Moving Forward

Thank you all so much for your thoughtful comments and support from my race recap. No one truly understands how disappointing this sport can be and how much passion we have for it, except other runners.

Eugene1

As more time has passed, I have been able to remove myself from the emotion of the race and do a little more analyzing of how things played out and (more) lessons I can learn. Also, thanks to many of your comments, I was reminded of a few other things that I probably knew subconsciously, but hadn’t given much thought.

How about some bullets? (With some *stolen* pics thrown in for the fun of it). Let’s start with the “Before”:

  • Stress from moving: Okay, so this was kind of like my elephant in the room from the time I found out we were moving the week before the race. Moving is apparently one of the top 3 most stressful events that you can encounter in life. I knew this. But I didn’t have much control over the dates and since I typically handle life disruptions pretty well, I thought I could manage. And most of all I didn’t want this to be an excuse as to why my race didn’t go as planned. The week leading up to race day, I was physically exhausted. The weekend before, I could barely pull myself off the couch to go for a run and I was sleeping 10 hours a night plus napping during the day. I attributed this to taper sluggishness, but ultimately, I know it was also related to the stress of moving. Although I had more energy in the days before I flew out to Eugene, my body generally felt exhausted. There isn’t much I could have changed about this, except maybe to accept that it was a factor and consider readjusting my goals.Eugene3
  • Over stimulus: Part of the reason that I chose this race is because so many of my friends were traveling to Eugene to run. It was a huge reunion and I wouldn’t change any part of that. BUT, I am the kind of person who wants to talk to everyone, wants everyone to like me and wants everyone to have a good time. All of these things require a lot of energy in group situations. Constantly worrying “Did I say the right thing?” “Did she know I was joking?” “Was that a rude comment?”can be draining. I told myself that I would try to stay focused and not get too caught up in everything going on, but it is just in my nature to jump right in and be myself rather than keeping to myself and reserving energy. Again, I wouldn’t change a thing, but I do know that in the future, big group races shouldn’t be my “A” goal marathon. 
  • Over analyzing Race Strategy: I would say 75% of the talk in our house leading up to race day was about each of our respective pacing strategies. It’s no secret that I have been training for a sub-3:35 marathon. Yes, that is a BQ, but it is also a time that I truly feel I am capable of. In the days leading up to the race, and after my 1/2 PR in NYC, I was convinced that I could run closer to 3:30. I still believe that on a perfect, day I could run a 3:30, but instead of wasting so much time and energy worrying about my pacing strategy, I should have just gone out and RUN.Eugene4
  • Nerves? Pressure? I am not sure why I put so much pressure on myself for this race. There was no external pressure, but I put a ton on myself. I knew I wouldn’t be happy with “just” a PR. I wanted to have the perfect race, and I told myself that was the only acceptable outcome. I typically only run one marathon a year and I put all my “eggs” in the Eugene basket which certainly didn’t help. I need to learn to just relax, enjoy the moment and RUN!
  • Taper strategy & mentality: I felt most ready to run this marathon around weeks 11 – 12 of training. I was in the midst of the biggest weeks I had ever had and was constantly getting the positive feedback of solid workouts. I felt confident and strong. Then as I tapered, my focus was on other things…not just because of the move but when I reduced my mileage, I wasn’t constantly gearing up for or recovering from a run. Naturally my life didn’t revolve around training anymore. This happens to me every time I train for a big race and it always makes me feel detached from my training at the very end. I am not sure how to avoid this without skipping taper altogether. I think a shorter taper may be one way to help, but I would love other suggestions on how to avoid this?

