Tag Archives: motivation

Half Marathon #18 – Rock and Roll New Orleans Race Report

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Unremarkable.

That one word sums up my experience at the Rock and Roll New Orleans Half Marathon.  It wasn’t a great day for me running-wise.  I didn’t particularly enjoy the course, except for the most scenic parts around miles 8-10.  And it was my first race traveling by myself without a running buddy.  Here are the highlights and low lights:

-It was unseasonably cold at race time.  Runners shivered in 40 degree weather for a start that took a very long time.  Not quite what I was expecting for New Orleans!

-The 3 mile up, 3 mile back run up St. Charles was sort of boring.  There is a trolley track down the middle of the road that’s dirt and it was a nice break to be able to run on this for several of the miles and get off the asphalt.

-A guy passed me on St. Charles wearing a New England Patriots Jersey and juggling three deflated footballs.  Everyone was laughing.  But by the time I got my camera out of my SPI-belt, he was too far away for a good photo.  Imagine running that fast WHILE juggling!  Geez!

-I think for the first time ever, I had to use the port-a-john during a half marathon. Too much water!

-The portion of the run past Cafe du Monde and the French Quarter was the most fun.  Bewildered tourists snapped photos of all these crazy runners going by.

-I got to meet a few folks from the Fifty States Half Marathon Club at my first race since joining.   We had a nice italian dinner the night before the race — and it was fun to color in another state on my jacket when I got home.

-The race took longer than I expected and it was past check out time at my hotel by the time I got back.  Because I was in a hurry, I pretty much skipped all the after-race activities, grabbed a banana and some water and headed straight for the shuttle bus and walk to the hotel. After showing ID, they let me back into the room to just to collect my bags. I stretched the rules and took at 2 minute shower to save my Jet Blue seat mates the agony of sitting next to me unshowered.

-No post-race pancakes were in evidence at the airport, so I scarfed some beignets — not a bad substitute.  When in Rome…

-The highlight of this trip was definitely NOT the race, but a 20-ish mile bike tour of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans designed to showcase the rebuilding effort there post Hurricane Katrina.  It was fascinating, depressing, informative and neat to tour by bike. I took lots of photos, but haven’t had a chance to weed through them yet.

I arrived home to be greeted with 2 – 3 of snow with another foot on the way tomorrow.  My Arizona Half is in just 2 weeks near Phoenix, so I hit the treadmill yesterday for my long run.  My calves and hamstrings continue to be tight – so I will keep stretching and rolling and hope that Arizona is a better race for me!  And New Orleans deserves another chance for some sightseeing — and a trip that does not include a 13.1 mile run!

New Jersey/Long Branch Half Marathon – Race Report

 

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New Jersey was cool. Literally. The planets lined up almost perfectly for yesterday’s Long Branch Half Marathon in New Jersey. Since I’m a little pressed for time, I’ll do a summary style race report for this, my 14th state half marathon (just 36 to go!).

Here’s what was good and bad about it:

1) Weather: The Good – The weather was perfect for running – it started off in the 40s at dawn with temps rising into the 50s. Even on a warmer day, the race is early enough (6:45 am start) that it is over before the mid-morning heat. If I could be picky, I’d rather not run with the sun in my eyes for most of the race which was the case since we were running mostly south and east. And the Bad? High sustained winds for the mile and a half along the beach just before the finish. Offsetting that … the cherry blossoms were out, which gave this spring-starved New Englander hope that summer will come eventually.

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2) Race Organization: Overall it was fabulous. Well-staffed, well-spaced water stops with great volunteers, and well-organized number pick up. Plenty of port-o-johns, plenty of parking at the start, organized corrals and a warm place to sit and wait for the race to begin inside Monmouth Park. The Bad? A really long walk to the shuttle bus post-race and similarly long walk to the cars from the shuttle drop off point. And mediocre food at the finish – a dry piece of bread that no amount of water would wash down, a banana, 2 pieces of salt water taffy, and a tiny granola bar. I hate to complain because it’s tough to be a race director, and this one gets a solid A with just minor things that need to be improved – darn good for a race of more than 10,000 people.

3) The Course: Great, mostly flat course, except for a few bridges. I found myself wishing for more spectators, especially during the first half of the course as we ran through quiet residential neighborhoods.

4) The Bling: The Good? Awesome medal. The Bad? Women’s technical T-shirts that were sized small with no warning of same, and insufficient XL T-shirts. The shirts are great, I only wish I had one I could wear!

