Running My Own Runs

I am certainly not an expert on this whole running and marathoning thing.  But I have run 9 marathons, so I have certainly learned a thing or two about how to train for them (what to do and what NOT to do).  I’m too busy drinking red wine with super important Saturday night stuff around the house, to do a full blog post on every single training tip that my 5 readers might care about.

So for now I’ll just tell you about the thing that I am mostly concentrating on during this marathon training cycle,  which I think is hugely important, for me:

Running my own runs.

You often hear people talk about running your own race, which to me means not getting swept up in the excitement of being with a pace group or a friend or whatever, and running beyond your ability on that day.  It means doing your own thing in a race.  And, before this cycle, I would say that I understood that in the race context.  BUT – this cycle I am also concentrating BIG TIME on running my own runs in the context of my training.  There is a lot of info out there about proper training paces, the purposes of the different types of runs, etc.  And you read a lot in the books from the experts about doing no more than you need to in order to achieve your goals.  The whole, “less is more” thing.

Confession:  in the past I have read about this stuff, understood it in theory, and then completely disregarded it.  Because to me, “more is more”.  And “faster is faster”.  But when I really truly stop to think about it, the “less is more” and “only do what you need to do” theory is really the way to go.  And THAT is what I have been focusing on this round of training.  I’m picking up the intensity, because I have ambitious goals for this marathon.  But I am trying to be smart about my training and keep myself healthy and in top training shape.

So, examples from this week:  On Wednesday we did 2 x 2 mile repeats  in the middle of our run.  We were supposed to be at threshold, but with the 2nd mile faster than the first mile.  It was tempting to run crazy fast because it’s only 2 miles and therefore I could (physically).  But I was very very disciplined and stayed within my threshold range, while following the instructions to run mile 2 of each repeat faster than mile one.  It was hard not to get caught up in running fast with the group.  BUT – running my own run allowed me to not be dead tired the next day and knock out 10.75 miles (the next day) at a moderate pace.  If I had run my 2 miles repeats fast with the group, I would have been too exhausted to train properly the next day. Second example of me running my own run this week: today on our long run we were doing 16 miles with about 3.75 in the middle at goal marathon pace.  In our group of about 10, I was near the back during the GMP miles, because I forced myself to not get caught up in trying to run fast just to run fast and instead I focused on MY run, my goal.  And I was exactly where I wanted to be.   And I think training smart like this will give me a better chance of accomplishing my marathon goals.

As an aside, while I’m following this advice to not get swept up by excitement and fast-paced stuff in running, I am completely disregarding this advice with life stuff and I’m allowing myself to get swept up with life.  And it’s all good. 🙂


Lansing Marathon training, week #2

Week #2 of Lansing Marathon training is in the books!  Last week was lower mileage and not all I wanted, since there was a mini-taper for the half marathon.  This week, too, was lower mileage and not all I wanted since I was recovering from the half marathon and buried under a mountain.  I was a bit sore through Wednesday, which meant I got lazy about pilates and didn’t do weights, like I had wanted/planned.


  • Miles run: 41.7
  • Biking: 60 minutes
  • Pilates: 2 times
  • Planks/core:  yes!  I’m up to 3 planks a day, about 5 days a week.  AND one of the planks is 90 seconds.   🙂  Also mixing in some other random core stuff when I think about it.


  • M: bike 60 minutes
  • T:  5.1 miles (9:56)
  • W: 7.4 miles (8:11; 3 hill loops at MP; HMP & 10k pace)
  • Th: 5.1 miles (9:04)
  • F: 3 miles (9:23); pilates
  • Sa: 14.6 miles (8:15; with middle 7 miles at MP of 8:00 – 8:05)
  • Su:  6.5 miles (9:26); pilates

Update:  I found time for pilates tonight.  Yeah!

This week I want to pick up the pilates and weights.  For sure!

104 days til race day . . .

Tracking and race outfit!

I spent some time this afternoon organizing for the marathon, laying out my race outfit, gu, throw away clothes, etc.  I still haven’t checked the weather, but I figure tank and shorts (and maybe armwarmers) no matter what the weather is.  I’ll check the weather Friday and modify the outfit then if necessary.

