Monday, April 30, 2012

First Marathon: Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon 2012 Race Report

My race expectations changed as frequently as the weather forecast this week. At one point, we were expecting a glorious low of 51 and high of 61. My dream weather. Instead we got a low in the 60's, high of 75 by the time I finished, mostly cloudy, and some rain. I have cloudy brain on half marathons so it's really cloudy for a full. On Friday I talked and texted with some friends who helped me realize that I put a lot of (unneccessary) pressure on myself to measure success by speed. Based on my long run pace, I felt like sub-5 was within reach... with good weather. As it became clear that it would be warmer than ideal, I became ok with letting that goal become a lofty "A" goal, but totally ok if I couldn't hit it. I really didn't even know where to set "B" and "C" goals, so I spread them out at 5:30 and 6:00. I got a little emotional telling Jake goodbye at the entrance to the corrals. Dork! I lined up at the very front of the C corral, nowhere near a pacer. It was a different feeling to look at my Garmin to be sure I wasn't going out too fast, rather than hitting a goal pace. Early in the race, I just ran for comfort, not to hit a certain pace. From the first beep of my watch at mile one, I took a one minute walk break at each mile. I'm sure it did some physical good, I know it helped psychologically, and it's what I did on every long run in training. In the first or second mile, I passed a group of firefighters walking the race in full bunker gear- very inspirational. I didn't see a fire truck displaying an American flag on the course, but this worked for me.

I saw runners taking beer for the first time in mile 5. Mile 6 held vodka. I didn't partake. For not training on hills, I was surprised at how well I handled the hills. I passed lots of runners who walked up the hills. The hill with a name- Gorilla Hill- didn't phase me. I saw Libby and Jake at the same time around mile 8. The miles were passing quickly. Before I knew it, we were at 11. There were two periods of steady rainfall. It felt good and was peaceful. I naturally started picking up the pace around 13 and just went with it. The volunteers and spectators were awesome. I loved having my name on my bib and having people cheer for me by name. It helped! I saw Jake just before mile 14, when we hit the lake. He gave me a package of Pringles because I knew those are easy on my running tummy and good for the salt. By this point I really didn't want another Honey Stinger waffle or chews. This was also when I saw a 5:15 pacer because the course had a very short out & back portion. I never saw that sign again. I didn't particularly like the lake portion, not because it wasn't pretty or anything, I think just because it was too far from the finish to be happy. Those were some of my fastest miles, though.  I started taking Powerade at some aid stations for the sugar. I also took oranges a few times. They were the best oranges I've ever had and I normally don't even like oranges! I saw Jake again just before mile 21. I was starting to hurt but held it together for another 2 miles before the hurt got worse. 23 was rough for me. It was a great pick-me-up to see Corina and some other NTX Runners walking backwards on the course during that mile.
Pic borrowed from Mama C- she turned around and ran alongside me until she could get the pic. Love her.

From 23 on, I walked at every half mile and through most aid stations. I was shocked later to see that my pace in those miles wasn't as bad as I felt. Jake was waiting for me about .3 miles from the finish. He ran with me until I entered the finishers chute. I could see the finish line and knew from my watch that I could finish under 5:15. I gave it all I had, finishing stronger than I ever imagined I'd be able to, with a pace near 9:00. My official time was 5:13:46, with an average pace of 11:59 (my Garmin shows my distance as 26.51 dropping my pace to 11:50). I picked up fluids, a couple cookies, had my picture taken, and claimed my first finishers shirt. I promise to wash it nightly, but I may wear that thing for the next week. I also saw Elaine before leaving.
Pic borrowed from Elaine- she squealed and said, "Ooh! I gotta text Lesley, she's dying to know how you did" and then she whipped out her phone and texted Lesley.

The walk to the car wasn't far, thankfully, but I was certainly ready to sit. I actually felt better than I did after my first half marathon. We stopped for lunch at On The Border, where I had quesadillas and a margarita (a runner needs salt, right?). Then it was time to go home. The ride was tough. My legs just weren't happy with any position. A shower and bath at home felt good, but my legs were about the highest level of soreness without actual pain. And the were hot- inflammation, maybe? I usually avoid ibuprofen, but I took Prilosec, Maalox, water, a whataburger junior & fries, and chased it with 800mg of ibuprofen and a long night's sleep.

