Monday, March 21, 2011

You gotta love it

I signed myself up for the New York half marathon just before it closed in November of 2010. I had just finished the half marathon in Key Largo and I felt strong and excited and ready for the next challenge.

Quickly I heard I got in and I started training, but when it got colder outside I fell of the boat. I had a hard time motivating myself to get onto the treadmill and continue my training schedule. Once in a while I got myself tu run inside, and ended up with a whole bunch of little irritating injuries related to stiffened muscles because I didn’t workout consistently.

In the morning of our first gig evening in Las Vegas I did a nice run for the first time in weeks. Then during the performance the cold air form the air conditioner blew directly on my back and stiffened my muscles. For the next week I had irritation in my lower back which made it hard to stand long and move around I promised myself to find a trainer to help me do core work before I would pick up running again. I also said goodbye to my upcoming Manhattan race, knowing I would be in no shape.

Trainer
Six weeks ago, I finally made my first appointment with Ari at Zorn Core Fitness in South Egremont. I told him I am a runner whom is not self-motivated right now and that I wanted his help on strengthen my core, so I will not get injured when I start again in the spring. He said OK, and we started working.

We started slow and built up the training over weeks. Ari’s enthusiasm and crazy exercises helped me to get into the mindset again of this is fun, and really got me motivated to get in better shape then I was last november.

About a week and a half into the training I decided to start running again. First two mile runs, which was way more than I started with last year, but which felt as hard as 13 miles last November!

Half Marathon preparation!
When I had built up to ca. 5 miles running I changed my mind again and decided that I would participate in the New York Half Marathon. The plan was to run half the marathon (about 7 miles) and then walk the rest.  It would be a great preparation for the next half marathon in May (which Mark and I going to run together, and you are invited to join us!). The race would take me ca. 3.5 hours and I would have an amazing time!

Then while looking at the participant info, it turned out that there was a three hour time limit. The organizers structured the run in the following way: around mile 8, when the runner had not kept a speed of at least 13:45, then would be taken of the course and driven to the finish line.

“Oh, No! I don’t want that to happen”

I decided that my goal would be to finish myself in the three-hour time limit, without being picked up. I was a bit skeptic about it, knowing that my longest race had only been 6 miles, but having ran a half marathon before I knew it would all be about keeping a steady pace, and I believed that I could keep that 6 mile steady pace at least another two miles longer. This would mean I would have passed the pick up place by the time I crashed and would probably be allowed to walk to the finish! Yeah! What a plan (sigh!)!

Race day

On a very cold March morning I take the metro to central park at 6 am, where 15.000 runners are collecting before the race. We are placed in corals by speed, and I move up to a slower coral knowing that I will run myself into pieces at the first couple of miles if I am not careful. Everyone is blowing their hands, jumping, shivering, standing together closely to stay as warm as possible.

When the start shot arrives 45 minutes later we start moving like ice popsicles. We go down, we go up, we go down. The first couple of miles I mainly think "go slow so you don’t hurt your muscles, warm up slowly." After three and a half miles everything finally felt comfortably warm, even my fingers.

I loved the run through central park, where people where cheering and jelling. I loved when we came out of central park and ran over 7th Ave towards 42 Street. I was counting the miles and just kept running and running. It was a totally adorable, memorable race and I loved every minute of it. After miles 10 it got tough. And I told Ari in my mind a couple of times: "it’s because of you that I am here right now, and it’s because of your fabulous training I am going to finish this baby."

The last miles where more like running half a mile, walking half a mile, and than a final spurt at the end to the finish line. I arrived in 2:24:39, which is only two minutes slower then my first half marathon I did. That is totally amazing after just a five week preparation and very promising for the next one. Also, the first 15 km, I ran in a totally steady pace of 33 minutes per 5 km, which is awesome and with a bit more training I should be able to pull this through to the end.

Learnings
Don’t give up when you have a set back.
Every time you renew your efforts into something you have done before it is going to be easier and faster to get back to the same level you were before. You did a diet and then got off, you can get back on track faster then you did before. You used to play trumpet and have not done it in years, you can get back to it faster than before. Did you use to be able to run 6 miles and now not even 6 minutes? You can get back to it even faster then before.

You gotta love it
You have a goal but working towards it is not enjoyable, then find a way to make it enjoyable. When you love it, you will do anything to continue. When you don’t love it, it’s going to be very hard to keep up your goals over time. You gotta create inspiration. You can find others that do inspiring things and ask them how they do it, you can think about what it is you need to get to a place of inspiration again and than, fulfill that need. Do what is needed to get inspired and so you love what you are doing.

Celebrate the little things
Celebrate the steps you take along the way. Now only when you have lost 6 pounds, but also when you skipped the birthday cake that was offered to you. Celebrate when you make an appointment to go for a walk with a friend, or when you call the health instructor to make your first appointment. Celebrate that you went out to meet with your friend at a breakfast place, while you felt to depressed to get out of bed.
During my run I celebrated every mile I covered, but I also celebrated the people along the route cheering for us, the bands that were playing for use, the people that dressed themselves up for us.

All right everyone, have a very celebratory week!

Love,
Iris

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