Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tales from the Crypt....Marathon #2 Recap!

I've put off writing this for as long as possible.  I'm afraid soon the whole day will be erased from my mind completely!  I've always used my blog as a way to get out my feelings.  I don't show emotion well in real-life, so this is a good venue for doing so.  I'll apologize now for those that may be reading this....

The hours leading up to the marathon I could tell something was "off".  Although I knew I had put in every.single.mile. on my training plan, I still didn't feel prepared.  However, I also remember vaguely feeling that way last year and before my first half-marathon.  You see, as a student, I was always the one who had prepared well for a test, but was still cramming more info into my brain right up until the very last moment.  The whole tapering phenomenon in running goes against this method.  Of course I also understand why it's important to taper, too.  In any case, I was hoping the "race day adrenaline" would make up for whatever didn't get crammed into my body and brain over the past 16 weeks.

It was a busy few days prior to the marathon.  No big deal, I'd done this before.  I can handle anything, right?!  After running errands for 3 hours Saturday morning, we were finally ready to hit the road to Columbus.  If you've read any of my race recaps in the past, you know one of my pre-race rituals is eating chicken and dumplings from Cracker Barrel.  This time was no different.  After lunch we made our way downtown to the Expo.  I wasn't expecting much from the Expo and with the kids in tow, I knew I wouldn't be able to enjoy it anyway.  We made our way through the expo, picked up my shirt and bib and headed back out.  I was really hoping to get a zip-up hoodie/jacket with the marathon logo on it, but all they had left were ones that said "13.1".  Bummer.  I did get a shirt that I saw there last year that says "Run Ohio".  Hubby got me away from the expo with only $15 out of pocket.  What a deal!

After the expo we headed back out of downtown and to the hotel/waterpark where the kids, my parents, and my sister's family would be spending the night and celebrating my nephew's 4th birthday party.  It was a really neat place, from what I could see.  I didn't bring my swimsuit (on purpose), so I sat on the sidelines and watched.  Around dinnertime I ordered carry-out from the Olive Garden and had round 2 of carbo-loading for the day.  About 8:30 pm hubby and I packed up our stuff, said our goodbyes to the kids and headed back downtown to our hotel.

After checking into the hotel I hurriedly got everything unpacked and ready for the next day.  Hubby was watching the Buckeyes lose to Wisconsin and it was just making my anxiety worse.  Finally he turned it off and we went to bed.  I laid there for what felt like forever, trying to sleep.  It was not a restful night's sleep, that's for sure.  I was well-awake by the time my alarm went off at 6:30am. The race was set to start at 7:30am....almost 3 hours later than what I was used to starting my training runs at! I got ready, took my gel and was walking out the door of the hotel by 7:05 am.  Just enough time to walk the few blocks to the starting line.  They were using corrals for the first time this year, which was meant to ease the congestion of previous years.  Unfortunately I think I got there a tad bit too late....because me and probably about 5,000 other runners were stuck on the outside of the corrals when the gun went off.  The spectators had jammed the sidewalks full, making it difficult to get anywhere, let alone find the one tiny little opening into your corral. It was a mass of humanity and I was on the verge of getting panicky with closterphobia (a first).   Made for a tense few minutes leading up to crossing the starting line, but alas I was off and running.

Miles 0-6

I crossed the starting line about 5 minutes after the gun went off.  The first mile I just focused on finding my comfortable pace.  I had pretty much abandoned the idea of aiming for a 4:30 finish.  I wanted to enjoy this experience and I knew focusing on my watch/pace would not allow that.  I had  re-calibrated my Garmin (FR 60) earlier in the week to make sure it was accurate for the race, but when I got to the first mile marker and my watch only read "0.97", I knew it was off.  I also knew I had no idea what pace I was actually running.  This was not good.  I contemplated turning my watch off at that point, but I figured I could at least keep track of my overall time.  Having a pace band would have been mighty helpful at this point, but I hadn't even seen the pace groups at the expo.  The next few miles slowly crawled by and I focused on reaching the 6 mile marker, when I would stop and take my first Shot Bloks.  Running felt hard and I was already tired.  Then I remembered that the first few miles were a gradual incline.  I figured once we had turned the corner, it would get easier.  It never did, despite the course leveling off.  This was just a sign of things to come.  Around mile 5, I caught up with the 4:30 pace group.  I settled into a comfortable pace behind them and thought things were starting to look up.  Mile 6 came and although I had been looking forward to stopping for a few seconds to take my Shot Bloks and stretch my calves, I didn't want to lose sight of the pace group, so I took the Shot Bloks on the run.  I figured I'd be seeing hubby soon, and I'd stop briefly then.  So I kept on with the 4:30 pace group in sight.  I had slowed a bit while trying to chew/swallow/drink, but I kept up pretty well.

Miles 7 - 13
I see hubby for the first time around mile 7.  I fake a smile and a "I feel good!", stretched my calves and started running again.  Only, the pace group was off in the distance now and I didn't even have the desire to catch them.   I was still tired and my legs/lungs/mind were noticing every.little.incline.  Where were these inclines last year?  I surely hadn't noticed them and looking at the elevation profile, they were nothing!  That's when I realized it just wasn't going to be my day.  I had a long, long way to go and I had already given up.  I didn't care anymore and was fine with walking the whole thing if I had to.  Quitting wasn't an option, but walking definitely was.  I thought about crying, but that would have just taken more energy that I didn't have.  I tried to bolster my dying energy with an early dose of the Shot Bloks.  This just made me more thirsty, so I drank more, which just made me feel too full.  By mile 13 when I saw my hubby again, he knew I was in trouble.  He tried to lift my spirits, but there was no use. I was walking about 1-2 minutes out of every mile.  I felt like a loser and undeserving to be out on the marathon course.  I also knew I was heading into the worst part of the course.  I put my iPod on, cranked the music and tried to make the most out of it.

Miles 14-20

The next few miles take you through The Ohio State University campus.  I graduated from OSU in 2000 and generally love any chance to go back. You'd think that with OSU being one of the largest schools in the nation, that there would be decent crowd support.  Wrong!  I knew this would be the case though.  I took my third dose of Shot Bloks around mile 16.  I kept on running/walking until I reached mile 17 and thought...."holy cow, I've just 'run' 17 miles without much effort."  I also knew my sister would be waiting for me around mile 20. This gave me an instant lift as I started to tear up just thinking about seeing her.  I knew the next few miles would be desolate, but I didn't even care.  I suddenly had a new mission! 

Miles 20-26.2

With 10K to go and my sister in sight, I had a new lease on life.  I was so happy to see her.  It was time for another dose of the Shot Bloks, so we started off our journey together walking.  And that's when I broke it to her that I was mentally defeated and had walked what seemed like a good portion of the course.  Being the good big sister that she is, she gave me some encouraging words and let me take the lead.  Having her with me gave me the motivation to keep running.  We'd walk through the water stops and every so often thereafter, but I set my goals for my walk breaks further apart than I had been doing.  Ever so slowly and with constant encouragement from my sister, we finally made our way to mile 25, where I saw my hubby again.  I think he thought I had died out there...because he was so happy to us coming down the road.  He jumped off the sidewalk and started running along side of me. I kept on running, despite wanting to stop and walk.  I think the longest segment of continuous running (after the 7th mile) may have been between miles 24-26.2!  He eventually sped up and went on to find the rest of my family, waiting around mile 26.  I remember practically floating down that section last year, but this year it took all I had just to keep running.  My sister pointed out the family and she dropped off to the side with them.  They cheered as I passed and I kept on going.  The last 0.2 were all me and it seemed like an eternity.  Finally, with the downhill finish line in sight, I took a deep breath and opened my eyes for the first time all day.  I took in the crowd and the excitement and was so just so happy to be done.  I got my medal, took a picture and headed for the food tables.  Most of the food was gone.  Par for the course on this race day.  Water, bananas, bagels, corn chips, soft pretzel bites and chicken broth.  None seemed appealing to me, but I settled on a banana and some corn chips. I made my way out of the recovery area and sat down.  It's really what I wanted to do all day, and it felt great.  My family eventually found me, we made plans to meet for lunch later and we headed back to the hotel.  My 3 year old had had enough and was in complete melt-down mode.  Just what you want to deal with after a marathon.  I ended up carrying her uphill, about 1/3 of a mile back to the hotel.  The perfect ending to a crappy day.  I haven't even brought myself to look at my official time...but it was somewhere around 4:57.

Post-Race Thoughts:

If you've followed my journey for any amount of time, you know that I don't run to "race" or set PRs.  You see, although I like to claim that I don't have a competitive bone in my body, that's not true.  The fact of the matter is that I am competitive about things I really care about, but I act like I don't care so that I don't end up disappointed.  It's my way of self-preservation.  I've never been exceptionally good at anything my whole life...and that's okay.  I've accepted mediocrity and if you don't set the bar very high, you can never fail.  So while I'm not entirely pleased with my time (because I honestly felt I was going to do better), that's not my biggest disappointment.

