Pre Race Jitters

Well, this is it; the final week before my next big race. I’ve run out of time to get faster, to get stronger. There is no more training to do. I’m tapering, resting, hydrating. I’ve made all the lists and maps I could possibly make, so now I have nothing left to distract me from the nerves.  You’d think that I’d be over this. I’ve run so many races, logged so many miles, yet I still get incredibly nervous.

I’m excited, but I’m also a little bummed that the training is over. This has been one of my best training cycles and I’ve loved nearly every step of the way preparing for this race. I don’t really want the fun to be over, but I am still looking forward to the big finish.

I have everything prepped: I know what I’m going to eat for the rest of the week, the night before, the morning of. I know just how much coconut water I’ll drink each day leading up to the start time. I’ve already pre-portioned out my sweet potatoes and maple syrup to fuel me through the race. I’m ready. I’m set. Let’s go.

What am I nervous about? I’m afraid I still don’t know enough about the marathon despite this being my fourth. I’m afraid I’m over confident about my training. I fear for my lack of strength training. I’m underestimating my ability to hold a pace. I’m not confident I’ve actually put in enough miles to prepare. And then there are the silly worries; what if my hair drives me nuts and I have to keep retying it? What if my watch acts up or doesn’t connect to the GPS? What if I make a mistake and follow the half marathon course instead? What if I don’t sleep? What if I don’t get a chance to poop before the gun?

I know I will be fine. I keep trying to replay my last marathon (which was a great success) in my mind to reassure myself, but I’m not so sure it’s working. The weather is promising 50 degrees and bright sunshine. It should be ideal. I just need to take a deep breath & trust in my training. I know this. I got this. Still…my stomach is going to flip flop all week.

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Back to Work!

Well, the holidays are over, the kids are back in school, and it is time to get back to work. Work on running a faster marathon that is! I have been excited to get started on another training block since Thanksgiving. I knew I had to take a break (and I did!), but I was really, really looking forward to working hard again. I’ve run here and there, but felt so lost without any planned workouts or goals. Running aimlessly and “for fun” just wasn’t any fun!

January 16 was circled on my calendar as Day 1 Week 1 of training for my next big race. Yay. However, Day 1 Week 1 was met with agony, fatigue, and multiple trips to the bathroom. Over the weekend the norovirus hit our house and it hit us hard. All five of us were wiped out in a matter of hours. Hubs & I took turns begging each other to kill the other. The children wept. We sipped a lot of broth and watched a lot of movies. We went through a lot of towels. I ended up losing five pounds.

So, training has not started with the enthusiastic bang I had been hoping for. I’ve been on my feet since Tuesday, but running a little reserved until I am completely healed. I am taking this week to get serious though. I’m recommitting to water intake. I am terrible at making sure I drink enough H2O, so my goal is to drink my body weight in ounces. It’s noon now and I’ve only managed to get down 16, so….we’ll see how it goes. I’ve also ordered a cookbook with recipes for runners. After eating nothing but chicken soup and plain toast for four days, I’m feeling rather uninspired to cook and eat. Hopefully this will shake things up and offer me some healthy and tasty options.

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I’ve also gone over my training plan with a fine toothed comb. I have 16 weeks of color coded goodness! I am using the plan available through the Garmin Connect site, like I have for the past two races, however, this go ’round I’m using the Marathon Level 3. I’ve had to tweak the training a little since it is (slightly) more challenging than what I’m capable of. This plan calls for double sessions 2-3 times per week, and while I’m a tough cookie, I’m not an elite athlete by any means. I’ve adjusted the workouts in the first several weeks so that I am running one double session per week with longer recovery/cool downs to the other workouts. I’m more or less attempting to meet somewhere in the middle in terms of the mileage asked of me and the mileage I’ll actually perform. Once I get 6 weeks in I’ll assess myself and possibly add a second double session to the week.

Ah! While my tummy my still be a wee bit grumbly, it does feel awfully good to be working toward a goal again!

Rape Culture Forgiveness & Stolen Faces

Well shit, I don’t even know where to start…I’m just so mad.  Catcalling. It happens to runners everywhere. It’s a very sad and frustrating fact about being a runner, especially a female. Women are told to vary their routes, run in groups, carry pepper spray. Protect yourself, carry a phone, have a way out. Sadly, in the last few months we’ve seen a surge in sexual harassment toward women. It has become such a fact of life that we simply roll our eyes, sigh deeply, and do our best to carry on with our every day lives. “Locker room talk” is shrugged off so easily, too easily.

Sometimes finding a group of runners can make you feel safe when out on the trail (or sidewalks). Generally the harassment isn’t hurled to a pack, especially if the pack includes a male or two. I’m a bit of a loner, so when I found a running “society” in my home state I was very excited to join. With this large group I could meet up with folks at races, learn about upcoming events, swap running stories & advice, and maybe make a friend or two. I joined the group on Facebook almost three years ago, and while I haven’t been overly active in the group, I have felt that I had a safe “home” for all things running.

