All That Thankful Stuff

So here I am on Thanksgiving with my dog stretched out on the sofa with me. My best buddy will be here later and we will chow down on our Thanksgiving feast. I am so thankful for that but this a running blog so let me do a quicksy review of running things that I am thankful for without it being all too end of the year review-like. We still have 38 more days until the end of the year and more to accomplish.

I’m thankful for my 25th and 30th half marathons. Number 25 was the Miami Half that I wasn’t at all trained for and walked half of it. Not pretty at all but it is one that I was incredibly proud of. I could have easily dropped out for the first half of that race but somehow kept going.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Brooklyn Half was not supposed to be number 30 but just a training run for the NYC Marathon. I just was not able to train consistently for the marathon this year and I figured I would give it one last attempt. If I could do an 18 mile long run I would feel confident enough to give it a go and run the marathon. With that in mind, I added Grete’s Great Gallop to my race schedule with the goal of adding an additional five miles. The additional five didn’t materialize and at that point I knew the marathon was out of the question.

I think that gave me some relief in just going out there and running with nothing on the line. I finished, collected a nice medal and bonus R’n’R goodies, and made my way home.

With race behind me I was just able to relax and not get all hyped up about the fall marathon season. The only races I put on my schedule were a few 5k’s with zero pressure. I’m thankful for being able to run without any pressure and just enjoy it.

Since I’m just enjoying things I feel great about running regularly again I can start thinking about accomplishing things that are not racing related. So with that I’m going to participate in the Runner’s World Run Streak. I’ve done this in the past but during the summer from Memorial Day through July 4. This one will be from today, Thanksgiving, to January 1.

runners-world-run-streak-cover-photo-finalI ran two miles this morning and can’t wait to hit the road tomorrow for a few miles. I’m so thankful that I feel like this is a a doable challenge.

But really, I’m super thankful for the turkey that I’m about to put in the oven!

 

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Yup, I’m Still Here

Oh boy it has been a really long long time since I posted something. Thankfully, I have mostly good and upbeat running updates to give you all.

I’ve been running!

Not as consistently as I would like but I have been running and doing some races here and there. Well, more races as of late.

So let’s see about getting us all caught up on what has been happening lately.

The summer was going along at a pretty smooth pace and I had started my NYC Marathon training. The first few weeks were going well and then I had to move. This happened a little quicker than planned so I had to quickly find a new place to live, pack up the old stuff, move to the new place, unpack, and buy a shit ton of stuff for the new place. And oh by the way, I also switched departments at work. All around the same time.

The first day of this moving process started off well with me temporarily relocating to a hotel with my dog and then getting to run in the hotel in gym. Then the move took over and I did not get a chance to run for another month. Yikes!

At this point I was only able to get out for a run maybe once every couple of weeks. Slight panic about marathon training started to creep in at this point. I felt my conditioning slipping but at the same time I was completely freaking out, just the mild panic. I consider this to be a major improvement!

My hope that I could somewhat right the ship so to speak was with some upcoming races I had scheduled. I had registered for a few races to supplement my long runs and to keep them somewhat interesting.

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Picking up some bling for a race that got canceled and one that I ran. Thank you Virginia Beach for not disappointing! (c) Stacey Cooper

So I first headed to Virginia Beach for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon over Labor Day weekend. The plan was to do the one mile beach run on Saturday and then the Half on Sunday. Well Hurricane Hermine had other ideas and was expected to pass over Virginia Beach that weekend. Our Beach Mile was canceled due to the storm but everything was looking great for the half. In fact, we were actually going to have cool weather!

Surprisingly I wasn’t even anxious about this and was to calmly and happily finish this race. Who am I?

The course was beautiful and I felt great about completing it without too much difficulty. It was a great confidence booster and gave me some hope about my marathon “training.”

My plan was to do some actual training runs when I got back but of course that never happened.

Two weeks later I was off to Philadelphia for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia 5k and Half Marathon.

The 5k was on Saturday and I was very restrained and focused on not working too hard. But I did have one little incident with another runner on the course. This one guy decided to be an idiot and run backwards so he could take a picture of his friend/girlfriend/wife and he ran into me from behind. He did step on the back of my leg and shook me up a bit. Thankfully I didn’t get hurt but please fellow runners, don’t be idiots and take pictures while running backwards or use those dumb selfie sticks!

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A very blurry photo on the back portion of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly Half. Another beautiful course! (c) Stacey Cooper

The half was on Sunday and again it went well. My legs did feel a little heavy especially when we had some slight inclines to go up and for me that was more due to lack of consistent training. If I had been training consistently my legs would be more than used to the back to back days of running. My overall time was not too far off from my Virginia Beach time so again, I felt confident about the results.

I followed that up with the NYRR Bronx 10 mile race this past Sunday. Again, no training in between. This is a very, very bad pattern and I urge the rest of you not to do this!

I felt rested enough, ha, I should be considering that I didn’t run at all! I took it steady and loved the new course for this race with the finish line next to Yankee Stadium. And no disrespect to Lehman College but I was so happy that the course did not go all the way around there. That section was always so lonely and desolate that one really felt that they

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More bling! Happy to have completed this one. I’m a runner again! (c) Stacey Cooper

were no where near civilization.