As I was doing it Carter said, “Mom, I thought you said you were never running another marathon again.”

Why, yes, I did say that.  7 other times.  Right after I cross the finish line.

And I’m always back!

If you are interested in tracking, my number is F5392.  Cindi Matt.  The website has online tracking (I think it’s usually pretty accurate) or there is text alerts (I haven’t heard good things about this type of tracking).


Twin Cities Training,Week #13 recap
Miles run: 27.3

Bike: 40 minutes

Pilates: 4 times

  • M: 5.4 miles (8:07 pace) w/ 2x 1.3 mile hill loops fast
  • T: pilates
  • W: 6.1 miles (8:58) w/ 2 miles at MP
  • Th: 5.5 miles w/ 3 x 1 mile intervals (7:33; 7:26; 6:52)
  • F: bike 40 minutes
  • Sa: 10.4 miles (8:26)
  • Su: pilates


I have my race strategy all thought out.  I’m really excited, confident and ready!  Hope this week goes fast!


Bring It! (Twin Cities Marathon 2011 Training Recap)

It’s that time of the training cycle again.  Time for my marathon training recap!

What’s the point of doing a training recap, you ask?  Many marathons ago a running friend suggested that I do it as a way to prove to myself that I’m ready and that I CAN do this thing.  He suggested that I do a recap, looking back over the miles I logged, workouts I did, how my paces have improved, etc.  Sure, this information is in my runningahead log entries.  But there is something about putting it all together in one nice neat little place, not only because I can then reference it during future marathons, but also (and mostly) because the act of putting it together makes me really reflect on how much work I’ve put in and how ready I am.

So here goes.

The details:

  • The training plan:  provided by Coach MB from Lifetime
  • Weeks of training: 14* (including last week of taper next week)
  • Miles run: 588.7
  • Long runs: 14 miles (2 times); 15 miles (2 times); 17.5 miles (1 time); 16 miles (3 times); 20 miles (2 times); 21 miles (1 time)
  • Quality runs: each week had hill/tempo AND intervals
  • Tune up races: 10k (2 times, 1 PR!); HM (1 time)
  • Extra stuff:  weights (1 – 2 times a week); pilates (2 – 4 times a week); cross (1 – 2 times a week); Rest days (1 time a week)
  • Injury:  tweaked right hamstring in early August, set me back for about 2 weeks, but now it’s all good.
  • Weight:  started at 122, ended at 117.

So those are the numbers, but how do I feel about it?

Honestly, I feel like I am in the best physical shape of my life.  I have improved my speed a ton.  It’s hard to compare it from beginning to end because our workouts were all so different (even when we did same distance, like 800’s, they were different each time because sometimes we would try for 10k pace, sometimes HM pace, etc.).  But I think looking at where I was with a workout before Grandma’s in May of this year, versus the same workout a couple weeks ago will show how much I’ve improved my speed:

The workout was 12 x 400m, w/ 1 minute rest in between. With the pre-Grandma’s ones they were all .25 b/c when I trained by myself I would stop right at .25; when i trained with the group the track always measured .26 – .27, so I think looking at the paces, not the time, is more reflective of my improvement!

(pre-Grandma’s May 2011 on left; pre-TCM September 2011 on right in bold):

  • 1:38  (6:35)     1:36 (6:11)
  • 1:36 (6:27)      1:37  (6:15)
  • 1:41 (6:46)      1:37  (6:14)
  • 1:40 (6:40)     1:35  (6:24)
  • 1:37 (6:32)      1:35  (6:07)
  • 1:38 (6:34)      1:32  (5:58)
  • 1:40 (6:41)      1:34  (6:05)
  • 1:38 (6:36)      1:35  (6:21)
  • 1:43 (6:37)      1:33  (5:59)
  • 1:40 (6:44)     1:33  (6:02)
  • 1:37 (6:47)      1:34  (6:04)
  • 1:38 (6:35)     1:36  (6:27)

It’s not just intervals like this that my speed has improved.  It’s with all my workouts.  My easy pace has gotten faster (but feels just as easy).  Same with tempo and marathon pace.  The legs and lungs just feel really really good!  Even though I love me my high mileage plans (I LOVED the 60 and 70 mile weeks I was doing before Grandma’s), I do think that the lower mileage, which enabled rest days and cross training and weights  this time around, has made me a stronger, better runner.

