Tuesday, February 10, 2015

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Race Recap: Miami Marathon

It's been three weeks since the Miami Marathon and I told myself I wouldn't post about it until I was mentally over it. Truth is, I thought I was mentally over it after a week, but then the exhaustion and low motivation set in that was reminiscent of post-Chicago Marathon life. Marathons take a lot out of a person, both emotionally and physically, and the Miami Marathon was no different.

The Miami Marathon was actually a race I had been avoiding. I've done the half marathon twice in the past and was always afraid of the full because of the low crowd support and low number of participants that's really noticeable when the full and the half marathoners break off. I think I needed a race like Chicago to ease me into marathon running because the race is grand on so many levels and I didn't really feel or process those 26.2 miles with all the visual distractions. But, I knew I had to conquer Miami because that is my hometown race and the course is something I have ran so many times as part of my training for other races.
So, come race day I had two goals: help pace a friend to a sub-2:30 half marathon and finish with a smile. Both goals were accomplished and I felt so proud of myself for having finished another marathon. It wasn't as emotional as the first, but it was still special because I conquered something other than the distance: my fear of running a "small" marathon.

I think they said that out of the 25,000 participants only 3,000 were running the marathon and you could really notice the difference during the second half of the race. The first half went by quickly as I had my friend with me and as there was so much to see between the runners, the crowd support, and the city itself. The second half of the race felt like the smaller, more hometown races I've done where you run through neighborhoods and there's always another running in sight, but never enough runners where you feel like you were in a "big" race. Does that make sense?

Either way, during the second part of the race I was so grateful that I did most of my long-run training alone because my brain knew that I if I had it in me to run 22 miles alone, I had it in me to run 13.1 miles alone. I chose to keep up the pace I kept during the first half of the race because I hadn't ran in heat in a long time and I wanted to be mindful of the needs of my body during a "hot" run (it was actually beautiful Miami weather). With that said, cold fruit and cold beer between miles 21 and 22 were the best thing ever.

My legs started to feel the pain of running the marathon around mile 20, but I just kept moving. It makes me laugh to think of all the things I said to myself during the race to keep myself moving. The biggest help for me is to always set a mark, or set my eyes on a person that I want to keep up with and possibly pass. Miles 24-26 were a blur, but I do remember that feeling of accomplishment and badassery when I finished. Very few things compare to the feeling you get when you realize that your body moved for 26.2 miles, regardless of the time it took you to cover that distance.

Anyway, much like my brain during the marathon, my brain right now is all over the place and all jumbled up from the experience of running 26.2 miles in my hometown. I don't think I'll do the marathon again simply, but who knows? I can tell you that I am looking to keep this race my annual tradition and I'm ready to be Miami Famous in 2016 again!
Now the focus is on training for my 50k Ultra Marathon in March! For more on my training and the ways I'm staying strong as I train, follow along on Instagram @thecookierunner. 


Thursday, January 22, 2015

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Polar Dash Race Recap

I feel as if my 15-mile Polar Dash race was months ago. It was actually just two weeks ago, but with work and parenthood, the days zoom on by. I signed up for this race back in the fall thinking it would be a great race to push me into getting those miles in as I train for the Miami Marathon. What I didn't realize back then was that I wouldn't really start training for the marathon until the winter and this race would be my long run as I work my way up to 22 miles, instead of it being a "low" mileage run between two longer runs. Oops!

Anyway, come race day it is COLD outside. As in the temperature was in the teens and it felt like it was in the negative. I knew I needed to get the run in because my motivation would be very low to do 15 miles on the treadmill, so I layered up like I have never layered up before. I barely made it to the start line on time because my taxi left me and I ended up having to drive to the race. This was probably a blessing because it meant I was warmed up from having to rush!

The race itself was almost a straight shot along the lake and the miles passed by comfortably. My only complaint was that it was so cold my butt hurt for the first 5 miles of the race. All I could think about was my butt and the numbing feeling that wouldn't go away. It eventually went away and I was able to finish the race without feeling like my butt froze over.

While it was cold, I'm so happy I did the race and was able to push myself out of my comfort zone to get my miles in and stick to my modified training schedule. I felt so awesome and unstoppable after running this race. I also questioned my sanity a bit! It takes a little bit of madness to go out there and run in those cold conditions.

What I liked:
  • The course was right along the lake. 
  • The yeti at mile 7.5 was a fun break to the race. 
  • The medal for this race was gorgeous. 
  • Mile markers at every .5 mile mark, which I found helpful because the miles feel eternal for me when it's cold. 
  • Having my packet ahead of time because I registered early.

What I Didn't Like:
  • Not the race's issue, obviously, but it was cold! I was happy when I finished because I was able to go to my car to heat up. I felt bad for those running the challenges and having to stay outside between challenges. 
Running in the cold is a very humbling experience. Having ran in the extreme heat, I would say that running in the extreme cold is just as hard. It takes a lot of mental grit to get through runs in the cold and the heat.

I get to test that grit again this weekend with the Miami Marathon! I can't believe race weekend is finally here.  My goal for this race is to enjoy it with all my friends that I haven't seen since I left Miami in July and finish with a smile. Wish me luck!

For more on my marathon weekend, follow along on Instagram @thecookierunner. I promise there will be fun stuff on there!