This was a bit of a redemption race for me. The last time I ran this was two years ago and it was during this race that I realized that I could no longer ignore the pain in my foot. That lead me to a doctor and my severely swollen metatarsals. It took me so long to recover and get my confidence back. I can finally say that after finishing this race I really felt like a runner again.

It took a long time to get back here but I can finally say that I am back mentally and emotionally. That in itself is perhaps one of the biggest challenges there is and to conquer that is huge.

So I have completed some races and now have to actually get down to some real training. I know I can possibly salvage this year’s marathon. This weekend is my 18 mile long run followed by the Rock ‘n’ Roll Brooklyn Half the weekend after and the my 20 mile long run. This means I will only have one 20 miler under my belt but I figure if I can complete the 18 and 20 milers I can do the marathon. It won’t be pretty or for any time goals but it can be done. Considering that I missed the past two years with injuries I will consider that a great accomplishment!

 

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I’m Still Running!

Ugh, I have been so neglectful with this blog lately. Work has been very busy and I’ve been running in between.

Since I’m so horrible at race recaps this might actually work better. I can give you a brief synopsis of each race I have done with out going into all the details that I never seem to write about very well.

Philly Broad Street Run — This was the big one I was training for. I felt that if I could get close to what I did last year where this race sort of began my downward spiral that I could use it has by springboard into getting back into running/racing somewhat regularly. The week before the race I was thinking that I could even improve my time but then the weather decided to play a role.

From the moment I left my hotel for the race to the moment I got back it nothing but rain and rain, and rain even more. My corral started an hour after the first one so by the time I crossed the start line my feet were soaked and I was just cold. I ran with the plastic garbage bag on me the whole way. Mind you, not because of the rain but just because I was cold.

While I was waiting to start I eased back up on my plans and was happy to finish just a wee bit slower than last year. I ran well in the sections that I wanted to and knew what areas needed improvement going forward.

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I think all races should start near the water with this sunrise. (c) Stacey Cooper

Ragnar Cape Cod Relay — 12 women, 2 vans, 192 miles. What an amazing experience! Seriously, if you ever get a chance to do this type of relay please do.

I was so worried that I would be too slow and that I would let my team down but I didn’t need to worry. Everyone was so supportive of each other and it was so much fun.

I say this even though all of my legs had hills near the end and that it pure crazy heavy rain during my nighttime run on my second leg.

Retro 4 Miler — This was my first NYRR race since last year’s Pride Run and I was very nervous about this one. Even though I had been running with the beginners group I was co-leading for my running club, I still hadn’t run the four mile loop in Central park until the day before the race. Yeah, good timing on my part.

So it rained during this race too. I swear, mother nature does not like me. But at least this rain was the type I like. Nothing too hard but still made me feel a little hardcore.

I was bit slower than I wanted to be but for a first race back in Central Park I thought I did ok. Again, I know what I need to work on going forward and actually got to do some of that today during my run.

My next race is the Front Runner’s New York LGBT Pride Run on June 25. My favorite race of the year. It also just happens to be my first “long run” for my NYC Marathon training. For the first time I am going to do a 20 week training plan instead of the usual 18 week plan. I figured the two extra weeks will help me ease into he plan and get some extra base miles in so that I can really focus on the marathon.

This has to be one of my favorite times of year and Im so happy that running is a part of it again!

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I’m a Runner Again!

I can’t believe how happy I am to write that headline!

This is the plan I started so many months ago and kept restarting. This time I finally completed it.

This is the plan I started so many months ago and kept restarting. This time I finally completed it.

This week will be final week of that zero to 5k training plan that I started a gazillion months ago. The goal was to force myself to build up my endurance to avoid my usual cycle of re-injuring myself.

I have to admit that each time I tried to start this plan I was not at all confident in my abilities to re-engage with this sport. Maybe I still needed time away from it to heal emotionally. Who knows, but even as I started out this final time, it took a few weeks to feel I was improving. But I did.

As I was completing this past week’s schedule I just kept thinking over and over again that I was running again. That I am a runner again. I couldn’t stop smiling.

I’m a bit giddy about this and even more excited that the weather is finally cooperating so I can hit the roads again as a runner. To be able to start strategizing about my upcoming race is such a wonderful feeling that I didn’t think I would really experience again.

Speaking about that. I’m not putting any pressure on myself time-wise. I want to run the Philly Board 10 Miler and just be happy that I’m running again since I wasn’t exactly happy last year. This one is just about enjoying the experience.

Happy running people!

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Celebrating the Little Things

When I was going through the deepest part of my depression last year my therapist kept stressing to me that I needed to step back and appreciate some of the basic things I did as major accomplishments.

As I was running my reps from my training plan yesterday I was thinking that I had accomplished a lot and I was really happy and excited. Yes, this is from a person who has run countless 4 mile races, a whole bunch of 10ks, a few 10 milers, 26 half marathons, and three full marathons. But remember, I had hit my rock bottom as a runner late last year and am now starting over from the very beginning.

