Tag Archives: marathoner

Eugene Marathon Training Week #4

Happy Monday folks, how’s your day off to so far?

Time for a little training update. My tail is between my legs a bit as I know my last post was last Monday…and it was also a training update, but it happens sometimes. Ironically, I have a drafted post about how I haven’t been posting/haven’t had time/haven’t had inspiration, but of course, it remains a draft.

No matter, I think you’d rather read about running than my boring musings about not posting anyways.

This week was good. Kind of weird, as in it felt both very easy and very hard, but overall it was pretty quintessential marathon training.

M: 6.6 miles easy PM

T: 10 miles with 5 @ HMGP

This was hard. One of those workouts where I questioned how the f I was able to run 7:30s for 13.1 miles not too long ago. But either way, it happened and here’s how it went down:

2.5 mile warm up

7:27, 7:25, 7:27, 7:26, 7:23

2.5 mile cool down

This kicked my butt, but it was one of those runs where I could almost feel how effective the fast miles were going to be. Good stuff. Learning to appreciate the pain…and appreciate when it’s done 🙂

W: 8 miles + Maximum Sculpt <— love love love this class

T: REST

F: 6.6 miles slow

S: 20 miles in ~2:42

S: 4000 yd swim (~2.2 miles) + yoga

Total= 51.2 miles

Lots of numbers up there to talk about. First of all, I had my first 20 miler on Saturday, and for better or for worse—it was a tough run. Based on the route I chose, I ended up with about 14 miles of headwind—which is perhaps my least desirable condition, especially on a long run. Give me snow storms and pouring rain, but please oh please spare me the wind. Thank goodness for no goal-pace miles. BUT, I firmly believe that it’s the really grinders, the mentally-challenging runs that make the marathoner. 26.2 miles hurts no matter what—so it’s better to train with a little pain sometimes as opposed to simply fairy-dusting our way through each long run. So, once I again, I embraced it. And despite the slug-fest feeling of it all, I finished in a pretty good time. My right leg was super tight/heavy, which I felt was holding me back, but apparently it was more of a brain thing.

Another number to discuss: 50! I broke that barrier this week, and while I could feel the mileage increase, I have to say I’m a little shocked at my recovery times and how much they’re decreasing. I was barely sore after Saturday’s run, and on Sunday my legs felt as if it hadn’t even happened. Really happy about this. It could be that it’s my 4th time doing a full training cycle, or a myriad of other cosmic possibilities I suppose, but at any rate I think I’ll just keep doing what I’m going.

Admittedly, the big 5-0 number is when I start to get hyper-aware of injury possibility. The higher mileage weeks have always been the common denominator for me in terms of when I get hurt, so honestly I have been experiencing a little injury-hypochondria. Better paranoid  safe than sorry though. Again, I’m going to just continue to do what I’m doing and listen to the little aches and such as they come and go.

Oh, and in case you’d like an update…PSJJ is still happening! We’re into the 60s now, and it’s rough. But not rough enough to quit yet. The push-ups are getting easier, which is nice, but the sit-ups are getting tougher. We’ll see.

One last thing I’d like to point to: Yoga! I haven’t been to yoga since probably last October or so, and while I always kind of dread going, I forget how happy I am when I’m done. It’s hard to psych myself up for a yoga class the same way I can psych myself up for a run, but, like running, I’m always thankful after the fact. And let me tell you, there are much worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than a long solo swim followed by an easy yoga class. So rejuvenating and cleansing.

Anyway, this week is cutback week—which feels like perfect timing. Not only will I be out of town (!!!HAWAII!!!), but it feels like the perfect point in time to draw in the reigns a bit.

That’s all for now, I hope at some point I can entertain you with more than just training-reflections and weekly updates 🙂 You can, however, count on an assortment of photos from our Maui trip after we return—as for when we’re there, well, I am hoping to forego all social media as much as possible, so until next week—aloha!

How was your weekend? 

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Chicago, the rest of it.

It was a whirlwind trip to Chicago, and before we were even halfway through it—I told BF that I wished we had an extra day.

I don’t know if it’s that I didn’t know enough about Chicago, or I was simply distracted by the whole marathon thing, but I truly underestimated the magnitude of this city.

Hello Chicago!

It is HUGE. Next to New York, I don’t think I’ve ever been so amazed by the size of a city. The juxtaposition with the crystal blue Lake Michigan was such a sight to be seen as well, and I fell pretty hard for this city. (I know, I know…the city-by-the-water thing shouldn’t get me so giddy any more, but I still can’t get enough.)

unrelated Friday night airport bar photo..

We arrived LATE Friday night, and after a little sleeping in, a 2.5 mile treadmill run, and a trip to the complimentary breakfast, we were off on the Blue line of the “L” headed toward downtown.

Ever since I studied abroad in Europe, I have a very deep affection for efficient and accessible public transportation—and Chicago was definitely not lacking in this regard. It was so easy to navigate our way around, and I can imagine you wouldn’t even need a car if you lived in the city.

Once in the city, we dropped our bags off at a friend’s apartment, and we jetted to the expo. I’m not going to do this expo justice in words or photos, but just take my word for it when I say that it was enormous. They held it in the convention center, and they used up every last space available. Hundreds (yes, hundreds) of booths were set amongst the packet pick-up areas, and you definitely needed a map to quickly find anything.

Other than a few samples we grabbed along the way, there were only two booths I wanted to visit: Runner’s World and Girls on the Run. And look who I found at the RW booth…

Hal Higdon! This meant so very little to most people I tell, but most runners I know have at least heard this guy’s name. He was much friendlier than he appears in the photo as well.

They also had food everywhere, music, shoe testing, etc. It was a party. Although it would have been fun to hang out more, I wasn’t really in the business of staying on my feet for too long—plus we had more of Chicago to see!

With not a ton of time left between the expo and dinner, we decided to head up the Hancock Center. The building has 94 floors, and unlike the Sears tower—it’s free! The views at the top were unreal, and it helped us get a sense of just how huge Chicago really is.

View from floor 94.

Looking out at Lake Michigan.

As I said in the last post, BF made me dinner as opposed to going out. It was simpler, cheaper, and given the amount of carb-hungry runners flooding Chicago restaurants that night—I’m glad we avoided the crowds.

On Sunday, I decided to jog around the city to explore a bit. After 26.2 miles, I figured I ought to include BF in all my sight-seeing, and we went to the infamous Chicago Cloud Gate. I actually knew it was “the bean thing,” but I guess that’s not accurate.

This was the only tourist attraction I actually knew about before coming to Chicago, and I have to say it was pretty dang cool. I was also riding a marathon high and chowing on donut holes, so that helped with the “omg so impressive!” factor.

Where’s Waldo (RB/BF)?

Reflection photo! I told BF he wore the least obvious marathon spectating outfit in the word. He agreed. He also didn’t take up my offer of an enormous pink shirt. Rude.

BF told me I smelled, so I decided to shower before we ventured out to see more things. We had a bit of a time crunch before we had to get back on the train to head to the airport, so we narrowed our exploration down to two things: the Navy Pier and pizza. I really wanted to go on the architectural boat tour, but there wasn’t time—and admittedly I cared more about cheese and crust than pretty buildings.

