Sunday, September 25, 2011

20 miles down, welcome to Tapertown.

I ran 20 miles yesterday.

I never thought I'd say (type?) that sentence.

There was a sponsored course training run starting a block and a half from our house at 7 am  which was perfect. They provided maps for people running 10, 16, and 20 miles, and you could then tailor the course to match exactly the distance you wanted to do. My training plan (which you all know I've been following so closely) called for 20, so I went with the longest distance. There were about 500 people who showed up for the training run, which was awesome because I didn't have to look at my map too many times because I could just follow the runners in front of me.

I was terrified before the run started - I thought I was going to get left behind and be the slowest runner on the course. I was definitely one of the slower runners on the course, but not the slowest, which made me feel better. I don't mean to make it sound like I am happy simply because there are other people who are slower than I am - it needs to be about me and my race, I don't need to be worried about other runners - but I guess I was just really scared that if I didn't have other people around me, I'd panic and turn around and go home. Being surrounded by other runners the whole time, especially other runners around my speed, really helped motivate me to keep going.

We ran on the course of the marathon (which is now less than 3 weeks away), so we started at the park near our house and ran north, essentially taking an extended tour of the Baltimore ghetto, then ran around Lake Montebello, over to Druid Hill Park (which is where the rapper Dru Hill got his name because he's from that area), back south around the harbor, over to UA's headquarters, then back through the harbor again and home.

Here are my splits by mile (disclaimer again, I am still slow):
1- 11:37
2- 10:58
3- 11:41
4- 11:58
5- 11:24
6- 12:39 (This was actually 1.1 miles, I forgot to press the lap button)
7- 11:05 (hence this one was 0.9 miles)
8- 12:19 (no excuse, this one was just slow)
9- 11:50
10- 11:29
11- 12:10
12- 11:22
13- 11:53
14- 11:24
15- 11:21
16- 11:32
17- 11:46
18- 11:30
19- 12:02
20- 11:31

There were a bunch of water stops on the course, and they also provided gels. This was a total lifesaver - I don't know if I could have made it through 20 miles without the support on the course. We even got cheers from random passerby! :)

So obviously my splits were all over the place - but I was happy that most of them stayed between 11:30 and 12:00 which is kind of where my goal is settling right now. A lot of times when I looked down at my watch during the run, my splits were too low - I was running faster than I meant to and was afraid I was going to burn out - so I had to keep slowing myself down. I didn't stop to walk at any point, but in the second half of the run we had to stop very often at stoplights, intersections, etc, so that really slowed things down.

My thoughts on the run:

  • It was hard, but not as hard as I thought it was going to be. 
  • My knees hurt a lot more than they have in the past, along with the ball of my right foot. This would usually indicate to me that I need new shoes, but the shoes I was running in are not old enough to indicate that I need new ones (they were purchased within the last 6 months and I know I have not run 500 miles in them). Also, I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to break in new shoes sufficiently in the next 3 weeks while I'm tapering in order for them to be ready for the marathon. 
  • I kept drinking even when I wasn't thirsty to try to stay hydrated - and I hydrated out of control on Friday - and I felt good, but I still wasn't sweating as much as I should have been. Often I felt my face caked with salt and I'd have to splash water in my face to wash it off. I'm not sure why I wasn't sweating more - any ideas, friends? 
  • I ate an entire pack of Shot Bloks along with 1 pack of Gu and 1 "PowerBar Gel" that was provided on the course - notes on these: Gu in "Chocolate Outrage" flavor tastes EXACTLY LIKE GOOEY BROWNIE. The texture is even pretty much the same. I will be buying 40 of these. The PowerBar Gel in Vanilla tastes like lemon ass. And I hate it. But I needed calories, I had to eat it. It also doesn't have caffeine and I have decided that I need my calorie sources to have caffeine to really get me going. 
  • Yesterday after the run blew. I got some Chipotle and put on comfy clothes and basically laid either on the couch or in bed for the rest of the day. I feel much better today but my legs are fatiguing easily as I walk up and down the stairs in the house. 
So that's all I've got for now. I am just so relieved that I made it through the 20 mile run. It's all Tapertown from here! That was the longest run I will do in my training - everything else should be easier for the next 3 weeks until the race (fingers crossed). This run was just really important for me mentally - understanding that I can actually do this. And I think the additional adrenaline that will come on race day will help me make it through those last 6.2 miles (Molly Laufer? Yes?). 

Ok. So here we go. 

Friday, September 23, 2011


I love Nicki Minaj. Do you listen to her music? I heart her. Lizzy, don't listen to her, you won't like it and you'll accuse me of assaulting your ears with my dirty dirty rap songs again.

Anyway, she has a song called "Moment 4 Life" which you may or may not have heard on the radio, but anyway, if you haven't, look it up on Spotify (if you're not on Spotify, GET ON SPOTIFY) and listen - because I've decided that it's my inspiration for this marathon because of the lines:

"I wish that I could have this moment for life, for life, because in this moment I feel so alive"

and, even more so:

"I'm really tryin' to make it more than what it is, Because everybody dies but not everybody lives,"

That's kind of how I feel lately. Make some mistakes. Do stupid things. You only live once.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I mean, you know.

