Motivation: Running Songs

One of the questions I get a lot when people ask me about my running is whether or not I listen to music. And the answer is always an emphatic “YES!”. I am a huge music lover and there’s nothing better than finding songs that help motivate and push you during a run. I understand some people have an aversion to depending on music. Music should never take over–I think it should just be an added source of entertainment. :-)

I rotate through songs quite often and find new ones to run to all the time, but this year there have been a consistent list of songs that always ‘pick me up’. I’ve included a list here with their links on Spotify so that you can listen to them right away (and if you haven’t downloaded Spotify yet and would like an invite, please let me know.)

Looking back on this list, I realize it is completely random. Enjoy!

Do you listen to music when you run? What’s your ‘go to’ running song lately?

-J

A Reflection on What Worked

I’ve been a marathoner for 16 days. That’s insane. I was chatting with some friends the other day and we couldn’t get over how it felt like it happened over a month ago. And how much we’ve changed in the past couple of months.

For me, change is always good. But it’s never easy. A lot of change has happened in the past 8 months. It was difficult. It made me question what I wanted, where I was going, what I was capable of, etc. But you make tough decisions because you have to. And if anyone out there is like me, you make decisions to protect yourself and the ones you love. In the past year I’ve become a post-graduate 9-5’er, moved into a new apartment, trained for the Chicago Marathon, and met some of the most amazing people through a tight-knit running community. It would be really easy for me to say that on top of all the other change happening in my life that training for the marathon was a breeze. That I enjoyed every minute of it. That I wanted to run 24/7 (well, sometimes I did). But all that would be a lie.

I found ways to make marathon training work for me because I knew the payoff was going to be much greater if I allowed myself to be flexible. In the past 2 weeks, I’ve thought to myself “how did I do that?”. I’ve probably logged into Garmin Connect about 20 times just to take a gander at the mileage I logged in the 3-4 months leading up to the marathon. For now, it’s still an out-of-body experience. It’s an unnerving feeling to be in awe of yourself. I guess that means I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, which is something that I don’t usually stop to think about in any part of my life. Some of the ridiculous things I’ve accomplished this year running-wise include:

  • Completing my first 18-miler in Oklahoma where the temperature reached the high 90s  even before 8:30 am. I was there surprising my twin sister with a weekend visit and knew I had to make 18 miles happen. I did.
  • Running “to where the sidewalk ends” of the Lakeshore Trail on either end. And each time I reached the end the trail, I was both confused and amazed I had run that far
  • Becoming a morning runner! I have never been a morning person, let alone wanted to get my body moving before 5:30 am. But that’s just what I did this year.
  • Logging 888 miles from February to date. That’s a lot of miles. I wonder how many steps that is. Plus, it’s a pretty cool number too.
  • Shedding my soft shell. I’ve got a thicker skin now, but I still wear my heart on my sleeve. I know now how I can count on. And who I can’t. From now on, I’m dedicating my time and energy to relationships that allow everyone involved to grow. (A true relationship requires reciprocation.)

Running a marathon will change you forever. The race isn’t the hard part—the training is. I’ve realized that there are a few reasons why I was able to get through the hard part:

I never ran more than 4 times per week.

Some people want/need to run 5-7 days a week in order to get the miles in or feel accomplished. I, however, am not one of these people. Every run had a purpose. And I gave myself time to recharge my batteries so that running stayed fun and challenging.

I had a great support system.

Sure, sometimes people didn’t understand why I needed to wake up at 5 or 6 am on a weekend to go running. But it didn’t matter because I had people in my life that saw that as totally legitimate and necessary. My training would have been much less exciting if Manny hadn’t told me to “go running and get it over with” or that I would feel better when I got back. It was true. Sometimes all it takes is a few people in your life to tell you that you CAN.

I connected with other runners & shared our experiences with one another.

I’ve absorbed so much information from other runners this year through Twitter and Dailymile. I’ve told people this before, but I probably wouldn’t have been as motivated if Dailymile didn’t exist. Instant cure for lack of motivation=Dailymile news feed. This method especially works in the morning when the last thing you want to do is get out of bed. But you think to yourself “if Sara B. can get out of bed at 4 am to go running, I sure as hell can get up now”. Truth.

