Monday, April 18, 2011

I Can Finally Do a Snot Rocket and Other Running Tales!

I have not written in a while but luckily with the marathon approaching it is not for lack of training.  Today was the 115th Boston Marathon, the long term (possibly unattainable) goal I strive for.  I didn't go this year but it was still very exciting to watch on TV especially since I got to watch the runners in the lead at each mile.  It was amazing to see how quickly that lead can be lost because of one hill or a leg cramp.  The determination on their faces while running at roughly thirteen miles per hour with someone equally as fast just at their heels was an inspiration.  I know that I will most likely (I don't want to say a definite never) NEVER run at those speeds but I definitely have the drive to at least run the bare minimum speed for 26.2 miles to qualify. I do keep flip-flopping, especially since there has been a change in the qualifying times, between giving up and persevering to qualify. Currently I am in the "I will do this before I am 30!" state of mind. Since 30 is 3 years away I am focusing on my more short term goals.

The San Diego marathon is 6 weeks away! Unlike last year, I am actually training for this so I am very optimistic that I will set a marathon PR and get one step closer to pounding the pavement of the Boston Marathon route!  I started working with a running coach and team on March 19th and the motivation of working with people who are dedicated to running and having fun doing it has pushed me further than I would ever go on my own.  Since it has been two months since I last wrote, I will only share notable runs and anything significant I took from my running.

One thing notable that I took from my running over the past few months is that I actually like running without music a lot more than with.  This is after I have invested in a new Ipod, music for the Ipod, creating playlists for the Ipod depending on my mood, etc.  I am sure I will have use for this outside of running, but I did specifically by the nano geared towards runners instead of the Ipod touch which now I would much rather have!  Up until very recently I felt like I absolutely NEEDED my music.  Over the past few runs I have noticed that I can focus a lot more if I don't have constant beats pounding in my ears.  In actuality the music oftentimes hindered my running because I was constantly adjusting the volume or switching songs.  My runs, now sans ear buds, have been a lot more reflective and focused.  I bought a new toy that helps me gauge exactly where I am with my running  speed-wise and mileage-wise.  When I am really trying to focus on my run and trying to reach a goal or keep pace I use the Garmin Forerunner which is now the most amazing piece of technology I own!  At the end of runs I find myself looking at it every hundredth of a mile, but otherwise it holds me accountable to my workload and tracks it for future reference.

Stripped of my Ipod and armed with my Forerunner I have been hitting the pavement longer and harder than I have ever done on my own outside of a race.  Obviously with a few half marathons and one full under my belt I have met this mileage before, but I have never done it with out the excitement of the race environment to fire up my endorphins and fuel my performance.  My most notable at this point is my 12 miler a week ago (Sunday) at Castle Island.  I had skipped my team meeting on Saturday because I wasn't feeling well (I truly was stuffed up but it was also a good excuse that allowed me to continue a more lazy Saturday with good company).  Skipping the run on Saturday meant that I had to do a 12 miler on my own without the cheers of the coach and team to push me.  Luckily, I convinced a friend to join me who shockingly held up for 8.4 miles with me and really helped get me through it!  I started off rather slowly in the 11:00 minute mile range because I was a little wary that I wouldn't finish the full 12 and I also wanted my running partner to continue longer than his purported 3 miles!  The first two miles were pretty much hell!  I was seriously ready to quit or only continue to 6 or 7 miles! The good thing, though, is that usually once I make it halfway I find no reason not to finish.  This has become one of my mantras while running an out and back route in my town. "Just make it halfway."  I know once I am there I will want to turn back and get home faster!

Castle Island is in South Boston and has a sugar-bowl loop of about two and a half miles. I get fairly bored running around and around the same loop so I usually continue down the road past the beaches.  This is what I did for my 12 miler.  I did the sugar bowl once, then ran down the road and back around to the sugar-bowl which brought me to 7 miles.  The downfall of this run was that I was planning to rely on the water fountains lined up along  the road, but unbeknown to me the city does not turn these on until May 1st!  This was motivation enough to keep running to my car to get my water!  When I had first started the run I said out loud to my newfound running buddy (:)) that I would be fine with stopping at 7 miles.  Once I had made it this far, however it was only 5 miles to my goal!  I was also motivated by the fact that he had gone 4 miles longer than he had gone in a while, so if he could make it that far I could surely make the full 12.  After a much need guzzle of water at my car I continued on solo around the sugar bowl, starting out a bit quicker at an 8 minute pace.  We had managed to speed our pace up to about 9-9.5 minute pace for miles 5-7 and I wanted to get the final 5 over with!  As I ran around once the plan was for my friend to walk around and once I caught up with him (also the bearer of my water!) we would finish the run together.  It became clear very quickly as my thirst level increased that neither of us is very good at algebraic distance problems!  I had run around a lap and a half of the sugar bowl and with 1.4 miles left I worried that I'd never get a sip of water!  I contemplated running the route backwards to hopefully meet him, but luckily I didn't follow this instinct and my friend had the idea to stop and wait for me at one point!  Water never tastes so good as when you feel like with out the tiniest drop you might just drop dead!  This is a slight exaggerations since it had only been 3.6 miles since my last sip, but I was still very thirsty!  I gulped my water down and managed to finish the last 1.4 miles watching the watch pretty much every 30 seconds!  I finished this run in 2:13 which I am pretty happy with considering I started out pretty slow.  I would also like to note I was on about four hours of sleep the night before and only four hours of sleep the night before that!  I had babysat late Saturday night after popping dayquil pills back and then woke up early to volunteer at a 10 mile trail race (at which I snuck in a little run from my first to my second post...extra credit!) Althought this run was slow,  it was what I needed to know I can do longer runs without being in a race!  The total time was pretty slow but it was more about getting the distance under my feet and I know the second half was minutes per mile quicker.