So I did that 3h 20m run not this past Saturday but the Saturday before. Then last Friday I spent the whole day moving, so when Saturday came around I was already sore and exhausted and I was like "Eff no, I will not be running for hours today."

Sunday Jeremy and I went to King's Dominion with his parents which was an awesome time. We rode almost all the roller coasters in the park. Some were having technical difficulties so we couldn't ride, which made me sad. There is one roller coaster there now called the Intimidator - the first hill is 305' in the air and you drop at an 85* angle, reaching speeds of up to 94 mph.

When you come out of the first drop you almost black out - no joke. Your vision starts to go. I don't quite understand how this is safe. As we were climbing the first hill I kept repeating "I don't understand why I thought this was a good idea."

Anyway, see the ridiculousness to the left.

So we spent hours at the park and then drove home, and let me tell you, I have never felt so old. I felt so beat up by the roller coasters and all the walking and the moving that by the end of the day on Sunday I was just absolutely exhausted.

I felt like all that physical activity made up for the fact that I didn't run (right?).

I've spent most of this week after work doing laundry, cooking (I'm totally domestic now), and taking care of the dogs. On Tuesday night Jeremy and I got to see the Capitals play in the Baltimore Hockey Classic - it was cool to get to go only a couple of miles to see an NHL game, but it was disappointing because the Caps lost and the 1st Mariner Bank arena is just a sad, sad venue. Super creepy and small and sad. I won't be itching to go there again anytime soon.

So anyway last night I decided it was time for a run - I got home, walked the dogs, then went out for a quick trot around the park. I ended up running a little bit over 3 miles, and it was tough. I usually loosen up after 1 mile so I kept telling myself it would be better after I finished the first mile, but the improvement wasn't really quite as good as I had hoped. I pushed myself to finish the rest of the run - and by pushed myself I mean just kept running - not quickly or anything.

So now I'm facing a 20 mile course run on Saturday. The great thing is that it's a "sponsored course run" meaning that hundreds of people who are participating in the race next month are meeting up at a park that is 1.5 blocks from our house, and we're all going to run the course together for however long we need to to complete our training run. They'll have water, gels, etc to give us, but I do still plan on bringing my fuel belt.

I'm really scared that I'm going to get left behind because I'm so slow. :-/

I'll report back.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blogging with the enemy

My friend Molly (whose blog I would link to but she hasn't posted in over a year and hasn't started a new blog why molly why? why? WHY? I demand to know) was kind enough to send me the below quotes because she knew I could probably use a mental boost in these, my final weeks of training for the marathon.

And by training for the marathon, I mean stressing for the marathon.

So here you go (oh, and the enemy thing is because they're both Nike ads, and we all know that the boys in Portland are the enemies, yes? Yes, Protect This House I Will, etc. ):

"You pretended the snooze button didn't exist. You dragged your butt out of bed while others slept. While others ate their pancakes you had a feast of protein, glucose and electrolytes. You double-knotted. You left the porch light on and locked the door behind you. You ran 5Ks, 10Ks, 26.2 miles. Some days more, some days less. You rewarded a long run with a short run. And a short run with a long run. Rain tried to slow you. Sun tried to microwave you. Snow made you feel like a warrior. You cramped. You bonked. You paid no mind to comfort. On weekends. On holidays. You made excuses to keep going. Questioned yourself. Played mind games. Put your heart before your knees. Listened to your breathing. Sweat sunscreen into your eyes. Worked on your farmer's tan. You hit the wall. You went through it. You decided to be man about it. You decided to be woman about it. Finished what you started. Proved what you were made of. Just kept putting mile after mile on your internal odometer. For 25 years, you ran. And we ran with you. How much farther will we go? As far as you will."

And #2:

"All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you're not good enough or strong enough; they will say you're the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the nos become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly. And you will tell them Yes."

Monday, September 12, 2011

But who's the chick and who's the duck?

When you sleep with two dogs, it's hard to really say when you first wake up in the morning. Do you remember that episode of Friends (I know you do, Lizzy) where they're playing the trivia game and this happens:

Monica: I got it! How about, if we win, they have to get rid of the rooster?
Rachel: Oooohh that’s interesting.
Joey: Hey, no way, that rooster’s family!
Rachel: Throw in the duck too!
Joey: What do you have against the duck?! He doesn’t make any noise!
Rachel: Well, he gets the other one all riled up.

That's how it is with the two dogs. Mugsy is a little jerk. He's 40+ lbs of muscle and lacks subtlety entirely. He spends his mornings rocketing on and off of the bed until I can't take it anymore and I get up to give him breakfast and walk him. Ronin is very very sweet, a wee beagle (wee-gle) of only 25 lbs. You can definitely tell which of them is standing on you at any given time. Even though Ronin tries really hard to be sweet and not get into trouble, Mugsy gets him all riled up, which means that I'm never entirely sure when I first wake up in the morning...I just know when I can't take it any longer and I get out of bed, resigned to the fact that it's a losing battle with those two. 