The Navy Pier was definitely cool, and I loved being close to the lake and seeing all the different boats. Because the pier juts out so far into the lake, we were able to see a lot of the skyline.

Stop your showing off Chicago, you’re making everywhere else look bad.

 

Now comes to only disappointment from the trip…

So, we had just enough time to get to our chosen deep dish joint, eat, go back and get our things, and head to the airport. As we sat down at the restaurant (Ginos East of Chicago), and we ordered our delicious deep dish selection…our waitress informed us that the deep dish took SEVENTY-FIVE minutes to make, so we might want an appetizer. We didn’t have 75 minutes, and so we mournfully opted for the regular thin crust instead.

boring

I realize to a normal human this is a very first world problem…but for two people who were intent on Chicago pizza (one of whom just ran a marathon), this was equivalent to a small pet dying. Sure, thin crust was fine…but this was definitely a disappointment. Don’t worry, I still ate more than half.

Delicious 312 beer helped *a little*.

However, the good thing about missing things while visiting a popular destination is that it gives you a reason to go back. Chicago is definitely a city I’d love to see more of, and I’m very keen on visiting again.

By the time we got to the airport and were waiting for our flight…I was beyond spent. Two nights of little sleep in a row, plus a marathon, plus lots of travelling= a very, very sleepy bird. I can’t sleep on planes too well either, so needless to say after a FOUR hour plane flight home, I was ready for some horizontal time.

Note to self: when travelling for a marathon, don’t be a hero and take the next day off work.

The travel exhaustion, however, was insignificant compared to how great the rest of the trip was.

You put on a good show Windy City, thanks for being awesome.

In a non-related but kind-of-related sidenote, I am almost  pain and soreness free today from the race on Sunday. It’s kind of a miracle, and I credit it to all the walking necessary afterward. That—and all the rest I allowed/am allowing myself before and after the marathon. I also have zero blisters, very little chafing, and all my toenails in tact. Little victories…I accept them all.

However, the combination of little sleep and the marathon has resulted in a fairly heavy cold I’m currently sporting. But, I’ll take a sore throat and headache  if it means I get a race like Sunday’s any day. Does that make sense? I’m sick, don’t judge.

I might try running today, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week…who knows. Right now, I’m soaking in some bonafied laziness right now. On Monday, instead of a “shake out swim” or “shake out walk” I decided a “shake out grilled cheese and chocolate” was a much better idea. That theme continues through today…and I could care less.

Have you been to Chicago? What did you love most about it? Would you have been as sad about the pizza as we were? Do you think I overreacted? Mom, you don’t get to answer the last question…

Chicago Marathon Race Recap

Yesterday was a very, very good day.

If you want the quick-and-dirty version of how I fared in the Chicago Marathon, you can scan to the bottom. If you’re interested in the full race recap, read on! Spoiler: it’s full of happiness and run love—and a little bit of past and present tense confusion. Forgive me.

Those of you who’ve been following me know that I was nervous with a capital N about this race. To briefly recap those of you who haven’t had to listen to my whining for the past month, this is how I went into the race:

1 month ago, my ankle blew up in a horrible case of tendonitis, and I couldn’t walk without a limp let alone run at all. 2 doctors visits, lots of icing, and positive thinking later— I could sort-of, kind-of run again. This was a mere 2 weeks out from the race, and it wasn’t without irritation, but it was running. Another two weeks of a little running (12 miles being the furthest) and continuing to rest my angry ankle, and I decided I would try and bust out a marathon. Flights had been booked, plans had been made, yada yada yada yada (Seinfeld?), so I figured…let’s go for it.

Mind you…my last 20-mile run was on August 25, and that 12 mile run mentioned above was not easy.

{I am not sharing these facts for any sympathy votes or to throw myself a pity party…I just feel they’re essential to detailing both how I approached this race and how I felt about the end results. Take ’em or leave ’em.}

I lowered my expectations for this marathon. I planned a conservative pacing strategy, and I went into it knowing that a) I would probably be in pain at some point, b) I wouldn’t be very fast, and c) I could end up re-injured.

My best case scenario was finishing without too much ankle pain. I wasn’t looking for speed, I was merely looking for a finish line crossing.

And what did I get?

One of the most fun races of my life—and what I believe was the most well-executed running I’ve ever done.

Enough Tarantino, let’s go back to the beginning…

Saturday night, after some Chicago exploring, my feet were up, my compression socks were on, and BF was making me a perfect carb-heavy dinner. I wasn’t feeling the same nerves I’d been grappling with all week. I felt ready—a little anxious—but mainly content with that fact that all I could do was my best. Without any high goals or expectations, I knew all I could do was run smart and hope for the best—and as someone who is always so numbers-oriented, this was a pretty relieving approach.

Nevertheless, my sleeping was not ideal Saturday night, but that’s to be expected.

At my 5:00 am alarm, though, it was game time. A face wash, gear check, and banana later—we were on our way to the start line. The nice thing about Chicago was all the accessible public transportation—the trains made all the coming and going much simpler!

Let’s go run a marathon!

Girls on the Run did such a wonderful job with a pre-and-post race set up. We had a warm place to hang out, food, real bathrooms, easy gear storage, and PT masseuses! Fancy stuff. I felt very lucky/grateful.

I would appreciate this set up at every race from now on. Please and thank you.

7:00 am rolled around, and it was time to jet to the start line. There were so many people doing this race. Of course I knew this ahead of time, but you can never really know what a single event for 40,000 people looks like until you’re there. It was quite the production, and the Chicago Marathon volunteers/staff had the whole thing down to a science. Despite the crowds, it was largely controlled chaos and really just felt like a huge party. I tried my best to stay calm, soak it in, and appreciate the fact that I was part of such a spectacular event. The announcer told us that 114 different countries were represented amongst the participants, as well as ALL 50 states. Amazing.

Pre-corral entrance, a good luck send off.

The gun went off, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” played over the speakers, and we were running! It took me about 4 minutes post-gun time to actually cross the start line, but it didn’t matter—I was so hopped up on running-gratitude and adrenaline that I didn’t feel any urge to push or weave.

I also started this race without my music playing—which was both abnormal and intentional. I wanted to be able to enjoy the crowds which I’d heard so much about—and I figured that starting my music later on might give me a helpful jolt of energy when I’d need it. This would end up being a very, very good strategy.

We were off—cruising through the beautiful streets of Chicago. There are so many different buildings, businesses, and general attractions to see around that city, and it was easy to be distracted (in a good way) by it all.

And the people! Right off the bat, there were crowds at least 3-people-deep lining the course, all of whom were so encouraging, happy, and motivating. There were some hilarious posters as well—my favorites being, “You’re definitely NOT going to win” and “Remember, Liam Neeson is proud of you!”

The first 5 or so miles went all through down town, and I felt great. My plan going into it was to stick around an 8:40-8:45 min/mile for the first half, and then reassess depending on how I felt. However, due to a massive Garmin fail about 1.2 miles into the race—my pacing was based solely on my stopwatch function and some mental math skills.

Because of the clouds and the tall buildings, my satellite was more off than on, and when I did have a signal, my watch’s pacing was definitely not accurate. So, I was able to distract myself a lot with a good deal of addition, memorization, and division.

