Not Fast but Determined

Monday, February 8, 2010

Back in training

I haven't been posting, as my old 2009 marathon days are behind me, but I am officially training again! This marks Week #1 for my next "A" race, The Willow Tree Half Marthon in Providence on May 2, 2010. Yay! I'm adding some weight training this time around to my training schedule, for added excitement (woo).

Yesterday I started off training by running the Super Sunday race downtown, joining some work buddies for my first 10K. I was pretty happy with my time, 53:48. First 5k was at 28:14, meaning the next round was around 25:34 (if I have my math right)... close to my 5K PR. Nice negative split, but probably means I could push myself further in the future. I didn't just run fast on the back half I felt REALLY GOOD doing it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Recovery and Vacation Running

A mere four days after the race, I made my first post-marathon run attempt at home. This was an extremely easy run for 2 miles on Thursday morning. My left hamstring seemed to have recovered (although I made sure to go to yoga on Wednesday and stretch, stretch, stretch).

Later that evening Kevin and I boarded a plane and went to New Zealand! We arrived in Auckland on Saturday morning, and jet lag led to a wake up call at 5am on Sunday. I decided to take a run on the Tamaki Drive, along the harbor. I watched the sunrise and couldn't help make it 5 miles. I did pay for this with a sore right thigh for a few days afterward. I also then noticed that I have a blueish toenail - the second toenail on the right foot. Oh noes! I thought I avoided a nail casualty, and although two weeks later it is still hanging on, I haven't exactly touched it with a ten foot pole as I would rather it not be pulled off unless it just falls off. Uck! I am close to painting my toenails tonight to just avoid having to look at it, I am in denial about its possible sad fate.

Anyhow, I took a break from running in Queenstown (our next stop), and found it impossible to run on our boat cruise (duh) to Doubtful Sound, which was much fun and beautiful and unbelievable looking. There was some exercise with a kayaking trip, which I found to be difficult but fun. I was extremely pokey.

Once in Christchurch there was a park and garden where I took another spin for 3 miles. I was officially feeling back to normal at this point. Another harbor run in Wellington (Oriental Bay) for 4 miles or so... and a treacherous hilly run in Ponsonby back in Auckland. Literally on top of a huge steep hill, this neighborhood was a challenge. You need to work on hills, this is your place. I was afraid of both dark clouds approaching and injury due to excessive hill-work and cut this run short.

Today I was back at home and ran a 5 miler! Officially feeling back to normal and relatively jet lag free so far! Marathon and quickly followed by an across-the-world adventure - it can be done!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

THE Race Report - Maine Marathon

Pre-Race: I woke up around 6am, but didn’t actually get out of bed until 6:15. Quickly got on the race gear, ate my banana and cashew cookie Lara Bar, along with a good 8 ounces of water. Kevin and I headed downstairs to the lobby for 7am, met Sasha and Rob to head down to the starting line, and received good luck hugs from my Mom and Aunt Helen.

Weather was perfect, overcast and not too warm, not too cool. I could not have asked for a better race day. There was traffic to the starting line, but we were smart enough to get off the highway going to opposite direction on Forest Ave, and found a very close parking lot. The four of us quickly found our way to the start, which was pretty packed! Sasha and I got our pre-race pics taken, said our goodbyes to the husbands and headed into the port-o-potty line. Very exciting stuff indeed.

THE Race: The race start time of 7:45 came VERY quickly, and we found ourselves a decent spot to begin. Sasha headed off for her BQ attempt, while I started my conservative race plan, sticking to 11+ minute miles. I did have to catch myself from going out too fast but I found a steady pace pretty easily. There were a LOT of half marathoners, and I had to take into account that more folks were bound to be much faster than me, and not to take it too personally! Kev was at about 1.5 miles in, where I got a kiss and was able to drop off my pre-race sweatshirt, which I already no longer needed.

