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Posts Tagged ‘spark’

Get inspired!

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

A good friend gave me the DVD “Spirit of the Marathon” and I finally got around to watching it.  It’s funny because I watched it yesterday afternoon after I returned home from racing the 1500 meters.  I had lost my real interest in marathons.  I had a good run back in 1995 through 2001 when I ran a dozen marathons in some pretty cool places like Monaco, Paris, Boston, Hartford, Orlando (Disney), Tampa (Hops), and San Diego.  In 1998 I set my marathon PR of 3:18:05 and haven’t been concerned with trying to better it.

A combination of realizing I no longer have the fresh, speedy legs of an 18 year old (see 5/16/2010 blog entry about 1500 meter race) and being truly moved by the movie “Spirit of the Marathon,” made me seriously start thinking about doing more marathons.  If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend it.  I don’t know if yesterday afternoon was the perfect storm of fatigue, emotion, and post race mellow or what, but I felt a strong emotional reaction when I watched that movie.  Wow. 

If I had known how good it was, I guess I would have watched it a lot sooner.  As I said, though, I had lost my passion for the marathon so it was not a high priority to watch a movie about it.

I guess our running lives go through cycles just like our lives do.  Hobbies and interests change as do jobs, friends, where we call home, favorite foods, and just about anything else.  I think because I was injured so frequently in college, I wanted more than anything to run marathons as soon as my final track season was finished.  I wanted to escape the 3 competitive seasons per year (cross country, indoor track, outdoor track) and all the cross training I was doing during my injured times.  I was sick of the pain of the short distances.

My goal ever since high school was to one day run the Boston Marathon.  That was a long term goal.  I was lucky to run Boston three times and will be back there in 2011.  My first marathon was Jacksonville 1995 where I missed qualifying by 8 minutes.  My second attempt was Disney 1997 where I reached the goal and then ran Boston in April 1997 followed by Hartford in the fall.  Disney 1998 was my PR then ran Boston again and the inaugural San Diego Rock ‘n Roll in June 1998.  Three marathons in six months – I would not recommend that.  In 1999 I ran Paris in April then Hartford again in October.  In 2000 I ran the Hops (now Gasparilla) Marathon in December then Boston again in 2001.  Then I was off to Monaco for ten months to get my MBA at International University of Monaco.  There were not many races near Monaco or the south of France so when I heard about the Monaco Marathon in November 2001 I signed up (in September) and tried to get ready for it the best I could on such short notice.  After that, I was really done with marathons…

Until the fall of 2009 when I started feeling like I was actually in good shape again so signed up for Disney 2010.  That was by far the coldest marathon ever for me and the most painful because of that cold.  So my return to the marathon was not a welcoming one.  I did qualify for Boston and will run it 2011…but will that be my last?

I guess I have to see how Boston 2011 goes and how it feels to run a marathon in normal weather conditions.  I mean, I am not asking for perfect or ideal weather conditions, just not below freezing is all I ask.  Once I experience a more “normal” marathon, then I will be able to decide if I want to do more.

Although “Spirit of the Marathon” truly inspired me and right now I think I do want to run more marathons and try some cities I have not run, like Chicago, I need to wait and see how the next one feels before I decide or sign up for anything.

I am excited that these marathon thoughts have crept back in though.  I really am.

The right running movie or running book can really inspire you.  The stories are about other people, but as a runner, I can relate and bond with the characters in the story and feel that emotion.  It can be powerful.  Your next inspiration might be on the bookshelf or DVD shelf.

(Almost) Feel Like a Teen Again

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

As I mentioned in previous entries, I have gone back to my roots, literally!  Since November 2009 I have raced four trail races – true cross country with hills, roots, rocks, mud, and loved every mile.  I started out at age 11 running cross country.  These trail races have been a way for me to return to some of my favorite running and racing times – high school and college cross country.

I guess I enjoyed the cross country racing so much it seemed like a natural progression to hit the track too.  As a high school cross country and track coach I see the year in seasons – build a base, strength work, speed work, peak at the end of the season in key races, and then recovery time.  I don’t see a year as road racers do – train and race pretty much the same all year.

