Friday, February 22, 2013

(Saucony) Surprises!

I knew this was going to be an exciting weekend when I boarded the plane in Tallahassee.
Conference Championships only come 3 times a year and only once a year they share the same weekend as my birthday.
What I didn't know was that I would be getting two early birthday surprises.
The first one came Thursday night & is very exciting!
The second came Friday morning & taught me yet again that as post-collegiate runner you have to be flexible.
Let’s start with the exciting news.
I am thrilled to have been chosen for the 2013 Saucony Hurricane Team!
I have always loved Saucony products and since college I have raced most of my road races & done most of my workouts in Saucony’s  Kinvaras (Best flats ever).
I can’t wait to officially represent such a great company & brand in all of my races.
The second surprise ruined my plans of using those Kinvaras for a track workout this morning.
With Blacksburg being coated in over an inch of snow last night a session on the outdoor track was not an option.
So instead I’ll be hitting the roads this afternoon for what has become my training bread & butter, a good ole fashioned fartleck run.
After some hopefully swift “speed-play” I’ll be off to the track to call out splits to the Lady Noles in their 5k & DMR finals tonight!
Watch out ACC. The Noles are prepared and on a War Path tonight. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Balancing Physical & Mental Fitness

One of my biggest struggles in training is my desire to have every workout go well.

I want to hit the paces. I want to feel great. I want success.

But as a post-collegiate athlete balancing a full-time work load (between my two positions at Florida State University) always feeling my best and getting to put in a workout session at the optimal time is not a reality as it once was as an undergraduate student-athlete.

One of my new goals is to focus more on the effort I am putting into each session versus mentally beating myself up if the session doesn't start off as smoothly (pace wise) as I want it to.
Most competitive runners at some point have heard that racing well is just as much mental as it is physical.
I want to prepare myself for success in races both mentally and physically.
The key to this is not focusing on being a “workout queen,” but rather pushing myself physically in each session while also encouraging myself mentally if I am not performing the way I want my body to.

The reality of putting in hard training is that some days your body will not feel great. I may not always have control over how my legs feel, but I always have control over my thoughts and what I mentally take away from each physical workout. I want to take every workout as an opportunity to make myself mentally tougher. I should leave sessions mentally supported rather than being my own enemy by mentally beating myself up for not feeling great. 

Today was my first tempo since my half marathon and although I was way off the prescribed pace I know that this session is just one small piece of the puzzle. (Just as Saturday's 15 mile long run with hill repeats plays its own role in the bigger training/preparation picture).  
I gave all my legs had today.  I have to take confidence in the effort I put in and know that tomorrow is one more day to get better just as Friday is my next opportunity to get as much growth as I can out of my next workout session.

I’m happy to be healthy and getting fitter physically and mentally every day. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Super (Bowl) Sunday

1st Woman, 4th Overall 1:18.52 
Super Sunday
I barely slept the night before; too much nervous excitement.
Even on the line I could barely listen to the National Anthem (which was beautifully sung) as I waited to hit start on my Garmin.
I had said over and over that the first half of the race should feel easy if I go out correctly, at a reasonable pace (6:00-6:10 mile pace).
Still the fear of the unknown was present in my nervous excitement.
The siren played and we were off.
I felt great!
Was this happening?
Smooth and relaxed I passed each mile mark.
Even surprising myself running 5:55 for Mile 5 while eating my Tri-berry Gu.
Fueling, although gross while eating it, was an excellent idea.
I felt a burst of energy Mile 7 running my fastest mile of 5:45 right at the turn-around.
And then reality hit me.
Although I went through 6.55 Miles at 38:47 (1:17.35 pace) and was still feeling great, there was a significant head wind on the way back.
I charged on maintaining my effort and still feeling smooth and strong.
The cheers of the other participants on their way out carried me as I pushed into the wind.
At Mile 10 I distinctly remember thanking God as I realized 'I'm actually doing this."
By "this" I meant feeling great while running 6:00 minute pace for a half marathon.
I was going to run my goal and qualify for the US Half Marathon Championships (being held June 22nd).
Mile 11 was hard. It was the last mile straight into the wind.
I just kept pushing and decided to not even look at my last two mile splits as I closed in on FSU's Stadium.
As I rounded the track to the finish line I finally could see the clock.
With 100m to go I started sprinting. All I could do was pump my arms while staring at the clock. Realizing with each step that I was going to reach my goal and break 1:19.
Racing my first half marathon was an amazing experience.
Getting reinforcement that my training is heading in the right direction was the best part of the race.
I'm hoping to get in another training race this month before heading to Jacksonville on March 9th for the USA Running Circuit 15k Road Championships at The Gate River Run.

Below is the information from my Garmin. (Split 15 was because I hit the split button after I crossed the line and then had to hit the stop button. Not the sharpest after racing over an hour...)
Moving Time
Elevation Gain
Elevation Loss
Avg Pace
Avg Moving Pace
Best Pace

Tallahassee Marathon
The other amazing part of my Super Sunday was cheering on my boyfriend, Ryan Barrow, the last 5 miles of his 1st Marathon (I hopped on my bike after I finished and found him with about 5.5 miles to go). He had a rough last few miles after being on 2:36 pace through 20 miles. Finishing 8th Overall & winning his age group in 2:47.52.