The Man That Started It All

374903_330425866972385_1053253969_n“When was the last time you sweat?”

The words, spoken with a thick Kenyan accent to me, an uncoordinated middle school soccer player, were my first introduction to running. On that summer afternoon, I had no idea that I would spend the next six years sweating in the desert heat through intervals, wearing a dirt groove into the outer perimeter of the park, or fine-tuning my mile splits during distance runs up and down the mountain’s trails.

Franks Munene, a tall, lanky man who wore sunglasses even when the sun had long gone down, looked every bit like a running machine. My dad and I always joked that he had legs like a grasshopper’s. (Although oddly enough, despite what the photo above suggests, I never actually saw him run – or wear running clothes for that matter! That shot was taken well before my time. Even still, I knew the guy was fast.)

But Franks knew running. The runners he trained were some of the best in the city. He had a method to his madness from which he never deviated, and you were expected to trust the process if you wanted to succeed.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday morning, Franks would pull up to the park in his white minivan, emerge toting a laminated but worn poster full of illustrated stretches, and start my teammates and I on our warmup. And no matter if it was 105 degrees or pouring rain, he’d declare with a grin, “This is perfect weather for running!”

It wasn’t until we’d completed our warmup, stretching routine, high-knees and butt-kicks (“Windows closed! Pick your pockets!”), and strides, that he’d reveal our workout for the day. That “method” I mentioned earlier? It was all in his head, and frankly, there was no way to predict what workout was on tap that day. No pattern to follow. It was a crapshoot that kept us on our toes and gave us no time to really mentally prepare for the pain game he was about to dish out. It kept things interesting, that’s for sure!

unnamedThen we’d churn through repeats around the park, the drop of his arm starting each set. Three laps equalled a mile. Or we’d set off on one of our many routes around the neighborhood. Usually it was some combination of a loop on the roads (there was Short Loop, Long Loop, Dakota, and Small Hills) mixed with a climb up the rocky trails on the mountain to The Mine or Blue Tank. I logged every single run in a little blue spiral notebook, my first training journal.

Sure enough, despite his high expectations (and seemingly impossible split times) that would sometimes leave me feeling frustrated, I was hooked. His passion and dedication for the sport rubbed off on me whether I liked it or not. The days when I’d log a new PR on a route were the absolute best. Sneaking in a workout in the dark before school made me feel like a badass. Climbs to the top of the mountain that rewarded us with views of the city were unforgettable. The competitor within me thrived with each challenge or goal he’d put on the table for me. His high expectations for me inspired me to reach higher. I loved it.

The hard work and commitment paid off. I became one of those top runners in the city. Those efforts landed me a spot on a DI collegiate team.

So why am I telling you about Franks? Because he’s the man who started it all. Sparked a lifelong passion. Made me the runner I am today. That park? It’s where my love of running was born. I took my “first steps” there. Those routes? They still feel like home, so comfortable and familiar, even though I hardly run on them anymore.

It’s been almost six years since I stopped training with Franks. And here I am, still running (obviously) and still loving it (thankfully). If that doesn’t demonstrate the impact he had on my life, I don’t know what does. I couldn’t put into words how thankful I am that he was my coach. That he never gave up on me. That he pushed me and guided me toward my goals. The memories I have at that park, on those runs with my teammates, are priceless.

photo 2I ran into one of my teammates recently in NYC. I hadn’t seen her in years, and I nearly burst into tears with happiness. She informed me that Franks hadn’t changed a bit. The memories came flooding back. Man do I miss it.

QUOTE OF THE POST: “You have to wonder at times what you’re doing out there. Over the years, I’ve given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.” – Steve Prefontaine 

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The Game Plan: Getting Serious About Boston

photoHere we are just TEN weeks away from the Boston Marathon, and I can’t believe it’s already so soon! A couple of goals (via my Believe I Am training journal) that I hope to attain this year (and maybe by Boston) are: reintroducing some structure to my training and breaking into the 3:1X’s in the marathon. If the stars can align come April 15–in other words, no blazing hot temps and a healthy me at the starting line–I’d like to give myself a shot at a PR. Regardless of the outcome on that day, I hope to use this build-up as my first attempt at checking those two goals off my list and start turning things like core and yoga into habits.

Which brings me to the training plan below, created by my coworker Budd Coates, a 4-time Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier and Senior Director of Health and Fitness at Rodale. I plan to use this as a framework for my training, modifying a tweaking things as I go, especially because this is my first venture into structured running since graduation. (In other words, I might flip-flop days or adjust paces here or there.) Without further ado, here’s the game plan!

