Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Marathon Picture & Summer Plans

I thought I would post more pictures than just this one, but am having trouble getting all my big time technology (read P.O.S. craptastic old desktop computer) to cooperate. And really, this picture says it all. Medals? Good. Beer? Good. Post-race smiles? Awesome.

Aside from this being my best marathon ever, I think I have also experienced my best-ever recovery. I had some problems with my lower back in the couple of days after the race, but lots of stretching and an intense massage session seem to have cured those problems. My legs feel awesome. I ran five miles on Saturday for my first return to the road, and did a seven mile tempo run last night. All good.

Now it's time to jump into the summer schedule. Here's what I'm thinking: Monday - speed work at the track. Tuesday - tempo run. Thursday - hills or 4-6 miles in the evening. Saturday or Sunday - long(ish) runs. I'll also continue (okay, resume) my easy 3-4 milers most mornings before work. My main goals are to maintain my fitness and increase my speed in the shorter distances. I've got the 1/2 marathon at Grandma's coming up in less than a month, and I would really like to break two hours.

Secretly, I would love to do another marathon again soon. I think if I act on this wish, my husband may divorce me. On the way home from Green Bay, he asked if I was done with marathons. Um, hello? Why would I quit when I'm just starting to get the hang of these things? But the training is a lot, especially with a munchkin in the house. One per year is probably good, with lots of shorter races mixed in. Bring on summer training!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Race Report - Green Bay Marathon

We got to Green Bay around 7:00 Friday night. Saturday morning, while my mom watched Sophie nap off her night of no sleep, my husband, his parents, and I headed to Lambeau Field. They shopped at the Packer Pro Shop while I hit the expo. Compared to the expos for Grandma's and Twin Cities (the only other marathons I've run), it seemed pretty small. But I was able to pick up my packet and Jim's without any problems. I also bought a hooded sweatshirt and some Gu. (Oh, for some reason, I got it stuck in my head that I would want Gu during the marathon, even though I never use it and it creeps me out.)

Saturday afternoon was spent with Sophie in the waterpark of our hotel. She had a blast, and all the activity got her good and tired for what would hopefully be a better night's sleep. Because Sophie isn't that great in restaurants at dinner time (and because the wait for both the Olive Garden and another Italian place we tried was over an hour and half long), my husband and his dad picked up food to go from the Olive Garden. Jim got into town right as we were ordering, so we were able to get him some pasta too.

Thankfully, Sophie slept pretty well Saturday night. The alarm went off at 5:15 and I got right out of bed, not wanting to hit snooze and wake anyone else up. Jim met me at our hotel at 6:00 and we were on the shuttle bus to Lambeau at 6:15. Once we got to the field, we were able to sit and relax for a while. I sipped gatorade and enjoyed watching all the people mill around. I started to realize that a huge portion of the runners were running the half marathon and not the full, and got a little worried about how lonely it might feel after the cut off for the half. At about 7:00, I decided to try to use the bathroom one last time (yay for indoor bathrooms!). After waiting in a really long line, someone came out and said there was no toilet paper. Luckily one of the things in the goody bag was a packet of kleenex. Vicks kleenex no less, so all my girl parts were nice and medicinal smelling before the race.

Once we headed out side to the start area, we tried to find a way to get from the Lambeau Field area to the street. Many people were jumping over the railing, but I didn't think it would be a good idea to break my leg right at the start of the race. We finally found a spot where you could walk down the street and ended up starting way towards the back of the crowd. This hassle at the start was my only complaint about this race.

National anthem sung, and we were off! For as many people as were in front of us, we really did not have to do much weaving. The first 10 miles or so were through shady neighborhoods. We were still with the half marathoners, so there were lots of people around and the crowd support was great. I felt really strong and relied on Garmin a lot to keep us from running too fast. I kept thinking of Beth's "Go out fast, tire your ass." We were running about 20 seconds faster per mile than our goal marathon pace, but I felt that we could probably handle it given our training paces.

The half marathoners split off at about the 11.5 mile mark. I was running towards the split with my head down and looked up just in time to see my mom, mother-in-law, and Sophie! We ran up to them and ditched our long sleeves. I also left my fuel belt with my mom. I was glad I ran with it to that point, but was just done and thought I could manage with the gatorade on the course for the rest of the race. Jim was nice enough to stash my Gu in his pocket.

After the split, we turned into what seemed like more of an industrial, boring area for a few miles. I knew from my many viewings of the course map that by about mile 16 we would be turning onto a trail along the river, so I just kept telling myself to make it to my 16. I felt a little sick to my stomach at this point from the beans I took at mile 10 or so, but just kept focusing on putting one foot in front of the other.

