Monday, November 26, 2012

Marathon Monday: The Countdown!

My marathon is this Saturday, how did we get here so quickly?!?  I feel like I have followed the training plan pretty much to a "tee" so I am hoping that means that I am ready for this challenge!   I gained a few pounds over Thanksgiving so I am slightly worried about that.

I have had one pretty bad nightmare about the marathon - started out too fast, bonked by mile 4, ran a loop twice when I should have run it once (and it was a BIG loop), then the course (which was marked by chalk) wasn't marked at a corner so I had no clue which way to go and had to wait for a course marshall to direct me, and last but not least I got lost in the hills/woods and was unable to finish the race.  So far I have only had the one nightmare so I guess I got all my fears out in one terrifying night!

This last week was a pretty easy one as far as the miles go

Tuesday: 4 miles (on the treadmill)
Wednesday: 6 miles
Thursday: 3.45 miles (with my little girl)
Saturday: 8.15 miles
  Total for the week: 21.6 miles

I leave on Thursday to head to Memphis.  I am mostly packed and ready, just playing the waiting game.  Oh, and nervously watching the weather.  Right now, things aren't looking how I would like them to.  There is a chance of rain and the temps are going to top out at nearly 70 degrees!  Some people may love the warm weather - but I am a cold weather runner and have been training in the 30s and 40s.  Hoping I will be able to adjust to the heat (and potentially humidity).

And, for those of you who haven't yet... please consider making a donation to my fundraising here. They have a "contest" going on today and if I can get 5 donations I will earn a commemorative poster for marathon weekend!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Marathon Monday and Race Recap

Like any other Saturday, I got up early and laced up my tennis shoes headed out the door.  The difference was that I wasn't headed out for a long run, I was headed out to run the Turkey Trot 5k at Fox Island.  My goal was simple, to have a good time and not injure myself - I am far too close to my marathon to do something stupid now!

I let the "top runner" in our age group go and settled into a comfortable pace.  I started out easy, trying not to swear at all the little ones who don't quite understand race etiquette and kept running in the middle of the trail so you couldn't pass, or even running and cutting in front of me.  That first mile was a test of my patience for sure.  After the first mile, the crowd finally started to thin out some and  I ended up running side by side with another top runner of similar age for a while.  After I bit I decided I had just a bit more to give so I slowly pushed the pace up a bit.  I ran behind two people for a bit letting them control the pace and even out my breathing and the like.

As I approached about 2.25 2.5 miles I saw the "top runner" up ahead - I figured she was probably too far ahead to catch but I wanted to push myself just a bit, so I politely asked to pass and upped my speed a bit.  I somehow managed to get within sprinting distance of the "competition" and decided to just hang there for a  bit.  As I saw the finish line in view I tried to push ahead of her and she took off, my kick wasn't going to be enough so I told her "great job, you got it... finish strong, I don't have it today."  Yet somehow, as we hit the pavement my legs decided they have more to give and I pushed hard (my garmin shows 6:00 something min/mile at the end).

I was able to cross the finish mat just a hair ahead of her, and chip time showed I had won my age group by .2 seconds!  I have never been more proud of winning my age group.  I have done it before, but I felt like I ran this race smart and to me, that means more than the pie I won.  I have been struggling with the "mental" side of running and I feel like I am finally making some progress there!

As far as my "Marathon Monday" summary - here's how it went.  It's not nearly as exciting now a days, the miles aren't as long and quite frankly I am ENJOYING IT!  Maybe "taper madness" will settle in sometime in the next two weeks?  (I highly doubt it!)

Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 8 miles
Friday: 12 miles
Saturday: 3.1 miles
   Total for the week: 28.1 miles (ahh, loving the taper!)

Friday's long run was one of my fastest during my marathon training (9 minute miles).  I meant to take it easy, but I am blaming the speed on the mileage cutback as well as having a time limit for the run. (Nothing interesting to note here, it was loops around the Y, no bathroom breaks or walk breaks, WOOHOO)

In the category of "bad news" I think I am getting a touch of a cold... anyone have any tips to clear this mess up quickly?  I am trying to remember the vitamins every day as well as stay  hydrated - anything else I am missing?  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Marathon Monday: Readiness?

