Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Race Report: Whidbey Island

Sunday morning I woke up at 5AM after getting a surprising six hours of sleep. This is big for me because usually the night before a marathon I lay awake anxious about the race until 1 or 2 AM. I chose my Nike knee length spandex, Nike tank with North face tech shirt (with thumb holes and a back pouch) for my race day attire b/c the forecast showed no rain and temps in the 40s. I fueled up with yogurt, a piece of toast, a banana and green tea. After applying body glide, putting on the Garmin and doing a few stretches, I was good to go.

The man friend and I were out the door and on our way to the shuttle buses before the sun made an appearance. When he dropped me off at the big yellow buses, it was still dark and chilly outside. The 20+ min bus ride out to the start at Deception Pass was great because the sun was just starting to rise and it was the perfect way to calm any race day nerves. We unloaded and I hopped in the porta pot line (which is always slow on race day no matter how few people are in your line). Then grabbed a garbage bag from a volunteer to help keep some heat in and walked around.

The race start was pretty casual. No National Anthem like I'm used to, no big announcement. Pretty much just a 5-4-3-2-1 min warning and then "ready, set, go!" The first few miles were absolutely gorgeous going over these huge bridges (Deception Pass) that overlook the water and trees and my feet were numb the whole way. My friends, mom and man friend were waiting for me around mile 7 just before the big mile long hill. It was great to see them, but hard to know I was just about to take on the first bit of hell.

My pace was great for probably the first 13 miles, it always is. At that, I could qualify for Boston if I were able to keep the pace for the remaining 13, but not so. My mom and bf were waiting again for me at miles 9, 13, 15 and 20. At 13 I yelled "aren't you sick of seeing me yet?!" to which my mom replied "no honey, we love you." Thanks mom.

Around mile 17 the course passed through the park where the finish is, just to taunt us that the hardest part was yet to come before we could actually cross that fabulous line. By mile 20 when my mom and the man friend had their last mid race sighting of me, I was feeling wiped. By mile 21, I couldn't believe I was going to have to turn around and go back up a mile long hill I had just ran down. And by mile 23, when my friend J (whom I ran track with in high school) joined me on the course to help me finish, I couldn't have been more relieved.

Those last three miles are killer. When she hopped in my breath started getting shallow and for a minute I was hyperventilating. But I pushed on and she helped by chattering at me as I said "uh huh. no. yes. fine." The last 1/2 mile was easy because I could see the finish and I love sprinting in. As I pulled together my last bit of strength, a girl I'd been switching places with all race said, "don't slow down! you've been pushing me the entire race." And this pic shows the determination in my eyes. It was one of the best comments (if not the best) I've received during a race. I finished in 3:55 and was just happy I finished under the 4 hr mark.

As for post race, a medal was slipped over my head and we were allowed to just roam the park. A bit different to the large marathons where marathoners are coralled into the finish so that spectators don't grab bagels and get too close. The post race fuel left much to be desired. Usually, I get a haul of good food to munch on. But this time, I took one look at plain bagels, apples, bananas and the sports drink and passed. I grabbed a water and walked around a bit and chatted with my posse. Here we are (minus mom and the man friend who were taking photos), both 1/2 marathoners, myself and two spectator friends.

Monday, March 30, 2009

One more marathon down.

The plus side is that I survived and finished the marathon in 3:55. The minus is that it's a Monday, after a Sunday marathon (and 7+ hr drive home), I'm at work, and it's sunny outside.

My right foot actually cooperated fairly well and it's my left foot that really hurts today along with my knees that feel geriatric. All things considered, I'm feeling pretty good for post marathon soreness.

A few things that didn't go right: Saturday, after picking up our race packets, we headed to a local bistro that not only had some of the sloooowest service ever (1 server and 1 cook for this little place with 12 or so tables), but was out of half the things our group wanted to order. Afterward, we picked up coffee, walked around a few little shops (while the man friend had a beer and played pool with the locals at the nearby tavern), and headed back to the cabin to lounge on the couch and watch March Madness.

