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26 days til 26.2

Today is a magical day. There are only 26 days left until I lace up my running shoes early in the morning downtown and head for the start line. In 26 days, at 7AM the clock will start. Thousands of runners will take off to accomplish what they have been training for over the past weeks and months. I will be one of those runners, and I can’t hide my excitement.

I’ve been wanting to accomplish this for quite some time now. My goal: run, enjoy the route, and finish. Sounds like it should be simple enough, right? Well, I sure hope so. If you ask me, there is nothing “simple” about running 26.2 miles. The physical, mental, and emotional strengths that I have surprised myself with this year are things that I am not about to brush off with a “no big deal.” The truth is…this is a big deal.

At the beginning of 2010, I told myself this would be the year. I would run and finish a marathon. I knew that to get to that point though, I would need to commit — no excuses allowed. The commitment goes beyond committing to run the miles — I have taken the time needed to run the miles the right way, have worked hard to finish each of my runs as strong as possible, I have changed my eating and drinking habits (water is God and pre-run, mid-run, and post-run food should be chosen wisely), and I have even changed my social habits┬á (saying “no” to much more than usual, coming home earlier than usual so I can sleep and wake up early the next day for a long run, and reassuring my friends that I won’t be “lame” after Oct. 17). Holy commitment!

So far, I have done it. I have kept running, kept writing about my running, and have somehow managed to “stay committed even when I’m not motivated” (for those of you who have been following my journey for awhile now, you might remember that notion from awhile back…sound advice one of my best friends, Kelly, shared with me).

I remember when Summer came around the corner and I had already been running, but I needed to start following a bit more strict training plan. I started. I kept up with it, but allowed enough flexibility to be sure I maintained motivation. As long as I fit workouts in, stayed in shape, and was able to finish my long runs, I knew I was on the right track. Sure, there have been a handful of times when I was ready to stop (I hate even daring to use that awful word, “quit”), be done with it — who really needs to run a marathon anyway? What was I proving? Who was I doing this for? But, I carried on. I need to run a marathon. I am proving to myself that I can finish this, that I can really do something major that I have wanted to do for years — I can take something huge from start to finish. I am doing this for me.

As horrible as a few of my long runs have been, I am thankful for them. They are reminders for me during a long run that if I was able to finish a long run “like that one [insert a number from 7-14 here]-miler in [insert summer month here] in the middle of the afternoon in ninety-some-percent humidity” or “like that one at 6AM in 92% humidity” (yes, 92% humidity at 6AM!), then I can finish that same distance, and longer, during the beautiful Fall months. Oh, and don’t forget the great runs…where I have finished and felt like I could just continue on and finish a marathon right then and there. Those runs keep me going, too…maybe even more so!

It’s not just the runs…but my friends and family, too (yes, that means you…thanks for continuing to read my ramblings). They, and you, have kept encouraging me — some have even joined me on their bike or rollerblades — and have continued to remind me how insane I am.

I guess I am a little insane. But, aren’t we all? I’ll just have a medal to prove it ­čÖé

Until then, there are still more training miles to be ran. They won’t run themselves, and I haven’t crossed that finish line yet…so this isn’t over yet. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel (or the clock at the finish line, if you will) but there’s no stopping until I cross that line.

This weekend…I have my longest run of training ahead of me. A 20-mile run. 20 miles! I’m looking forward to it because I know I will be that much closer to the start line, and to the finish line, and I’ll be that much closer to accomplishing my biggest goal of 2010.

And, when I cross that finish line in 26 days…how sweet it will be. When I can finish my blog post with “26.2 miles…success,” how sweet it will be.

254 days of training down, 26 to go…success.

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an open letter to my friends & family

Dear Friends & Family:

For those of you who have been keeping up with my journey to 26.2 thus far, you are already well aware of the fact that I have decided to make running a priority in 2010. For those of you who have not been keeping up with my journey thus far, now you are aware.

This coming week is the first week of my strictly scheduled training plan, and by June 30 I will be officially registered for the Detroit Marathon. That means this upcoming week is also the first week of moving running up yet another notch on my priority list.