I “checked out” when I needed to.

In June, I was already starting to feel burnt out. I’d been running 4 days a week since February and wanted to just chill. So I went on vacation. And didn’t run once. I had intentions of running. I even brought running clothes and shoes. But they went unused and I was so happy that was the case. I needed to sit by a pool all day, sleep, eat & drink. I came back from vacation ready to jump into a 16-week training plan. It was so worth it.

I had a system.

Once you find what works for you, you’ll know. And everyone’s system is different.


-J

 

Where to Go From Here

Now that I no longer have a marathon looming on the horizon, I feel like I need to take a step back and look at where I should can go from here. I’ve dedicated 8-9 months of this year to training for this huge goal–to run my first marathon. Thankfully (and perhaps luckily), my hard work paid off and I was able to run a fantastic time at Chicago. I didn’t expect it to happen, but I guess a lot of good tends to come from keeping a level head and being smart about setting goals.

Even before I had run the marathon, I went into planning mode. I’m always in planning mode, but especially when it comes to races and putting goals on the calendar. [Side note: Manny says he admires me because I (and I quote) "get shit done". Yes, it's true.] So I have three events on my calendar in the next month or so. I wouldn’t necessarily call them races because I’m not looking to PR or run a crazy time. I just want to have fun after dedicating a lot of time to speed and pain this year.

  • This weekend!!!: Back on My Feet 42k Relay Race. I ran the Chicago Marathon along with BOMF’s FundRacing team and love the mission of this organization. The relay is in Indianapolis on Sunday and I’m happy I was able to get a fun group of runners (ahem…marathoners to run it with me). We’ve deemed ourselves Team Faster Than Turtles and might even dress up haha. Every runner will do 3 loops of 2.2 miles and we have 4 runners on the team. I don’t know what kind of speed is in my legs right now considering I’ve only run once since the big 26.2, but I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a fun morning.
  • Hot Chocolate 15k: November 5th. My older sister, Brittany, signed up for this race months ago. You can get anyone in the Poore family to run a race when chocolate is involved and I’m happy that my mom will be coming up to Chi to run the 5k as well! This was one of the first races I ran in Chicago and it will be interesting to go back and experience it again on a downtown route (as opposed to lakeshore route) this year. I’m not looking to run it fast–but I might run a decent pace in order to get to the fondue and hot chocolate at the finish line.
  • Drumstick Dash: Thanksgiving Morning. Another Indy tradition. I ran this with my family last Thanksgiving and can’t wait to see what color the shirts will be this year. Last year’s were a long sleeve highlighter green dry-fit shirt. Love those funky colors for autumn runs :-) Again, just looking forward to having some fun with the fam!

Before the marathon, I confessed to Coach that I was nervous about getting the post-marathon blues and dealing with low energy. He told me I definitely wouldn’t have that problem considering the races I’d already put on the calendar—and he was right. Even though I’ve been in lazy mode for the past two weeks (I’ve only run once!….insane.) I know that my body needed to recover.

I’ve been rolling around on Mr. Foam Roller a couple nights a week and have been sleeping like a baby every night. I think the cold Chicago air has something to do with it, but I’m a happy girl when I can come home from work, put on my PJs, cook dinner, and watch T.V. for a few hours. That makes me sound like a total sloth, but I promise it won’t last long.

…Because I bought a Groupon for Bikram yoga last week!!! As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve gotten into hot yoga lately and I couldn’t pass up a good deal for a studio near my office. Cheap, convenient, and good for me. I hope I can make the commitment to go at least once a week and continue to go throughout the winter. Hot yoga is healing for me and it’s the best way to end a long, crazy work week.

I still haven’t decided if I am going to run a spring marathon or not. At this point, I’m on the fence because I don’t know if I can make a strong commitment through the winter to stick to an intense training plan. Running a couple more half marathons next year seems more appealing to me right now. But that all could change in a few weeks.

When’s your next race? How long do you usually wait to run your next race post-marathon? I’m curious to hear if any of you have dealt with post-marathon blues!

-J

Chicago Marathon 2011: Race Recap

I know I’m not going to do this race recap justice. There are just some experiences that you can never put into words. And the Chicago Marathon, the mother of all races (so far), is one of those experiences.