Then for dinner we headed to a place that was supposed to be good (but wasn't) and was also out of everything. So just when I was needing and craving a huge dish of pasta with chicken, sorry they're out. After eating a 9pm dinner of a crab cobb salad that was mediocre at best, we came back to the house and I grabbed a piece of wheat bread to "carb load." Yeah, not my ideal, but I guess it sufficed. It rained all day Sat, but I didn't mind because it cleared the air for Sunday's PERFECT race conditions (40s, sunny, blue skies).

As for the race report and a few pics...stay posted.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Panic and Packing

I did a silly little thing by trying to be prepared and look at the Whidbey Island race website...I looked at last year's results. Last year just 384 finished the marathon and over 1,400 the half. What does this mean? This race is VERY small. Well, much smaller than the marathons I'm used to running. I'll admit, there's some comfort in getting lost in the sea of 10-20,000 other runners at races like the San Diego Rock n Roll, Nashville 1/2 and full marathon, Portland, etc. But come Sunday, less than 500 will most likely be making the trek of 26.2 and that makes me very visible. Yikes. Moving on...

Packing is going slowly, but surely as always. How hard do you find it to pack for a race? Cuz it's probably my biggest challenge (beyond maybe the 4-5 months of training). I agonize over which pants/top combo I'll want to wear race day and end up packing 3+ outfits JUST IN CASE. Don't get me wrong, I'm always happy to have options, but it makes packing neverending. I mean, what if it rains (but it's warm, cold, windy out)? Will I wear shorts and a long sleeve? Capris and a tech shirt? Spandex pants and long sleeve? My mood and the forecast on race day will answer that one.

Well, my bag's full but not complete, the Garmin is charging, and the stick (a runner's favorite massage tool) is packed. It's time to hit the hay. Happy running and weekend y'all! I'll have a full race report and some photos if you're lucky, next week. Here's hoping I feel as happy during Whidbey Island as I did during my first marathon, Portland, in 2006.

Speed, or an attempt at it anyway

It's that time of the week again, TIaRT!

It's funny, the man friend just asked me this last night as we were taking his dog for a walk, "so why do you need to do speed work when you're training for a marathon?" He's a cyclist predominantly so you'll have to forgive him. I explained that essentially, pushing yourself to do intervals, repeats, threshold type workouts in which you run shorter distances faster than you can sustain for a few miles helps to increase your pace overall.

I'm lucky to have the opportunity to train with a group of runners and a coach (for free) on Thurs nights through our local running store to do speed workouts. We get an email early in the week telling us what the torture workout for the week will be. There's always a short and long version. Last week's workout was: 1 mi warm up, strides, 2x 2 mile repeats (w/ 2min rest in between), 4 x 100s, 1 mi cool down.

I think the key to speed workouts is really being able to push yourself. Without a watch, real determination or other runners pushing your pace, working on speed can be a challenge. Training for my first marathon I did all my speed and hill work alone and let me tell you, it was hard. Great, but hard. I had to be mentally ready to work every Tues/Thurs either on the track, the hill for 90 sec uphill repeats, or the road for tempo workouts. The advantage of doing speed with a group is that on those days I feel like I'll never make it another 1/4 mile, I do because we've all made the same commitment to suffer together.

So my tips for speed are less about exactly what you should do (b/c for that you should ask a coach or follow a training guide), but rather how to do it. I suggest finding a group and I suggest finding some real inner strength. Oh and expect to feel like crap while you're doing it, but know that the reward of completing the workout and your increased speed as a result, will be all worth it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Taperrrr

For all you runners out there, I want to know, what does your taper look like? My preferable taper is two weeks long (three seems a bit much) with the first of the two still fairly normal, but removing most cross training and lifting and trying to stay away from sugar and alcohol a wee bit more than normal. The final week of tapering, after that last "long" 8-10 miler involves basically a few 3-5 milers, a lot of stretching and no cross training.

The final three days involve carb loading, not only because it boosts the glycemic levels needed to have a full tank ready to run 26.2 miles properly, but because it's my favorite excuse to pick up a gourmet loaf of ciabatta, good cheese, deli meat and some olive oil and vinegar on the side and a good glass of red vino. Now THAT is my kind of dinner.