The biggest disappointment was that I didn't even enjoy the journey.  It was a gorgeous day, the streets were lined with people, the trees were at their peak of Fall coloring, we ran through beautiful neighborhoods, there were 80 entertainment groups along the course and I didn't really even "see" a thing.  All I could focus on was the misery I was in.  And it wasn't physical pain that I was so miserable from.  My misery came from mental weakness.  My body was tired, my mind wasn't in it and I gave up. Plain and simple.  I felt like I had blinders on throughout the entire race.  I didn't care that people were cheering for me, I didn't care that there were bands playing.  I didn't feel deserving of their cheers and was more annoyed than anything.  I know, I know...I'm horrible.  I did however graciously thank the volunteers at the water stops.  I mean, I was walking through them....I had the time!  At the end of the race, I had "run" 26.2 miles and I didn't even care.  It wasn't even a big deal because I had let myself down so badly.  Perhaps another self-preservation tatic?


So what's next?  If you would have asked me at mile 14 what's next, I probably would have said a profanity or two.  I was pretty sure Sunday was the end of my running career.  But after a few nights sleep and some time to digest the day's events, I'm pretty sure I'll run again. ;-)  I just need to relax and recover first.  One foot in front of the other....right?

Until next time....~Run Happy and Embrace Your Pace ~

Sunday, October 10, 2010

One week and counting...

I honestly don't know where the last 15 weeks went?  Between injury issues and the start of school, this training cycle has been a blur.  The good news is that I'm feeling GOOD and ready to run my next marathon.....a week from today.  Yeah...that nervous anxiety has already set in.  Watching/reading about Chicago today didn't help.  I have 2 more runs to get through this week.  It's always at this point in my training cycle that I pray for my safety and health.  I run really early in the morning and often my routes are not well-lit.  I worry about tripping over a leaf-covered sidewalk crack or a half eaten nut from a squirrel.  Then there's the stomach flu and runny noses going around.  My kids are now routinely doused in hand sanitizer.  Yes, I'm that selfish.

Despite all the worry, I can't wait for M-day.  I feel prepared and strong.  I feel ready to take on my next 26.2 miles.  I've signed up to run with the 4:30 pace group.  All of my training runs for the past 3 weeks have been under 10:00 min/mile.  My 22-miler (3 weeks ago) was done at a 9:56/mile pace.  Of course that doesn't include water/GU breaks (and I took 3). My last speed work out, I did 10 Yasso 800's with an average time of 4:15.  I'm not sure how that will all work out on race day, but it's worth a shot.  If I'm not feeling it on race day, I'll drop back.  While it would be nice to have a group to run with, I have the confidence to run the race by myself.

Of course the real issue of concern, is the wardrobe.  I absolutely despise running with a belt (although I've done it many times before). So that means I have to run in my SkirtSport running skirt.  It's taken me on all my long runs, so I know it will do fine.  With predicted temps of  mid-40's in the morning, mid-60's in the afternoon, I don't think it would be smart to wear long sleeves.  Of course that's what I had planned (bright yellow/green so hubby could find me!). So, I'm back to the drawing board.  My new shoes are dark gray/green, and if you read my marathon recap last time, you know I'm all about being matchy-matchy.  Well, I'm not as anal this time around and honestly, I just want to be comfortable.  You can be assured that my hair ribbon/bow will match, though!

So this week I will tie up a few loose ends.  I need to re-calibrate my Garmin, figure out my wardrobe issues, fine tune my playlist, and try to relax.  The whole family is coming with me to Columbus, which is sure to add a little extra stress, but maybe more cheers and smiles at the finish line.  We'll see if they make it that long!  Asking a 5 year old and 3 year old to do anything for 4 1/2 hours, especially wait around outside, is asking a lot!   In any case, I'm ready to get this show on the road!  Until next time ~ Embrace Your Pace and Run Happy ~                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Thursday, September 2, 2010

3 Things Thursday

1 - Yes, I'm the worst blogger.  Between my job, my kids and running....My schedule is full!
  • Although I like my job, my "reporting manager" is a bit  Passive Aggressive and it drives me crazy.  I suppose I'll survive...I have to!
  • My oldest started Kindergarten.  I'm so excited/scared/nervous for him.  I just want him to succeed.  My mother-in-law once said..."you don't hurt until your kid hurts".  Although her and I don't always see eye-to-eye, this is a true statement.  Secondly, my 3 year old starts preschool next week.  My little Caroline is my snuggle-bug and heart and soul.  She's always so sad to see me go.  I don't want to leave her screaming and crying every day.  My heart can't take it.  Watching my 5 year old get on the bus each day is rough enough.
  • I've officially entered my high-mileage weeks.  For me, that's close to 40 miles.  My alarm goes off at 4:55 am on Mondays.  Needless to say, I start and end the week exhausted.
2 - Blisters are not my friend.  Between the new-ish shoes and messing around with my shoe inserts/orthotics, my feet are a mess.  I've only ever had 1 blister before and that was after 20-miles in the rain.  I'm so over it.  Not only that, but my calf issues are still abound and now my left hamstring is tight.  Once again...I'm so over it.

3 -  My previous 2 long runs (17 and 18 miles) went pretty well.  I only have 2 20-milers left before M-Day.  This is a cut-back week (good thing for my blisters and aching legs), but I'm really just anxious to get the big ones out of the way.  October 17th can't come soon enough!



On a brighter note....college football is back.  I'll be cheering on my Ohio State Buckeyes tonight!!  Go Bucks!!  Until next (time) ~ Embrace your Pace and Run Happy ~

Monday, August 16, 2010

Week 7 - The Little Engine that Could

Week 7 down, 9 more to go! I feel like that little old engine, from children's books, that just kept plugging away.  I’m not really sure what is going on, but I feel fantastic! I really hate to jinx myself, but I really do feel great. Perhaps it was because it was a “step-back” week and my long run was only 11 miles this week? The weather has been hideously hot and humid, so I can’t “blame” it on cooler temps. I’ve been stretching and rolling out my calves regularly. I still have some major knots in my calves, but at least they’re not painful anymore. Whatever the cause, I hope it continues, because October 17th is a long way away (in marathon-training terms).


Here’s the craziest part. Thursday I headed over to the local HS track to calibrate my new watch and footpod. This is a big sacrifice, because it means leaving my beloved Dingo at home. Well, it’s been too hot for him anyway and if the truth be known….he’s been driving me crazy. He wants to stop and pee all.the.time. I know it’s a stall tactic and I also know it’s likely a sign that he’s not enjoying himself. We got in about 10 miles together previous in the week, so it’s not like he hadn’t gotten any exercise that week. So anyway, with the Dingo at home, I headed to the track. I calibrated my watch just fine and as I was getting ready to leave, I decided I might just try a mini-speed workout. I only had 4 miles on the schedule that day, so I figured I could manage it no matter what. Of course being the speed workout-loathing- runner that I am, I know nothing about speed workouts! And then the Yasso 800’s came to me. And then came the dilemma in my mind. I’m going to be running at least the last half of the marathon by myself (my friend’s husband is running the half), so I’ve decided I want to join a pace group. The only problem with that is that for slow folks like me, they only offer a 4:30 and 5:00 hour pace group. I completed my first marathon in just under 5:00 hours. While I’m not competitive, I’d like to at least not be slower than that time! But with my injury status, I know that I very well could be slower than 5:00 hours. I also know that if I’m feeling good and comfortable with the 5:00 hour pace group, I may not want to leave them! For the sake of training and the Yasso 800’s, I decided to try for a 4:30 split. My first split was 3:58. My second split was 3:54. Sweet! And then the HS soccer team starting pouring into the stadium and sat watching me, in silence. That was my cue to leave! I am way too self-conscious to have HS boys watching me. I could only imagine them saying to one another "did you even know that someone with such a big ass could run?"
I got home and started researching Yasso 800’s and found out that ideally, you should be able to work up to and complete ten 800’s at your desired pace to accurately predict your marathon finishing time. You should also start about 7 weeks out from your marathon. Man, was this a sign or what? So without much hesitation, I decided I would give it a try. Going to the track was a nice change of pace, so to speak. Now to just get there BEFORE the soccer team! And so begins my relationship with speedwork. I have a pretty good record of long-term relationships (hubby and I will celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary this Wednesday, 17 years since we started dating..yikes!). We’ll see how it goes.


This weekend I have 17miles on the schedule and am pumped! My running buddy will be back this weekend and the humidity is suppose to decline. I can hope at least! Until next week ~ Embrace Your Pace and Run Happy ~

PS - Check out the link to Powerbar.com to sign up to receive your free sample of their new Energy Gel Blasts. I'm always in search of a quick, tasty and most importantly easy on the tummy source of nutrition on the go.  Full review to come!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Week 6 - Feelin' better

The respite from the hot and humid weather did not last long.  My weekday runs ended up being pretty warm, but I felt pretty good overall.  My left leg soreness slowly dissapated and was completely gone by my run on Thursday.  My Monday and Thursday runs both increased by one mile, as did my long run.  I ended up with just over 28 miles for the week.