Finally we were on the river trail. This was a beautiful trail, and running on that surface was a nice break from the concrete we had been running on for the first part of the race. Although the crowd was definitely thinner here, the water stops from the trail to the end of the race were awesome. If my memory serves me correctly (which might not be the case, but whatever), every water stop from the point on had orange slices. My hands were so sticky from the combination of oranges and gatorade, but I didn't care. The volunteers at the water stops were awesome - cheering loudly while handing out all their goodies.

At mile 18, I decided to take my Gu (Roctane, orange flavor). Although I gagged on the first taste, I managed to get it down by drinking big gulps of water after each "bite." I'm glad I took the Gu. I really did feel an energy boost from it. At this point, I decided that I need to get better about using Gu instead of other stuff. It is just so much easier to carry and to eat than beans or sharkies.

At mile 19, I needed a bathroom break. I did not want to pee my pants during the race. Although I was getting tired at this point, I still kept plugging away. Somewhere on the trail I saw a girl wearing the race shirt from the Earth Day half marathon I ran in St. Cloud last month. I said, "Hey Earth Day, are you from Minnesota? Great job." I think she had her iPod on a little loud and couldn't tell what I was saying, because she looked at me like I was nuts. Or maybe she actually thought I was nuts. Oh well.

Right around mile 22 we were off the trail and had to run over a bridge to get back into town to start the journey back to Lambeau field. That bridge really sucked the life out of me. From mile 22 until 24.5, I really started losing the will to keep going. I wanted to walk so bad. I kept looking at my watch and thinking, even if I walked the rest of the way I would still PR. And then Jim would tell me to keep going, to not wimp out. He really pushed me during those miles and I am so glad that he was there.

Finally we made a couple of turns and I could see that we were very close to entering the stadium. I started to get excited and emotional about how far we had come, how well we were doing, how awesome it was going to be to run in Lambeau, and how close we were to the finish! We ran into the stadium, through the "back" where I think the players come in from, and then were were out on the field! I got a huge burst of energy, both because I knew we were so close to the finish and because I knew my family would be in the field.

I passed a lot of people running the loop around Lambeau and I was sure that I was grinning like a complete idiot. (Further conversations with my family have confirmed that I was in fact grinning like a complete idiot.) I saw my mother-in-law towards the front of the stands with the camera and started waving my arms around like a real loony toons. She waved back, which made me feel better.

Then we were out of the stadium and it was two little turns to the finish. My energy kick kept kicking, so I really finished strong. I didn't see him, but my husband was outside at the finish and got some pictures of me finishing. He missed me waving my arms around like a loony toons for a second time when the announcer called my name as I approached the finish. I crossed the line, stopped my watch, and could not stop smiling. 4:31:56. A PR by about 24 minutes for me. I turned around as Jim crossed the line just behind me and gave him a huge hug. We've run all three of our marathons together and this by far was the best one for both of us.

After we got our medals and got our chips cut off, we found my husband and got our free beer. I took two sips and couldn't manage any more, but I had to at least have one drink of beer after a marathon that started and ended at Lambeau! We made it back to the hotel with just enough time to shower before check out, and then we were off towards home. When we finally got home at about 9:00 last night, I went straight to bed. Good thing I've got some days off from running . . . I need to unpack, do about 100 loads of laundry, and clean my messy house!

I've got lots of good pictures to post, but I have to collect them from my mom and mother-in-law. Thanks to all of you for your support - I thought of my running blogger friends several times during the marathon and it really helped me keep pushing!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Last 3 Miles and Goals

After months of training diligently (most of the time), I'm down to the last 3 miles. I ran 6x400 Monday night, 6 miles Tuesday night, and tonight I'll get in the last three at marathon pace. Tomorrow morning, we will be off to Green Bay.

I'm really excited for this marathon. Besides being a "reward" for months of hard training, I'll have my whole support crew there cheering me on. My husband and Sophie, my mom, and my in-laws are all coming. Hopefully knowing they will be there will give me an extra kick of motivation.

I have several tiers of goals:
1) Finish.
2) Sub-5:00. I need to beat the suck-fest that was Grandma's 2008.
3) Sub-4:55. I would love to get a PR.
4) Sub-4:30. I think I can do this. If everything goes well. And I don't wimp out.

I'll be back on Sunday night. In the meantime, hope you all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The End of Tempo Wednesdays

And the start of Golf Wednesdays.

Since the middle of January, Wednesday nights have been tempo run nights. I've run these little beasts in the freezing cold, pitch dark. But no more! Tonight, golf league starts and I am so ready. Even though I really am no good at the golfing, league is super fun.

Just a few reasons why Golf Wednesday will be better than Tempo Wednesday:
1) Beer.
2) Riding around in a golf cart instead of running "comfortably hard" (oxymoron, anyone?).
3) Beer.
4) When I get frustrated, I can just throw my club on the ground. There's not really a similar release in running. (Although if I don't do well this weekend, I may throw myself on the ground and see how that feels.)

