May 29, 2009

A Day to Remember

Yesterday was a wonderful day and very little of it revolved around running.

Since I had plans early in the day, I got up and did a 5-miler at 7:30am yesterday morning. It was a tough run! One of those hard "easy" runs. I'm sure it was a combination of the extreme humidity and having run a marathon 5 days earlier. I pushed through it and was glad I did. My pace ended up being 7:58 - so I somehow managed to maintain a decent speed despite the difficulty of the run. Yay!

After a quick stretch and shower, I dressed again in workout clothes and headed over to my mom's house about an hour's drive away. She just recently joined a new gym and has a few free guest passes. We decided to spend the day together and start it off with a workout. This is the first time since I was 16 that I've been to the gym with my mom. It was fun and a great way to start the day.

After the workout, we both got recovery shakes from the cafe area at her gym. We sat and chatted and sipped on liquid yumminess for a while. We couldn't sit around too long though, because we both had massage appointments at a spa nearby!!

The massage was a gift from my mom - for qualifying for Boston maybe? Or maybe just cuz I finished my first marathon? Or maybe just cuz my mom rocks? :-) Anyway, it was wonderful! I felt so relaxed afterward. Wish I could do massage after every race!

We had our massages in a spa in a small town down the road from where my mom lives. This spa is in the process of opening a wine bar! Wine and massage, with maybe a pedicure thrown in for kicks? Heaven! Can't wait until it opens! We'll be back!

The next stage in our wonderful day was a short walk down the street to a cute little small-town coffee shop that has wonderful sandwiches, coffee and soup! Had a smoked turkey pannini with spinach and artichoke spread with a cup of seven-bean soup. YUM! I was sad that I had to head home soon after this. Wish the day could have gone on.

Now I'm back at home and am faced with the tasks of cleaning house, laundry and grocery shopping. Could this day be any more polar extreme from yesterday!!?? Ack! At least I'll start off today right with a run. In fact, gotta go put my trail runners on! Later!

May 27, 2009

Great News from Bayshore!

Well, that was a much shorter recovery than I had anticipated. I'm not saying I'm back to 40+ mpw with 2 days of speedwork, but I don't feel a single ache in my legs! Yay! And it has only been 4 days. I felt so good even yesterday that I did a 3.4 mile easy run on an unpaved Rails to Trails trail. Easy pace and forgiving surface - pancake flat. Once I started running, I felt a few aches exert themselves, but they faded away by the end of the run. There was no lingering pain after the run, and today I still feel awesome. Since I'm still not back to my normal mileage, I started back up with cross-training yesterday. Since a 3.4 miler was not enough cardio, I did 45 minutes on the stationary bike. Today I didn't run at all but did 40 minutes on the elliptical and another 10 minutes on the rower. I also restarted strength training after a week off. Fortunately I did not get sore from that either! I really lucked out with this recovery thing! Tomorrow I'll try 4-5 easy miles.

I got some more good news today. When I first checked the standings after my marathon on Saturday, I was 6th in my age group. Age group awards went 5 deep. Darn!! Just missed it! But a few days later I checked the results again and I had miraculously moved up to 5! Then I realized that the second place overall female was in my age group. That bumped her out of age group awards and put me in 5th! I emailed the organizers right away and asked if I had earned an award. They said yes and will be mailing the award in a few days. How cool is that!? An age group award in my first marathon!

Bayshore Report!

What a great time we had! The entire vacation was wonderful. From the pre-race camping trip, to the race itself, to the post-race exploration of the Traverse City area. And boy did we luck out with the weather!

I won’t spend a lot of time talking about the camping trip, but I did want to point out one thing…

blog post photo

Bear tracks! I know it is hard to get a sense of scale from this photo, but these tracks were big! We found them as we were leaving our campsite. They were maybe 20 yards from our tent! Plus, it rained the night before we found this track so it HAD to be a fresh print! Cool!

Okay, on to the race.

The race started out wonderfully. The temps were in the low 50s. Perfect! It was very overcast and we even felt a few drops as the gun went off. Those few drops were the last ones we felt. After that it started clearing up and turned into wonderful running weather.

I felt comfortable from the very beginning. Nothing ached! The tapering did the trick. So did following my “Nothing New!” mantra. I was slightly nervous about the moderate-sized blister I developed backpacking and even considered putting moleskin on it for the race, but then “Nothing New!” popped into my head again and I went without it. I didn’t even notice the blister (which I had drained the night before).