Even though this new and improved physical me is fabulous, there is even better news this time around.  If you’ve been following my training, you know what I’m talking about.  The new and improved Mental Edge that I found.  Really, this has been SO MUCH more important to me than improving the physical speed and strength.  I now really, truly do believe in myself.  I have a confidence that I didn’t have before.  I know that I can not just cover the distance, but cover it at a pace and  in a manner (race strategy) that makes sense and will get me to the finish line with the goal that I want.  I now know that I need to (and can) push negative thoughts aside and replace them with positive thoughts that will propel me to the finish.  I know I can race well.

So the physical training and mental training have both been better than any training cycle I’ve had so far.  But I think the best thing about this training cycle has been that I’m not alone anymore.  Training with a group and having the guidance of a coach has been SO motivating and inspirational for me.  It’s given me an element of my running that was missing from the previous 7 marathons.  In those training cycles and marathons, it was all about me.  It was me motivating me.  It was me that I was accountable to.  Now, it’s not all about me.  There are a dozen other runners and a kick-ass coach that I am honored to now call my friends.  It is these people that are now motiving me, inspiring me and making me accountable.  And I know that when things get tough during the later miles of the marathon, I’ll think about these new friends and how inspiring each of them are and will channel that into pushing myself even harder to reach my goals.

Bring it!

*But, don’t forget that really, I’ve been in training since January, since this will be marathon #3 for the year 2011.  I’ve done 12 – 14 week training cycles, followed by 2 – 3 week breaks since January.  So coming into this round of training, I had a really strong base.

20 Miles Done, Now Taper Time!

First, some shout outs:

Good luck to my running twin Kristy (at Run The Long Road) who is running the Lehigh Valley Marathon tomorrow.  Kristy is hoping to get a BQ tomorrow, which will be 3:45 for her.  She is SO trained for this, having run her last 22 miler 4 seconds BELOW her goal pace.  She will do it!  Go Kristy Go!

If you are looking for running tips, inspiration and wisdom, check out the new blog of Coach MB, the coach who has helped me get speed and, more importantly, a kick-ass mental game over the past couple of months.  In addition to the in-person coaching that he provides to me and a group of others, he sends inspirational emails and texts.  You’ve heard me write about the inspiration and motivation that he gives me.  Well, I’ve been encouraging him to share his wisdom with others and start blogging about all things running (and more – he does triathlons).  So, check out his blog when you have a minute!

And finally, I’d like to say What Up to my new BFF’s Adam and Tim.  Remember them from my Running the Edge book review?  Please note the comments to this post!  What sweet BFF’s.  I’m sure Adam and Kara will be inviting me over for dinner sometime soon.  I’ll keep you all posted.


So, today was our last 20 miler before Twin Cities.  It was the Capitol Run, sponsored by Life Time Fitness.  There were about 400 people, running from the Capitol 10 miles out on the Twin Cities Marathon Course and then back.  So the last 10 miles of the run were miles 16 – 26 of the TCM race course, which is the hardest part of Twin Cities, with essentially the 3 mile hill from mile 20 – 23 (today miles 14 – 17).

It was, by far, my best feeling (and fastest) 20 miler ever.  I finished it in 2:53:15 (8:39 pace), with probably a good 3 – 4 minutes of stops built in, so the actual running pace was faster.  The stops were quick water stops, where I was able to pick the pace back up and still have a decent avg mile, but then not-so-quick stops at stoplights on Summit on the way back, where I wasn’t able to make up all the time that we stopped.  Frustrating, because I wanted to have all my miles LOOK like a good pace, but when we have to stop for 20 – 60 seconds, it’s hard to tell what pace I was even really at.