I woke up on Sunday morning really refreshed and relaxed. I managed to fall asleep easily. I think I’ve mastered my pre-race schedule after 9 races this year. I used to get really nervous before races and anxious that I would forget something important in the hours leading up to the race, but it’s become routine. I woke up at 4:30 and had enough time to: eat some oatmeal, drink some coffee and Nuun, make sure I packed everything in my bag, chat with family and Manny about where they would be on the course, and head to the train.

I got to Buckingham Fountain at 6 am and saw the city transform from this:

To this…

The morning was calm. I found a quiet spot by the fountain and did some last minute stretching next to some runners dressed as superheros. They gave me a chuckle and I enjoyed the hour leading up to the race. I made my way to Corral C and tried to fight the goosebumps. I decided I would wear an old long sleeve shirt to the corral and toss it when I got hot in the first few miles. I sat on the street while runners entered the corral and thought about how much hard work I had put into this year. Foster the People’s Pumped Up Kicks came on. I tapped my toes and enjoyed the moment. :-)

Before I knew it, it was time to stand up and prepare for the starting gun. I wasn’t anxious. I took a last look at the two past bands on my wrist: the first at 3:40 and the second at 3:35. Going into the race, I knew that I had to be smart. I didn’t want to run a great race and be disappointed at my overall time because of an over-ambitious goal. I was going to be happy with anything under 3:45. Anything under that would mean that I ran a strong, smart race. As we started off, I tried to keep my cool. I didn’t want to go out too fast and blow the energy out of my legs. I kept telling myself, ‘keep your cool, Jenny’.

I threw off my long-sleeve tee around mile 2.5 and before I knew it Mile 4 had arrived. I saw my mom, two sisters, and Manny cheering on the corner of Division and LaSalle. As I went to take a swig of water, my friend Abe said hello. After choking on some water, we exchanged words and wished each other luck. It’s always nice to know that you’re running a race among friends in the city that you love.

Peppy at Mile 4

Miles 4-10 were pretty much a blur. In fact, the majority of this race was a blur. I felt the energy of the crowd through Boystown, grabbed a water bottle from the FFC cheer group, and remained consistent. My Garmin displayed my average lap pace for the entire race. I was only concerned with doing what I could at each moment to make sure I had a strong race. I didn’t start keeping an eye on my pace bands until mile 8, when I realized that I was closer to the 3:35 pace than the 3:40.

At mile 11, I expected to sight my family and Manny again. Turns out they were on the wrong side of the road and I didn’t hear them yelling my name! I was a bit disappointed, but I knew they had to be there somewhere. I told myself that they must have been screaming their heads off and focused on the next mile. At mile 11, I ran into a runner I’ve been following on Dailymile for awhile.

You know you’re a runner when…you meet another runner you’ve “dailymiled” and “tweeted” in person for the very.first.time.

At the half, I had an overall time of 1:46. I thought, “okay, let’s do this again”.

I tried to stay conservative in the next 6 miles. I kept an eye on my pace band and at every mile,  I was consistently under the 3:35 pace. I didn’t want to lose sight of that number. I took a Gu every 4 miles and drank only water. After mile 16, I broke the race down and told myself I had two more Gus left.

I got the goosebumps as I ran down Ashland toward the left turn on 18th street. I used to live right on the corner and last year I spectated my brother’s marathon race from that corner. It was nice to ‘come home’ during this segment and run down the street that I trained most of the summer on. Coach jumped in on my right hand side with camera in hand. And, I’m not sure why, but the only thing I could say to him was “fuck yeahhhhh”. And I didn’t say it once. I said it TWICE. I know, I know. Pardon my language and all that jazz. But the adrenaline was getting to me and I was so excited to see Chris and run with my sister, Brittany, for a short stretch. I grabbed my last two Gus from her, put them in my gear belt, and focused on the last 7 miles of the race.

Chris (Coach) told me, “You’re dialed in. You’re perfectly on pace. Just get to mile 22 and let the legs go”.

Chris is in the blue. So glad he had a tight grip on that camera.

I took my time at each water station whenever I started to feel thirsty. And after drinking well over 100 ounces of Nuun on Saturday, I had a pretty easy time with the heat.