Miles 1-5: Slow and steady wins the race? Err, well, it at least finishes the race. I stuck to my race plan. Walking each water stop (these were roughly every two miles), taking in the views of the harbor, making my way over the bridge to Falmouth. The racers were pretty much spread out at this point. In Falmouth we ran through a lovely waterfront neighborhood, with gorgeous bungalow/cottage-like houses facing the harbor. Later we saw some huge mansion-land houses, but this neighborhood was much more my speed. They also had many folks out on their lawns cheering us on, which was much appreciated!

Miles 5-8: Keeping steady I continued, and watched the half-marathoners make their turnaround. The cliché comment had to be made to the woman next to me, “The sane people go to the left, and the psychos keep on running.” We also ran past the Falmouth Fire Station, where my friend Jean (who is from the area) told me was the best water and pit stop around! In the past, her father worked this water stop every year. I made sure to take a moment to think of him as I stopped here. This was also where I ate my first ClifShot gel. It was gross but did the trick. After this water stop I ran into fellow TnT folks, my mentor and his girlfriend. They seemed to be doing well, and I was happy to have caught up with them! I continued onward as they stretched, looking for another teammate who was also up front somewhere.

Miles 9-14: At mile 9 I called Kevin, who had wrangled my crew of spectators to meet me at mile 10. Mile 9 also saw a big downhill, which I would have to revisit going uphill at mile 16! I made it to mile 10, and saw my family, each of whom I gave a kiss on the cheek! It was so good to see them all, and really gave me a boost. I saw my TnT teammate up ahead and sprinted (kind of) to catch up with her. We ran together for a while and attempted to take a pit stop at a port-a-potty, but the line was too long and we continued on. We entered a loop area with a few hills, and the 13.1 mile turnaround! Yay! Halfway there! The clock was at 2:28 here, so I knew I didn’t have a ton of time to play with if I was to finish under 5 hours. I continued… with a quick stop to the facilities (no line this time). I passed the National Guard folks who were walking the route, which was amazing. I think many of them got a good laugh at me when my husband called my cell phone and asked for my Mom’s cell phone number - which I looked up and gave to him while running A MARATHON. Note to Kev: Please do not call me again during a marathon, unless you lost a limb or something. xoxox.

Miles 15-19: My family was waiting at the 16 mile mark; my Mom said I looked good! I felt good, even facing a pretty big hill up ahead. I took in gel number 2. The hill was fine, but I have to admit that the mile markers did seem much farther apart at this point. My hips were beginning to feel a bit tight, so I did stretch out a bit somewhere around mile 18. I was looking forward to seeing Kevin and his family at mile 20. This is what kept me going.

Miles 20-22: I get to mile 20, I stop at the water stop, and I look for Kevin, no Kevin. All I had said to Kev was, "I want to see you at Mile 20." No such luck. I call him, he says he is there, I cannot find him. I start to freak out. This isn’t Kevin’s fault, or mine, but I am at a bit of a fragile state. I find that crying while marathoning leads to wheezing. I’ve never felt like this before, as if I was breathing through a straw. I do calm myself down, walk a bit, and then set out on my way. Luckily it ends up that they were at mile 21, and I found them. I didn’t stop though, because I was afraid I would cry again! When people say that the last six miles are all mental, they are TOTALLY RIGHT. At this point I should have taken another gel, but I totally forgot. In fact, I forgot to take another for the rest of the race… Luckily I was readily drinking Gatorade at all of the stops, and had enough calories in me to keep going!

Miles 22-24: I ran into more TnT people on my way back over the bridge to Portland. One of the guys noticed the back of my shirt, where it said that I was running in memory of my Dad and he yelled “Run for your Dad!” which was really sweet and all but did kick off additional tears, which led back to wheezing. Luckily I was able to rein it in pretty quickly, and set off back on my way. Soon I also ran into one of the TnT City coaches, and it was nice to chat and get my mind off the few miles ahead. We ran through another residential area, with a LOT of hills. I was ready for this to be done, but first I had to get through the longest 2 miles of my life!