I wanted to take the time sit down and write to you because there a few important things I think you should know about my goal to make running a priority in 2010. This does not mean I do not value you or the time we spend together; and, further it does not mean that I do not want to spend time with you. It does, however, mean that there may be times when I have to say no to certain things or may have to be the oddball when making plans because I need to be sure to fit my runs in. It means that my reason for not being able to do something at a certain time will sometimes be because I will be running during that time. Please understand that I will still make every effort to see you as often as possible and will do my absolute best to not let running interfere more than necessary.

But, also understand that running and training for this marathon is extremely important to me.

For a few years now, I have been wanting to run a marathon — particularly, I have been itching to run and finish the Detroit Marathon. Halted twice by foot surgeries, I now have nothing to stop me and I am going to run all 26.2 of those miles. In exactly four months from today, on Sunday, October 17, 2010, I will run and finish the Detroit Marathon.

I hope that you can join me downtown for this fantastic event and greet me at the start, finish, or one of the mile markers in between. In the mean time, all I ask for is your support, encouragement, and understanding.

Look out, Detroit…I’m going to finish!

Love,
Sara

P.S. I would love to have any of you join me for any of my training runs, or for the marathon itself, so don’t hesitate to give me a call!

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final pre-training goal: learning to take your time

Today’s run was a fantastic one. I took my iPod with me, my chosen playlist didn’t let me down, and my breathing was better than average. Today’s mission was to get in a good run that lasted more than 30 minutes. Mission accomplished. Not only was the mission accomplished, but it was one of my better runs, and I am happy to say that lately I feel like I have been writing more and more about runs that have been good rather than bad.

I usually start thinking about this blog while I’m running and about what my next post will be about. During this past week I have had a few thoughts, and it was today’s that I decided was most relevant and important for me. Today I realized that my best runs are the ones when I take time.

Sure, the concept seems simple enough. Take your time doing anything and your results are sure to be better than trying to rush through anything.

When there are a million and one other things going on during the day this is actually a difficult thing to accomplish. I noticed that the majority of my runs that are bad runs are the result of trying to cram too much distance into too little time, or setting unrealistic goals for the day’s run…and if it’s not one of those things, it’s something right along the same line.

I decided that there is an easy solution to that: I will take my time to run.

Remember just a few weeks ago when I wrote about making running a priority? Well, if it is a priority that means I will allow enough time in the day to meet that day’s running goal. So, there is no reason I should not be able to take my time and meet my running goals. Now, this is not to say that every day is going to be a great running day because I am well aware that there are, and will continue to be, various other factors that affect my runs. However, this is to say that I know that there is at least this one thing I can do to work toward making each one of my runs that much better; and, because I know this, I have a powerful tool that will help me be a better runner.

This week is my last week of pre-training. Next week begins my strictly scheduled workouts and the countdown to Oct. 17, which just four months away. So, pre-training’s final goal: learning to take your time.

I’m looking forward to ending pre-training and getting into the thick of things with all of you. Who else is running Detroit on Oct. 17? Are you ready to kick it into high gear?

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So Long Sauconys

Goal: 5 miles. Accomplishment: 5 miles (ok, maybe just slightly more…but for all practical purposes it was 5 miles). Feeling: tired and a bit sore. Temperature: cool and breezy. Terrain: paved path along the beach. Apparel: Nike tank and Under Armour shorts. Shoes: Sauconys.

I ran in my trusty Sauconys for quite some time, that is until I switched to a pair of Reeboks. Now, I admit the reason I bought Reeboks was because of an employee discount. I used to swear up and down that Brooks were the best running shoe, then I wanted to try something new and that is when I bought the aforementioned Sauconys. My opinion: stick with the Brooks. However, since I was compelled to buy and try out a pair of Reeboks I must admit that I was quite impressed with the weight and comfort of the shoe. My Reeboks are honest to goodness the most comfortable shoe I have worn to run for quite some time, and not just because I got a discount. I’m not one to buy a running shoe based on price or brand, especially after having two foot surgeries. Comfort, fit and durability are most important to me, and that is how a running shoe purchase decision should be made anyway!