I'm a marathoner!!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Weather Stalking: T-6 days

I may not trust the 10, or even 7 day forecast, but that doesn't keep me from weather stalking. Several times a day. We've gone from the little thunderstorm icon and 60% to just a rain cloud and 60%. Either way the high is 78-80 degree, though I'd hope to be finished running before it got much above 70. At those temperatures I'm not sure that I shouldn't just hope for some rain. But I guess it doesn't matter what I wish for, because that would be 45-55 degrees, sunny, with just a light breeze. Marathon Gods listening? It's probably not too late to make that happen for Oklahoma City a week from today?!? A week from today I'll be mid-marathon!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Taper Crazy

First things first, my hip/leg no longer hurts. At all. Whew!

My last long-ish run was Saturday. I planned to do 13. I went to bed after 11, woke up at 3:30 and was at the lake by 4:30. It was SO humid and the air was just weird. In most spots there was no air movement but in others it was 20mph headwind. I would say most days it takes me 3 miles, if not 4, 5, or 6 to get into a run. It never happened on Saturday. I was dying for every single walk break. It was ugly. I quit at 9 miles. I was just done. More rest for me. My legs might be really rested come marathon day.

Physically I'm handling taper just fine. I have enough stuff to do that skipping workouts doesn't really pain me. But, mentally, I need those workouts. What's a girl to do on marathon taper but plan for what's next? I really need to drop back the running over the summer so I can come back to racing hard when it cools off in late fall. So, obviously I need to cross train. But I like competition. It's what drives me. So, I'll be competing in sprint triathlons this summer. First one is June 3rd.

I rode nearly 13 miles (on my piece of crap Wal-Mart, purchased on Craigslist mountain bike) with Alicia and Catherine on Friday. They kicked my butt, but we're nice and said the bike makes a world of difference. I came home and started looking for a road bike. That's an incredibly stressful process. My budget is not big, and road bikes are not cheap. I got some good education at one store, some really bad service at a few others, and some phone help from a friend of my dad. Right or wrong, I bought a bike today. She's sexy and so is the tri suit I tried on yesterday (totally tri suit girl, hated the separate tops and bottoms). I can't wait to go ride!!!

Combined, I worry about the swim, bike, run. But individually, I know I can bike 12 miles and run 3.1 miles. I have zero concept of the level of fitness or skill required to swim 500 meters. Until today. I hit the indoor pool at my gym. I wish I had video of it, so I could look back some great time from now and reminisce about how awful I was. I'm certain it wasn't pretty. And it was tough. I'll give my speeds because I don't even know comparatively how slow they are. I was doing 25 meters in 28-30 seconds. I did 50 meters the first few times before I thought I'd die. Then I went to 25 meters, 30 second recovery. And, repeat. I lost track of how many times I did it. I was in the pool for about 40 minutes, but that includes jacking around with turns a little. When I got out of the pool, I marched to the aquatics office to inquire about adult swim lessons. My one on one instructor should be lined up shortly.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Danger Zone

I recall feeling a little twinge in it around mile 10 on Saturday but no pain for sure during the last 7. No pain after the run on Saturday afternoon. Maybe it was Saturday night when it started getting my attention. It's my right hip. It hurts. My husband said I sounded like a drunk pleading with God that I'd never drink again, as I puked into the toilet. Except I was making promises that I'd take the whole summer off from running, just please let this not be an injury, especially not another stress fracture, and let me run this marathon. Please!

I'm icing, resting (it's taper anyway and I'll taper even more if it'll help), and I'm contemplating anti-inflammatory medications. If it still hurts on Friday I'll go to my Ortho doc.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Last Long Run

I can't believe I'm already at this point in marathon training. It seems like just yesterday I was writing my training schedule.

On Friday night I let the long run (21 miles planned) get into my head a little. I had a few aches and focused a little too much on whether I was hurt vs injured (as my husband puts it). I'm still tired from TIR last weekend and my quads/glutes have been sore all week. I usually love and look forward to the long run, so I tried to positive-think my way out of Negative Town.