And in the end, I’m actually very thankful for the Garmin mishap. Not only was I distracted by my need to configure my own pacing, but I wasn’t obsessively checking my watch. I would say I ran 80% of the pace solely by feel, and in the end this would result in a great overall strategy. If I felt slow, I picked it up, if I felt fast, I pulled back. Back to basics—it was refreshing.

However, I did want to make sure I stuck to my slower-first-half plan, and so I was trying my hardest to get to each mile marker based on my self-calculated 8:40 pace plan. Looking back on the results, I think I did a fair job sticking to this. I felt great through the 10 mile mark, and it was around this point that I started to get wary about my ankle.

Teal hat on the left, photo courtesy of BF.

I knew that I could make it to the halfway point or so without too much worry about my ankle—but after that, it was pretty up in the air as to what would happen.

The pain I’d been experiencing beforehand with my injury would come on without warning, really quickly, and so there were a number of times from miles 10-15 where I was paying a lot of attention to how it was feeling. There wasn’t much sign of anything too threatening, though, and eventually I was able to stop thinking too much about it.

I couldn’t believe how quickly the halfway point came. It felt like I’d just started running—and feeling good at this point was really encouraging in terms of how I felt I would bode for the rest of the race.

I was constantly analyzing both my energy levels and my form—and I think this “checking in” was good for my pacing and my motivation. With both a lot of energy left and a completely pain-free ankle at the 13.1 mark…my fears of needing to drop out were slowly diminishing.

The miles continued to tick by—just the way you would hope they would in a race. The crowds also continued to be huge, loud, and just fantastic. I slapped hands with so many strangers, took oranges offered by various folks, and smiled at most everyone I saw. I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face, and the further I ran, it seemed the better I felt.

Looking back, I think I felt the best from miles 13-19. My pace felt steady, my energy felt strong, and I couldn’t believe how good my legs felt given my huge lapse in training. I consciously didn’t let the fear of missed training keep me from enjoying the running and instead I credited the resting I’d allowed myself and the taper plan I followed. No questioning….just running.

I thought that at some point the course would enter a no-man’s-land of sorts, as most marathons tend to do. But there was never really any point of the run that felt deserted. There were always people spectating, and generally there was always something interesting to see. There were bands, DJs, huge video monitors, funny signs, and generally a good atmosphere throughout the course—and I never felt that there was a point where we were forced to look down and grind on.

And as an added bonus, I saw BF 3 different times! He was able to make it to miles 4, 11, 21, and the finish (I couldn’t see him at the end) and I loved being able to see him along the way. I also loved the Swedish fish he gave me at mile 11…

I didn’t ever consciously think to pick it up in terms of speed. However, after looking through my results it seems as if miles 15-21 ish were where I ran the fastest. My 35k (mile 21.7) clocked in at an 8:18 min/mile, which is much better than I could have expected, particularly considering I still felt good at this point.

Around the 22 mark, though, I was feeling the fatigue I knew would come. It was mainly just tired legs, nothing too brutal, and considering that I only had 4.2 miles to go, I wasn’t too daunted by it. An expected soreness really.

At this point, I was breaking the race down into small portions. At mile 23, I tried to think, “Okay, just a 5k to go,” and then at mile 24, “Just a little 2.2 miler—just like you did yesterday.” Admittedly, knowing that I could run 10 minute miles to the end and still tie my PR was definitely encouraging.

I was hurting at this point, but not horribly. It felt like the kind of pain you expect from a marathon, and it was primarily my legs and not my energy. Endurance wise, I still felt good, and it was more of a mental battle with my quads than anything else.

Chicago did a fantastic job with making the finishing miles just what you’d want them to be. There were signs for 1 mile to go, 800 m to go, 400 m, 300 m, and 200 m…all leading to the finale of an enormous finish line lined with stands of cheering crowds. Unreal amounts of cheering, cameras, and crowds…it was amazing.

Part of the final 400 meters or so was quite uphill (the only uphill during the whole race!) so that wasn’t too spectacular—but as soon as I rounded the corner and saw the huge “FINISH” ahead of me, I was elated.

I’d done it. No ankle pain, no dropping out, and no collapsing before the finish line.

And somehow, to cap it all off, I crossed the finish line at 3:42:10—a 2 minute PR.

I felt so incredibly redemptive from my Tacoma finish, and I felt so over-the-top in love with the marathon distance—again. It did feel great to stop, and as I slow-trudged down the recovery area along with all the other tired runners, I had a 26.2 mile-wide smile on my face—I couldn’t believe how well the race went.

Here are some of the more official results:

I was surprised to see that my speed progressed throughout the race. While I was trying my best to keep track using my stopwatch/mental math method—my brain became a little too fuzzy to keep up this kind of stats work. I’d say the last 10 miles were run solely on feel, and I’m really pleased with just how well that ended up working.

Here are some more numbers:

If you’re wondering, there were 1614 women in my age group and 16,767 women overall.

After slowly finding my way back to the high school, I met up with BF, thanked the Girls on the Run ladies, and got a good stretch done by one of their PT volunteers. Lesson learned: a good amount of walking + a quality stretch post-marathon yields far less sore legs.

Very happy girl.

I loved this race. I loved the course, I loved the crowds, and I loved the way I felt the whole time. It was the perfect combination of happy running and well-earned pain, which always results in the most satisfying kind of runs. The PR was truly just the icing on top of what was already such a memorable race, and I was mostly just thankful for finishing and finishing without an injury relapse. Afterwards, my ankle felt as good as when I woke up in the morning…and with the exception of some tight quads and IT bands, my legs feel pretty darn good today.

Coffee and chocolate donut holes…post marathon perfection.

I so appreciate all the support both before and after from all of you. Knowing there were people tracking my times made each timing strip crossing all the more encouraging, and I cannot thank everyone enough.

I loved Chicago, I loved this race, and I love that I’ve become reacquainted with the magic of the marathon.

Congratulations to EVERYONE who raced this weekend! I hope you all are resting well and soaking in the post-race glory. Thanks to everyone for the texts, tweets, tracks, emails, and phone calls—your support means so very much to me. Thanks to Eminem and the cast of Wicked for getting me through those last few miles. And a special thanks to both Girls on the Run and those who donated to my fundraising efforts—I would not have been able to run this race without you.

Alright, done with my Oscar speech. If you’ve made it this far—bless you.

And let it be known…Boston, next time, you are mine.

Did you race this weekend? Next weekend? Have you run Chicago? Results? Opinions? Pizza?

My Brain on Marathon

These past few days there have been two things going through my head:

Holy shit, I’m running a marathon this weekend.

And

Holy shit, I need to blog about all my feelings.

Okay…there have been 5,000 other thoughts going on as well, but stick with me.

Somehow, I couldn’t seem to get these two very complimentary thoughts to mesh together in beautiful, therapeutic symmetry.

I mean come on—don’t all running bloggers blog 2x per day, every day, during the last two weeks of taper before a marathon?

We have so many nerves, ideas, and circumstances floating through our heads…and all we want to do is talk to other runners about them all.

So why haven’t I been spilling my guts out incessantly and instead just been flitting over the surface in regard to my upcoming 26.2 attempt?

Honestly, I don’t know.

