Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mission Accomplished! Kentucky Derby PR!

I worked hard training for this. I was prepared for the hills. I had studied the course, and I had a battle plan. I executed it.   4:36:11 and a 9 minute PR!

My A. goal was to finish in the 4:30's-- 4:39:59 would have been great. I looked up a pace chart online and wrote on my arm when I'd need to be at mile 13, mile 16, mile 20, mile 23, and mile 25 to finish in 4:38. The plan was to hold back a bit and stay between 10:25 and 10:40 for the first four miles, then speed up just a little in miles five through 12 to about a 10:30 until the hills at Iroquois Park. I just wanted to survive 12-15 making up as much time as possible on the downhills. Then in the flat 16-22 I hoped to PUSH the pace a little faster. More hills were coming from 22 to 23.5 and after 23.5, I planned to give it all I had left. And that's pretty much what I did.

The start was CHAOTIC. I could not find any of the 5 ladies I knew running the full, including my training partner Marlene. I could barely walk--wall to wall people. I made it into a corral and started my race alone.  It was about 53 and breezy---perfect running weather.

Mile 1: 10:39 pace. On the slow end of my range, right where I needed to start to warm up.
Mile 2: 10:21. Oops, a little fast. Still not crazy.
Mile 3: 10:21 Apparently 10:21 feels right today.
Mile 4: 10:53 My slowest mile of the day. I had my first fuel--some Honey Stinger Organic Energy chews and walked through the water stop as I ate them. I didn't panic because miles 2 and 3 were a bit fast and I figured it would average out. At this point I didn't think I was having a GREAT DAY. I thought I was having an ok day. My legs felt a little heavy at this point and that concerned me. *I continued to fuel every 40 minutes with Gu's after that---mostly caffeinated ones!
Mile 5: 10:18 pace. I had hoped to speed up a bit and did. It rained for about 3 minutes---cold, fat rain drops.
Mile 6: 10:32 pace. I ran into my friend Kathy Grayson at about 6.2. We ran together off and on. I lost a bit of time at a water stop here that was unprepared. I had to WAIT for them to pour a cup for me but I knew hydration was important. Kathy told me Marlene was just ahead, but I was too cautious to speed up to catch her. By now, I was also needing a bathroom--soon! I remember telling Kathy I wasn't having a great day.   Temp was still in the mid-50's. 
Mile 7: 10:09 3rd fastest mile of the day. I was starting to feel better and find my stride! Every port o john I saw had a long line. I wasn't about to waste precious time in line, but my bladder was full!
Mile 8: 10:27 We ran inside Churchill Downs. And there was a real bathroom with no line. I was in and out really quick.
Mile 9: 10:23
Mile 10: 10:15 Really on pace, feeling great
Mile 11: 10:26 Right after the split with the half marathoners (which I almost missed!) I heard "Donna!" It was Marlene. She had also stopped in Churchill Downs (in a different bathroom).
Mile 12: 10:45 Marlene and I ran and chatted. We entered Iroquois Park. It was beautiful--tree lined, winding, hilly road. Up, up, up. I think this was when I had a flashback to both Whiskey Hill and Blackberry Mountain. I turned to tell Marlene that and she wasn't beside me anymore. :-(
Mile 13: 10:08 Big downhill! 2nd fastest mile. I was letting GO on the downhill per plan. Knees taking a beating. Right Achilles hurting. Took two extra strength Tylenol and a salt cap. First TIME CHECK: Needed to hit mile 13 at 2:18:42 according to my arm tat. My Garmin miles were about .3 off from the mile markers, but at mile marker 13, I was about 1:30 ahead of schedule!
Mile 14: 10:51 Big uphill. Really tough. I ran it though. Walked thru a water station.
Mile 15: 10:24 Leaving Iroquois Park and wondering if I have ANY LEGS LEFT. I had taken the park HARD.
Mile 16: Time to push! 10:10!! Yay for flat! Turned on music for the first time.  Pace tat check--still 1:30 ahead of schedule!
Mile 17: 10:21
Mile 18: 10:16 Happy! (This is where the wheels fell off in my PR marathon last time.) I was waiting for that to happen. Took my Gu Roctane with 2 X caffeine.
Mile 19: 10:19 Wheels on!
Mile 20: 10:21 Pushing, pushing Pace tat check--I needed to be at 3:33 and was at 3:31 and change
Mile 21: 10:27 Hit a mini-wall. This mile was hard for me. Glycogen low. I took my last Gu. Or I should say choked it down. Feeling a little nausea. Legs tight and hurting--especially hamstrings.
Mile 22: 10:27. Hill or two. I walked about 5 seconds before saying, "What am I doing? This hill isn't that big!" It was the first walking I'd done since Iroquois Park.   It's starting to get HOT.
Mile 23: 10:37 Hills this late in the course are just mean. I allowed myself to walk 50 stepus up the last big hill. Then made myself run. Pace tat check--still in good shape!
Mile 24: 10:44 Trying to push---still some inclines. I kept missing my pace notifications on the garmin and glad I didn't see this.  Legs have taken a BEATING. 
Mile 25: 10:00 mile. FASTEST MILE OF THE DAY. Really pushing. Considering throwing up.
Mile 26: 10:08. Giving it ALL I GOT.
Mile .58: 9:18 pace. Really. I'm shocked, too. I left it all out there.  From the mile 26 sign to the finish line was sooooooo long. I saw my husband as I was finishing. I raised my arms and screamed as I passed the clock. Gonna be a crazy picture! 4:36:16 on my Garmin when I stopped it.   Yep, I cried. The people with the space blankets asked if I was ok. :-)