First mile went by in 8:45 due to crowds and purposely wanting to start out slowly. It was a little slower than I wanted to go, so I picked up the pace over the next few miles. By mile 3, I was back on pace for my 3:35 goal according to my pace band. I was feeling very good about it!

As I’ve pointed out in the past, my legs have this “negative-split” mentality and without a conscious effort, they started going faster and faster. By mile 6 or 7, I was hovering between 7:25 – 7:30 miles. It felt so easy, effortless even, that I decided to stay at that pace. Since my long training runs averaged 7:45 pace, I thought 7:30 was not unreasonable for the race itself.

At mile 19, I passed my husband.

However, about a half mile later, I started feeling the first signs of leg-fatigue. My heart and lungs were fine, but my legs were just starting to run out of steam.

Then came mile 21 and I couldn’t hide from the Wall any longer.

I’ve gotten tired during races before, but nothing I couldn’t battle through with mental toughness. This was entirely different. All new marathoners have heard of the Wall. We’ve read about it. We’ve been warned about it. We might even fear it a little. But nothing prepared me for the utter helplessness that the Wall brings with it. No amount of positive self-talk was getting me through it. My legs had nothing left.

I was faced with two choices: drop out or WALK. I didn’t want to do either. One of my goals was to run the entire marathon. But dropping out was definitely the worse of the two evils. So I walked.

From that point on I made small goals for myself. “Walk to the next mailbox, then try to run slowly again.” Then, “push yourself to that next road sign, then you can walk.” It became a cycle of run, walk, run, etc. It did the trick. It got me through to the finish.

The Bayshore Marathon ends on a college track. We run around about ¾ of the track to the finish line. The track is lined with stands that were full of spectators cheering us on. When I got close enough to the end to hear the crowd, I was done walking! They somehow managed to keep me running from that point to the finish line and I crossed at 3:31:30 (chip)!! A Boston qualifying time despite my miles of walking! WOW!!

blog post photo

So I accomplished 2 out of 3 goals. I finished under 3:35 and qualified for Boston. Goal number three - to run an entire marathon - will have to wait until this fall at the Grand Rapids marathon. I decided I don’t want Boston to be my second marathon. I need a little more experience!

I also have come up with my goal for the Grand Rapids marathon. I want to be able to sustain the pace I had during Bayshore (7:25-7:30) without hitting the Wall. Now I just have to figure out how to build a training plan with that goal in mind.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, my husband ended up passing me again somewhere after mile 21, I think. He ended up with a time of 3:23 and some change. He needs to shave off 8 minutes to qualify for Boston. You can do it, Bear!

May 14, 2009

Nine Days to Go!

Last speed training session before the Big One!

I decided to try a "modified" Yasso 800 workout. For Yasso 800s, your time goal for your 800 meter (or half mile) intervals is your marathon goal in minutes instead of hours. For instance, my marathon goal time is 3:35, understood as 3 hours 35 minutes. So my half mile interval for this workout should be run in 3 minutes 35 seconds. Pretty darned simple, really!

Recoveries are supposed to take the same amount of time as the interval. This is were the "modified" comes in. In order to be able to measure a half mile, I need to start my interval at the marker, no matter how long it takes me to get there! So my recoveries were usually just over 2 minutes. I honestly couldn't go any slower!

Since I'm in taper week, I only did 5 intervals. Here are my splits:

  1. 3:25
  2. 3:15
  3. 3:19
  4. 3:27
  5. 3:29

I stink at pacing! haha! But I was very happy with the results today. Great run! All easy runs from here on out. My longest will be an 8-miler Saturday or Sunday.

9 days to go!

May 13, 2009

red's marathon time goal...

Taper time means blog posts are few and far between.

I still don't have my Runner's World mag.

I had a bit of a learning experience the other day. I'm glad it happened yesterday and not during the last run before the marathon. I went out for an easy 5-miler. My left shin felt tight right from the get-go, but I kept going expecting it to loosen up during my first slow mile. It didn't. After a mile and a half, I realized I HAD to stop and stretch it out. I was a little nervous about it. I'd never had tight shins before. I was afraid it might be a new injury developing. However, after 5 minutes or so of stretching my shin and then a short walk, it was back to normal and I finished my run with no problems. So, I'll be a little paranoid about my shin for the next few easy runs before the race. We'll see how it feels after tomorrow's run. At least now I know what to do.

