Archive for the 'Inspiration' Category

Adventures in Goal Setting: Cellcom Green Bay Marathon Edition

As of this writing, it is 11 days until the starting gun goes off on my third marathon, the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon. It is still too far away for things to feel quite real, but I can tell that I am in the taper because I have much more free time in the early mornings and when my son is in preschool. I have been making use of my early morning free time by getting up a little later to get my run in. I have mostly been using my preschool free time to eat and surf the Internet. Someone please tell my body that it’s not burning enough calories to eat like this — I’ve tried, but it’s not listening!

Even though I’m not officially taper-mad yet (that will happen next week, when I start stalking the weather), this is prime time to start formulating my race plan and setting goals.  I have some experience with setting marathon goals, so I’m going to mix some tips into this dose of reality.

I subscribe to the philosophy of setting a Goal Alphabet prior to every important race.  This practice originated in the business world, and this article summarizes it well. These goals can be either outcome goals (based on a certain quantifiable result) or process goals (based on how I work toward the goal).

My “A” Goal is my “stretch” goal — my finishing time if I have the best race day possible fitness-wise, weather-wise, fueling-wise, and good-juju-wise. My “B” Goals (I may have several of these, going from B through E or F) are more realistic goals that I will be happy to achieve. My last goal is always to finish the race upright. I find that my Goal Alphabet helps me maintain my focus, because if one goal clearly isn’t in the cards, there is always another one on the list to strive for.

Three days before the 2014 Chicago Marathon, I e-mailed my Goal Alphabet for the race to my husband and parents, who would be tracking me online. Since they are non-runners, I wanted to let them know whether to celebrate or commiserate when they talked to me post-race. My “A” Goal was 3:38:20. I based this time on my average pace for my marathon-paced 20-miler three weeks out from the race. My “B-through-D” Goals were times around my Boston Marathon-qualifying time of 3:45. My “E” goal was a sub-4-hour-marathon, my “F” Goal was a PR, and my “G” Goal was to cross the finish line upright, breathing, and with a shiny new medal! As it happened at that race, the weather gods smiled upon me and my legs did what I hoped they would, and I crossed the finish line in 3:38:09 — eleven seconds under my “A” Goal.

Now it’s time for some real talk: My goals for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon are not quite as lofty. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Statistics. I have followed my training plan (mostly) to the letter and put in a lot of high weekly mileage and quality work. However, with the exception of my breakthrough half marathon in mid-April, most of my training paces and race results have borne a startling resemblance to my paces and results from my Chicago Marathon training cycle. It is true that I have seen an improvement in my top-end speed on some of my speed workouts, but it has not been a drastic enough improvement to predict a substantial PR.
  2. Elevation. Although the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon course is described as flat and fast, I have a feeling there is more elevation change than at Chicago, one of the flattest, fastest marathon courses in the world.
  3. The sights of the course and the Lambeau Lap. I barely remember any of the landmarks, race signs or spectators from my Chicago Marathon race. I had complete tunnel vision, and laser-like focus on reaching my BQ goal. I don’t want that to happen in Green Bay. Although I am a lifelong Packer fan, I have only been able to visit Green Bay two other times in my life. I want to take in all the neighborhoods, the City Stadium lap at mile 18 (where the Packers played from 1925 to 1956), and the final lap around Lambeau Field. I also want to wave to and communicate with my family, who will be there to cheer me on, without worrying that I am losing precious seconds.

My game face at the Chicago Marathon. I’m clearly having a blast. 😉

As a result, my new goal alphabet has some time-based goals, but I also have process goals, as well. My “A” Goal, in almost any race, is to PR, so that remains my “A” goal in this race, as well. However, between you, me and the Entire Internet, I think that in order to achieve a substantial PR, I will have to have the Most Perfect Race Day In the History of Races. My “B” Goal is another Boston-qualifying time, but this doesn’t motivate me as much as in Chicago. Since my Chicago Marathon result already qualifies me for the 2016 Boston race, a BQ at this race wouldn’t count for anything but bragging rights.

