Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Top 5 Mistakes Beginner Marathoners Make

I know many of you out there reading this are first timers so I want to share a few pieces of advice with you before the big day.  Here are a few mistakes I have learned from over the years:

1- Going out TOO fast!  You don't have to be a beginner to make this mistake, but you will learn from it.  The first several miles of the marathon are amazing.  Your adrenaline is pumping, the crowd is thick and you feel great.  It is hard NOT to go fast.  The real race starts at mile 18 when the crowd thins, your body is tired and you still have 8 miles to go.  Make sure you reserve some energy for that.

2. Being stingy with the bodyglide. There is nothing worse than having legs that feel great- except for the raw skin that has chafed on your upper thigh.  Yuck.  Make sure you are over enthusiastic with that body glide on your arms, legs and anywhere else you might get rubbed.

3. Having spectators look for them.  Find out where your spectators are going to be (including which side of the street) and you keep your eye out for them.  It is really hard for a spectator to spot you in the moving sea of 35,000 runners, but there is a good chance you can find them.

4. Not having a bathroom plan!  If you have not started talking about it yet, you will after October 9th.  Poop.   Experienced runners know that if you don't get it out before the race, there is a real possibility it will come out during the race, and that is bad.   Remember that when you arrive at the race Sunday morning you are going to be sharing the port-a-potties with 35,000 others which can lead to some killer lines.  Plan to arrive early or get it out of the way at home before you go.

5. Trying new shoes/clothes/food day of race.  I have said it before and I will say it again- please don't try anything new on race day.  Go with what you know and you will be fine.  New shoes (even the same brand, make, etc) may have a stitch that gives you a blister the size of a quarter.  The new flavor of gel could make you want to hurl.  Best to be safe and go with the old stuff.

I hope I have saved a few catastrophes!
-Coach A

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hello Marathoners- What you need to know RIGHT NOW for race day!

It has been a while since I have posted- life has gotten a little crazy!  Despite that, I am have gotten all my marathon training runs in and am getting super pumped for the big day!   Since I am going to be living, breathing and thinking marathon nonstop for the next two weeks, my blog posts will follow that trend.  Stay tuned here for everything you need to know about running, spectating or possibly even entering the event some day!

The Chicago Marathon is exactly two weeks away.  If you are racing, you should have received your above confirmation packet.  There is no turning back now!  At this point in your training, there are some things that you need to have figured out.


1) Be able to run 13 miles easily.  Most of you probably ran 13 miles this weekend.  It should have felt short.  You have to run twice that in two weeks. Enough said.

2) Have your nutrition plan down. Know what you are going to eat, and when you are going to eat it.  Will you drink Gatorade or just stick to water?  Are you taking any salt tablets?  Have you practiced eating the exact foods you plan to eat on race day?  The long runs are over so your chances to practice this are behind you!

3) Have a warm weather and cold weather outfit picked out.  Thankfully this year in Chicago we had very hot days, cool days, rainy days and sunny days to get our long runs in.  This means we should be prepared for anything on race day.  You should know what you are going to wear if it is 40 degrees or 90 degrees on October 9th.  Wearing a new shirt or shorts for a 26 mile run is never a good idea.  Can you say chafe?

4) Have an idea of what your race pace will be.  Provided you were doing your long runs at an easy, sustainable pace, you should be able to knock 30-40 seconds off per mile on race day.   How do you know if that is the case for you?   If you could walk around town, take care of your house/kids, etc after your long runs, you should be good.  If you have ever done a marathon and gone your fastest, think of how you felt afterwards.  Chores and chasing kids is not likely after running at your peak speed for 26.2.

5) Have race weekend logistics down.   Do you have to travel? Where are you staying?  When are you picking up your packet?  Figure out all the logistics now so marathon weekend can be as stress free as possible.

If you haven't got some of these figured out, get on it today!  Questions about any of it?  You know where to find me!
-Coach A

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ironman Wisconsin- No Race Envy Here!

Over the past couple years I have been asked the question time and time again.  "Will you do another Ironman?"  My response has always been,  "Maybe in a decade.  When my kids are old enough to not care if I spend a whole Saturday away training.   And they are teenagers so I don't mind being away from them either ;)"

The last time I watched an Ironman I was 6 months pregnant and dripping with jealousy.  I had done my Ironman less than a year earlier and in a matter of months had gone from the best shape of my life to handing over my body to the growing child inside.  As excited as I was about having a baby,  I missed being fit.  Surrounding yourself with 2,000 athletes who are at their prime and seeing them accomplish one of the ultimate fitness goals can make a pregnant girl sad.  On that day I tried to make myself feel better by plotting when I could register for my next Ironman.  I had race envy.

For those of you have experienced race envy, you know what it is.  For those of who have not, here is my best explanation:  It is kind of like running into an old boyfriend (or girlfriend).  You get kind of uneasy feeling like you know something is wrong, but you are not quite sure what it is.  You may feel the need to tell everyone that you are a triathlete and not just a mere spectator.  Just like when you run into an ex and you only think about the good times, you just think about how great it would be to be racing.  You forget about all the annoying parts (like the training, the stress, the hard work!).   And then you do something crazy like call your ex (or register the next day for the 2012 Ironman- which I did NOT do).