I felt safe until a few days ago. My Facebook newsfeed started filling up with angry comments. A member was quickly outed for some seriously inappropriate behavior. He posted a half apology and he lied his way through it.wp-1480348767664.png It turns out a member of our little “society” had been friending people within the group, then trolling their albums to take photos, cropping the heads/faces, and photoshopping them into porn. The lewd pictures were then distributed to other members in the group and who knows where else! In The Apology he claims to have only shown the folks he did it to, but it turns out that that wasn’t true at all, nor did he tell anyone what he was doing until after the fact. Some members had to stumble on the news themselves! He asked for forgiveness because he had kids that he wouldn’t want that happening to them…..

I was disgusted by these revelations. I knew this man. I had high-fived him at races, taken pictures with him, cheered him on. He was a FRIEND. And he had grossly violated that friendship. In a social group where everyone from all backgrounds and abilities come together for a shared passion, the women should feel safe; should never have to second guess a fellow runner, a friend.

But equally disturbing to his behavior was how easily others were to shrug it off or look the other way. Some ‘liked’ and ‘loved’ his attempt at apology. Some felt that because it didn’t happen to them it was okay. Some were quick to tell other women that they needed to keep the “drama” offline and only between themselves.  Some even came to his defense with some inner demons nonsense. Because so many didn’t take it seriously, I simply can’t feel safe in the group. This is why I’m a loner.

This is rape culture being swept under a rug. This is sexual harassment being ignored. This is abuse being given a different name. This man has been blocked by some, removed from the online group, pushed out of the little circle. But his deeds are not gone nor are the others who found it “hilarious” or who may be distributing more photos. The behavior hasn’t been checked, let alone stopped. A few men in the group made public noise about being disgusted (so we can rest assured it isn’t “all men”!) and there’s been talk about a meeting, though a time and place has yet to be established. I know it will be forgotten in a week. Everyone will move on because, hey, he apologized and no one was really hurt, right?!

I’m saddened, angered, and hurt that I have to spend every run carrying protection and being on gaurd with every person I pass simply to learn that the runners closest to me will dehumanize and violate me more than a stranger on the street.

Well, I don’t accept his apology! The fact that a few buddies and his wife found it funny is NOT justification for me. The fact that he claimed to be sorry is NOT enough for me. He stole faces off the images of friends and pasted them onto naked bodies having sex in order to get off. It wasn’t harmless, it was humiliating, dehumanizing, and filthy. Perhaps I fall into the group of being “too dramatic”, “too sensitive”, or “too easily offended”, but I just cannot agree with giving this kind of behavior a pass. Personally, I won’t feel okay with any of it until everyone denounces it!

Getting Creative

It’s the middle of the summer and the kids are, of course, still home from school.  And I’m still flying solo as a parent during the week since we haven’t found a house yet.  Being a stay-at-home-parent to three little ones can make marathon training rather difficult, but we are managing to get it done.  I’ve had to get creative in setting up my training schedule and getting my workouts in since I don’t have a lunch break to pull it off, and I can’t leave them alone for a 90 minute long run.  If you are a single (or quasi-single parent) then there are a few options for marathon training while the kids are home from school:

  1. Send the kids to daycare, camp, grandma’s, etc.
  2. Have a workout swap with other parents & trade baby sitting while the other runs.
  3. Use a treadmill.
  4. Get a gym membership that has child care.

These are all great ideas that I’ve been recommended by others and have read in countless articles.  But sometimes these options just don’t work for all of us.  I can’t afford regular daycare, my other running buddies work or don’t have children, and my family lives too far away to watch my kids on any type of regular basis.  I also have no place in my home to put a treadmill and I don’t live near a gym that offers childcare.  So what’s a mom to do?!

First, get a calendar.  I printed off blank calendars and marked off the days I knew I had coverage.  Next, get flexible.  My training schedule looks a lot different than the standard ones you’ll find on the Internet. I had to rearrange some runs, combine some workouts, and create whole new ones around my sparse schedule.  Lastly, get everyone involved.  My husband is aware of my training and so are my kids.  We work together to make sure that the training gets in.  That means he makes breakfasts on weekend mornings, and the kids work up a sweat with me during the week.  During the week I make use of workout videos and do speed-work and calisthenic drills in the backyard.

Sometimes my runs can look a little funny:

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Basically, I run when I can, I try not to get too bummed out when I can’t, and I stay willing to adapt as I go along so that I can keep myself moving. I know Summer won’t last forever and the school bus will be arriving just as my plan calls for longer runs.  Honestly, I’m enjoying the break with the kids!