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My 2015 Goals…and Another Marathon!

My 2015 Goals…and Another Marathon!

Hey, guys! I figured since it was February 5th, it would be a fine time to share some of my goals for this year. (You know, that post everyone else writes the first week of January.)

Better late than never, right? ;)

I usually spend the majority of January prepping for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (half recap HERE, full recap HERE, in case you missed ‘em!) and the following weeks basking in all the post-Disney happiness.

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WDW Marathon Weekend = A SUCCESS
(P.S. Anyone else heartbroken that the hat is almost completely gone?!)

It’s always nice to kick off a new year with a marathon, but now that January is over, I thought it was time to get serious about the rest of my goals for this year.

And I am happy to announce that I am officially registered for yet another marathon.

Marathon #5 will be…

::::::::::::::::::::drumroll, please::::::::::::::::::::

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www.thenewjerseymarathon.com

(And, just for the record, this was all Todd’s idea…so if anything goes horribly wrong, it’s my full intention to blame him.) ;)

Honestly, I wasn’t planning to run another marathon this soon. I figured I’d take a little bit of a breather, maybe do some half marathons, and gear up for another bout of marathon training in the late summer/fall.

But I’ve already done the New York Marathon…might as well run one that takes place literally 20 minutes from our house. :)

One of my first half marathons was the Long Branch Half Marathon back in 2013, which is part of the New Jersey Marathon — so it’ll be kind of cool to return and “go all the way” this time. And to be honest, I have a hard time finding the motivation to get out there and run if I don’t have a goal, so I think a spring marathon is probably the best way to keep my momentum going!

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2013 Long Branch Half…seems SO long ago.

Also? I want a sub-five. BAD.

I KNOW I could have done better in New York. I KNOW I could have pushed harder in my training…and I definitely KNOW that I wasn’t properly prepared for the course/conditions. I am positive that I can do better, and seeing how this course is supposedly pretty pancake-like (and it will hopefully still be fairly cool in April), I’m hoping I can finally see a “4″ in front of my marathon time!

But in addition to training for a marathon — AGAIN — I’ve also set my sights on some other health/fitness/running goals I hope to accomplish this year. And what better way to stay accountable than to announce them to the world? :)

1.) Get Fast Again. Okay, so I was never really “fast,” per se’. But ever since I started focusing on marathons, my average pace has climbed from somewhere in the 9:15 area to more like a 10:30. My half marathon times have jumped from around a 2:05 to a 2:25. And for the past several months, I’ve felt nothing but discouraged and sluggish. It’s hard to feel motivated to run when you feel like you’re running through molasses all the time. My legs are always tired, and I couldn’t/wouldn’t find the energy to do any sort of speedwork.

I want my “old” paces back, and I want them back NOW.

Here’s the thing, though…I kinda sorta have no flippin’ clue how to go about this. I used to just naturally run a 10ish-minute/mile, and my pace just improved with consistency alone. And that was that. I have to be honest and say I haven’t done a whole lot of speedwork. And definitely not in conjunction with training for a marathon.

This past weekend, I thought I’d push myself a little harder on some shorter distances, just to see what I could do…and what it would feel like to try to run faster again. And for the first time in forever (*cue Frozen song*) I managed to run a 3-miler in 30 minutes, and then the next day, I challenged myself a little harder to run 4 miles in under 40 minutes.

I was right around a 9:10 for the first mile, then a 9:20, then a 9:30, and a 9:40. I haven’t seen those kinds of paces in probably a year. Granted, it was not easy…those paces used to feel completely comfortable to me, and this time, I was sucking some serious wind. But I surprised myself. I CAN do it. It’s not going to be easy, but I hope that if I start pushing myself a little harder again, I can get back to where I was.

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2.) Set a New Half PR. So, I have a confession. My half marathon PR? It’s 2:03, and it’s from my very first half marathon (I’m not counting the Princess Half, because I did NOT run that one for time). It was way back in April 2013.

And that is just SAD.

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“Runapalooza” in Asbury Park: my half marathon PR. TWO YEARS AGO.

Since then, I’ve come close (that year I ran a bunch of halfs in 2:04, 2:07, 2:10…) but never actually beat it. This infuriates me to no end because you’d think that with all the finish lines I’ve crossed since then, I should have seen some improvement from my first race EVER, right?!

