Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Recovering--Not for the Faint of Heart

Here is a picture of my livesavers---Carol and Phil. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I think this is around mile 19. Don't we look like we are having fun??

I hardly slept on Saturday night after the marathon--a combination of many caffeinated gels, excitement, and pain radiating throughout both feet. On Sunday, I must have been operating off adrenaline fumes because I was busy, busy, busy instead of resting with my feet up. I went to church, then shopping, then lunch, then to watch my husband and son in a local 5K, then out to dinner.... By evening, my toes looked like sausages. They were so swollen, I thought they might burst. But that's not the worst part.

The worst part of post-marathon recovery has been my toenails. After the marathon, when I took off my shoes and socks, I realized 3 toenails had painful blisters under the nails (including the two big toes). It seems my feet swelled throughout the marathon and the pressure on the top of my toes caused bruising and blisters. My shoes had fit fine on the 20-milers---not even one blister. But that extra 6 miles or the heat---something made my shoes too small by the end of 26.2.

So, I imagine in just a few weeks I'll be down to only SIX toenails. Just in time for summer. It was sort of a rite of passage when I lost the first one, but being absent four is a bit much. Especially the big ones. I think that might be rather noticeable.

I did "bathroom surgery" when I could no longer take the pressure under the nails. Every step had become very painful. So, I sterilized a needle and punctured the blisters. Then I had to press on already sore nails to drain the fluid out. ARE YOU CRINGING YET?? Because I am and I was THERE. It was the craziest thing I had ever done. I was like, "Good grief! Who have I become?"

Now they finally feel better. My quads are almost good as new, too. My knees and ankles held up amazingly through all this (thank you, glucosamine and chondroitin).

Today I mailed my registration for the Strawberry Festival 5K next Saturday, May 9. Hopefully I can get my feet in my shoes by then.

Marathoning is a WHOLE NEW WORLD. But I'm still planning #2. The St. Jude Marathon in Memphis, TN, is six months away. I'll be ready.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Race Report: My First Marathon


Going to bed on Friday night, I just couldn't believe I was going to run a marathon in the morning. I actually slept pretty well between 9:00 p.m. and my 4:00 a.m. alarm. I got up, had breakfast, checked and double checked my gear, and was out the door at 4:55. My husband drove me and another couple of marathoners to within 1/2 mile of the start of the Country Music Marathon/Half-marathon.

I got to the start around 6:10 a.m. Thousands of people were already milling around, standing in port-o-potty lines of 40 people or more, stretching, etc. There were many more brown half-marathon bibs than black full marathon bibs. I read 31,000 people were expected, 25,000 of them for the half. It's the 2nd largest half marathon in the country. I felt a kinship with the people in black bibs. I knew we had a really tough day ahead of us. It was already 68 degrees at the start and very humid---more like August in Tennessee than April.

I was supposed to be in corral 16, but as I watched corrals 1, 2, 3 start and it was getting hotter and hotter, I decided to jump in corral 9, which was right where I was standing. At this point, I had already been on my feet an hour and 10 minutes before even starting running. Our corral was released about 7:16 a.m. The 4:00 hour pacer was in that corral, so I knew they'd be starting fast. In the first mile, everyone around me started at about a 9:00 minute pace, so I had to struggle not to go that fast. The PICTURE in the post below is from that first mile. I look happy and excited at that point. I managed a 9:55 first mile, a little faster than planned. I wanted to stay between 10:10 and 10:45/pace per mile, but I wasn't too far off.

In miles 2, 3, and 4, I was just warming up and making sure I stayed on pace. Instead of warming up, I should say "heating up." By mile four we had completed a series of long, large hills. My breathing was rough and I was burning up. I could feel the blood rushing to my face. That's when the specter of self doubt reared its ugly head. "How can I do this for 22 more miles?? It's only going to get hotter."