So as the high school track season has come to an end I find myself entering an open track meet on May 16 where I can race the 1500 meters, a race I have not run since college!

Wanting to be as prepared as possible, I decided to run a 1500 meter time trial today at 1:00 in the afternoon on a black track with no shade in sight.  Let me just say that summer is here in Florida!  Luckily I was joined by some young runners – Di, an 18 year old senior from the track team and two early twenty-something guys, Maverick and Eric.  We were timed by Kaitlyn and Amanda from the track team.  It was great having all this support!  I mention the ages here because it should be noted that I am twice Di’s age.  I am now twice the age of the seniors I coach.  Still trying to accept that fact.

Anyway, today was my day to not be the coach.  So we warmed up as a group and prepared for the task at hand.  I told everyone my goal pace and even though they were faster than me, they ran with me, paced me, and encouraged me.  It was awesome!  I ran the first 2 and 3/4 laps at exactly the pace I thought I might be able to run based on current race times.  It was so cool, 1:07 for the first 300 meters, then 1:30 and 1:30 for the next two laps.  The last lap was the fastest in 1:24, as it should be.  I always aim to run negative splits.  Di blasted by me in the last 200 meters and finished a few seconds ahead of me.

I guess I expected that.  She is amazing in her ability to pace herself and run negative splits.  She does it nearly every race.  She does it so perfectly that I never worry if she happens to be in last place on the first lap or two of her 3200 meter races.  I know she will run those negative splits and catch so many that have gone out too fast ahead of her.  She works so hard and has truly become a student of her sport.  She learns all she can to be her best.  As a coach, I feel very proud watching her races unfold so perfectly.  And she has one heck of a kick.

After the 1500 meter time trial, we ran 6 x 400 meter repeats.  My goal was 1:20 but I really didn’t know if that would be possible after the 1500.  The four of us lined up in lanes, using the stagger.  Something most of us had not done before since we don’t race the 400 and when running them in training we usually just run in lane one.

Maverick started us on each one.  Again, me trying to just run and not be coach today.  I went out pretty fast in lane 4 and crossed the finish line in 1:18.  I could hardly believe it.  My legs were a little wobbly but I was pretty excited.  We hit 1:18 again.  Changed into some racing flats and ran the third one in 1:17.  Whoa.  Didn’t care for the racing flats so ran #4 in them just to be sure and crossed in 1:19 then changed back to my other shoes.  By the fifth 400 my legs were pretty heavy and wobbly as I walk/jogged the recovery lap.  That would be my slowest in 1:20.  But this was my original goal pace so not too bad!  I thought I would have nothing left for the sixth 400, especially as the other three runners made up the stagger and flew by me with more than 200 meters to go but I still managed a 1:16 which is pretty amazing for these 36 year old legs!  I have not run 1:16 since my college days.

It was hot, I ended up sunburned, but had one of the best speed workouts I can remember.  Training with a group is definitely more fun, can really help you push past your personal limitations, and allows you to share in the joy and pain of running fast.  I must say that I did not feel 36 years old today.  I know I have lost some leg speed over the years, but today I could almost visualize myself running track workouts at the Brown stadium or at the old cinder track at the old Palmer High School (Monson did not have a track when I was in high school).  I almost felt like a teen again.  Coaching definitely has great benefits like getting to know amazing young runners like the ones I shared a two hour workout with today.

I’ve Got the Spark

Sunday, January 31st, 2010


Feeling a bit charged up and happy as I sit to write this one.  I often wonder how bizarre I look when I sit down to write because I know my face shows all of my emotions as I am thinking, smiling, trying to remember, and figuring out the right words to use.


Anyway, I started the last day of January getting up at 5:30 a.m. for a quick breakfast of Sharkies, a little caffeine, and lots of water while I checked facebook (of course!).  I read the funniest essay that one of the high school girls I coach wrote for a scholarship.  I mean, I laughed out loud on this one.  She’s so creative and while I say it was funny, it was also very good and I’m sure it made her stand out from the rest of the applicants.  My husband and I were then off to Alafia State Park for the Florida Challenge Trail Run 5K.