My “C” Goal, which I will hone in on if the first two goals go south, is to stay present in the moment and on top of my fueling plan. I will refuse to let time goals get me down and prevent me from enjoying this awesome race. I will not wallow in self-pity, but instead continue to fuel appropriately and run each mile to the best of my ability, making sure to look around and take in the sights and sounds. And if I just can’t keep my emotions in check, my “D” Goal is to finish upright, so I can collect the marathon’s super-sweet bling.

Running usually brings me joy, and this marathon is made for joyful runners. Although my Chicago Marathon result was joyful, the race itself was not. If you see me running at the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon, please wave, say hello, or give me the thumbs-up. I will likely be deep inside my head, and the social interaction will do me a world of good. Whatever the outcome of the race, I can’t wait to run in Packers Country!

The Mom on the Run,

Sara Roach


Because I Can

The Cellcom Green Bay Marathon is less than two weeks away (12 days as I write this). Last week was the hardest training week with the most volume and intensity of my training. The next two weeks will be tapering down to get my legs rested and ready for race day.

As I look back over the last 2 months of training, it is with mixed emotions. I have had a lot going on with both running as well as personally. Right around the start of training for the half marathon, my dad was diagnosed with emphysema. I have to say that as I was not surprised by this being a life long smoker, but it was still hard to hear. My uncle (his brother) has emphysema as well, and has been living with it for years. So while I know that the diagnosis is bad, it seems like something he can live with for a while.

Well, this past week, he was taken by ambulance and admitted to the hospital. He was inpatient for six days, and it seems like what caused the issue was the flu. This whole situation happens during the week that is my hardest training, as well as being busy with kids activities (dance recitals/rehearsals and baseball practices). Going to visit my dad in the hospital and take care of things for him at home, as well as work of course. It was a challenging week, emotionally, physically and mentally.

For the first time in my training I was questioning myself. Wondering why I am doing this? I came up with an answer. Thinking about my dad and his situation, and all the things he won’t be able to do, I realized that I am doing it because I can. I am lucky enough to be healthy. I was able to fight and lose 135 pounds, and be in the best shape of my life. I have fallen in love with running and pushing myself to do the best I can. That is why I am doing it. Because I can. Because I want to, and because I love it.

I am getting very excited for the race. I am looking forward to participating in my first Cellcom event and my first half marathon. It is even going to be a family affair! My kids are running in the WPS run, my wife, brother, his girlfriend, my mom and step dad are all participating in the 5K event. My wife’s aunt and cousin are running the half and  2 other cousins are running the full. I think it will be a very exciting weekend and I am looking forward to it!

Adam Marin
The Transformer

Perfectly Imperfect

Sometimes the perfectionist in me is my worst enemy. I can easily talk myself into something, but I can also talk myself out of things as well. I had been toying with the idea of completing a half marathon since last fall, and when registration opened for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon I figured why not run a local race that just so happened to be nationally recognized and I had always admired from a far prior to becoming a runner. So that was that, I was going to do it! I’m going to run a half marathon!! Okay I signed up….woohoo! I found a 16-week training schedule that seemed to work for me and my schedule…awesome! Now let’s put rubber to road and hit the pavement….which means getting on a treadmill in January because Wisconsin winters are not always friendly and I hate the cold. Prior to this the farthest distance I had ever run was 7 miles, so I knew that I could at least run half of a half marathon. To be honest that was what gave me the confidence to sign up for a half marathon.

As the weeks continued and the miles increased I was impressed with how well I was doing. I was pushing myself to run a little faster and challenging myself to not quit. 7 weeks in and everything was going swimmingly…..until week 8. I knew it was going to happen, I knew there would be no way to avoid it, and I was even prepared for it. You see I enjoy running, but my knees are less than stellar. My knees have taken a beating over the years and I knew even before I signed up to run that they would be the deciding factor in whether I would be able to complete my first half. So I started skipping  out on runs to rest them up and doing as much icing and stretching as I could, but I could feel the self-doubt  starting.

One missed run turned into two, then three, the a few more. I could feel myself going why? Why are you doing this to yourself. Did you honestly think that you could do this, that your knees would hold up to the increased mileage? It was getting harder to motivate myself to go for a run, I felt like I could come up with a really good excuse or talk myself out of it so easily and using my sore knees as an excuse. I was still managing to get my long runs in every week, but I couldn’t seem to shake my self-doubt.