I remembered reading about pouring cups of water on your head in a hot race. At the 5 mile marker, I poured my first cup of cold water on my head. It was like an electric shock when it hit my scalp and my neck and back. I immediately felt better. I think I smiled for the first time in many miles. Right there at mile 5, I began to formulate a survival plan of what it was going to take to get me through the day. At every water stop for the rest of the race, I walked, drank, and poured. I knew I had to keep my core temperature regulated, that the evaporation of water off my body would cool me, and I HAD to stay hydrated and keep my electrolytes up. I took salt packets when they were offered, and I drank plenty of the Cytomax on the course.

Miles 5-9 were good miles. I was on my pace. It was scenic. There was crowd support, even people with water hoses. I went through every single hose on the course! Miles 10 and 11 were long. I knew the half-marathoners and marathoners split around 11.5. It was 80 degrees around this point. Despite my survival measures, running in the heat was sucking the life out of me. I started walking the major hills to conserve energy. At the split, I thought, "Wow, they have less than 2 miles to go and I still have 15 more miles. I've got to do everything I just did AND two more miles." At that point, it was almost inconceivable. It brought my spirits way down. My knees and right hip had started to hurt. I just felt like walking those last 15 miles.

I decided I need to stop at the next medical station for some Tylenol to help with the pain. It made a big difference within two miles. Around this time, I started chatting with the runner walking next to me--Carol from Evansville. The only reason I was started back running is because she did. We only stayed together for about a mile. We ran and chatted, but she was going a little faster than I wanted to go, so I stopped to walk (alone) again. I had my 1/2 peanut butter and honey sandwich from my pocket.

We were in this industrial area with concrete everywhere, no shade, and it was blistering. Then I ran upon a guy I recognized (out of 30,000 people!). He was from my town and had come to a couple of group runs with my running club. I said hi, and he said he'd run with me for a bit. He was hurting, too. A minute or two later, we saw Carol again. I yelled, "Carol!" and she was actually shocked to see me. She had thought I was done and would be walking the rest. That's when I realized the Tylenol and sandwich had kicked in and I felt so much better. I got my second wind around mile 13.5. I was actually feeling ok.

Carol, Phil, and I stayed together for many miles. We chatted. We ran in a little pack. One in front for a while, then the other, or three across. We heard about hometowns and spouses and kids and jobs and other races we had done or wanted to do. Miles 13-19 were the most pleasant of my whole day. All of our time goals were shot, so we ran as slowly as we wanted, walked up most of the hills, and just had fun. What a difference having someone to talk to makes. At 19.5, my husband was waiting to see me. I introduced him to "my new best friends." We all shared the sunscreen he had brought, and I told him I'd see him in about an hour and 15 minutes.

Finally, at mile 21, Phil wasn't feeling as well as Carol and me. He was having stomach issues. We hated to keep going, but we were SO CLOSE. I guess I was still feeling well, because around mile 20 or 21 it hit me: I'm going to finish this thing. And not just walking--running. If I had been alone, there is an excellent chance I would have walked those last 13-15 miles. Oh, sure in miles 20-26 there was LOTS of walking. But there was an equal amount or more of running. It was 85 degrees, humid, and frankly, I was just glad to still be on my feet. EVERYONE around was walking at some point or just walking altogether. But it wasn't the limping shuffle of the living dead I expected. Most people were actually in decent shape.

We picked up a new friend--Missy (I think--I never really caught her name), from St. Louis around mile 22. She really pushed us to run more than we wanted to, but that was what we needed. Finally, I saw the mile 25 sign. Then the mile 26 sign. At mile 26, there were tons of spectators lining the streets for that last .22. I hadn't walked in a while and I really, really wanted to. But I was embarrased to walk in front of all those people when I was that close to finishing. So I ran and ran the longest .22 miles EVER. I turned the corner to the finishing area and the finish line was in sight AND slightly downhill! Carol had kicked it around mile 26, but I waited until I could see the finish. I sprinted to the finish with EVERYTHING I had left. I heard John "the Penguin" Bingham from Runners World say, "Donna, Donna, Donna!" as I ran down the finish chute. That was cool. I had just read his book a few weeks ago.

I crossed the mat, hugged Carol who had finished 15 or 20 seconds ahead, and got my medal. I passed on the space blanket because it was a million degrees at this point.

