Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mom, I'm in the Zone

If you're a runner you know how great it is to be "in the zone."   If you're not a runner, being "in the zone" is that feeling of euphoria.  Its that feeling that you can run forever.  You feel great, your stride is great, you're not over analyzing or over thinking you are just enjoying your running and nothing can stop you - or so it feels. 

Today was our 14 mile long run. It is the farthest either Christian or I have ever run before at one time.  I know the mileage just goes up from here, and the long runs just get longer, but this was kind of that turning point where we are both on even playing ground.  We decided to run 3 different routes today to make up our 14 miles, a 6 miler, a 5 miler and a 3 miler.  As we started the first 6 miles, and we both felt great.   Christian began to inch ahead and at about 2 1/2 miles I thought, if he just keeps going I'll never catch up and I don't want to feel defeated for the next 12 miles.  So, I did the one thing I said I'd never do:  "Christian, wait up!"  Now let me digress a moment:
            When Christian and I first began training and running together, to build up our mileage, all too often I was in the zone.  I just got my pace going and went.  For the most part Christian was right by my side, but there were several instances were I was apparently running too fast and I would hear:   "Mom, wait up!" or "Mom, slow down!"  or "Mom, you're running too fast!"  And, being a good mother and wanting my son to remain motivated (since this was just the beginning) I would slow down and run at his pace.  I figured that I have been running for many more years than he has, so I am here to help him and we are doing this together.  There were a couple times that he would run ahead, but I would make sure I would catch up because the last thing I was going to do was let my son have the satisfaction that he was running faster than me and I can't keep up.  I mean, he might think I am getting old or something.  Nope, I will never ask him to slow down....or so I thought.

So, today, I asked.  I needed the companionship to get started.  He waited for me, we ran together, he turns to me and says, "Mom, I was in the Zone."  Ugh - the punch to the stomach, the drop of the heart, I took him out of the zone.  We all want to be in the zone, its the best place a runner can be, after the finish line of course (or the food tent after the finish line - but that's another post). 

Over the past few weeks, Christian has definitely began to develop into a much stronger runner than I am.  I am going to link it to youth, I mean he is 20 years my junior.  I'm glad he is running better.  He should, and I don't want to be the one to hold him back.  Yes, I really want us to cross that finish line together, but more than that I want him to discover all he can do and then blow us all away. 

Christian continued to run ahead and at mile 9, he slowed again, seeing I was quite a bit behind him.  I still had a good pace, mind you, he is just better.  I told him to go, I was fine, we only have 5 miles left and I can do it.  He said he was going to run fast and I said good and good luck.  He took off and ended up finishing 6 minutes before me.  I really could have used him the last mile as I had to do a lot of self talk to bring it home and from what he said, he felt the same way about me.

On the way inside, I told him he just completed his first half marathon (and then some).   Yep, it was a good run.  He was in the Zone.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I Love the Winter

I really do love wintertime.  I love snow.  I love to see it fall from the sky and I love to see it on the ground.  I love to watch it from inside the house, with a cup of hot coffee or hot chocolate.  Wintertime gives you the freedom to stay inside and not feel guilty about it.  You can snuggle up in sweaters and blankets and watch a movie or read a good book.  You can play a game next to the fireplace and know that even though it is really cold outside, you are nice and toasty inside.  These are among some of my favorite things about wintertime.

Training for a Spring marathon in Michigan, however, is very contradictory to all the things I love about Winter - mainly staying indoors.  Christian and I agreed that we would not be doing all this wintertime running if it weren't for our marathon training.  A typical winter for me is a few outdoor runs, mostly when it is sunny and the roads are clear, and a lot of cross-training or treadmill speed work.  Christian's typical wintertime routine is lounging around, cross-training his fingers for better video game playing. 

It takes a lot to get up and go out into the cold, but we have to not think about that.  We have to think about our goal, our prize, our BIG FINISH.  Christian likes to remind me every time we begin a run that it is cold out, as though I don't already know, and frankly don't need to be reminded - hence the layers, gloves and hat.  He doesn't like the first mile very much because it takes some time to get warmed up.  It is quite amazing to see how sweaty we get by the end of the run since we are so cold to start out.  I suppose it goes without saying that we are both looking forward to Spring. 

This week we had a lot of snow.  It is actually really fun to run in the snow.  We learned, however, that when the snow is well past your ankles, it is much more challenging to run.  In fact, you're not really running at that point, you are more or less just plodding along.  I know this snow will make us stronger though.  It is tough work running in snow.  Even running in an inch or two, that is not packed down is like running in sand.  I am confident that these workouts will make us stronger for the marathon and those wimps down south won't be able to keep up with us come race day.

This past week we ran a total of 36 miles.  We are on a recovery week this week and start up next week with a 14 mile run, farther than either of us have ever run at one time before.  Christian is become a much stronger runner and is really pushing me too.  He is able to run ahead of me about half way through each run, and although I keep up pretty good, he is still beating me in the end.  I guess that is to be expected since he is 20 years my junior.

I will try to get some more pictures posted providing someone lets me take them of him.

Tell us how you spice up your winter running.  Do you like to run in the snow?  Ever had an encounter with a snow plow?  Post a comment with your response.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Running Routes

I made a new rule today after the first 8 miles of our 12 mile run.  That rule is that all running routes for our long runs need to be made by the night before and no changing them.  I made this rule because inevitably after we agree on our route a certain young man wants to change it. 