Miles 24-26: At around 24.5 perhaps (up the last hill) I felt pain in my left hamstring. I was still running and continued past the final water stop (only 1.5 miles to go!!!). Then the sharp pain gave me pause, and I had to walk for a minute. After this minute was up (thanks little Garmin!) I ran again. I quickly figured out that as long as I ran it didn’t hurt as much, woo! Mentally I couldn’t face walking it in; I was going to run in if it killed me. The final mile is through the Back Cove of Portland, where there was an apartment complex, and in front of this complex there was a child SCREECHING and SCREAMING. He/She may as well have been poking ice picks into my ear drums. If it wouldn’t cause me to waste a few more feet of this race I would have run over and kicked him or something, but instead I definitely yelled some sort of combination of KID, F***ing, and SHUT UP. Forgive me, I was a bit of a fragile flower at this point. Fellow runners did laugh at least (or so I like to think).

Mile 26-26.2: Finally – I see it! The end! I hear my name on the loudspeaker, I’m still running, and feeling like I am going 100 miles an hour but was probably more like a 10 minute mile. My family is right there to witness the moment, I get my medal, my space blanket and cry a bit. Hugs from Mom and Kevin are welcomed, and I wander to the TnT tent to let them know I survived. I more than survived, I reached my goal of finishing under 5 hours. The clock was at 4:57:55 but I knew I had perhaps a minute less on my chip time. 4:56:52.

Post Race: At this point I should have EATEN SOMETHING. Instead I thought it is a good idea to go to the massage tent, well this was a BAD idea. Always eat first, kids. I began to see stars and a nice woman at the massage tent helped me over to the medical tent, where I was in the “these people need to eat something tent” as opposed to the “you need an IV or major assistance” tent. A banana and half a granola bar did the trick, and I was ready to get the heck out of there. I said hi and goodbye to my relatives, Kevin arrived with the car close by, and I hobbled over. My leg was not so happy when completely straight, but not as bad as I feared at mile 25. I just wanted to head home, and so we did. No shower, no pit stop, no nothing, just straight back to Medford. Two hours later including a detour to get ice and beer, I first sat in my ice bath, then on the couch eating pizza and watching Lord of the Rings. Ahh - a well earned relaxing evening and an end to a day that saw the mightiest physical feat of my 32 years so far!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Race Report Part 1: Pre-Race

Saturday: We got up early... I prepared my various race day stuff, and made our way to Maine in the pouring rain. Kevin insisted we stop at the Maine Diner, one of his friends from Fox is obsessed with the place, so it had to be done. Kevin went all out with lobster stew and lobster roll, while I kept it simple with eggs and corned beef hash. Except that I never order corned beef hash, as it reminds me of cat and/or dog food but it actually tastes yummy and has enough salt in it to make me not worry about salt intake for the rest of my days.

Once we hit Portland we picked up my number and rode the route... Poor Kev had to be in charge of our spectators so we needed a lay of the land. Still, it was pouring. Please please please don't be like this on race day I thought! The course was beautiful though, so I had this to look forward to.

Checked into the hotel, checked in on my legion of fans, including my Mom, Uncle and Aunt from NY, Uncle from RI with my little cousin Lucy, Kevin's parents, and my sister-in-law Linda. I went with Kev's fam to visit Shipyard Brewery, where I ran into an old friend from college, and watched as others drank beer. I'd been t-totaling the week before the race... this stunk although I did sneak a sip of Pumpkinhead! Also went for a bit of shopping in downtown Portland which was lovely, and took my mind off this whole thing where I had to run 26.2 miles in less than 24 hours.

We met with the rest of the clan and went to dinner at Ribollita, an intimate Italian place which was so awesome and so accommodating with our large crowd. The food was perfect for a pre-race dinner. I had roasted chicken puttanesca with homemade pasta, lots of bread and some appetizers. Again the wine was flowing and I did not partake, but the water was refreshing. Bah! Who am I kidding, I wanted a drink!

We were back at the hotel early (8ish) and I was able to spend time with Sasha and Rob, being that Sasha was also running the next day. We were both freaking out a bit and it was great to sit around and laugh for an hour or so.

As I laid out my race gear, the rain continued, with lightning and thunder for good measure. I was in bed by 10, then I woke up around 3am, but fell back asleep by 3:30 or 4. I had to have a stress dream about sleeping late and missing the start of the marathon, but woke up right before my alarm at 6am.