Anyway, I decided I would give my Sauconys one more chance today. I laced them up and took them with me for a 5-mile adventure. To be honest, after less than a mile I was ready to turn around go change shoes. I kept going and wore them for the whole 5 miles though, and during that time I decided this would be the last run with these shoes that had treated my fairly well in the past. Time to donate.

I finished my run and stretched out, and headed home a better person for having finished that run. I wanted to quit almost every step of the run, taking one heavy step after another. My scratchy throat only added to my desire to quite, and water wasn’t helping all that much. My muscles were sore, I was done with my shoes, and my throat was another story. It was one of the less favorable runs I have had this year, but it happens to the best of us and all you can do is finish those runs one heavy step at a time and remember that better runs are ahead.

Here’s to hoping I can remedy my throat in time for Sunday’s 10K race; to a well-deserved and relaxing hot tub session tonight; and, to sending off my Sauconys to a new home, may they enjoy their new adventures, and be worn and enjoyed by someone who does not have shoes but will very soon.

Five-mile run…success.

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goal: 5 miles on the treadmill…accomplishment: 6.5 miles on the treadmill…get it!

I chose to do a treadmill workout tonight because I wanted to work on some pacing and posture. As much as I hate the treadmill, I love using it as tool for working on my pace. After dinner (I made some delicious fatayers), I relaxed a bit and hydrated so I’d be ready to go for a late night treadmill run. Finally, when 9pm hit I knew I had to go workout or else I wouldn’t do it, and not working out was not an option for me today. Remember what I said when I started this blog? No excuses!

Like I mentioned yesterday, I registered for a 10K this coming Sunday so this week is crucial in making sure that I can finish the race strong. I set the treadmill and off I went. I hit 5K right around 29 minutes, which was a bit slower than I would have liked, but it was sub-30 so I’m okay with it. My goal when I got on the treadmill was 5 miles, but as I kept going I knew if I could hit 6.5 miles tonight then I could surely finish 10K (6.2 miles) on Sunday. I worked on my pacing and gradually increased my speed, and I finished 6.5 miles in 59 minutes. Look at that! I set a goal, I pushed the limit, and boom…accomplishment! What a good feeling.

I cooled down and did a lot of stretching. Here am I now after a cold shower, icing. The more I run, the more I remember how truly important post-run stretching and ice is on a regular basis. I am certainly going to keep it up, because I certainly do not want tight muscles, or any injury for that matter. I need to take care of my feet too…starting to get a few blisters. Hate ’em, but they’re an inevitable part of running so I suppose I will have to live with them and just take care of my feet for the next nine months. You can bet I’m already planning a pedicure at the end of October!

Also, since I’ve been doing my best to eat foods that give me fuel and energy, and replenish the vitamins and nutrients my body needs and uses in workouts, I’ve been feeling much better. Everything I ate yesterday was not the best food, and I could tell quite a difference. The more I work on my eating habits and more I learn about what different foods provide, the more enjoyable healthy eating actually is for me, and the better I feel!

Four days left until the 10K. Tomorrow, I hope to get an interval workout in. Thursday will be a 5-mile run. Friday will be repeats. Saturday will be a rest day, prior to the Super Bowl Sunday morning race.

Keep up the good work everyone…let’s do this!

Tuesday treadmill workout…success.

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weekend recap

Well, weekends usually bring long runs but after a few longer runs this past week I needed to work on my body, stretching, and allowing my body to recover correctly so longer runs weren’t the case for me yesterday and today.

After a fabulous time on Friday night at a wrap party in Hollywood (I know, I’m so fancy…right?! LOL), my friends and I knew I would not be waking up for the weekly Saturday morning run at 8:30am. However, at 6:30am on Saturday morning I popped up without an alarm and even though I was still a little tired I was determined to stay awake, get ready, and head out for the morning run with the group.

Sure enough, I had some breakfast and headed out to meet with everyone. A beautiful Saturday morning down at the beach and we tackled a great run. I fit in a 4.5 miles and felt great, and stretched out for a little while after the run.