Well,  things have changed since I was pregnant.  Obviously, I have gotten back into tris and I love racing.  I also have continued coaching and enjoy getting new people involved with and hooked on the sport. However, as much passion as I have for triathlon, my time is limited.  I get about an hour a day to workout and focus on quality instead of quantity.  I have chosen to compete in sprint tris as I have no time to get out on long bike rides.   My one long run per week is my "me" day to workout for 2-3 hours.  And I do not want to work out a minute more.

Nowadays I rather be at the park with Alex or reading her a book.  Likewise, I rather be cheering on the sidelines of the Ironman with my toddler than looking for her in the crowd while competing in a day-long race.  And I feel totally good about that.   I still have the utmost respect for those racers who commit themselves to the training and racing and I am happy to be there to cheer them on.  I guess I can just say that I am in a different stage in my life.

So, if you ask me today if I will do another Ironman, my answer would be no.  But I am not naive enough to think that race envy won't come creeping back one of these years when I my kids are a little older and I am volunteering at IMWI.  Only time will tell!

-Coach A

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ironman Wisconsin- Race Report #2

We spent a few hours last night watching the run at miles 9/22 of the race.  It was pretty quiet out there as far as spectators, as it was the farthest point out on the course.  This is where the runners have to dig deep to keep going- there is no crowd, the finish line is far away and you have to do it TWICE.

In the beginning the runners were sparse but as the mid packers starting coming it was really fun to cheer people along.  If you have been to an Ironman, you know that the race bibs have the participant's first name on it.  As a result, you can cheer people on by name and it makes it a little more personal.

We cheered for strangers for a couple hours and spent a mere few minutes with the friends we actually knew. The range of speed at this point was huge.  The pros running past us were booking and it was painful to watch some of the age groupers walk so slowly, knowing they had 13 miles to go.

Spectating with a toddler was challenging, but I am glad we did it.  She even got into it at some points, clapping and cheering for the "runners".  Congrats to all the finishers and I hope you are feeling great about your accomplishments today!

-Coach A

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ironman Wisconsin- Race Report #1

One of my favorite weekends of the year is when my hubby and I come up to Ironman Wisconsin and spend a couple days in Madison.  For a few years we volunteered and had a great day helping out the athletes.  Last year, with an 8 month old, we decided to skip it.  This year, however, we packed up the toddler (now 20 mths) and headed up for the weekend.  Volunteering with her around is not an option, but we know a few people racing so we thought it would be fun to cheer them on.

It is a beautiful day here in Madison- clear blue sky and hitting just over 80 degrees.  The racers will probably be warm on the bike, but it was amazing outside this morning and Lake Monona was smooth and calm.    We looked out onto the lake for a while as the swimmers did their two loops.  By 7:45 am we saw people running towards their bikes and others just beginning the second lap of the swim.  The span of abilities at this race is staggering- professionals going for the win all the way to age groupers just trying to make the cutoff times.

After trying to fight the crowd, we settled in to spectate where athletes run out of T2 (in this race they have indoor changing areas before they run out to the terrace where their bikes are racked).  We got there just as masses of people were exiting the building.   It is fun to watch the range of emotions- some athletes are serious and have their game face on, others are interacting with the crowd, while others look just plain freaked out.  We managed to catch a couple of our friends as they ran out and cheered them to start the bike.

For those of you who are not familiar with the bike route in Wisconsin, it is hilly and challenging.  It is amazing what you can done while they are out there on that course- eat, nap, watch football, etc.  We will be heading back for the run shortly and I will try to post some pics of the awesome athletes.  It is exciting to think about how many people will be accomplishing a dream today!!  Go Ironmen!

-Coach A

Friday, September 2, 2011

Top Reasons to Sit Out the Chicago Tri

Okay, I said I had love/hate relationship with this race so here are my top gripes.   I still think it is better to go for it than sit it out ;)

1)  The entry fee is over $170 with all the fees.  Uggh.

2)  The goody bag was a stretch.  Mine had an oversized t-shirt, some bandaids, and lots of ads?  I have gotten better goody bags at local 5ks.

3)  It will be one of the longest days of your life.  You need to be out of transition by 5:30 and may not even start your race til 10 am.  That is rough.

4) There were no mile markers on the run!  What?

5) The age group and overall awards were medals identical to the ones you got for crossing the finish line.  Except for the inaccurate printing on the back (mine claims I was 2nd in the 30-34 age group for the Sprint AND International distances).

6) The food at the end is a little lacking and is the same every year.   Let's spice it up a little ans surprise the athletes with something new!

7)  Don't expect a fast time here- the transitions take forever and the course can get crowded!

8)  You can host a professional triathlete they may eat you out of house and home.  Just kidding!  Sort of!

I don't like to be negative so I am going to leave it at that.  I came up with ten reasons to race, and only 7.5 not too!  That means you should do it! 

Looking towards 2012?  Let's get in touch and make it happen! - Coach A