You know how I said I wanted a sub-five marathon? Well, I want a sub-two half marathon just as badly.

Clearly, I’m not training properly — and I will be the FIRST to admit that — and that’s something that needs to change pronto. I’m proud of all of my accomplishments, don’t get me wrong…but at the same time, I’m tired of “just” being happy to finish. I want to get better. I want to know that all the hours I pour into running are actually paying off.

In other news, I just realized that my half PR will no longer be useable when I apply for corral placement in Disney races. We *MAY* be running the Wine & Dine Half Marathon this year, and proof of time has to be from a race after November 2013. And I really don’t have any times from last year that are even remotely close to 2 hours. *Insert panic here.* You know I don’t run Disney race for time, but I DO want the best corral placement I can have…mainly so I can get to the characters (and the post-race PARTAY) a little faster. ;)

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Which means I have no choice but to stop resting on my laurels and actually get out there and RACE again. The plan is to take this month to start slowly building up some mileage (I’m using a beginner marathon plan for now), but mainly focus on speed for the shorter runs and trying to improve my longer run performance (more consistent paces, etc.). I hope to run a race or two in March to see what I can do…since I’m going to need the flattest course possible and cooler temperatures if I have any hopes of performing well.

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Getting our marathon training started…on snow and ice. Gotta love it. :)

We’re thinking of possibly doing The Love Run in Philadelphia, and there’s also a local 10-miler for St. Patrick’s Day (which I’ve also done in the past) but I recall it being nothing but hills…which is no bueno for me.

I’m realistic enough to know that my next half isn’t going to be a PR, but I’d like to get a little bit closer to 2:00. That way, I can take most of March and April to continue training for the marathon…and then maybe try another half or two (any of you New Jerseyans ever run the Wildwood Half?!) afterwards.

3.) Tackle a Tri. I’ve been talking about this one for, like, ever. I’d love to see what I can do in a multi-sport race. I love cycling, but between running and karate, I never feel like I can squeeze it into my weekly training regimen. And because of my fear of the swimming portion — I CAN swim, but I’m definitely not the strongest swimmer — I keep putting it off.

But I looked into a few local triathlons, like the Jersey Girl Triathlon, which seems perfect for a beginner like me. It’s a 3-mile run, 11-mile bike ride, and 300-yard swim. I haven’t signed up yet, so nothing is official. But I figure I’d already be well trained to take on a 3-mile run (duh), and whenever I do cycle it’s always for at least 10 miles, so I’d just have to become a little more consistent.

As for the swimming…well…I figure it’s a great form of cross-training, and I won’t be racing in the late spring/early summer (TOO HOT), so I can focus on improving my performance in the water.

4.) Drop a Few Lbs. I haven’t really written about this here yet. But I’m sure ya’ll can see that I don’t look quite the same as the picture in my blog header, which was taken two years ago. Ever since I started running marathons, I’ve watched my body change. I’m still wearing the same size and everything, but jeans that used to be loose just fit me now, some of my old running shorts are a little too tight for comfort, and some of my dresses are showing a bit more in my mid-section than I’d care to see. I’ve watched my legs and arms continue to get a little bulkier, which I do attribute partially to the Thai/Taekwondo and running — and that’s fine — but I find myself feeling self-conscious about my body again. And I hate it.

I had finally reached a point where I felt good about my body. Then I become more physically active than I’ve ever been, run a couple of marathons…and start to put weight back on? Where’s the fairness in THAT?!

I’ve been struggling to strike the balance between eating what my body needs to fuel my running — particularly for marathon training — and yet not overdoing it. I struggle with the “rungries” constantly, and that assumption that because I ran for 2 or 3 or 4 hours on a Sunday, that I can eat whatever I want. I haven’t weighed myself in more than 2 years, nor do I even a little bit care what my current weight is. I spent my entire life chained to that scale, and allowed a stupid little plastic box to crush my self-esteem time and time again.

All I care about is feeling comfortable in my own skin again, so my goal for this year is to get back to where I was, mentally speaking. I don’t plan to go back to counting POINTs again, but I know enough about portion sizes and how much I was eating when I lost the weight to simply tighten things up a bit and be more careful about what I’m putting into my body.