As an added bonus, I could tell I'm finally starting to get used to the warmer weather. Adaptation is occurring. :-)

The other news is I've set a goal for my marathon. I know! I know! I wasn't going to set any goals for my first one. I was very adamant about NOT setting a goal, in fact. At least, not a specific time goal. My "goal" was to finish strong and enjoy the experience. Well, my training has been going so well that I broke down and set a specific goal. Two goals really. Well, two goals wrapped into one:

  1. Finish in under 3:35
  2. Doing so will send me to BOSTON!!!! (with 10 minutes to spare)
10 days to go!!!

May 10, 2009

Dress Rehearsal

TAPER TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just had to do that.

Anyway, my run today went amazingly well again. Well, that is, after the first 4-5 miles. Those miles had my legs feeling heavy and I felt awkward running. After that I got into my groove and started running smoothly.

Today's stats: 20 miles in 2:35. Oh Yeah!!!

Last mile was 6:59!!!!!!!!!!!!

As the title suggests, today was a complete dress rehearsal for my first marathon in 2 weeks. I wore everything I plan to wear in the race. Yes, down to my underwear, bra and socks! The only exception may be the Fuel Belt. I wore it today but may not wear it at the race. It is nice to know I have the option though. I've done many a long run with it.

Shirt - Blue long-sleeved C9 shirt from Target (I LOOOOVE Target - and their C9 line is fabulous and half the cost of most running clothes!). Shorts - Black Hind running shorts. Socks - White Wrightsock double-layer quarter socks (THE choice for long runs - no blisters!). Shoes - Mizuno Wave Inspire. Underwear - not going there!! ha! And I'll probably wear my white Nike cap.

If it is unusually warm in northern Michigan for that day, I may substitute my white C9 tank for the long-sleeved top. Doubt I'll need to do this. I sure hope I don't forget my Chapstick! That could be catastrophe.

Almost forgot - this week marks my first 50+ mile week. Milestone!

May 8, 2009

One Day - Two Runs - A First For Me

Just got back from checking my mail... still no Runner's World magazine. :-(

Anyway, today was a first for me. I did two runs today. Both were quite difficult. When today started I had no intention of running twice. It just happened. Here's how...

My husband has not been running much due to injury. Today we got up early and he asked me if I'd like to join him for an "easy" 3-4 miles. I thought, "Sure! It won't be too difficult. It'll barely be a warm-up and then I'll just keep going to finish my 8-10 miler I had planned for today."

Boy was I in for a surprise. I let Matt set the pace... and soon found our first mile go by in 7:10!!! ACK!! And this was with no warm-up! Not smart! For either of us!

I said, "Hon. You're really running fast." He made some comment about how he has to run that fast for the entire marathon to qualify for Boston. I might have said something about that not being an attainable goal right now. Or maybe I said something about training at your current fitness level, not where you want to be. Whatever the case, I knew I couldn't keep that up for long! About 2.5 miles into it, I had had enough. I told him I was slowing down. He just kept going! He's supposed to be injured! Bad man!

I ended up finishing the 4 miles in about 28:??, I don't remember exactly. The average pace was 7:26. It got recorded as speedwork!

So I still wanted to get in 8-10 miles today. I knew I couldn't do it right after that run. Then my husband came up with the splendid idea of me driving his car to his workplace and running home. That way he could ride his bike to work but still have his car available to drive home and I could get my longer run in. Of course, the run from his work is closer to 10 miles, which would have been 14 total for today if I hadn't decided to walk the final 2 miles for a nice, long, easy, much needed cool-down. I'm still struggling to acclimate to running in temps near 70 degrees. So this run home was quite an effort!

So... one 4 mile "tempo" run + 8 (not so) "easy" miles = 12 total for today

May 4, 2009

Detroit Honors Red

I just got an email I have to share with everyone!

The organizers of the Detroit Marathon have invited me to participate in a seven-person advisory committee - a sort of "focus group" to help them figure out what they did wrong and what they did right last year so that THIS year they can put on the best possible race. What an honor!!!