Two things happened at Mile 22.

The first: the kick began. I started to pick up the pace and set my sights on sub 3:35. If could get closer to 3:30, I would. But that kick would come later.

The second: I peed my pants.

Yes, it happened. Let me just preface this by saying that I have never done this in a race before. It was uncharted territory. First marathon. First potential BQ. First race pee session. I’m a stronger person after going through that. There was no way I was going to stop and use the bathroom. Besides, come on..it had to have been about 90% water and 10% uric acid after all the water I drank!!! Think about that.

I’m not ashamed. It was exhilarating. Just glad I don’t have a photo with water spewing everywhere. hahaha!

By Mile 22, I knew I was going to qualify for Boston. (Woah, that’s the first time I’ve admitted that.)

I wasn’t playing any mind games. I just knew that my legs weren’t going to slow down. I had worked too hard to let them give up on me now. I wanted to leave everything out there on the course.

I will say this, Mile 25 was the longest mile I have ever run. And when I saw the sign for 800 meters remaining and again the 600 meter sign, I thought to myself, “that was only 200 meters”. The Roosevelt bridge was no cake walk but I kept my head down and moved my legs as fast as I could.

And just like that, it was over.

I paused my Garmin and the waterworks began. I couldn’t stop crying. I looked down at my watch and it read:

3:32:53

I was in shock. I must have looked at it 10 times before I truly understood what that meant. A girl working at the 312 table came up to me with and asked, “would you like a beer?” and I instantly replied with a heavy sigh, a scoff, a smile and an ADAMANT YES! She laughed. :-) I sat down in the grass and tried to soak it all in. It hasn’t soaked in yet. Every time I look at the photos, I can hardly believe that it’s me. I look at my splits…that’s not me either. Maybe next week I’ll feel differently. But for now, I’m still in shock and I can’t believe that I qualified for Boston in my debut marathon.

I feel lucky to have a supportive family–it’s tough to get a family of 5 kids together for any kind of event, but they all made a point to be there on Sunday. And it makes me all teary-eyed just thinking about it. I’ve said this before and I have to say it again. I could have never gotten through this year of training without Manny by my side. What a rock.

Even BarkLee was tired after this weekend…

-J

Chicago Marathon 2011: Marathon Weekend

I just want to scream at the top of my lungs and tell everyone how amazing this weekend was. It was that good. It was smart, fun, relaxing, surreal, and everything I had hoped it would be when I first shot out the idea that I wanted to run a marathon last February. I’m not really sure how it flashed by so quickly, but I tried to savor each moment and pop each memory back into place so that I could look back on Sunday and remember how great it was.

I think I am a pretty level-headed person. In general, I know how to keep my cool. I’m a problem-solver. I break down each task into a million tiny ones that I don’t get overwhelmed with the goal, as opposed to the process. And for the past 8 or 9 months, I’ve done a really good job of that. Each race was a checkpoint and throughout this year, I’ve mentally checked myself at the start and finish line. There was a purpose to literally every single run (thanks to big bro and Coach with a capital “C”),  whether or not it was a race or a training workout. The two weeks leading up to the marathon, I went through a series of emotions–which, understandably, is completely normal.

Step one: 2 weeks to race day

Nervous ball of energy. Every time I read someone’s Chicago Marathon race report of years past or looked at Runner’s World mile-by-mile pacing strategy for the marathon, I got nauseous. No kidding. I literally wanted to throw up just thinking about it.

Step two: 1 week to race day

Excitement sets in. I’m no longer nervous. I’m excited and anxious …just not nauseous. I sleep well, I eat well, and keep myself busy. I fret about what to wear. I paint my bedroom. I give the pup a much-needed bath. I keep myself busy.

And finally, Friday was here.

I decided to take a half day off of work on Friday to go to the expo that afternoon. I was happy that some other friends planned to go that day and that I could skip all that hectic crazyness that would ensue there on Saturday with people coming in from out of town. (I’m not a huge fan of expos, but I knew this one would be an exception. It wasn’t just any race.)