Now for the “During”:

  • Bathroom stops: In my race recap I mentioned that my one regret was the bathroom stop at mile 6, because it was premature. But as I look back, I realize that the stop wasn’t the only mistake. The real mistake was how I reacted to it. Assuming I lost 30ish seconds while stopped, I would have had to run a 7:30 mile to end up with the 7:59, that I clicked over in the next mile. I then followed that up with a 7:40 mile. It was a downhill section, so I didn’t feel like I was working too hard, but throwing down miles that are 30 seconds faster than marathon pace in the early miles of a race aren’t really good pacing strategy. If I have to stop again in the future, I will just pick back up at my “normal” race pace and consider that time lost. (Side note: I have NO idea why I had to stop in this race for the first time ever, other than my body just wasn’t in it that day.)

    Eugene2

    What? You don’t blow your nose into your hands while you run?

  • Managing my adrenaline: Another thing I mentioned in my race report is how I get so excited to see friends or family in a race that I get these huge adrenaline spikes…followed by dips in energy. This happened when I saw my family in Houston, when I saw Brad and my friends at the beginning of the run in Augusta and it happened again in Eugene. I love having support on the course, but I need to learn to calmly smile and wave in the early miles and save the adrenaline spikes for mile 20+ when I need them!
  • Salt tabs: If you have been reading for a while, then you know that I swear by Nuun &  SaltStick tabs to prevent cramping in long distance races. I have used salt tabs for long races and training rides for a few years now. Since I trained throughout the winter this year, I didn’t use them during training, but figured it would still be fine to use them in the race since I have used them in the past. I took one about an hour before the start and another after running for an hour. Shortly after I took the 2nd one, my stomach felt really full. I have never experienced this before and it was pretty uncomfortable. I wasn’t positive that the salt tabs were the cause until I tried a tab an hour into my run yesterday and had the same feeling. I guess my body just isn’t used to them anymore. Probably not the best move to try something you haven’t used in 6 months on race day?!

I have heard over and over that you can learn something from every race. And that it is the *worst* races where you can learn the most. This absolutely holds true for me with the Eugene Marathon. I know I will get redemption for this race and I also know that when I do FINALLY break 3:40 (this was my 3rd time trying) and get that elusive BQ (2nd time trying), it will be A-MAZING and completely worth it.

I was going to have a disclaimer about reserving the right to only post pictures of me that look *good* on the blog…but what fun would that be when gems like this exist on the internet? Also, let’s not discuss the hip collapsing going on in this pic (and many others). Anyone got any good hip strengthening exercises for me?

Eugene5

About Corey

I am a 30-something swim, bike, run addict married to my best friend and in love with my two schnoodle doggies.
This entry was posted in friends, Goals, Greenville, life, Moving, Race reports, Races, running, training, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Moving Forward

  1. Steph says:

    OK, I’m only going to comment on your photos, since they’re pretty great 🙂 how do they always manage to get us at the worst possible moment?? And do you think they make you look fat? I don’t think yours do, but mine look like I’m packing 30 extra pounds compared to the iPhone photos! Blah.

    • Corey says:

      SO TRUE. Obviously (other than the last one) I only posted the best photos on here, but YES. I think at least half of the pictures make me look 10 pounds heavier than I am. And for some reason they capture the perfectly, jiggly, cellulite in my legs too!

  2. Christina says:

    I meant to comment on our race recap post but got busy this weekend and sidetracked. Many hugs to a fellow Schnoodle momma 🙂 The emotions of racing are very intense and there is no way disappointment isn’t gut-wrenching at times. I think your bullet points in this post are actually *very good*. I’m the type also who worries about my group interactions, whether I socialized right, etc. For me, running races where I have people around who need my attention would literally zap my energy. The mental aspect of racing is very important and I’ve found early on that I *do not do well in big group gatherings for races*. I don’t think you are alone in noting that either, I have often read this by others. My thought would be to first of course – rest and recover. You are SO CLOSE to your goal and it WILL HAPPEN. Perhaps the best strategy next would be to purposely choose the quiet races where you can focus just on you. I’m at that place where I will do races with friends and groups, but only for fun events. When I’m trying for something serious, now I want my space, a small profile race, and just room to breathe. 🙂 HUGS!!! You will get that goal!