We went out to dinner last night, and I tried to keep it healthy yet delicious at the same time. I succeeded for the most part, with an entree of sesame-crusted seared ahi tuna, sweet potato fries, and grilled zucchini. The martini I had was even acai berry (is acai berry still good for you if it is in a cocktail?!). That was all fine and dandy…then Jeremy decided we needed gelato for dessert. It was delicious, and everyone needs sweets every now and then. I had a small (they let me have 3 flavors!) with roasted banana flavor, extra dark chocolate flavor, and cinnamon flavor. Mmm mmm, good.

It was apparent everyone was exhausted when afterward we planned on going out, but then we ended up at my apartment just hanging out. We called it a night and I went to bed as soon as everyone went home, expecting that I would get a lot of rest and wake up early for a Sunday morning run.

I certainly did get a lot of rest and did wake up early, but a Sunday morning run just was not in the works for me. Instead, I headed out for breakfast and some errands with Chris and Kelly. I did wear workout apparel though so that I was sure to get a workout in later.

I did a long stretching session this afternoon, so I am waiting to get a good workout in tonight. It’s not good to workout after stretching out too much–the long stretches should come in post-workout or during a stretch-only time. I have found that works out best for me.

Tonight I will get in a 1.5-mile run and some strength training. I’m looking forward to a shorter run to work on a quicker pace, and this will then help me with increasing my pace on longer runs as well. I’ll also be able to work on my breathing, so if I can get some better breathing going during the quick-pace, shorter workouts I should be able to easily transfer that to longer workouts as well.

Good weekend workouts to end the month just the right way! January has been a success in kicking off the 10-month training process to successfully make it to 26.2 in October, with a gradual mileage increase, solid strength training routine, and enough stretching to keep the muscles in good condition.

Looking forward to another fantastic month in February, full of its own challenges and experiences. Hopefully by the end of February I will have mastered consistent breathing techniques and will maintain motivation.

What are your exercise goals for the February?

Weekend workouts…success.

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getting used to that 60 minute mark…so i can pass it later…

Like I mentioned the other day, I am trying to work on getting used to being on my feet for a long period of time in preparation for the marathon. This, combined with using every muscle in my body to get stronger, will be one of the greatest challenges.

As I did a workout today in the cardio center today (once again, TONS of rain and wind in LA…as in downpours, not good running rain) I took note of a few things (other than the dog running on the treadmill next to me–more to come on that in ┬ámoment) that I have been noticing as I embark on my training plan. A few major things I noticed that I must work on are my breathing patterns, my leg muscles, my knees, and my hip flexors.

None of this comes as a major surprise to me, especially the knees. For those of you who know me, you likely know that I have been through physical therapy and have struggled with weak knees in the past. Well, thank goodness I learned how to take care of my knees through all of that physical therapy I went through. I will certainly be working on some strengthening exercise to strengthen my knees and the surrounding muscles, especially my quads which will help my knee strength as well.

Breathing patterns are one of my biggest weaknesses and I need to really work on figuring all of that out.

Other than that, I am focusing on amount of time spent working out rather than mileage right now. Mileage will come after I get myself going, into good patterns, and can endure. Right now, I am working with a solid 60-minute time that I would like to continue use as a marker. I will continue with that mark, and I will eventually be comfortable with it and will push past it, no doubt.

So now that business has been taken care of…the dog on the treadmill. This is a true story, and just proof that I truly need to have some type of camera on me at all times. I walk down to the cardio center today and sure enough, some chic is walking her dog on the treadmill! It is one thing to walk your dog on your own treadmill but really, do you need to walk your dog on in public workout room? Ugh! Luckily, she wasn’t there for much longer after I got there. Weird…but whatever…to each his own, right?

Today’s workout: 45 minutes on the treadmill–combo of running and speed-walking on an incline, and 15 minutes on the bike.
Total mileage covered: about 7.5 miles

Off to shower and get ready…I’m going to see one of my favorite bands, Rocco DeLuca & The Burden, tonight!

Cardio center…success.

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