Thursday, June 10, 2010

I'll think of a title later...

*Big breath* Maybe I should have posted half of this post earlier in the week to make it shorter but oh well... I'm a little behind. What else is new?

Marathonfest started Tuesday morning at 4:30 in the morning. I had to leave my house at 4:00am. I was actually so excited I couldn't sleep Monday night. I've been looking forward to the start of this program since I signed up a while ago. How was it? In one word... disappointing. But don't worry this story has a happy ending on Thursday (this morning). But... I'll start with Tuesday.

I got there and had no idea where to go. I parked where the handout said to park but couldn't find a way to get around the fence that went around the track so I ended up having to walk all the way around the block and that was frustrating. As soon as I got to the track I saw a whole of runners taking off. I asked the last one in the group "is this marathonfest" and he replied as he ran by "yeah we're warming up feel free to join" and then off he went.

Joining a warmup where I had no idea how long or at what pace they were going (and they were SPEEDY!) didn't sound like a lot of fun so instead I meandered over to the track in hopes that I could warm up properly by stretching and jumping in place since I didn't want to get too far from our workout-start area. There were a few others there, no one said anything to me... I realize at this point in the post I'm seeming very needy. I guess I was just expecting someone to be there to greet new people on the first day and make them feel like they're in the right place. Something to make this seem at least an ounce of comfortable.

That's when... Robin appeared and made my morning at least a little bearable! We walked around the track and I told her that despite my text the previous night saying how "not nervous" I was, I was suddenly very nervous. We quickly found out her group was not training in the same place mine was and we had to part ways. I was pretty sad about that. We waved goodbye and I put on my big girl panties and got ready to do speedwork.

The leader then explained what we'd be doing... some set of laps around the track, rest laps, more running laps, another couple rest laps... and then handed out pieces of paper with pace charts on them and goal times for the marathon. It all looked pretty foreign so I passed them on to the next person without really reading them. She mentioned "10k pace" at one point so I figured I'd just use that as my pace.

After about an hour of "the workout" we were done. Robin appeared again (she's magical!) and asked me how I was feeling. I was just short of bursting into tears. I told her I was disapointed and bummed. No one had talked to me, I felt alone even though there were 100+ people on the track... it wasn't at all the happy group experience I was looking for. Being the concerned "mom" she is she recommended maybe I switch to her group since they seemed to be a bit more friendly... I told her I wanted to try this for at least a week and see how it went. She gave me a chocolate chip clif bar from her car (this woman is SERIOUSLY magical :D it's my favorite flavor), gave me a concerned hug, and drove away.

I spent the next few days really thinking about what I wanted to do. Running has always been fun for me. Granted I've had a few hungover runs but those were mood-specific, not workout specific. If I had don the same run not hungover it WOULD have been fun. I feel like this speed workout wouldn't have been fun regardless (especially since I was in a GOOD mood this morning). I talked to my friends about it who are also doing hte program (but in the evening so they were not at the workout) and they told me "speedwork isn't supposed to be fun but you won't reach your full potential otherwise".

I feel like that is complete BS. What the heck is my "full potential" anyway? Is "full potential" what you get when you put EVERY second you possibly have into training? Cause if that's it I can't do that anyway and I don't know why I'd even aim for "full potential". In my mind... running is a condiment to my life... like ketchup. I like ketchup... but the main idea isn't the ketchup, it's the fact that the ketchup makes the hot dog so good (in this analogy the hot dog is life). If the ketchup stops tasting good I'd rather just have the hot dog. Or... if the "really good "brand of ketchup becomes too expensive I'll switch to the generic because it's really not about "how good" the ketchup is. I kinda feel the same way about running. Running makes me happy. It helps me keep stress out of my life. It's super fun. If it stops being these things then why am I doing it? What's the point? I was starting to think I just wanted the hot dog. Screw the fancy-schmancy "training program" ketchup and go for the grocery store brand (a.k.a. training on my own).

This is why I didn't write a blog post on Tuesday. I knew it would be negative and and I just wanted to give this a real chance before I ditched or bashed it on the internet. I've talked to others who have done the group and LOVE the experience so I figured maybe it was just a bad day... try again?

On to Thursday (this morning)....

As bad as Tuesday was, today was THAT good. We were not doing speedwork (thank god) but instead doing a 3.1 mile time trial to determine our pace groups for the upcoming long runs on the weekends. I already picked a pace group (a nice slow one with walk breaks) so I wasn't really concerned about my time. I had even emailed back and forth with my paceleader, telling her my story and I knew what she looked like from facebook (yeah.. I'm a stalker :D). I was excited to meet the people I'd be running with on Saturday! I knew in order to be "fast enough" for my pace group I'd need to hit a 31:00-32:00 minute 5k. My average is 27 minutes.

So... right before the start of the 5k I met a woman (not in my pace group) who was also training for her first. We started talking and realized we have the same 5k pace so we decided to run together. Furthermore, seconds before the gun went off I realized I was standing next to my paceleader and my future group! I waved cheesily and said "Hi!" and she said "Are you Lauren?" and we quickly introduced me to the group. They all seemed seriously fun and laid back. I was already feeling great at this point...