(Approximate Paces //  Long Distance: 7:30-8:10, Easy: 8:00+, Moderate: 7:30-8:00, Tempo: 7:00-7:15, Hard Interval: 6:30-7:00)

Week of February 3 – February 9

Sunday: 12 miles

Monday: 0-20 min easy

Tuesday: 30-40 min moderate

Wednesday: W/O intervals – 10-15 min warmup // 2 x 2 min hard, 2 min easy, 4 min hard, 2 min easy, 6 min hard, 3 min easy // 10-15 min cooldown

Thursday: 0-20 min easy

Friday: 30-40 min

Saturday: 0-20 min easy

Week of February 10 – February 16

Sunday: 14 miles

Monday: 0-20 min easy

Tuesday: 30-40 min moderate

Wednesday: W/O intervals – 10-15 min warmup // 2 x 4 min hard, 2 min easy; 1 x 6 min hard, 3 min easy; 2 x 4 min hard, 2 min easy  // 10-15 min cooldown

Thursday: 0-20 min easy

Friday: 30-40 min moderate

Saturday: W/O tempo – 10-15 min warmup // 15 min tempo, 5 min easy, 5 min tempo // 10-15 min cooldown

Week of February 17 – February 23

Sunday: 0-20 min easy

Monday: 30-40 min moderate

Tuesday: W/O intervals – 10-15 min warmup // 3-4 x 3 min hard, 2 min easy, 1.5 min hard, 1 min easy // 10-15 min cooldown

Wednesday: 0-20 min easy

Thursday: 30-40 min moderate

Friday: W/O short intervals – 10 min warmup // 8-10 x 1 min hard, 1 min easy // 10 min cooldown

Saturday: rest day

Week of February 24 – March 2

Sunday: 16-18 miles

Monday: 0-20 min easy

Tuesday: 30-40 min moderate

Wednesday: W/O intervals – 10-15 min warmup // 4 min hard, 2 min easy, 6 min hard; 1-2 x 3 min easy, 8 min hard // 10-15 min cooldown

Thursday: 0-20 min easy

Friday: 30-40 min moderate

Saturday: W/O tempo – 10-15 min warmup // 30-35 min tempo // 10-15 min cooldown

Week of March 3 – March 9

Sunday: 0-20 min easy

Monday: 30-40 min moderate

Tuesday: W/O intervals – 10-15 min warmup // 3-5 x 4 min hard, 3 min easy // 10-15 min cooldown

Wednesday: 0-20 min easy

Thursday: 30-40 min moderate

Friday: W/O short intervals – 10 min warmup // 5-10 x 1 min hard, 1 min easy // 10 min cooldown

Saturday: rest day

Week of March 10 – March 16

Sunday: 20-22 miles

Monday: 0-20 min easy

Tuesday: 30-40 min moderate

Wednesday: W/O intervals – 10-15 min warmup // 4 min hard, 2 min easy, 6 min hard; 1-2 x 3 min easy, 8 min hard // 10-15 min cooldown

Thursday: 0-20 min easy

Friday: 30-40 min moderate

Saturday: W/O tempo – 10-15 min warmup // 30-35 min tempo // 10-15 min cooldown

Week of March 17 – March 23

Sunday: 0-20 min easy

Monday: 30-40 min moderate

Tuesday: W/O intervals – 10-15 min warmup // 3-5 x 4 min hard, 3 min easy // 10-15 min cooldown

Wednesday: 0-20 min easy

Thursday: 30-40 min moderate

Friday: W/O short intervals – 10 min warmup // 5-10 x 1 min hard, 1 min easy // 10 min cooldown

Saturday: rest day

Week of March 24 – March 30

Sunday: 18 miles

Monday: 0-20 min easy

Tuesday: 30-40 min moderate

Wednesday: W/O intervals – 10-15 min warmup // 2 x 6 min hard, 3 min easy, 8 min hard // 10 min cooldown

Thursday: 0-20 min easy

Friday: 30-40 min moderate

Saturday: W/O tempo – 10-15 min warmup // 20 min tempo // 10 min cooldown

Week of March 31 – April 6

Sunday: 0-20 min easy

Monday: 30-40 min moderate

Tuesday: W/O intervals – 10-15 min warmup // 2 x 2 min hard, 2 min easy, 3 min hard, 3 min easy, 2 min hard, 2 min easy // 10-15 min cooldown