I got the goosebumps. And my heart may have fluttered a tiny bit. The dude at packet pick-up took my ID and said “cool, you’re an organ donor”. And I said, “oh….yeah. Well, not yet. Maybe one day!”. He replied with a standard “touche” and I was off to collect my bag and t-shirt from the opposite end of the hall.

Me and the lovely Sara in the Nike area

I met up with Sara, who has become a close running friend, especially after my first ever 20 mile run a few months ago (can you believe it’s been that long, Sara!?) I walked around for a bit longer, indulged in some Nike apparel, and looked for my name on the Nike wall. It may sound really corny but finding my name listed among 45,000 others that would run the marathon in two days time made me feel really special. It kind of made the weekend feel concrete. One step closer to the finish line.

Luckily, this shorty was able to reach her name.

On Friday night, I was somewhat ambitious. I decided that I would paint my bedroom in preparation for family & friends coming over during the weekend to celebrate. I had plans to go grocery shopping and then potentially to an Italian restaurant down the street to carb up. Instead, I ended up eating pizza and enjoying a warm fall evening up on the rooftop with Manny, my brother, and some friends. I went to bed at midnight. [Note: there was a time when I thought going to bed at midnight was early. In the past 8 months, I've become accustomed to bedtime happening between 10 pm and 11 pm....and most often, it only happens that way because I fall asleep on the couch while watching TV :-)]

Guess what time I woke up on Saturday? Just guess. ….TEN THIRTY IN THE MORNING! Yes, I slept for well over 10 hours and it was weird. I have a hard time sleeping in past 8 am nowadays and I had to look at my phone several times before I truly trusted the time it displayed. I am so happy I was able to get a full night of sleep that night because I knew that sleep would be hard to come by the next night.

After downing a cup of coffee and finally working up the motivation to put my running clothes on, I headed out the door for a 2 mile shake-out run. It was sticky out. And I finally made the decision to skip the race day singlet and just wear a sports bra. BEST. DECISION. EVER. (More on that later)

When I got home, I felt refreshed and happy. Right when I walked in the apartment, Manny told me that my brother was up on the roof. I was like “uhhh…why??”. His answer to this was, “he said he was in the neighborhood”. I thought this was odd, considering the fact that I knew Cory, my brother, was staying close to Midway with his wife, Kristen. Immediately, I was stressed out. (Pre-marathon jitters make you that way??…just go with it). So I showered and got ready for us to go to lunch. I had no qualms about taking my time getting ready. I thought “if they had just told me they were coming over, I would have been back from my run and ready much earlier”.

Turns out I was the idiot. I walked up to the roof all flustered and annoyed. And guess who I saw?! ….My twin sister, Lindsey, just lounging in one of the rooftop chairs!!!!! (I guess I had it coming after surprising her in Oklahoma this summer.) I’m so glad they got the surprise in action.

We ended up going to Francesca’s Forno for some food. Side note: it was 2 pm and they wouldn’t give me pasta. Turns out their brunch goes until 3 pm on the weekends and they can’t whip up some pasta for a pre-marathon meal. Darn. I ordered a potato hash with plenty of egg and I was happy.

The rest of Saturday was spent grocery shopping, watching the third installment of the Swedish ‘Girl With A Dragon Tattoo’ movie series, and anticipating my mom and sister’s arrival.

Mom arrived with lasagna in hand, of course. We ate, THEY drank (I was all about my Nuun water), and I went to bed around 11 pm.

ONE SLEEP ’til my first marathon.

-J

I’m still digesting my marathon experience…

I’ve been a bad blogger lately. It’s now 4 days after my debut marathon and I have yet to sit down and write my race recap. I know! It’s horrible and I’m sure each time you log on and see that there hasn’t been a new post in 9+ days, you become even more frustrated and disappointed (ahem….Lindsey!).

I promise that I will sit down tonight and gurgle out the details of the marathon. I’ll let you know what worked, whether or not I peed my pants (can you guess?), and what I did to prepare and recover, among other things. But if you don’t follow me on Twitter or Dailymile, I will give you a tidbit of information now.

I shattered my marathon goal on Sunday.

I wore two pace bands. And I didn’t need the one that said 3:40 at the top. Hint hint. Check out the blog tonight for the full details!

