Sunday, May 18, 2014

Plea for Advice on Running Music and Marathon Training Reflections

So, I need your help.  A long time ago, a great friend asked me for some advice about running music and I totally ignored her email.  Not that I really meant to ignore her email; I just didn't know how to respond because my own running playlist is pretty pitiful.  Before I knew it, that starred message got buried in the abyss of my email.  The memory resurfaces periodically (along with a pang of guilt) when I'm out for a long run of my own, but of course by that point I'm far from a computer.  By the time I get home, "life" happens and running music is shoved to the far recesses of my mind.

And so, if you have any recommendations about good running music, please take pity on my guilty conscience and share.  I know I've read a few related posts in the past, but finding them requires time and brain power--both seem in short supply at the moment.  My friend and I would really appreciate some new tunes to spice up our runs.

And run we will!  You see, even though I haven't talked much about it on this blog, next week is peak training for the Utah Valley Marathon that Jason and I are running on June 14th.  If all goes well, I will log forty miles between my three midweek runs (5, 10, 5) and Saturday's 20 miler.

Allow me to indulge with some random marathon training reflections.  At 2:30 in the morning, I'm not capable of much coherence; however this is just about the only time that the house is still.  Marathon training has been such a pivotal element in our lives these past months that it would be a shame to let it pass by without any acknowledgement.

Goals:  Jason's dream goal is to both qualify for Boston and set a new Personal Record by running the race in 3:05 or less.  Even though he hasn't had time for as many midweek runs as he would like, he's been running consistently for long distances on Saturdays ever since we moved to Omaha.  As long as the altitude change doesn't kill him, I expect Jason will totally rock this race.

My own goals are more modest.  As much as I would love to run Boston, let's face it--the only way that will ever happen is if I make it to 60 without slowing down or else they grant me a handicap for my unusually short legs.  I'm built for endurance, but speed?  Not so much. 

And so, I'm trying to gear up mentally for a strong race where I feel happy and successful, no matter what the finish time on the clock.  I don't know how many more marathons are in my future, so I truly want to enjoy this race.  My training schedule has been identical to when I ran Utah Valley in 2011, but hey, it's 2014.  I have four kids now instead of three, one of whom still doesn't sleep through the night.  I'm older, heavier (did I just admit that?), and basically worn out.  2011's race went remarkably well--there's really no reason to expect that I should shave much time off.  But with a previous finishing time of 4:02:34, I can't help but secretly hope to beat four hours.

I do have a couple things working in my favor--so far I'm not nursing any injuries, as opposed to the ornery knee I fussed with in 2011.  I've also been doing a fair amount of training while pushing the double jogger.  Even though this makes these training runs painfully slow, I console myself by remembering how the extra effort must make me stronger on some level.  I guess we'll find out if stronger equates to faster!

Gear:  When I blew through my last pair of Asics, I decided that I was done with fancy (read expensive) running shoes.  My favorite 3100 series had been discontinued, and they'd upped the price yet again with their new line.  $140 for a pair of shoes that won't even last me a year is simply nauseating.  And so, I rummaged through the clearance aisle of DSW and found a pair of perfectly respectable (but not top of the line) New Balance running shoes for $35.  I went up a half size to allow plenty of room in my toe box, and thus far I've been really happy.  They've lasted me for 300 miles of training without any problems (knock on wood.)  If I've learned anything from this whole barefoot/minimalist running craze, it's simply that high tech footwear doesn't matter nearly as much as the athletic companies would have us believe.  As long as your shoe isn't too cushy, simply getting your run in matters much more than what you run in.  I must say, I sure hope that my theory holds because it feels great to thumb my nose at the whole crazy industry.

Double Jogger:  At long last, we upgraded to a BOB double jogger.  It's very well-designed and super durable--I imagine it could probably last us another four kids.  :)  But man, is it heavy!  Even empty, I struggle hefting it into the trunk of our minivan.  Fortunately, it rolls really well so pushing Annika and Eli on flat terrain isn't too bad.  I definitely notice the combined weight on hills and windy days, though.  Oh, and let's not forget turning corners.  There's no swivel wheel so my triceps get a workout on curvy paths.  Generally Eli and Annika seem to enjoy our runs.  Eli and I play i-spy until I get too winded; Annika often sleeps--thank heavens.  You see, the child is Houdini.  Despite the five-point harness, she manages to wriggle her petite arms and shoulders free, even when everything is tightened up as far as it will go.  Usually people passing the other direction give me an "aw-isn't-that-cute" glance when they peek in the stroller.  Last week a stranger gave me a look of positive horror instead, at which point I realized that Annika had wiggled free and was standing up in the stroller as I jogged.  (She's done the same in her car seat as well.)  Have I mentioned I'm worn out?  Gee, wonder why.

Lake Zorinsky and Beyond:  The only reason Jason and I have managed to both train for a marathon at the same time is thanks to the wonderful help and support of my parents.  We regularly camp out at their house on Friday nights and leave for a run early the next morning while the kids are still asleep.  By the time we get home, we usually arrive to the smells of NomiAnn fixing them a yummy Saturday breakfast.  Talk about the dream situation! 