Don't worry, I'm not giving up tempo runs. I'm moving them to Tuesdays instead. This is probably a good thing, because Tempo Tuesday sounds a lot better than Tempo Wednesday. Happy Wednesday!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Cure for What Ails You

This weekend, I think I found the cure for taper madness. It's a three step program:
  • After work on Friday, go straight to the golf course. Immediately start drinking beer. Golf a round with your favorite girls. Continue drinking beer throughout the evening.
  • Saturday morning, cheer on someone you love running in a marathon. My sister ran Fargo (and did awesome - PR'd by over an hour and twenty minutes!!! Way to go Michele!).
  • Cheesecake and giftcard to the Nike store for Mother's Day. Need I say more?

Since undergoing my own little three-day program, I'm feeling much more relaxed. Good thing, because there's only six days to go until the marathon! That leaves me six days to research whether finding the cure for taper madness makes me eligible for a Nobel prize.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

All Kinds of Crazy

All the crazies have been coming out of the woodwork around here this week. I would swear it was a full moon. Every time I turn around, someone else is there waiting to say something crazy or touch my hair and ask me if I cry myself to sleep at night. (Seriously happened, in the courthouse.)

I've been a little crazy myself. And not just with fears of all the contagious diseases I might contract from the creepos grabbing onto my hair. I've got my own little version of taper madness going on. It's a broken record of:
  • 26 miles is too far for you to run. You're never going to make it.
  • You think you're going to PR? Ha! Try PW.
  • My leg hurts. Oh my gosh, I think I have a fever. Ow, what is wrong with my foot.
  • Calm the hell down. You're going to run the marathon and you're going to do the best you can. Get over yourself.

Thankfully eating banana chocolate chip muffins shuts the crazy lady in my head up for a little while. I wonder what gaining five pounds between now and next Sunday will do for my race experience? Uh oh . . . now I've got to add the "I'm going to be too fat to run a marathon" to my litany of self-doubt.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Help Wanted

I am trying to figure out whether I want to wear my fuel belt during the marathon. This training cycle is the first time I have used a fuel belt - before, I would just put bottles in the ditch along my routes. Now, I have been using the belt for every run longer than 13 miles. I have been taking in some sort of fuel (either shot blok, beans, gatorade, what have you) every 3 miles after the first 6.

Originally, I didn't think I would use it. The marathon course map shows aid stations every 1.5 miles or so. But when I ran the half-marathon a couple of weeks ago, taking fuel in at aid stations that were not along my every 3 miles habit kind of messed with me.

I don't really want to wear it, but I think if I had it, I would stick to my fueling strategy a little better. Also, the capris I am planning on wearing don't have any pockets, so I'm not sure how to carry all my little treats if I don't have the belt.

Any thoughts? Hate it, love it, pain in the ass but worth it? I would love to hear what works for everyone else. Thanks!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Race Report - Snake River Canoe Race

Oh wait, this is a running blog. Don't worry, I did some of that today too.

In the freezing (read: sitting on my ass and eating chocolate) dead of winter, my friend Cheryl and I decided we would try to get a Mora Classic medal this year. To do so, we need to complete all four of their little events -- canoe race, half marathon, bike tour, and cross country ski race. Because I am a medal whore (or dedicated athlete, whatever), this seemed like a good idea.

This morning was the canoe race. Twenty five kilometers on the Snake River. Using my 5K math, I guess that's about 15 miles. Um, that's a long way to propel myself using only a paddle and my arms, right?

The day was PERFECT - sunny, warm. So warm, in fact, that I stripped out of my jeans & long-sleeves on the side of the road and swapped them for running capris and a tank. Several people may have seen my underwear. Good times. For them.

Our paddle down the river was uneventful, and SLOW. It's good to know that I can at least run faster than I can paddle. My biggest fear, that we would tip over and I would drown in three feet of water, thankfully did not come true. Some girls near us? Yeah, they crashed into the shore and dumped right on in the river. I can't lie, it was pretty funny. (I did refrain from laughing until we made sure that they were okay!)

After we finished and hauled our canoe out of the river (and my friend Cheryl carried that thing about 1/2 a mile to the truck - she is a freaking Amazon), Cheryl's aunt started driving us home. And when we got about 13 miles away, we opened the doors and jumped out. And ran the rest of the way.

So there you have it. Canoe: 15 miles. Run: 13 miles. Bonus? While I was off pretending to be a multi-sport athlete, my mom sat at my house watching Sophie. And did ALL of my laundry.

P.S. I can't wait to read all the race reports for everyone racing tomorrow. GOOD LUCK!!