Carol and I got our photos taken together. We had bonded through the traumatic event of the last 13 miles of a marathon. We hope to keep in touch. We found my hubby and then parted ways.

I felt exhilarated at the end. Still hot and tired, but exhilarated. I was glad it was over. I thought I'd cry at the finish line for sure, but there were no tears.

I'm a marathoner. I had hoped I had it in me, and I did. I wore a temporary tattoo in the race that says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phillippians 4:14. I really can. I prayed and prayed throughout the race.

My finish time was 5:17:11. Slower than I'd hoped, but with 85 degree-weather, it was all about survival today. Sadly, one half-marathoner did not survive. He collapsed and died after crossing the finish line. He was only in his mid-twenties. At least 27 people were taken to area hospitals, not to mention those treated on the course for heat exhaustion. I just thank God He got me through.
Did I ever hit the proverbial WALL? I went through a rough patch between miles 11 and 12 where I was over it and didn't want to be there anymore, but I never had a point where I could no longer run. I never had any major physical discomfort after the Tylenol at mile 12. I was never fully depleted of energy. In miles 20-26, when I was running, it was my normal 10:30ish pace, not that feet-dragging 13-minute pace from the end of my 20-miler. So, no, I don't think I hit the wall! (All that walking helped.)
Will I do it again? Yes, I believe I will.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Done


I am alive! (barely) My finish was 5:16 or 5:17---no official results yet. That's me in the middle with the two-handed wave and the big smile. It was early--like mile 1. There is a shadow that makes it look suspiciously like I had peed my pants. I had not.

OMG it was hot. It was 91 on the pavement when I finished.

I knew by mile 4 it was going to be a painful day. It was 68 or 70 at the start, not a cloud in the sky. And the HILLS. Oh. my.

I was struggling at mile 11 at the division of the half-marathoners and marathoners. I briefly considered a half-marathon today! However, I kept going, made a friend named Carol and she saved me. Carol and I ran miles 12-26 together. It was her 2nd marathon. We also picked up Phil at 13 and he stayed with us until about 21 when we lost him at a water stop. I got my second wind at 13 and miles 13-20 were not too painful.

Miles 20-26, when it was already above 85 degrees were walk/run miles. I knew my time goal was shot and I just decided to enjoy the day. I had good spirits after the low point at mile 11. I think I was kind of lonely in miles 1-11.

I will NOT do the Country Music Marathon again. It was too hilly and is too late in April. I can see doing another marathon somewhere flat and cool though.

I'll have a better post after my ice bath and my nap!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Race Goals Mini-Post

1. To finish.
2. To not have a heat stroke in the 80-degree weather. Chicago 2007, anyone???
3. To run smart. Pace myself, walk through water stations, drink plenty of fluids, to NOT hit the wall. I'm claiming it. There will be no wall-hitting.

But under 5 hours would be nice. With the weather, though, all bets are off.

THANK YOU TO ALL YOU MARATHONERS AND FUTURE MARATHONERS AND FELLOW MOMS who have encouraged me, given me invaluable advice, and just taken a minute to read the random thoughts I put on here. I'll be thinking about you all on Saturday!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What's Next?? Life After Marathon

I'm excited. I'm nervous. I'm a little scared about the weather (now 86 is the high on Saturday). But, I'M READY. Since January 5, I have run 325 training miles, every mile on my plan plus a bonus mile.

You parents know how you divide life into BK and AK ("Before Kids" and "After Kids")? Well, in these last few months, my life has been Before Marathon and After Marathon in my mind. And I couldn't see beyond the marathon. However, as the day is only two days away, I'm beginning to think about life after the marathon.

The top 5 things I plan to do after this marathon is over:

1. Potty train my kid. My daughter will be three on May 30. It's time. I know Pull Ups are fun, Julia, but they are a crutch. It's time to put on your big girl panties and move on. Except for six all-too-short months right before Julia's birth, I have been changing diapers for the past 8 and a half years! Seriously.

