Big Fat Scary Goals: My 2016 Race Plans

Just like a runner needs rest days, sometimes runners need a “rest year.” No, not necessarily taking the whole year off, but scaling back. in 2015 I scaled back, but 2016 is here (well, it’s been here for 2 months already) and I’m ready again for a Big Fat Scary Goal (BFSG).

While races aren’t the sole motivation for me to run, I’m very goal-oriented (teacher, yo) and when I can work bit by bit toward something I enjoy, such as racing, it’s the extra kick in the pants I need to make the training happen.

I’ve got all of my races planned (and most are paid for) for this year. One advantage of entering early is not only to put the goal on the calendar, but the race fees are cheaper! (Again, teacher, yo) Here are my races for 2016:

2/21/16: Big Chili 5k, Danbury, CT  I signed up for this in January, then later booked my daughter’s birthday party for the same morning. OOPSIE. There was no way I was going to skip her Star Wars/Peanuts/Shopkins-themed movie party. I was also needed to help put assemble the totally rando favor bags, which contained a Shopkin and a whoopee cushion. Take that, Pinterest suckas! Anyway, last year’s Big Chili was the one where I won an Age Group award because I showed up. While I wasn’t there to defend my “title”,  watching my daughter teach nine 2nd-grade girls how to use a whoopee cushion was totally worth it.

3/20/16: New York City Half Marathon, NY, NY  Back in December, my bank alerted me that this would be my spring running goal. How? Entry for this race was via lottery, and I’d forgotten I entered (what can I say? Mom Memory). Turns out I not only entered, but won a slot, when the alert from my bank app let me know that New York Road Runners charged me for the race. That’s what happens when you “put things out to the universe” and then forget about them.

This race will be an interesting experiment, as I had fairly major sinus surgery in January, and I’m not back to full fitness yet. I’m tempted to Galloway myself (run/walk intervals) through this race and aim for a sub 2:00-hour time. We shall see. Might be pie-in-the-sky. Another post on that later. I ran this race in 2013, and it’s in my “Top 5 Most Fun” races list (in my head). Before that 2013 race I was on the road to recovery from illness (pneumonia) and I vowed to have fun instead of gunning for a PR. I will most definitely have fun again this year. Here’s a pic from 2013:

NYC Half Marathon

Times Square

 

5/1/16: Redding Road Race/The Run For the Cows Half Marathon, Redding, CT  This race sells out every year, as it’s gaining in popularity because it’s super challenging/hilly and very well directed, with nice swag and prizes. Not to mention gorgeous scenery. Luckily, it’s just a 10 minute drive from my house, so I can train on those very same hills. Since NYC will be an experiment-slash-training run, this became my A-goal race. I’m not sure what my A-goal is at the moment, though. Stay tuned.

5/8/16: Run Like a Mother 5k (Volunteering) Ridgefield, CT This hometown race is just a hop, skip, and a jump from my house, too (sleep, yo). I’m volunteering again as  The Run Fairy: Coming In Last So You Don’t Have To. I get to see tons of friends (sometimes it’s their 1st race!) and cheer them on. It’s super fun and uplifting, and I’m very much looking forward to it. I’m going to up my costume game this year, too. PREPARE YOUR EYES. Here’s last year!

5k, mother's day, run like a mother

The start of the kids’ race. You can’t see the wings, but they’re there! (Photo by Lisa Cousins Photography)

 

6/5/16: Tri-Ridgefield Sprint Triathlon, Ridgefield, CT I can practically just roll out of bed and be there for this one (again, sleep, yo!) This will be my 3rd time racing Tri-Ridgefield, having done it in 2013 and 2014. I skipped 2015, as I did the Brooklyn Half Marathon around that time last year instead. This tri is an 800 yd (maybe meters? not sure) swim, 12.5 mile bike, and 5k run, because triathlons like to make life harder by measuring in both metric and US units. I’m looking forward to the (almost) annual triathlon date with my husband as the run course is out-and-back and we get to slap hands when we pass each other, how romantic. I’m not looking forward to potential freezing lake water (open water panic attacks) or potential high pollen counts (wheezing). But I’ll be there to kick off the triathlon part of my Year of the Big Fat Scary Goals.

wetsuit triathlon Ridgefield

This was 2014’s swim exit. Gotta dust off the ole ripplesuit, er, wetsuit. Oh the humanity.