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5) Pace Groups: The Good? Great 2:45 pace group – stuck with them for about half the race, and then they dropped me. I was smart to quit trying to keep up since 2:45 would have been a huge PR for me and I couldn’t quite sustain the pace. But they were funny and cheerful and did a great job coaching the group along. Ultimately finished at 2:52 and they were still there waiting for me at the finish to make sure I was ok. Even better, this race had a 3:00 Half Marathon pace group, something I don’t think I’ve ever seen. Since one of my goals was to beat 3:00, I was just glad they didn’t pass me.

6) Unexpected Pleasures – a high energy start to (first) a bugle “Call to the Post” – fitting for Monmouth Raceway, and (then) “Born to Run” – fitting for the Jersey Shore! QR Code on bibs for instant race results! Great motivational signs mid-course made Mile 6 seem to go more quickly.

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7) Unexpected Annoyances – NJ Tolls – $21.05 to go from northern NJ to New York? No coffee at hotel. No coffee at race. No coffee til lunchtime.

8) My successes – this was my fourth fastest half marathon ever, and my strongest race since recovering from my toe injury. I feel like I am still getting stronger and faster, and with the ten pounds off that I gain while injured and a little more training, I am pretty sure I can PR again despite continuing to get older (funny how that happens). I also feel like I’m getting smarter about pacing and race strategy. I felt strong through 11 miles and until I hit the headwind coming back up the coast.

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That’s me leading the pack (ha) through downtown Long Branch near mile 9.5.

What’s Next?  Still trying to find a race for late May or June that fits into my schedule and travel budget. Stay tuned!

A Runner’s Evolution

Today’s blog is borrowed from John Bingham’s No Need for Speed which I read recently. If you’re a beginning runner, especially if you worry about being slow, I definitely recommend Bingham’s books. I especially like this quote:

“As I set new goals, conquered new fears, and overcame new doubts, I became a new person. I was no longer the person who sat inside on cold mornings. I was not the person for whom comfort was the sole objective. I wasn’t the person who was controlled by the circumstances of my life…. What happens when we untie the ‘nots’ in our lives is that we can see beyond today and begin to imagine a different tomorrow. As you see the obvious changes in your body, you also begin to see the less obvious changes in your soul. When you untie the ‘nots,’ when you become fully engaged in the process of becoming a better athlete, you can’t help becoming a better person. You find, without realizing it, that you’re NOT afraid to change, learn and grow. You learn to look past all the things that you can’t be to those few that you can. As you learn to accept your limitations as an athlete, you’re less afraid to accept other limitations in your life. Your unique combination of talent and motivations, discipline and dedication, become the tools with which you build the person you most want to be.”

In my experience, new runners go through stages of evolution — that affect both the body and the mind. Pushing through old limitations, testing boundaries, and taking on new challenges. Standing shivering and expectant at the starting line waiting to find out what is possible on the journey to the finish. And knowing that the person who finishes the race, may not be the same person who started it.

What else has changed in your life since you started running?

A Force… Of Nature

With a winter storm bearing down on the Northeast yesterday, I walked into the gym and it was overflowing with people, with every treadmill taken, and it stayed that way all morning – and up until the early storm closing at 1 pm. Seeing all those folks there got me thinking about the difference between motivation and commitment.

Those at the gym were the committed… the people who took time out of preparing for the storm to make sure they got their workouts in – knowing that it was unlikely that they would be able to get to the gym on Saturday during the blizzard. They had planned ahead, making themselves and their workouts a priority, even as the snow began to fall outside.

So often I hear people say “I’m just not motivated enough to get in shape or lose weight [or change whatever habits they’d like to change].” But it’s not really about motivation. Motivation is what happens when you see that picture of yourself looking unacceptable. Or when you realize that “enough is enough” and something needs to change. Motivation happens in the moment. Motivation is that resolution that you set on January 1st, pledging that this will be the year of the “new you.” Motivation is exciting – it gets you started, but it won’t get you the finish line.

That’s because motivation is transient. One day you wake up and you just don’t FEEL motivated anymore. Maybe you’re tired, or you’re stressed, or you feel crappy, or sorry for yourself. Your motivation needle drops to zero and before you know it, you’re back to your old ways. Not exercising. Digging into the freezer for that pint of Ben and Jerry’s. And probably feeling miserable about yourself for “just not being motivated enough to reach your goal.” Again. Damn. And the cycle repeats.

In those dark moments when motivation fails you, what you really NEED to summon is your commitment. Commitment is a powerful force that takes a stand for you and your priorities today, tomorrow, and the next day. Commitment is rooted in the why behind what you wanted to change. To be healthy, to be fit, to be happy, to start that business. It’s hard to put yourself and your priorities first. Somewhere along the way so many of us get taught that it’s “selfish” to put yourself first. But if we don’t take care of ourselves we can’t truly care for others.