 I was most relieved that the 15-miler on Saturday went well.  I started on my own, running about 4 miles to the running group.  There I met up with a friend who was gracious enough to slow down for me, and we did another 5 miles.  Thank goodness she was with me because the other members of the group were speedy and there were lots of turns on the route!  I would have ended up lost for sure!  At 7:00am we met up with the rest of the running group and I ran with yet another friend.  She's exactly my speed and we get along great!  I only had 6 miles to do though, and she needed to do 10.  Her race is exactly one month before mine, so we're on slightly different schedules.  On my way back to the running store, I ran with a mother who had come to the group for the first time.  She had her 2 girls (ages 2 years and 9 months) with her, in the jogging stroller.    Let me tell you, she gets the gold medal for the day!  Although the morning had started off nice and cool, when the sun came up, it got hot fast.  And as those of you that have ever pushed 2 kids in a jogging stroller know, those suckers are heavy!  About 5 minutes into our jog back to the store, the 9 month old starts screaming.  And so begins the cheerios/goldfish/puffs dance.  And then the singing.  And finally she just had to stop and nurse her baby.  On the side of the road.  I felt bad for her, but it was rather awkward, so I went ahead and finished the run by myself.  Now, I am all for nursing your babies...I mean I nursed my sweet little Caroline for 15 months!  This mother was essentially a stranger though and I thought it would likely be more awkard for her, if I had just sat there and watched.  Perhaps that was poor running-etiquitte on my part?  In any case, she was super nice about it all and had the patience of a saint!  I hope she comes back (although she was pretty slow with the jogging stroller and ended up running alone 80% of the time). 

As for my calves...well, they're marginally better.  I think using the slant board throughout the day has helped, as has The Stick massages.  Yoga-Fridays have been a good thing too.  It's still hard for me to call that a workout though (although my Jillian Michaels yoga DVD definitely makes you work up a sweat).  I like having "fresh legs" for the long runs, so this routine will stand.

As for next week.  Weekday mileage stays the same and it's a step-back week for the long run.  Yahoo!  I definitely like the step-back weeks mentally, if not physically! Until next week ~ Embrace Your Pace and Run Happy ~

Thursday, August 5, 2010

3 Things Thursday!

Surprise!  Mid-week (non weekly-recap) post!  Just 3 quick things that have come up over the past few days. 

1.  I love Garmin's customer service.  I mailed my watch with a torn strap (and subsequently broken start/stop button thanks to an attempt at gluing the strap back together....yeah....super glue rolls) back to them last Tuesday and received a completely brand new one in the mail yesterday!  G Money and I will be un-stoppable now!  I felt so naked running without her on my wrist!

2.  I took advantage of Runningskirt.com's sale back in June.  Unfortunately, I haven't been happy with their skirt.  It seems cheaply made (in comparison to my skirtsport.com one) and the exterior pockets are useless.  I tried putting my phone in the pocket and it sagged down to my thighs.  Not a good look!  It is super-comfy though...if you don't mind hiking up your skirt every 5 minutes.  Perhaps it's too big?  I  was in between sizes, so opted to go bigger.  Oops.  This skirt will remain a 0-5 mile run skirt.  I don't think I could stand it any longer than that.  Such a bummer!  It's pretty cute!

3.  Custom orthotics are in my future!  I went back to the podiatrist today and since my pain had only improved ~50%, he thought we might as well try the custom orthotics.  I had to take my kids with me to the appointment.  They were complete angels!  It helped that they had me hoisted up to eye level in a chair and the doctor was "playing" with plaster.  That's big fun for little kids!  I just hope they're as much "fun" to run with.

Well, that's it for now.  15 miles on deck for Saturday morning.  Bring it on!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Week 5 - My calves will be the end of me!

Week 5 started off to a much better start, thanks to cooler temps and lower humidity.  Such a relief!!  I even completed both of my "assigned tasks" from last week.  More to come on that later, though.  My weekday mileage stayed the same, with a 2 mile increase of the long run on Saturday.  I felt good through the week.  My calves didn't bother me.  I've been using The Stick every night and although I can still feel some knots in my calves, they're no longer painful.  I shipped my Garmin back to the factory for some rehab on Tuesday.  I feel so naked, running with out it!

Thursday I had my appointment with the podiatrist.  I really just wanted to get my toenails checked out and see if there was anything I could do to stop them from falling off during each training cycle.  Turns out I'm "slightly flat footed" (doctors words, not mine), in which I've been wearing a neutral/stability shoe.  My 2nd metatarsal has taken on extra pressure because of it, causing the bone to thicken (he took 3 x-rays), and the nerves to become agitated and basically hurt!  My calves are also very tight (go figure....) which causes me to draw up my toes in my shoe and my toenails start to take on pressure.  Thus, I lose toenails.  In addition, my right leg is longer than my left.  Hmm...is that why my left hip and knee bother me after long runs??  So after rigging my current insoles to allow for my toe issues and inserting a heel lift in my left shoe...I'm all set.  The best part however, came when he insulted my shoe choice.  And I quote...."I suggest you start choosing more mature shoes", in reference to my adored-Sperrys. Whatever.  I wore my running shoes/insoles/heel lift that whole day and had no ill-effects on Friday..

Saturday morning, 5:00am rolls around and I get out of bed to do my 14-mile long run.  We were leaving for an overnight trip to Columbus with the kids and my in-laws at 8:30am, so I had to get out there early to get it done.  The dingo accompanied me for the first loop (8 miles).  About 2 miles in, the rear, outer-aspect of my left hamstring (where it inserts behind the knee) starts getting tight.  I figure the tightness will go away, so I just keep running.  All of the sudden I feel a huge cramp, move across the back of my leg (just above my knee) and up the back of my leg.  I walked a few feet, stretched, and then kept running.  It remained pretty tight the rest of the time, but the intense cramping subsided.  I made it around the first 8 mile loop, dropped the dingo off at the house, used the potty and then set off for the second 6-mile loop.  I took a GU at mile 5 and some Shot Bloks at mile 9.  It was a great morning for a run.  It rained very lightly a few times in the beginning, so as the sun was rising, a beautiful rainbow formed over head.  I got my inhaler Rx refilled and used it correctly (thanks to advice from my PharmD running friend/partner) before the run, and my lungs felt great.  My left leg/hamstrings were definitely not happy with me by the end of the run, but it wasn't anything I couldn't push through.  I stretched my legs really good afterwards and then iced my left hamstring.  I wore my Zensah calf compression sleeves in the car on the way to Columbus and then slept in them that night.  Unfortunately, walking around a museum all day with a 30+ pound 3 year old on your hip doesn't necessarily help matters.  I woke up Sunday morning and my entire left leg was achy.  Whoops...perhaps I shouldn't have done my entire run with the heel lift in for the first time.  The thing is pretty tiny though.  I never thought it would make that much of a difference.  Lesson learned!  There would be no rest for the weary (although my kids did sleep in until 9:30 am for the first time EVER) as we were spending the day at the zoo.  Nothing a little ibuprofen and some quality time with The Stick couldn't help with! 

All in all, it was a great week.  I was glad to get in some good runs.  I was second-guessing myself and my ability to run this marathon.  Being in the city where the marathon will be run and seeing the finish line area, etc gave me new excitement.  11 more weeks to go, baby!  Until next week ~ Embrace Your Pace and Run Happy ~

Monday, July 26, 2010

Weeks 3 and 4 in review

So the blog-slacking has already begun.  I'd like to say it was because I was out enjoying my training runs so much that I just haven't had time to sit down and write about them.  Sadly, that's the farthest thing from the truth.  The past few weeks have been hard.  The heat and humidity are slowly but surely killing me.  My weekday runs have been okay, but then I haven't had to run over 5 miles for any of them! 

Week 3 started out with a rainy/stormy Monday.  I ran at the indoor track that day, and while I didn't feel bad, I didn't feel great.  I did however find sub 9:30 splits!  This is big for me.  The rest of the week was uneventful (well, minus my in-laws' business being flooded, my husband finishing writing his master's thesis, and working 5 days - usually only do 3).  The long run on Saturday was suppose to be 13 miles that week.  None of us at the running group were feeling it that day, so we cut it short at 12 miles.  It was slow and miserably hot and humid.  I hadn't prepared well for it nutritionally, so I was hurting.  I stretched frequently throughout the run, but my calves were still tight by the end of the run.  I wore my compression sleeves the rest of the day and felt great for my first run of week 4. 

