Archive for the 'Race Day' 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


Leaders of the Pack: Alyssa Buchner

I’ve always been a mover but haven’t always been a runner. I excelled at the running portions of the many sports I played, but I was always focused on becoming a better player. Track was my off-season sport, which I did more to stay in shape than as a life-long passion. Unbeknownst to me, a simple cross-training run after basketball tryouts my sophomore year would change that dramatically.

Roughly two miles into my run on an otherwise beautiful fall day, I suddenly felt terrible pain in my right foot. Pain and terror engulfed me in a blinding flash. Eventually, I realized that my foot had been crushed underneath a car. Bystanders called EMS. I became unsettled by the fact that I would not be completing my run. That thought particularly troubled me: I always finish what I start, but this was one time where completion was not in my control.

The resulting injuries forced me to end my college basketball career prematurely. On top of my physical injury, I was diagnosed with PTSD from the trauma of being hit from behind while running. I was both physically and mentally incapable of running for a period of time after the incident. But sometimes the only way out of a mess is through the mess. Because running was the trigger, I knew I would have to run again to heal. I began logging miles on the treadmill slowly but surely. Eventually, I was able to venture outside and enjoy a change of scenery. Each run made me realize that I was choosing empowerment over defeat. The more I ran, the more alive and free I felt. No matter what, I was going to get back on my course and finish my race.

With my new focus on running, I wanted to test my endurance in training for a marathon. I selected the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon due to its size, location, and how well-organized it was, according to my aunt and uncle who had ran it previously. The fact that I would be able to finish on the field where my favorite sports champions play just sweetened the deal. I trained through a harsh Minnesota winter using a combination of library books and online articles to tailor my workouts. By the time race day had arrived, I knew I was ready.

I approached the starting line with the only expectation of working hard and staying focused throughout the race. Immediately after the starting gun fired, I was enveloped by the camaraderie of Title Town. Each mile passed quicker than I had anticipated thanks to the friendly support of all the spectators. Running by the Fox River was a scenic distraction from any race fatigue. Nearing mile 20, I was starting to hit a wall. Luckily, running in Green Bay, there is never an opportunity to get discouraged. Volunteers from the race were right where I needed them to keep on running strong: young children ran along side me to offer water and encouragement, servicewomen and men of the United States Armed Forces handed out much-needed fuel, neighborhood spectators held up humorous and motivational signs, and a random hand that held out a blue freeze pop that provided the last bit of glucose my muscles demanded to finish the race. The closer the other runners and I got to Lambeau, the more the excitement built. The powerful energy from the community pulled me towards the finish line. I finished the race in 3:25 (qualifying for Boston)! Promptly after the race, I reunited with my personal cheerleaders and relished in my success while savoring my very first beer at Lambeau Field. Finishing the marathon was one of my happiest moments in my life.

CGBM is a celebration of all the participants. No matter the size, shape, or ability, each runner comes to the event with a personal reason that the entire community wants to support. The event creates an atmosphere of positivity and encouragement that allows for success no matter what a runner’s goal. Spectators want participants to succeed and fellow runners radiate encouragement. CGBM is more than a race: it is a memorable experience of inclusion, celebration, and reward in the form of a beer and bratwurst.

Alyssa Buchner

I am no longer a first-timer; I am a half-marathoner!

FINALLY! After 5 months, I don’t know how many miles; I have accomplished the goals I set for myself when I started this journey: 1) complete the entire 13.1 miles, 2) have an official time, and 3) enjoy the experience.

I’ve thanked my training group, coaches and pacers numerous times for all of their help because I know that without them I would have stepped off the course at mile 10 when my body said, “I’m done. I’m not going to take another step and you can’t make me.” My mind had all kinds of reasons lined up to agree, “it’s too hot”; “you’re starting to get a hot spot on your left foot”; “you’re peripheral vision is starting to get fuzzy”. But I knew that it was time to call out the reserves. Yes it was warmer than what I had trained in; no that wasn’t a hot spot, my feet just hurt; no that was sweat on my glasses; so time to press on.

And then IT happened. Probably the greatest sight a runner can ever see, outside of the finish line, family cheering you on. I knew they would be there, we had planned that, but I had lost track of where I was on the route. It was just the shot of adrenaline that I needed. Forget GU or ShotBlocks, this was the kick I needed to keep me going. My wife of almost 39 years and my long-distance running daughter had a sign that said, “It could be worse, It could be snowing”. While the sign and their cow bell ringing were appreciated the simple act of their being there and cheering was more important.

I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last 5 months, what I can and can’t do. I’ve learned a lot about other people, particularly runners, both good and bad. I’ve come to appreciate the simple beauty of birds singing in the morning and yes, even in freshly fallen snow. Like most people I am angry over the bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon but feel a special anger because the attack was against the spectators not the runners.

It’s been a long 5 months. I am no longer a first-timer; I am a half-marathoner. I’ve thanked my running group and coaches. But for putting up with early mornings, messed up eating schedules, smelly clothes in the laundry and my obsessive nature, there is only one person to mention, my wife Shirley, without whose support none of this would ever have been possible.