5.) Cook More. To that end, we’ve been making a more serious effort to cook in this house. Both of us pretty much suck at it, and I have absolutely no patience whatsoever in the kitchen. Truth be told, I really don’t enjoy cooking AT ALL. I know how to read nutrition labels, so I’ve always tried to pick the healthiest, most “natural” stuff to stock the kitchen…but we’ve been relying on frozen conveniences just a tad too often.

So I’ve turned back to Weight Watchers, so to speak, and we’re making an effort to try at least 2-3 new recipes a week from their database (my mom still has an active membership, so I just log-in under her name…shhhhhhh). I like it because the recipes are genuinely good (and good-for-you!) and you can filter them by prep time, difficulty level, etc…and there’s no shortage of main meal options that even an idiot like me can put together. And I’ve ordered a few cookbooks from Amazon. So, we’ll see what happens. :)

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20 minutes ’til dinner? That’s what I’m talkin’ about…

6.) Become a brown belt. I’m still plugging away at Taekwondo. Now that I’m no longer considered a beginner, the higher belt level classes tend to be a little later in the evening — which means I can squeeze more of them into my weekly schedule.DSCF0180

I’m still way behind the other adults I joined with (who can make several classes per week), and that can be discouraging sometimes. And as much as I love martial arts, I know the wear-and-tear it puts on my legs isn’t always ideal for marathon training! But I’m doing the best I can to make it to class and work on mastering my curriculum for each belt…so, hopefully, I’ll be testing for my red belt soon, and maybe even my brown belt by the end of 2015! Patience is a virtue, right?

How are you doing on your 2015 goals?

Who has tips on speedwork for me?!

Northeast peeps…what are some of your favorite local half marathons?

Comments

  1. Congratulations Jennifer! You’ve set an impressive list of goals, and I know you’ll achieve anything you want :) Thanks also for the advice on marathon training. I’ve decided I need a little bit of help, so I’m joining a running club to keep me on track to train for my first full marathon. Thanks for the inspiration! :D

    • Aw, thanks, Morgan! And of course — any time! If you’re ever in need of other advice, tips, etc., just let me know. I think that’s a FANTASTIC idea, and the perfect way to stay on track! I’ve never run with a group before, but I bet it’s a lot of fun.

  2. Oh man, another marathon already? I can’t even think about marathon training right now without feeling overwhelmed. Best of luck getting that sub-5!

    My co-worker and I were thinking of signing up for Wine & Dine as well, and when I realized my proof of time would be “out of date” by three whole weeks by then, I realized I need to start picking up my pace again too!

    As for the triathlon thing – I did my first sprint tri last year, the New Jersey State Sprint Triathlon in Mercer County Park. My triathlon fear is the bike, and I managed to muddle through, but I think the swim portion of it, though a bit longer than Jersey Girl (its 500 meters) is in a lake, so its a lot less intimidating than the ocean, which I think is great for a beginner. Also, my wave was an all female wave, so I didn’t have to contend with any of the guys on the swim (except for the ones I passed from the wave ahead of me). Its a CGI race if you want to check it out.

    • Hahaha, believe me, I had those exact feelings about running another marathon, too. But then a week or two passes and this marathon junkie wants to go ahead and do it all over again, lol. ;)

      Yeah, not gonna lie, the realization that I need a new race PR for my Disney proof-of-time is giving me some extra motivation right now! We can totally do this! :)

      I will DEFINITELY look into that triathlon! That’s super close to me, also, and the idea of swimming in a lake is definitely appealing. Thanks for the tip!

  3. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog posts! Thanks for the inspiration, too! I, too, have been obsessing over the fact that my very first 1/2 marathon was my fastest ! Congrats on all your runs and good luck as you tackle your new set of goals.

    • Thanks so much for reading, Kelly! Ugh, it’s crazy that we just wouldn’t naturally get faster with every race, right?! (I wish!)

  4. I’m right there with ya! I was doing well before all this injury crap and I KNOW I have it in me to have better times on the half and full distance. Good luck with all your future plans!

    • ABSOLUTELY. Thanks, Meranda! It can be so frustrating not to “live up” to what you know you’re capable of achieving. But I’ll bet you’ll be back on track sooner than you think!

