Tundra Trailblazer Jill: Update

Hello, Friends!

We’re at this point of training…

Whoo! We made it to May. Just saying it’s May is a little overwhelming for me as I know it’s time: It’s Cellcom Green Bay Marathon Month. 

Eeeeek!!! 

Somedays I feel like I’m ready and can do it. Others, I question my sanity and preparation to date. I’ve woken up at 4am a few days recently with racing thoughts (ha….that was a GREAT unintended pun.) Things like…

Why can’t I just dream
about this all night!?!

Did I train hard/effectively/properly?

What if my music dies? I don’t know if I can run 26 miles without “Eye of the Tiger” on repeat!?!

How am I going to get over the hard miles where I typically feel a mental slump coming on?
Am I going to be able to slow down and stick with my goal pace?
Why is my foot numb!?! I can’t run this thing with out it!?! Oh wait, the dog is laying on it…nevermind…
What if I feel like walking? Am I going to be okay with walking if I need to?
What if I have to use the bathroom when there isn’t one? Do I have a list of friends/family/family of friends who live on or near the race route? Man, I’d love to be a male runner sometimes…maybe I can invent something for women..no, Jill, stay focused….

And the one thought that plays over and over in my head….

Am I going to be able to finish? 

I think in answering all the other questions (except maybe the bathroom one…that one is patent pending), I know deep down I have my answer for this final one already.

YES! And you are going to. 
I have put in the work and have seen the results of this work to date. I’ve accomplished two PRs this training season in both the 15k and half marathon distance, and the latter in NOT ideal conditions. I’ve overcome prolong foot injuries through stretching and taking care of my body as I should when training for a strenuous task like the marathon.
 
Sure, there are things I KNOW I could do better during my training. 
I know next time around (see….I’m already thinking next time…that’s a good sign) now that I have the training aspect down, my nutrition and running diet is going to get kicked up a notch or seven. I’ve read blogs and articles about the toll distance running takes on the body, women in particular, and have experienced this first hand in my training. To put it simply:
One cannot simply run 20 miles and then eat like they would on a rest day or like a 2-year old candy-crazy toddler without any self control.  
Or even simpler: I suck at refueling my body during a recovery period.   
I think I’m hitting the wrong carbs
during recovery…
I know a nutrition blog post, I haven’t forgot about your request, Amy :), will be coming as I hone in on what is and isn’t working for me, and do a bit more research into the great tips and advice out there already on how to fuel one’s body for the best results on and off the course. I did read an interesting article recently about your ideal running weight, which I kind of did and didn’t agree with, but that’s for another day..
Rather, I’d like to talk about another of the main racing thoughts going through my head at 4am:
Zulily, you’re
speaking my language
What will the weather be on race day?!? 

It’s been pretty obvious since I started this blog that there are certain seasons that I loathe. And by seasons, I’m talking about the one that always lingers a little too long and has to get in the last say even when it’s totally out of context and bad timing.
(Kind of sounds like an ex-boyfriend…) 
I don’t have to explain that I am not a winter runner. It’s less the snow than it is just the cold, cold, cold winds blasting in your face, making things slippery and dangerous and miserable.
One thing that I should mention is that most of my runs are rural runs. So, when I complain about slippery, cold wintry weather, I’m running on unsalted/plowed, no sidewalks, open to all directions of winter wind gusts kind of outdoor running. Maybe I would feel different if I went elsewhere to run, like drove 5 minutes in town. But by the time I get that heated seat warmed up, I’m already planning my gradation and speed setups on the treadmill.
 
I psych myself out really is what it is. 
We’ve entered a new season!
But before I spend too much time complaining about winter when it isn’t winter anymore (YAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY!!!), what I’m getting at here is this:
My loathe may be someone else’s ideal. 
 
Uncle Jan (aka my running buddy)
& I after the Oshkosh Half 2017
Or, ideal running weather is a subjective yet all too important aspect to consider during training for race day. 
These sentiments were going through my head this past weekend at the Oshkosh Marathon/Half Marathon/5k, of which I completed the half marathon portion on April 30th.

I’ve mentioned this race before, both for how much I love the course, and in how the weather on race day is very unpredictable, as is ANY day in April in Wisconsin. It’s also the same half that I completed prior to my last Cellcom Green Bay Marathon full, which of course has been my goal focus over the course of this year.