My mantra of the day was a verse from Psalms  "Let all that I am praise the Lord...."  Repeating that and prayer got me through the day.   Other than praying, the smartest thing I did was to write those times on my arm.  I'm mathmatically challenged when glycogen depleted (and sometimes other times as well!), and those times on my arm really helped.  They broke the race up for me.  I was just looking forward to mile 13 to see if I was on schedule.  Then 16, then 20.   It was kind of like mini-races within the race.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A PR in the Rain?? Ky Derby Forecast

The Louisville forecast this week has been the most changing forecast I have ever seen in my life.  A few days ago it was going to be sunny and 82 (yikes).   Then it was going to be partly cloudy and 72 (better).  And now, it says a 60% chance of rain and thunderstorms and a high of 66 with a low of 42 (hmmmm). 

I don't know what to pack!  I don't know what to expect!  It's driving me crazy! 

I actually like running in the rain.  If it is above 50 or so, I'm usually pretty good.  I have had some instances lately where cool and damp leave my hands stiff, and I did have one rainy run on a 55 degree day when I was soaked to the skin and started shaking uncontrollably.   I didn't feel warm for about 12 hours after that!

The thing about running in the rain is you just have to ACCEPT.  BEING.  WET.   It is what it is (I really hate that expression, but it fits here).    Maybe I should change that to EMBRACE.  BEING.  WET.  Maybe the rain is God's gift to keep us from overheating over 26.2 miles.    Or something like that.

Besides the weather obsession, the rest of taper insanity has kicked in.  How can I possibly keep eating this many carbs?  I've only run 2 miles this week!  And my knees hurt in them! Then  I woke up with sore calves---from two miles!!   I miss my endorphins.   Then I took the kids to the playground today and was doing the monkey bars and bashed my left knee (my bad knee) into the metal pole at the end.  Seriously??   After Saturday's 8-miler, my left hamstring (my bad hamstring) cramped all afternoon and evening.   It was injured like a YEAR ago.  What on Earth??? 

I know, I know.   It's just TAPER. 

Three more days......

P.S.  Have you tried peanut butter Gu?   It is awesome!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Miles in the Bank: Marathon #4 coming up!

I have made it successfully to taper.  No more long runs (it's nice when an 8 miler is no longer a "long" run), no more speed work, no more 30+ mile training weeks..... for a little while anyway. 

My marathon is in 10 or so days.   I feel like I have done everything I can to ensure a good race.  I have run a15-miler, two 16-milers, an 18-miler, and two 19-milers, so I feel like I'm good on the long run front.  No, I didn't run any 20-milers.  I think 20-milers are overrated.  I like to save anything with a 20 in it for race day!   I have done tempo runs, race pace runs, intervals, hills, trails, negative splits, and three different build up half marathon races.   I have done fast-finish long runs (at least two or three) and a couple of carb-depleted long runs that I read about in an article by Coach Greg Macmillan of Macmillan Running.   They help your body learn to burn fat more efficiently.   I included quality with quantity.  I hit my "sweet spot" for mileage, which is about thirty-five miles per week.  More than that leaves me sluggish and prone to injury.   I strength trained to make sure my posterior chain is strong and ready for the hills in Louisville.   I miraculously avoided injury.  My nutrition has been good.   Seriously, what more can I do?   I'm about as trained as a 41-year old mom of three can be. 

My goals are fairly modest.   I suppose I'll write them here to make them official. 

