Pushing your Limits

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2013 is over.  I really didn’t have a mileage goal for the year, but ended up putting in 1,134 miles.  This included 16 races.  Racing miles totaled 255.1.  That’s 5 marathons, 9 halves and 2 5k’s.  Almost a quarter of my overall miles were put in during races.  That is an interesting stat to me.  Really just goes to show that I enjoy competing and pushing my limits.  My goal for 2014 will be to reach the same.

My main goal for last year was to remain injury free.  Check!  Secondary goal was to run a combination of 13 half and full marathons throughout the 2013 season.  Check!  Where does that leave me for 2014?  I would like to log 1,200 miles this year, and qualify for Boston.  Of course, all the while remain injury free again.

When setting goals, do you go for broke?  Really push the envelope?  I like to set goals that are achievable, yet lofty.  Boston is a lofty goal for me.  Can I do it?  I’d like to think I can.  Will I qualify?  That is yet to be seen.  A runner friend of mine recently said that he plans on running less, but getting faster In the new year.  That running a five hour marathon just isn’t fun enough anymore.  I guess as we begin our running journeys, it’s great to pass milestones.  To run that first 5k, to work up to distance racing, if that’s what one chooses.  Running a first Half or Full is a huge accomplishment.  Finishing is usually the only goal for a first timer.  Once having run a few to several distance races, just finishing isn’t good enough anymore.  I like to get better, to push my limits.  At this point, running a marathon over four hours would be a disappointment.  For me, this would mean that my body didn’t react and do what I have trained it to do.  I enjoy running distance, and after setting a new marathon PR at the end of 2013, I would be lying if I told you that setting another PR at the marathon distance this year wasn’t important to me.  Is it.  So is qualifying for Boston.

I will push my limits, and go for it.  I have to keep telling myself to run harder, run faster.  That is the only way I will get to Boston.  I will be disappointed if I don’t qualify this year, but as long as I am making progress toward that goal, I will be ok with it.

How are you going to push your limits in 2014?

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I’m a Half Marathon Pacer!!!

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I received some great news yesterday afternoon!  I volunteered for, and was chosen to be a pacer in the Half Marathon I’m running in this weekend.  This throws such an interesting curveball into my race plan, but I couldn’t be happier about it.  So many reasons come to mind…..

First off, I have been wanting to volunteer at a race for quite some time now, but haven’t.  Reason being, I work most weekends, and don’t get a lot of time off.  Normally, if I request a day off at work, or take a vacation day, it is to actually run a race, not volunteer at one.  Being a pacer allows me to run the race, but also “give back” to the race, and to other runners.  Why didn’t I think of this before now?  Well, I guess being a pacer requires some confidence, and being a fairly new competitive runner (three years now), I didn’t have a lot of confidence that I could go the distance as required, and be held accountable, if you will, to a given pace.  I really have the confidence now, so why not give back, and help others.

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I have been chosen to be the Pacer for the 8 minute per mile group at the Bull City Race Fest Half!  Yes, this means coming in at just under 1:45:00 finish time.  This I can do, and feel confident about.  I have now run 17 Half Marathons, and my average pace is well below that.  Yes, I have run in races where I actually tried to run with pacers to better my time, and sometimes it has worked and other times it has not.  I have been on a course and caught up to and passed pacers that I was trying to beat, and other times, sadly, I have been overtaken by a pacer late in a race.  This all changes this Sunday on race day.  I am the pacer!

Secondly, I have to run a race now that is different from how I normally race.  I have to pace myself from beginning to end, at the same pace.  This I look at as a challenge, and have been wanting to do for quite some time now.  I have tried this in training, and have been very successful, but never at a race.  This will be my challenge, and I look forward to it.  I am usually the runner that goes out quite fast, and gently, over the mid section of a race, finds a slower, more balanced pace for me, and then finishes strong.  On Sunday, I have to start out at goal pace! and maintain it.  This is very important, as I will have runners of different abilities trying to stay with me, so going out at a 7 minute pace or faster is not an option this time.

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Thirdly, there is the whole camaraderie aspect.  This will be the first race where I will be the one doing the guiding, the leading, the pacing.  Others will be looking to me for support.  I am not used to this, but have to do my best.  I am not usually a talker while I race.  The occasional “thank you” to aid station volunteers, or the timely shout outs like “looking good” or ” keep it up”, to other runners near me during a race, is about my norm.  I am not shy, but I just don’t talk a whole lot, or strike up conversations with random runners during a race.  I will have to be more vocal this time.

I look forward to this Sunday, being a pacer.  Now, I may love it, and I may hate it and never do it again.  Time will tell.  I just know that this is a great way to give back, and support the race and other runners.  I will certainly report back with how this all plays out this weekend.  I’ve taken on a new challenge, let’s see how this goes.

Question for you….  Have you ever been a pacer for a race?  If so, how did it go, and what did you think of it?  Any advice for me this weekend?

108 Amazing Miles

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July was a great month for me!  I managed to run 23 days, with 8 rest days.  I ran distances ranging from 3.1 miles, up to 11 miles.  I ran one race this month, back on Independence Day.  That race, a 5k, was my fastest paced race in the last year.  I finished with a 7:03 pace.  I am still chasing the sub 7 paces I ran a few years ago.  My average pace during training July was 8:13.  I am very happy with all of my stats for the month.

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I love the photo above!  It has determination written all over it.  Running takes determination, will and heart.  I am feeling good, and have had a really good year so far.  Being determined, and chasing after my goals has a lot to do with my positive outlook.  Running really does make a body feel good and feeds my soul.

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I don’t run with music.  I focus on my surroundings, and take in the views and experiences that running and racing can provide.  I would rather remember the views, not the song, the cadence, that helped get me over that hill, or to the finish line.  Just look at this photo.  As runners, we have so many amazing opportunities to take in the beauty that is our world.  I breathe it in, the air and the scenery.

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Our community, a strong family of runners, look after each other.  We were strong before, but as Boston taught us recently, we all care for our sport and our fellow runners.  We take pride in what we do, the goals we set for ourselves, and we relish in the run, the race, the finish.  We celebrate ourselves, and just as importantly, we celebrate others.  We are strong!

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As July now is over, I begin a new chapter, a new month.  I look forward to continuing my training, and my racing over the next several weeks and months.  I look forward to stepping into the mass of runners at the starting line, and seeing what I can accomplish.  Bring on August!