what is wrong with me?

Wait, don’t answer that.

Well, not yet.

Last week, I did something incredibly stupid- signed up for my third (full) marathon. I think if there was a race every month of the year in Raleigh, I’d sign up for more races, coasting on the “convenience” factor (and probably skimping on the training more often).

So, here I am.

Signed up for my second marathon (Richmond) in November, and the Rock and Roll Raleigh in April (2014).

On a slightly related note, there has been a lot of controversy about the Rock and Roll coming to Raleigh. Here are my scrambled thoughts.
First, I have done two Rock and Roll half marathons (my first- Vegas), and Nashville last year. I have also done a tiny (300 person) half marathon. I would prefer the middle ground- 1,000-5,000 person race. The 20,000+ person races are intimidating and crowded (regardless of how well they corral people). I will agree with that point. However, they put on a good show (including a good course, tons of food and energy gels/drinks and crowd support); this helps give me energy to last longer.
The main thing people keep saying is “race local”… We have two local full marathons in the Raleigh area (and several half marathons). I did one of these local races (a half), and hated it- I had to bring my own energy gels (which I was not told in advance, I realized at mile 8, when I hadn’t seen anything yet), there were maybe 4 water stations (I drink a lot over the course of 13 miles in MAY in Raleigh), there was next to no crowd support, and by the time I finished, there was no food. Like, no food. Or juice. Just water. Also, i finished in 2:29, not so ridiculously slow that i should miss out on those post-race goodies. Anyway, my point is- sometimes Walmart/Target has more options than the local country store, making it worth it to shop ‘non local’. It also makes me laugh that some of the people who are strongly anti-RnR are the same people who go to starbucks every day. Your coffee choice impacts your local economy much more than which race runners do. A little math lesson– $4/day for a week is $20/week, which is $80/month, or $1000/year. That affects the local economy on a much more significant scale than a few runners paying $60-120 once per year. Just sayin’! If you are going to make that argument, stand behind it with all your spending habits 🙂

The honest truth is I trained for City of Oaks in 2011, and got injured. Last year, I decided to train for Richmond, which is the following weekend. I then signed up for Richmond again this year. Maybe in 2014, I’ll run City of Oaks (which, by the way, is a great local race of about 5,000 runners in the full, I think, with great crowd support most if the way, including me at mile 25). I have wanted to pay tribute to my hometown (and current city) as well, with a good course, and RnR tends to do a good scenic course. And it was only $65, which for a marathon, is super cheap. So, I signed up.

And now I am left thinking When did I become a marathoner? Sure, one marathon is one thing, but THREE? And immediately following that (and a “calm the f*** down” beer), I decided this will be my last marathon… famous last words, right?

So, here goes nothing. Here’s to hoping next winter will be friendlier than this winter. My 15 miler in the snow was horrible, and I can’t imagine a 20-miler in those conditions (Andrea rocked a 27-miler that day, due to bad GPS signaling… go get ’em girl!).

Basically, here’s to early mornings from July to April; drinking water as if I’m storing it like a camel; here’s to foam rolling and yoga (both necessary); here’s to felling tired and hungry all the time. But mainly, to the feeling of accomplishment, to the joyful years at the finish line, the sense of comrade in training and in race day! To all of it! I raise my coffee mug (It’s 8am, I’m not drinking a beer before work silly!)
Raise your glasses (or mugs, or just Nuun pint glasses) with me for whatever goals you have coming. And in advance, for all the hard work you’re going to put in!

First marathon look-back

Okay, a few days after my first marathon. So what are my feelings about the race?

What worked well?

Well… There was a lot. Not to be cocky, it’s just I think this race ended up being the ideal first marathon for me.

I think carb-loading helped. Honestly, it alleviated my stress. Whenever I stressed about the marathon, I shoved a doughnut/slice of pizza/crackers/etc into my mouth. So that helped. A lot. Also a couple glasses of wine the night before helped.

The temperature was perfect. Since it was cold at the beginning, we were kind of forced to go slow, because we were cold/warming up.

Training up to 22 miles definitely helped. And training through tired legs. And training with Dan/Dave for my mid-week mid-distance runs, so I was used to comfortably hurting on a long-ish run. Still, nothing feels like that last 4-5 miles of pure pain. My best advice for training for a marathon is run hard, run often, and push yourself to stretch a further distance or speed when you just “don’t feel like it” for mental fortitude.

That being said, I also went into the marathon on fresh legs. I didn’t do any speed work the week before the race. I didn’t do any runs over 5 miles the week before the race. I even skipped out on the first tapering long run (16 miles) because I was sick. A significant taper, after the wear and tear on your legs is crucial. At 13.1 miles, I felt like I could begin to pick up the pace because my legs felt sooo rested.

Once Allison and I split, I was able to open up some (there was more space as I got closer and closer to the finish), and able to just concentrate on running my own race.

