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Surviving 11 Miles on the Treadmill

Not unlike the majority of the country, our little town was hit with massive amounts of snow and freezing temperatures last week. And if you know me, you know my sun-loving-self was not too excited about the winter weather. Aside from moving my marathon-training-long-run indoors, I won’t complain about the blizzard too much because I know so many other people had it much much worse. I will admit, the thick fluffy snow photographs beautifully.

Marathon Training Long Run in Winter Blizzard on Treadmill from stronglikemycoffee.com

Marathon Training Long Run on Treadmill from Stronglikemycoffee.com

Last week I committed to a marathon and the weekly long runs that come with training. Sunday morning I woke up to at least 8 inches of snow and dark grey skies. I’d like to say I’m hardcore enough to run through the blizzard…..but I’m a snowbird at heart and take full advantage of the gym when temperatures drop below 50. The treadmill awaited my eleven-miler. First of all, I haven’t run in the double-digits since September, so I had a little bit of pre-run nerves. But the first step to surviving 85 minutes on a stationary machine:

Long Run Mental Toughness (stronglikemycoffee.com)I have repeated this to myself for years; it is a helpful mantra for any mental undertaking! When I hit “Start” I knew I would not be stepping off that machine until the screen said 11.0.

How to survive treadmill long runs:

Surviving 11 miles on the Treadmill // Marathon Training | stronglikemycoffee.com

  • First of all, set the incline to at least 1.0% grade. This helps mimic running on land rather than a moving belt.
  • Play with the speed! I always start out at a comfortable speed, but bump it up depending on what song is playing. Alternating your speed also mimics running outside when a machine is not regulating pace for you. For some reason when Masterpiece by Jessie J comes on, I hit up, up, up to 8.5 mph because that is my jam.
  • Speaking of music…Fresh new playlist made the time flyyyyyyy: 
    • Basically the entire new Florida Georgia Line album Anything Goes
    • Invincible and Someone by Kelly Clarkson
    • Goodbye from Who is Fancy (<— love that name)
    • Centuries from Fall Out Boy (not a huge FOB fan but this is a power song!)
    • I’m Gonna Show You Crazy by Bebe Rexha
    • Let Go For Tonight by Foxes
  • Mid-run fuel in the form of Tangerine Sport Beans from Jelly Belly for caffeine (studies say you should have mid-run fuel for any outting longer than 60 minutes)
  • Two nights before I had watched an inspirational running movie, which I pictured the race scenes from (runner-nerd alert).
  • A bit of an odd one…I like to do math during my runs! Since the speed on a treadmill is set to “miles per hour” and I like to think in terms of “minutes per mile,” I spend a lot of time converting different paces in my head and estimating what my marathon time would be. Buuuut if mathematics tends to exhaust you, I don’t recommend this one. ;)
  • Thinking about breakfast and/or dessert.
  • Looking out the window at this view and appreciating my warm little fitness room!

Marathon Training in Winter Blizzard | stronglikemycoffee.com

Healthy Warm Winter Breakfast / Marathon Training | stronglikemycoffee.com

And that is how I got through 85 lonely minutes on a treadmill in a blizzard. Forecasts show 50s for this weekend, hallelujah!

What is the longest you’ve run on a treadmill  & what songs do I need to add for this weekend’s playlist?!

My First Marathon

I know I promised a race recap yesterday but I was just too busy & tired to put my experience into words and pictures. Now that I’ve had a full 10 hours of sleep and a family celebration let’s get to it…

Quick Facts:

  • Marathon: Rock n’ Roll Arizona Marathon in Phoenix
  • Shoes: Saucony
  • Hair: French braids
  • Fuel of Choice: Gu packs (Espresso Love and Peanut Butter flavors)
  • Goal Time: sub-4 hours
  • Finish Time: 3 hours 27 minutes 14 seconds
  • Pace: 7 minutes 54 seconds per mile
  • Place: 251st out of 2878 (40th female out of 1238)
  • Pre-race breakfast: plain oatmeal, banana & coffee
  • Post-race meal: Cold Stone Love It create-your-own ice cream –> cheesecake ice cream with graham cracker, Crunch bar & hot fudge. Guilty? Not one bit.

The start line was broken up into waves so that 3000 people weren’t jammed across the 20-ft. start line at the same time. I was put in Corral #1 based on my estimated finish time, so I got to start immediately at 7:50am. Obviously the most important strategy in a 26.2 mile race is pace yourself. And based on my goal time of sub-4 hours, I knew I should be in the ballpark of 8 minutes per mile.

However….. adrenaline + excitement + competitiveness = 6:47 first mile. Oooops.

Marathon start line (stronglikemycoffee.com)

By the 10k mark I was at 45 minutes, still 5 minutes faster than my goal pace. I felt so stinkin’ good though that I just went with it. The first half, the first 13.1 miles, were nearly effortless because of the amount of runners I had around me, the crowds, the mile-marker bands and music and just my sheer excitement to be there!

Did I hit an infamous “wall”?

Absolutely, and a lot earlier than I anticipated. I took my first Gu pack at mile 6, and right away my stomach didn’t like the sudden intake of sugar. I took another around mile 12, and my stomach was really not happy. After mile 16 I struggled mentally, I think realizing that I had 10 miles to go was a bit overwhelming. That was a mental wall. The PHYSICAL wall came around mile 20 when my legs felt sore and heavy. Like I had done 400 squats. My quads and calves were on fire!

