Happy Thursday! We just got back yesterday from a lovely 24 hour adventure an hour north of New York City. Several years ago my husband and I came across the small town of Fishkill, New York and we absolutely fell in love with it. It is the perfect distance from NYC and just a beautiful hour long drive along the Hudson River.
Last Wednesday I was strolling up Fifth Avenue with earphones in and cruising along. I had been in NYC for less than 24 hours and was admiring the marathon route flags all over the place and still enjoying the excitement of just finishing ours. As I was daydreaming a woman walked past me and I noticed her stop. Then she tapped me on the arm, “Coach Sarah! What are you doing here? Thank goodness, I need your help. I am running the marathon in a few weeks and I am a bit lost in my training.”
I have to admit, it felt pretty awesome to be stopped like that. I felt a bit like a celeb (just a tiny bit). It was the parent of a student I have worked with and she had heard from other people that I was a running coach. I was relieved to know I hadn’t been forgotten here in NYC while I was away.
On Monday my husband and I went to the first hockey practice for a school here in the city. For over eight years my husband was the director of their early hockey programs and I was one of his assistant coaches. From the moment I met him he has always had a very special patience with children. They flock to him and he works wonders. It has never been about the actual sport to him nor worrying about being the best athlete. For both of us it has always been about instilling a joy in whatever the activity is and about feeling good about yourself.
This past Saturday was the Terry Fox 5K race in Central Park. Our student Zach wanted to try out a 5K for the first time and we all thought this would be a good one for him. One of the first friends I met here in New York City 12 years ago has been doing this race for awhile and highly recommended signing up. Heather is one of nicest and most fun people ever, so it was an added incentive to see her too.
Happy Monday! I hope you all had a great weekend. Yesterday I got to do one of my favorite things, stroll around the city and listen to “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.” I’ve said this before but this radio show is one of my favorites. I get into the news quizzes and answer questions out loud without realizing it and I probably look like a nut walking around laughing to myself.
I was pleasantly surprised yesterday when one of the quiz questions happened to be about running. The question was, “In the interest of runner’s safety, the Baltimore Marathon has banned spectators from doing what at this weekend’s race?”
The answer is something that I had recently mentioned to my husband. What is the most annoying thing that you should never say to a person running in a race? Never, ever shout, “You are almost there.”
Yes the marathon had requested that spectators not shout those words. They wanted to help keep the runners from sprinting towards the end too early.
Peter Sagal is the host of this show and is an experienced marathoner. Here is what he had to say about this: “At all the big marathons, and I’ve experienced this, thousands of spectators line the streets supporting the runners. And we love this – they support the runners by shouting obvious lies at them. They yell things like “almost there” when you’ve got 10 miles to go. They yell “looking good” because the truth is ‘Dear God seek medical attention now,’ is not encouraging.”
I was laughing pretty hard at this and replayed it for my husband when he arrived home.
This past summer he trained for the Chicago Marathon. He worked pretty hard and was looking forward to trying to beat his time from over a year ago. For the previous race we both had trained really well and went in hoping to finish under 4 hours. We both surpassed anything we expected and finished nearly a half hour under our goal. I was so excited for him to run Chicago because he had trained well and was looking great. I saw him on the course at mile 10 and he was running strong.
As I was running with my athletes and helping them along the course he called me. I thought for sure he was calling to tell me that he finished. Instead he called to let me know that at mile 18 something popped in his hip flexor and he was really struggling. He was going to finish but would have to walk the rest of the race and didn’t want me to worry.
I was heart broken for him. It was so frustrating to work that hard and get that close to the finish and have a surprise injury like that come out of nowhere. He had never had ANY issues with his hip flexor. But as is the nature the marathon, you never know what will happen out there. So he walked the rest of the race…or should I say he hobbled.
Chicago has incredible amenities along its course. There are 20 aid stations that span 2 blocks each. Each aid station also has medics and massage therapists. Every time he approached an aid station medics would come to him and ask if he was okay. Most were very helpful and once they knew it was nothing threatening they would offer him some Biofreeze or Tylenol and send him on his way.
But at a few aid stations he encountered medics who would shout, “Keep going. You’re almost there.” He said that it happened first at mile 20 and he found it so frustrating. He wasn’t even close and at the rate he was going it felt like forever until the finish. One medic at mile 25 yelled, “You’re almost there you have less than a mile.” He wanted to shout at him and tell him he had OVER a mile to go.
The night before the marathon I spoke with the athletes on our team and reminded them that one of the most important things that you can do during any race and especially a marathon is stay in the moment. Stay in the mile you are currently in and don’t worry about the next one or 10 miles from now. One runner later told me she used that as her mantra and would think, “22, 22, 22,” and then, “23, 23, 23.”