Things that were good about the run:

  • It was the quickest training run that I’ve done and it didn’t feel like I was killing myself or going all out.  Depending on what my goal ends up being (still up in the air; I need to decide this week so that I can mentally prepare), a good chunk of the miles were at or below MP.
  • I tackled the hills and did a decent job at them.  Mentally and physically hung in there and didn’t give up.  (Though when you look at my splits, it doesn’t reflect it because of stopping once for start of GI issues and on the other 2 miles for stop lights).  I am SO glad we ran these hills on tired legs – this was definitely needed as a confidence boost before the marathon.
  • I was able to do this well without taper, in heat (it was 70+ and sunny for the second 1/2 of the run) and after a big quality week (with a 10k race on Monday, 10 miles at marathon pace on wednesday and 9 miles with intervals on Thursday).
  • I didn’t let the start of GI issues at mile 15 derail me.  I stopped for 10 seconds to walk when I felt the sick-GI-distress urge coming on (it happened during the middle of the 1st mile of the 3 mile long hill).  But there was no bathroom in site (and I knew there pretty much wouldn’t be), so I told myself to calm down, take it easy and not worry.  I did back off the pace a tiny bit for the balance of the run, because of the GI issues too.  For some reason they seem to happen when I’m really pushing myself.
  • I still had energy in me during the last mile and kicked it in.

So I should be really happy about this run, huh?  And I am, for the reasons above, but I’m also a little disappointed in myself because I didn’t do what I (and the coach mostly) had set out to do.  My plan was 8:20 – 8:25ish miles for first 3, then pick up the pace to around 8:10 – 8:12, then finish stronger.  Fail on all accounts on this.  I didn’t even try to do this.  I was too scared of blowing up, of it feeling too hard, of injuring the hamstring again so close to race day, of not being able to do it, blah blah blah.  So from the start I just switched into a mode/pace that felt good for me and that I knew I’d be able to do today.  So, even though really there was SO MUCH positive out of this run, I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t push it and didn’t even attempt to do what I was “supposed” to do.

21 days until Race Day!  So I guess taper starts, at least in terms of cutting back the long runs.  Still looks like the schedule calls for decent mileage and lots of quality this week.  And I get to run in DC this week (Virginia actually) because I’m going for a 4 day training for being the local Toys For Tots coordinator.  Who knew there was so much involved in that???

Tune up race tomorrow! (And Twin Cities training Week #10 recap)

Tune up race tomorrow with the Victory 10k.  I went back in my runningahead log to see what the course measured exactly last time I did it and I realized that 2 years ago at it was my 10k PR (46:31).  I had thought my 10k PR was slower and from 2007.  Apparently not!  Goal tomorrow is ambitious, but I’m definitely up for it!  Stay tuned!

This weekend was SO relaxing!  I took my own advice and slept (8 – 9 hours each night), drank beer/wine (2 glasses each night) and read Running The Edge.  It was a great last weekend of the summer.  Tomorrow completes a perfect weekend/summer with the Victory 10k in the morning, State Fair (mmmm, Sweet Martha’s Cookies!) during the day and Maroon 5/Train/Matt Nathanson concert (with the kids too!) tomorrow night.  Can’t wait!


Twin Cities Marathon Training, Week #10 recap:

Miles Run: 45.7

Minutes Biked: 70

Weights: 2 times

Pilates: 3 times

  • M: 7 miles (8:29) (w/ 4x.25 hill repeats and a couple MP miles)
  • T: 11.1 miles (8:51)
  • W: pilates; bike 50 minutes; weights
  • Th: 8.25 w/ interval ladder (1 mile, 800, 400, 400, 800, 1 mile)
  • F: pilates
  • Sa: 16.2 miles (8: 50; last two miles at MP of 8:15; 8:10)
  • Su: 3.1 miles (9:35); pilates

I am so happy to report that this was a great week again!  I feel like I’ve found a good balance of quality workouts, recovery miles and cross training/strength/pilates.  I’m feeling really good about the marathon!


Now you, too, can have Ice Ice Baby in your mind!  Misery loves company!