Even so, after a while I got a little bored of our usual running spot--Lake Zorinsky.  Even though Zorinsky is great with its big loop, little loop, and combinations thereof, I started to feel like a hamster on a giant run.  Instead, I picked up a map showing the extensive trail system throughout Omaha and Council Bluffs and decided to explore new territory.  I've loved learning more about our city by covering new terrain.  Eventually I'd love to cover all the sections of trail, but that will probably take years.  In the meantime, I've enjoyed running around Lake Manawa, the Bob Kerry pedestrian bridge, beautiful Chalco hills, the Missouri riverfront, Midtown, Memorial Park, the Keystone trail, West Papio, the Veterans Memorial trail, and many other places.  Corny as it sounds, I am totally motivated each time I get out my little yellow highlighter to mark off new sections on my map.

Beyond the Marathon:  One of the reasons I'm most looking forward to getting through peak week is that it gives me hope for life beyond the marathon.  Not that I don't enjoy training: I do.  I cherish the time to be alone with my thoughts and clear my head.  Even though each individual run is tough, I like the feeling of getting stronger and being able to manage more.  On its own, a thirteen mile run is grueling, but when you hit thirteen on an eighteen miler, you hardly even notice. What I am noticing, however, is that the intense commitment of marathon training is starting to take a toll on my family.  It's not simply the time I spend running, although that alone becomes significant, especially during these final weeks.  It's all of the mental energy spent planning and preparing and gearing up.  You see, even though I am obsessive about getting my training runs in, it's still a mental battle to get started.  Every time.

And so, I'm grateful that soon the mileage will be cutting back because it's time to look beyond the marathon.  It's time to catch up on the laundry, hang some pictures, clean the bathrooms, plan meals, and plant a garden.  Time to give my children more undivided attention, and talk with my hubby about more than just training.  It's time to make new friends, set new goals.  It's time.

But first, Peak Week.  There's nothing like coupling your most intense training with Memorial Day travel and an overscheduled last week of school.  I say, bring it on, because I can see beyond.

Happy running!


Tanja said...

I admire you ... not just for doing this marathon (again), but for many many little things and I'm very grateful that you continued this blog through the years. I have been there part of your "first" marathon watching Jason run the Utah Logan Marathon and it was fun to watch the runners (that I admired) and the people cheering and you got caught :)
Looking back - I must confess that I'm very happy that I went to the Logan Temple instead :) so that the "running fever" never had a chance to catch me :)
I'm just kidding, but I really do admire you. You do live life in the fullest - yes, it is stress and sometimes you would rather sleep longer ... but then we would not enjoy reading your short essay in such elogant words that I'm still wondering why you didn't study English literature and are the next Pulitzer Prize winner :) ... thinking about this ... I don't think I ever read a book that was Pulitzer Prize ... so let't say the next Laura Ingalls Wilder ... any ambitions this way :) :) :)

michelle said...

You shouldn't feel guilt about the email request and lack of response. Sometimes taking longer to respond to a question is best. Responding quickly may have given your friend some suggestions, but perhaps making her think longer helped her identify better what would work for her. So don't feel guilt! I can tell from your blog posts, that you have some very important things taking up your time!

I am a little bummed that we won't be here to cheer you and Jason on in your races. You are both such examples to me and inspire me in running and beyond. We'll be leaving town on the 13th for a vacation, but do keep us updated on the races. After our jaunt to MN, we'll come back to UT to prepare for our move to RI. We'll be living within an hour of Hopkinton, MA, so when you guys make it that way, we'll come and cheer for/with you! (and we could be there when we are 60, so don't count out on qualifying :)

Keep up the great work!

Erin said...

I love running with music. You've probably seen this:

It's hard to give music recommendations since everyone has their own taste in music, but my running list includes Footloose, Such Great Heights (Postal Service), Tunak Tunak Tun, some Francis Cabrel, and a Dvorak string quartet.

Susie said...

Besides, your training for the marathon brings you closer to US with each run! That's something we sure are looking forward to. We admire your tenacity, your goal setting, and the incredible job you've done with all the long distance races you have participated in. Did you ever think you'd be doing those when you first met Jason? Way to go!! (I'm wondering what Annika is going to decide to climb while at OUR house!)

Julie L said...

Running is so foreign to me I am in total awe of anyone who can go that pace more than 1/4 mile. That makes me reverently bowing down to all you marathon runners! So impressed!

Ben S said...

Where did my comment go? :(

Kara said...

Where indeed, Ben?! The sad mysteries of cyberspace, I suppose.

This blog just wouldn't be the same without your insight, so if it's okay with you, I'd like to repost your comment, especially since Francis Cabrel's soothing tones likewise send me to a lovely la la land.

All right, y'all, Ben wrote:

Obviously, YMMV. The kind of music I listen to while running is great for running, but I rarely listen to it otherwise.

I think if I ran with Francis Cabrel, I'd pull over and fall asleep...