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!

cold double-up

Today was the first day I dreaded my morning run. It was dark. And cold (well 49 degrees, but that feels cold). I just wanted to stay in my bed, and snuggle with my fat cat. Hitting snooze is generally a bad sign for a weekday AM run. I hit snooze three times this morning. I eventually rolled out of bed at 6:40, basically so I wouldn’t be late for work.

I pulled on my running capri tights (first time since April?). And the tank I’d laid out the night before. I checked the weather and it was 50 degrees outside… Okay, dayglow green long sleeve over the tank. And blinkie. Since at 645am, the sun was just coming up.

“Am I really doing this?” I thought to myself. As I stepped outside, the cold air actually felt good. I remembered how good it feels to run in the crisp air. How everyone PR’s in the fall, because the lungs were pushed to extreme in 100+ degree weather with high humidity. “Okay, okay” I thought as I walked down the stairs, finally ready to run. For the first mile, I couldn’t stop yawning. I think drivers were confused why I would be running if I was that tired. I also thought to myself, “You are a wimp. It is 50 degrees and you just had the thought that you need gloves and ear muffs. This is not going to be a pretty winter if you need gloves on a 50-degree day”

My legs eventually warmed up, and I got to my sub-10:00 pace. I wanted to go further than 1.5 miles out, but I knew I’d be late for work if I did. So, I turned back, and raced home. My average pace was 9:34. I haven’t wanted to run with one of my running apps lately on shorter runs, so here’s my best guess on splits (I glanced at my time at the mile intervals): Mile 1- 9:48, Mile 2- 9:30, Mile 3- 9:10. Not too bad.

Work, then round 2 (8 miles) tonight… One down, one more to go.

After work, I got in a second run- 8 miles. During my run at dusk, my new blinkie broke (damnit!). I managed to pump out the first few miles no problem. The splits were as follows- 10:29, 9:33, 10:37, 9:58, 9:24, 9:59, 9:28, 8:27. The 10:37 was me figuring out my blinkie wouldn’t work. I stopped to play with it some. The 8:27 was my last mile, which is flat so I sprinted in.

In training for a marathon AND a relay race, I am trying to “double-up” as many days as possible. Some days, I run twice in a day, some weeks, I run 6 days. This past weekend, I ran 16 miles Saturday, then 5 on Sunday. This attempts to fatigue my legs and help them adjust. Currently, I am running the most in my van- about 22 miles total (legs split as: 9.08 miles, 6.37 miles, 6.57 miles). Though the second leg may change. I also try to strength train my hips and glutes, as they tend to be weak, on my off days. I have a training program, but it is way too involved.

Also, my mileage increase look scary when you look at monthly mileage:
July- 84 miles
August- 109 miles
September- 141 miles (and counting)
but weekly it went: 24.3, 23.6, 21.8, 19.5, 25.6, 28.75, 29.9, 33.9, 32.75, 38.1, 41.1, 44…

Other random thoughts- I may have worked my cat too hard. He’s been limping all day.  So I gave him the last few drops of my milk. He was delighted but confused. And is now snuggling, with his teeny paw outstretched across my lap 🙂

Half Marathon warmup/ 5K Tempo

Today’s long run was our cutback week. It had been a rough running week for me. I felt slower than usual. And just had been missing that spark that keeps me running. So, I had been kind of looking forward to our 16 miles today. And kind of dreading it as well.

As we started, my legs just felt hard and heavy. We did and out-and-back on a 7-mile greenway, so we ended up doing an extra greenway about 3 miles in to add the extra miles. Turns out that greenway was hilly. It ended up being great, in the long run. I think the hills distracted me from the monotony of running.

Allison dropped water at the turn around point. So we stopped to get water and gatorade. Allison runs with her garmin, and tends to let me know when we are going “too fast”. We kept skirting around a 10-minute pace, which is faster than usual for a long run for us. Finally, after the turn around my legs started loosening up.

At about 13.3 miles in (and 2:09 <– decent half marathon time), I finally felt free. We went up a tiny hill, and Allison stopped to walk. I just took off. Then, I saw some of the rest of our group up ahead. Sweet! Road kill! I thought, and picked up my pace. I could hear Allison coming up behind me, so I picked it up more. I passed by the first person (+1). Turned a corner and saw someone else up ahead (+2). All the while, I knew I was picking up the pace. I saw another person we knew, and picked up for one more road kill for a total of +3. Then I could hear Allison coming up strong, from behind me. I glanced back, laughing. As soon as she saw my smile, she sprinted up to me and we started joking about how I had really picked up the pace, and informed me we were running at a 9:33. (Our typical long run pace has been 10:30-11:00). I joked about negative splitting. Then, she told me we were at 15.30 miles. I saw one more person in the distance, and said “I’m gonna get one more road kill”. She picked up the pace with me until we were in as much of a sprint as you can be 16 miles in. Total road kill: +4.
(Our final 0.25 miles was a 8:57… That’s my typical tempo pace)

What we had both thought was going to be a terrible 16-18 miles turned into a crappy 10 miles, followed by a great 6. And, I’m not too sore today.

I came home to find my gay best friend had picked up a patio set and left on my patio. So, I can host for 8 for the next few months.

I also get to go pick out a new pair of Brooks Pureconnects today. They’re my favorite shoe ever. Seriously, Ever. I feel like Brooks must fill those babies with pure magic. However, the magic doesn’t last forever for me. 190 miles in, and they’re breaking through, so NOW I get a new color. Lemon/lime? Purple? Who knows?!  I’m hoping my old Half Marathon 2.0 coaches are there.