  5. great goals and i love you are hoping right back into a marathon. I have the LA marathon in about a month and I really want a sub 5 too! the main reason is because I plan on running it in 2016 since it’s the official olympic trial year (watch the trials on Saturday and then run it on sunday? it’s seriously a once in a lifetime chance) and to be in a corral you have to be sub 5:01. I want corral placement!!

    and I am planning on doing wine and dine-my favorite disney half marathon too! they changed the sign up for Dumbo and now you don’t have to enter a proof of time until much later in the process so you definitely have time to run a qualifying race. Can I suggest to find a flat and local 10k to run? it still counts for half placement and I always find I can run a 10k faster than I can a half (my current 10k time places me at 2:08 finishing time but my half PR is 2:13).

    • Thanks, Juliana! Ah, that is SO awesome! Fingers crossed for a sub-five — you’ve got this! :)

      That’s awesome! Hope to see you at W&D. That is BY FAR the best Disney half course! :) Believe me, I’ve been looking for 10Ks…there just aren’t a ton in my area. I know I can definitely manage a better time in a 10K than a half right now, no question about it, lol.

  6. So true for me too about marathon training and body ‘thickening’. So hard to get the calorie intake and output balance right. Maybe I need to be as motivated as you and sign up for a spring marathon! I’m thinking time wise that half marathons would be better.
    Thank you for sharing, I love reading your posts!

    • Aw, thanks so much! :)

      Ugh, exactly. Good to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this! I’m looking forward to running a couple of halfs in the spring, too. Getting ANY race on the calendar is enough to keep me going. :)

  7. Good luck! I know that you’ll rock yet another marathon!

  8. What an impressive list of goals for the year! I’m sitting here feeling like a total slacker!

    I am constantly in awe of how often you run races. I’ve run a race per month for the last 4 or so months and I’ve felt so “off” with my training. All of the taper and recovery weeks are making it hard for me to feel like I have any real momentum or consistency in training! I guess that’s okay since I’ve been PR’ing but it feels weird to not be building all the time.

    I’m so excited that you’re thinking about doing a tri! I think that’s just so awesome! I like swimming and running but I hate spending any amount of time on the bike. I have 0 booty padding so it just sucks! haha

    • OMG, stop! You train SO hard! And you’ve been kicking some major butt…can’t remember the last time I PRed in anything, haha. Whatever you’re doing is clearly working! :-D

      It’s weird because I feel like I NEVER race anymore. In 2013-early 2014 I went through a period of signing up for basically anything and everything, but these days I’m much more picky, lol.

  9. One of my goals is to improve on speed this year as well. I always tell myself that I am just a slow runner, but I wonder how much of that has to do with my training or lack of training on speed work?

    • YEP. Same here. I KNOW it’s something I need to be more consistent about, so I figure I’ll give it a try and see what happens. :)

  10. Jennifer with 2:03 half, you definitely should be able to reach a sub 5 marathon. By the way, I found the book Run Less, Run Faster extremely helpful after my first half. I went from a 2:25 to a 2:06 in just 6 months. I worked hard and it paid off. Cross training is a huge part of that method. Good luck with all your goals.

    • Thanks so much for the recommendation! I actually have that book (someone gave it to me) and I never used it. :( It scared me a little bit, not gonna lie, haha. I will definitely pull it out and see what I can do!

  11. LOVE your goals and love that you will be running the marathon in Long Branch! I am doing the half and then cheering for my friends doing the full, so I will be sure and cheer extra loud for you!

  12. I LOVE THIS — I haven’t weighed myself in more than 2 years, nor do I even a little bit care what my current weight is. I spent my entire life chained to that scale, and allowed a stupid little plastic box to crush my self-esteem time and time again.

    Can I get an AMEN! I am so thrilled to see that you have such a great mindset – fit and healthy and focused on your health!!! You go girl! You are an inspiration for all women, young and old! How many of us are tied to a number or a dress size??? It’s ridiculous, when you think about it, yet from a young age the mindset is all about vanity, not health. You are the epitome of a role model!!

    • Aw, thanks Diana! I really appreciate you saying that. And, YES, that’s exactly the habit I’m trying to break. I figure I can choose to ignore it and focus on other things…like what race I’m going to run next. ;)

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