Week 4 found me up at Lake Erie for a short visit.  I always like running in new places.  I only had 3 miles on the schedule while I was there, so it was short and sweet.  The rest of the week was manageable, but still not really enjoyable.  The long run of week 4 was a step-down week, thank goodness!  It was hotter and even more  humid that day and I was absolutely and completely miserable.  Of course my watch strap broke earlier in the week (and I tried to repair it with super glue, to which the glue ran into the start/stop button...grrr) so while I don't have exact splits, I'm pretty sure it was somewhere between 10:30-11:00.  Horribly slow and painful!  My exercise-induced asthma became more apparent and so did my calf injury.  I bought The Stick, as a way to help roll out the knots and kinks in my calf muscles.  I used it on my legs Saturday before bed and was more sore after using it.  I hope that's a sign of progress!  Not suprisingly, I've also been feeling twinges of shin pain, which was my downfall right before my marathon last year.  I just don't get what I'm doing wrong.  I'm taking it as easy as possible.  I'm stretching, I'm cross-training, I even started doing Yoga For Runners the day before my long runs.  I just have so much negativity attached to running right now.  I'm hoping that actually registering for the marathon will help to neutralize that negativity!  No backing out now!  My list of things to do this week is get my inhaler prescription refilled and make an appointment with the podiatrist....and oh yeah....try to find a way to enjoy running in this heat and humidity!  Until next week... embrace your pace and run happy!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Week 2 Recap

Week 2 of training went on as planned.  Week-day mileage stayed the same, with an increase of my long run on Saturday.  I was able to avoid my Monday lunch-hour run, thanks to the 4th of July holiday.  I got up extra early and got in a pre-dawn run.  I forgot how peaceful and calm those dark mornings are.  What wasn't so peaceful was coming within 3 feet of a deer on the sidewalk!  Scared me to death. I expect to see deer in the wooded and more natural part of our neighborhood, but not on a busy 4-lane road!  My husband's aunt had a traumatic (seriously....like in the ICU for weeks traumatic) accident with a male deer about 8 years ago and ever since then, I just don't like running into deer.  Anyway, after a startled start to that run, things went smoothly.  I had (not so) graciously agreed to let my hubby run in the 4th of July 5K that day, so I hurried home to get him ready for his race.  If you're wondering why I don't mention my hubby more in regards to running, it's because he does it sporadically.  His heart and intentions are there....but his life is crazy busy and his knee isn't the most cooperative.  Regardless, he finished the race strong and it was fun to be able to cheer on all the runners on a very hot and humid morning.  The rest of the week's runs went on uneventfully and I finally got a new pair of shoes.  My Saucony Progrid Omni's will hopefully be a match made in heaven for my feet!  First time running in Saucony's.

My Saturday morning run was anything but uneventful.  The American Cancer Society's Relay For Life was taking place in my city Friday-Saturday and the Mom's group to which I belong (but don't have time to really do anything else with....) had a team.  I've always wanted to be a part of this event, but having small kids and no camping supplies always presented a problem.  Not to mention I'm not the camping type, but it should be noted that I *could* suck it up for one night, in the name of finding a cure for cancer, if really pressed!  Anyway, the team asked if there were any moms willing to take a block of time out on the track, so that the actual team members could get some rest.  I figured I had 7.5 miles on my training plan for that weekend, so I might as well run them for a good purpose.  Lucky me pulled the 2:00-4:30am shift.  I went to bed around 9pm that night and set my alarm for 1:40am.  I feel asleep quickly and slept pretty good.  The alarm went off and I was ready to go!  I walked out the door hoping to find some nice, cool temperatures, but instead found heavy fog and humidity. Yuck!  I arrived at the stadium/track and it was alive with energy and enthusiasm.  There weren't a ton of walkers on the track, but there were probably 10-12 at any given time.  There was also a DJ blaring music and movies on a big screen TV playing.  I had hoped this run would serve multiple purposes: 1) help out my fellow Mommy teammates in supporting a good cause 2) calibrate my Garmin foot pod (my new Saucony's come with a handy pouch in the tongue of the shoe to put my foot pod in, but the readings were way off...more than usual) 3) try out some new nutrition items - Vitamin Water Zero for electrolytes and gummy bears for energy - with the comfort of a potty every 1/4 mile.  If you've followed this blog for any amount of time, you know I have stomach issues!  So with that, I started out on my 2.5 hour journey.  I wanted to get my Garmin calibrated first and foremost, so I didn't have to keep track of laps.  About 3/4 of a mile into the calibration cycle, the DJ announces that it's time to start running/walking the other direction.  Great.  Needing the distance to be pretty exact, I hit stop on the calibration and start over.  My second mile goes fine and the calibration is all set up.  I test it out for 2 laps and it's right on.  Then it starts beeping.  I figured it was just telling me that I needed to delete some activities from the memory bank, so I keep running.  After about 40 minutes I decide to stop to take some of the Vitamin Water and gummy bears(I had my hand-held filled with plain water).  I look at my watch and it doesn't have anything recorded.  I need a new battery.  Great.  So at this point I'd done 4 miles.  I was hoping to get in at least 10 miles, seeing as that's what I did last week, even though my schedule only called for 7.5 miles. I was feeling pretty good, minus the sloshing of the fluid in my belly as I set out for my next 4 mile stint.  That subsided pretty quickly though and was happy to find that neither the gummy bears or Vitamin Water hurt my belly.  Yay!  I put on my iPod at this point.  Not that I wasn't enjoying the DJ, but when Phil Collins'  "A Groovy Kind of Love" came on, I had to call it quits.  I needed something that was going to energize me...not put me to sleep!  Miracuosly these 4 miles flew by.  SUCH a relief. Surely God's hand was there pushing me along.  I couldn't believe how quickly that time went.  I stopped again to have a few more sips of the Vitamin Water, stretched (my cranky left calf was starting to get tight) and then set out for the last 2 miles.  By 3:40 am, I had done 10 miles and was ready for a little breather.  In addition to my calf, my quads were also feeling pretty tight.  I walked another 2 miles, ran another mile and then finished with a half-mile walking cool-down.  4:30am arrived, I went home, showered, went back to bed and didn't get up until 11:00am.  No food, no water.  Just my compression sleeves and my bed...and it was great!  As an aside, for a chance to win a pair of Zensah compression socks, check out Tonia's giveaway!  Despite being in a haze the rest of the day, it was a great experience.  The track was lined with names of cancer survivors.  It was an inspiring experience, to say the least.  I thought about my young friend Taylor and Angel fighter Ellie - talk about Faith and endurance, and my many cancer patients that I've counseled over the years.  I hope next year to actually be a "real" member of the team. 

Next week is more of the same, minus the 2:00am long run!  I'm looking forward to going back to my running group on Saturday and then we head up to Lake Erie for our annual trip to Lakeside, OH.  There will be no 8 mile run along a busy 2-lane state route this year.  I'll get my long run done at home and then hit the road.  Monday I'll get to take an easy 3-mile run around the community. As stressful as vacations are with little ones, Lakeside is different.  I look forward to this time all year long.  Sadly, because of my job change, we only can spend 3 days there.   A little resting, a little swimming, a little bike riding, a little running...perfect!  Until next week ~ Embrace Your Pace and Run Happy~

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

And so it begins....

As if I needed further reminder of what a horrible blogger I have become....I realized that my last post was my 100th post AND I celebrated my 1 year blogiversary on June 30th. Yay me!  But truly, I suck.  It's not that this isn't important to me, but the whole new job and being pulled in a hundred different directions has gotten the best of me.  That said, there's no way I can keep a daily log of my training runs like I did for my first marathon cycle (and really...who wants to read about every.single.run?) but I hope to at least check in weekly with what's going on.

So week 1 went off without a hitch!  I did my first run of the cycle during my lunch break at work.  It was humid and overcast, but I only had to do 3 miles, so I managed.  I packed my running bag with extra deoderant, baby powder, facial cleansing cloths, baby wipes, a towel and some make up and was good to go!  Worked out fairly well, although I'd prefer to shower right after a hot run!  The next day I shipped the kids off to a summer "preschool" class and enjoyed sleeping in and heading out for my run around 9:30 am.  Although it was a cooler day than most we'd been having, the dingo was not so happy.  He attempted to lay down in a grassy, shaded spot.  He's never done that before.  I woke up Thursday to temperatures in the 50's and had another good run.  Saturday I headed over to do my "long run" with the running group.  My schedule called for 6 miles, but I was feeling good and enjoying the conversation, so I ended up doing 10 miles with the group.  Put me over the 10% rule for the week, but I felt good.

I was really nervous heading into this training cycle.  With a recent injury (which didn't bother me at all this week) and the knowledge of just what was ahead, I was scared.  It was good to start my training off on a positive note.  I am also really glad I started going to the running group.  It's nice to be around people who embrace their pace.  Although I run for the "fun of it" it's hard not to compare myself to others and feel badly about being slow.  Maybe in my next life I'll focus on speed, but the thought of heading to the track to do speedwork makes me want to vomit.  If this is what I choose to do for "fun", why would I want to vomit?  Seems almost like an eating disorder or something?!  Or perhaps that's just how I justify my laziness...

Besides just surviving training and running injury-free, my other goal of this training cycle is to not gain weight!  I will not allow the marathon-training-I-can-eat-anything-I-want-mentality to take over.  I'm staying accountable at WW and keeping at least one weight training workout a week.  The day before my long run calls for a "rest" day.  I think I'm going to stick to doing yoga that day, which will leave me with one full rest day/week (on Sunday).  I'm hoping this combination of aerobic conditioning/weight training/core work will help me to maintain my weight and keep me injury-free. 

Week 2 calls for the same running schedule, with an increase of the long run (although not sure what I'll do, as I ran more than that last week?).  I'm also way over due for new shoes.  I'm still in search of the perfect shoes.... Hopefully I'll find them!! 

~Embrace your Pace and Run Happy until next week~

Monday, June 21, 2010

One Week and Counting....