This weekend with my running team, my coach wanted me to run 10 miles hard.  The route was through Easton/ Stoughton to a sheep pasture and back to our meeting spot which was about 4.7 miles.  I told myself I had to get through this route twice and then just a tiny bit past our meeting point and back to make ten miles.  I was supposed to go as fast as possible without puking, so I took this mission on (almost) full force.  By putting it into perspective as only having to do the route two times I was able to breakdown the run into smaller battles instead of one big battle of ten miles.  By the time I got to the pasture my coach was there with water and encouragement and he was back at the home base with more of the same upon my return.  Knowing that I had to run 4 bouts of 2.5 miles at which I would be rewarded with refreshment and a "Go Lauren!" really put the fire under my feet.  He was not at the pasture by my second visit but this only encouraged me to get back to "home" faster, or as fast as my tired legs would carry me!  Along the way I ran past teammates running along the same route at their speed and distances and they were very supportive and helped to keep me moving through the pain of tired legs and blistered feet!  Towards the end of my run I felt that I hadn't actually given it my all and the precipice of puking was a little bit further off, but as I have experienced before I tend to be cautious that I won't make it to the end so I am a little conservative.  I have to realize that this is all mental.  This is why I say I went out almost full force.  I need to get the fear of not being able to keep pace out of my head.  I know I can't cardiovascularly hold an 8 minute pace at this point for 10 miles because otherwise Boston would be a closer shot, but I could probably push myself a little harder than I did on Saturday which was roughly a 9.6 minute mile. Knowing how I felt after the run and during, I know that I can push harder in my training runs, especially on the shorter runs.  This means I am getting out of that comfortable 10 minute mile pace. Now, I don't want to let myself run under that except for recovery runs when my legs feel horrible with every step like they did after my 3 miler on Sunday!

With each training run I learn a little bit more about my limits in running, but also about myself and how I let my mind take over and stop me from hitting things head on.  In running and in life I need to forget about "what if I don't make it" and just have the confidence to know I have the power to do so.  Instead of holding back how I feel or holding back on what I want to do, I need to move "full speed ahead" and reach the end result by putting my all into it.  Caution is necessary sometimes, but most times it is a hindrance to an otherwise obtainable goal.

I almost forgot to add my most important development!! During my ten miler while I was on a stretch of road alone, I attempted to do the often so necessary runner's snot rocket!  For the past few months, while running I have had a constant running nose!  My only two options were to blow it onto my shirt or to suck it back, both of which I did and both of which were disgusting!  On Saturday I just decided to let loose and embrace all the gross skills acquired during running and attempted to preserve my shirt and my breathing by rocketing the...snot...out of my nose!  I had always feared it would just hit me in the face, but I was wrong and now I can breath clearly on my runs!  I can't believe I have been suffering and sniffling so long!  I have no qualms now and I really am excited about this newfound running skill...yes, it's a running skill!

I'll be hitting the pavement pretty hard this week with the inspiration I have from the elite Boston Marathon finishers and the luxury of school vacation preserving my energy!

"Run Happy!"- Brooks ;) 


  1. Yay I'm so happy you posted!!!
    Yes, the garmin forerunner is awesome and I'm glad you think so too!
    I think the same thing about my out & back routes - "just make it halfway".
    Congrats on the 12 miler! I think that's great time, especially considering the sleep you had before.
    haha - i will have to start practicing on my snot rocket - i never tried before.

  2. Loved your blog!! Missed you at practice today ... we suffered but survived ... snot rocket? I might have to give it a try. Talk with you soon!!

  3. Awesome! I have been a snot rocketer for years! :-)

  4. BTW wvodriver... is Josh Wenglin :^)