So, what has my actual taper looked like? The beginning of my two week taper started with an 18 miler b/c I wasn't confident in my body's endurance after four weeks off running (with the foot injury). The next day I walked 1 mile and easily ran 3 to work out the junk. Then I went on a fun 90 min hike, skip, mud adventure with the man friend in the outdoors and we ended at the hot springs for a relaxing finish. The rest of last week included: Mon-3 mi walk, Tues-5 miles hard w/ hills on the treadmill, Wed-easy 3.5 mi and 20 min bike, Thurs-8 mi (3 mi @ tempo, under 8min/mi), Fri-30 min easy yoga/pushups/abs, Sat-11.5 mi @ race pace w/ some hills and easy last 1.5mi.Sun-3 mi brisk walk, 20 min bike easy.

This week's plan: Mon-5 mi @ race pace, Tues-70 min walk, Wed-4 mi @ race pace, Thurs-rest/yoga, Fri-rest/drive to WA for race, Sat-expo and 2mi easy, Sun-Whidbey Island Marathon, 26.2 mi!

This week always has me a little panicky. So last night I plucked out my Hal Higdon "Ultimate Marathon Training Guide" just to brush up on my taper and post marathon plans. Post marathon, I'm hoping to get a 1-2 mi walk in, which should considerably help the healing process, refuel, and get a good gentle 15 min stretch in within a few hrs of finishing.

I've been seeing a lot of other fellow bloggers out there who are getting ready for their respective races this Sunday. Good luck to everyone and tell me about your taper regimen!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cute is...

1. when he grins and tells you he's not sure how he got so lucky.
2. when you ask what part of his mom and sister's visit would he like you to be a part of and he replies, "all of it."
3. when he buys a new bed because he knows it's killing your back just as bad as his.
4. when he's worried his tossing and turning keeps you up at night.
5. when he wants to spend all freaking weekend with you running errands, going to REI and even attempting to organize your room.
6. when his dog likes you and you know it.
7. when he tries to eat healthier because he knows you'd want him to.

Now please add your own "cute is..." to the list.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I'm looking forward to the light at the end of the tunnel

I love running, I seriously do. But today as I lay on the physical therapy table getting a massage down the front of my right leg and foot and explaining to another therapist the pain, what i've been doing for it, my crosstraining routine, etc. I just thought "I'm really looking forward to this whole thing being over." Not really, but all the motions.

You train for a marathon, you run too hard, too many miles, don't have time to stretch properly, and eventually start to feel a twinge...somewhere. Low and behold you schedule doc, P.T. and massage appointments essentially just to patch the wounds and get you through the race (and maybe feel a bit better than you otherwise would). Said docs suggest "running less" and "cross training more." Um, yes, yes that would be a FABULOUS idea...IF I weren't preparing to run said marathon.

And as I sit at my desk feeling famished after 90 minutes without food, I feel like a crazy person. Just. trying. to. resist. that 1/2 Odwalla bar and applesauce I have waiting for my midafternoon snack. My back hurts. I really shouldn't be sitting all day. I can't wait until next week's massage. Must. get. applesauce. now. What is a runner to do?

I'm looking forward to a little normalcy. Perhaps I'll take a yoga class, or have a beer after work instead of hitting the gym or pavement, or go on a hike. After 26.2, the possibilities seem endless.

It's almost here.

Yesterday I wore shorts and a t shirt on my run. This made me very happy because I can actually see spring right around the corner. And frankly, these white legs desperately need a bit of sun.

I did a short recovery run (35 slow minutes) after a quick day trip to Seattle for a work meeting, which was actually quite productive and successful. Then, I followed the run up by a short bike ride to try out my new Pearl Izumi shorts. The man friend is trying to get me to buy a road bike so I'm starting to gear up in the clothing dept first...naturally. Baby steps here, baby steps.

So, my Spring Training Tips for TiaRT are...