Well, another week of training completed.  I am now supposedly pretty much "ready" for my first marathon in 3 weeks.. just a few weeks of easy running and I will be ready to go.  I honestly am having feelings of doubt about that... Does running 20 miles once really mean I can run 26.2 on race day?  I want to finish in a good time on race day but most importantly I want to finish feeling like I ran strong and enjoyed the race...

This last weeks training in review:
Tuesday: 5.2
Wednesday: 10.5
Thursday: 5
Saturday: 20 miles (personal record)
  Total for the week: 40.7 (new personal high)

The 20 mile run was intimidating to say the least, but it went much better than I was expecting honestly.  I decided to try out my new fuel (keeping it under wraps til after the marathon, hoping not to jinx myself) and my new hand-held because I think its what I want to use for the marathon (worked well).  Once I actually got out there and got started I felt strong... for the first time ever I ran 13.1 miles, every step without needing a bathroom or walk break!  That was an amazing feeling.  (I have run every step once, and not used the restroom once, but this was the first time not needing either.)

I am allowed to look bad, I just ran 20 miles!
After my bathroom break at 13.1 miles it was really hard to get back into the rhythm, but I struggled and did the best I could - I told myself to run to "point x" when I would get there, then I would pick a point further ahead.  This worked til just after mile 15 when I had to walk some - mile 16 was my worst split of the day.  After my bathroom stop at 18.3 miles, I found it even harder to get the legs back into rhythm, but thats when I got tough with myself.  After a few walk breaks and a few struggles to get my legs moving I told myself "run to x" and then you can walk.... of course by the time I got there, I was less than a mile from done and I had gotten back into the flow of running so I just kept running!  I had to laugh, as I was running that last mile I passed a couple ladies and they joked "we will just drift in behind you" and I sort of huffed and puffed "I may not make it much further, I am at about 19.4 miles"  they asked how far are you running.  Can you guess what my answer was?  "ONLY 20 miles."  WHO AM I?   Although, I am sure it was because that meant ONLY another half mile or so, still... who says "only 20 miles.. "

I am pretty proud of my splits except for a few, but overall.. not bad:

I am trying to decide whether to run with a pace team or on my own...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

W.O.O.F. 16 mile trail race recap

I have to be honest, I was dreading this race with pretty much every bone in my body.  We all know how predictable my GI system can be and there aren't really any great bathroom stops along the way that I know of (they could have been there, but I didn't notice them).  On top of that, the weather was back and forth all week - it was originally forecast to be a high of 55 and beautiful, then they changed it to a high of 42 with rain/snow.

Luckily - it ended up being a high of the mid-40s, but DRY!  The sky was clear and beautiful, a nice crisp fall morning.  I woke up on time, but it NEVER fails - trying to get a whole family of people up and out the door always takes longer than it should.  Neither my husband nor my kid are morning people - its a battle every time.  Because of this, we were running 15 minutes late and I was frantically gathering coats and gloves for the kids.

Unfortunately in my madness I forgot my fuel belt - this meant I had no fuel and no water.  After having a mini-melt down I called my mom and she was able to "talk me off the edge."  We decided I would stop at the convenience store and get a bag of mints and use the water on the course and pray I would be okay.  By time I made it to Ouabache State Park I had mostly gathered myself.  While I still wasn't looking forward to 16 miles of trail running, I knew that no matter how ugly it would be that I could finish.

The time came and we lined up.  Both the 5.3 milers and the 16 milers all line up and start together so I lined up about 3/4 of the way back despite the "gun time" because I didn't want to get caught up in running too fast.  Much of the first lap was a blur.

For most of the first lap I was running in a pack of about 6-8 people and I felt like I was running strong.  I spent much of the time staring at the ground watching for roots, mud, and other hazards - luckily runners are pretty friendly people so they would shout out a warning and we would pass it back the line.   A little over 4 miles in I came upon the hay bales for the first time - up and over I went and then I kept on trucking.  One fun part of this race is that you get to run by the buffalo enclosure during the race - I was happy to see that they were close enough to see this year.  (Though, I still don't know how people can see the cute buffalo and then eat a bison burger after the race?!?) Around mile 5, I popped a mint into my mouth and put it in my cheek - hoping it would keep my body energized. The last little bit of trail before the end of the loop was a muddy/rutted mess and I nearly fell on my butt so I decided I would walk that short section each time.  By the end of the first loop I was tired and feeling like I might not make it. But, I finished that first loop in around 51 minutes (I forget the exact clock time) and I headed back into the woods for the second.

