First, Ragnar Chicago, then Training gets Real!

The next five months are going to be an 'out of the box' journey for me.  And that's a good thing!  That first step will be my participation in a long distance relay race called Ragnar Chicago.  And I mean LONG distance -- 196 miles to be exact!  I am joining a 12-member team from the Diocese of Chicago called the Steeple Chasers who are going to run 30+ hours starting on the morning of Friday June 6th and ending sometime on Saturday afternoon on June 7th.  It is surely to be an epic adventure, a ton of fun, and a great challenge!

Ragnar will be a unique race experience.  Being on this team will be pretty cool.  The team will be split into two vans of 6 runners each, plus a driver and a safety officer/navigator.  Each van will carry the supplies needed for each runner.  The race has 36 legs that begin in Madison WI and ends in Lincoln Park IL.  Each runner runs 3 legs.  I will be runner #7 with legs of 7.3 miles, 5.4 miles, and 6.0 miles.  So I will run 18.7 miles in total, with my second leg starting in the dark, sometime very early Saturday morning.

Each van takes turns having their 6 runners do one of their legs.  When each runner in a van completes their leg, then the next van takes over and their 6 runners run their legs.  And the rotation continues until the last runner crosses the Finish Line.  My guess is we will finish the race between 5pm-6pm on Saturday.  I anticipate being tired, but VERY happy to put that medal around my neck!

This race is all about teamwork, solid fueling and hydration planning, camaraderie, conservation of energy, and the ability to 'find the fun'.  Our team is a diverse collection of Episcopalian runners across our Diocese, including our Bishop!  I am very excited about being a part of this group, and I just know we are going to have a great time (no pun intended).

What's the second aspect of my stepping 'out of the box'?  After Ragnar, on June 9th, I will begin a new chapter in my running journey as I take on a new, more directed training program to prepare myself for the Fall Marathon season.  I have been putting together my own training plans since 2012 and while that has worked pretty well, I think I am at a point where I need more guidance and direction from someone who can push me further.

 Meghan and I at the Finish of the 2013 Soldier Field 10-Miler

Meghan and I at the Finish of the 2013 Soldier Field 10-Miler

I have two Full Marathons planned for the Fall -- the Air Force Marathon and the Hudson Mohawk Marathon.  I want to run these two races strong and well.  So, I have requested my Personal Trainer and Coach, Meghan, to put together a comprehensive training program that will help me build my base, strengthen my whole body, improve my endurance, and position me to achieve my goals.

Meghan, herself an Ironman triathlete, was the person who first got me to consider running as part of my fitness program.  I was very doubtful at first, but she offered to train me.  In April 2011, she helped me to finish my first 5K race.  And later that year, she trained me to complete my first Half Marathon at Walt Disney World in January 2012.

She believed in me and worked with me to achieve something I never thought I could  complete.  And she has continued to be a strong supporter and adviser.  We met on Monday morning to discuss ideas.  The first thing she asked me was "Do you still find running 'fun'?"  A very good opening question!  As I stated in my previous post, this year I felt my training was more of an obligation rather than a fun thing.  Part of that was because all the running was done on a treadmill due to the severe winter weather with all the snow and ice on the roads and paths.

I still love running.  But I definitely do want to 'find that fun' again.  I am sure that running outdoors again, and being able to run with friends again will go a long way to bringing back that fun and freedom feeling.  But at the same time, I have goals I want to pursue,   And I feel that I need a new approach to reach those goals, with the accountability that Meghan can provide.  Meghan is great motivator; she also knows how to get the job done.  She will push me harder than I would likely push myself.  And I know I need that.

We have already made some decisions.  She will develop a custom training program for me.  It will include strength training, running, cycling, core work, and rest.  I will return to the Team Fitness classes at LifeTime twice a week to focus on strength and core training.  I will be running 3-4 days/week, doing speedwork, tempo runs, long runs, and hill work.  And I will continue to bike to further develop my quads, and likely schedule 'bricks' to help balance my leg muscle development.  A 'brick' is a workout that includes both cycling and running (similar to duathlons).

I am excited about where this new approach will take me.  With the exception of the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon in July, I am doing no racing this summer so that I can focus on my training for the fall.  In October, I am running the Hudson Mohawk Marathon with a good friend of mine in Albany NY.  My goal for this race is to set a new personal record for the marathon distance.  I believe that this training program will help me make this a reality.

So, to quote a great marathoner and friend, "Stay with me now".  The next five months are going to be tough, determined, and hopefully fun.  I am going to have fun at Ragnar and then do some serious training.  I plan to reap the rewards of that training in the fall.  And I will document 'the good, the bad, and the ugly' along the way.

Stay tuned!

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