Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Recovery #2

Wow. Marathon recovery the 2nd time around is soooo much better!!! Last time, I had 4 blisters under 4 toenails, after which said toenails turned several lovely shades before vacating the premises of my feet. I had to take a round of antibiotics after one of the areas became a little, um, (how do I say this delicately?) oozy.

This time, one tiny blister was gone the next day. My feet didn't hurt, and I didn't feel overall like I'd been hit by a truck. A Prius perhaps, but not a truck. My quads, hamstrings, and calves definitely ached for two to three days. I walked 1.5 miles on Monday to speed recovery. By Wednesday my legs had somewhat forgiven me. I cycled at the gym for 3 or 4 miles that day. On Saturday, I ran 5.

So, yep, recovery is going much better this time around!

Mostly, I'm just RAVENOUS, carrying around about 6 extra pounds, and kind of sleepier than usual. I can live with that.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Marathon Pictures

Brrr... 30 degrees.
Have you ever seen a happier marathoner?

Do these tights make my thighs look big???

Bling.... Mercedes hood ornament. I learned last time to lift it away from my bib so it doesnt cover my number and my picture gets lost.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mercedes Marathon Race Report

(Pre-race pic. I did wear shoes.)

This will probably be long. I'll just warn you now. My husband and I got up early on Saturday, drove an hour to my parents' house in Kentucky, and dropped off my 3 and 7 year old girls. Then we drove with my 9-year-old son 3 hours and 45 minutes to Birmingham, Alabama. We checked in to a wonderful downtown hotel--the Hampton Inn Tutewiler. The best part is it was a block from the start!

We visited the expo, had a nice dinner at the hotel restaurant, and I put my feet up for the rest of the night. I slept terribly. I watched the clock all night long--11:30, 2:00, 3:15, was the longest night EVER! At 4:55, I noticed my son was awake, too. He informed me he was hungry. We threw on clothes and went to hit the complimentary breakfast bar at 5:00 a.m. (Left my husband sleeping.) There were already 3 or 4 runners in there.

Then it was time to get dressed, and my husband and son walked me to the starting line. I got there about 25 minutes before the start. The start was my only complaint with the whole race. Runners were in line for port-a-johns in the street--which was still open to traffic. It was funny--the runners were not budging from their spots in line. Cars were just trying to drive through the middle of the lines. Finally a cop redirected traffic. The other problem at the start is the pace groups didn't have any bright-colored shirts, signs, or anything to help us line up by pace. We just lined up blindly. All 9,000 of us. (8,000 in half, 900 or so in full)

The start was a chilly 30 degrees at 7:03 a.m. and I crossed exactly 4 minutes later. The first mile was wall-to-wall people. There were 2 hills in the first mile, and I thought that might not bode well! My first mile was right on pace at about 10:25. I was careful not to go out too fast in mile 2, as well. After those miles, I ran with my heart! I adopted a pretty agressive pace for my slow self. My last marathon was all about being conservative. Not this one. I wanted to see what I could do. I planned to walk 10 to 20 seconds at each water stop, and that's what I did. Since this is a double loop course, I really just focused on finishing the first 13.1 mile loop between 2:16 and 2:18. I didn't really focus on having to run 26.2, just 13.1 at at time.

On the course, I noticed we'd have what felt like a little uphill, then a great, long downhill. I have recently learned to run downhills from reading and talking to a former cross country runner. I relax, lean forward a little, and just let gravity do the rest. My stride elongates and my heels come up a little higher. I imagine (really!) I'm a child running down a hill. (I had a downhill front yard as a child. I ran down it a lot!) It's FUN!

Feeling great, I stayed on pace, but at mile 8, I stopped for a port-o-john (my only stop of the day!) with a short line. I lost about a minute to a minute and a half in mile 8.

I was still feeling strong and enjoyed a wonderful long downhill (half a mile at least) in mile 9. that was my only mile under a 10-minute pace, around 9:50. At mile 12, we were separated from the half-marathoners. I noticed I was running next to a guy who was also music-free (I was saving my music for the last 13.1 miles!), and I asked him "What's your goal for today?" We started talking and wound up staying together for the rest of the race! It made such a HUGE difference---suffering that is SHARED is much easier to deal with.