2. Landscape my yard. If there was an Ugly Yard Award in my neighborhood, we'd get it. We moved into a new construction home in November. We have no grass, no shrubs, no curb appeal. Now that it's finally spring and I don't have twenty-milers every Saturday, I'm hoping to make my home LOOK like a home.

3. Zumba, baby! I LOVE to dance. (Did you know that about me?) I think I love dancing more than running, even! But Zumba class is on Wednesday, the day of my speedwork and/or medium long tempo runs. But not anymore. Zumba, spin, weight training, swimming-- there are so many options for maintaining fitness! I like having options.

4. Improve my personal hygeine/appearance. I might just find time to pluck those wayward eyebrows, actually style my hair and stop throwing it in a ponytail every day (or wearing a hat), and maybe, just maybe, get a pedicure on my 9 and a half toenails. (I have a new baby nail growing!)

5. Keep running. I actually have my next race planned. It's a 5K exactly two weeks after the marathon. It's in my hometown in Kentucky and it starts and finishes in front of my parents' house. How can I NOT do it?? No parking hassles, free childcare, walk to the start and finish.... After that, I know of a couple more 5K's in June and July. Then, come August, it'll be time to get ready for a couple of fall half-marathons (maybe Murfreesboro, TN and one here in Clarksville), perhaps even a December (St. Jude's in Memphis, TN) or January (Disney!) full.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Monday, April 20, 2009

My 80-Degree Marathon and Nate's 5K Debut

After a cool spring here in Tennessee, the forecast for Friday and Saturday involves lows in the 50's and highs in the 80's. At least it won't be 80 at 7:30 a.m., but by 11:30 or 12 when I am still going like the Energizer Bunny, it may be relatively hot. This is, of course, throwing a wrench in my wardrobe choice (tank and capris with big pockets for my p, b, and honey sandwich) and my peace of mind.... Should I stick with the capris I wore in all of my long runs--breathable, Nike dry-fit capris-- or switch to the untested running skirt or shorts??? Would I rather have potential chafing or be burning up?

Oh, and my husband woke up hoarse and stuffed up with a cold this morning. Nice. I probably shouldn't have had those sips of his soda last night.

This week, I'm taking vitamin C supplements daily. I'm not drinking after any of my little people or my husband. I'm going to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I'm going to start upping carbs Wednesday evening, Thursday, and Friday. I'm going to bed 15-30 minutes early every night. Any other suggestions?

I only have 9 miles on my schedule this week. I enjoyed 3 yesterday when my son and I ran a local 5K together. He's 8 and has lately shown an interest in running, so it was his 5K debut. He had never actually run 3 miles before yesterday, but he has been training once a week after school. I think his longest run was probably around 2 miles. The Queen City Road Race has a difficult, hilly course. I was nervous for him. I told my husband that best-case-scenario, we'd finish in about 35 minutes. If things didn't go well, it would be more like 45. Well, my baby came in at 32:44! We walked a lot of the hills, but when he wasn't walking, he was running a 10-minute pace or faster. At the end, when we finished on the track at the local college, that little guy was going around a 6:24 pace, according to my Garmin.

When he kicked it in the last .1 or so, I could barely keep up. I was so proud. I was yelling, "Nathaniel, you are FLYING!" as the tears welled in my eyes. I felt like this FIRST 5K would open up a whole world for him as it did for me a year and a half ago. I missed out on running for the first 36 years of my life. He won't have to!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Counting Down....

We are in the single digits now---9 days! I've been reading a lot of marathon memorabilia/t-shirts at http://www.cafepress.com/ . There's one shirt that says, "The woman who begins the race is not the same as the woman who finishes the race." I'm not sure I feel that is true, but I guess I'll find out on race day. That is kind of how I felt when I did my first 20-miler. I cried like a baby running those last few steps because I DID IT! I did something I wouldn't have thought possible just a few months ago.

Another one I liked goes something like: Mile 22-- I thought I was going to die. Mile 24-- I was dead. Mile 26-- I was really dead. Mile 26.2-- I realized I was too tough to kill.