I had to remind myself that this is all a part of the training and that you might miss some runs, or they won’t go as smoothly as I wanted them to. To be honest what allowed me to shake that self-doubt and reset my mentality about this was my friends and family, as well as my fellow Leaders of the Pack, they each in their own way inspired me to keep going. Sometimes we need the external motivation to ignite the internal fire for our own motivation.

Someone once said: “I am perfectly imperfect, and I wouldn’t want it to be any other way. I will always strive for perfection, but I know that I may not achieve it. But that won’t stop me from trying.”

So I am perfectly imperfect, I know that my training hasn’t been perfect, but I also haven’t given up and it doesn’t matter that I’ve missed some runs along the way. It’s the ups and the downs of achieving your goal that make you stronger and as long as you don’t stop trying, in the end you will succeed.

I will complete my first half marathon, it doesn’t matter if I run it all, if I have to walk, or if I’m crawling across the finish line, because I will not stop trying.

The First Timer,

Jenny Leiterman 🙂

My Running Buddies Who Do All The Talking: Favorite Podcasts To Pass The Miles

As a running mom, my training often takes place at odd times and locations. The crack of dawn on my basement treadmill. Mid-morning on my neighborhood streets. Late afternoon near my parents’ home. Even the long run, an often-predictable part of a runner’s weekend, switches days and start times based on what the schedule holds. As a result, I roam the mean streets alone when I train.

But don’t feel too bad for me; I actually have several running buddies who help make the miles pass quickly (or at least more quickly). They are the folks who host my favorite running podcasts, and together they have formed my training posse through the years. If any of you train alone and are in need of distraction and motivation, any of these podcasts will fit the bill. Below are the top five podcasts who have had my back on every long run, in no particular order:

  1. Another Mother Runner. Actually, I lied — the rest of the list is in no particular order, but this podcast is definitively on top. Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea have written three running books geared toward “mother runners,” and also have a very successful blog, Facebook page and apparel store. They even held a running retreat last month. The podcast is my favorite part of their brand, however. Even if that week’s topic isn’t 100% on point for my current running focus, I always tune in to hear Dimity and Sarah chat about their respective family foibles and most recent runs. It is like having two girlfriends chatting it up next to me, and I am more than happy to just be a fly on the wall and listen in.
  2. Embrace Running. If I can’t have Dimity and Sarah with me on a run (and really, their podcasts are only so long, so this happens often), I will gladly take Mark and Elena.  This couple lives in northern California, and they run a lot of races so they are always training for something. They talk about their training, news in the running world, race recaps, and sometimes a hot training or racing topic such as hydration or goal setting. They often banter and chat like Dimity and Sarah, and their vibe is light and low-key.  Elena recently ran Boston, so I am looking forward to listening to her recap on the next episode!
  3. Marathon Training Academy. Angie and Trevor are another running couple who love to recap their races and banter back and forth. I’m sensing a theme here…but don’t those types of people make the best long run pals?? Their focus is often guest-based, and they have interviewed many inspirational runners. They also provide valuable training information through the episode’s “Quick Tip,” and Angie sometimes devotes episodes to training advice (the couple also run a marathon training program through their website). Angie also recently ran Boston, so when that recap hits I will be all over it!
  4. House of Run. This podcast is a relatively new find for me; probably because I have become a bigger fan of the sport as my running has progressed. Kevin and Jason focus on predicting and recapping elite running events on both the road and track, so if you don’t follow the front of the pack much, this podcast may not be for you. But if you know your Desi from your Shalane, your Simpson from your Rowbury and your Kimetto from your Kipsang, these guys are on top of their game and also give me at least one laugh-out-loud moment per podcast. Luckily, the routes I usually run are not stuffed with runners, so I can chuckle without embarrassment!
  5. Marathon Journey. There are so many podcasts in my feed that could take this last slot, but I went with one of my oldest and dearest long run buddies, Derek Ralston. This guy makes the relatively-chilled-out Mark and Elena sound like they have ADHD.  He is a former police officer turned photographer, Galloway-method run-walker and runDisney race fan. On paper, he seems like my polar opposite, as I have never run-walked nor run a Disney race, but his opinions on the running, training and racing worlds keep me entertained enough to keep coming back for more!