I was up at 4:15 on Saturday morning, leaving myself enough time to pack an ice chest and 5 gallon cooler. I planned to run 6ish mile loops with Robin and worried that we would need more water so I took the water cooler to the turnaround point and locked it to a tree (I heard about a cooler being stolen from some friends while they ran a few weeks ago- so wrong!). Just after I arrived at the park to meet Robin, Fiona ran up. She joined us for a little over one loop. The first loop was good. Dark:30 since we started at 5am, but I wanted to get in as many miles as possible before the sun came up. My first Honey Stinger waffle went down easy, and I refilled my handheld bottle with water at the car.

I had trouble eating my waffle at the 2 hour mark, but got at least half of it down. With a couple miles to finish our second loop, I felt this awful stabbing pain in my belly. I tried walking, stretching, and stopping. Nothing helped. It was so bad for the last half mile back to the cars that I couldn't run and it made me feel sick. I knew there was no way I could eat to fuel another 7 miles, much less run them. I felt terrible for leaving Robin to finish the miles alone.

I sat in the car for a few minutes waiting to see if the pain let up but it didn't. I went home, showered, and crashed for a couple hours. When I woke up I felt pretty good so I ate some lunch and got dressed in fresh running clothes. I owed 7 miles. I used one handheld and dropped another behind a tree at the beginning of a trail by my house. It wasn't even boring because lots of people were out walking and running, but I did this short neighborhood trail 3 times. It's mostly shaded so for an 11:30am start, that was appreciated. I didn't have any pains while I ran and finished feeling like I could do more. I would have preferred to do all 21 together but mentally it was far better for me to finish strong than to grind out a death march all in the name of training... Even if I feel like there's an "*" beside my 21 miler. I've told others and I feel the same way about this run- we're bound to have a bad run every now and then. It's good that I got mine out of the way before marathon day.

So, this is it. Now it's this thing called taper. It's funny to listen to all of my marathoner friends give their opinion on taper mileage. It's all different. My weekly mileage is incredibly low for a marathon, but as I've said before, I think this is what works for my body. I'm tired, but not injured. I don't see that I'm going to lose any endurance over the next 2 weeks by tapering more and in the past, even if for only half marathons, I've done my best on very rested legs. So I think my weekly runs, bike session, and strength training will stay the same but my long runs will be cut quite a bit. I feel good about getting to the starting line healthy and rested over having an extra 10 miles during taper.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Texas Independence Relay 2012- Part 3

Lesley was first to run at 4am and ran Leg #26 at 5.03 miles.
Fiona ran Leg #27 at 6.41 miles.
Corina ran Leg #28 at 3.6 miles.
Dana ran Leg #29 at 2.3 miles.
I ran leg #30 at 5.59 miles.

My last leg started around 7am. I was really worried about this one because my stomach hadn't felt good since waking up at the hotel. I didn't feel like I could eat or drink anything, but managed to drink a bottle of water and eat a Honey Stinger waffle before my leg started. I've been eating really healthy and I think the McDonalds burger was just too much shock to my system. But in true runner form, as soon as I started running I felt better. This was my favorite leg. By then we were in Katy (I think) and it felt like running at home. I started out running through a neighborhood, then ended up on a paved trail through a park. A couple miles into the run, a girl came up behind me, asked my pace and if she could run with me. We chatted like old friends before introducing ourselves a couple miles later!
Part of the path was along a boardwalk
At the end of the leg, I handed off to Lesley who ran 6.79 miles in Leg #31. We couldn't follow her, and I fell asleep in the van. When she finished and van 1 took over, we went to breakfast where I had a chocolate chip bagel with cream cheese. I was starving by then and was tempted to get the bagel sandwich that Lesley ate even after I'd finished my bagel. After breakfast we went back to helping Van 1 leapfrog their runners. It was during this time that Corina and I killed a bag of mint M&Ms and some salt & pepper chips.