Full race report is next...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

26.2 Now Completed

Just a quick drop in before the detailed race report. I got in under 5 hours - so my goal was met! 4:56:52 (chip time). There were a few speed bumps but overall it went very very well. A bit of a sore left hamstring so I will be taking it easy... I'll get the play by play tomorrow.

Friday, October 2, 2009

So here we are...

Less than 37 hours until the race. How am I feeling? I'm feeling good, and relatively positive about the whole thing. What are my expectations? To finish, less than 5 hours would be ideal, but beyond that I am not putting any pressure on myself. Even then, pressure is minimal. It is enough of a personal accomplishment that I am even attempting this. Weather looks good (for now). Overcast and into the 60s. We all know I can take crazy rainy conditions, so if a shower comes to pass, I am not freaked out. I have my race gear set, my race plan (take it easy for the first 13, 11 minute miles... and see how I feel from there). This will all be very conservative. I want to still love running after this!!!

My friend Sasha, who is also running in Portland, (who has been such an inspiration to me by the way, juggling kids with marathon training AND attempting a Boston Qualifying time, yowzas!) commented that people aren't surprised that she is doing this... or saying "haven't you run a marathon before?" as she is very fit and very driven. This is decidedly not the case with me because I think people truly cannot believe I am doing this, with good reason. Those that have known me since childhood would not have guessed I would attempt such a thing. Maybe it seems more believable if you have known me as an adult, but who am I kidding? No, you too are shocked. So, I say to Sasha, take this nonchalance as a complement, but I must admit, that this surprise, support and even disbelief from my friends and family has been very much welcomed!

Today my co-workers threw me a pre-marathon party, which couldn't have been nicer! Lots of yummy food, and good conversation and company. The number of people who are behind me in the endeavour are unbelievable (as seen above). I've said it before, but it bears repeating, I am so lucky to have such great people in my life. Nothing like pushing yourself to your physical limits to make you realize how good you have it!

I also can't forget who I am really running for, my Dad, Jim. I get emotional just thinking about it, he would be so proud. He would have mapped everything out for me, he would have put together a spectating plan, he would have been armed with supplies for the race, he would have been SO EXCITED. I know he will be with me in spirit, but I would do almost anything to have him there when I cross that finish line. I miss you Dad, and please watch over me Sunday morning, I'll be thinking of you for sure.

As for the rest of you, I promise to give you a blow-by-blow post race, once I can function on a vaguely literate level again (and walk to the computer).Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Soaked Clothes and Injured Fingers

Another long run mired by craptastic weather this week. My longest until October 4th, it was no less than pouring drenching rain for the 20 mile trek I took yesterday. Two weeks ago I loved the rain, a slight drizzle and downpour in the last mile or so. This time we saw downpours from beginning to end, with the occassional light rain. My clothes were literally foaming. All in all I survived! In my head I wanted to run 21 or 22 miles but I just couldn't stand being in the rain any longer and stopped at 20.15. I would still take this weather before I would put up with 85 degrees and humid. I'm so hapy it is done, and I'm gaining confidence about the marathon... as long as I don't push it pace wise, I shuld be just fine.

The bad weather caused an injury, luckily only on my two middle fingers (nice!). Up at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir I slipped going up the steps, and slammed my fingers into the stairs. For a moment I thought I had broken my fingers but found I could move them (even if the left on was already bloody, gross). Luckily this happened right next to the water stop so I was able to administer some first aid to myself and go on my way (still had 15 miles to go!). Left finger is definitely worse off than the right - it is bandaged up and I lost a lot of skin off the top of my finger. Right hand middle finger only has a lovely blood blister on top of it. Typing is mildly imparied right now. Ugh.

After the run I took a nice ice bath for my legs, had a recovery drink and ate a huge lunch. My unsaciable appetite continues on... Kev was nice enough to bring me out for sushi in Brookline for dinner, and we stopped for cupcakes on the way home. Being able to eat everything in my path thing really is one of the great payoffs for all this training. Since I begin to taper this coming week, I'll have to start cutting down on my food-free-for-all! I'm hoping I won't be so hungry overall!