I am thinking about the race nonstop. I already have pre-race butterflies in my stomach. I am in a constant back-and-forth battle between being excited and optimistic and being so nervous I want to hide under my desk.

Essentially, there are so many thoughts going through my little taper-brain that I’ve had a hard time coming up with anything coherent or sensible to write about. I know, I know…a lot of my blog posts are of the word-vomit variety already. However, when it’s been coming time to put my fingers to the keyboard to describe how I’m feeling about this race, my brain spirals into chaos—and I can barely sit still—let alone write a post.

With that said, I’m not here to offer up any constructive or solid “feelings” or “plans” or whatever it is you’re supposed to have the week before a marathon. I am here, however, to attempt to let loose some steam—and to hopefully give a little insight into how you truly never know what to expect in so very much of life.

It’s hard for me to differentiate my nerves between regular, expected pre-marathon jitters, and legitimate concerns about my current condition. Sometimes, I’m imagining it as just any other marathon—other times, I’m thinking of it as a death march on out-of-shape legs and a floppy, swollen ankle. I’m trying to land somewhere in the middle of these two outlooks—balancing the ordinary nervousness with the warranted exceptional circumstance I’ll be running the race in.

Of course, marathon brain is far from balanced and sensible, so despite my best efforts so just chill and play with the cards I’ve been dealt…it’s been a process to actually internalize that mindset.

Recently, it’s been going more like this:

“I’m going to have the best time! I might have some pain later on, but as long as I go easy, soak in the sights, and let the race adrenaline work its magic..I’ll be fine! I love running! I love marathons! This will be great!”

…two minutes later:

“I’m going to die. I’m going to be exhausted after one mile, my legs are going to cramp, and even if I make it pretty far, I’m going to have to bail and get off the course. Then I’m going to cry. Even if I make it, I’m going to be walking, puking, and/or crying until the finish line.”

Once again, I’m trying to rationalize that I’ll probably land somewhere in the middle.

I’m also trying to remind myself about just how mental running is. Because in my opinion, and in the opinions of many, many great runners out there who are far more qualified to make claims than me, running is primarily mental. Certainly, it takes endurance and strength to run a marathon—no doubt about it. But ultimately, the thing that keeps our feet moving and our will to finish alive is our attitude.

Now, I learned back in T-town that I definitely have a good deal of mental strength. This time around, I’m going to try and channel that mental strength into being present in the moment and savouring the fact that I am able to run a marathon. Let me also just clarify that while what happened in Tacoma is high on my fear list, I no longer want to rehash that race—and I now know that there is a difference between pushing it and pushing it too far.

With that said, I will not be trying to BQ, PR, or anything of that sort during this race. While those types of goals are often high on my list and they encourage me to keep moving, they are also the kind of goals that could disable me from finishing. Due to my current circumstance with my ankle and my training glitches, the only goals I have for this race are to a) finish and b) negative split. I don’t want to negative split to ensure a particular time; I just know that I am going to need reserved energy for the second half. My pacing intentions will be solely for the purpose of staying consistent and staying safe.

I am planning to run by feel, which is a good theme for how I’ve handled these past few weeks of “training.” All of my decisions about when to run, when to rest, and if I was going to do the race haven’t been based on a pre-determined schedule, but solely on how I feel. That’s how I’m planning to run this race. I have paces in mind that I know I will be able to hold for a long time, and although they are many, many seconds slower than I originally planned on running this race—they are what will help get me to the finish line.

So for right now, I trying to channel my energy into focusing on a few things.

The first is positive self talk. I am always such a huge proponent of mantras and self confidence when it comes to encouraging other people along, but I’m not so good at practicing what I preach. I do believe that positive thinking and visualization can make a world of difference in performance—and so excuse me while I act super cocky and conceited for the next 72 hours.

The second thing I’m trying to focus on is what my intention was behind doing this race in the first place. When I first registered, I knew I wanted to take this race less seriously than I had for many before. Marathon training had become less fun and too stressful, and this time around I wanted to enjoy the running for what it was instead of focus solely on numbers. Admittedly, I slipped away from this a bit when I started seeing my times get faster, but now that I’m kind of forced to run the race easier than planned—my original intention has come back into focus.

In addition to my goal of having fun with training for this race, I also wanted to focus on doing something more than just my own, petty “look at me and how much I run” approach. I chose to fund-raise and run on behalf of Girls on the Run because they are an organization that I believe advocates all the best things about running. Girls on the Run gets down to the grass roots of the pure joy, confidence, and enthusiasm that running can instill, and this was a message I wanted to both advocate to others and internalize for myself.

No matter what happens—I’ve raised a lot of money and promoted a group whose cause resonates with so many of the reasons I love to run. And for that, I’m proud and humbled to run on behalf of them.

I suppose there are actually a lot of advantages to running a marathon that isn’t a goal race. And despite my uber-competitive mind trying with all its might to both “be a hero” and finish with an impressive time—for now, she’s going to need to shut up. This is a really good opportunity for me to tune into the part of running that isn’t competitive—the part that isn’t tangible, or “qualifying,” or up to some standard.

I’m going to run because I love it, and no matter what happens—Sunday is just one more day I get to run. In the second biggest marathon in the world— no less. If nothing else, I want to finish how ever many miles I run knowing that I ran smart and I ran happy. Anything else (finishing, a decent time, etc.) will just be gravy.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for listening to me spill my very-full brain. These are the times I’m so happy I have a blog, both as a way for me to get out my thoughts and a way to communicate with runners who’ve experienced all the same things. Writing everything down has always helped relax me—and I’m already feeling more excited for Sunday.

I’ll have a post tomorrow with a few more specifics as to strategy, logistics, etc. I’ll also post a link to how you can follow me during the race! We’re getting closer and closer…and my window of complex carb consumption/hydrating/foam rolling is here.

Bring it on, baby.

Tacoma Marathon Race Recap

I’m not entirely sure if I’ve had the time to fully process the outcome of this race, and in fact I think it may take a few days for it all to sink in. I can say, though, that this race was without question one of the most exhausting, humbling, and all-around intense experiences I have ever had. It is probably safe to say, as well, that this race was perhaps the most memorable—for better or for worse—that I’ll ever go through.

I’m going to start with the end (Tarantino style), just to set the stage for what the race resulted in, and then I’ll back-track with more details of how everything set up.

The good news about this race: I PR’ed, and I finished.

The bad news: I was carried across the finish line (and over the last .3 miles), and I spent an hour afterward in the medical tent being treated for severe heat stroke.

Rewind, rewind, rewind…

Leave you hanging much? Well, prepare for a lengthy race report…and I promise to flesh out the details that resulted in the most physically grueling experience I’ve ever been through.

Let’s start at the beginning of it all.

Not a detail missed. I was really feeling psyched for this race. I was nervous, obviously, but really I was just ready to see what I could do. I knew my training was right on with where I wanted it to be, I knew my taper was smart, and I certainly knew my carbo-loading went perfectly. I was ready to run.

It’s 5:30 am! It’s race day! Let’s run a marathon!

The race was quite small, but still well-run and organized. I managed to see most of the people I knew beforehand, which was very comforting and helped get me excited. My sister had come down for the race, and she managed to capture some corral pictures right before the gun went off.

PSYCHED!