This year at the Oshkosh certainly did not disappoint, with 20-30 mph wind gusts, and some dreary weather to compete with. As we made one of our final turns off towards the finish line, I knew there was no relief coming as the guy in front of me yelled, “Ugh! You kidding me!?!” and I felt his sentiment in turning a slight uphill directly into a brutal wind. Let’s just say, a very short and casual convo between a fellow runner and I went as follows:

Also what I was thinking
Ugh. wind.” 
 
“Right!?! I’m pretty sure it’s picked up over the last hour.”
 
“I’m pretty sure I’m not even going forward anymore.” 
But guess what?!?! I left that race with a PR of 1:48 for 13.1. (1:48:05 to be exact…1:47 is VERY attainable is what I’m saying.) 🙂
Man, did I need to see that number when I got to the finish line. Not only because I desired to be back in the 1:40s for a half sometime this year, but for a reason that I know MANY runners feel me on:
It proved I was mentally and physically strong enough to conquer my least ideal conditions. 
 
Now for others, this was a great day to race. There was one gentleman standing next to me that said, “Really, this is great running weather,” in regards to the temps (high 30s/low 40s) and then the gentleman who ran the 5k and told a local news stations that it, “Really wasn’t that bad out…” when he was done running

…which was 20 minutes into the half and full marathon runs….

(I’m chalking his comment up to the fact he had just finished and was on a euphoric runner’s high and wasn’t thinking about the hundreds of others still out running, hating life….)
In the end, I left this race feeling excited about my PR, but even more importantly, having learned a few things about how and why it’s so crucial to prepare for the weather on race day.
Good example from Oshkosh: Close to the end, when I was running in open terrain and open wind, I was TRULY regretting having stuck my gloves down the back of my outer layer at mile 3 as I could no longer reach them to put them back on. This resulted in my not being able to use my hands to open my uncle’s car, get in and warm up when I was done running. (Don’t ask me how I got in…let’s just say, he has a hatchback and I was so cold I found a way….)
Here are a few of my suggestions for preparing for weather on your race day. 
1. Pack like a girl going on her first date with her high school crush who she hasn’t seen in like 6 years 
Awww..aren’t we cute??
Don’t be fooled
This was 7 years ago, pre-children
so now we just look tired all the time…
This isn’t meant to be sexist, it’s actually just me. My hubby and I dated just out of high school, and then got back together 6 years later. So, I remember going to visit him for 1 night and packing an entire suitcase. Like seriously, I could’ve gone on an extended vacation and not worn the same outfit twice because I was nervous.
Oshkosh last week wasn’t that much different, and my uncle, also a seasoned WI race weather runner, packed the same. Here was our convo as we left his house:
“What are you going to wear?”
Me running an out-of-town event
“Well, right now I have on my dry-wick long-sleeved from the Madison Half, but I might throw on a compression underneath, or I have a short sleeved packed too that I might change into depending on how the wind feels. I packed a headband, but also a stocking cap, and then I have a couple pairs of throwaway gloves (note: these are $1 or less gloves specifically for tossing on the race route that you don’t care if you ever see again. SOME races pick up this gear and then donate it to local charities, so not a bad thing!!!), and an extra pair of clothes for after in case it’s wet out on the course. I also have my zip-up so that I can take that off easily if I get too hot, but I might stay double-layered..Or I might take off my pants and just leave on my shorts.”
“Soooo….you’re not sure yet??”
It isn’t going to hurt you to have options in your car and ready; especially if you’re going out for a distance that is going to keep you exposed for a long period of time and could put you at risk of frostbite, heat exhaustion, or more.
If you aren’t looking to pack a ton, here’s a fun link from Runner’s World that I’ve referenced as well about what to wear on race day.
This planning aspect goes along with my next point which is…
2. Acclimate to and consider your conditions 
I play the harp and piano as my profession. I am a harper, a professional harpist, whatever you’d like to call me. The harp, like all stringed and wood instruments, takes time to acclimate to the weather conditions, and the humidity and weather are crucial factors in what quality of sound I will get out of my instrument.
Since I want to make sure my clients receive the best product I can give, I make sure to arrive early and/or know my environment to ensure that I can offer a great performance.
Do this with your running too! Get to your event early and acclimate yourself to the conditions you will be working in. Get out, jog around, get a bit warm, and see how you’ll feel while out on the  course.
Better yet, take a look at your route ahead of time. Know where your hills might be, where you might hit winds (if you know wind direction that morning of) or where you might be exposed to the elements. (I always think of the Cheesehead Run Half Marathon – which also got props in Runner’s World recently for it’s after party – where you are running out in the open, truly country running.)
While out on the course, think about how the elements might make this race difficult. At the Oshkosh, the obvious was the wind. Once I realized the extent of it out about Mile 5-6, I toned it back a bit so that I could ensure I had enough steam left to finish strong.
My uncle said that he was pretty sure one runner was using him as a wind shield. If that’s your method of making it, more power to you. I however would not run directly behind any distance runner for a long time….reasons are for you to guess… 😉 But the idea is a good one: Running in a group is much like a V of geese in the sky (Does anyone else immediately think of The Mighty Ducks movie and hear, “Quack. quack. Quack! Quack!! in their head? No? Uhh…yeah me neither…)
The V allows one take the front of the pack, and then another, and so on.
If the flying V isn’t your style, here’s a few more tips for running on windy day runs. (Note: I really like this blog This Runner’s Recipes. Some great stuff on here!)
3. You CAN’T always take something off  
I agree with the saying “You can always take it off” to some respect. I will sometimes double layer for an event if I feel it’s warranted with the intent of taking layers off if need be. But this double layering can be impeded by my nemesis, the racing bib.
Don’t get me wrong: I like racing bibs. I keep all of mine in a little folder that someday I can show my kids for them to probably say something like, “That’s great, Mom. Now can I have $200 to go to the movies?” (I figure that’s what a movie and a popcorn will cost by this point in my life at the rate things are going…)
But bibs are great. They are like a name badge on your shirt (some, like the Fox Cities Marathon even putting your name on the bib vs. a number) that says, “Hey! I totally just did this or am going to/am currently doing this thing! Cheer for me!”
Yep, every time…
However, with the timing chip often in the bib itself and for photo ops (you know, they want to know what name to associate with that picture of you looking like the photographer ran over your dog at Mile 7), race directors request you have your bib on the front of your body, which often enough lands over your torso. (I’ve never been a huge fan of the leg option, but will do it from time to time if I can.)
This can limit your option to de-layer, so plan ahead for this. Further, and this is what I learned from the Oshkosh last week, don’t leave yourself without a secondary option.
I have a bad habit of pushing my gloves into the back of my shirt out of ease while running, but man did I regret this during the end of the race. So think about where and how to store any layers you may shed during the race.