I haven’t even scratched the surface of the running podcasts in my listening queue, nor have I mentioned the triathlon podcasts! I encourage everyone who runs with headphones (use with caution — safety first!) to put away the music every so often and search iTunes for one of these podcasts, or another one that floats your boat. You may find your very own running tribe; and the best part is, we can share the same one!

The Mom on the Run,

Sara Roach

Goal Setting

Today I got the First Timers newsletter email from the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon. In the newsletter they talked about pre race anxiety and dealing with it. I for sure am one of those people that gets anxious before a race, and especially a race that is a new distance (like the half marathon for me). One of the things that helps me deal with the anxiety of an upcoming race is to set a goal.

By now I am sure that most people have a goal for their race. Most people sign up with at least some kind of goal in mind. For some people it is to complete the marathon in under 4:00:00. It could be to complete the half marathon in under 1:45:00. It could be to just finish the race or finish the race with no walking breaks. Whatever your goal, it is good to have one. If you don’t have one in mind (or even if you do) you may want to consider a different look on goal setting.

For me, I don’t set a goal. By that I mean I don’t set one goal. Every race or event I set at least 3 goals. I always have an A, B and C goal in mind at the start and during the training of each race. Let me explain.

My A goal is always a goal that is probably just out of reach. A goal that if I could achieve it, would be AMAZING, but if I don’t not a big deal. It was designed to be just out of reach. For me, this is usually a goal time that is just faster than I think I could or have ever done a race. For the half marathon, my A goal is a time of 1:53:00 or under.

Now the B goal is the realistic time goal. A goal that is what I am 99% sure that I can get. The time that I am targeting in my training. For me in the half marathon, I am going for a time of 2:00:00 or under. Two hours is the time that I am training for with my training program (the Runners World Half Marathon Under 2 hours program). It is a time I should be able to get based on past 5K races as well as training times I have had.

The C goal is your if nothing else, at least I have this goal. My C goal is always to complete the race/event. If something happens during the race or it is just a really bad/off day, I can always rely on my C goal. I always want to just complete the event. So for the half marathon, my C goal is just to cross the finish line. Doesn’t matter the time, just get across that finish line.

By setting 3 goals for each event, it gives me something to really push for, something that I am sure I can achieve and as a last resort a default goal so that I don’t feel like I achieved nothing if the A and B just are not possible. In doing so, it makes me a little less nervous about not hitting a goal.

So, what are your goals for the upcoming event?

Adam Marin
Leader of the Pack

Leader of the Pack: Sara Roach

Let’s take a trip in the wayback machine, back to my childhood in southeastern Wisconsin, where rooting for the Green Bay Packers was as common as breathing. Settle in while I summarize my athletic accomplishments prior to 2013:



You might say that I was a bookish girl who couldn’t decide whether she wanted to be a hardcore band geek or a drama-club geek, so she dabbled in both. But athletics were not part of the equation. At all. Marching with the band in a parade was the extent of my physical movement in high school, unless you count working out to “Hooked on Aerobics” on PBS in the comfort of my bedroom (which I don’t).

Watching out for measure splits, not mile splits.

Watching out for measure splits, not mile splits.

In college, I majored in journalism and minored in late-night pizza runs, so there was no athletic activity there, either, although I did hit the StairMaster or the occasional aerobics class just for weight-loss purposes. It was the same story in law school, as well as in my mid-20s career-building phase; I would hit the gym for brief periods if my clothes started to get a little tight or I wanted to look good in my wedding dress. But a fitness lifestyle? Fuhgeddaboudit.

My early 30’s were a blur of pregnancy and motherhood in the Chicago suburbs, working a full-time job and trying to remain upright due to sleep deprivation. There was also a period of depression and anxiety while I was pregnant with my second child. I should have been running during this period, but I wasn’t.

I did make a pilgrimage with my Dad to Lambeau Field in 2007, in honor of Brett Favre's final season as a Packer. I look forward to my return trip for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon!