So far, any of the races or distances I’ve listed, I’ve done before. Next I’m bracing myself for some new Big Fat Scary Goals (BFSG’s).

7/17/16: Litchfield Hills Olympic Triathlon, New Hartford, CT  An Olympic-length triathlon is just about double-length of a sprint: 0.9 mile swim, 24.8 mile bike ride, and a 10k (6.2 miles) run. This race will be at a nice, calm lake in central Connecticut, with rolling hills on the bike ride. But this is just a mere tune-up for the big enchilada…

9/4/16: Big George Half-Iron Distance Triathlon, Lake George, NY!!!!!   1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run! Logically, I can do this. I know I can run 13.1 miles. A couple of years ago, I worked up to a mile in the pool, so I can do that again. But 56 miles on the bike? Don’t tell my butt; it will freak out. Emotionally, I will focus on the positives and not the scaries: I purposely choose a fall tri so that I could train over the summer, when I have more time. My family and I are making a vacation weekend out of it. Lake George, NY is positively gorgeous, and no matter what happens, I get to do this race with one of my BRF’s, Lori. I can’t remember who roped who into this, but we’re in it together.

Big George Triathlon

WOWZA
(From their website)

Also on my radar:

I want volunteer for the NYC Marathon again this year, in early November. Last year I was a finish line marshal, and it was amazing. It was like riding along with others’ highs. If my schedule will allow I will volunteer again.

I feel like I need a late-fall goal, since Big George is pretty early in September. I’m thinking possibly the Richmond (Half) Marathon, as it’s a three-day weekend allowing for travel time, and my dear cousin lives there!

There you have my Big Fat Scary Goals for the year. Please tell me I’m not alone in my craziness of having BRSG’s, but they give me joy, anxiety (in a good way), and ultimately remind me that I am alive. Tell me your BFSG, right now. Even if it’s not endurance-related. Here’s to all of our BFSG’s in 2016!

 

 

 

“Only” 10 Miles + My Philadelphia Marathon Goals

Today I did “only” 10 miles. My last long run before the marathon.

Whoa. I remember the first day I ever got up to 10 miles, about 3 1/2 years ago. My whole body was burning and I was questioning my sanity.

Now 10 miles is my “easy” run? PERSPECTIVE SHAKEN.

I haven’t written much about this training cycle, other than about my Ragnar experience, and a couple of other things. (And can I just stop for a moment and say how crazy is it that I’ve been running long enough to actually have training CYCLES?) Truth is, there hasn’t been a lot of drama, and I haven’t had a lot of time. This year, Coach Erin laid out a plan for me to run 5x per week, and that combined with me being a good girl and going to bed earlier means less writing time. But now I’m in the taper, oh glorious taper, and all of those posts that have been burning a hole in my brain are coming out now, when I actually get hours of my life back!

For the first time in my life, I worked out SIX DAYS PER WEEK, sometimes even SEVEN! (5x running and 1x spin or swim) and my body adapted well. My feet hung in there – barely. (The foot drama needs its own post, TBD). Erin gave me some challenging workouts…

marathon training track repeats speedwork

That workout was so hard, my head FELL OFF.

…I had a couple of horrible long runs…

bad runs, marathon training, long runs

Even beautiful scenery sometimes cannot make a bad 17-miler disappear.

But more often than not, I had some really, really good long runs.

marahton training long runs

That 20-miler was SO GOOD, Lori and I were emanating rainbows.