1. Bust out those shorts
2. Leave the ipod at home
3. Find some seriously good running sunglasses (native, smith, etc)
4. Dig out your sunblock
5. Try some new routes now that it will be lighter later
6. Hop, skip and jump over obstacles (the man friend laughed when I hurdled over stumps and logs last weekend as we were hiking). It's not only a good workout, but it makes you feel just a bit badass, no joke.
7. Try a new workout, mix in some yoga, abs, weights or pushups into your routine. After all, everyone needs a little change once in a while.

PS-Yesterday's EASY run sent sharp pains down the back of my right leg-just what I need. The easy ride didn't work out the kinks like I'd hoped. Last night as I did some yoga stretches before bed it got me thinking how important it is we take care of our bods, especially near race time. I had a massage on Tues which proved I was much more tight and sore than I thought. So next week I have another 30 min massage scheduled as a final pre-race tune up and one final foot appointment. After that, I'm crossing my fingers my fitness and my perserverance will carry me through 26.2 miles.

Marathon countdown: 10 days

Monday, March 16, 2009

Marvelous Monday

Well, I wanted to call it a manageable Monday b/c that's how I feel about most Mondays. If they're manageable, then they're considered successful in my book. I just can't seem to step out of that weekend coma come Monday morning around 830am. I feel like I deserve a blueberry scone and a nf latte from the corner bakery just for showing up in business casual. I know, I know...stop whining.

On that note, it's a marvelous Monday because this weekend was full of yummy treats I'm sharing with you. Saturday morning after my last LONG training run (18 miler) for Whidbey Island, I whipped up a batch of these mounds of goodness thanks to Joy the Baker! The man friend finished a 70 or so mile bike ride at my house with a face and pile of clothing full of mud. He much appreciated seeing these pop out of the oven and into his mouth. I still have a Tupperware of them waiting to take to the runners tomorrow night so I don't eat them all. Cookies in my cupboard = dangerous. Thank goodness I have people to share them with.

Sunday before heading out on a rainy hike along the river and then a dip in the hot springs (the sanitary kind where people are required to pay and wear swim suits), I threw together a recipe I'd been wanting to make from my crock pot cookbook...Stuffed Chicken Breasts. After pounding the chicken flat (with a meat tenderizer or the back of a frying pan), you mix together the feta, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, basil, garlic powder, lemon zest and pepper together and put a large spoonful on each piece of chicken and roll it up. Place the chicken rolled into the crock pot, cover with diced tomatoes and kalamata olives and let it do it's magic! When we got home from a long day of being cold and wet, I sliced up some polenta, put it on the skillet to warm up, made a salad and we were good to go. Great thing to come home to...dinner ready for the tasting. Pair it with a red wine and you're good to go!

Anyone else do some baking or cooking this weekend?

Running update:
Truth is, the 18 miler was hard after not really running much of anything for 3-4 weeks, but I made it. My quads are still feeling it from all that pavement pounding. A few things that helped me through it were compromising on my own "rules"...I wore my ipod (i try not to train with my ipod b/c i don't plan to run my marathons w/ my ipod and i decided that i'm going to run the marathon carrying my Nathan handheld water bottle. Why? Because it's truly fabulous. I originally planned on using it just for training (since I don't have a personal water bottle holder every few miles to give me water, gatorade or supplements) and utilize the marathon aide stations for my race day fuel. But Saturday, I just realized how nice it was to be able to take a sip of my 1/2 gatorade, 1/2 water mix whenever the hell I pleased. Sometimes a sip is all you need to get you through a rough patch.

One of the great things about running is learning that adapting to your own needs is most important. If your ipod is what gets you out the door and through that last few miles, so be it. If cliff shots, shot blocs, luna moons or sports beans strike your fancy, eat up. If wearing a pace bracelet on race day makes you feel more confident you'll stay on pace, by all means. I'm not here to tell you what to do or not do. Because Saturday I may have just considered taking my ipod to Whidbey. Whether or not that's a reality, we'll see.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Only in running...

Yep, you guessed it, today's TiaRT topic is "Only in running..." from the Runner's Lounge.