We passed 13.1 and my husband and son were cheering me on. I was a little ahead of schedule. My friend Reid and I passed the time by talking about our kids and jobs and spouses and his 8 other marathons. I realized my legs were starting to get tired from all the hills and the aggressive pace around mile 14 and dialed it back a little. According to the chip results, at 24.2K (around 15 miles) my average pace overall was 10:37. I was still feeling pretty good. At 30K (18 miles), my pace was averaging 10:38/mile. This was a best-case scenario for me!

In all my training runs, I'm usually doing ok up until mile 18, then it gets hard. Yesterday was no exception. At mile 18, my buddy and I were both feeling a little rough, so Reid suggested we walk for 1 minute at the mile marker for each mile. I agreed, and that strategy helped from miles 18-26. We were careful to time it and try to start back running at a decent pace when the minute was up. We skipped the walk break in mile 21, however, because the mile marker was in the middle of a nice downhill. We were flying down that hill (it seemed to us anyway), and we had no intention of stopping. I always say downhills are a gift from God, so walking them is just wrong!

When the going gets tough, my music usually helps me. Yesterday at mile 20, I tried to turn it on for the first time. It wouldn't work. Yes, I was music-free for 26.2 miles. In the car on the way home, I figured out what was wrong--very minor, but after 4 hours of running, troubleshooting my MP-3 wasn't possible! Kind of like doing math on a long run.

Finally, we made it to mile 26. 20-26 were tough, but 24-26 were really, really tough. I just wanted to find a spot in the grass to sit a minute or better yet--lay down! But I was on a MISSION---to finish marathon #2 with the best possible time.

The .2 seemed SO LONG. My husband and son were there cheering for me at about 26.1. I tried to sprint (that .2 was at a 9:21 pace on the Garmin), and finally the longest finishing chute EVER ended, and I crossed the mat. I heard my name announced, which was nice.
Chip time: 4:45:51---better than I had a right to expect. I expected 4:49-4:59 honestly! I'm proud of the overall 10:55 average pace, but I wish I hadn't slowed quite so much in miles 18-26.

Overall--a great experience! I highly recommend this marathon if you need an Alabama marathon for your 50 states. The course really is great--maybe I trained more on hills this time, but the uphills seemed little and the downhills big and plentiful. I was so blessed to find a running buddy. Reid was really loud and gregarious and positive. He kept saying, "My legs are tired, but my spirit isn't!" We ran at what felt like a strong pace for the WHOLE marathon---in contrast to the easy running I did last time (when I wasn't walking!) in the Country Music Marathon.

Two marathons, 10 months apart, but a world of difference in them. Having 30 to 40 degree temps is SO much better than 70's and 80's. I am satisfied with my marathon time now. I don't feel like I need another shot at redemption.

My legs hurt so much today!! My left knee is really sore---definitely plan to ice it. My quads are trashed more than anything from my "fun" downhills yesterday, but my hamstrings and knees are not very happy with me, either. I only have one blister and all toenails are so far intact though, so that's good news.

The NEATEST THING (if anyone is still reading at this point....) was my February 14th daily devotional. I've been reading this devotional sporadically and the Feb. 14th was written for ME.

The first line was "Give yourself fully to the adventure of today." Then it went on to talk about not worrying about the road ahead and taking comfort that God would be with me all of my days, holding my right hand. That devotion eased my pre-race anxiety. I carried it in my pocket and thought about it often on the run. It was a really blessed day.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Whoo-hoo! 4:45:51

A. goal was 4:45 or under. B. goal was under 5 hours C. goal was to do better than last April's 5:17

You can imagine I'm HAPPY!!!!!!! I'll write a full race report tomorrow, but I had a great time in the race. I ran with my heart, not my head--a little too fast in 1-13, but I was feeling awesome. I still felt pretty good from 14-17. It got tough around mile 18 and then 20-26 were BRUTAL, especially 22-26. (But when are those miles NOT brutal?) I ran music-free because my MP-3 was frozen up, but I made a friend (just like last time!) at mile 12 and we stayed together until mile 26. Average pace was 10:55, but up until mile 18, I was averaging 10:38/pace. THAT'S how much I slowed down in 18-26, but I'm proud I kept it under 11 minute miles.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Mom on a Mission: Marathon #2

I'm finalizing plans to leave for Birmingham, Alabama, in the morning for the Mercedes Marathon on Sunday!