I did make a pilgrimage with my Dad to Lambeau Field in 2007, in honor of Brett Favre’s final season as a Packer. I look forward to my return trip for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon!

Fast-forward to May 2012. I had gained weight with my third pregnancy in 2009, as one does, but I had added on substantially to that poundage total following my son’s birth. I was now a stay-at-home mom and I was doing the supermom thing extremely well, but my physical health was taking a back seat and I did not feel comfortable with my body. After seeing pictures of myself with my children on Mother’s Day, I decided to step on a scale for the first time in years. I weighed 197 pounds on my 5’3″ frame. It was like someone flipped a switch.

One of the Mother's Day photos that sparked a running journey.

One of the Mother’s Day photos that sparked a running journey.

A few days later, after the kids went to bed, I announced that I was going to go downstairs and walk on our basement treadmill.  I hadn’t done that in a while, but my husband said “Okay” and didn’t think much of it. I went back downstairs the next night, and the next. I started going further and faster, and began to mix in little sprints while holding onto the handrails. By early 2013, I had lost about 60 pounds through exercise and cleaning up my diet, and my self-esteem had increased exponentially. I was mostly running rather than walking on the treadmill by this time, as I realized I could spend less time exercising for the same calorie burn (brilliant deduction, eh?). But when the Boston Marathon bombings occurred in April 2013, I was saddened, but it did not affect me like it did most runners; I didn’t yet consider myself a part of that world.

And then my treadmill broke. Cue the panic! I didn’t want to let my newfound fitness slip away, so I knew I had to do something. I had seen people post on Facebook using MapMyRun, so I downloaded that app onto my phone, scrounged up a pair of headphones and hit up my neighborhood trail. Down in my basement, I wasn’t sure how far I was running, since my old treadmill did not reliably keep track of those things. But on the trail that spring day, I did 5 miles and felt like I could have done more.  Lo and behold, another switch was flipped.

My Facebook status update from May 5, 2013.

My Facebook status update from May 5, 2013.

I finished my first 5K in 29:30 on May 19, 2013 — just over a year after I began walking for fitness. I remember thinking that 3.1 miles was too short. A 10K followed a few weeks later, and I quickly signed up for my first half-marathon. I trained all summer long for the Chicago Half Marathon, and finished in 2:06:46. Pre-dawn workouts and weekend long runs became part of the domestic fabric. My running was the “new normal,” and my family adjusted to this with a mixture of admiration and incredulousness.

6 sara

Finishing the 2013 Chicago Half Marathon — one of the top five proudest moments of my life.

My new favorite pastime became setting audacious (for me) running goals and meeting them: Go sub-2-hours in the half marathon (I did that a few weeks after my first half). Set another PR in the half marathon (I did that two months later). Train for and finish my first marathon (I finished the Wisconsin Marathon in May 2014 in 4:02:57). And finally, the granddaddy of them all: Qualify for the Boston Marathon (done at the 2014 Chicago Marathon in 3:38:09).

Photos from my 2014 year in running.

Photos from my 2014 year in running.

Is the next step an ultra? Maybe someday, but for now, the marathon is my jam. I still have tons to learn about the distance, and many more races on my bucket list. I am knocking one of those races — the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon — off my list in just a few short weeks. I’m still trying to chip away at my race-distance PRs, but my focus has shifted from a laser-focus on the clock to embracing the running culture. Through my social media outlets, I have been able to connect with many runners whose friendships I treasure, and I love meeting more people whenever and however I can. I sincerely hope that my experience as a “Leader of the Pack” will allow me to add many new folks to my tribe. You don’t even have to be from Wisconsin to win my friendship (although it does help…); you just have to love making forward progress. I came to this running party later in life, but I’m here to stay!

The Mom on the Run,
Sara Roach

Leaders of the Pack: Adam Marin

Some people run for pure enjoyment. Some people run as a mood enhancer. Some people run to be able to eat cookies. And some of us run to lose weight and get in shape. I fall under the last category, or at least I used to.