Things that got me through:

Slowing down was an option. Stopping at the water station for a sip and a splash was an option. Not finishing the marathon was NOT AN OPTION. Finishing in over 4 hours was NOT AN OPTION. I had a deadline and people at the finish line waiting for me! Mile 24 was a continuous gradual uphill and my legs hurt so bad that I literally just started counting my footsteps to distract myself and force my legs to keep moving. Luckily after the uphill, there was the reward of downhill and some water.

Once I passed mile 25 I knew that I was going to finish in under 3 hours 30 minutes. Thinking about that helped me push through all of the pain and make it to the finish line. There were crowds of people on both sides leading to the grand finish but I had my eyes peeled for my parents and Kerri. I spotted them a few meters from the mat and we all waved at each other :) Ooooh I just got chills.

Marathon family at the finish (stronglikemycoffee.com)I also happen to have the coolest parents who made a whole vacation out of the weekend. We stayed a couple nights in Phoenix, went out to some fun restaurants with my friends Chelsea and Kerri and definitely celebrated afterwards. The best moment was seeing them in the crowd at the finish line waving & cheering. That is the BEST way to finish a race! I owe them the biggest THANK YOU xoxoxo

Marathon friends at the finish (stronglikemycoffee.com)

After the marathon was over, the sponsors bombarded us with water bottles, chocolate milk, Gatorade, protein bars, pretzels, fruit. I met up with my parents and friends to bask in my runner’s high (and sweat-soaked clothes haha). I am so grateful to have amazing friends and family that were able to be there with me as I completed one of my biggest personal challenges of my life! It was an unforgettable feeling :)

There is only one post-race meal that I am interested in. You earn a MEDAL, you earn an ICE CREAM:

Marathon ice cream (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Three spoons because I share! ;)

Overall Race Impression: I couldn’t have asked for better weather. We started in 48 degrees, it was sunny but never hot. The course was relatively flat, all asphalt city streets so it was fast! I had no injuries, aches or pains aside from the inevitable soreness that comes with continual cardio activity for over 3 hours. The event was super organized with timers at every mile, plenty of water/Gatorade/Gu stations and nice sets for all 26 bands along the way. Best marathon experience I could have asked for!

marathon finish line (stronglikemycoffee.com)

The best part came from knowing that I exceeded my own expectations. Running a marathon has been a huge goal of mine for a very long time. As I began training, I didn’t want to just finish…. I wanted to finish in under 4 hours. So cutting over half an hour off of my goal time is a pretty successful race outcome for me :) It made all of the training, all of the time committment and sacrifices, quitting my collegiate cross country team and training by myself, totally worth it. I don’t regret anything! I wouldn’t have changed any of my training or pre-race prep. I’m every bit as satisfied and accomplished as I thought I would be and there is no better feeling!marathon finish (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Marathon MOTIVATION

Today is an especially inspiring hodge-podge of quotes, links, videos, and songs that I have found motivational in my past three months of training for my first marathon. Getting goosebumps just thinking about it now!

First off, I started a “Marathon” board on Pinterest (obviously…) you can follow here —> Marathon.

1.) Many marathoners have professed the power of the “mantra”. Who am I to question them?

**Mantras are phrases that you can repeat to yourself to bring your mind back to a relaxing and calm state**

The phrase I selected:

Its simple (easy to remember!) and should be a reminder to relax in case I feel some nerves or doubt.

2.) A lot of people ask Why are you running a marathon? If you have to ask, you won’t understand. To them, running 26.2 miles (by choice!) seems like hard work, a punishment, not a fun activity for their Sunday morning. That is not the case for myself and the thousands of other racers I will be joining at the start line.

Training is a lifestyle quote

Running literally changes you. Long distance training increases your endurance and patience in tough situations. It’s stress relief…energy release…”me” time…cardio exercise.

3.) This video is a pretty sweet compilation of running clips. How cool would it be to have video of clips from each of your most memorable runs/workouts in scenic settings, vacations, camps, etc.?! Future project for myself…

4.) Now something a little less serious…..

It’s funny because IT’S TRUE! My neighbors can confirm ;)

5.) If I needed any further motivation, it would be this right here:

Marathon motivation...my biggest fans (stronglikemycoffee.com)

My dad is on his bike next to me whenever I need a running partner at home. He and my mom are so proud of me and supportive of my marathon training. If I ever doubt myself, I can think about the amount of time & energy they have put into helping me get here! How lucky I am to have parents so happy to help me achieve my dream!

6.) It’s no secret that MUSIC is one of my biggest motivators. Whenever I download new songs, my first thought is always “I can’t wait to go running so I can listen to this!” What a fitness nerd…

I’ve posted a series of songs from my marathon training playlist so I’ll continue with this little treasure…”Breathe” by Ryan Star

Been listening to this one since high school!

7.) Because my research on tapering before a marathon concluded that the final week is all about CONFIDENCE, I will include this last personal bit of motivation. I’ve watched myself grow from a struggling high school cross country runner, to a recruited D1 collegiate athlete, to FINALLY a marathoner. It makes me proud. Every day I am grateful for the ability to run because it is my passion, something that I will never give up. My motivation is the fact that I have been thinking about this challenge for more than five years and I am finally going to accomplish one of my biggest goals :)

Track throwback (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Track Throwback from Senior Year!

**Bonus Marathon Training Playlist Song!**

This one seems obvious. But a playlist wouldn’t be complete without Mr. Eminem. I plan on repeating this song no less than 6 times during race day ;)

If you have some other source of inspiration please share! :)

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