— Run if you can. Walk if you will. Crawl if you must. Tim Riley

We all have stuff we are passionate about

We all have stuff we are passionate about. For me, those things include family, friends, running, and helping fight cancer through awareness and fundraising. For those who have read my previous blogs, you know I raise money to fight cancer for various organizations. I also run in Honor or Memory of Honored Heroes, typically children.

Six months ago, my daughter Carolan, niece Jen and good friend Casey decided to commit to their first half-marathon: the Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon. My running buddy Carla and I have completed four halves together (Cellcom twice!!!) and knew we wanted to be part of their special journey. Besides all being family and friends, all of us had lost loved ones to cancer, changed forever by that horrible disease.

I wondered if having someone and something else to focus on might help make their journey easier, so I sought out some special Cancer Warriors to be our honored heroes for race day. I had heard of a young man named Bo who had lost his battle with leukemia last fall, and contacted his mother about running in his memory. She said, “But there are so many children. Can you run for them, too?” And she choose four more children for us to honor, all battling that horrible disease at such a young age. And so we trained for six long months, thinking about and praying for Chris, Mitch, Lulu & Carl, and talking to our special angel Bo, asking him to give us strength when we needed it.

Yesterday, the five of us set off on our running journey with love in our hearts and spring in our step, excited to be on the road together, running and honoring these children. Our coral shirts had the image of our heroes on the front and on the back read, “Whoever said winning isn’t everything obviously wasn’t fighting cancer.” Strangers commented on our shirts, asked about our heroes, and told us their own stories of love, loss, and cancer. We met survivors and people touched by cancer other ways. And they all touched us.

When people have asked me today, “How was the race?” I have said the same thing over and over. “Incredible.”

“Oh, did you PR?!” Is the next excited question.

Nope…not even close. But I ran 13.1 miles with my daughter, niece, and two of my best friends, and I honored five amazing children, and met people whose words changed me forever. There will be other races, that’s for certain, but I will never forget this one.

-Pam Berg

Left to right Pam, Casey, Carolan, Jen, Carla

Left to right Pam, Casey, Carolan, Jen, Carla

Race recap

The Green Bay Packers say that they have the best fans in the world. I think Green Bay marathoners can claim the same thing.
The number of fans, volunteers and enthusiastic spectators who lined the marathon course Sunday was absolutely incredible. I speak for all the race participants when I shout out a huge “thank you” to everyone who came out to cheer us on. Your support keeps us going – literally and figuratively. You all rock!
One of my favorite parts of the day was checking out all of the race signs. Best ones this year include:
“Black toes are sexy.”
“I trained for months to hold this sign.”
“I’m just trying to cross the street.”
Another big “thank you” goes out to race organizers, officials and volunteers. I’m sure everyone was relieved that this year’s races – despite the late-onset heat – went very smoothly.
Truly I feel exceptionally blessed to live in an area that has so many excellent running venues. (Only a couple weeks until the Bellin!) Family members who came from out of town to run the half for the first time were so impressed by the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon that they want to make it an annual event. We are already looking forward to next year – thanks again, everyone, for an awesome race weekend!

~ Laura Broullire

End o’The Road…

Well, I was able to make the money to get the entrance fee without tapping a credit card.  Thank you for all the kind thoughts on our debt journey while I was training.  The wind-down portion of training has been hard for me.  I thought that running less would be easier, but as the miles get shorter I felt as if I hadn’t trained enough.  The first timers newsletters really helped with that… otherwise I might have put in some miles just to feel like I was prepared.  So, now I’m ready as I’ll ever be.  My family has appointments back home, so they will not be able to see me cross the finish line.  I have promised my wife a call before I cross.  She has made it possible for me to pursue this adventure.

Hope you all enjoy the run!



I can say, “I’m a runner”

I’m sitting here looking at my training calendar.  All of the scribbles showing miles run, foods eaten, weather, times, all of the things I wanted to keep track of as I got ready for the Cellcom Green Bay Half-Marathon.  I think back to the cold and snow and how I thought it would never end.  I can’t believe it’s only 10 days away, it once seemed like so far in the future.  I know what I have to do be able to complete the race; what time to get up on Sunday morning to eat something then go back to bed; how far I can go before I need to use a Gel and in which order; when to start my final sprint; I feel like I have everything planned AND plans made when my original plans don’t work out.

The only thing that I haven’t been able to plan is this almost giddy feeling of accomplishment, it’s something very foreign to me.  My first race ever was just less than 10 months ago; a 4-mile fun night race for which I was not prepared.  Now I’m running 13.1 miles, for which I am totally prepared.  And, I feel good about the preparation.  I’ve learned a lot, not just about running, but about myself.  I learned what I am capable of doing.  I learned that when the body says, “You’re an idiot for punishing me like this and I’m not going to put up with it”, the mind can still squeeze out another few miles or hills.

While shopping for a gift for my wife I was wearing the shirt from a race when the sales person mentioned that she had just started running.  She smiled and asked, “Are you a runner?”  No one had ever asked me that question.  I proudly answered, “Yes. “

RUN if you can; WALK if you will; CRAWL if you must

—     Tim Riley

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