That's really what this marathon stuff boils down to. How tough am I? How far can I push my body?
The good thing is I've put in all the training. I'm not missing a SINGLE MILE from my training plan. In fact, I think I'm about four miles over.

I've done all the research. I've read the following:
4 months to a 4-Hour Marathon (not recommended)
UltraMarathon Man
Run Your First Marathon: Everything You Need to Know to Make It to the Finish Line
26.2 Marathon Stories
The Runners' World Complete Guide to Running (great book)
Hal Higdon's Running a Marathon
Running for Mortals
Marathon Training by Joe Henderson
Jeff Galloway's Marathon Training Plan
??? another one I borrowed from my friend Carol but can't remember the title

I've even supplemented with core work and arm/shoulder work since these areas are important on long runs, too.

So, taper brain is setting in and I'm starting to ask the question: Am I really ready?

Right now I'm honestly looking at the marathon as another long training run. A 26.2 mile one. I found myself overwhelmed at the thought of running 20, but by breaking it down into little parts, I found it was tough, but doable. The key for me is going to be to RUN SMART: don't get caught up in the excitement and go out too fast; walk through water stops and stay hydrated; don't put too much pressure on myself about a particular finish time.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ten Toes, Nine Toenails

Whoo-hoo! I. HAVE. ARRIVED. I guess I'm a real runner/marathoner, now. (And just in time for sandal season!)

For those of you this has happened to before--how long does it take to look normal again? I got the sore toenail on a five-mile run in mid-February (blasted Mizuno Wave Nirvanas!), and it took two months for it to actually fall off. Is the hard thing growing underneath in a new nail? Or is the nailbed itself hard? Do you just paint the nailbed? Is this going to cause me pain/problems on race day in 11 days?????

My hubby is strangely proud as well as creeped out.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Um... Taper Is Kind of Hard!

When you hear someone complain about taper, it's usually all, "I couldn't STAND running so little." "I was antsy and stressed out without all my usual runs." Not me. Nope, I'm STILL waiting for the "real" taper to begin.

After running my terrible twenty last Saturday, my training plan called for an easy two miles on Monday. I did some recovery walking and yoga on Sunday and Monday, but I just didn't feel ready to run. I did my two easy miles on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, my training plan called for 8 miles including 4 x 1600 at 8:50 with 800 jogs. (Translation: warm up a mile, run a mile really fast, jog/walk for 1/2 mile to recover, run another mile really fast, jog/walk for 1/2 mile.... you get the picture.) I asked my training plan, "Are you kidding me???" An 8:50 mile is a stretch for me in a 5K race with FRESH legs and running 8 miles seemed just a little excessive. I'm in TAPER, for pete's sake! So, I ran 6 miles including a 1/2 mile warm up, speedy-ish miles at 9:15 pace, 8:53 pace (yay!), 9:10 pace, and a final 800 in 4:39 before cooling down. (There was some jogging/walking between miles.) I only came close to 8:50 once, but I did what I could do in my hilly neighborhood on still-tired legs. If I call that final 800 a Yasso 800, it would predict a 4:39 marathon finish. (But that's not actually how you do a Yasso 800 work out.)

I knew I owed two more miles* on Thursday, so I hopped on my treadmill to make them up, even including that last 1/2 mile of speed work at that dang 8:50 pace. *I'm a little obsessive about getting in all the miles my training plan calls for each week. When I get to the starting line of my first marathon, I want to know I have put in ALL the miles of training.

I took a total rest day on Friday, and this morning got in my last double-digit run of 12 miles. Whoo-hoo. Those 12 miles felt like 18. I was tired when I started, wanted to stop at six, but my running buddy Tracy kept me going. I REALLY wanted to stop at 11, but she dragged me one more mile. Now that it's done, I'm glad. Oddly, after only 12 (albeit hilly) miles, my left foot, both knees, and my quads all hurt. I know I had some residual fatigue from the 20 miles only one week ago and that darn speed work.

Now, finally, let the real* taper begin!

