be the last person finishing. Everything changed when we got to packet pickup, thank goodness! There were going to be 18,000 people in this race so I knew that there was going to be lots of people to run with and there was going to be a big crowd to cheer us on!! The atmosphere was so great too, it got me really excited which is what I needed! Also, this is the first race that you only received your t-shirt if you finished so I was totally inspired that even if I didn’t get my goal I was going to finish the damn thing. We allowed ourselves enough time to recover from the travel so by race morning I actually had better sleep than I do for most races. Steve got up before me and I was still afraid to look outside to see what was going on with the weather. He came in the room and I said, “well?”. He said, “it’s going to be 50’s and beautiful, there is no rain predicted at all!” I couldn’t believe it, things were looking ever better for my goal!  I bought a new pair of capris at the expo that I had been eyeing for a while. They worked out except for one things that I will get to later. 

Star always emphasizes that you shouldn’t do anything out of the norm for a race so this is one thing that I might have done differently. I had a lot of problems with blisters during training so I made sure that I lubed up my feet A LOT! I didn’t want blisters to ruin my race. I also decided to not use my water belt so I made some last minute changes with GU’s and my chapstick. This did end up being a good thing, so I’m glad that I made this decision.  

We got to the starting line and it was really crowded. The weather was a little chilly but totally manageable, I was excited and a little nervous. The race started on time and we were off soon after. Steve was pacing me so he said that if we could at least keep 5 miles into an hour we should be fine.

The crowds were great and the weather was so nice that I took my jacket off within the first mile or 2. Miles 5, 10, 15 clicked off and we were right on target from what I could tell. I didn’t really want to know where I was to my goal yet because I was in really good spirits. Mile 18 has been troublesome for me before but I was still feeling good, no blisters the only thing that was starting to hurt was my shins. I was afraid that I was getting shin splints, it turns out that it was my new capris that I bought. They were squeezing my shins so tightly that it was really starting to hurt. Mile 20 came around I just told myself to hold it together. The thing that was surprising was how hilly this course was, we had been told the complete opposite so that kind of messed with me. Mile 21 was a pretty big hill but they had “the wall” with music and lots of people so that was fun. Up until mile 24 Steve and I had been chatting and I was smiling and feeling pretty good. We decided to skip our last 2 walk breaks, I knew that my goal was within reach but we HAD to keep focused. The way that I did this was to just keep quiet and focus on each step. I was starting to hurt in my things and knees by now. Steve tried to move up a little in my pace and I just told him that I wouldn’t go any slower but I couldn’t go any faster- this was all I had! The crowds were amazing, they were 2 people deep going into the finish, it was awesome! My goal was 5:05 and going into the last mile Steve said something about hitting 5:10. I was confused, I thought he got mixed up about my goal was. I was watching the clocks and I knew we had stayed in each hour going into mile 20 so I wasn’t sure what was going on but I was just happy to be finished. When we crossed the finish line the clock said 5:09, I knew I had made it! Steve turned to me and hugged me and congratulated me, he was so proud of me! I was so thankful to him for sacrificing his race so that he could get me to my goal. It was an amazing day and thanks to him, Star, Keith and my fellow runners, I made it!

You were all there with me! 🙂

Great job racing, Steph, and great job pacing, Steve!!  It’s tough to race a marathon and I can only imagine how tough it is to pace someone to their goal for 26.2 miles.  Sounds like such a fun race!

 

Are you a Sandbagger?

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A friend of ours posted this to FB recently and it couldn’t have been more perfect timing as Keith and I had just had a conversation about all of this that we see and hear….

The term, SANDBAGGING is defined as; hiding the strength, skill or difficulty of something or someone early in an engagement.

Heading to run a race in Chattanooga next weekend. A friend who is also running and who i know has been training hard texts me this yesterday.

“October running did not go as planned. Upchuck will be hard on me. Maybe being well rested I can pull out a surprise.”

Of course this is complete bullshit on his part but it got me thinking about all the sandbagging we do. (me being the worst offender) My favorite is, “I’m just using it as a training run.” or “I just hope I finish.” [Another friends] is “I’ve been feeling a cold coming on” or “I haven’t done any miles.” He runs more than anybody I know and always has miraculous recovery just before the race.

All my favorites are not working anymore. People have figured out my bullshit. What”s you favorite. I need to freshen up my repertoire.

So, obviously this post is very tongue-in-cheek but it’s also so spot on!  As runners, we hear people sandbagging constantly.  As Keith and I lined up for our most recent race, I heard the proverbial “I haven’t been running much” and “oh, i hope i can just finish” from several people as they then acted like they had been shot out of a cannon at the sound “GO!”.  We all know that person who says he never runs but we see his tweets and he somehow managed to “not run” over 30 miles that week.  We know that person that no matter what race he is running, he’s “not prepared” or “wishes he had actually trained”…again, knowing this person trained his ass off.

Why do people do this?  Maybe it’s because we’re afraid of what we can’t do.  Maybe it’s because we’re afraid of what we can do.  Maybe we’re just afraid to let ourselves down….or, better yet, maybe we just like to shock the competition…you know, the person standing next to you who is also sandbagging!  Maybe it’s just because this is what athletes do.

Although I think this is just one of those things we do and I can laugh it off when I hear it (or maybe when I’ve done it and didn’t even realize I was doing it!), but the kind of sandbagging that frustrates me as a coach is the kind in which, by definition, “you deliberately perform at a lower level than you are capable of”.  It’s not unusual to see this when we have tough workouts but also when setting goals.  When I give the “goal setting run speech” in which people are told their training paces and goal depends upon this one run, I have some people every season who will sandbag.  Why?  Because they like the comfort of having a 100% attainable goal whereas a 80% attainable goal might make them nervous or might make them feel like they’ve failed if they didn’t get it.  If i know I can run a 2:15 but I’m not sure I can run a 2:00, I’ll run slower so I can get the 2:15 goal, right?  No, sandbagger!

Wouldn’t you rather get close to the toughest goal possible than achieve the easy one?  Wouldn’t you rather work your tail off and miss your 400’s by a smidgen than not even try to get there (because your stomach hurts, of course 😉 ).  Wouldn’t you rather tow the line at a race knowing how ready you are than stand there filling your head and everyone else’s with excuses?  Yes, you would!

From here forward, no more sandbagging.  Deal?