Only in running...
1. would I deem snot rockets appropriate (Truth: they're necessary on many of my runs. What once seemed gross is now just what runners do.)
2. would I not even blink an eye when dropping $100+ on running shoes, gear, therapy.
3. would I continue to subject myself again and again to something that nearly kills me (or so it seems). I can't tell you how many times during a half or full marathon I've said "tell me why the hell I'm doing this" and yet I keep on signing up!

Ok, your turn! Reblog or comment and let me know what your personal "only in running/shopping/working world/grad school" exceptions/habits/etc. are.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I like making plans, so shoot me...

It's true, I'm guilty. I like planners and lists. I don't like deviating from a plan. I like the feeling of solidified decisions (maybe because I'm so indecisive that it's a miracle when I'm not). Three weeks ago mom emailed my bro and I to ask if we wanted to go on a ski weekend with the fam and our significant others sometime soon and could we please let her know what weekends would work best. In usual fashion, after asking the man friend, I replied all (so my bro who can't make plans worth a damn) would know what weekends worked for us. A week later, no reply.

Last week I emailed his gf who said she hadn't heard about it but my suggested weekend would work for her. This weekend I talked to the bro face to face and he thought maybe that week would work, but he'd have to ask for it off very soon. UGH. Yesterday I called my mom to tell her what weekends would work (again) and suggest that even a weekend in April would work, but PLEASE call me and let me know what's decided or let's just cancel it. Last night an email from mom said dad thought the mountain would be too busy (WTF?! Yes dad, sometimes you will have to deal with lines at a place that is popular. Get a grip.) but maybe sometime in April would work but they'd have to talk about it more. HA!

And last night after a trip to the dog park, I felt like a crazy person when the man friend suggested we grab a beer at a local establishment at 7PM. Mind you, we had planned to go home and make pizza and I was starting to get pretty hungry. I was like "wait, are you serious or joking? I can never tell." He was serious. So I was like ok, well we can get dinner and beer then. No, no he just wanted a beer and atmosphere.

Moral of the story is, frustrated and confused, we headed to the grocery store and picked up the pizza dough and some local microbrews and went home. I felt like I had won, but was defeated at the same time. I wanted to do what he wanted to do, but I wanted it planned out. I'm great if I know what's coming ahead, but when I don't, I feel thrown off course, confused, slapped on the side of the face and then ultimately like an idiot when I can't be flexible and change my plans for someone else. Maybe it's about time I take my plans and just throw them out the window.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Back in the game

I'd say I'm well on my way to being healed, or at least being able to run a bit more on the lengthy side without too much pain. Saturday was a long day of downhill skiing with my hs friend A who came down from Seattle. It was snowy and a bit windy, but the snow itself was fabulous. Red faced and tired, my foot gave me no pain. After dropping A off I showered and headed to Portland for dinner with my brother and his girlfriend and drinks and laughs with more hs friends and their significant others. Drinking a beer in the basement of this chilly little bar with friends was an absolutely perfect way to spend the evening. Reminded me how much I love that city.

After hitting up another establishment we headed home to chat and watch some snowflakes fall. Morning came too quickly and Jess and I were off on a cold and hilly 10 miler. The sun shone on snow covered grass as we made our way up to the top of a nearby butte that looks over the entire city of Portland. Amazing. The legs were tired, but the foot had no complaints.

After showering Jess, her husband and I met up with friends for a fabulous brunch at the Alameda Cafe, a nearby spot listed in the recent Portland Monthly breakfasts feature. It definitely met our expectations. I had the veggie scramble, alameda potatoes, toast and some strong coffee...all while watching a few more snowflakes fall. Mmm. After a looong browsing session at REI and just one shirt purchased for my Europe trip, I headed home.

This morning I took the man friend's dog on a cold 25 minute run. Normally, in a different neighborhood, in the dark, I wouldn't feel too comfortable, but with a obedient black lab at your side, almost anything seems safe. Now on with the day and a seven miler planned for tonight.