Our van was ready to take on the final 3 legs at about 2:30pm.
Dana started us out on Leg #38, which was 5.99 miles. She took a nasty fall on some bad sidewalks and skinned both palms as well as one knee. We quickly stopped the van and I hopped out with the first aid kit. Although Lesley had already run 5 legs with 26 or 27 miles for the weekend, she stepped up and continued running for our team. I cleaned Dana's wounds and did the best I could to bandage them. She wanted to keep running, but we convinced her to take a short break. Fiona took over the rest of the leg and I volunteered to run the final leg since Fiona was running then. We got Corina to the exchange point so she could run Leg #39 at 3.3 miles.
Protected a small blister I'd developed with pink argyle duct tape before I ran in my 5th leg
Pic courtesy of Corina/Mama C/CameraQueen
We were out of precious boob ice, so we made the fastest stop ever at a gas station to restock before getting back to Corina. Dana decided she wanted to run a mile or two of the final leg, so she started off Leg #40, which was 5.32 miles. She ran about 1.5 miles before handing it off to me. I ran alone for about a mile before Fiona jumped out to run with me. I was really hot after another mile and ready to get back in the van and let Fiona finish it out. She said she wouldn't be running as fast as we did together. What? I thought I was running her pace. She thought she was running my pace. It turns out we were both happy to quit with the 9ish pace in 90 degrees on a highway! We slowed the pace and I felt much better. We ran to the finish line and the rest of our team together.
Lesley bringing us more water and boob ice
We walked the epilogue (another .38 miles) together to the steps of the San Jacinto Monument where final pictures were taken and we received our medals.

Finisher's Photo at The San Jacinto Monument
Pic courtesy of Corina/Mama C/CameraQueen

Love the run. Love the bling.
Running TIR was an amazing experience. We ran across some beautiful parts of Texas. We missed meals. We missed sleep. But we worked as a team. We supported each other. I loved my vanmates. They are all strong runners and great women to call friends. I didn't get to spend much time with the other girls but I saw a lot of heart when I had the opportunity to give them water or ice on the side of the road and I look forward to running with these girls again.

*Once again, some pics courtesy of the talented Corina and here blog HERE

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Texas Independence Relay 2012- Part 2

Back row: Sharon, Lesley, Elaine, Fiona, Corina, me, Alicia, Dana
Bottom row:Amanda, and Elizabeth
picture borrowed from Corina (aka Mama C and CameraQueen)

Saturday began with a 4:30am wake up call so we could be downstairs at the vans by 5:00 and on the road by 5:15. The starting line was a 30 minute drive away and our team had a 6:10am start. The start was in the middle of the country on somebody's private property (read: dark, very dark). We had time for some group pictures before they shot the cannon and our team ran the prologue together.

The prologue was shortened to .38 miles due to recent rain
We started to pass another team that started a minute or two before us, but who was walking the prologue. Somebody (maybe race-affiliated) asked if we had sent our runner ahead and at that point I was told to go! I was assigned leg #1. We were supposed to wear our team shirts for pictures before and after the race and I really didn't want to sweat in it on my first leg and have to put it on again the next day, so I pulled the shirt over my head and handed it to a teammate before taking off.
The scanned map/directions for Leg #1
I was wearing a headlamp and had reviewed the directions for my leg, but unlike other race starts where you just have to follow the people ahead of you, I was on my own to go the right way. I had to run over a cattle guard to get off this private property, then I made a left turn onto a rock road. I stayed in the middle of the road when I could because the rocks were packed more tightly, but had to run on the shoulder when vans would pass. The rocks on the shoulder were really loose and I prayed I wouldn't twist my ankle in the first leg. At one point I heard dogs barking ahead. I didn't have any mace or anything with me, so I prayed they were behind a fence. They were. There were 2 girl teams who ran in pairs for the entire race. As I chicked them, they asked, "How are you doing this alone?" Nobody offered to hold my hand, they said, "RUN"! Toward the end of the leg I came to a low section of road with standing water that I'd been warned about ahead of time. I took 2 pairs of running shoes and wore my old pair for this leg, but decided to take them off and cross the ankle deep water in just my socks. When I got to the other side, I laced my shoes back up and kept on running. Leg 1, 3.62 miles DONE! I handed off to Dana and hopped in the van for my first of several baby wipe baths.
Just after finishing Leg #1 (between the hardcore sports bra and headlamp, it doesn't get much sexier)
Pic courtesy of Corina/Mama C/Camera Queen

Dana ran 3.85 miles for Leg #2.
Corina ran 4.08 miles for Leg #3 (pretty but ooh the big rolling hills)
Fiona ran 4.62 miles for Leg #4
Lesley ran 5.44 miles for Leg #5
Then it was time for me to run my 2nd leg of the day, Leg #6
There was a pretty good climb on the early part of this leg but I ended up taking the first mile at 5k pace. I started this leg around 10am, so the sun was up and it was starting to get hot. There was very little shade. About 2 miles of this leg were on a sand road. I really didn't like that, so I guess I'm not ever going to be a beach runner. Running uphill in the sand was difficult because I couldn't get any real traction to push off with. I ran out of water with about a mile to go, so after that we made sure to leapfrog our runners at every mile or half mile to be sure they had water. When I saw the exchange point tent I was so happy! All of my teammates from both vans were out and cheering for me.
Nice scenery!
Pic courtesy of Corina/Mama C/CameraQueen

Happy to see my teammates!