Next Monday at this time, I will have officially entered Marathon Training.  Usually I'm bursting at the seams to get started.  I have a confession though.  I kind of have an ambivilance heading into this cycle, which is not good.  You see, I've been tired. Worn out. Not sleeping well.  I don't know what the cause is?  I've pushed myself since January....perhaps it's my body's way of telling me I need a break.  Well, that's not going to happen.  Add to that my injury anxiety and I'm just plain dreading next week.  I don't feel confident at all about my ability to handle this cycle.  I've ran a total of 6 miles in the past week.  Now granted, I felt good and just a bit tight the day after, but it has me worried.  I intend on following the same beginner's plan I did last time.  That way I only have to run 4 days/week and I know I'll be prepared to simply finish.  My one and only goal of every race!  I keep thinking of myself running the marathon course and how great I felt running my first marathon.  I can only hope I feel that good this time!  I have this fear that all the stars were simply aligned perfectly last time and that's the only way I finished (despite not missing a single training mile/run).  I'm still also hoping I can find someone to share this journey with.  I know I can do it alone, but those long runs would be so much more appealing if I had someone to do them with!  I went back to the running group this past Saturday, so hopefully something will pan out there.  Otherwise I may be posting an add on Craigslist....I kid, I kid!  Anyway, any words of inspiration and motivation to get started on this new training cycle are greatly appreciated.  Have a great week!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Running Vacation and Injury Woes

Let's begin this post at about 5:40 am, the Wednesday before vacation.  I've just completed the warm up at my Boot Camp class and now we're doing high knee drills (3, 30 second bursts) with a partner.  Except I feel an excruciating, tearing sensation in my left calf as I do my first set.  My calf immediately tenses up and I know something is wrong.  I know I complain about a lot of things and worry about every little twinge, but this was different.  It stopped me in my tracks.  My teacher instructed me to take it easy for the rest of the class (easier said than done, but I did get out of Indian runs) and ice it as soon as I got home.  Like the paranoid person that I am, I did exactly as she said.  And then I googled "calf strain".  Most information indicated that a 2-4 week rest period would be required for healing.  I could see myself getting fatter by the day.  How was I going to make it 2-4 weeks without any form of vigorous exercise?  I did Jillian's Yoga Meltdown that Thursday and then took it easy at Boot Camp that Friday.  My calf felt better and I only noticed twinges of pain every once and awhile.  I figured if I didn't run on Saturday, I'd be all set to be able to run on vacation.  Perhaps this wasn't a significant injury afterall!  I was really looking forward to running on vacation 1) because it was someplace new to run 2) it was my only form of readily-accessible exercise. 

So my first morning in Hilton Head, I set my alarm for 6:10am, hoping to avoid the heat and humidity of South Carolina.  It was 79 degrees with high, high humidity. No such luck!  I headed out with my handheld water bottle and figured I'd see how I felt and go from there.  Well, I felt great, so I just kept running.  Around 3-4 miles my calf started getting a bit tight.  By 5 miles it was a big old knot.  I ran/walked that last mile, to round out a 6 mile run.  I was a bit disappointed and knew that if I had stuck to my original thought of doing only 3-4 miles, I'd feel fine.  Of course while running, I realized I had missed 2 runs last week and was going to fall short on my goal of 1000 miles this year, if I didn't make them up.  Running math is always a bad idea for me, but somehow I figured that if I ran 5 miles every day of the week, I'd only be a few miles short.  I stretched my calf really good when I got home from that first run and went about my day.  Day 2 of vacation starts out the same way, except this time I decide to run out on the beach.  I get my 5 miles in and feel good.  Day 3, same thing.  Day 4, I get up a bit later than usual, and head out the other way on the beach.  I come to a dead-end of sorts at about 1.5 miles, so I turn around.  I figure I can always make up the mileage on the other end of the beach.  Except by mile 3, my calf is starting to hurt again.  I stop and stretch and end up run/walking the last few yards.  I was really bummed that I ended my run early, but knew it was probably best.  Day 5 arrives and I decide to try out a new path and only do 3 miles.  I tell myself that perhaps it's better to get a planned short/good workout than a shortened/bad workout in.  My calf is a bit tight by the end, but no big deal.  Well fast forward to about 4pm that afternoon.  My five year old insists I do a "cannon ball" into the pool, and I gladly oblige.  I get a running start and jump off, yes on my left leg.  To which I let out a scream and grab my leg as I make a huge splash into the pool.  The intense tearing sensation returns and my whole calf tightens back up into a gigantic knot.  Oops. I hobble around the rest of the night and decide that there will be no run in the morning for me! 

As I lay "lazily" in bed the last morning at the beach, I realize that I am indeed the stupidest person on earth.  Why did I ever think running every single day would be good for me?   Even during my last marathon training, I only ran at most 4 days/week and only 2 of those days were back to back.  I'm pretty annoyed at myself, because come June 28th, my next marathon training is set to begin.  I try not to think about it, hoping that this injury will resolve as quickly as the last.  I knew I wouldn't be able to work out for the next 3 days, so I hoped that would give it a good rest.  I come home to find the latest issue of Runner's World waiting for me.  As I flip through the pages, I get confirmation that I really am the stupidest person on earth.

1) I exceeded the 10% rule.  I ran 6 miles the week before vacation, 23 miles the week of vacation.  Oops.

2) Running on the sand is harder and can lead to injury if not done properly. Start slow, take walk breaks and gradually increase distance.  I did none of these things.

3)  The softness of sand can strain muscles and tendons because they're stretched further than when running on a firm surface. Hmmm.....

4) Run early, before the sun gets above the horizon.  6:30am was not early enough.

5) Let injuries heal completely. So I made this one up.  But it makes perfect sense, doesn't it?!



So what's in store for this week you might ask?  I did low-impact aerobics/weight training yesterday and felt pretty good.  I attempted a 3 mile run this morning, but my calf wasn't having it.  I ended up walking the whole thing.   The bright side of my husband being gone for the next few days is that I can't go out and run!  I plan on sticking with yoga and weight training and *maybe* attempting a short run on Saturday.  We'll see.  I guess I'm torn with what to do.  I don't want to lose all of my running fitness going in to marathon training, but I don't want to risk further injury either.  I'm thinking a visit to the Sports Medicine clinic might be in order?  I really just don't know what to do.  I've never had an  injury that I just couldn't "push through".  It's frustrating and annoying and I see people freely running and wish it was me.  I wonder if I'll ever be able to run freely again?  On top of all that, it's also new shoe time.  I have about 434 miles on my current shoes.  I'm thinking of changing brands again.  And I'm thinking I may visit a podiatrist to make sure I'm in the right shoes/inserts. I want to start this marathon training out right!  But seeing as I don't actually have any foot issues now, not sure how I'd get in to see a podiatrist.  Perhaps that means my shoes/inserts are okay?  See, I really am a worrier at heart.  My list could go on and on, really....but why bore you with all that in this already novel-length post?  Anyway, thanks for the "running lunch" tips from my last post.  At this point, I'm just hoping I can run at lunch!  Go out and enjoy your run for me today....you never know when it could be your last! :-)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The "running" lunch

As eluded to in my last post, my dear, sweet hubby is not too happy about me training for another marathon.  I'll admit....last time it was all-consuming.  I think I've gotten better with each training cycle, but he still begs to differ.  So as to minimize impact to his exercise schedule and for the sake of keeping him sane and healthy, I think I'm going to try to do at least 1 run/week during my lunch break.  This never would have worked at my previous job.  Going to see patients after sweating it out in the 80-90 degree heat would have not been good!  Thankfully at my new job, I don't have to see patients and my cubicle is a distance aways from the rest of the people.  I mean, I'm not like Milton in Office Space...they're not purposefully putting me far away from everyone.  The nurses share my cubicle area and since this is "home care" they're never in the office!  So anyway, I need some tips for the running lunch.  How do you clean yourself up afterwards without taking a complete shower?  Do you take your make up off before the run and then re-apply afterwards?  Maybe you just say to heck with makeup that day?!  Anything else I need to think about or consider before making this a part of my weekly routine?

Speaking of weekly routines, I did in fact go back for week #2 with the local running store's running group.  I only got there a few minutes early and didn't really have time to go around and ask everyone what their pace/plan was for the day.  The girls I ran with last week weren't there.  I was pretty sure I was going to end up running by myself.  And in fact, I did run the first 3 or so miles by myself.  I had hoped to get in 10 miles, so as a pair of runners passed me, I asked them where the turn-around point was for the 10 mile route.  About that time another girl came up and asked if she could run with me.  She also wanted to do 10 miles, but didn't want to keep up with the pair that had just passed me.  We ended up running the remainder of the run together.  She is a clinical pharmacist, so we had lots  in common.  I forgot to re-start my watch after one of the water stops, but I think our pace was around 9:30-9:40.  That's pretty good for me!  Of course she is training for a half iron man and running isn't her "strong" sport, but I was happy to have the company!  Sadly, I won't be able to go back to the running group until June 19th (my baby girl's 3rd birthday!), because of vacation.  To say that I am looking forward to this vacation is an understatement!  Our lives have been pretty stressful over the past year (hubby in school/working full time, me working part time/changing jobs, training, etc).  We are ready for some time away!  I don't dare say "relaxation" because there is no relaxation with small kids.  But at least I won't have to cook/clean/work for a whole week!  Hopefully the weather will cooperate for maximum beach time and the drive there and back won't be as dreadful as expected!  At the last minute, we've decided to drive overnight (maximize the kids' sleeping time).  This makes me incredibly nervous.  I know I won't be able to stay awake.  I'm just praying my hubby will be able to.  Any tips for that?  I'm also hoping to get some good runs in while there.  I know it's going to be hot and humid... Good training for my upcoming running lunches, I suppose!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I did it!