Today is filled with RICE!  Not the Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation kind from an injury (although I am doing a bunch of those things just from long run recovery). Unfortunately the RICE that I’m talking about is the long grain kind.  I’m looking at a bowl filled with it now.  And buried in the RICE is my iphone.  I started the day off by somehow managing to knock it in the sink at Caribou while I was washing my hands and it got soaked for about 5 seconds.  Ugggg.  Apparently rice drys it out.  I HATE being without my phone!  I like instant texts and email and twitter right at my fingertips!

Today’s long run was a mixed bag for me.  Mostly good, but some not so good.  21 miles at 8:36 pace (though since we were running with a group we stopped a bunch and I didn’t time those; I just timed actual running time).

The good:

  • 21 miles at 8:36 pace!
  • NO right hamstring issues.  No tweaks.  No tightness.  No nothing!  Woot!  I can’t tell you how happy this makes me!
  • My heart rate was lower than normal.  I haven’t been wearing my heart rate monitor very much this year, but decided to wear it today to check where things sat.  It’s hard to tell for sure, since we stopped so many times (which of course means it went down), but in general it seems quite a bit lower than my normal.  Good sign that I’m improving physically, so hopefully MP on race day will seem easier than when I’ve attempted it in previous marathons.
  • The group was fun and motivating.  I know I wouldn’t have had as strong of a run as I did if I had been running on my own.
  • From miles 13 – 19 coach wanted us to pick up the pace a bit and gradually drop it.  We did (8:28, 8:31, 8:27, 8:18, 8:20, 8:14, 8:25).  Before that my paces had been more 8:38 – 8:48ish range, with some random higher and lower paces.
  • Despite my irritable/possessed feeling and negative thoughts (see The Bad below), I think it was good that I didn’t actually slow down in this period.  I forced myself  to stay with Coach and R.  And I DO think this shows improvement of my mental game, because at the beginning of this training cycle I would have (and did) drop back instead of gutting it out.

The bad:

  • I didn’t fuel right, which I think was a big contributor to the other bad points (below).  I realized when I got home that I still had a GU left, which means I didn’t take in enough.  I had a GU 15 minutes before the run, Gu at mile 4, clif shot blocks at mile 9 and another GU at about mile 14.5.  Probably about 2 handhelds of water.  I don’t think that last GU was enough to get me through the last 6.5 miles, when they were the faster/harder miles.
  • I started feeling sick in my stomach and throat – kind of like I was gonna puke – during mile 16.5 – 17.  I did manage to push aside any thoughts of stopping/slowing and pushed forward.  But I was SO looking forward to the point where we were to turn off and then take the last few miles easy.
  • Coach came back to our group around mile 17.5 to run with us towards what was supposed to be the end of the speedy miles (he was zipping back and forth between the speedsters and us during the whole run).  He asked if I had enough in me to make it to Cedar, about 1/4 mile, then we could back off the pace.  Yes, I did.  But then when we got to Cedar, he didn’t really back off the pace.  I had SO been mentally and physically looking forward to slowing down.  But I didn’t want to be a wimp and slow down.  So I forced myself to keep up with him and one other girl.  Then the other girl started asking about what sort of mantras he used to keep going – so he started talking about “Dig Deep” and the one Kara Goucher uses, “Fighter”, etc.  I was trying to listen and do these very things, since I was pretty much fried at that point.  But, truthfully, I was thinking “Just shut the F up and go catch up with one of the other groups so I can slow down.  You promised we could slow down and I want to do it dammit.  Leave!”  I was feeling really crabby and evil and mean and sickish.  It was weird – I only actually remember feeling that way one other time while I was running (Twin Cities one year when I had a blow up – of course – and the crowd around St. Thomas was SO loud and irritating with their cow bells and screaming that I wanted to scream back at them to shut up).  It’s like I was possessed.  Actually, it sort of reminded me of childbirth – where you really love your husband, but you are in such a painful, irritable state that you just want to scream at whatever he does.  At least I kept my irritable thoughts to myself and didn’t actually start screaming at Coach!
  • The second coach did leave us to go back to a couple people who had fallen behind (when we had about 1 mile to go), we slowed down to about a 9;30.  I mentally and physically gave up.  And then he came zipping by us and told us to try to pick it up.  We did manage to finish that mile in 8:44, which means we really must have picked up the pace to bring it down from 9:30 to end at 8:44.  So I just need to figure out a way to make myself stay with it when I don’t physically have coach there to drag my tired butt along.  Ideas??
  • When we got back to the club I felt really really icky.  I had to leave the water area and go find a chair and sit down by myself for a minute because things started feeling black and closing in like I was going to pass out.  It passed once I had water in me.  Weird.  I think in addition to 1 GU too few, I should have had more water (at the last water fountain I filled up with water and put a tropical flavor nuun in it; I’ve never had that flavor and it was HORRIBLE and reminded me of a bad fruity alcoholic drink.  So I didn’t really drink more than a sip or 2 of water the last 4 miles).