I know, and we all know, that the spectators are a huge part of what makes the marathon doable for us. They pull us through some really hard parts of the race when we really need to dig deep. But when someone tells you that you only have one more mile to run I want to ask them to run the mile with me. Most non-runners find a mile to be the longest thing they have ever had to endure. Usually they start asking me how far they have gone just a quarter of the way in.
While I appreciate the Baltimore Marathon’s efforts to keep spectators from shouting such frustrating words, I also find it quite amusing. All I can think is that some frustrated former marathoner was definitely behind that idea.
What do you think of this? Good idea? Silly idea? What would be the best sign you could see on the course? Personally, food and drinks motivate me :)
A special congrats to our friend Angie who did the Avon Walk For Breast Cancer this past weekend. Talk about endurance! She walked 26.2 miles on Saturday and 13.1 on Sunday for this great cause.
A little over a year ago my husband and I got married. It was a spectacular day and something I dreamed about for a long time. After we got engaged I had a blast planning for our wedding and was on a mission to make it a good time from start to finish…no bridezillas here. I embraced finding ways to make it fun for our guests and also easy(ish) on my parent’s wallet. The whole process was fun. And then the day arrived and I loved every minute of it. I loved the dress, the ceremony, the reception….oh we partied hard. I went to bed and then I woke up the next morning.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a moment of, “So now what?” I remember wondering what it must be like for those brides that pour their hearts and every last bit of their selves into that big day. Because when you wake up the next morning, it could be easy to be a bit sad to see it over.
The very same thing seems to happen with running. I can’t begin to tell you how many people told me that they were “over” running right before the marathon. Fast forward three days later and I have had numerous requests for recommendations for upcoming races.
It is somewhat amusing how awful the last few miles of a race can be. Add that to how tired you are at the end of a training cycle and you often feel like you need a break or at times a change of sport. But something seems to happen between the time you cross the finish line and when you arrive back home. You are either high off of the excitement of your experience or in some cases, seeking revenge. Either way, you have that “what next?” feeling.
First, make sure you take some time to adequately recover. Rest your body. If you feel antsy go for some walks or do some yoga. But let your body get the repair time it needs.
Then remember that all races are not created alike. You don’t have to run another half or full marathon. And you don’t even have to race. Sometimes just being out with the running community is all you need. Find a 5K, 10K, or trail race. Ask some friends to join you or help someone new to the sport get through their first race. That will get you excited to move forward.
This time of year is perfect for finding fun themed races. In fact, yesterday we registered for the Hot Chocolate 15K and a Turkey Trot. The latter is for obvious damage control reasons. But there are all kinds of jingle dashes and holiday fun runs to put you in the spirit.
If you are feeling the post race blues but your body still isn’t feeling it consider volunteering at a local race. Getting the chance to give back to the running community is a great way to lift your spirits. You get the best of both worlds; the exciting vibe of racing without feeling like you might throw up.
You can also meet up with your running buddies at a local bar to commiserate. Hopefully you have already done this!
And if you are still feeling those post race blues take comfort in the fact that soon you will find yourself deep into another training cycle and feeling that other kind of misery all over again.
I used to love the SNL “Deep Thoughts with Jack Handey”. Some of the things he said were just so bizarre and wonderfully funny. Over the past few days I have heard some pretty silly musings from both my athletes, my husband and myself, and other runners from all over. They were so great that I had to share a few. I think these are deep thoughts that any runner could appreciate.
These thoughts all started on the evening of our final group run. We often stop by a pub as a team after these runs. Someone mentioned that they recently read, “Never trust a fart after mile 18.” This lead to a lot of laughs, further discussion and the decision that it would be our motto for the race.
On Monday after the race, one of our athletes posted a helpful recommendation. “Tip: walking down stairs backwards saves the quads.” This was quickly followed up by, “I’ve just been scooting down the stairs on my butt.” This seemed like a good idea until someone pointed out that you have to squat to do that. I personally love all of the ways I avoid bending over because as I pointed out yesterday my legs and I are having a battle of the wills right now and neither of us is winning.
When I asked a few athletes for their best running thoughts I got these:
♦Don’t ever think someone more fit will help you keep your pace…they will just lead you to where they vomit.
♦ Let’s run a 5K and drink like it’s a marathon.
♦ Just go in knowing it is going to be a hot mess. Then you will exceed all expectations.
♦ Never trust YOLO. You will end up running a marathon.
♦ The only thing that sounded good at mile 22 was a cigarette.
♦ The best way to get over a hangover is running.
♦ We talk A LOT about bloody nipples. Because, why not?!
♦ And one thing that we collectively find annoying is the multitudes of people who ask us how far our marathon is when we tell them we signed up. For some reason there seem to be a lot of people who think marathon distances vary.
I also came across this video which is a great advertisement about how we all feel the day after a race. I thought that summed it up perfectly. Take a look, it is just a short commercial but definitely worth it.
My final deep thought is more of a question. Can anyone explain to me what the deal is with all of the giant cat signs all over the race course? Everyone seemed to be holding cat signs and I was left clueless.
