Sunday, September 30, 2007

Off the Richter

One week from now I'll be done with my first marathon. I will have finished within my goal and will have an unstoppable smile as I hang out with my family and friends in a place I completely adore. I'll have salt crusted around my face and probably one less toenail, but will feel the relief of completely what I've been looking forward to for so long. I listened to the Phedippidations podcast the other day while running and the topic was first marathons. One account was of the Chicago marathon and the whole thing got me all welled up (while running). I am an emotional person to start with but I have not expected myself to be one of those weepy runners - I'm hard core dammit! We'll see how this all goes down next week, but I may get one of those finish line pics that shows how much this shit got to me.

Strange abnormal stuff going on this week, but I think I'll be okay. Sparing details, I think my psyche is guiding my body and what its doing. I am nervous (excited-nervous, but still nervous) and I can't hide it. I'll be okay.

I'm sure I've babbled on about the aches and pains I've had throughout the training, but they're still there. I've got pain in the arches of my feet, the bones not muscles, moderate pain in my knees, but not that bad and something relatively new in the hamstring area of my left leg. It goes from my lower knee basically up to my butt. I would have thought w/this taper that it would subside somewhat, but all symptoms come up quickly into my runs. Is there anything I can do about this or is it too late? Can all marathoners assume that they'll finish the race in bad physical shape? I'd really love to run this comfortably, but coming to terms that I probably won't. Which is okay, I can push through it as long as I know I'm not damaging myself in the long term. Any thoughts?

Logistics are coming into place - I think I can get on the earlier flight and I'm praying I can go #2 before the run. Honestly, that is the one thing that I'm worried about. NUMBER TWO. Question - should I try to get someone to run with me for a few miles near the end? Will I want it or be annoyed? It is going to be warm (70*) and rainy in Chicago next Sunday for the race - should be perfect.

My best memory of training was when someone on the street told me "your thighs are off the richter!" - but even better have been the shout outs from my inspirational peeps down in Cali. Thanks so much guys for the support and advice because I'm not sure how I could have gone through this w/o that.

Back to the final days - I will try to connect before the race again but it might not be until afterward. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tofu Pot Pie

I just got done running about 9 miles, but only actually timed 7.5, which was an even hour. I sort of ran/walked the rest. I'm trying not to push things too hard but its hard to push myself any less than I have over most of my training. (My friend was grilling me about my training yesterday, asking all the details "how hard is it really?" and I had to admit that I really haven't sacrificed as much as I thought I would have. I really haven't changed my lifestyle that much - I still drink, stay up late and slack off as usual. I guess I'll do my official training recap soon after the race is over with...well see what I have to say then.)

I digress. I ate a Clif Bar right before running tonight and that was stupid. Within 20 minutes of my run I immediately felt like it had gone through my entire system and was ready to get out. Gross, yes, but isn't everything?

This weekend I'm going to plan my logistics in a really detailed manner. I'll probably even pack my bags! Some good advice I've heard recently that I think I'll adhere to:

*put your name on your shirt so everyone can cheer for you
*use safety pins to keep your Gu packs on you
*Chicago marathon has a text messager thingy tool that you can sign up for to see where a runner is at during the race
*get to the start 2 hours early to figure out what the H is going on and find a spot (there are 45,000 runners!)

I also called the Chi marathon office to see when they'd be sending out the race materials. Turns out they already did and they sent it to the address I had back in January, which is obviously different than the one I have now. I was reassured that it only contained my race number, which she told me, and a race brochure that I can download online. Luckily I changed my address with them so my race results will be sent to me post-race. But the best part of this conversation is my race number - 11766 - which is very close to another very important number, part of the reason I'm running this race: 11677, the date of my birth! Is this karma or what?

I've weaseled my way into staying at a friend's place in Lincoln Park. They will not be there, I will have a warm, cushy bed and no felines lingering around to start up my allergies. The plan is to sleep solo on Saturday night so I can have some P&Q. I'm not sure yet that I'm okay with this. Yes, I want to go to bed early, get plenty of sleep, etc, but I also want some support and encouragement from the moment my head hits the pillow and right from the get go at 5am or whatever. I've still got time to think on that one before I have to coerce someone into not partying with old friends in the best city ever. It is going to be really hard for me to not be able to go out that night, but oh well...

I made a mistake in booking my ticket too. I wanted to leave on Saturday, be able to sleep in before rushing to the airport and also avoid the temptations that the Windy City will bring upon me. My flight doesn't get in until 5pm Central time and the race expo closes at 6 - not enough time for me to get there from O'hare. I could get someone else to pick my bib up for me but I don't dare risk it. I don't want to rush either, so I'm going to change my ticket to leave early and arrive at about 3pm.