 In the grand scheme of things, this is not a big deal.  But to me and my current running status, it is.  Saturday morning I got up and ran with the local running store's running group.  Every Saturday morning for the past year I have thought about joining them, but fears of inadequacy, slowness and general awkardness prevented me from actually going.  To be honest, it wasn't the best run ever....but at least I had company and 8.5 miles ticked away like nothing.  I'm also pretty sure the only reason I could find someone who was running at my pace was because they had both just done a full marathon 6 days earlier!  We'll see how it goes this Saturday.  So yes, I'm going to go back.  I'd really like to find a partner/group to train with for my next marathon.

In Boot Camp news.....Holy Cow!  For someone who has been doing cardio and weight training 6-7 days a week for over a year, I sure am out of shape!  Now granted, I am one of the "more conditioned" (the trainer's words, not mine) ladies out there so I do heavier weights and more repetitions, but geez am I sore!  This is exactly what I wanted.  I only wish I could work out with this trainer always!  Unfortunately, she's pricey and I took 3 of my hubby's work out days to do this class.  Being a considerate wife, I feel like I should give him his days back.  He knows marathon training will be starting in the end of June.  Who am I kidding...there is nothing considerate about training for a marathon.  I promise to try my best, though!  4 more sessions of the Boot Camp before we hit the beaches of Hilton Head Island.  I've failed in my main goal of donning a bikini this summer, but I sure am looking forward to some nice runs while on vacay.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cleveland Half Marathon Race Recap!

So I'm a little late getting to this.  Life has been busy this week! I didn't expect to have such a good time in Cleveland.  I've lived in Ohio my whole life and had never visited there.  I'd never heard good things about the city and when my running partner didn't register in time for the race (which sold out for the first time in history) I was pretty sure the whole thing was going to be bad.  Thankfully, I was wrong!

The goodness, if you will, started at the expo.  Lots of good vendors, not too crowded, and easily-accessible bibs/packets/t-shirt pick up.  I finally got my Rider post-run recovery shoes (to go along with my post-run recovery calf compression sleeves) and since I had left my Sweaty Band at home, I picked up a new one of those too!  Definitely a good day for me!

My sister had made reservations for us at a little place in Cleveland's Little Italy district for dinner.  The food was great, but the entertainment took the cake.  We were seated in the back portion of the restaurant where there were 2 singers and a dance floor.  Not too many people were dancing (besides some HS kids there before prom), but everyone was enjoying these singers.  They covered Sinatra, Neil Diamond, Elvis, Michael Buble, etc.  It was great, but made conversation a little hard.  After dinner we walked over to a little Italian bakery, where hubby got a chocolate chip cannoli  and I got a big peanut butter cookie. Perfect way to end the night.

The race started at 7:00 am and our hotel was conveniently located about 3 blocks away from the starting line. It was in the upper 40's/low 50's and sunny.  Perfect running weather!  I offered my sister good luck wishes and off she went to find the 3:40 pace group for the marathon.  I found my spot with the 4:15/9:43 pace group, said good bye to my hubby and then the race began.  I didn't really know what to expect.  I didn't even look at the course map until the night before.  I hadn't trained for a hilly course, and thankfully it wasn't!  That's not to say it was completely flat, but more on that later.  I had no expectations for this race.  I had really hoped to do well at my first race in Louisville and when that didn't pan out, I honestly didn't expect much.  I was pleasantly surprised.

The first few miles took you through downtown Cleveland and across a bridge.  There's always something so empowering about running down the middle of an otherwise busy city street.  I took in the sights as we passed the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland Browns' stadium, and the Cleveland Indians' stadium.  The view from the bridge was pretty cool, as well (for Cleveland).  I kept thinking of my sister and hoped and prayed that she was on track to her BQ.

Next you ran through a pretty industrial area.  Nothing too exciting to see, but honestly, I wasn't looking.  I had my iPod on and I was just concentrating on running.  I didn't feel great, but I didn't feel bad either.  My goal was to stay ahead of the 4:15 pace group for as long as possible.  Around mile 6 they caught up with me.  I heard them come upon me like a heard of elephants.  I stayed with them for about a mile, and eventually I could just barely make out the pace leader sign. It was around this point of the race that I ran into another runner, who became known as "king kong" in my mind.  He was really tall and thin and kind of pounded his feet into the ground with each stride.  What really gave him his nickname was the loud grunting/snorting/loogy-making sounds he was making.  He had his headphones in both ears, so I wonder if he knew how loud he was?  I also wondered if he knew that he was "that guy"? That entertained me for awhile, as I tried to avoid his loogies!

Around mile 9 we made our turn back to the city and ran along Lake Erie.  There was a really nice neighborhood at the turn and there was great crowd support here.  The course overall, was pretty well supported by fans.  That's always a good thing for me!  Along with the great view of the lake came the lakefront winds and a slow, gradual incline. This part was mentally tough.  I just kept moving though and turned on my mental marathon mantra.  I picked out a girl in front of me to stay with and eventually I made my up the incline.  We crossed another bridge back into the city, and I knew the end was near.  As we came down the bridge there was great crowd support.  I found my  hubby cheering for me here!  It was great (and unexpected) to see him.  We hit mile 12 and I knew I was going to finish with a PR.  I was feeling good and strong and the crowds were just getting thicker and thicker as we made our way to the finish line.  I crossed the line at 2:09...a 9 minute PR! 

I made my way through the recovery area and picked up some chips, chocolate milk and a bottle of water.  I sipped water throughout the race, but hadn't had anything else since the GU I took before the race started.  My stomach felt good and I was pretty hungry!  I found my hubby and asked him how my sister was doing.  At the half-way mark she was ahead of the 3:40 pace group and was feeling good.  I was so excited for her!  We quickly went back to the hotel so I could shower and made our way back down to the finish line to watch my sister come in. 

I've never really been a spectator at a race.  Usually I finish running and have to leave quickly to check out of the hotel/take care of my kids/etc.  Watching these fast marathoners was inspiring! They made it look so easy. I teared up watching a little girl bounce around on her Daddy's shoulders as he crossed the finish line in 3:20.  Amazing!  We knew my sister would be coming soon so we took our spots about 100 yards away from the finish line and waited.  I was in charge of the sign, and my husband in charge of taking pictures and the cowbell.  Neither worked out so well, we were so excited when we saw her.  We raced down the street, dodging people, trees and buildings to try and catch her finishing time.  She ended up crossing the finish line at 3:39.  She got her BQ!!  I was so proud of her.  She set her goal and achieved it.  Simply amazing and inspiring!  It was the perfect ending to my spring racing.

Looking forward, I have some new adventures lined up.  I started taking a boot camp class with a personal trainer this week. It meets from 5:30-6:15 am at a local park with about 12 other women.  It meets 3 days a week, rain or shine. Perfect.  What wasn't so perfect was a 1/3 mile sprint/cardiovascular endurance test first thing on Monday morning.  My quads and hip flexors were pretty tight after Sunday's race, and the sprint test only made it worse.  At least I'll be sure to show some improvement from beginning to end!  I've also decided to bite the bullet and try out my local running store's running group.  Now that I am almost completely partner-less (I think the dingo is even over running long-distance with me....he just can't keep up most days), I need to find a nice group to run with.  I've realized that there's worse things than being slow, and if I end up running by myself, well then I'm not any worse off than if I hadn't tried the group out.  My first run with them will be Saturday morning, unless it's raining.  One thing is for sure though.  I am ready to start training for my next marathon.  I want to feel that pride of completing 26.2 miles.  I want to get up at 4am and go out for a 20 mile run.  I want to feel alive again.  Someone please remind me of this when I start complaining about my aching x,y, or z! Sunday, October 17th, 2010 ~ Columbus, OH ~ Nationwide Better Health Marathon ~ Be there or be square!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon Race Recap

Who knew that when I wrote THIS post it would be all too telling.  Half Marathon #2 for the season went off again...with just a minor hitch.  40-some degree starting line temps and 20-30mph winds.  Yeah....it was chilly and I was not too prepared for it.  My knee-high socks were a God send ....not just a funky fashion statement!  Despite the cold temperatures (which really would have been great, if I had been better prepared), I give this race an A+.  Superb organization, fun atmosphere, lots of course support and a great host-city. 