*The taper where I only run 2 miles, 5 miles and 8 miles in a week. That's what I'm talkin' about!
*The taper when I can think about something besides my sore knees/ankles/quads and overall fatigue.
*The taper where I can once again comfortably go up and down steps.
*The taper where I start obsessing over AM I READY? What's the weather going to be like on race day? What should I wear? Am I running enough? Have I really gained 5 lbs.???

That's my kind of taper.

P.S. Oops. I know why that speed work was so hard. Looking back over my marathon journal, I've actually NOT been doing the speed work called for in my Smart Coach training plan on Wednesdays. I've gotten in the mileage, but I haven't actually done it in a speedy-kind-of-way. Maybe it's because I HATE 1600's. Give me 200's or 800's any day!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sixteen Days???? Gulp.

Wow, the marathon is only 16 days away. Time is flying by.

I got my "Final Confirmation" e-mail today. I even got my race number--16233. I'm starting in the 16th corral (staggered start), so my 7:00 a.m. race is really going to start more like 7:30 or 7:35. Last year, I started in corral 17 and was so frustrated by all the people walking that I planned to *fudge* my projected finish time this year so I could avoid the walkers. The walkers wore numbers from later corrals, but had the gall to place themselves up in the 2:30 half-marathon finishers. It was so annoying!

However, if I fudged my time and placed myself up several corrals, am I any better? So, I was honest and put myself in the best-case-scenario 4:30 corral. At least the walkers might help me not to start out too fast! I'd love to run negative splits, but in a marathon, that is seriously unlikely. Nearly everyone slows down in those last six miles.

At least in the 4:30 corral, I'll have the 4:30 pace bunny and pace group to keep me company (until they leave me behind....). By the way, a 4:30 finish is a 10:18 average pace. I don't think that's really going to happen. I could maintain that for the first, say, 15 miles, but 26.2? Unlikely. But the 4:45 finish? That's something like a 10:53 pace. Now you're talking!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

So This is BONKING....

I now think I fully understand the term "bonking." I bonked not once, but twice today on my last (Thank You, God) 20-miler.

I started the run with a group of about 10-12 people from my running club. Everyone except for about four of us was running between 10 and 13 miles. The four of us were training for the full, so we had to do 20 today. They all started out pretty fast. I tried to monitor my pace in those first few miles, but I really had two choices:

1) Go too fast and keep up with the group, but pay the price later. OR
2) Run alone in the backwoods of Tennessee and get eaten by dogs. (I had run this route before and there are 3 VERY aggressive dogs on it. And I forgot my mace.)


I chose Option 1. When I hit the six-mile point in about 59 minutes, I knew I was running somewhere between 10K pace and half-marathon pace. I was nowhere near marathon-training pace, so I knew the end of my run was NOT going to be good. I finally came to my senses, grabbed a handful of rocks (to pelt the dogs if necessary) and put them in my pocket, and started running my pace. I was bringing up the rear, but so what? Somebody has to.

Around the 10-mile point, I recognized the house where the three scary BIG dogs live. I found a large tree branch on the ground and, looking like a complete idiot, started running with it in my hand. So I now had rocks and a tree. It wasn't long before they ran out, barking their heads off, and seemed to try to take a bite out of the runner about 30 yards in front of me. She stopped and told them, "No" and "Go home." They were literally close enough to take a nip out of her, but they finally retreated and began to lay in wait for the next runner--me.

I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I hoped the old saying, "dogs can smell your fear" wasn't accurate. With the same aggressive behavior, one of the three came after me. I held up my tree and yelled at him the same way the other runner had. The tree made him think twice, and he didn't come out nearly as close to me as he had the other runner. It's a good thing because I would have fainted. And they would have eaten me. (All three dogs had necks the size of my waist.)

I was comfortable at a 10:15 to 10:45 pace for the remainder of the first 13.1 miles. I even passed a couple of runners! (It's good to NOT be last.) I finished the half-marathon point at around 2:16. At the 13.5 mile point, I had two friends waiting to run with me the last few miles. That was really motivating. I had run most of the 13 alone (unless you count Cujo?) and I was ready to be around people. I stopped by my car for a minute or two, got my 1/2 peanut butter and honey sandwich and refilled my fuel belt with Cytomax, and we were off for the last 6.5.

