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Goals for Knickerbocker 60k

18 Nov

Tomorrow is my first ultra.  I am competing in the Knickerbocker 60k in Central Park.  The course includes a short out and back (totaling 1.5 miles) and then 9x 4-mile loops of the park’s inner loop (thankfully, it does NOT include the arduous upper or lower portions of the park).
Here is a link of the course.

I had a long debate with myself about whether or not this course was the best for my first ultra.  There are definitely some disadvantages. First, Central park is notoriously hilly.  And although the upper section is eliminated, there are still sections that can kill your legs after repeated visits. Second, 9x loops will be a HUGE mental obstacle, especially since we will be passing the start/finish line each time. I’m fully anticipating to experience the temptation of wanting to stop each time I pass it, especially in the later miles. Third, it’s only 2 weeks after the NYC Marathon, so I was worried I would not be fully rested for the long distance.

But, I’m trying to remain positive and remember the advantages of this race:
Refuel and hydration will be easy since we will be passing the water/snack station every 2 miles.
My supporters (husband, son, and one of my sisters) can see me run by more than any other race before.
My husband (and possibly a girlfriend) plan to jump in for a loop or two to push and pace me during the later miles.
The course allows me to concentrate on getting through 4 miles at a time.  From what I have experienced in my training and learned from other ultra runners, you need to break the race into manageable segments.  So I can’t start out thinking that I have 9, 8, or 7 loops to go…it will be crush me.
There will be a professional photographer taking our race pictures –> that means LOTS of opportunity for running pictures since we will be passing him nine times! =)
The weather forecast looks PERFECT for tomorrow – 40 degrees at race start and close to 50 by race end. Light winds and sunny.

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I wasn’t going to write an entry regarding my time goal for tomorrow’s race.  I’m extremely nervous about my first attempt at this mileage and didn’t want to make my goals public in case I failed.
Anything could happen in a race this long. You always hear elites saying that anything could happen in a marathon – and this is 11 miles longer!
My stomach might not cooperate, my legs may decide they are not up to the distance, or I may just have an off day of running(which happens at least once a week!).
I usually keep my goals secret (I sometimes don’t even tell my husband or family) because I don’t like failing.
But then I wonder – if I don’t run this race in the time I want, am I a failure?
I think back to where I was last year at this time.  7+ months pregnant, carrying much more weight on my body then I am now, waddling on my daily runs, and nervous that I would not get back into the running shape I had been in prior to getting pregnant.
I read a post from Mile Posts, a blogger I love, on a similiar subject and realized that no matter what the time clock says when I cross the finish line, I will have succeeded – purely for trying and pushing myself to the limit. And at the end of the day, I will have a new PR to put on my blog tomorrow!!
(http://www.mile-posts.com/2011/10/as-ready-as-i-will-ever-be-marine-corps.html)

Running the SI Half-Marathon @ 27 weeks pregnant

So, my first goal is to finish.  To say I am an ultrarunner.
My second goal is to complete the race in under 5 hrs 25 min (around an 8:45 min/mi pace).  My last long training run was a 30 miler which I completed at a relaxed and comfortable 8:34 pace.
Out and back portion: 8:30 (roughly 12 min, 45 sec)
Lap 1-6: 8:20 (3 hours 20 min)
Lap 7-9: 9:00 (1 hour 50 min)
Total time: 5:22:45

I’m not being more ambitious with the pace because I’m most concerned about how my legs will react to the hills.  Most of my training takes place on the Staten Island boardwalk – a gorgeous out and back route along the eastern portion of my hometown.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t give me much practice with running up hills since it’s flat as a pancake.

Gorgeous view on my morning runs!
No hills!

On long runs, I often repeat NEVER STOP, NEVER STOP (running) when I start to feel tired and want to quit.  Never Stop means SO many things to me and has become my mantra in recent months. I plan to NEVER STOP TRYING tomorrow!!

Doubt

5 Nov

You would think that by taking a few days off from running or having an easy week I would  feel confident and relaxed about my upcoming race.  It actually has the opposite effect on me. Instead of a happy, relaxed week, I begin to second guess my training.  


I should have done more speed work.
I should have done an extra long run. 
I should have done more hill workouts to prepare for the hills along 5th Ave and in Central Park. 


These are the thoughts that invade my mind during my taper weeks (but most especially in the last few days prior to the race).  


When I head out on my slow, short runs, I feel every twitch, ache, or cramp and start worrying that I’m injured or that I’m going to feel that pain for the whole marathon.   Or, I feel winded and completely out of breath after running a few miles at an 9:00 pace.  


How do I expect to run a sub-7:45 pace for 26.2 miles?   

I despise when I make myself take time off.  If it’s something I choose to do – like after a hard race or if I’m just not feeling up to running one day, I enjoy the extra time it gives me and don’t stress about my physical aptitude.  But, when it’s something that I force myself to do, I find myself bored, restless, and worrying constantly rather than relaxing and enjoying the extra time.  

This marathon is no different.  In fact, the doubt is only magnified – for a few reasons.  


First, it’s my first marathon in almost 2 1/2 years.  I haven’t pushed myself hard for 26.2 miles in a long time.  I’ve done a few runs longer than the marathon distance to prepare for my ultra on Nov 19, but I wasn’t pushing myself – it was a steady pace for the whole run. 

Second, I’ve never stood at the start line looking to compete with other runners.  I’m a competitive person – I’ve competed every race I’ve ever run – but it’s been a competition with myself.  I’ve never set out looking to outrun anyone.  I’m usually aiming to run a specific time.  So it makes no difference to me if I am the 25th or the 250th female to cross the finish line.  All that matters is my finish time.  Sunday is different. I will stand at the start line with 4 other runners.  After running together for 13.1 miles, we will be “let loose” to race to the finish.  And at this point in the race, there will be no other runners on the road with us – so there’s nothing to take our minds off of who’s in the lead and how far behind – or ahead – we are to the other runners.  


Due to modern technology, my (almost) every move is going to be watched by a lot of people.  As I’ve said earlier, the last marathon I did was over 2 1/2 years ago – technology wasn’t as advanced as it is now so those that wanted to “follow” me didn’t get the opportunity to get MILE splits.  Knowing that friends and family are going to be analyzing my time and seeing how I’m doing at each mile during the marathon makes me extremely nervous.  


Lastly, the “race within the race” is going to be aired on national television during NBC’s coverage of the marathon on Sunday morning.  It’s not like we are going to have a camera crew driving alongside us like the elites do.  But, there will be some brief coverage of the competition and knowing that, just adds to the nervousness – and doubt – that has begun to sink in.  


At the end of the day, what matters most is that I have a safe and happy run – and that I’m satisfied with my run time for the second half.  But it’s hard to convince myself this as the hours until the race starts draws closer and the excitement, nervousness, and doubt only continue to increase.


Do you experience doubt before a big race?  How do you cope with it?