So the details...we arrived in Indianapolis a little after 5:00pm.  We checked into the hotel (who wouldn't guarantee us a late check out....grrrr) and headed over to the expo.  It was easy to find and was in a nice, open exhibit hall in the convention center.  There were no bottlenecks anywhere and you didn't have to follow a specific path to get to the packet pick up area!  What a genius idea! We picked up our packets and then did some shopping.  There were too many good vendors to choose from!  I had been wanting to get a pair of recovery socks, so when I found a pair of Zensah calf/shin compression sleeves, I went ahead and got those.  I typically don't like anything touching my toes after long runs, so the sleeves are perfect.  I used them post-race and my legs feel great today!  After the expo we had dinner at the Spaghetti Factory and called it a night.  I had a whole king-sized bed to myself.  I was in heaven....but just a tad bit lonely.  I had to leave my hubby and kids at home for this race due to my son's T-ball pictures and game coinciding with the race.  Bummer!  Despite having a bed to myself and no kids to wake me up, I still didn't sleep well.  Figures.

My alarm didn't even have to go off.  I had been up well before the 6:05 alarm.  I got myself ready, watched some TV and met my friends in the lobby around 6:30 am.  We were instructed to be in our corrals by 6:45 am.  35,000 runners were expected to run the race!  We found our way easily to our corral (we were in corral "O", out of corrals A-Z) and thus began the long freeze.  Thank goodness for good tunes blaring over the loud speakers and beach balls bouncing around to keep me moving. It was a great atmosphere!  The race started and 17 minutes later we crossed the starting line. 

Miles 1-5 you are essentially heading out of the downtown area (passing by the zoo - they had an elephant at the fence to see us on our way) and out to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  There were so many people around you at all times (but not packed) that you didn't really even notice the surroundings.  They had bands and DJs at least every mile.  Sometimes 2 or 3 in a mile!  Water/gatorade/porta-potties were offered at 17 different spots throughout the 13.1 mile course.  These stations were called "Pit Areas" and had long, vertical flags announcing their location.  The first one we came too I read the banner as a "pitarea" so from then on they became known as "those fancy Italian water stops".  Hey - it doesn't take much to entertain me! I shed my throw-away shirt around mile 2.   I would come to regret that!  Around mile 5 you reach a street/area called Main St.  There was lots of crowd support here, as you made your way into the race track.

Miles 6-9 were almost entirely in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  I had no idea Indy was so big (not a NASCAR fan...)!  There were cheerleaders and different groups located there to cheer you on.  This was also the first photographer spot.  We took our first potty break here.  I had drank NO water (except for a little bit to wash down my breakfast GU) all day and yet my bladder still felt like it could burst.  Luckily my preggo friend also had to stop!  Around mile 8 my friend really started to slow down.  I would run just a bit in front of her and her husband and after a few minutes I would lose them.  Made for a lot of starting and stopping, but I didn't mind.  I usually take my 2nd GU around mile 8, but after the last race I was a bit hesitant.  We were running so slowly, I didn't really feel like I needed to take anything, so I just took a few sips of Gatorade at one of the "Pitareas".

Miles 10-13 led you back into the downtown area.  The scenery wasn't the best,  but the bands/spirit squads/volunteers made up for it.  We stopped again around mile 10 for my friend to use the porta-potty. Unfortunately those sips of Gatorade would come back to haunt me.  My belly starting hurting around mile 11.  I contemplated stopping to use the porta-potty, but I felt bad making them stop again.  The cramps would come in waves, so I could handle it.  Around mile 12 though, we were just moving too slowly so I told them that I was going to run ahead and find a porta-potty at the finish line.  They were cool with that, so I went ahead.  I sped up and it felt good!  I felt as though I hadn't used my "running legs" all day.  I probably could have run a full that day!  I made my way to the finish line where there was fantastic crowd support.  Once I stopped running, the pain went away.  The porta-potties were too far away from the finish line, so I just waited for my friends to finish.  At this point we had to check out of our hotel in about 20 minutes, so we hurriedly made our way through the recovery area and headed back to the hotel.  The wind had really picked up by this point and I was FREEZING.  I ended up running home, just to stay warm.  I took the fastest shower ever, packed up and checked out.  They had a lady going from room to room to make sure you had checked out on time.  Otherwise, they were charging you $50.  Everyone was pretty annoyed!  The good news is that because we had to be out of the hotel so early, we made it home just in time to watch our kids' T-Ball games.  All in all, it was a great race and a great time.  I can't wait to do this race next year!  It sold out in December last year....so I may sign up now!


Pictures from the Race:

Pre-Race...in the hotel room

Beach balls were flying everywhere!  So fun!

My friends - with her "Baby's First 1/2 Marathon" shirt

Entering Indy - You then went down a tunnel and up onto the track

Goofing off on the track

The control tower

Unfortunately, we didn't get any post-race medal pictures, except the professional one they took.  Hopefully that one will turn out good!

So next week is my last 1/2 in Cleveland.  I haven't even looked at the course. I'm more excited to go cheer my sister on to her BQ!  I'm hoping and praying to the good Lord above for "Ideal Conditions".  I can't take much more rain/cold/wind!  I'll take 1 out of 3 at this point!  I don't have a special outfit planned for this one.  I just want to get it done!  The kids will be staying with my Mom and Dad, so hubby and I will have a night alone.  Looking forward to it.  Hope everyone had a great weekend and Happy Mother's Day to all those hard working, running Mamas! 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Disappointment....Really?

It seems as though spring racing is upon us!  Everywhere I turn someone is training for or running a race.  My next race is in 6 days.  Indianapolis here I come!  15,000 half marathoners (and none of those elitist full marathoners to make you feel guilty ;-)).  What could be more fun?!  As mentioned before, this race will be at a significantly more "comfortable" pace.  I'm not going to kill myself weaving around people (I didn't submit a qualifying time for a preferred corral....kicking myself now) and I'm not going to kill my pregnant friend!  This race is about fun.  Taking the lead from fellow running Mommy, Tonia,  at Racing With Babes....I bought some fun socks to rock out on the 13.1 mile course.  Polka dots and stripes anyone?  I've been consistent with my training and now it's time to reap it's rewards.  After last week's race (and puking) I decided it's not fair for me to say that I was "disappointed".  It would be one thing if I had trained hard.  I did no hill repeats, no speedwork, heck...I only run 3 days a week, racking up only 108 miles during my heaviest month of training.  I suppose really, I'm lucky to finish!  That's not to say I'm a slacker, though.  I've only taken 7 days off from exercising since January 1st.  All of those days were either before a race or the day after a long run.  My goal is to be fit and running is just a part of that.  Looking ahead, I need to revisit my nutrition strategy.  I don't know if I can stomach another GU....I was gagging taking them even before I threw one up last week!  I'm thinking about reading Nancy Clark's Food Guide for Marathoners.  As a dietitian myself, I prefer to stick with a book written by a professional.    Hopefully this will be insightful.  Nutrition strategy for this weekend's race is TBD!  Not a lot of time to experiment, with only 2 runs before Saturday's race.  Hey....wasn't I just tapering a few weeks ago?  Gotta love back to back racing!  On that note, have a good week and I'll catch you on the flipside of another 13.1.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kentucky Derby Festival mini-Marathon Race Recap

Despite ominous weather predictions prior to my first 1/2 of the season, the race went off without a hitch.  Well, maybe not completely without a hitch, but at least it wasn't a wash out!  We arrived in Louisville early Friday evening and headed over to the expo to pick up my packet.  It was pretty crowded and just a bit too chaotic to have 2 kids in tow.  We made it out alive though and decided to try to find someplace to eat dinner.  Some place kid-friendly, without a wait.  Hard Rock Cafe it was.  I haven't been to a Hard Rock Cafe since I was probably about 12 years old.  And now I know why.  Food was way over-priced for mediocrity.  Not to mention there was only one pasta dish on the menu.  After dinner we headed down to the riverfront area to try to find the post-race area.  I didn't want to take my phone with me during the race, so we wanted to find a good meet-up spot.  One mile walk later, we were all tired of walking and decided to take a horse-carriage ride home.  The kids really enjoyed that and it was a nice break for my legs!  We headed up to our hotel room and tried to get to bed early.  Sharing a bed with a wiggly 2 year old makes that impossible!  I knew it was going to be a long night...

I had to be at the shuttle pick-up by 6:00am to be at the starting line by 7:15am.  That meant a 5:00am alarm. I was up well before then.  I checked the weather outside....light rain and 55 degrees.  I had about 3 different outfit scenarios all laid out, not knowing what the day's weather would bring.  I had heard everything from torrential rains and tornadoes to no rain after 8:00am.  I decided on a tank top, skirt and a cheapie rain poncho.  Turned out to be the perfect outfit.  The poncho kept me warm and dry and I was able to pitch it.  I made my way to the shuttle pick up area only to find a huge line, wrapping all the way around the block.  The line moved quickly though and we were on the buses and at the starting line around 6:30am.  I had one hour to wait and try to stay dry.  Runners huddled under the overhangs at all the local businesses, under trees, wherever they could find shelter.  Time went quickly and at about 7:00am I decided to hit the port-o-potty.  Yeah....40 minutes later I had relieved myself of the need to pee, but had missed the start of the race.  That meant lining up behind the last corral of mostly walkers.  Made for an interesting first few miles, but at least I wouldn't have to stop the rest of the race!  Even missing the official start of the race, I still got teary-eyed as I neared the starting line.  That's why I run!