I started out all chatty and at a good pace, and then BAM! At 16 miles, I hit a mini-wall. One minute I was cruising along at about a 10:15 pace, feeling fine, the next minute I was dragging at an 11:30 pace with great effort. I walked for a few seconds and took my 4th and last GU with caffeine. (Honestly, I was surprised the fatigue and lactic acid build up didn't hit until mile 16. I KNEW I had to pay the price for those first 6 miles being too fast at some point. At least it wasn't at 11 or 12!)

I recovered around 17 and 18 somewhat. I thought, "Maybe that was just a little rough patch?" My friend Lana and I were having an interesting chat about running club stuff and it took my mind off of everything for a bit. But it was short-lived. BOOM! At 19, the wall reared it's ugly head again. This time it was bigger and harder. I seriously started bonking. I would take little walk breaks, and my friend would jog circles around me (literally). But I knew that was the only way I was going to finish. By mile 20, I was doing the "dead man's shuffle" when I wasn't walking.

Having started out at a 9:45 pace for mile 1, I looked at my Garmin and was sad to see myself finishing up that 20th mile in..... 12:46.

Not exactly the way to do it on race day in three weeks! On race day, I'll be more careful not to start too fast, be more consistent, and run smarter. I know I can do it---I ran my last half-marathon like that. Today just wasn't my day. At least there are no dogs in downtown Nashville. ARE THERE???

Final time: 3:37:57 Those 4:45-and 5:00-hour pace groups are looking better and better!

HEEELLLOOO TAPER!!!!!!!! I think I love you.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fashion Meets Function

In the summer, when the humidity is near 100% here in the South, running just isn't pleasant. One of the more unpleasant aspects is a little thing called chafing. My first summer of running (I started in June of '07), I learned a few things. First, cotton sports bras are a bad idea. The band at the bottom would nearly saw me in half during my little 2 and 3 mile runs. I soon realized that cotton anything is pretty much a bad idea.

Last summer, my 2nd summer of running, I was all about technical clothing. I had the socks, the tops, the shorts, the whole nine. But I discovered something insidious about my technical shorts. If the heat and humidity are just right, they still cause some very uncomfortable chafing. And these weren't Wal-Mart technical shorts, they were Nike, for goodness' sake! After my thighs actually bled on a six-mile run, I knew I'd better figure something else out. I got some Body Glide and it helped. Maybe it's the way I'm built, but I knew there had to be a clothing solution. So far this spring, I've been loving my running capris and tights, but that just isn't an option for the summer.

So, I did a little research, and the two best options for chafe-prone runners are compression shorts and running skirts. Since compression shorts scare me, and often lack the number 1 running accessory-Pockets!-it looks like I'm going to become a skirt wearer. I know that skirts/no skirts is kind of a debate in the running community. I know that guys certainly hate being passed by a "skirt." I know some women believe they are silly because running isn't about looking pretty. But if fashion can meet function---if I can have something sort of cutish that leaves my thighs intact.... that could be a great thing!

After reading a few reviews, I decided on investing in a top-of-the-line Atalanta Committment skirt from http://www.skirtgoddess.com/.

And when I say "investment," I mean $54 plus shipping. Ouch. But I have to say, it's the CUTEST THING EVER. It felt fun and flirty and feminine. I may be a runner, but I'm still a girl at heart. It's got about 3 inch compression shorts underneath that peek out from the bottom (in a good way) and two big pockets. I could fit 4 Gu's and a cell phone in there.

I would sure love to try it out on my 20-miler tomorrow, but that's probably not a good idea. One, if the waistband or something causes issues, it would be a mighty long 20 miles. Two, it's going to be 35 degrees at the start of my run (though it will be in the 50's when I finish). I'm not subjecting my legs to that.

It's ridiculous to be this excited about a new piece of running clothing, but this far into training, I'll take excitement anywhere I can get it!