Chasing Dreams and What-Ifs

henry ford quote

Let’s talk about lofty goals, shall we?  I always love having a big, broad goal put out there in front of me to chase.  I’m a stay-busy type, a dream-chaser, a go-getter, a keep-reaching-for-more sort of person.

Some might call it ambition, some might call it being anxious or restless, I just call it being me, and it’s what I’ve always done.  As I get older, I’m able to find words for it and better able to find strategies to harness it, and today it takes the form of big bristol boards plastered on my bathroom walls and notebooks tucked into my purse.

Lately, I’ve been searching for some more carrots to chase, and if you follow me online, you’ll know that I’m currently in peak training mode for the New York City marathon, coming up on November 3rd. nyc marathon logo

Facebook: Dr. Ashley Worobec

Instagram: @ashburlington

Marathon training on Instagram: @thisismymarathonlife

I’ve been running with a great Oakville-based group for the past couple of years, and in them I’ve found other people who don’t think it’s crazy to get up before 5am to run, who also plan their weekends around their workouts, and who enjoy the well-earned fatigue that training brings.  I’ve found my tribe and suddenly my crazy seems normal.  When I joined them in November 2017, my goal was to run a half-marathon fast enough to qualify me for New York.  I’d failed to meet the qualification standard twice on my own (once in spectacular fashion: “Then the Wheels Came Off“), and only six months after I began training with them, I qualified with my Mississauga half marathon result.

But I still identified myself as “only” a half-marathoner.  I’d see their marathon training schedules, thankful for my shorter distances, and while I admired them from afar, I was content to plug away in my 10k/21k domain.  But then June 2019 rolled around, and my own New York marathon training officially began.  You see, NYC is a once-in-a-lifetime race for me, and I plan to run stride for stride with my dear friend Michaela.  We aren’t chasing the clock, we’re just two working moms who love to run and want to prove to ourselves that we can do this.  Somewhere along the way though, I’ve started to love the long stuff again.  I’ve started to embrace the big mileage, the early bedtimes, the huge appetite.  I’ve started to anticipate Sundays and watch NYC promo videos, I’m following marathoners on social media, and I’m researching race entries.  Just this morning, I looked up my age group’s Boston qualifying time (BQ) (spoiler alert: it’s 3:40).  WHO AM I? boston marathon logo

So while I search for my next goal, thoughts of a BQ ruminate in my brain…..

Big dreams.  Big goals.  Just how I like it.

 

 


@thisismymarathonlife

As most of you know, I’m running in the New York City marathon on November 3rd. nyc marathon logo

It took me a few tries to qualify for this prestigious event (Then the Wheels Came Off), but I managed to meet the time standard last Spring at the Mississauga half marathon (Race Report and Reflection).  This has allowed me to bypass the general lottery system that New York implements to meet the huge demand for their race, and I’m grateful for an automatic entry.

But I haven’t run a full marathon in 12 years.

Two kids, a husband, a business, and a very busy life, are going to make this training plan feel very different than it did for 27-year-old me.  I turn 40 this year, and what better way to celebrate than to challenge my limits again and run in one of the biggest races in the world.  I have several friends and training partners running in this race too, and I can’t wait to be side by side with my dear friend Michaela, who will be running in her first marathon (21.1kms of Friendship).

  • Are you interested in seeing what’s involved in marathon training?
  • Have you ever wondered how someone can run 42.2km?
  • Would you like to see how I balance it all?

Many of you have asked me questions like this over the years, so I started a shiny new Instagram account to show you exactly how I’m going about this.  You’ll see my workouts, my paces, what I eat, when I go to bed, and how I recover.  I’ll show you the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, and the highs and lows of the next 19 weeks.

131It’s 131 days until I toe the line on Staten Island and cross that finish line in Central Park.

Come along for the ride: follow me @thisismymarathonlife.