Miles 1-4 went through a really pretty, wooded, hilly, park.  Everyone kept talking about "the hills" in the first part of the race.  I had looked at the elevation profile quickly at the start of my training back in January and decided it didn't look too bad.  Luckily I was right, because I had run very few hills in preparation for this race.  You haven't run hills in the Ohio area until you've run the Flying Pig in Cincinnati!  I spent a lot of time weaving around people, trying to ease into a groove.  Running was easy and effortless at this point and the rain was tapering off.

Miles 4-7 were really boring.  We were on a long, flat road the entire time.  Crowd support was pretty decent throughout, thank goodness!  I was still feeling good!

Mile7-8 lead you into the Churchill Downs area and eventually into the actual stadium.  They had old horse races being broadcast over a loud speaker, adding to the excitement of running through such a cool venue.  As you ran along one side of the track, you could see the horses practicing.  Talk about effortless running!  Those horses are amazing!  Then you went down into the tunnels, beneath the famed race track.  The sound of pounding feet and hoots and hollars was exhilarating!

Miles 8-11 lead you out of the Churchill downs area, through the University of Louisville campus and to the mini-Marathon and "maxi-Marathon" (as the sign so cleaverly said) split.  There were over 11,000 runners in the race, but only 1,100 or so actually did the whole marathon.  I was starting to feel tired at this point and I was pretty glad today wasn't my day to run the full!  I'd be lying if I didn't think that I was a slacker though.  I was so ashamed I couldn't even look at the marathoners turning off.  Between miles 8-9 I decided to take my only GU.  I was hoping it would give me a much needed energy boost.  Instead, around mile 9, I developed a cramp in my lower, left abdomen.  I rarely get cramps when running, so this was pretty unusual.  I tried to do some deep breathing, all while keeping running.  My pace had significantly slowed down, but I was determined not to walk!  The cramp lessened enough that I could pick up the pace a tad.  I was feeling pretty good at the split off when a wave of nausea came over me and I knew I needed to walk.  I walked for about a minute, the nausea passed and I started running again.

Miles 12-13.1 were pretty much all downhill through the downtown and riverfront areas.  Runners who had already finished were walking back to their cars/hotels, so I knew the end was near!  Unfortunately around mile 12 the nausea returned and this time it wasn't just nausea.....I vomited 4 times on the side of the road/sidewalk/trashcan/etc.  I may never take another chocolate GU again! This was a first for me.  Luckily the runners had thinned out quite a bit and we weren't to the final straightway where there were a ton of spectators!  After my last episode I walked for another minute and then started running again.  I really did feel fine, I was just ready to be done!  The final straightway and finish line came into view and I knew I was going to make it.  I crossed the finish line at 2:18:51.  The recovery area lasted forever and was really picked over.  I felt bad for the marathoners who hadn't even got there yet!  I slurped down a bottle of water and found a plain bagel.  I got both of those down no problem and went on to find my family.

Walking back to the hotel proved to be another feat.  The kids were tired and worn out and we had a one mile uphill walk.  Guess who got to carry a tired 28 pound 2 year old?  I considered it my weight training for the day!  Finally back at the hotel, I took a quick shower, we packed up the room and hit the road.  The kids were asleep before we could get the Garmin programmed for home!

All in all, it was a great race.  The course was good, the crowd support was good, and it was well-organized.  Louisville is a delightful city and really had a lot to offer (if we had the time and/or energy to do it).  The expo wasn't all that great, and the shirt was a bummer, but that's not what's important.  The weather ended up being pretty good too.

As far as my running, I was a bit disappointed.  My Garmin is officially annoying and way off calibration (despite multiple attempts to calibrate it right). I really thought I could pull off a 2:15 or less.  And heck, maybe I could of, if I didn't puke 4 times!  I felt good and strong for most of the race.  It felt even better to have that confidence running by myself.  Weaving through all those people in the beginning would have been hard with a partner/group, although it would have been nice to have someone to chat with during that long, boring strip between miles 4-7.

So a post-race question:  Why do I lose toenails and get sore after races, but not during training?  This has happened after every race.  I ran well over 13 miles in training and only was sore after one of those runs.  It's not like I run that much harder during a race.  In fact, my motto during this race was "if I'm not having fun, I need to slow down!"  I'll never be fast, so why torture myself more than necessary? Yes, I'm a real competitor...lol!  I expect to have 2 less toenails in about 3 weeks.

My next race is in 2 weeks.  I'm pretty tight/sore today (including the spot in my abdomen where my cramp was??), so I took the day off from any exercise.  I'll get back on track tomorrow though!  This next race will be even slower.  I'm running with my friends on this one, and one of them is almost 24 weeks pregnant.  I'm sure there will be some planned walking involved, but it's going to be fun. And that's all that matters in my book!

Pictures from our weekend in Louisville:

Hubby and Caroline checking into the hotel
Braden testing out the luxury bedding at The Hilton

A rare moment of sibling love

Outside the Expo

Waiting (and waiting) for Mommy to finish

Post-Race (I swear I didn't pee myself...maybe rain, spilled water, sweat??)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ideal Conditions

As a runner, I wake up most mornings hoping for "ideal" conditions.  Now, that varies from month to month and season to season.  Now days, "ideal" would be mid-50's and sunny.  Those are the days that I feel like I could run forever.  This past winter I found myself hoping for mid-20's without snow showers.  It all depends on your point of view.  But what this past training cycle has taught me is that I can and will run through anything because you never know what race day will bring.  Sure, running into strong wind gusts on your way home from an out and back isn't ideal, but then you don't get to pick which way the race course goes and if you could, you couldn't guarantee that good ol' Mother Nature wouldn't interfere anyway!  The salesmen at Verizon looked at me like I was crazy when I told them I needed to get a new phone because mine had gotten too wet on my 6 mile run in the rain.  Oh well.  I'll be ready for those rain showers that they're predicting for my first half this coming weekend.  The Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and Mini-Marathon is in 6 days!  I'm so excited to get this show on the road....quite literally.  3 cities, 3 races, in 4 weeks!  My family will never want to come watch me race again!  My new running skirt has been tried and tested (LOVE it).  I'm finishing up my playlist this week.  My race-day outfit is still TBD due to the weather.  Other than that...I'm ready!  And dare I say....I feel ideal going into this race?! Whether or not that means a big PR is another thing.  But at least I'm not sweating the details like I did for my first few races.  Running comes down to two simple things for me....having fun and staying injury-free.  Let the racing begin!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

When it Rains, It Pours

This was the first week at my new job.  To say that I am overwhelmed is an understatement.  I know the grass is always greener on the other side and that change is in fact a good thing....but right now all I want to do is head back to my old job.  The sad thing about that is that I did stay on in a "resource" position at the hospital and was asked to work this weekend.  It initially felt good to be in a place where people know me and more importantly, I know what I'm doing!  The sad part is that my old-coworkers have already moved on without me.  Not that I thought they would keep an eternal vigil or something, but my name has been taken off all the group email lists, my time sheet is gone, etc, etc.  Although painful to witness, this motivates me even more to make my new job work.  There's no turning back!  Despite an apparent lack of preparation on my new job's part (I mean really....who needs a computer or access to patient information) and about 6.5 hours of training, I think I will like my new job.  Maybe. Hopefully. 
And just when I think my week can't get any worse, I go for a run in the rain with my cell phone in my water-proof jacket pocket, and it gets soggy.  Yes, that would be cell phone #2 this year due to running-related injuries.  The good news is that I've upgraded to a Blackberry and finally feel like part of the grown-up world!  So, a question for you all.  How do you keep your phones from being exposed to moisture/sweat/rain? 

The next bummer of the week came from my "friend"/co-worker who had asked me to run the Cleveland 1/2 marathon with her on May 16th.  We made our Hotel arrangements and were trying to work out our running schedules so that we could do a couple of long runs together (she's a RN and works 12-hour shifts).  I went ahead and registered for the race last week, before the price increased.  Come to find out this week that the race is sold out now and my friend never registered.  So now, I'm running 2 out of my 3 races by myself.  This means the family will be coming with me and the expenses will quadruple!  Ugh.  I emailed the race director to see if perhaps I could "sell" my spot to someone....we'll see.

The one bright spot in my week came from a couple of packages arriving.  One was from Training Tag-Alongs and the other was from Skirtsports.  Although I had some issues with the nice folks at Training Tag-Alongs initially, their customer service recovery has been great!  I understand that they are a new company and are trying to work out some kinks.  Pictures to come soon of the kiddos in their cute shirts!  I've had such bad luck with online orders lately (in addition to that mess, I've now gone through 3 swim suits, trying to find one that fits) that I was sure my new running skirt wouldn't fit. But, miracle of all miracles, it fits!!  Unfortunately it was too chilly to try it out on my long run yesterday, but hopefully it will warm up this week, so I can give it a try.  My running has continued to go well.  No major aches and pains.  I'm excited for my upcoming races and hope my hard work and dedication will pay off.  You just never know what race day will throw at you.  In any case, I've been extremely thankful to have my running to keep me sane over the past few weeks.  Well, maybe not "sane" persay, but at least functioning!