100+ miles instead of cheeseburgers and chocolate
I guess the biggest up and down has been the abrupt change in training. Instead of tapering and racing, I have switched gears completely. Starting Saturday, the first day I could get out after flying into NYC, I've logged 81 miles (6 days). So, this will easily be a 100 mile week for me. Much different than the "no running!" I was looking forward to. I'm back to being careful about what I eat, instead of allowing myself to eat whatever the heck I feel like/gain weight (in all honesty, it isn't a huge deal for me to eat healthy, I actually love it once I'm into the habit of it - but when you're looking forward to greasy cheeseburgers & all of that Halloween candy lying around the house... ).
One comment about the switch: I have felt great all this week. I know it's because I tapered for the marathon, which didn't happen, and I'm running on that. But my legs haven't felt this great since my string of 100 mile weeks this summer. So perhaps ramping back up, keeping the legs feeling like this, and then tapering again may suit me very well. I also wonder if my body just responds better to higher mileage. I have never felt good running 70-80 mile weeks. Every time I'm up near 100+, I feel different, faster, more efficient... hmmm....
Mentally, the cancellation was a big downer for me as well. As I've said before, I was SO ready to race against the professional field. I was ranked 16th going into the race (1 woman faster than me couldn't race due to injury) and I thought I could beat 5 of the women ranked ahead of me. I thought MAYBE if another American woman was injured, had trouble during the race, etc -- that TOP 10 (!!!) might be in the cards. It would have to take a great day from me, but I was ready. I was mentally and physically prepared to hurt like I've never hurt before.
As people have said, "You'll be invited back next year!". True, I may. But I don't know if the race will have the allure it did for me this year, if that makes sense?
People have also suggested other marathons. On Saturday after the cancellation, I told Nate that I thought I might just need to hang up the shoes for a while. This has been a long training cycle for me. I've loved it, but I've pushed really hard, physically and mentally, and I think I just need to step back for a little while (if even a week or two!) before starting to train hard again. So the thought of another marathon wasn't appealing at all. Another hard tempo workout sounded deathly unappealing - much less another month of hard tempo workouts.
That changed during Sunday's hard effort with "the Olympians" :). As we clipped along, I realized how much I love running, love how efficient and strong I feel (there is something very magical about breathing in crisp fall air, feeling it being used so efficiently, feeling your feet dance across the pavement). I also realized that I love working as hard as I can. The "you can hang on for one more mile" mentality of the run was so perfect - I was able to find my limit and push past it for another mile or two. It was hard, but also satisfying. I just ran with two Olympians for 15 freaking miles! :) That run also helped me realize how strong I've become in the last year. Even before the Trials, I don't know if I could have done a workout like that.
Adding to that was a 6x1 mile tempo effort on Tuesday with a GAC XC alumni who lives in NYC. Can I just tell you how cool it is that the GAC runners and alumni have such ties to each other, that someone who has officially "retired" from any sort of running for the last year is willing to go out & help pace me in a hard workout? He could only do the first 1/4 of each repeat (fighting a cold as well, nonetheless!), but it was so awesome. He and Nate also jumped in for the last 1/4 mile of the last repeat. I gave it everything I had... to be paced by two Gusties, in a random place like NYC, is beyond words. It makes me very proud to be a Gustie. I also nailed the workout: 5:59, 5:57 (into very strong headwind), 5:50, 5:46, 5:43, and 5:40 (told you I gave an extra push that last repeat). The last 4 reps I went 3 minutes into the wind, 3 minutes with it. This was a big confidence booster - especially after a long hard run just 2 days prior.
So... back to my original point: another marathon. I am now looking forward to racing, wherever that may be. I still need to rid myself of NYC. As Jim, my miracle worker chiropractor said today (he was paraphrasing a philosopher, I'm further paraphrasing):
"To understand, you have to dig up the tree, examine it's roots carefully, before discarding"
I teared up. I'm not sure how he comes up with these things, but this is so applicable! With any injury, lost goal, misfortune, etc., you really have to examine the roots of everything, thoroughly, before you can truly move on.
I haven't heard back from CIM yet, which is a huge bummer. I'm giving them until Friday... but I think I may need to move on to a different race :(. The next two options are Tucson and Jacksonville. Tucson's race director offered to find me someone to stay with (so nice!), but it also sounds like there might be a few Red Wing connections in Tuscon (yeah, snowbirds!). That would be a lot of fun.
Tucson (Dec 8th) is appealing because of its course profile. Check it out. Is that considered cheating? CIM is also downhill, but still OTQ legal. Tucson would not be :). But, right now the point of racing would be to set a new, awesome PR. Wonder how much the altitude would affect me? Would it negate the net downhill? Things to weigh: There aren't as many runners here - I'd likely be running with the top guys. There also isn't likely to have much for elite support (i.e. bottles, ability to drop clothing right at the start, elite porta potties - I am SO spoiled!!!). I'd have to think through my gel plan for the race. I don't know where to stuff 5+ gels on me!!
Running times did a great article on the effects of uphill/downhill/altitude courses here. Very interesting!
Jacksonville is the next weekend (16th). The course is supposed to be fast and flat, and a few more faster guys racing. They also have prize money, which could be fun :).
So - lots of changes :). One thing I will say, though, is that I've realized just how wonderful (and how large!) my support team is. Two women racing CIM have reached out to me, race directors were willing to try to help, the YMCA group is going to try to reach out to their contacts (friends, family) to help me find lodging, Chris willing to pace me through an awful workout... that is simply amazing. I am so blessed. :)
Nichole is a blogger, elite level runner, and coach. She ran professionally for Brooks for two years after qualifying for the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials. During that time she founded TNC endurance, where she coaches and motivationally speaks to organizations large and small. This blog details her rise to national-level racing, and continues to follow her as she gets back into racing after starting a family. Read on, friends!
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