For me, running is 80% mental and knowing which route I am running and getting myself mentally prepared for that is half the battle. So when it changes at what feels like the last minute, my whole mental preparation goes out the window.  I know I shouldn't let it affect me like that but alas it does.  Christian on the other hand seems to adjust fairly well to any route, as long as it is the one he wants to run.

Since Christian and I have begun our new running partnership, our routes have often been a spot of contention.  I wouldn't say we necessarily argue about it, we just don't always agree.  With me being the mom, wanting him to stay enthusiastic, and not wanting to hear him whine the whole run, I tend to give in to his route of choice.

Actually, I really can be pretty flexible with which route we run, I just like to know ahead of time (by more than 5 minutes).  In the same respect, Christian is fairly open minded when I suggest a route, as long as it is one he likes.  I have noticed that most of the routes I choose or make up, tend to have hills.  Christian's do not.  Even when we run separately, the routes I make from work are quite hilly.  This has also lead me to discover that most roads leading out of downtown Kalamazoo come with a hill to climb.  I have also tried to incorporated parts of the marathon route into my weekly runs, which helps to know what to expect a little bit.  Here is the marathon route if you want to check it out:

We often use the website for our running routes.  I am not promoting the site, but it does work pretty good. You can see other public routes in your area and save the routes you create.  It can be a bit fickle at times and doesn't let you maneuver the way you want.  We also use
which works well if we have a destination in mind already and just need to see how far away it is. 

For our long runs, Christian likes to combine smaller routes to make the long run and use our home as base for our water site.  I don't know if this is good or bad but it works.  For him this works well mentally because then he feels like he only has this short run left to do, like today when we ran an 8 mile route and then finished with a 4 miler. I can see where he is coming from, we just need to plan it out the night before.  I have no problem just running a 12 mile route and have suggested a few, but Christian thinks it is a waste of time for me to drive out and plant our water and then have to go pick it up after the run.  I am not sure if this is chivalry or he thinks he is going to have to come with me and doesn't want to.

After over 10 weeks of running together we have several routes that we like and that work well.  We will have to map out a few more as our long runs get longer and we might get bored running the same ones all the time.  I would suggest we just run to Kalamazoo, its about 12 miles or so, but Christian might think we'll have to walk back and I don't see him buying into that plan. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

"We have a possible man down..."

I realize this blog is about my training with Christian for our first marathon, so this is not my official post for this week. 

However, I feel the need to let my followers know that we might have a possible man down.  In my last post I mentioned about some other family members that will also be running the marathon and I am sad to say that my brother, Erik, may have an injury too serious to recover from in time to finish training for the big day.    We don't know all the details about recovery time yet, so we have completely written him off. 

The details of what happened are vague but apparently earlier this week a car failed to yield to him while he was running in the crosswalk, he shifted, lost his footing, and injured his ankle.  If you are a runner you know that shifting or stopping short ruins your  stride and then to lose your footing which results in an injury is quite devastating.  The only thing I can determine is that this driver was clearly NOT a reader of my blog.  Had she been she would have yielded the right of way and no harm, no fowl. 

Erik returns to the doctor next week for more pictures and analysis and hopefully some good news.  We are praying for full healing and recovery  so he can be on his feet and running with the gang.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Some Background Info

As promised in my first post, I thought I would provide you with a little bit of background information on Christian and me and why we are running this marathon. 

I am not your typical runner.  I am not tall or lanky, but short with quite muscular legs.  I have been running for years, mostly 5k races, and have come quite a long way in terms of speed and placing in my age group.  I place usually in the top 5 or 6 in my age group, often placing in the top 3.  I am not super fast, but I give a good run for the money. 

I was thrilled this year when Christian decided to run cross country.  He is built to run with long, lanky legs.  He used to run with me in 1 mile or 1k road races when he was younger but not so much lately. 

Although I have run two 1/2 marathons and a triathlon, I said I would never run a marathon.  I just have never had the desire to run for that long.  This Spring that changed when it was announced that Kalamazoo, MI would host its first marathon.  I figured how could I not run, it's right here, local, and what a challenge.  So, here we are today.

As I mentioned before, Christian was not interested in running with me initially, but later he changed his mind.  I am so excited that we are doing this together.  It makes the experience so much more memorable.  I am also glad it was Christian's decision and not something I talked him into.  It makes him more interested in pursuing the challenge. 

The other cool thing about this marathon is that there will be 3 generations and 5 runners total from my family.  Not only will there be Christian and me, but also my dad, Roger, who is 67 years old, and my two brothers, Erik and Paul, both of whom live in Georgia.  My dad has run two 1/2 marathons as well, but this will also be his first full marathon. Paul is in the same boat too.  Erik has run in several marathons previous to this, including the Boston marathon at least twice, I believe.  He is helping us with tips for training, although I am sure he will leave us all in his dust. 

Today Christian and I ran in the 1/1 run at 1pm.  It is a 4.4 mile fun run.  We were joined by my folks and my husband (also named Roger), and a good time was had by all.  This picture is from our run this morning.  It was quite warm for Michigan first thing this morning, around 50 degrees.  As the day went on, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped. One of us dressed for the cold, the other, who also refused to look at the camera, dressed for the earlier 50 degree temps.  Teenagers! :)  Tomorrow we will put another 10 miles under our belts.  Happy running and Happy New Year!