Just over 1 year ago, I weighed 320 (or more, I stopped getting on a scale) pounds. The picture below is me on March 8, 2014. To say I was overweight, was to put it mildly. I grew up always being on the heavy side. I always wore husky pants and was always heavier than most all of my friends. It bothered me at times, and at times I was more alright with it (probably more than I should have been).

adam marin before

It was after the picture above was taken and I looked at it, I realized how disgusted I was with myself and decided I needed to make a change and get really serious about losing weight.

In the past I had tried all kinds of weight loss programs. I did Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach and tried just going to the gym random times and not really doing any kind of program. As you can guess, they all failed miserably! Weight Watchers worked a couple times for a bit, but as soons as I stopped I would gain back twice what I lost. I ended up giving up after a month or two each time because it was just not working for me. I vowed to myself, that this time would need to be different.

I looked around at my options and most were too expensive or not structured enough. I really needed something that told me what to eat, how much of it and when. I found a book by Ian K. Smith called Super Shred: The Big Results Diet: 4 Weeks, 20 Pounds, Lose It Faster! I used the book for two cycles of 4 weeks each to kick start my weight loss and to help me figure out how to eat a bit better and when and what to eat. The book also had a bit of a workout schedule such as do 40 minutes of cardio today. That is the part that may have changed my life.

At first, being as big as I was, I really took to the elliptical machine. It was good low impact cardio workout that would burn a lot of calories and I didn’t mind doing it. As I started to lose weight and started feeling like my cardio was getting better, I found that I needed something else to really take my workouts to the next level and give me a little variety.

Now my wife and I started this process at the same time and she had been doing some treadmill running and kept telling me I should try it. I have never been a runner. I played soccer from age 5 up through high school, but was not interested or good at any kind of distance running. I resisted her attempts to get me to run, but finally gave in one day. It was TOUGH!

I literally could not run for much more than 30 seconds at a time. I struggled, but kept with it. As my weight kept going down and my cardio improved, the running got easier. It wasn’t long before I was running, doing the elliptical and the stair climber plus some weight lifting every workout. The weight started coming off even faster, and I became more and more interested in the running part of my workouts.

I was so excited one day when I actually ran the whole distance of a 5K with no walking breaks. It took me just under 44 minutes to complete it, but I think from that moment on, I was hooked. Was the time great? No. A little slower and I would be walking, but that didn’t matter. I had done something I never thought possible. I kept running and doing my other workouts and my times started to improve.

It was also around this time that my wife finally talked me into running outside. Being heavy, I was very self conscious about running where people might see me in public. Now that my weight was down and I could run more consistently, I was alright with running outside…early in the morning…when less people were around. We ran outside a few times and I told her that if I could get my 5K time down under 33 minutes, I would consider doing a 5K event.

A few weeks later, I was running near my house, and my 5K time was 32:58. My first thought was, “Crap, I am going to have to actually do a 5K event.” I decided to look at it as an opportunity to prove to myself that all my hard work was paying off and I was bettering myself. I completed my first 5K (The Scheels Paperfest 5K in July 2014) in 32:12. I was hooked! I had just run a PR (personal record) and on a tough hilly course. I was no where near the top of the results but it didn’t matter. I had run faster than I ever did before. It was at this point that my running turned from just a way to eat more calories, to a competition with myself. I knew I would never be an elite runner. I doubt I will ever even be a great runner, but I can try and be better than the runner I was yesterday. And for me that is enough. I thrive on competition and running is one of those things where you can compete with yourself to be the best you can be.

I kept running and using the MyFitnessPal app on my phone to track my calorie intake. One year to the day, on March 8, 2015, I weighed in at 185 pounds. I had lost 135 pounds over the course of one year through a lot of exercise (mostly running) and counting calories. Below is a picture my wife took on that morning.

adam marin now

So why do I run? Well, these days it isn’t about just getting in shape. It is about competing with myself and trying to be the best I can be. Will I win the half marathon? No way! Does it matter? No way! I am running for me. I am running for my wife (who I really owe for getting me to do it in the first place). I am running to be able to live long enough to see my kids get married and have kids of their own. Whatever reason you are running, and whatever speed you run at, good for you! Good for you for putting it out there and challenging yourself to complete something. Whether it is the 5K, half marathon, full marathon, or relay event, good for you! Good for all of us!

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