Getting water at every chance was also a good move. I never felt dehydrated. Putting Nuun in my fuel belt; I was chugging that like crazy mile 22-25. Bringing the Honey Stinger Chews (that way I could slowly eat the electrolytes throughout the race).

What would I do differently?

I would have liked to do some of the Junk Food stations (I think it would have loosened me up a bit), and maybe even a “shot” of beer at mile 22.

I would love to cross that 4:30 barrier, since I was so close, and think I could do that by actually paying attention to my pacing on my long runs, and teaching myself how to slowly negative split (I tend to do what I did in the race; run for 20 miles at a 10:30 pace, then drop down to 9:30 for the last 6 miles). It would be smarter to do 10 miles at a 10:30 pace, 10 miles at a 10:00 pace, then 6 miles a 9:30 pace, and would improve my time too 🙂

Honestly, I would have tried to pick up Allison’s spirits some. I was hurting by the time she told me to ‘go on’, and I didn’t have the (mental) energy to be positive. At some point, you have to run your own race (I get that). But I wish she had a more enjoyable race, and feel like I left her in the dust to fend off negative thoughts on her own. (Even though she said ‘go on’ and the golden rule with running partners is to trust them, and let go when they tell you to)

Oh, and I would have hobbled straight over to the medical aid tent to get my blisters checked out. …I’m pretty sure the one that burst in the last stretch is somewhat infected (yuck!) because it’s red and inflamed. My legs are fine, and I plan to run tonight (and tomorrow), but my toes may be in too much pain to get all the way through a 5-mile run. Might be an elliptical/ strength training night.

My goals

My goals had been to
1. Enjoy it <— Check! (smiles up to mile 22, and then again when I saw the 25)
2. Be able to walk after the marathon <—Check! (4 mile hike on Monday)
3. Finish in <4:40<—Check! (4:30:39)

So what’s in the future for me?

I have a Turkey Trot 8K next week (Thanksgiving morning).  I just hope to be able to run the whole way, without pain. Though, I always run with a goal in mind- so 45-something?

Organizing our next relay team (Palmetto200), which currently has 9 people. But I’m sure we will get more people interested. If not, more room for food/luggage 😀

And, I signed up for next year’s Richmond Marathon, while it is only $65 (for a 7,000-person and strongly community-supported race, that’s awesome price). It’s only $65 until Nov 15 at 11:59pm, then it jumps to $80, and slowly increases. Even if I drop to the half, $65 for a half marathon is a decent price. It really was a great course- pretty flat,  scenic at times, and crowded/loud at times (in a cheering/good way). It was well organized and a lot of fun!

Oh, and yoga at my friend’s studio. I kept saying I would go, and it’s now been two months since it opened. I will make my debut this Monday…

And Friday night Cheers! …At least until December. Also, winter running means you don’t have to get up early because it’s too f-ing hot outside by 9am, so I can casually run (some alone running might be nice again; get my head right) however long and whenever I want. GASP! People run 12 miles at 1pm?! I know! Insane!

Marathon Prepping

It feels more real that I am running a marathon this weekend now that I am carb loading.

So here are my other “Week of” the marathon preparations that are necessary:

in order of importance

1. Call, text, email, facebook your running partner(s) every time you think about:
a) the marathon, b) travel plans/hotel/getting there, c) outfits, d) future races, e) food, f) your taper runs

2. Tell everyone you know you are running a marathon.
Even though they will likely still ask you Tuesday ‘What did you do this weekend?’ with a blank look on their face

3. Check the race website every 15 minutes to see if there are any updates.
Even though there aren’t any updates

4. Check the weather forecast at least daily.

5. Hydrate. Drink Nuun. Freak out that you have no voice.
And feel everyone around you’s relief about your loss of voice, since all you want to do is talk about your freaking marathon!

6. Go to Fleet Feet (or your local running store) several times this week, for several reasons-
a. Runners love to hear about your marathon
b. You might need gloves
c. You might need arm warmers
d. You might need some more GU
e. You forgot to get Nuun the last time you were there
f. You might want to look at buying an ENTIRE extra outfit, just in case the weather forecast suddenly changes

7. Pack your whole closet of running gear and clothes

8. Carb-load.
For me, that began with 3 sandwiches at lunch and crackers. I plan to grab donuts on the way home (thanks Dan and Dave for the gift cards!), Pizza tonight, then grabbing some French pastries.

9. Try to find time to squeeze in a few runs on the treadmill between running to the store, running out to get Pizza/Donuts, and checking all the aforementioned websites.
Pray that you don’t go too fast and mess up four months of training. And curse the treadmill.

10. Music Playlist.
Okay, that should be higher…

Oh yeah, and have fun. Relax. Go out on a date.

Okay, no seriously, I am not too stressed. It is just a 26 mile training run for Allison and I, to prepare for our upcoming Ultra. <— Which when I said to her (completely joking), she was like “you know, I’ve been thinking, maybe I could do an ultra…” But it’s just a training run. In cute clothes. And with a bunch of new friends. It’s our new running group 🙂

3 days…