Race Report and Reflection: Mississauga half marathon

This post will serve as my official “race report,” nine days after the fact.  For the runners in the crowd, I hope you’ll like the tactical parts of this report, and for the never-give-up-ers, I hope you’ll like the rest of it:

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Thank you to Jodie for the photo. #teamtap #teamnuun

You see, I ran in the Mississauga half marathon on Sunday, May 6th, and finally met my goal of qualifying for the 2019 New York marathon.  I say finally, because I’ve failed at this goal twice before, both times in spectacular fashion with lots of tears, walking, and self-doubt.  In June of 2017, in my first attempt to qualify, I went out fast and the wheels came off on a 40C day.  I walked a good portion of my second attempt in September 2017; another 40C day in which I got caught up in race day adrenaline and went too hard out of the gate.  It’s an error that I continue to make, a lesson I can’t seem to grasp, a mistake that I’ve repeated far too many times- and going out too fast is the kiss of death for a distance runner.  But with roughly twenty-five years of running and racing under my belt, and more than fifteen years of marathoning experience, it’s still so hard to follow a race plan.

The thing is, if you’re doing it right, you’re usually training on tired legs.  Training plans have peaks and valleys of mileage, but endurance training requires, well, endurance.  Runners are often accustomed to a certain amount leg heaviness and fatigue throughout their training cycles; in fact, a Sunday does not feel like a true Sunday if I don’t have that welcomed you-ran-damn-hard achy leg feeling all day.  Masochism?  Perhaps.  But ask a runner, they’ll tell you: tired legs are earned.  However, a few weeks out from race day, runners transition into their taper.  A taper is a period of time, usually 2-3 weeks in length, whereby running mileage drops way back to allow for recovery.  A taper can make or break a race, and when executed properly, it gets you to a point where you can toe the line feeling fit and fast.

For my last few races in particular, I’ve tapered really well.  I’ve listened to my body, I’ve dropped my mileage, I’ve focused on rest, hydration, nutrition, and mobility.  I’ve come to the line feeling great.  And I’ve gone out recklessly fast.  But the thing is, I’ve always done that.  I’ve always been a go-out-fast runner who red lines in the second half of the race and holds on for dear life.  Yet as I’ve gotten older, my body wants a different strategy; I can no longer fake a race plan and beat the system, and I’m learning that my mid-race rally and recover is not what it once was.

So with careful thought and consultation, and the 1:37 NYC qualifying time looming large, my race plan was this:

  • 0-5km: 4:40/km pace (this is a very comfortable pace for me; my long runs are usually in the 4:50/km pace, so this is just slightly faster)
  • 5-10km: 4:35/km pace
  • 10-15km: 4:30/km pace
  • 15-19km: getting progressively faster, aiming for 4:20 pace by 19km
  • 19-21km: 4:15/km pace
  • Goal: progressive build, negative split.
  • ‘A’ goal: sub-1:35
  • ‘B’ goal: sub-1:37 (1:37 is my NYC qualifying time)

The mantras in my head were:

  • HAVE FUN
  • Start slow
  • Run faster, not harder
  • Let the hills carry you down
  • HAVE FUN

What actually happened:

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My split times remained pretty steady throughout; a novel race strategy for me!

  • I ran into two training partners at the starting area who were running the full marathon, targeting a steady 4:29-4:34/km pace.  I ran the first 7km with them, and they kept me hovering around 4:30/km pace.  (thank you Jose and Steve, I surely would’ve gone out too fast yet again, because I was feeling great!)
  • I picked it up on kilometres 7-15.  Much of this section is downhill, and I tried to open up my stride.  I was feeling great, and had the 1:35 pace bunny in my sights.  I passed him at 16km.
  • I started to suffer around 17km.
  • My pace started to deteriorate around 19km, but I was able to pick it back up at 20km.
  • I got really dizzy immediately after finishing and had to take a knee; surprising, since my heart rate stayed low the entire race and I did not red line at all.
  • My husband and kids met me at the finish line (and were able to live-track me on the raceday app!).
  • My dear friend Michaela also ran the half and also met the NYC standard.  I saw her in the finishing chute; I hadn’t known she was running, and she hadn’t told anyone, so as not to put more pressure on me or on her.   You see how running is such a mental game?
  • I gave it everything I had.
  • I HAD FUN.

Interestingly, this was the 15th annual Mississauga race weekend, and in the inaugural race in 2004, Michaela and I also ran: she came in 1st place and I came in 3rd.  This year, however, I finished in 1:34:02, a full 11 minutes slower than my personal best. And yet, this race was my proudest.  That eleven minute gap between my best and my present represents a husband, two babies, a career, and a life far more full and content than I ever could have imagined.  Gone are my student days, my 110km/week days, my podium days.  Now I’ve got two impressionable little people and a finish line full of hugs and tears, always tears.

I had tears that at that finish line too, but they were oh-so-happy tears.