4. Is it NOT your ideal outside? Good, then go out running. 

No, Tom, just no….
I know people say, “Every day is an ideal day to run,” or, “Just go out and run a mile and then let the rest fall into place.” Okay, that’s nice and all, but sometimes, I look outside and say, uh…no. You don’t have to go out in all conditions no matter what to be a runner. In fact, sometimes it’s downright dangerous to go out in the weather.
However, training in your non-ideal running weather is a great idea. If it’s windy out, or for me, if it’s snowy and cold, I will go out an suck it up because I need to know how my body will react (outside of being pissed off) to those conditions as, if I want to keep running races, I may be in those conditions at some point.
I got lucky this year with non-snowy, 30 degree temps for the Seroogy’s 15k in February. But I still went out and ran a couple of outdoor runs in less ideal weather to make sure I could do it on race day. And that’s probably why I PR’ed on race day. As much as I don’t like to say it, running in the cold and snow is what helped me do better.
I’m not repeating that again. So let’s move on. 
5. Know your ideal, and plan your events around it 
Other than the Seroogy’s, you won’t find me out and about as much in the winter. You just won’t. My body doesn’t like the cold anymore than my mind does (I have this fear of falling again and hurting myself…again…), so I opt for doing a lot of my racing fun from April – October.
I like warmer weather, and would much rather be hot than too cold. I don’t tend to overheat but feel the effects of a cold blast quicker. Obviously that’s not the case for everyone, so I encourage you to figure out what your ideal running weather is. While extremes (high winds, extreme cold, powerful rain/snow) would not be up much a runner’s ideal alley, getting a feel for your ideal temp, humidity, etc. may help you determine when best to train for a particularly long distance.
For me, I know that I am looking forward to possibly training for a fall marathon and using the summer warmth and early mornings to get out and get some miles in. I might even look at an out-of-state marathon for the first time… 🙂 (The year of NEWs if you recall…)
No matter what, just get out there and enjoy the day! Rain or shine, windy or calm, that feeling of accomplishing your set goals makes any situation worth it!
Make today your best day yet!
Jill~
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