A. Goal:  (best day ever!)  4:39:59 or better.   Believe it or not, that's a fairly aggressive goal for me.  That is going to require around a 10:40 pace overall, including any walking through water stops, any bathroom breaks, tying my shoes, etc.  That really means running closer to a 10:30 or better.    The plan is to keep all early miles between 10:25 and 10:36.   It will be HARD to not go out at a 10:15 or so when I'm rested and adrenaline is pumping, but I know a conservative start is key.    The point behind my fast-finish long runs was to be able to shift into a different gear the last 5K and really push.   The 2nd part of my A. Goal is to FINISH STRONG in that last 5K.  
(*My last marathon was 5:09 in June of last year at the Hatfield-McCoy, but I ran it for fun and didn't train properly on purpose.  I picked the crazy hilly, hot Hatfield McCoy course because I knew there would be no pressure.   It's fun to do a marathon every now and then just for fun!)

B. Goal:  Between 4:45 and 4:59:59.   I'd just like to come in sub-five, and unless the wheels fall COMPLETELY OFF, that should be doable.   I am comparably trained to when I ran a 4:45:52 two years ago in Birmingham.  Except this time, I think I'm actually a little better prepared.   More quality, fewer slow miles.   However, that was a 35-45 degree day and a fairly flat course with an awesome motivator named Reid I met at mile 12.   He talked me through a lot of those later miles.  I'm looking at a hotter and hillier race this time, but I will at least still have a buddy---my training partner Marlene.  We can motivate one another.   This would require an overall pace of 10:55 -11:05 or so.   If it's a HOT day, if I have stomach issues from all those Gu's and need to make multiple stops, or it's just not my day,  I would be happy to meet this B. goal. 

C.  Goal:  5:17 or better.  In my first marathon, it was a hellishly HOT day.  80 degrees at the start.  200 people taken to area hospitals.  One guy died.   The wheels FELL OFF early--around mile 12.  If not for new friend Carol I met on the course around mile 13, I don't know how I would have made it.  We shared in the suffering.  We kept up our spirits.  We told one another our life stories.  And we finished.   It wasn't a pretty marathon, but we did it.   I think my overall pace was 12:15 or something like that, reflecting how much we walked in miles 13-26.   

D. Goal:  Just to finish unharmed and on my on volition.   It may be ugly, but as long as I walk or crawl across that finish line, I have to be ok with it.    My running club friend had to drop out of Boston earlier this week due to excruciating pain around mile 7, likely a stress fracture.   If something like that did happen to me, I hope I'd have the bravery and good sense he had to just STOP. 

Two weeks ago, instead of running another long 18 or 19 miler, I ran the Oak Barrel Half Marathon in Lynchburg, Tennessee.   It was THE BEST HALF MARATHON of my life.  I went into it with no expectations, just planning on a gentle training run or maybe a tempo run.   The course was gorgeous.  It was on beautiful country roads.  It was a chilly start, and I remember seeing steam coming off a pond in the middle of a pasture in the early miles.  The scenery was just amazing.   I had many good friends on the course and found all the runners to be very friendly.  One whole mile and a half was uphill (Whiskey Hill) around miles 3.8 to 5.2.  I never dreamed I'd make it up Whiskey Hill without walking and wasn't even going to try.   Many friends had warned me about it.  But I was just having one of THOSE days when everything comes together.  I felt great.  I had held back in the first few miles thinking this was a training run, so when I came to the hill, I was perfectly warmed up.  And. I. Conquered. It.   I did not walk.  I actually counted everyone I passed---I passed 32 people.   Everyone around me slowed to a walk at some point on that hill, even when we were 3/4 of the way up it.   At about that point, I WANTED to walk, but I knew it was almost over, so I just held on.  I think CROSSFIT taught me to "Embrace the Suck" and keep moving.   My hilly mile was 10:44 pace.   It was one of my proudest moments as a runner! 

At the top, I kept moving.  After I'd made it through 6 or 8 miles without walking a step, I decided that today I would not walk.  In 14 half-marathons, I've walked in all but two, often just for a few seconds through the water stops, but equally as often when I'm just not having a good day or pacing smart.   Luckily for me, miles 8-13 were all downhill.   After all my long marathon training runs, I felt amazing in those later half-marathon miles.  I was posting 9:30's, 9:15 and just felt like I was flying.   I was pushing and it felt GOOD.   I finished in 2:09, negative splits, and felt like I could indeed run 8 or 10 more at the end.  At no time during the race did any negative self-talk thoughts arise.  I felt happy, peaceful, content.  I just felt truly blessed to be there and to be a runner.   Wow, I need more races like THAT! 

I would love to hear your comments/advice on the marathon! 

After the marathon, I'll have 5 weeks to my 50K.  The 50K is seriously just for fun.   I don't care if I average 14-minute miles.  I just want to finish.  And get the sticker.  


10 Years of Running: Confessions of a Declining Runner

Two months ago, I hit a pretty significant milestone:  ten years of running.  I began in June of 2007 at the age of 36 .   On day one, I tho...