Much more prep and planning but I'm so pumped! I'm doing my checklist soon and might go to the extent of a minute by minute itinerary up until the gun. What goes without planning is the ridiculous party I'm going to have once I finish - brunch at Stanley's, drinks at Irish Eyes, drinks at Kendalls, drinks at whatever and whenever and where ever. Chicago here I come!

Monday, September 24, 2007

13 Days Left

Detox and the countdown begins. Not exactly sure what the detox will entail but it makes me feel better advertising that I'm on a program. No beer, no wine until 10/7 afternoon. I had a crappy long run the wknd before last but on Sunday I had a terrific 12 miler. I ran at a pace that felt fast, but not too fast and barely looked down at the Garmin. I was happy to read at the end that I'd averaged 8:17 miles. I know the race will be >2x the length but I'm thinking I can at least try to tough things out at a fast pace than I'd previously thought.

I love life right now - facial, walks around the city, NFL, NCAA - yeah.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

How the hell does time go by so fast? I spent last weekend with friends kayaking and camping on Blind Island.

It was heaps of fun. I ran 15 miles on Sunday that was not heaps of fun. I've run this week, but barely. Work has been 24/7 and now that its died down I'm just tired. So much for anything really positive to say! Race logistics to be planned this weekend...17 days left!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

2nd and Last 20-Miler

Ouch!! I did my loooooong run today and can't believe it. I felt so much better than the last time I did this, given I had plenty of food and water this go-around.

Woke up at 9, drank water, coffee and a dry 8-grain roll from Starbucks. More water, lube up with Body Glide, 2 cubes of shot blocks, put together my goody bags and out (10:55 a.m.). Ran straight from home this time, which alleviated some miles on the monotonous (yet graciously flat) Burke Gilman Trail. I'm smart - the first few miles are downhill - very smart.

I had Josh put out water and 2 small baggies, each filled 2 cubes of Margarita w/Salt Shot Blocks and a half of Oatmeal Walnut Clif Bar. One at mile 12.5 and another at about mile 16. Overall I ate all of the Shot Blocks (200 cal) and half the Clif bar (122 cal) and consumed around 1.25 liters of water. Is that good? I don't know, but I did not feel hungry or dehydrated so its good enough for me. I think I would have done better spreading the water consumption over a longer period of time because my stomach did feel a little bloated and uncomfortable. I figure during the race I'll hit up enough water stops to make this possible.

I only stopped a couple of times, once to use the bathroom, once to open the baggie and drink some water, and then for a couple of stop lights. My recorded time shows actual running time, not any of these stops, but the delta would be pretty negligible. I'm hoping during the actual race to not have any stops, except for grabbing water on the go... Can I do it? We'll see.

Mile 1 = 9:03
2 = 9:22
3 = 9:03
4 = 9:13
5 = 9:11
6 = 9:14
7 = 9:22
8 = 8:39
9 = 8:57
10 = 8:40
11 = 8:48
12 = 8:50
13 = 9:08
14 = 9:06
15 = 9:09
16 = 9:31
17 = 9:08
18 =9:33
19 = 8:30
20 = 8:24

Total time = 3:00
Total miles = 20
Avg Pace = 9:02

My goal was to remain relatively consistent and see what felt good. I also wanted to finish strong as a test to see how much I had left in the tank. I think I did a good job w/the consistency. It is hard to start slower than you feel like, but I think it worked out. I think I could have run the 1st 7 miles a little faster, since I clearly sped up after that and it seemed to click. The 1st 10 miles took me 1:30:44 and the 2nd half was 1:30:07, there is a small negative split there.

Every training guide I've read says to train on your long runs much slower than you'd do in the actual race. My question is -how the heck am I expected to run that much faster in the actual race?! Not only is it a faster pace, but more miles. I'm having a hard time wrapping myself around this concept. I am just worried that if I shoot for running X pace during the race I'm going to crap myself out early. I just don't know what to expect or what to shoot for. I guess its something I'm going to have to think about over the next 26 days.

Total Miles this week = 42.5 Whoa! I didn't realize I got that many miles in - I am really pleased.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

4 Weeks Left

Oh how I should never post what my "planned" runs are for the week... What I ended up running was drastically different:

T - I decided to not run today, I felt totally tired and could not even conceptualize putting one foot in front of the other.
W - I ran 10 miles
Th - did not run at lunch as planned, too much work to do, then an after-work party that I had to attend
F - too hungover and tired to run

Sweet, huh?