Ready to run! (These photos seem so ironic right now…)

My strategy was to stick with the 3:40 pacer until the halfway point, and then try and chase down 3:35 if I was feeling up for it. The 3:40 pacer, as you might be able to tell from the above photo, had a ridiculously fantastic mustache, and I knew we were going to get along from the very start.

My sister was also able to capture this video right before the gun went off. I admit, I hate videos of myself, but I figured it’s a good way to get a glimpse into the beginning of race excitement:

And off we went! The weather was a perfect 45 degrees, slightly overcast, and ideal for racing conditions. The first few miles felt great, and although I could tell we were going a bit quicker than 3:40, I figured we’d settle into a proper pace before too long. The first 5 or so miles wound through Tacoma neighborhoods, and I really enjoyed seeing some of my old token running spots along the route. My legs felt springy, my knee didn’t hurt at all (which was perhaps my biggest worry), and I was feeling very comfortable with the 8:15 or so pace we were averaging.

At this point, I will admit, I was already a bit hesitant about our slightly faster speed. I knew that miles 10-22 were the hilly parts, and I wanted to save my strength for that, so I did fall a bit behind the group for a bit. I was trying very hard to run my own pace, as opposed to following the pacer, however we seemed to be right on par with one another, so this approach seemed do-able.

I hate to say that it was really only the first 10 miles that I can say I felt “good.” I started to feel tired much earlier than I expected, and than I knew I was in shape for, and I credited this to the hills, the humidity, and the speed. I didn’t feel too bad, but I knew that the way I was feeling around miles 12-16 was not how I should be feeling. I was staying more hydrated than normal, wary of the humidity and the exertion, and I was taking in a bit more fuel than normal as well.

At mile 16, my sister ran a bit with me, handed me a caffeine energy gel pack, and gave me a bit of encouragment. It was great to see her, but (as I told her) I was not feeling the way I knew I should have at that point.

moral support from CB

mile 16, on a hill, SHOCKING.

Between miles 16-19, I purposefully fell behind the 3:40 pacer. I wasn’t trusting his timing (which, rightfully so, because we were about 3 minutes ahead), and I trudged on myself. I was hoping that somehow the hills, which plagued nearly every mile since mile 11, would somehow let up a bit…but alas, they never really stopped. I was prepared for this, certainly, and I can’t necessarily say that they were worse than I expected—but I had never really had the experience of running that fast, for that long, with so many hills.

I was trying desperately to relax, to let the music energize me, and to remember that I was in sight of a BQ. Because I was…and I forced myself to focus on this goal. If I let myself wander away from that thought, all I would be thinking about was stopping—because that’s all I really wanted to do. Every so often, I would get a mini surge of energy—normally due to a quick gulp of my gel pack or a brief slowing at a water station—but truthfully my body was done around mile 20. My mind, however, was relentless, and despite my nausea, my aching legs, and my fuzzy brain, I maintained my speed and kept going.

And you know what else kept going? The hills. Despite all my mental and physical preparation for the hill factor in this race, they really seemed to be the biggest physical representation of my mental state over the last 10k. I muttered more curse words than I care to admit every single time I saw another upward slope ahead of me, and despite every molecule screaming inside of me to “STOP!” I kept going. I tried desperately to maintain the thought that I was well within sight of a BQ, however that thought—despite how bad I wanted it and how hard I had worked—was being completely eclipsed by my desire for it to be over.

On top of this battle, as well, I was so frustrated. I kept thinking, “This is not how I felt during my first marathon, why does it feel so hard now?” and I was mad at myself. I started cursing my failed race strategy, my ill-hill preparation, and my overly zealous attempt to make this race—one that I KNEW was a hard course—my try at a BQ.

I kept going though, fast, and at this point I was about 1 minute away from the 3:35 pacer (BQ time for women.) Based on my own timing, I knew that I had about 28 minutes to run the last 5k—a task that would be a piece of cake on any other day. I tried to remember that I knew I could do it, that the ultimate, ideal goal of a BQ was still within my sight—despite my body rejecting every bit of mental encouragement.

However, my body’s desire for the race to be over had finally surpassed my desire to BQ, and it would offer no waves, surges, or even glimpses of energy. It was done. My brain, however, was still on a mission. I was very back and forth between these two conflicting feelings. I think at this point, my brain had overtaken my body’s desire to stop, and I was running solely on the dream of completing the goal. All I could focus on were the mile markers, because all I wanted was for it to be over—and of course, the mile markers…22, 23, 24 were going by slower than any other race I’ve ever been in. At mile 24, my vision was getting a bit distorted, and all I wanted to do was close my eyes. I felt so tired that I was overwhelmed with a feeling of wanting to sleep. In fact, I think I did close my eyes for a few paces in there. Truthfully, I’m having a hard time actually remembering things after mile 22.

When I saw mile 25, I felt the smallest morsel of encouraging energy—my first since way back in the middle of the race. I knew if I just kept going, just a little bit further, I would be done and I would be under 3:35. I had never been so overwhelmed with the desire to be done with something than I was at this point—which was frustrating. I know how to push through pain, I should be so excited…I’m about to qualify for Boston, mind over matter…these were the only thoughts I could use to make my body keep going.

I rounded the final corner of mile 25, and I spotted both the mile 26 marker and the finish line. At this point though, my desperate running was only focused on finishing. I wanted nothing more than to be done—this desire had officially overwhelmed both my body and my brain, and although I was still within reach of a 3:35 finish time, all I could attempt to do was finish.

I was hunched over at this point, the picture of physical exhaustion, and all at once, just before I crossed the mile 26 marker, I collapsed.

My legs had given out and they crumpled beneath me. I tried desperately to get up, over and over, but I couldn’t even get halfway up without completely falling over again. In my head I thought, “No, no…not now, not when I’m so close!” but I was also in a panic for help. There weren’t too many runners around me, and I was just far enough away from the finish that there weren’t any spectators or volunteers near me. My brain was so warped and my body was so overheated that I could barely managed to look around, let alone call out for help. All at once, though, two half-marathon finishers stopped their race and offered to help. I pleaded for them to go on and finish their races, but instead they so graciously took me on either side of them and carried me.

I am a bit fuzzy on the memories of exactly how everything afterward went. I remember the woman who picked me up feeding me a chocolate GU, which I definitely did not want, but she insisted (understandably…since I was so decrepit at that point) and I remember insisting that they let me walk over the finish line myself. They had to essentially carry me, since I was unable to put any weight on my legs, and eventually a few volunteers caught wind of what was going on and ran over to help out.

From the sidelines (where Corey, BF, and my friend Kawika were standing), they saw that the Medical Director had been alerted that someone needed attention. As soon as they saw it was me, BF jumped over the barrier, and ran over to me as well (a miraculous feat, given he had incredibly tired half-marathon legs himself). Unfortunately, I actually don’t remember this—but apparently I was very gracious, insistent upon crossing the finish line myself, and  I said it was okay to take pictures (hey, perhaps my good humor doesn’t entirely disappear when my physical capabilities do). With hoards of people around me as we got to the finish line, they let me down to walk about three steps over the actual line, and I was immediately picked up by the Medical Director and taken to the medical tent.