-J

T-Minus 6 Days: Marathon Training Updates Week 2 AND 3

You know you’re training for a marathon when…

  • You become incredibly forgetful
  • You fall asleep on the couch before 10 pm (ok, 9:30 pm)
  • You only think about F-O-O-D (Thank you, Protein Bar!)
  • Your co-workers keep nudging you with those ‘counting down the days, eh?’ comments
  • and you can’t resist registering for three more races post-marathon before you’ve even run the marathon

Yes, all of those things happened. It’s been an interesting two weeks. Blogging became an after-thought because, hey, real life has to happen at some point along with all of these miles! Last week, I kind of continued on my mopey taper tantrum route that I mentioned in my last blog post. I was irritable and tired and just all around moody. In hindsight, that all just seems ….silly. It occurred to me today that I’m not nervous about 26.2 miles anymore.

Now, I’m excited!!!

Last night, as I watched my three favorite shows on t.v. right now (count ‘em: Dexter, Breaking Bad, AND Boardwalk Empire), I thought “I don’t have another weekend to delay this marathon”. I don’t have one more long run to squeeze in there and I most certainly don’t have the luxury of saying ‘meh…I’ll get more sleep next week”. This week, eating and sleeping are a priority. And I’m most happy to oblige!

Throughout this taper craziness, I tried to keep myself as busy as possible.

I went dancing at a Puerto Rican restaurant for a friend’s birthday.

I became very anal about communicating with friends & family that are coming to cheer me on for the marathon. (i.e. where I will be at certain times + where they will be on the course)

Enjoyed some ‘rooftop time’ to take advantage of these crispy falls temps we’ve been having here in Chi.

Cooking delicious dinners with Manny.

Met my FundRacing goal for Back on My Feet Chicago !!!!! Thanks to everyone who donated…for those of you who haven’t yet, click here. Running with their 6 members will be so much fun!

I’ve taken full advantage of cable t.v.—after 3 years without it, I’m more than willing to soak it all up.

I got a massage. Mmmmhmmm! (I could write a whole post on this 60 minutes alone.)

Focusing on decorating the new apartment a bit more too.

AND…I finalized my race outfit. (I know, I still have 7 days to do that, but why not get it out of the way?)

Saucony singlet, Nike shorts, New Balance arm warmers, Experia socks, and hot pink Saucony Kinvaras. :-)

After my 3.5 hour 22.2 mile long run, I was mentally ready to recharge and focus on shorter distances.The past two weeks have been very focused. Just take a gander:

Monday:1 hour Power Yoga at home with my new friend, Rodney Yee

Wednesday: 6-mile Tempo run with tempo splits: 7:54, 7:51, 7:33, 7:34

Thursday: Speedwork 7 x 400s (Splits:1:30, 1:34, 1:32, 1:36, 1:33, 1:33, 1:31)

Friday: Recovery 5 miles

Sunday: 14 miles at 8:17 average pace :-) All smiles after the aforementioned dancing at Puerto Rican restaurant

Tuesday: Short threshold with 3 miles at 7:30 pace

Wednesday: 1 hour massage, during which the therapist proceeded to find every. single. one. of the painful tendons in my back. Of course, I knew nothing about these bad boys and we ended up focusing more on my back than my legs. Either way, I felt pretty loosey-goosey afterward!

Thursday: HOT VINYASA YOGA. (If you’re in Chi and you’re looking for a chill, quiet hot yoga studio, go to TruHarmony in River North!) I had the BEST class ever this day. 75 minutes of deep stretching, focus on the hips, strong powerful poses, and deep breathing was just what I needed after the massage and during my taper.

Saturday: Speedwork 4 x 1200 m repeats with consistent splits despite the wind!

Sunday: 10 miles at Marathon Pace (8:12 average pace)

Ok, I’m ready. I really feel like everything is going to ‘click’ at the start line and I will go into a mode where I’m comfortable and consistent. I will ‘find my strong’ and persevere. First marathon= instant personal record.

I’m so excited to meet up with some #runnerds at the expo on Friday afternoon and at Jake Melnick’s Tap on Saturday afternoon. Looking forward to relaxing, eating, sleeping for the next 6 days so that all systems are GO on Sunday. (Looks like even the weather forecast is going to cooperate this year!)

-J