Any “deep running thoughts” you might want to add to the list?
This late in the morning blog post comes to you from one sore but truly inspired blogger. I have so many things to be grateful for today and I don’t even know where to start. While I will likely blog a bit more about the actual marathon at some point and lessons learned along the way, today I need to share just a few highlights and offer up some serious thanks where it is deserved.
Marathon weekend started on Friday morning with a trip to the expo. I went with my husband and my childhood friend Jerry that I convinced to come join our team and run the marathon. I was expecting all craziness to be going on there but somehow Carey Pinkowski and his team have this process down to a science. Within minutes of my arrival I was checked in and had a bib and was sent to pick up my shirt near the back of the expo. I assumed I would be seeing long lines when I got there but instead went right up and got my shirt. This process was perhaps the most painless of any race check in I have ever done and clearly this was my biggest ever.
After we checked in we went to find the MDA Team Momentum booth. I was so excited to see all of our awesome volunteers and see what we had in store for our athletes when they arrived. To my surprise, the RRCA booth was right next to ours and Mitch Garner the Vice President of the RRCA was hanging out to greet people. Mitch is also the head of the Ann Arbor track club and was our host for our RRCA coaching certification. He is a really awesome guy and it was so fun to reconnect with him and share a little about our training with Team Momentum.
I also finally had the chance on Friday and Saturday to meet all of the athletes who are members of Team Momentum but had been training virtually. It was a really fun to finally see these people because we have been e-mailing each other, talking over the phone and chatting on Facebook for a long time. They had trusted me for months as their coach and I already felt like I knew them so well. To finally put a face to their names was beyond awesome. The cool part was that each and every one of them was as fantastic in person as they were virtually.
Saturday night we had our team dinner. It was incredible to finally be in the same room with all 140 athletes and their families along with several MDA families. Carey Pinkowski even came by to give a little inspirational pep talk. That was pretty cool because as you can imagine, the director of the second largest marathon in the world probably has about zero free time on his hands the night before the big event.
I finally got the chance to meet SuzLyfe! I have to tell you, this girl is beyond awesome and after chatting for weeks about meeting up, this was a pretty cool place to finally do so. As our team approached the race we were hoping to find someone to help our athletes near the end of the course. We needed someone who was a runner and could be encouraging during those last few miles and jump in if needed to help assist. When I heard the job description I knew she would be perfect. We hadn’t met in person yet but if you read her blog you can see why.
I barely slept a wink Saturday night. I was riding high from our team dinner and with the excitement and anticipation of race day. I was excited and nervous for all of the athletes. They had worked so incredibly hard to get to this race. Some had dealt with injuries and other struggles and I wanted this to be a great experience for everyone.
Team Momentum didn’t disappoint on their end. They secured an incredible pre and post race location just blocks from the race start at Lake Shore Fitness. We had full access to the gym, a great warm up area and bathrooms. Who doesn’t love prerace plumbing?!
I was so nervous at the start of the race. To keep things legal I had a bib and started in one of the first corrals. Although I wasn’t actually racing, the excitement of everything that was going just really got to me. At the start of the race I took off and kept a nice even pace until I reached mile 14 where I waited at Charity Mie in our cheering tent. I got the chance to cheer some of our first runners along. Then I started meeting up with athletes and running a half to a full mile at a time with them. I would run one section and then wait for another athlete to come along. It was so fun!
When I finally hit mile 20 I ran into Susie who was waiting to meet up with any of our athletes who needed some assistance. At this point I started finding athletes along the course and running those half to full mile sections and then walking on the sidewalk back to mile 20. I would see Susie doing the same thing with our athletes which was way cool because she didn’t even know these people. It was just an incredible understanding among athletes who were out there to help each other.
Finally I met up with one of the athletes and a friend of mine, Michelle, who was running her first marathon. I took off with her to finish the race. At this point my quads were singing some serious hard rock songs and my GPS had died a long time ago reading in at 24 miles. We ran together and cheered on other team members that we met along the course.
It was truly inspirational to run the entire course with the team and watch the crowds and all of the support along the way. It made me even more proud of all of their accomplishments and to be a part of this group.
After the race I walked back to Lake Shore Fitness where MDA had set up an amazing post race party for the athletes. As I approached the gym there were dozens of volunteers ringing cowbells and cheering for us. Then I entered the gym and our private space to be welcomed by all of the staff and our team cheering on each person as they entered. I tear up just thinking about how awesome it was to be a part of something bigger and to see runners unite.
A special congrats goes out today to every athlete who finished the Chicago Marathon yesterday. A huge congrats and thank you to every Team Momentum member who stuck it out for the past few months and trusted me and didn’t strangle me for putting them through the rigors of training. You guys inspire me and I am so incredibly proud of you. And a special thanks to Susie and Jon for running the course with our group and helping out along the way. People saying running isn’t a team sport. But it takes a team to truly make it a success.