Wednesday I'll be participating in a conference call for the Runner's Lounge book project with a bunch of other running bloggers who will be working to edit this beast. I'm looking forward to it!

Anyone else have too much coffee and chocolate this morning? I think it's about time I break that habit...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Common mistakes and cardinal sins I continue to commit

Today's TIaRT topic: Common mistakes and cardinal sins of running. What are some of the most common mistakes you make with your running? Why? What did you learn from them? And of all your mistakes, which ones have you vowed to never to again and would urge other runners to avoid this most evil pitfall.

My common mistakes and cardinal sins of running aren't all that earth shattering. In fact, I know quite a lot of runners (personally and from the blogosphere) who commit them again and again and somehow, we just never learn. 1) I don't take rest days practically ever (who has time to rest?!) and 2) I push through injuries and don't always take the time off that I need to.

Rest days = not my style. The hard part however, is that with any endurance sport, you actually get better BECAUSE of your rest days. And even though I know that to be true, I can't seem to stomach my pride and give my bod a rest. It may have something to do with being a woman and feeling like one day of rest means you'll gain a pound or two. I just can't bare to skip burning those extra 500+ calories in a day. I know, I know, you're thinking I should really get a grip.

I've run, limped and winced my way through injuries. I know I'm not the only one out there who refuses to accept that working through an injury won't always help it. Luckily, this is one cardinal sin I've actually improved upon (versus the rest day, which I've in fact gotten worse about). With each new injury (low back, knee, plantar fasciitis and now tendonitis) I've slowly but surely learned that just a little less running and a little more bike and swimming (and maybe even a day of yoga and abs) will allow me to heal quicker.

Case in point is this whole upcoming marathon. I'm a mere three weeks from my marathon and I haven't run more than a handful of miles per week for THREE entire weeks now and I'm NOT freaking out (ok, maybe just a bit). I am however, realizing that I need to run longish this weekend in order to remind my body what it feels like and get some running in before it's technically "taper time."

Ultimately, I think it's good if we're able to learn from ours and others mistakes, but if we continue to commit them, they becomes sins we have to learn to accept. For example, I'm willing to accept that some of my runs could be a lot faster and easier, my hips could be a bit looser, my quads not always sore if I would only take a freaking rest day once in a while. But I'm willing to accept it because I know I could take the rest day, but ultimately I choose not to.

Tell me, what's your cardinal sin (running or not)?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thank you Girl Scouts

It's that time of year again and sure enough there are three boxes of Girl Scout cookies on our snack table at work. Monday when I stopped by the grocery store a little blonde asked me if I'd like to buy cookies. Thank you adorable little girl, but I don't need more lard on these thighs to further impend my running. It's hard enough as it is.

I will however, politely hand you $1 for your trouble and not take any cookies in return. When faced with temptation, sometimes you just have to throw a buck at it and run inside to buy your spinach and red peppers, convincing yourself they're just as good as thin mints.

Monday, March 2, 2009

No fracture here...

just some tendonitis. Overall, that's good news. It means I can still run once I get this whole pain in my foot thing taken care of. I have three physical therapy appointments scheduled before Whidbey Island so that should help, but probably won't solve all my problems.

As for the marathon in four or so weeks, I'm taking it one step at a time, literally. Trying to think of the positives here and hope for a full recovery and the ability to run the half, if not full marathon. We'll see. It definitely won't be a Boston Qualifier, but if the foot is healed for the most part, I know I could tough it through 26 miles.

Does this three week hiatus I've been forced to take have me a little panicked about the upcoming race? Why yes, yes it does. But you know, there's not a whole lot I can do about it. Plus, I know I had built up pretty good base in my training prior to the injury (a few 18-19 milers). And, I've done a little bit of jogging (but mostly cycling and aqua jogging-gah!)here and there, even when I shouldn't have. And by a little bit I mean, no more than three miles at a time doing some sort of 1 min jogging/1 min walking scheme. After all, there's only so long you can force a runner NOT to run.

And as for those of you in the east dealing with that massive snow storm, I just want to say that today in Oregon I see blue skies, sunshine and weather in the 50s. Just sayin'...