Thank you, God, this leg is over!
I handed off to Sharon from the other van and took my second baby wipe bath of the day. Leg #6 (my second of the day) done at 4.94 miles!

We headed into Flatonia for lunch and a brief break from the action. Lunch was amazing, the best meal of the weekend. Everytime we ate real food (instead of junk from the van) it was the best food ever. I then took a nap on the sidewalk while we waited for Alicia to arrive at the exchange point. Then we took turns leapfrogging the other van's runners at every half mile along the course. We'd take turns getting out of the van, crossing the 2 lane highway, and giving the runner cold water, wet towels, E caps, and boob ice. Boob ice saves lives. That afternoon we saw several ambulance respond to runners along the course. I bet they weren't using boob ice.

Our van took over around 5:15pm.
Lesley ran Leg #14 at 4.69 miles.
I ran Leg #15 at 4.13 miles.

Dana ran Leg #16 at 5.93 miles.
Fiona ran Leg #17 at 4.55 miles.
Corina ran Leg #18 at 6.32 miles.
Lesley ran Leg #19 at 5.5 miles.

By the time Lesley finished her last leg, it was about 10:40. Van 1 took over for the late night legs and we headed into town for a quick double cheeseburger at McDonalds, a shower, and a little less than 3 hours of sleep in a comfy bed. My alarm went off at 2:40am and we were downstairs by 3am to leave at 3:15.

Part 3 to follow tomorrow.
*Big thanks to Corina for sharing her pictures. Check out her blog HERE

Monday, April 2, 2012

Texas Independence Relay 2012- Part 1

I got home around midnight last night from a fun, but exhausting, 3 day weekend with my 10 Queens of the Road teammates. Our team captain, Libby, was unable to make the trip due to illness that struck the day before we left but she was with us in spirit every step of the way. Without her extensive effort in planning this weekend, we would not have had this experience. Though Libby was part of the team, only 10 of us ran the 203 glorious miles that comprised The Texas Independence Relay.

Background: The Texas Independence Relay is an overnight relay of 203 miles (divided into 40 legs of varying distances) from Paige, Texas (outside of Bastrop) to the San Jacinto Monument (outside of Houston).
Map of the relay route

We met at the airport at 10am on Friday to pick up our chariots for the weekend, 2 12 passenger vans. Van 1 consisted of Amanda, Sharon, Alicia, Elaine, and Elizabeth with Luis as their driver. Van 2 consisted of Dana, Corina, Lesley, Fiona, and me with Jon as our driver. We stopped in Waco for lunch at Rudy's before continuing on to our hotel. After checking in, we walked across the parking lot to WalMart for last minute supplies, including food and decorations for the vans. Our carts were loaded with necessities like mint m&ms, oreos, chips, Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper, pink argyle duct tape, and oh, water. After a few minutes of downtime in the rooms (I roomed with Fiona and Sharon that night), we headed out for dinner. When our first choice was packed with a one hour wait to seat our large group, we wound up eating at the restaurant nextdoor which had simple foods like grilled chicken sandwiches. We met back at the hotel to quickly decorate the vans before heading to packet pickup/the party.
Van 1 girls: Lesley, Fiona, me, Corina, and Dana (pic courtesy of Corina)

Quite a few teams wore matching team shirts to the party and several were in full out costumes. A few of us enjoyed a Lone Star beer at the party before heading back to the hotel to get ready for an early wakeup and our 6:10am start time the next day.
Race tee & socks, along with my bib (we each had our own bib but #262 belonged to the entire team)

Some pics are my own, the rest are borrowd from my awesome teammate Corina who has true talent with the camera and loves to take pics during her runs. Check out her blog HERE

Parts 2 and 3 to follow this week!