The next several minutes are a big blur, but I remember a lot of doctors around me, while I was laying on a table, taking my vitals, putting an IV in me, and asking me questions. I wasn’t really able to talk, so they were mainly talking to me, telling me I would be okay and instructing me on what they needed to do. They took my temperature (rectally, which was awesome…except that I didn’t really care at the time) and my temperature was at 105.

At this point, I regained some consciousness, and I was very scared. I repeatedly asked them if I was going to be okay, and they assured me I would, but I needed to be cooled down immediately. They lifted me, very gingerly since my muscles were cramping so badly, and completely immersed me in a huge ice bath. I regained a lot of sensation at this point, and the ice bath felt so amazingly good. They covered every part of me with ice, ensuring I would cool down, and they started asking me questions to gauge my mental state. I was able to answer all their questions coherently (for which I was proud of myself) and they let BF come in to be with me. My left hamstring and my right calf were cramping so badly, and two people had to continually clench and massage them to make the seizing stop. I was completely unable to move my legs without my muscles clenching, and I remember this being the most painful part.

They kept me in the bath for a while, making sure that my core temperature was dropping, and I began to be coherent enough to ask BF how his race went. He ran a 1:47…and despite my current state of being, I was (and am) SO proud of him! The doctors kept asking me questions and letting me know I’d be okay, and at some point while I was still in the ice bath I became stable enough that my emotions got the best of me. I burst into tears, completely overwhelmed with everything, and mainly concerned for the state of my running career. I said out loud, “What if I never want to run a marathon again? What if I’m done forever?” which was a paralyzing fear, despite the fact that I had just been chewed up and spit out by the marathon. BF…in all his logical and rational thinking…said, “Babe, if you are saying ‘What if?’ at this point in time, I think it’s safe to say you’ll be fine.”

Eventually, I got myself together, and the doctors were able to carefully hoist me out of the bath. My legs continued to cramp pretty violently, and they had to keep my legs lifted at a 90   degree angle to drain the blood. They took my temperature again, and I was down to 101…which they seemed very impressed by. I felt very feverish, and the thought of sitting up was very daunting. They eventually began giving me Gatorade, which was sitting fine, and they took it as a good sign. Eventually, they very slowly hoisted me up so I was sitting up-right on the table. I felt dizzy and flu-like, but definitely much better.

Slowly but surely (and because this detailing is getting a bit long), I was able to get up walk very slowly. I was absolutely freezing, given the fact that my clothes were soaking wet and I had just been in ice-cold water (and just ran a marathon), and they took me outside with a space blanket to warm up. I was able to meet up with my group at this point, and eventually I regained both my cognitive and (limited) physical abilities. The mustache pacer actually came by as well, as he’d seen the less-than-glorious finish, to check and see how I was doing. The doctors told me that I had to pee before they would let me go (which I accomplished) and we were allowed to leave.

From entering the medical tent to leaving, it took approximately an hour, and by the time we were allowed to leave all I wanted to do was changed my clothes, warm up, and sleep.

Afterward, everything was somewhat post-race standard. I was able to congratulate some of my fellow marathoners, we got a big farm breakfast, and I spent the afternoon laying on the couch. Unfortunately, I was not left with the accomplished, satisfying feeling of finishing a marathon. After my first marathon, I was on a high of feeling so happy and proud of myself, and despite the fact that I did finish this race…the aftermath took away from the whole “I finished a marathon” experience. I felt a whole range of emotions, but primarily I felt grateful and scared. I cannot express how thankful I am that such a thing happened so close to the finish line and there were people around to help. I can’t imagine what would have happened if this had occurred any earlier. I was blown away by how helpful the volunteers, the runners that picked me up, the medical staff, and “my people” were through this whole thing. I tried to thank them all as much as I could, and I wish I could fully express just how gracious and humbled I am to have had such incredible support.

Like nothing happened, right?

After assuring my family that everything was okay, the only feeling I could really feel was exhausted. Marathon exhausted, certainly, but mainly emotionally and physically drained from the whole experience. Unfortunately, I wasn’t actually able to sleep as well as I’d hoped last night—my heart rate was still a bit high, and I was unable to rifle through all the different thoughts going through my head.

Today, despite my very sore legs and general fatigue, I feel much better. Like I said, I can’t really begin to articulate how this experience has affected me—because it all hasn’t really processed yet. I feel a combination of embarrassment, fear, shock, and stupidity. I can’t really help but be critical of myself, for running such a physically demanding race at the rate I was and for not obeying the demands of my body. I believe this feeling will go away—because honestly, I know that I am exactly the type of runner that this would happen to. My brain was stronger than my body, which most of the time is a great strength, but this time it got the best of me.

I will post later on my feelings following this whole experience, once they’ve all sunk in a bit more, but at this point I can say this: I know how it feels to push to the absolute furthest points of my limits, and there is not one more ounce of stamina or mental toughness I could have given into that race. Unfortunately, I was over my limits—and despite my will to keep trying, my body’s resistance finally overcame my mental determination.

I am sure I will take more away from this experience than I can actually wrap my head around, but for now I am going to let some rest, reflection, and recuperation help rebuild both my mental and physical strength.

And if you were curious, my official finish time was just over 3:44…three minutes faster than my first marathon. I find this humorous, and although this is a PR, I do think it should have a big fat asterisk next to it. Also, somehow in the midst of my collapse and being picked up…I managed to stop my watch at 3:33, meaning that had I been able to keep going, I’m pretty sure I would have been able to pull it out. Am I disappointed? Sure. But I also know that there was really nothing more I could have done…and I’m actually comforted in knowing that I was right there, and had the course been more forgiving, there is no question I would have had it.

Still got my medal! And it has a bottle opener on it…awesome.

So, there you are. A very long, detailed explanation of one of the more intense experiences I’ve ever had in my life. Out of all the scenarios that could have happened yesterday, this occurrence never even crossed my mind, and although I know these collapses can happen…I never imagined it would happen to me. I can assure you though that I am feeling better, I am going to continue to take care of myself, and I have no doubt that the lessons I draw from this experience will eventually make me a much stronger and prepared runner. That is, of course, when running doesn’t sound like the most painful thing on Earth.

Thank you for reading and for everyone’s unbelievable support. Congratulations to BF for his PR, and to all the runners who raced yesterday! Tacoma was without a doubt the hardest course I’ve ever competed on, and I admire every single one of you for taking it on.

Lastly, despite the shock and the drama that occurred at the end of this race, I have no doubt that the things I will take away will be more influential and more beneficial than any BQ or goal time could ever give me. And mark my words, the marathon may have scared the crap out of me yesterday…but I am nowhere near done with it.

It’s Not Just the Running

Breaking news! And don’t forget, you heard it here first:

Training for a marathon is hard.

I know right…crazy talk! I mean seriously, who knew? Alright, not so much new news, whatsoever…in fact this is probably the most simplistic, fact-of-the-matter truth about training for 26.2 miles of running. Even people who have never even thought about running a mile know that there is nothing easy about marathon training, and actually they probably know better than the rest of us. Once you do bridge the gap, though, between beginning to run and training for the big kahuna, you are humbled and forced to recognize the hard-truth about how difficult all those miles, hours, stretching, icing, repeat actually are.