After I finish watching my Wolverines get embarrassed I am going to hit the roads for an easy 6 or so. I'm planning to replicate race-day tomorrow by getting up early and running 20. I have a rodeo to attend at 1, so I'm going to need to get started early.

My run on Wednesday went exceptionally well. I sucked down a Gu and left straight from my office for home. My only goal was to run the 2nd half faster than the 1st and I did! But look at the consistency in my pace, that is even throughout lots of elevation change.

Mile 1 = 8:28
Mile 2 = 8:41
Mile 3 = 8:34
Mile 4 = 8:33
Mile 5 = 8:31
Mile 6 = 8:36
Mile 7 = 8:38
Mile 8 = 8:38
Mile 9 = 7:50
Mile 10 = 7:40

Overall pace = 8:28 (whoo hoo!)
1st half pace = 8:30
2nd half pace = 8:16

I felt really great the whole time. It is such a confidence boost when you have a good run.

News on the toenails - I think they're destined for heaven. They're getting darker and looks like they're shriveling up. I know its gross, but for some reason I'm really fascinated by it. (Its the screen saver on my phone right now - disgusting.)

I bought another pair of my same shoes today. My current ones are at 250 and I'd like to have a newish pair for the race, so I'm going to start breaking them in. I also bought my first real "technical" sports bra today. I am really fussy about having my chest in place while I run and it bothers me if I feel like I'm moving around anywhere in that region. My solution so far has been to double, sometimes triple, up on the sports bras. I decided to give it a shot and spend some coin ($45) on a fancy one. This has hooks in the back, a crossover type strapping mechanism and molded cups. Here's what it looks like:

I still need to figure out what I'm wearing for race day, where to place family/friends along the course, where to eat the night before (thinking Pasta Bowl, right next to my old apt and one of my favorite restaurants), what to eat/drink during the race, how to set up my Garmin, what socks to wear, how fast to run, where to sleep the night before, how to get to the start, who will pick up my race packet for me......ahh! So much to think about. I'm finding that lately all I want to do is talk to people about running. I could hardly contain myself with the sales guy at the running store - I wanted to ask him if he could sit down for coffee with me. I'm nuts.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

This Week's Plan

Back to the rain capital of the world!

T = 6.5
W = 6.5
Th = 45 tempo (@ lunch)
F = rest
Sa = 20 long run
Su = 5-6 recovery

I averaged 10.5 hours of sleep per night this past weekend so should be really rested. I am hoping to start waking up earlier to get a workout in before work, like some weights at the gym. I really only need a half hour down there so it is feasible to get up at 6 and get all that done w/o making it to work any later. We’ll see how that goes. I am NOT a morning person so this is going to be really hard.

Also, one of my toenails is turning black and I’m dying to know if it will fall off!

9/3 - Last Day

On the way out of dodge, we decided to do an 8 mile hike that was highly recommended. It was late so we had to rush and ended up running a lot of it. According to my Garmin it was only 6.5, but whatever; we probably ran about half of it (where we could). It took us about 2 hours to complete and that includes stopping for views, eating blackberries and prancing under a waterfall.

9/2 - You’re in the West now, Baby

My Garmin was not charged and I couldn’t find my Timex watch, so today I ran unassisted. It was weird to do that since I’ve become so dependent on the tools, yet completely relaxing. I ran from the cabin down to the Columbia to see where the natives draw their salmon from. Almost got hit by a long speeding train, got a friendly toot & wave from the train’s engineer. It was a short quick run, probably about 3.5 miles.

I have sadly pieced together the outcome of my training thus far and am extremely disappointed. My school and work schedule are largely to blame, but the blame ultimately lies with you know who. I’ll give myself credit for doing the long runs w/o much training behind them, and also for showing up over the past couple of weeks.

My shoes are at about 250 miles and will definitely be too broken in by race day. I’m going to start on another pair to take the pressure off.

9/1 - 15-miler aka Steak, Please

I’m in Southern Washington, by the Gorge (that’s the Columbia River gorge) on vacation at a lovely cabin on a lake. I set out today to complete 20 miles, or as long as I could go. Technically, I shouldn’t be doing 20 mile long runs in 2 consecutive weeks, but since I have felt guilty about my previous training, I thought I’d give it a shot. Some things to consider before I lay out my stats:


The climate here is warmer than the Puget Sound. I have been lucky enough to have some great temps for running up in Seattle and forgot there was any alternative. For me hot is 80+ degrees in the sun – and today was just about that. I believe that this affected my pace on the negative side, but probably only marginally. Heck, it could turn out to be this hot in Chicago in October – I used to live there and this is known to happen.