In general I think this run was more good than bad.  I learned some things, and that’s what matters and what will help me on Oct 2nd.

Recovery today has been filled with:  an ice bath, an advil, compression socks and compression shorts, a 2 hour nap, and a nutter butter blizzard!

Science confirms what I’ve known for years: Beer = Better Marathon Recovery!

Ok, by now you’ve all probably seen the study that was released yesterday linking beer drinking to improved marathon recovery.  If you’ve been under a rock and haven’t heard about it, check out one article from the NY Times blog here.

The catch?  It was non-alcoholic beer that they studied.   Apparently they wanted to study the polyphenols in beer, but were worried that the negative effects of alcoholic beer (read:  hangover) would cancel out what they presumed would be the positive effects of the polyphenols.  I don’t get this quote from the article:  “Furthermore, it is not possible to drink one to one and a half liters of alcoholic beer per day, especially not during strenuous training.”  I believe that is the equivalent of 3 pints of beer a day.  While that probably isn’t ideal during strenuous training, I know many a runner who could take on that challenge and do well in a marathon!

What are these polyphenals? They are a chemical substance found in many plants that, among other things, “suppress viral replication” and “influence the innate immune system positively,” which are all beneficial for fighting off a cold.

Anyway, they apparently had a bunch of runners in their early 40’s who were training for the Munich Marathon to participate in the study and drink 2-3 pints of non-alcoholic beer a day during the 3 weeks of taper and 2 weeks post-marathon.  They had a control group drinking a placebo (read:  fake, fake beer).

The results:  those runners that drank the beer:

  • Reported far fewer illnesses (upper respiratory infections)
  • Had significantly less inflammation
  • Had markers of a better immune system
Well, you all know that beer is my preferred adult beverage.  And, when I’m not in Operation Spin Dry, I consume a a few beers each week.*  While I haven’t consumed beers to the extent that the study participants did, I do drink several beers a week during intense training and even during taper (and more than several during post race recovery week).  And, although my study is by no means formal or scientific, I seriously DO believe that drinking a beer or two the night before a workout (not necessarily a hard track workout, but definitely a medium effort workout) improves my performance.  Seriously.  I wish I had been recording this in my runningahead log, because I’d probably be (in)famous if I published these results, but I can think of dozens of times that I’ve been out at night and had a couple beers and thought “Uh oh – I hope I don’t regret this on my run tomorrow”, and then I’ve woken up and had a FABULOUS run.
If there are any scientists/researchers reading this blog now, feel free to sign me up for the alcoholic beer marathon training study.  Oh – and if you know of a Nutter Butter Blizzard marathon training study, I’ll be a test subject in that one too. 
*Contrary to what you may think from the frequency with which I blog about beer, I actually don’t drink a ton.  I typically limit myself to 2 beers max, maybe 3 if I’m feeling crazy.  Why?  I’m getting old and lame. I HATE being hung over.   I’ve got too much to do to spend the day with a headache!