Something I’ve realized toward the end of this training cycle, other than how truly hard it is, is that I think after competing in multiple races and getting better acquainted with the training process—I tend to forget about the grunt work involved.

Going into this training session, I certainly didn’t think it was going to be easy, but I definitely had bit more confidence than when I trained for my first marathon (rightfully so I suppose). I am so used to hard workouts, long runs, and putting in the leg work so-to-speak that I sort of assumed that training is just a way of life for me. Truthfully, I enjoy training. I love the satisfaction of a hard workout, and I love the thought that I’m working toward a very tangible goal. In other words, training really works for me, for the way I like to live each day, which is why I think I may have been a bit overzealous and overconfident when coming into this second marathon training cycle.

I still enjoy it, I know I’ll be back again fairly soon after I’m done with Tacoma, but I’m realizing in these last few weeks  just how brutally and unforgiving-ly hard training for a marathon really is. And perhaps more so, I’m realizing that it’s actually not the running itself that’s so hard.

Sure, the running is the source of all the fatigue and daily number crunching, but I think for me the hardest part of marathon training is the life that surrounds all the running. Obviously, these thoughts have been present at this point in time because I’m nearly three weeks away from race day—however I do feel like have some new insight into the overarching toll that marathon training really takes.

With that said, I thought I’d present you with what I believe are the hardest parts of training, aside from speed work and tempo drills. I know today’s supposed to be Friday Favorites, but this topic just seems too relevant and current to look over. Also, Marathon Monday is next week in Boston, and racing season is in full swing all over the country, therefore marathon talk is inevitable. Favorites will have to wait…perhaps there will be a Weekend Wonders or a Monday Marvels instead?

Moving on, I give you the RunBirdieRun Trials of Marathon Training: Everything Except the Running.

Scheduling

One of the biggest challenges with having such a strict number of miles to reach weekly is there isn’t much room to have, well, any other plans besides running. Specifically with long runs, the planning both before and after essentially takes up a whole weekend. Although this isn’t entirely too inconvenient, it leaves very little room for spontaneous nights out, an extra beer, or going away for the weekend. Sure, sometimes time sacrifices need to be made—I would never give away my life for the sake of marathon training—but that doesn’t mean my social life isn’t hindered when long runs take up three hours every Sunday. And going away for a weekend? I always get stressed about getting in a long run, and although it normally works out somehow it’s annoying to be bugged out by a run when you’re supposed to be enjoying some vacation time.

Sleepiness

I mention this in Tuesday’s post, but marathon training is incredibly taxing on general energy levels. Typically I’m someone who’s pretty upbeat and energized by nature, and I also don’t need much sleep to function at a high level. But with marathon training? It doesn’t feel like I can get enough sleep. I sleep really hard every night, which is a good thing, but I can’t ever really seem to feel really, totally rested. By 2 pm everyday I feel like I’m in a haze and need to take a nap (btw, thanks Nuun for helping alleviate this!). Don’t get me wrong, there’s no more satisfying sleepy feeling than the kind that comes after a long run, but it makes—once again—”real life” a bit more challenging.

Less Options

Now, I think we all know that I would almost always choose running over every other activity. Read: the name of my blog. But, there are days when I would much rather go to a sweaty spin class, go swimming, or you know—just do nothing. While I normally do look forward to my running designated days, there’s less variation and options available during marathon training in terms of a workout routine. I definitely believe in cross training, but I also believe that the most effective way to become a better runner is to run. This goes along with marathon training as well; you run a marathon, therefore the way you are going to get better is to run more. With that said, this leaves little room for error in terms of following a workout/mileage routine.

Food Planning

One of the fun parts about marathon training is the increased food consumption, or at least—I think it is. There’s something really cool about feeling the need for fuel in your body and listening to different cravings. It’s pretty amazing what your body communicates to you when it’s running 50 miles a week. And while I love the extra cookies and pieces of bread, there’s a lot more strategy required to eating than I think most non-marathoners would assume. The basic understanding that you can eat whatever you want, and as much as you want, while training may be true for some people, especially ultra runners, but I have to practice a lot more forethought and planning when it comes to marathon training meals. This is partially due to the fact that I have UC, and digestive issues are a daily battle, but it’s also because I’ve learned that there are things that work and definitely do not work as pre-run or post-run fuel. With that said, meal planning doesn’t come as simply as it does when I’m not marathon training, specifically around long runs.

The Running Accessories (Icing, Stretching, Foam Rolling, Hydrating, etc.)

It is no secret that running is one of the toughest activities on your body. As a runner, your body requires a lot of extra TLC in order to prevent injury and keep your progression smooth and steady. Now, differing opinions aside, we can assume that in order to be safe, stretching, foam rolling, icing, and excessive hydrating/refueling is necessary. It’s not a magic formula, but for the most part you can rest assured that your running will appreciate all of these “accessories.” But the fact of the matter is that all these things take a lot of time, and frankly—sometimes you just don’t want to do them. I can’t tell you how many times I have a checklist going through my head of all the things I need to do both pre- and post run, and it gets exhausting. I’m definitely thankful for my efforts to get them all done, but it’s a lot to keep track of and there are many times when I just rather wouldn’t put a piece of ice on my bare skin three times a day.

The Mental Toughness

Or perhaps I should say, lack thereof. Anyone who has trained for a race, no matter the distance, has experienced a wane and surge in their self confidence regarding their physical shape. There are some days where I can run seemingly forever and feel great about my condition and my prep for race day. Then there are other days when completing just a few miles at a very slow pace feels like hell, and I question how I ever could finish a marathon. Our brain and the effect it has on us is perhaps the biggest hurdle we face when training for a race, specifically a marathon. As runners, we know that running is almost equal parts physical and mental. A run can go two very different ways, all depending on how we approach it mentally. Our brain plays a very active role in our running life even when we’re not running as well, and this is why even weeks before taper begins and race nerves set in—we can through countless emotions and tribulations over the loftiness of our goals.

One of my absolute favorite mantras that was told to my basketball team while running suicides by our coach is, “The body is a lot more powerful than the mind gives it credit for.” I repeat this to myself whenever I’m feeling completely defeated, both while I’m running and when I’m not, as I think it is one of the most absolute truths about athletics, specifically running. Fighting our mental battles, in my opinion, is the absolute hardest part about marathon training—and as the races draw closer and the pesky voices of uncertainty starts to drown out our confidence, our 20 mile  runs start to seem like the easiest part of the process.

 

So, aside from making marathon training sound like an excruciatingly tolling endeavor, what is my point to all this? Well, I have a few points, the first being that it’s important to remember the all-encompassing nature of marathon training. I will be the first person to encourage anyone who wants to take on a marathon. In fact, I’ll be standing at the finish line with your name painted on my stomach and a pom pom shaking in your sweaty face. But, I do think it’s important to remember that marathon training is so much more than just running X amount of miles per week.

I believe that running starts to become the easy part—it’s simple, you know how to do it, and when it’s done, it’s done. It’s all these extra, “bonus!” factors that come from the running that we deal with all the time—and they are what ultimately I think marathon runners should be most prepared for.