I am not familiar with local places to run here and we decided that the road we came in on was sufficient to run on later – not too hilly, and pretty much a straight shot. I wasn’t going to get lost (yes, even with a GPS system strapped onto my person, I tend to get lost). I was on a well-paved 2 lane road that leads from the river north into the mountains, the Gifford Pinchot Forest to be specific. I did not consider how much I would be running on the gravel shoulder.

Food/Water Intake

Today I was smarter than last week. I ate before my run! To be precise I had this:

· Bowl of yogurt with cherrios
· Several sesame crackers
· Banana
· Some Jelly Belly’s

Like last week I had a coffee and plenty of water pre-game. If you tuned in last week I screwed myself, however, this week I had a crew! Josh took his bike out and went ahead of me, dropping frozen bottles of water and a baggie of Clif bar + sour Jelly Bellys at mile 5 (also 15) and mile 10. This was key. Because of the heat I really was jonsing for some water at about mile 5 and happy to have a cold bottle waiting for me. I stopped for a minute, grabbed it to go and was on my way again. Normally I hate running with water swishing around in my hand, but today it was fine & I really needed it. At mile 10 another cold baby was there and this time I indulged in the Clif bar. (Side note – although the pacific NW is quite physically active, the local grocer in the city of Stevenson does not carry more than the typical sport bars in stock. Must stock up on gu, shot blocks, etc. when I get home. I decided that Jelly Bellys were sufficient and personally satisfying hence my choice in bringing them as refreshments. SOUR Jelly Bellys.) I stopped for a couple of minutes to drink, eat and turn myself around. I honestly can’t imagine what I would have felt like had I not had water with me today.

The run itself – several of the above factors contributed positively and negatively toward my run today. The heat sucked. Places where I was not in the shade made me wilty. The gravel situation ruined my epidermis. I think the instability of the gravel causes one to grip tighter with their toes and leads to more rubbing than usual. One of my toes has the hugest pillow of a blister sitting underneath it. I could feel this one start before mile 5. I got another category 3 blister on my arch of the same foot. It could possibly be the socks – Nike, and not the really good ones. Last week the Wright Socks did me wright, but this week I should have used them again. Nike, you are on probation.

I turned around at mile 10 and was like, yeah…halfway there…how the hell am I going to do this?? Josh passed me at mile 12 and we stopped to re-assess. I told him I was feeling it in my knees and feet and was pretty spent. He was supportive and told me he’d bike back to the car and come pick me up. I ended up hitting mile 15 right before he drove up to me. I don’t think I could have run successfully any farther. This long mileage is new to me and since I haven’t done it much I’m not sure how to read my body. But I think sometimes there is no denying what your limits are – today I knew I didn’t need to prove anything going 20, and 15 was plenty. The blisters and pain in my knees and feet were at the point where I felt I could injure myself if I went on.

I iced my knees on the car ride back and soaked my feet in ice water when we got back. I also had beer, wine, potatoes, pasta salad, tuna, corn, watermelon and STEAK (really?) for dinner. I fell asleep on the couch at 9 then decided to come up for some private time for writing this. At press time, I am truly spent.

Mile 1 = 9:12
Mile 2 = 9:43
Mile 3 = 9:44
Mile 4 = 9:41 (miles 1-5 covered about 500 ft elevation, flat my ass)
Mile 5 = 10:09 (stop for water)
Mile 6 = 9:14
Mile 7 = 9:35
Mile 8 = 9:11
Mile 9 = 9:21
Mile 10 = 9:18
Mile 11 = 9:20
Mile 12 = 9:19
Mile 13 = 9:01
Mile 14 = 9:15
Mile 15 = 10:47 (a little stop for breath/stretch)

Total Miles = 15
Average Pace = 9:31

A couple more observations:

·I took Jen’s advice and started off slower, I didn’t realize that I’d need it to compensate for the heat; overall I think I did a better job of staying more consistent with my pace from mile to mile. There were really only a couple of miles that strayed from the 9:10-9:45 pace.
·I didn’t feel like I got into my groove until about mile 8 (there was a constant elevation until then that I didn’t realize until I downloaded my info just now from my Garmin)

You know it’s scary when running 15 miles doesn’t seem daunting.