Wednesday: 0-20 min easy

Thursday: 30-40 min moderate

Friday: W/O short intervals – 10 min warmup // 5-10 x 1 min hard, 1 min easy // 10 min cooldown

Saturday: rest day

Week(s) of April 7 – April 15 

Sunday: 40-50 min easy

Monday: rest day

Tuesday: 20-30 min easy

Wednesday: light W/O – 10 min warmup // 3-5 x 1.5 hard, 1.5 easy // 10 min cooldown

Thursday: 0-15 min easy 

Friday: rest day

Saturday: 15-20 min easy

Sunday: 0-20 min easy

Monday: BOSTON!

 

QUOTE OF THE POST: “I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.” – John Hanc

Sisters in Sport | On the Starting Line!

Nearly nine months ago, the running rut that had been dangerously brewing during the final few months of my collegiate career had reached its boiling point. Over ten years of competitive running had taken its toll on me mentally and physically, so I was eager for the fresh start and squeaky clean slate that graduation would bring. I knew I hadn’t fallen out of love with the sport, and I couldn’t wait for the chance to shake off the negative mojo and redefine who I am as a runner.

Come summer, I dove head-first into the uncharted territory of running just for me. I hit the refresh button by shedding structure and embracing spontaneity with my training and tried my hand at a new racing distance…the marathon. Though the build-up was far from perfect, the race itself was absolute perfection. Talk about a tidal wave’s worth of positive energy!

I’ve been riding that wave since that day last October. In (lucky!) 2013, I want to take full advantage of this empowering feeling and run with it!

photo 1-1Enter… the Sisters In Sport bloggers and the Believe I Am training journal, both created by Lauren Fleshman and Ro McGettigan.

One inspiring and compelling discovery I’ve made post-college is the online running community. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been drawn in by a runner’s post or motivated to hit the road myself because of Sunday morning’s inevitable stream of long run-related tweets. I started this blog as a means to join in on the conversation, and you can imagine my surprise (and excitement!) when I was asked to be part of a group of female bloggers dubbed the Sisters in Sport. (Check out the link above to find out what these lovely ladies are all about!) Using Lo and Ro’s Believe I Am training journal as a guide, I want to home in on what truly makes me a happy, healthy runner, and my hope is that some part of my journey will resonate with you, too!

photo 2-1Because this is my inaugural #SistersInSport/@BelieveIAm post, I want to share with you my goals for this year:

  • Keep up this streak of positivity: Whether it be a good or bad run or race, find something that went well and focus on that! (Exhibit A: The super-slow, but incredibly enlightening Walt Disney World Marathon.) 
  • Reintroduce some structure to my training: I want to find a way to love doing workouts again because I flat-out need to get faster. The key? Sticking to a schedule that’ll help me get there. Since college, I’ve rejected any sort of pre-determined plan, so I know I’ll need to up my commitment level and make sure I get in some proper training. (Creating a training plan for April’s Boston Marathon is actually my January goal of the month!)
  • Get fitter from head to toe: That means lots of core (I seriously need to improve my pitiful plank PR), lifting sessions and yoga. I plan to keep track of how often I hit the gym/studio each month to I make sure I actually do it.
  • Break into the 3:1X’s in the marathon: I don’t care if this happens at Boston or Marine Corps this year, but I would be SO stoked to be able to run an entire marathon around 7:30 pace. I know and believe I can do it!
  • Eat healthier in general: This translates into actually cooking more often. I won’t lie, my workplace’s super duper organic environment is starting to rub off on me!    

Between actually writing down these goals down in my journal and having y’all keep me accountable via this blog (the game plan is to write a post per month that’ll recap the previous month and discuss my goals for the upcoming month), I have a feeling I’ll be able to tackle most (if not all) of these goals. I know it won’t be easy, but that’s what keeps things interesting, right? =) Now, let’s get this year-long race underway!

QUOTE OF THE POST: “When you put yourself on the line in a race and expose yourself to the unknown, you learn things about yourself that are very exciting.” – Doris Brown Heritage

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If you’re interested, here are the other super-sweet Sister in Sport bloggers! Check ’em out:

Sarah
Laura
Larissa
Jessica
Jen
Laura
Jocelyn
Jennifer
Nicole
Morgan
Mollie
Jennifer
Sarah
Meggie
Bethany
Lisa
Dorothy
Kaitlin
Jane
Shannyn

Read my other Sisters in Sport posts here