Commitment is focus. It means putting yourself at the top of your to do list, blocking out time in your schedule for your workout, and saying no to people who will sabotage your efforts. Commitment is a mindset that you have a new and healthier habit now.

Motivation happens in the moment. Commitment happens everyday.

Live your commitment.

A Moment in the Sun

There are days when my running playlist inspires a blog and this was one of them.

It was a dreary day and hard to be out there and then John Fogerty’s song “Centerfield” came on. For a few minutes, the virtual sun came out, the snow melted and I was sprinting down the road — at least in my head.  I especially love that song this time of the year because it reminds me that the baseball season is just around the corner. Spring training is a little over a month away.  There’s the excitement… the new players to be assessed… the promise… the hope… Opening day… the crack of the bat and the cheers from the stands… it just doesn’t get old!

“We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field… Look at me, I can be centerfield…”

But that’s only part of the reason I love this song, and this blog isn’t really about baseball. I love the metaphors in this song.  For me, the lyrics are about hope, starting over, facing every day as a new day and being ready to shine.

“A moment in the sun…”

So many of my friends that have lost weight and taken up running have had positive changes in their lives that they attribute directly to their success at weight loss.   My friend Tiff got promoted and is just glowing from the self-confidence that she’s gained professionally and as a runner.  CJ has been featured in her local newspaper and is giving talks on weight loss using social media.  Melissa ran a marathon and has taken up a new career in art and writing. And there are so many more.  We’re all having “moments in the sun” that for many have been a long time in coming.  We’ve “spent our time in the Mudville Nine, watching it from the bench.”  And now here we are enjoying our own time in “centerfield” and loving the fun and new adventures that we’ve brought into our own lives.

Let’s give this game a ride… Because as Fogerty sings:  “You know the time is now.

 

Inspiration for 2013

A few quotes to start off the year from C. Joybell C.

“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.” 

“I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.” 
 
“The only way that we can live, is if we grow.
The only way that we can grow is if we change.
The only way that we can change is if we learn.
The only way we can learn is if we are exposed.
And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open.
Do it. Throw yourself.” 

“We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better.” 
 
“No, this is not the beginning of a new chapter in my life; this is the beginning of a new book! That first book is already closed, ended, and tossed into the seas; this new book is newly opened, has just begun! Look, it is the first page! And it is a beautiful one!” 
 
Here’s to new beginnings — unwritten books, bigger ponds and the beauty of flight — and all the growth and learning that you can stand in 2013 — and then a little more! 

The Why Behind Your Want

Are you making a New Year resolution?  Or simply wanting to do something differently in the coming year?  You know that if you’re going to be successful, you need to maintain your motivation day after day, and week after week. That takes commitment. It’s not going to be enough to say “I want to lose 10 pounds” or “I want to start exercising” or “I want to launch my new business” unless you really get in touch with the WHY behind your want.  What’s the motivation that will keep you going when the going gets tough, you have a bad day, or your “resolution” fails? We’ve all got different motivations… and getting in touch with them is key to making lasting lifestyle change.

Here’s what motivates me:

Power: When I’m taking care of myself, I feel strong, powerful, and capable of doing just about anything. I can quiet the negative voices in my head that try to sabotage me. I bring a positive outlook to life, rather than complaining or feeling like a victim. I feel more aware and alive – controlling my destiny and not just reacting to what happens. From this place of power, I can choose to continue to grow and to learn.

Goals:  Having a goal that I’m working toward helps keep everything else in perspective. I am less bothered by the “little things” – annoyances that might creep into my day — when I am taking care of the things that are important to me. When I have short and long-term goals, I always have something new to discover or a reason to celebrate. I have my head up — looking out toward the horizon rather than at all the little bumps in the asphalt.

Health: Health is a huge motivator, especially as we add years. I know that because I have lost weight and gotten fit I am healthier than I was a decade ago.  That’s more than just a feeling; it is supported by objective data from the doctor’s office. I am hopeful that good health today will add quality of life in future years.

Inspiration: It feels great when other people tell me that I have motivated them to exercise or lose weight. I realize that I can be a positive force for good and that others can learn from what I am doing for myself.

Seeing Results: I love it when the scale “rewards” my efforts. Even though it’s still the same “me” in the mirror, my brain reports that I look better when I’m headed in the right direction.

Energy and Speed: I have much more energy when I’m on track and don’t just drag myself through the day. I also know that on average, each pound lost means 2 seconds off my per mile race pace. I love setting PRs in my races and I love the satisfaction of getting faster even as I get older.

Your list most likely isn’t the same as mine, it’s unique to you.  But having it – and writing it down somewhere that you can see it and remind yourself — will be helpful to you as you set on your journey of making meaningful changes in your life.

So… what motivates YOU?  What are the whys behind your wants?