I admittedly forgot about these aspects of marathon training. I remembered the weekly big pasta dinners and the epically long weekend runs, and that’s about it. And this makes perfect sense, because I love both of these things. Our brains do this very helpful survival tactic of blocking out troubling or tough memories in favor of the things we would choose to remember instead. However, in the case of marathon training, it can slap you right in the face when you realize the tough stuff that comes along with all the endorphins and baguettes.

Despite it all, though, I think the most important point I would like to make is this:

At the end of it all—weeks, months, and hours of questioning your sanity—it’s all worth it.

If you’ve raced before, specifically a half or a full marathon, you know that there’s no better feeling than crossing a finish line. It leaves you with the most deliciously satisfied feeling in the world; a feeling of pure self-confidence with the goal you just achieved. There’s a reason why runners tear up when they read stories of others’ finish line victories; it’s because we know what it’s like, and there’s nothing else that compares.

And you know what? It feels so damn good because of how hard it is. All those things I listed about how hard marathon training is and how taxing it can be are a big part of why crossing a finish line and being given a medal is such a sense of accomplishment. It’s the best place on Earth, and I can guarantee that no matter how much pain, discouragement, and frustration you may have faced along the way, what you will remember more than anything is the simple fact that you did it.

So, if you’re considering signing up for a marathon (which is AWESOME!), consider all the factors that are going to go into it. It will be a humbling experience, and it’s anything but easy, but if you put in the work it will absolutely pay off in the end.

___

Happy Friday! Have a lovely weekend.

What do you think is the hardest part about marathon training? What advice would you give about training from your own experience?

 

 

[College]town Glory

It would be a big fat lie to be as bubbly and glitter-filled as I originally thought I was going to be when writing this post. I did have a spectacular long run on the marathon course last Saturday, and everything in life is generally going great, but right now I’m really just feeling tired and spacey.

I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since last Friday night, and although I’m normally fine on less sleep, I think it’s catching up with me. Heavy mileage weeks + waking up every two hours= Grog Fest 2012. So while I certainly have plenty to do work wise and in my own life, all I really want to do is eat Cadbury Mini Eggs while lying on the couch alternating between Friends reruns and napping.

Also, if you are worried about my Cadbury Mini Egg supply, have no fear. The Easter Bunny, who somewhat resembles a strapping, brown-haired 23 year old boy, replenished my supply with TWO big bags. I know you were worried, so no stress there.

So, although I’m wishing that all my clothes would magically turn into sweatshirts and yoga pants, I’ll do my best to recap some of the real-person-good-life happenings as of late.

I know that recapping every. single. weekend long run is the opposite of interesting, and I’ve tried to tone down the detailing recently. BUT Saturday’s excursion down to Tacoma was just too good not to share, and it gave me some great insight into the value of “preview runs.”

Per the advice of a former college friend of mine, I mapped out a 20 mile run through Tacoma that would roughly take me on 14ish miles of the marathon course. The run included parts of Tacoma that I’d never run through before, as well as some of my favorite old spots to trot through. I was really excited to see the spots that I always used to pass by on runs, including a jaunt by my alma mater as well.

This was my run. It was very long.

It was the perfect setup for a long run: I was well fueled, I had a handheld bottle filled with Nuun, the sky was completely clear and sunny, and no matter what I was ending with an oatmeal breakfast with a good friend. Ideal situation, and the run definitely delivered.

There was quite frankly not one forgiving part of this self-designed course. It was rolling hills nearly the entire time, including a few pretty brutal climbs—however this element was key in terms of actual race prep. It felt great to be running in spots that I knew I would see on marathon day, and I liked thinking that I’d be familiar with specific sections that would be harder or easier than others. I practiced an easy pace on the uphills, an aggressive pace on the downhills, and finishing with a strong kick. The last mile or so was the only all downhill part of the run, which was a great simulation for how the actual race ends. Although it’s easy to think that a downhill finish means the last few miles will be easy, I think it’s surprising to see how much the downhill impact actually affects really tired legs.

I finished 20.3 miles in 2:53, which translates roughly to 8:30 average pace. I’ll take it—especially with those monster hills.

Also, NO KNEE PAIN! I love Aleve, and I also love that my knee has decided to start cooperating, specifically on mega runs like this.

An all-around win in my book.

Obviously, this was a necessary end to the day.

re-hydrating

Also, this photo epitomizes BF:

chemistry and beer= BF

Easter Sunday was marginally uneventful, but it was fun. The best part was awaking to an egg hunt that BF designed for me. Both of us get a kick out of child activities as adults, and so I think sending his girlfriend on a search for plastic eggs throughout our tiny house was probably more enjoyable for him than it was for me.

Just kidding babe, I loved it.

Here are some action shots of the hunt:

NOT FAIR. Hiding eggs out of short-person reach is discrimination.

I haz eggz. And an XL sweatshirt that is the epitome of flattering.

Once I cleaned myself out of my somewhat-hungover-disheveled-Easter-morning state, it was time for some chocolate. Because on Easter, you obviously need to consume about 10 servings worth of candy before you eat any actual breakfast.

This is a picture of me eating.

Oh and by “cleaned up,” I mean put my hair in a pony tail and put on mascara. Again with the female habits, I really need a beautician or a babysitter.

Also, here are our baskets. I’m a little afraid for the amount of candy we have in the house…because it’s easily equivalent to at least one isle at the grocery store. My teeth are scared for their lives.

What's that Target? You ran out of candy? Oh, that's because we have it all. Also, cookie monster is appropriate for Easter, obviously.

After a midday nap and lazing around in a candy coma, I finally managed to go on a 7 mile recovery run, done at a perfectly slow pace. I got to see all the families out for a sunny Easter beach stroll, along with all the other “mall people” that show up whenever the sun comes out in Seattle. People watching makes running go by so much faster, and no matter how many “WTF are you doing why would you be running ever?” looks I get from strangers (more than you’d think), I will still give them a huge cheese ball smile in return.

You will witness my sweat and you will LIKE IT people.

And, on one final note…because the fluidity of this post is just about Pulitzer worthy…I give you a look at how dogs make me SO EFFING AWKWARD. Remember how I take pictures of random dogs? Yea, so yesterday this happened.

Oh... and yes, you are looking right into my camera.

I blame BF for this. He loves Newfoundland dogs more than anything in the world, so obviously when I saw this guy on a stroll I needed to attempt to capture it in photo form. But guess what Robyn? Leaning across your car holding your phone up and driving slowly by people will PROBABLY MAKE THEM NOTICE YOU. I played it really cool when I realized the man saw the whole photo thing go down, and by “really cool” I mean I immediately held my phone up acting like I was trying to get reception. We both knew what happened though. Don’t worry nice newfie-owning man, I really only care about having a photo of your dog.

 

So that’s all. Thanks for listening to my ramblings, as well as my apathy toward the world that has taken over my mood these past few days. And actually, writing all this down has helped remove me a bit from my slump. I’m still going to eat all the Mini Eggs though and feel super embarrassed about the unbelievably low production level of my HTC relay application. I’m really glad I applied, and I really really hope I get in, but for real…there are some stellar videos out there, which you should probably check out, and I think you’ll realize why I’m about 5 minutes away from enrolling in some kind of intro to movie making classes.

I would love to hear some uplifting thoughts from you beautiful people today. Tell me something you are excited about, something you are proud of, or just something that is making your day better.