Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Race Day! | Kathy Kliebert

I was taught several years ago to do a race report after finishing a big race so you can remember the things that worked and those that didn’t during a race. It’s a great tool to memorialize things you learned in the training and race process.  Here is my race report from my first - and last - marathon:

I mentioned in my earlier blog that I am rather obsessive about my training.  Unfortunately, that obsession comes with some negative effects.

The obsession over training slowly begins to monopolize my life. All my activities start to revolve around how I am going to get a long run in when work or family interferes. It usually means I sacrifice sleep or leisure activity to get the training done and then I get frustrated that I ever committed to doing this in the first place. 

Although, obsessive training comes with some great benefits. Because I work so hard to follow such a strict plan, I usually have a really good race on race day.  I followed the last several weeks of my training and nutrition plan religiously. Even though my hip hurt so badly that I could barely walk a few days before the race, I was ready on race day. 

I had a nutrition and hydration plan, a plan for clothing in different weather scenarios, a plan for where I would start, a plan for dropping off my jacket and gloves, a backup battery for my iPhone to assure I had music the whole way, a plan for exactly how I would run the race (short walk breaks every four miles), and a mental plan to just go with it if any of the plans failed.  

As a runner, you usually hear that all the planning doesn’t work out come race day, but all of my planning actually worked! My husband and I positioned ourselves around the 4:40 pacer although we knew that was faster than our pace but wanted to be ahead of some of the slower runners to avoid tripping at the start.  My husband and I started together and I felt really good and began running faster than I had on any of the training runs. I kept hearing him say, “You’re going too fast!”

Whenever I run, I never look at my watch except when it vibrates to tell me a mile has gone by. My husband checks his constantly to run a certain pace.  I run like I feel like running, really having no idea what my pace it is.  I once ran a 5K and thought I was averaging 9:40 a mile but really averaged 8:40. I just couldn’t tell the difference between the 8 and 9 on my watch. If I feel good, I run faster and if not, I slow down.  On race day I was feeling good.  I ended up running faster and left my husband at about 1.5 miles. 

At 3 miles I dropped off my jacket and gloves and then at four miles took my first water and gu walk break. I was really feeling good and almost didn’t stop for the short walk, but then I got nervous that everything would fall apart if I didn’t follow my plan. 

I was still feeling great all the way up to mile 11. I was high fiving everyone, dancing a little on my run and then I saw that the half-marathoners would turn off to head to the finish line and the marathoners would go on to finish 15 more miles.
As soon as the half-marathoners turned off, both race participants and spectators thinned out considerably. I started thinking about how 15 miles was a really, really, really long way to go. 

I kept following my plan and really didn’t slow down very much until about mile 19 – I was averaging right below an 11 minute mile and realized that I could probably make it in under five hours even if my pace slowed a bit.  My prediction was 5:15, thinking I could definitely do 5:30, but my ultimate goal was 5 hours. 

After I got to mile 20 I knew I could do it and started taking each mile one at time – taking a short walk break if I needed it but constantly calculating what I needed to do to make it under 5 hours.  The people along the course were great, constantly encouraging me. Once I hit the top of the overpass, I knew I could run the rest of the way and would make my goal. 

I finished in 4:53. Two of my grandkids were there to see me finish, which was great, but even more exciting was that my brother and 86 year old mom surprised me and were waiting at the finish line.  My mom hugged me right afterwards and with tears running down her cheeks (and mine) and said, “I am so proud of you and all that you have accomplished” – what a great finish to this journey.

SO what did I learn? Here are the most important tidbits that I picked up along the way:

The sacrifice was worth it.

A marathon is a very large jump from a half-marathon.

You have to have family and friends to support you.

Marathons are for young people. If you want to do one, do it when you are young. They are very tough on old knees and hips!

I can keep my mind still for longer than I thought I could.

The Boston Qualifying time for my age group next year, when I will be 60, is 4:25.

Some people can run amazingly fast.

There are some wonderful stories of courage and determination from people with disabilities and those runners that support them.

Follow a training plan!

I’m confident that my next chapter in fitness will be more about helping others achieve their goals rather than achieving mine.

No matter what your age – it is always great to hear your mom tell you that she is proud of you!

I am a marathon runner.

Kathy Kliebert
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary

Kathy is an avid triathlete, taking on the challenge of her first full marathon with the 2015 Louisiana Marathon. When she isn't running a state department or keeping up with her triathlon training, she loves spending time with her grand kids. Follow Kathy on twitter @KathyRunsLaDHH

Friday, January 9, 2015

The End is Near | Kathy Kliebert

Since my last blog, I have logged in a lot more miles. Along the way, I’ve learned some important things about marathon running and a lot about myself.

I still have not figured out how to overcome the boredom on the long runs, but I did manage to get myself into a much better place mentally in order to accomplish them.  Everyone tells me now, “the hay’s in the barn” and that I need to just rest, relax and get ready to enjoy the day.

I pretty much kept up with all of my training runs, only skipping one or two shorter ones on recovery weeks when I felt my legs, knees and hips just couldn’t handle them.  The training plan seems to be working, although, I won’t know for sure until the actual race day. My last 20 mile run was less painful and 14 minutes faster than my earlier 20 mile run.  I am still not sure how I am going to manage an additional 6.2 miles but everyone says that the adrenalin from race day and all of the people along the course will make it doable. 

So, what have I learned?  I am still not a long-term marathon runner, but I now think I can be a marathon runner for one day.  I have learned to allow my mind to be still for short periods, which is major for me. I have learned that you can certainly do more than your think your body can handle.  Every long run I have questioned how I can possibly increase the mileage when I can barely made it as it is, but sure enough, I am able to finish longer runs.  I have learned the importance of nutrition on the run. Hopefully, I have a good nutrition plan in place for the race.  I have learned it really helps to have others run with you – I could not have done this without my husband accompanying on almost all of the long runs.

I have immense respect for marathon runners – it takes a tremendous amount of determination to get out there in the heat, the cold, the rain and the wind to complete the training plan.  Training puts is a lot of wear and tear on the body.  Someone asked me if I thought my legs were getting stronger. Honestly, it is so hard to tell. I feel like I have been tearing and repairing my muscles for so long that I don’t know what rested legs can do.  Kudos to those that do this on an ongoing basis.

I’d like to give a huge thank you to everyone who joined Team DHH – at last count we were 169 members strong. 

That is 169 people that committed to making lifestyle changes to help improve their health outcomes and to support their friends and co-workers in making changes.  Whether you are running your first or fifteenth 5K, 10K, half or whole marathon, be proud of the work you’ve put in and the changes you have made.  Even if you didn’t complete the training plan, at least you started and set a goal which is more than most people do.  Celebrate the things you have been able to accomplish. Use this experience to guide you in setting additional goals and in making those changes in your life that will lead to a healthier and happier you!

I would like to invite everyone to join us for a Louisiana Marathon Pep Rally that we will hold at the Baton Rouge DHH offices at 628 N. Fourth Street at noon on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015 to celebrate our success and to cheer those on that will be running one of the races over the weekend.  Team DHH and Team DOA members are also invited to attend a Marathon Pre-Party at the Capitol Welcome Center 702 N. River Road Baton Rouge at 5 p.m. also on Thursday January 15th. There will be great food and motivational speakers to get the teams ready for the weekend. Please try and join us for these activities!

Kathy Kliebert
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary

Kathy is an avid triathlete, taking on the challenge of her first full marathon with the 2015 Louisiana Marathon. When she isn't running a state department or keeping up with her triathlon training, she loves spending time with her grand kids. Follow Kathy on twitter @KathyRunsLaDHH