    • Corey says:

      Thank you SO much for your thoughtful and sweet response. I appreciate it so much. I definitely want to focus on races where I am not going with a bunch of friends from now on. I like to have one or two others there with me so I am not alone pre-race or at the start line, but besides that…it is quiet, no “party” racing for goal races anymore. Also, its good to know I am not the only one who is so concerned about “do they like me?” when I am in big groups 🙂

  3. evamadera says:

    I’m so glad you were able to take some time off and figure out what happened. I know you have a BQ in you soon.

  4. It sounds as if you definitely have learned something and that there were a lot of other factors affecting the race. It always gets me how we can train for so long, but then there are so many uncontrollable factors for race day. I think you can underestimate the emotional and mental toll of moving, traveling, seeing your friends, etc. As for the taper, I personally am a fan of shorter tapers. For Bayshore, I’m doing one more 20 this weekend and it’s two weeks out (which is hard to believe!).

    I love the pictures! You look great! And, no, I don’t blow my nose into my hand, I opt to blow it into the inside of my tank top by my shoulder 🙂

  5. OH i want to hug you so bad! Catching up after our own whirlwind move and race in PR this weekend…so yes I fully understand that while we are trying to be calm cool and collected moving takes a boat load of mental energy.

    I know you have the race in you without a doubt. Running is one of the craziest sports to me in that some days it all clicks and other days it doesn’t matter what you do it just won’t come together. Honestly I’m a bit exhausted from your pre-run fun! 🙂 Like you said it sucks right now and that’s totally fair because you put a lot of effort in to it…then it will become something you learn from and decide to avenge!

    Do you have any more races on the calendar?

    • Corey says:

      I do have a few coming up this summer. Chicago RnR, a triathlon and I am trying to pick a fall marathon. Definitely need some redemption 🙂

  6. Hi Corey! New reader here. Sorry that you had a rough time in Eugene. You had a lot going on leading up to the race! I think things like that affect us more than we think they do. I know exactly what you mean about feeling ready to race a couple weeks before actual race day. That was how I felt for my fall marathon. Two weeks out I was raring to go and then race day came and I felt blah. I am considering shortening my taper and possibly shortening my training plan to see if that helps. It’s hard to find that sweet spot. I also totally get that whole internal pressure and anxiety thing. I was an absolute nervous wreck right before my race. I was the only one putting the pressure on but wow. I was literally sick to my stomach with nerves race morning. While I met my time goal the sad part was that I wasn’t able to enjoy it because I was so overcome with nerves/anxiety. And then I was burned out. What good is that? I’m trying to simmer down in that department. : )
    Don’t worry, you will definitely get your BQ!!

    • Corey says:

      Hi!! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment 🙂 I have always been one to get really nervous…even when I was playing high school softball and volleyball, I would get so worked up before games. And now with running, there is just something about that “what does my body have to give today” that gives me anxiety. Which is kind of crazy, because I don’t know why I don’t just go out and RUN!! Maybe I need to do some marathons for “fun” just so the distance isn’t so daunting?!

  7. Lauren says:

    Corey…first of all, congratulations. I know it wasn’t the result that you had hoped for, but like you said in your last post — a marathon finish isn’t guaranteed. It’s such a beast of a race. Not only because you put so much time and mental/physical energy into the preparation, but also because anything can happen on race day. So the simple fact that you finished (especially when you had to fight through so many mental demons to do it) is an accomplishment that you should be proud of!

    Secondly, your post race reflections are so wise. I’m sorry that the timing with the move didn’t work out better, though I can understand why you wouldn’t want to focus on that beforehand. Obviously it wasn’t ideal, but I think it says a lot about your strength and determination that you were able to continue training so well amidst all the stress of moving. I’m not sure I would’ve been able to do the same!