I was definitely looking forward to this race.  All of the TampaRaces.com events that I have done have been so great.  They are well organized events in such nice parks.  They hand out the awards quickly, offer good post race snacks and drinks, and have some of my favorite types of awards – campfire mugs and the overall and masters trophies are some of the best I have ever seen.


Anyway, we arrived in plenty of time and I did my usual warm up.  The race started on time and while I was a little nervous, I wasn’t overly nervous because I wasn’t expecting too much.  I guess mainly because I have not felt that spark for my training or racing since the Disney Marathon three weeks ago.  Post marathon funk can really get you down.  My training has been decent in the past three weeks but nothing to write home about.  At the start I knew I had to get out quickly because it was a single track course.  I did not know the course because I am not that familiar with Alafia Park and the map was not easy for me to understand.  So other than what I had heard and read about it, I really did not know what to expect.  Then this young guy in front of me turned around and told me that he rode the course yesterday on his mountain bike and it was really rough.  He said “just be sure to pick up your feet.”  The older guy next to him turned to me and said “that’s what you want to hear, right?”  We both chuckled and the race was on.


I started out a lot faster than I normally would, but I figured I had to in order to avoid getting stuck behind people on the single track course.  There were two women ahead of me going in to the single track path.  I was sucking wind by the first mile.  There were no mile markers on the course – this is cross country, baby!  Trail races are absolutely not about pace and splits.  This was my opportunity to just race.  I cherish opportunities like that.  Luckily I had my Garmin and it beeped at every mile so I knew how far I was in the race but I never looked at my splits.  There really was no point, besides if I did, I probably would have tripped.  This course was incredible.  Hard core road runners would hate it.  I absolutely loved it!  The 5K course was almost like a flashback to high school.  Our home course at Monson High was just as uneven and loaded with rocks and roots but we had major hills in Massachusetts.


The course is a mountain bike course at the park that they closed just for us to use this beautiful Sunday morning.  It had so few straight sections that I do not remember them.  It was narrow (one person wide); it twisted and turned; it had so many quick ups and downs (mini hills to this former northerner); it was loaded with rocks, roots, leaves, and a little mud just for fun.  It was incredibly difficult to pass.  I had to run up a little closer than was comfortable on the person in front of me and then when a slightly wider turn presented itself, had to accelerate by.  It was challenging, tactical, and liberating.  Once I passed the two women in front of me about halfway through the race, I thought I was the first female, but was not 100% sure.  So I kept running as hard as I could for the last mile.  When I came out of the trail and headed for the finish, a couple of spectators yelled out that I was the first female.  After a quick sprint on the grass to the finish, I walked out of the chute exhilarated and quite out of breath.  Add another cool campfire mug to the collection.  ;)


I love that my husband is always right there to greet me out of the chute.  Sharing that joy and exhaustion with him makes it feel more amazing.  I had barely caught my breath but I could not wait to tell him how tough the race was and what the trails were like.  I know he could see the joy.  I could see it in his face too.  I set off to do a cool down jog and on my way back I heard the awards being announced.  I didn’t quite make it to collect my overall female winner trophy, but my husband picked it up for me.  These are the most unique trophies, made of a rock slab base and a laser cut metal girl running with a pony tail (a RunnerGirl perhaps) and a name plate with the race and award name.

Overall Female Winner Trophy


After a couple of award photos, I talked to several people who approached us and mentioned that they were fans of RunnerGirl and readers of my blog.  As we walked to the car, I don’t know who was more excited (my husband or me) or what we were more excited about (winning overall female or meeting people who read my blog and are fans of RunnerGirl).  Talk about a confidence boosting day!


The race alone had renewed my spark for racing and training.  I am all set to prepare my training plan for the next few months.  I needed a little inspiration to get me back on track after my post marathon funk.  It’s funny because a few years ago I had a similar situation where I had lost that spark and the Picnic Island Adventure Run had renewed it for me.  Trail races do amazing things for me.  Thank you TampaRaces.com!  Now I’ve got the spark…


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