In Search of That Mental Edge

Let’s just take a minute to recap my previous marathon experiences:  I train my a$$ off – logging the miles and the quality of workouts that are necessary to BQ.  Come race day, I feel like I am physically ready.  With the exception of the first marathon (where I naturally had doubts about even covering the whole distance), I even feel like I am mentally ready.  And then something happens during the race to derail me mentally, which eventually derails me physically.  And I blow up.  Bad.  (In all my marathons, I’ve been aiming for 3:45 and I’ve ended up with 4:27, 4:17, 3:56, 3:59, 3:49, 4:08, 4:14).

I KNOW what I need in order to finish where I want to (which is now sub 3:40, thanks to the new Boston registration standards, so that I actually have a chance of toeing the line at Hopkinton and not just getting a BQ, which I technically already have for 2012 with my 3:49:41).

I need to find That Mental Edge.  You know what I mean: that mindset, that focus, that toughness, that willpower, that determination.

So where is it?  How come it is so elusive? How do I get it now?  And how can I make it stay with me for 26.2 miles on race day?

This whole training cycle, for me, has been about finding That Mental Edge.  Things that I’ve done to find it:

  • Having a coach this time around has been immensely helpful in my mental game.  Coach MB provides personal and written encouragement, tips, inspiration and feedback to me (and the whole group).  He makes me feel like I AM a good runner and like I CAN accomplish whatever I want to.    Having a real live person (as opposed to my virtual running buddies/blog followers) tell me that I am a kick-a$$ runner is starting to make me believe it.
  • Having a coach has significantly improved my physical game, by pushing me beyond what I was doing on my own.  By pushing me beyond my comfort zone.  My making me work harder than I ever have at running.  So how will this help me find That Mental Edge?  Because I’m more confident in my self, physically, and there are literally certain workouts where I can (and have) called them up in my mind during other hard efforts or races and they have pushed me forward, when I normally would have quit.  Two examples come to mind:  One, a hilly tempo run about 3 weeks after I started the group.  Coach was running with me and another girl, encouraging us to push up the hill and keep up with him.  The other girl did it.  I fell behind.  I was disappointed, but whatever.  Then a couple days later he sent a group email with something about gaining mental toughness by pushing through hard workouts.  I immediately thought of the hilly tempo where I fell behind, mostly because I gave up because it seemed too hard.  But, after reading that email, I KNEW that if I had forced myself to push it harder, I would have been able to keep up.  So I vowed that in future workouts, I wouldn’t give up.  I’d push myself just a tiny bit harder and finish them strong and knowing that I gave that workout all that I had at the time.  So, the second example that I know I will draw on during the marathon happened a couple weeks later on a HOT long run day, where we did those crazy hill drills and then ran back to the club.  I started running with Coach MB because I was asking him something – his pace was tiring for me in the heat and after the drills.  Another guy from the group came up and ran with us.  And I stayed with them, even though it hurt and I was tired.  The other guy started to fade and dropped back, but I stayed with Coach and even did the last miles at sub marathon pace and was the first person from the group to finish.  When I was done with the workout I felt really good about it, like I had given it all that I had that day and, most importantly, like I didn’t give in to the mental demons (it’s too hot; you are too tired; you just did hill drills; this is just a training run) that were telling me to quit.
  • Training with a group this time has helped.  How?  They are all so inspiring.  They make me want to push myself harder so that I am inspiring too.  Examples from this weekend:  one gal shaved 6 minutes off her HM PR to finish in like 1:36; another gal shaved 10+ (!) minutes off her HM PR to finish in 1:51; another gal is training for her first marathon and ran a 1:44:59; a guy who hasn’t run a marathon since 1996 ran a 1:32 HM this weekend; one of the girls, who didn’t even own a bike until this spring, finished a half ironman this weekend.  And it goes on and on.  All of these people are tearing it up out there.  And if they can do it, and I’m doing the same workouts and getting the same coaching as them, than so can I!
  • I’m also reading more and more about the mental aspect of racing.  Like the Mark Allen “No More Holding Back” stuff I blogged about a few weeks ago.  Reading stuff like that makes it all fall in place for me.
This time around I know That Mental Edge is gonna be with me for 26.2 miles.  I just know it!
Anyone else have tips/tricks/stories about how you keep it together mentally on race day?

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