    I also understand how draining group situations can be. My best races have been run when it was just me and my husband or a small group of my family. I’m not exactly the friendliest, most easy-going runner before races (that might be an understatement…ha!), but my family knows and accepts this about me. I love running races with friends but before any sort of key race, I need to have that quiet downtime to get my head straight – and not worry about interacting with other people.

    Anyway…I KNOW you have a BQ in you. You are such a strong runner. And you are determined. I saw that you said you’re already looking for a fall redemption race. I think that’s awesome! I know the tough experience of Eugene is only going to help push you to a speedy PR.

    Hope you’re both settling in well!

    • Corey says:

      Thank you so much for your comment. I appreciate your confidence in me…means alot coming from you. I am looking forward to getting fully settled in and being able to relax and enjoy Chicago! But strangely enough, unpacking boxes has been somehow a bit therapeutic for me.

  8. Yes, the stress of the move has such an impact on training. Weird how they’re connected, isn’t it? And I hadn’t thought about the effect of the girls weekend, but I would be the same way- wanting to make the most of it, but coming away drained by it for race day as well. I do best with a little solo time before the race and extra early bedtimes. I have no idea how to get around the tapering issue, other than possibly trying a two week taper as you mentioned. And your pics are awesome- that last one is hilarious! All of my professional race photos are bad- I’m impressed you got so many good ones.

  9. Shame on me, it’s been a while since I’ve been to your blog and SO MUCH has been going on in your life! I’ve been seeing everyone’s Eugene pics with envy.

    I really appreciate your reflection on your race. It is thoughtful and very helpful. Not just for you going forward but for all of us. I’m sorry it wasn’t a great race but you’re right, you’re now that much wise for the next one.

    I always blow snot, too. Nothing gets my nose going like a long run. :-/ That aside, you do look great!

    • Corey says:

      Tiffany! Thank you so much for your sweet comment! You have had a ton going on too…looking forward to seeing what your next adventure is 🙂

  10. Monica says:

    I love this post. I could relate to so much of it!! I felt a lot of those same things during the buildup to the race. I did have some envy of you all staying in groups but I think staying with family outside the groups wa a huge advantage to keeping my head on a little bit… They didn’t talk pace or strategy at all 🙂 def helpful for an A race (although it wasn’t my A performance).

    It’s good that you can look at it rationally and it’s not excuses its just “okay, these things did or might have affected me. What can change?”

    About the taper… I followed the Hanson marathon method twice now. Don’t let my Eug performance impact researching the plan. It’s very good. Anyway they utilize a modified taper where you only ease off the last 10 days but still run the same number of days as the rest of the cycle just fewer miles. I highly recommend their training. Unorthodox but good.

    You will get your sub 3:40 and beyond. I have NO DOUBT of that. Your half PR is a dead giveaway of your strength. Once you can just run without over thinking it or feeling your pressure you will crush it.

  11. elizabeth says:

    i’m proud of you! recognizing where to improve and and moving forward. and also very proud of sharing the “bad” pics 🙂 next time we chat, remind me to tell you about all of my hip work. i have plenty! i know i owe you a call back…

  12. Holly says:

    I am SO sorry I am just now commenting on this post {I read it right away}…Such a well written, genuine post, and one that I can relate to on MANY levels {over stimulus, adrenaline, nerves, pressure, taper strategy, over analyzing}…due to a passion for running, the disappointment hurts. But once we work through the pain, there is so much we can learn from each and every experience/training run/race and so much to be thankful/joyful for & proud of! Keep pursuing your goals and dreams!

    • Corey says:

      Thank you so much for your sweet comment. It was definitely a good learning experience and something I will plan for better next time. You also have SO much to look forward to this summer with running! I can’t wait to live it through you 🙂

  13. I know neither of us had the day we planned/trained/hoped for, but I’m still so happy and glad we got to run at least 1/2 together. (and that means I made your blog in the stolen pics 😉 )
    also , since i’m so behind on blog reading, this also means i’m commenting after i know how your redemption race went! you’re so awesome!!! 🙂

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