The 5k went great, I ran with the girl I had met first and we finished in 27:15. I asked the organizer if I could stay in my "slower" group even though my time put me in a faster group and she said "of course!". After the race I met back up with someone from my pace group named Mark (I think?) and we talked for a while. He told me the group is one of the more laid-back ones and mostly just full of friendly people that like getting long runs in on Saturday. This sounded amazing to me after hearing so many people stressing about their times and paces at the speedwork on Tuesday. We waved goodbye and I walked to my car with a giant grin on my face. I am REALLY looking forward to Saturday now. The schedule said 10 miles but Mark is going 12 and I have a feeling I'll be joining him. I don't really want to drop down to 10 after doing 14 last week.

So.. all in all it was a great experience today. Check out my NEW marathon training schedule as of this week. Pretty exciting.

Once again, thanks Robin for being so supportive of me!

I can't believe ANYONE out there would really read this ENTIRE post lol!


  1. I am so happy that today was a better experience than Tuesday....So great that you were able to take that situation and continue to remain positive (even though it didn't feel like it) and give it a second chance...Marathoning is about the process and you totally get will only help you to have success on Oct 10, 2010! Great job!

  2. Glad you had a good time today! I find it odd that the first day of the program is speed work. That seems like a recipe for disaster for beginners. Ours started on Saturday where we did the magic mile and got placed into pace groups, then Tuesday is our mid-week run (varies between easy, tempo, hills, etc), then Thursday is speed work. I understand why Marathonfest has speed work on Tuesdays, because we have the track on Thursdays, but they should have started the program on a Thursday so as not to intimated newbies. What walk break intervals does your group do?

  3. Haha! I was thinking about hot dogs too, except with mustard :)
    I am glad your group ended up working out, I hope you have fun on Saturday!!

  4. Thanks Alicia - those are very kind words. I do hope this all pays off on 10-10-10 :D

    Kitzzy - the group i'm with does 5:1's and yeah... I agree they should have started with an easy run or at least just a sociable meeting or something other than speedwork. It was pretty horrible.

    Harold - Ummmm cool? LOL

  5. I think you have the right attitude... hang in there for a little bit longer and hopefully it'll get better!!!

    I disagree about the speedwork... I think speedwork can be fun... I remember a post from you a while back where you talked about running in the heat and not even wanting to brush the sweat from your brow because you were too busy being a badass... well that's how I feel a good speedwork out session should go... you push yourself hard (but not too hard) and by the end you feel exhausted but in a good way because you feel like a badass!

    As for reaching your "full potential"... that's ridiculous... You're just trying to run your first marathon, not break the world record... you're absolutely right... just have fun with it, put in the mileage (whatever the pace), and finish your marathon with a smile!... after that you can decide if you want push yourself further by running a faster marathon or BQing or not if you don't want to!

  6. Jenny - Thank you :D

    Ethan - I'm replying in an email to you :D

  7. Your group sounds similiar to mine. I saw your question on my blog and my group is called Kenyan Way. I have been training with Sean Wade (US masters champion and former Olympian) for going on 4 years. I have gone from a marathon of 5:31 to 4:20 since Jan 2007.

    we also meet for speed and hill workouts or in my case since i am training for chicago my workouts are a bit diff from the summer group, and then on saturday, its long run day, where everyone meets and we take off in pace groups of what goal time we want for our marathon we are training for.

    hope that helps.

    and yes i have a schedule that he puts together for me based on how fast i want chicago to be so that i know what pace to run my workouts and my long runs at.


  8. stay with them; judging by what i read in your post, run with the kethcup group. do the workouts but dont stress. if you just want it to be the condiment then approach it as such. believe me there are others just like you! :O)

    Junie B

  9. Glad everything worked out! Never give up. Thanks. I love ketchup!

  10. Runners are usually very friendly but some more than others. You nailed it when you said, it's about having fun or why do it. PS Ketchup is forbidden on hot must use mustard ;)

  11. Good for you, sticking it out after this intimidating experience. Going to a group workout is ALWAYS intimidating for me, and I usually am on the verge of tears when I finish. Props to you for making the best of it, lady!

  12. I'm very proud of you for sticking it out! You're super nice & sweet, people are going to love you, and it sounds like your pace group is going to be perfect for you. :) I can't wait to hear about your adventures with the group! (and I read the whole post so :P lol)

  13. I bet the speedwork groups are naturally less talkative because they are there to do speedwork... you shouldn't be talking while doing those runs! But it sounds like they were too cold! Not even saying hello? What? The slower paced group on Thursday sounds much better.

  14. So.. my comment may be delayed but I read the entire post Thursday ;)

    1) Chocolate Chip Cliff Bars are my favorite flavor too!
    2) I LOVE KETCHUP. Really fries, chicken nuggets, etc. are just an excuse for me to eat a lot of ketchup. If I run out of ketchup I'm done with whatever I was dunking in it. I guess in my world life is the ketchup, running is the hot dog.
    3) I work with almost all guys. Your analogy, though great, is a "That's What She Said Joke" waiting to happen. Reread through those googles. Pretty funny.
    4) I REALLY appreciated this post. I've never done a group run and this shed light into what a marathon training group could be. Day #2 sounds a lot more fun. You're brave for sticking it out!