So a line from the song “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets movie bored its way into my brain so I couldn’t resist including it in the title of what I’m sure will be a very reflective post. As I approach my 5 year “RUNaversary” tomorrow and 6th Disney Princess Half Marathon, I have a mix of emotions and honestly, I’m in sort of a weird place with running mentally at the moment. Before I jump into that, let me give a quick update since the Celebration Half Marathon has now come and gone.
Celebration Half Marathon:
As I mentioned, I’m in a bit of a strange place with running right now (which I will explain a bit more shortly) which meant I went into this race with different goals than I normally would have. I wanted to allow my body to “run by feel” so I would put in a very comfortable effort. I felt pretty confident that I could run under two hours putting in a relaxed but consistent effort so I had that in the back of my mind. Oh, and I can’t forget the awesome race swag including a really nice shirt from the presenting sponsor Raw Threads!
The forecast shifted into the low 40’s a couple days prior to the race which had me a bit nervous. While I love a brisk race day, I think that’s the coldest start line I have ever experienced. Since overdressing is easy to do and pretty much the worst, I decided to stick with my original race day look – my Raw Treads Elsa shirt and a pretty white Sparkle Athletic skirt. I did add gloves, leg, and arm warmers to my original ensemble to account for the extra 10 degrees of cool that I wasn’t expecting.
Since the race starting line is oh – 1 MILE from my house, this is always a fairly low stress race day. It’s also practically a sleep in day in contrast to a Disney race day since the race start was 7:30 am. My mom and husband joined me to cheer me on and be my official “stuff holders” and provided additional help by dropping me off while they navigated the complex task of parking the car. I found a bunch of my running friends for a group picture and we chatted and tried to stay warm for the 30 minutes or so until it was time to start.
I finally wised up (thanks to a tip I saw in a running Facebook group) and ordered Mylar blankets on Amazon – I think 10 or $6 or close to it – so I had one to keep me nice and warm while I waited. Since I knew I would be able to hand off my warm up layers to my cheer squad, I was able to wear my nice warm stuff and skip the throw-aways this time. I also picked up some hand warmers which I slipped in my gloves while I waited.
Once it was finally time to start, I decided to keep my mylar and actually ran with it for about half a mile. Honestly, I threw it when the swishy metallic noise it makes finally pushed over the edge but I found I was comfortable without it. I settled into a comfortable pace right away and maintained it pretty steadily throughout the race. I had a few big wins and new experiences during this race:
- New Fueling Strategy – I decided to split my shot blocks into 3 sets of 2 which meant I would be eating them every 3 miles vs. the two sets I usually eat. This seemed to work well and I didn’t have any issues.
- Pseudo-Naked Run – While I did have my watch, I made a commitment to myself that I would not look at it during the race. The idea of this was daunting but it turned out to be not so bad. I figured this would be the only way to guarantee that I didn’t obsess about pace and would truly listen to the feedback my body was providing.
- Run with a Buddy – While I was alone most of the race, I ran into one of my running buddies about 6 miles in and we stuck together chatting for about 2 miles. I have never stopped my music to chat with anyone during a race before but it felt right and made the miles fly by – just like a regular ole’ group run.
- A Relaxed Attitude – I’ve found in the past that I seem to run my best when I stop caring so much and just relax. While I wasn’t gunning for a personal best, I was very comfortable for most of this race. Sure, it felt a lot harder in the last 2-3 miles but I didn’t feel like I was dying which is always nice. I think I’m gaining a nice appreciation for what it’s like to enjoy a race without worrying too much about performance. It’s not my favorite mode but it’s probably really healthy to be able to shift into it at times.
All in all, I was able to achieve my goal o’ the day and came in at 1:58:03 – comfortably under the 2 hour mark. I enjoyed the race (which I wasn’t totally convinced I would) since I listened to my body and had a lot of fun enjoying the post-race activities.
This is definitely one of my favorite races of the year and I will definitely be back in 2016!
Now the rest…
As I mentioned, running has been weird. My doctor recommended that I take a period of time where I really ratchet down my mileage to give my body a nice big break (I’ll share more about this later in a future post). This has been beyond difficult for me mentally. I have truly begun to realize what running means to me in a whole new way. I was running somewhere between 35-40 miles a week (which meant I was running 6 days a week most of the time) as recently as October I think? I’m trying to stay 16 miles a week or less during this restricted period. While just running a few times a week has given me a lot of time back, I’ve gone crazy quite a few times. I miss the stress relief and my perfectionist mind cannot help but agonize over the ground I’m losing from a training perspective. Should I have deferred these races? Probably, but I was already signed up and really wanted to do both of them. So here we are.
On the flip side, I have also learned a few things about just how amazing the human body is at the same time. Despite very little preparation for Celebration (months of low mileage and only a few “long runs” which peaked at 9 miles), I only lost 10 minutes between my full-effort PR time and my comfortable effort time at Celebration. This did give me a new injection of confidence that I will come out of this stronger than ever and ready to grab some serious PRs soon. I’m maintaining a surprising amount of fitness with very little effort. It’s nice to know that taking a break every now and then won’t really sabotage my progress.
So now, Disney the Princess Half Marathon is TOMORROW. I almost cannot believe it’s already here. My conflicted feelings about running right now have meant that my pre-race routine is very different this year. It feels like it has really snuck up on me. I am burning the midnight oil and finishing my costume today and I need to get serious about prepping my shot blocks, making sure everything is ready to go in the morning, and getting my head in the game.
For the first time ever, I’m going into tomorrow with fun as literally my only goal. Much like I did for the Disneyland 10K, my GoPro is most likely coming with me and I hope to grab some photo ops along the way. Yeah, I’ll wear my watch for recording purposes but I am not going to think about my time one bit. As much as it pains me to “let it go” (see what I did there!), I think it will be a more powerful experience this way. I will have plenty of other races where I can leave it all on the course but I probably won’t have too many opportunities where I am in this mental place and able to just set my heart free and run for the fun of it.
Now I leave you with a few pictures of the other fun that running less has made time for in the last few months:
Until next time,