I ran an 18-miler and a 19-miler (both pretty painful) in January, and I'm going to just go for it! No time like the present!

My husband and oldest child are driving down to B-ham tomorrow. It's about 5 hours including the portion where we drop off our girls at Grandma's. We'll get there mid-afternoon, check in, get my packet, carbo load, and the race is at 7:03 on Sunday morning. I'll run the race and get right back in the car for the 5-hour drive home (yikes!).

I'm excited to give this marathon-thing one more shot. Oh, it's SNOWING in Birmingham today (of course), and it's supposed to be 30 degrees at the start on Sunday and raining from 10:00 a.m. on (when I'm still out there for a good two hours more). It's hopefully going to warm up into the low 40's, so I'm sure I'll survive. I ran a half in pouring rain this time last year. It's not as bad as it sounds. It's a double loop course. It's kind of hilly in places: (or should I say mountainous?)

I wanted to make sure illness didn't sideline me again before saying anything. That's what changed in my "About Me." It no longer says "training for marathon #2." Thank goodness!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"You Must Really Like Running!"

One of my co-workers at the YMCA said this to me the other day. This was after I added another session to the three running classes I already had on the schedule. Now I'm teaching one class with 23 half-marathoners, one with 6 Couch to 5Kers, and two classes of 15 "mini-marathoners" in grades K-6. Yikes. I really MUST like running. Can I start calling it my "jobby"?

I like to look at this coaching thing as more of a calling than just a job. I am neither an expert nor a great runner, but I am a teacher at heart, an encourager, and I love to share how running has changed my life. Meeting new people and acquiring new running buddies is a bonus.

My half-marathon group ran 10K on Saturday, most for the first time. I made them a little certificate (I know, cheesey, but well-meaning). They were THRILLED and couldn't believe they had run 6.2 miles (Although they had run 5.5 the week prior, somehow 6.2 miles is special. It's really long-distance territory). They still have 9 weeks until race day, and they are well on their way.

It is so neat to see people experience "new distance" for the first time. From now on, all the long runs will be new territory for the majority of them. There's nothing quite like training for that first half or full marathon. I can't wait until our 10-miler. The first time you complete a double-digit run is pretty amazing.

I'm home with 3 kiddos enjoying yet another Middle Tennessee snow day. This time we have about 3 inches of snow atop about 2 inches of ice. It's a good thing I have a treadmill!

P.S. Something in my "About Me" is about to change in the next few days..... More on that later.

P.S.S. Two NEW running songs I'm enjoying: Switchfoot's Bullet Soul and Mess of Me

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Perpetual Motion

Good grief, I just realized I have been in perpetual marathon training for more than a year!!

I started training for last year's Country Music Marathon in January of last year. I ran the race in late April and took May for recovery with mostly short, easy runs. In June I started creeping up my mileage again, and in July officially started a 20-week training program for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon on December 5. I made it through 19.5 weeks of that training and then was sidelined with a sinus infection and bronchitis just days before the race. (DEVASTATING, as you might imagine.)

I recovered somewhat and decided to attempt the Jacksonville Marathon two weeks later so all that wonderful training (over-training perhaps?) wouldn't go to waste. Seven days before the race, my nine-year-old came down with a horrible stomach bug. It took out a new family member about every 36 hours, finially getting to me a mere three days before the race. For 24 hours I couldn't eat or drink--or "keep" anything for long if I did. And this was during the first day of carbo-loading. (Not quite as devastating, but very DISAPPOINTING still.)

So I found myself in the middle of December with 22 weeks of marathon training and two marathon tapers, but no marathons, behind me. What is a running addict to do???

Keep running. (Because we just went to Disney and saw the Finding Nemo show, the phrase "Just keep swimming" comes to mind.) I have been continuing to log marathon-worthy mileage--- a week of 32 miles, another week with 34, an 18-mile long run one week and a 19-miler a couple of weeks later. I'm avoiding doing another big 2-0 because they are so punishing and intimidating and somehow 18 or 19 is easier to wrap the mind around.

In other words, I'm KEEPING MY OPTIONS OPEN. Maybe I'll do a race in the near future. I can't stay in perpetual marathon training forever. Can I?