I have to admit, I sent a rather scathing email to them last year after the race because I was so frustrated about the way they handled the race start. Since the race takes runners over the Ambassador Bridge - the bridge between the USA and Canada - and part of the bridge was closed to construction, it made for a very narrow lane for a lot of runners. I'm not sure there was any good way to handle this, but the manner they chose was the worst option! Instead of having runners of the same pace start together, they let ALL the marathoners and ALL the walkers start 5 minutes before the half marathoners. The bridge (aka bottleneck) is 3 miles away from the start. Now try to imagine the quicker half marathoners catching up to the slower marathoners and walkers as they approach the bridge - PURE CHAOS!!! I've never been so frustrated in a race. I had to stop and walk a dozen times (or more). After the race, I let them know the split start wasn't smart! Now I sort of feel bad about it! I suppose I now have a chance to redeem myself.

There are several things they did right. Parking is never an issue in Detroit. The course is cool - what a view from the bridge!! And the Detroit skyline viewed from Windsor across the river is simply breathtaking. There was plenty of aid and the expo was great. I'll be sure to tell them all this too!

The bonus is free marathon gear and race entries, VIP race morning treatment and other goodies! I'd do it even without that stuff, but the freebies are just icing on the cake! I guess I know which Fall marathon I'm doing now. I was trying to decide among three - Detroit, Grand Rapids and Run Woodstock (trail). :-)

May 3, 2009

I am ready, marathon.

My marathon is in less than 3 weeks!!!

My excitement has returned!

I was getting a bit nervous especially since I went 2 weeks without a significant long run due to racing. Yesterday I did another 20-miler and it went amazingly well!

Here are the details: First mile was at about 8:30 pace - I always start off nice and slow. At mile 2 I had already sped up to 8:15! The next several miles I was very consistent at that pace. By mile 7 I had sped up again to about 8:00 but I didn't really notice the difference so I just kept it there for another several miles. Mile 13 had me at about 7:45!! I swear it wasn't intentional. My legs have this negative-split mentality that comes quite natually. Suits me just fine! I kept it between 7:45-50 right up to the last mile. I felt so good that I picked it up again (intentionally, this time) and ended up running mile 20 in 7:08. WEE!!

That makes two great 20+ mile runs in a row - though they were 3 weeks apart! My recovery time for this long run was almost nil. I was slightly sore in the legs yesterday evening, but I still had no problem negotiating stairs and chasing kitties around the house. When I woke up this morning, it was like no long run had even happened. I'm thrilled!

I tried something different for this training run. I didn't use my Fuel Belt. Not because I don't like it - I just wanted to experiment. Since I did my run on a 6-mile paved loop, I decided to stash a Powerade bottle halfway around the loop. This meant I could stop and drink every 3 miles - my car being at the opposite side of the loop. I took my gels with me in a little waist pouch. Every loop, I took a gel just before reaching my car and then washed it down with water. This worked out perfectly! I may end up doing just this at the marathon - relying on aid stations for fluids, but taking my own gels.

I am ready, marathon.

May 1, 2009

New Gear Letdown

I was absolutely thrilled today when I was walking through Sports Authority looking for running shorts and tops and happened across a display of hydration packs. There on a hook was a North Face Bullhead for HALF OFF!! Only $25!! Now this wasn't the exact North Face pack that I'd been considering, so I tried it on. It fit pretty nicely and had (almost) all the features I've been looking for in a trail running hydration pack. The only thing it was missing was a waist strap that I could place a small pouch for gels. But at that price I decided I could figure out another way to carry the gels! Off to the check-out counter I went.

I was planning on doing a nice, easy run on the paved hike/bike trail or the pancake flat Paint Creek Trail, but with my new purchase I just had to do a real trail run today and try it out. It leaked...

It didn't leak a lot and if I only carried water, it wouldn't be a big deal. But I'd like to put sports drink in it for longer runs. So it seems I'll be heading back to the store, dejected. Shoulda known it was too good to be true.

Well, at least the run was a lot of fun. My shoes turned from bright red to dark brown along with my legs below the knee. Good thing I finally remembered to put a towel in my car! I didn't see another living soul on the trail - well, not human anyway. I did see a fair few Spring flowers... large-flowered trillium, yellow and blue violets, May Apples, marsh marigolds, wild strawberries and rue anemones. Still waiting for that "wildflower plunge" that is bound to happen one of these days - when I'm so distracted by wildflower-watching that I have an unpleasant close-encounter with the ground. It'll happen. I know it will.

Tomorrow is my next 20-miler so I took it really easy on the trail today. Did only 7 miles nice and slow. That's probably the only reason I survived my wildflower-watching. :-)

"Cats are like greatness: Some people are born into cat-loving families, some achieve cats, and some have cats thrust upon them." -William H. A. Carr

red's 2011 race schedule