Athlete in Training Part 2

Recently, I was given the opportunity to write a short paper and answer 4 questions concerning how the Christian faith relates to running. The questions/answers were based on Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Question 3: How should we run?

First, I must believe and trust in the training I’ve done, knowing that I’ve put in the work and the effort to run my best.  I also know and believe in my mind that I can do it. I know that at times during the race it’s going to get tough and it will hurt, but I must remind myself to keep going.  Every part of my body is telling me to stop, but I won’t listen, because I know that the pain isn’t going to last forever.  When I go through tough spots during a race, my mind must be stronger than what I am feeling at that point.  I must tell myself I can, and in so doing my body will follow.  You might wonder, why I don’t just give up and stop when it hurts? Is the pain really worth the goal? Does it really matter if I cross the finish line? It does! Because, I’ve put in the time and effort, the hard-work, the good days, and the bad days.  I run focused on my ultimate goal, knowing that I’ve been training in order to reach my full potential. Fulfilling my goal and purpose in running comes when I cross the finish line.

Question 4: Who should we watch while we run?

I’ve learned through experience, that when I run I must have tunnel vision.  I must focus on my goal and my race.  If I lose my focus and worry about what the other runners are doing, how they are going to run, how fast they are going to go, then I start to run a race that wasn’t intended for me. Also, if I start to concentrate on those around me, I become anxious and worried that I’m not as strong and I’m not going to be able to keep up, let alone finish the race.  When I line up to start a race I have no business looking around to see who might be better, stronger or faster than I am.  There is no need to compare myself with others before the race. And if I do, I can guarantee I will wander off of my plan, my pace and get stuck somewhere I shouldn’t be.  This makes for a difficult and often times painful race.  The best races are those that are run with complete focus on what my body has been trained to run and not waiver from this pace.

Then there’s the crowd and the cheering.  While they can be encouraging, they can also be distracting.  If I start to look around and see someone holding a box of donuts or drinking coffee from Starbucks, how much harder does that make it to keep going! Wouldn’t I rather stop and rest and indulge myself! Why would I suffer through the pain when I can find immediate self-satisfaction, if only I would stop.  Again, my eyes must stay focused on the goal and the task at hand!

Lastly, when I race I know the ultimate goal is to cross the finish line.  How do I reach the finish line? Most of the time it’s too overwhelming to think of the entire distance.  I must take it step by step – because eventually steps turn into miles, and miles into 5ks, and 5ks into marathons and then before I know it I’m crossing the finish line – with exhilaration and joy, not because I did it pain-free, but because I did it! I finished the race!


El Burrito Loco

Earlier this week I was planning on running the Oak Park 5k as a training run. I’ve had a good week of solid training and my coach wanted me to basically train through Oak Park and treat it as a hard effort run instead of a race. However, it’s such a highly competitve race I was a little concerned about going there and not being able to give it my best. So, I decided to look for a smaller 5k, and a smaller one I did find! In fact, when I went to their homepage I knew I had to run it…

Here’s to a good training run and EL BURRITO LOCO

(Actually the race is the the Bunny Run 5k – but this was the picture on the website)

I Had a Bad Day and the Clock Don’t Lie…

Thanks Daniel Powter for the inspiration.

I don’t particularly care for your song or having bad days!! If I didn’t write a post saying I was running the Shamrock Shuffle, I very well may have stepped off the course this morning and walked away with a DNF.  However, I hate quitting and the feeling it leaves in my stomach, so I figured I’d rather set a new PR in running my slowest 8k ever than finish with a big, fat DNF.

Within the first quarter mile I learned that I was definitely not recovered from the 20k trail race I ran last Saturday. By the time I was ½ a mile into the race, I knew that I was going to have to back off and settle for a good effort tempo run instead of racing. It’s hard to swallow my pride and let runners pass me that I could normally beat, but today I had to do just that.

Thankfully, my Dick Pond/Fast Track teammates (sponsored by Saucony), Shannon Ring, Meg Sullivan, and Columba Montes , ran very well. Congrats, especially to Meg, who Pr’d today!! We are all awaiting team results and are hoping we placed in the top 5! This year’s field was really, really competitive!

Things I learned today…One; while it’s a good idea to get a good night’s sleep before a race, it might not be a good idea to take a sleeping pill the night before a race.  Maybe there are some better ideas for Insomnia?  I’ve dealt with it for as long as I can remember. Two; I need to change my training and start adding speed work. I’m excited to be working with a new coach, Carla Hastert, who will be giving me a new training schedule this week. Three; I need to start strength training again, and four; I need to suck it up and run fast. Oh, and number five;  training tip of the day…to the guy at the race with the backpack containing smokes, give that up and I’ll bet you will run faster! ( ;

Marlboros and Running

 So how did everyone else do?

Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon 2011

Last year, in the midst of running high mileage, while training to qualify for the olympic marathon trials, I ran the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon. The race was August 14, 2011 and we were very lucky to get a beautiful morning with ideal race conditions.

Earlier in the week, I had debated about going to Wisconsin and doing a much smaller half marathon. I wanted to run a descent half, but I also didn’t want to feel the pressure to “perform,” which sometimes happens at bigger races. The reason being was I had put in two weeks of 100 plus miles and the week leading up to the Rock N Roll Half, I was already over 80 miles.

I was feeling pretty trashed and figured I wouldn’t be able to run as well as I knew I could under different circumstances. However, after talking to one of my training partners, I was convinced that on August 14th, I would just “suck it up,” ignore the pressure, put on my game face, get in the zone, and run.

I drove to the race by myself and I didn’t have any expectations. I warmed up a couple of miles, did some strides, and took my place on the starting line. I figured that once I started the race I would know, within the first few miles, if I was capable of racing or if this was going to end up being a good, effort training run.

I started off feeling great and thought I’m just going to keep running this pace until I’m forced to back off. I didn’t look at my watch. I didn’t pay attention to my splits. I just ran. I was in the zone. In fact, so in the zone, I was almost worried the effortless pace was going to come back and bite me.

Races like this don’t come around too often. There’s nothing more exhilarting then feeling like you could keep going forever. There’s nothing better than running hard, yet feeling like you aren’t putting forth any effort whatsoever. And, there’s nothing like watching the miles fly by wondering how your body just keeps going.

On August 14th, 2011, this is just what happened. I will admit around mile 10, my quads started to ache with the pain of 100 mile weeks creeping up on me, and the head wind going into the last two miles wasn’t as comfortable as the first 11. But, I knew at that point I could still over-power my body with my mind and finish strong. I was surprised when the finish clock came into view and I realized I was going to run a sub 1:20!

It was a great feeling to come to a race with tired legs and without any expectations, and end up running a 1:19:51, a new half-marathon PR. Not, only that, but during the race I ran a faster 10k and 10 mile time than I had ever done before! The 3rd place finish, in a race that big, and a nice cash prize made it even better. ( :

In 2012, I hope to run better than a 1:19:51 and set a new 1/2 marathon PR.