Less than a mile into the second loop I had a moment of panic when I realized I no longer had my (brand new) cell phone - I had lost in somewhere on the course.  I stopped dead in my tracks looking in a circle around my feet hoping that it was there - it wasn't.  A couple of nice ladies came upon me and asked if I was okay - I assured them I was but that I had lost my phone.  They told me to keep running my race, there was nothing I could do about it now.  Probably the best advice of the day - they assured me that someone would find it and all would be okay.   I was no longer in a pack,  but there were some people "near" me so I never felt alone.  I ran most of that second loop in a panic that I had lost my phone. I kept hoping that I would find it at the hay bales. Luckily, as I scaled the hay bales for the second time and shouted to my husband that my phone was lost a family standing near him told me they had found it and it was at the start/finish line.  WHEW - what a relief!

You can see how much time I lost being cautious with the hay bales
I had been such a tense mess that second lap, that once I got the news that my phone had been found I sort of crashed.  I took a walk break at mile 10 and gathered my thoughts.  After running for nearly two hours I was exhausted and wanted to quit.  Tommy and the kids weren't at the end of loop two because they hadn't returned back from the hay bales yet.  Luckily a really nice lady cheered for me as I headed back out for lap three, its what kept my legs moving - she told me "this is your victory lap."

Unfortunately, by now I had lost all company at this point, I was running completely by myself.  I was afraid I might run off course because it wasn't really marked per say other than following the areas that were walked down.  Luckily, I was able to keep focused and stay on course.  Things got rough though, after several close calls in lap two where I rolled my ankles I was starting to feel tired and my joints were "loose" and feeling weak.

Between the loneliness of the course and my fear of injuring tired muscles I started walking more.  I did happen across a couple other racers who were walking so I knew that at very least I wasn't going to be last.  I think I passed 2 people that last lap.  That last climb over the hay bales was a bit of a tease - I knew I was close, but it still felt like I had so far to go!  And quite possibly even harder was having to run past my car with less than half a mile to go - I wanted nothing more than to go climb in my van and warm up.   Instead, I pushed on knowing I was so close to being done.  As I was finishing up I had to dodge people walking back to their cars who had already finished.  Luckily, they were all very encouraging so that helped.

As I exited the trail I saw my hubby and kids - and the clock.  I wanted to finish in 1:45 and I saw it was still a possibility.  So, I put forth every ounce of energy I had left - and honestly at that point it wasn't a whole lot.   It wasn't pretty but I had just run 16.35 miles on trails - and I wasn't last (my only real goal).  I had hoped to come in at 10 minute miles or faster and I just missed that (10:02 pace) - without the cell phone snafu I am sure I would have made it.  Or, you know... without all the darn walking that last lap. :-/

Despite my poor performance the last lap I did manage to score second in my age group (we will ignore the fact that there were only two people in my age group).  Overall I was 40 out of 57 with a finishing time of 2:43:56.9.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Marathon Monday: Less than a Month to go!

Holy cow - how did I get here?  I just finished week 14 of my 18 week training plan!  With just a month to go the nerves, jitters, and self doubts are starting to take hold.  I am pretty sure I can complete the mileage but I want to have a GOOD race - I want to feel strong and confident.  That will be the hard  part.  More on that later, but for now lets summarize my mileage for week 14.

Tuesday: 5.2 miles ("tempo" run on the treadmill, UGH)
Wednesday: 9 miles
Thursday: 5 miles (with the BOB)
Saturday: 16.35 miles (trail race, recap tomorrow)
Total for the week: 35.55 miles

This next week will be the toughest of my training schedule - I am ready to face it head on!  I have my one and only 20 miler this week and then its all down hill until the marathon!  Right now I am looking forward to the taper, but I have heard that it starts to really get to most people - we will see.

For now, I am trying to decide how to run my race.  My original goal was not to have a time goal and to just run/walk it however I had to.  Now though, I am thinking that it might be helpful for me to run with a pace group.  But, I am not sure if I can run every step of the marathon (even at a slower pace).

What would you do if you were me?  Pick a pace group or go it alone?  

P.S.  If you haven't yet donated to my fundraising, please consider it.  I met my original goal, but I have another goal that I would love to reach, and I am just under $150 away from that.  It would mean the world to me to get to $3,620 raised for St Jude.  St Jude does wonderful things every day and every dollar helps them come closer to a cure!