In early October, I had a moderate setback with my foot and with Ragnar taking more out of me that I’d planned, but despite those things, I’m pleased with the way my body has handled the training. BUT, will these 16 weeks of mostly good training translate on race day? YIKES. Ooof. I don’t know, but I’ll go ask my little friend Ambien.

Speaking of, here are my goals. For races, I often have an A, B, and C goal, because I’m a teacher and I like neat and orderly thoughts. But for this race, I have one and ONE ONLY:

MY GOAL: To not let the race break me.

I know I will probably hit The Wall somewhere after mile 20, and I know my foot might rebel at some point, but I hope that I can handle it better, push through it, and not want to cry or quit, like last year, when I felt like the distance broke me. If I can accomplish that, then I’m figuring a faster time will naturally follow.

Of course, I’d be lying if I didn’t have a specific number in my head, but I’m going to keep it between me, Lori, and Coach Erin for now. Oooooh, secrets!

Enjoy the taper, friends!

Butterflies

The night before a recent race, a friend was worried. “I’m not ready,” she lamented. “I haven’t run the course, I’ve done mostly treadmill, and my stomach’s bothering me.” She was about ready to talk herself out of the race. But earlier in the conversation, she had just told me she had successfully completed a Couch-To-5k plan.

“You’re ready,” I assured her. “It’s just butterflies.”

“Butterflies? Hmm, I guess so.” It hasn’t occurred to her that being nervous about a race was normal.

I went on to explain that I still get butterflies before every race. My butterflies tend to manifest themselves in tweaking my running playlist a thousand times, experimenting ad nauseum with various ponytail angles, or digging through random bags anxiously looking for that Chocolate Expresso GU I know I saw last week. When you’ve put so much work and time and energy into a specific goal, there’s a fear that something will go horribly awry, and all that work will be for nothing.

But it’s precisely that fear that pushes us to do well. If running were easy, everyone would be doing it. (Well, it does seem like everyone’s doing it these days, am I right?) If I’m not nervous, then I know that something’s amiss. It means that I haven’t pushed myself in my training. Being nervous also keeps you on your toes thereby possibly keeping you from making a stupid mistake…anything from forgetting your race number at home to not watching you’re going and doing a face plant (not like I’ve done those things, ahem).

And so what if something goes horribly wrong? Well…it happens. I’m hear to say that yes, it IS majorly disappointing…and then you get over it. When I was training for what would have been my first half marathon, my husband went into the hospital with a severe back injury two days before the race. After weeks of preparation and buildup and major butterflies…I did not run the race. I was completely bummed (and a little angry at the universe,
truthfully), but obviously my priorities took a sudden shift. I figured out pretty quickly that not running the race wasn’t the end of the world (having hubby in hospital was close enough).

I ended up running my first half marathon 7 months later. Looking back, it’s probably a good thing. My body was stronger and much more prepared to take the pounding with the additional months of training, and I think I ran a better/smarter race to show for it.

Here are some things that I do to get rid of the butterflies:

  • Lay out my race outfit and race bag the night before. I even layout socks, race number pinned, ponytail holders, GU, etc. I am the worst at putting out my work clothes the night before, but somehow I can do it the night before races. Knowing that my favorite running shorts aren’t still wet in the washing machine is a good thing.
  • Be familiar with the course when possible, even if it’s just driving it, or studying the map.
  • Try to sleep well the night before. I take Ambien (don’t judge – it works!) the night before big races, as I can’t get my brain to shut off. Because it requires you to get 7-8 hours sleep, I know I MUST get to bed on time, and I’ll feel all rested and refreshed in the morning.
Nervous butterflies!

These guys look a little nervous, too.

So if you’re feeling a little anxious in the days leading up to the race, it’s okay.
It’s just these guys making sure you’ll do your best. Or it’s that Indian food. Nah, it’s probably butterflies.

P.S. I’ve already got butterflies for my first 26.2. Please consider donating while I run for a good cause.