What I have learned along the way is to let go of measuring my current self against those past accomplishments and appreciate my steady improvement as I build myself back up again. That is probably the hardest thing to do.  But that is what this training plan has given me the opportunity to do and I am forever grateful for that.

This is from the Wortsboro 30k a little over two years ago. Also, probably the last time I smiled during that race. It was hilly and a major accomplishment in my running.

This is from the Wortsboro 30k a little over two years ago. Also, probably the last time I smiled during that race. It was hilly and a major accomplishment in my running.

So when I was on the middle rep of my training run yesterday I was reminded of the time when I was training for my first marathon. It was time when every long run was a point of celebration, Every 14 mile, 15, 16, 18, and 20 mile distance was new and a huge sense of pride in completing that long run.

In the following years marathon training became more about beating my previous time and not so much on cherishing the little victories along the way. That is how running was becoming for me, just logging the miles and appreciating them.

That really changed for me yesterday. Yes, I’ve logged many miles and distances but after not being able to run, not wanting to be able to run, and having a hard time getting back on track I finally feel as though I’m making progress.

I was so happy after my run and that I hit a wonderful new milestone in my training. I loved that I was sweating, I loved how my lungs and legs felt. I walked away with a smile and yeah, I celebrated that little victory yesterday and can’t wait to celebrate some more.

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Having Some Faith

Sometimes it can be difficult to stick with a training plan and believe that you will see the steady improvement each week.

When you follow your plan as closely as possible you don’t always notice the subtle increases in total minutes running or mileage added. That’s the point of the plans. You build up gradually and that ta-dah you have achieved your goal.

In all of the plans I have used from Hal Higdon, Coach Jenny, and numerous others they all require you to take that leap of faith. Suddenly there is that week where you need to run 10 miles on Wednesday or instead of increasing our run minutes by one minute each week they suddenly increase by two. But if you have been following your plan you begin to realize that you can accomplish this new distance.

Just a little snippet of what consistency looks like. (c) Stacey Cooper

Just a little snippet of what consistency looks like. (c) Stacey Cooper

Since I got back from DC I have been focusing on sticking to my training plan and thankfully I can say that I have been able to that. A new gym (Hi, Blink!) where I feel welcome has helped me show up even on the hard it’s too cold to do anything days.

I’ve been following the plan and starting to feel like a runner again. But this past week was one that had me concerned. It was one of those jump weeks. I’ve been following a run/walk plan to force myself to slowly build up without getting injured again. Every week we have been increasing our run minutes by one minute each week. This week it was two.

I was bracing myself for it and tried to be as mentally prepared as possible. If I accomplished this increase it would be a huge confident boost. If not, well, it would have been a blow.

To cut to the chase and not build up suspense — I did it! Seriously, I should have trusted Coach Jenny and this plan.

When one of my buddies joined me at the gym on Friday evening I decided to run a couple of extra intervals and I did it. While we were running, I had mentioned that I was finally feeling like everything was connecting and coming in line with my running.

I put my faith into this plan and I feel so confident and excited to go running again. It has been so long since I have felt like that!

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Falling in Love Again

There was a time in my life when running meant everything to me. I absolutely lived and breathed running. It helped me celebrate some really great days, kept things normal on the usual nothing to report here kind of days, and helped me heal on the really bad ones.

When I saw a necklace designed by Erica Sara that said “Every Mile Becomes A Part Of Me” I had to get it because it was so true. I practically stalked her booth at the NYC Half Expo when it debuted.

Then life fell apart. My mother died after a lengthy illness, I suffered a foot injury, and then went into a severe depression that I eventually wrote about. I stopped running with a few attempts to start up here and there but never being fully committed. My heart just wasn’t into it any more. It was also at that time that the clasp on my “Every Mile Becomes A Part Of Me” necklace broke. It was, in a way, telling me that the miles didn’t matter any more.

For an entire year and a half I had no idea what joy and pure happiness felt like. I just couldn’t remember and certainly had no idea how to find it again.

It has been a little over a year when I was at my lowest, writing that post about my depression, that I can confidently say things have and are continuing to turn around. Many areas of my life are feeling more balanced and while other parts are even more in flux than before I no longer feel as though I am the one spiraling out of control.

Finding the balance hasn’t been easy. I’ve isolated myself in many ways and hope that I can restore some of the relationships that I know I damaged during that time. I have taken more time for myself and did a few things that were meant just for me and no one else. It was some of those things, like my swimming class, that gave me some confidence and peace of mind.

Look! You can see a lot of running clothes that were worn while actually running and are now drying and waiting to be worn again! (c) Stacey Cooper

Look! You can see a lot of running clothes that were worn while actually running and are now drying and waiting to be worn again! (c) Stacey Cooper

After several starts on stops, I can finally say that I am running again. I am sticking to a training plan and feel good about what I am accomplishing. I’m losing weight again and just overall feeling healthier.

Running is something that I need again and feel like I missed out on something special when I am not able to go running. I love the feeling I have after I complete a run. I’m looking forward to the races that I have signed up for and can’t wait to start training for them.

And today, I ordered a new chain for my necklace.

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