So that's how my day started yesterday, but it was good because it meant that I went outside early enough to realize how great the weather would be for my long run. I was all geared up and on the road by 10 am, but strangely my Garmin was flashing "low battery" signs at me as soon as I turned it on. But wait - didn't I charge it before I left for San Diego? I thought so. I left it plugged into the socket and assumed it was charged after a few hours - what I didn't realize is that no electricity was coming through said socket. 


So it lasted for a few miles, but died shortly after I crossed into my 3rd mile. This meant I was winging it from there on out - approximating how far I'd run based on routes I'd run before and the time I was out there. 

The run was alright. The weather was wonderful - misty and about 70* for the first couple of hours. The sun came out around noon which was rude. I really did not appreciate it shining in my face, but honestly after so many runs in 80 - 90* weather, I took it. My body was...what's the right word for this...resigned to the run? That's really the best way I can describe it.

I had my first Gu yesterday, I tried vanilla bean flavor on the recommendation of a friend, and it wasn't bad! I was expecting to be totally grossed out by the texture & flavor, but honestly if I'd closed my eyes I would have believed it was just vanilla pudding. When your eyes are open you notice that the Gu is actually kind of an opaque gel which confuses your brain and starts up the "uh-oh, is this disgusting?" warnings. But anyway, it wasn't hard to get down, and it got 100 calories in my body quickly and effectively. So I think I'll buy some more, maybe try some other flavors. Other runner friends - any flavor recommendations for me? 
for noodle.

Annie please note I'm making an effort to include more pictures specifically for you, even if they're just pictures of Gu. 

Moving on - I thought about 9/11 a lot as I ran yesterday. Every time I tried to get whiny with myself I was like you shut the hell up, you're alive and well and you get to choose to spend your mornings running. There are a lot of people who don't get to make that choice anymore, so you can just calm down and be quiet. I ran by a 9/11 Memorial Dedication ceremony in the Inner Harbor. They had pieces from the World Trade Center buildings in NYC - you know, those twisted beams of steel that you see - and that was quite sobering. Then as I was running through Federal Hill towards the end of my run (I went that way specifically to see all the drunken idiots because the first Ravens home game was about to start, and Fed Hill is insane on Ravens game days), I got to run right under a fighter jet flyover as it was on its way to the stadium. Nothing makes you want to simultaneously cry and/or pee your pants more than fighter jets flying over your head in formation when you've been running for literally hours. 

Molly I know Kenny doesn't fly that type of plane (right?) but if you could ask him to do so and then just keep zipping over the marathon course for me that would be really helpful ok thanks bye. 

SO WHATEVS, when I thought I'd run for long enough I went back home and checked the time - I'd been out for about 3 hours and 20 minutes. My last really long run - the 15 miler - was about 2h 50m I think, so I thought that I must have reached my distance goal yesterday, even though I didn't have my Garmin to confirm. 

I've mapped the run twice and both times it's told me that I ran less than 15 miles. How that happened I have no idea. Did I black out at some point and take a nap in the middle of the street for 30 minutes? Did I run in place for a while? WTF. I did walk sometimes because I was in a lot of pain (WTF, toes? What did I do to you?), but I don't think I walked THAT much. So I'm not sure. Someone's lying here, and it's either the Garmin or 

Over the course of the run I drank a ton of water (refilled all 4 bottles on my belt twice), ate almost 2 entire packs of Shot Blocks (Lemon-Lime and Tropical Punch flavors, my fave) and the 1 Gu mentioned above. When I got back I walked the pup, stretched, took a short ice bath followed by a warm shower, and then ordered a large pizza and ate half of it (the other half was dinner, don't hate). I wanted to wear my compression tights to see if they'd help my legs recover more quickly than normal, but the tights were at Jeremy's so I was out of luck. I wore jeggings instead. Pretty sure that's almost the same thing. 

So, what hurts today:
  • My ego 
  • My toes
  • My back 
I think I need to do a better job of maintaining perspective - I keep saying I "only" ran 15 miles yesterday. That's still 15 miles. Which is further than I could run a few months ago. 

So yeah. A month and a few days to go. 

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Not sure where that came from...

So I'll get straight to the point: I haven't been running. I did my 15 mile run however long ago that was (too lazy to look at a calendar right now), and between that point and yesterday I think I only did 4 runs, none of which exceeded 5 miles. I tried - just not very hard.

The week after the 15 I was supposed to do 10 but then I stayed up too late the night before talking to Annie and Lizzy, so I didn't run. The week after that I was supposed to do 15 again but I was getting ready for San Diego and I was totally distracted so I only managed to do 5 - that was a TOTAL cop out by the way because I didn't even have Mugsy with me at that point, he had already gone down to stay with my mom for the week, so I had basically zero excuse to not run. My heart just wasn't in it that day. The week after that I was in San Diego and running was the last thing on my mind. Then last weekend I basically just had a panic attack the night before and decided to sleep instead of running.

The thing is, I panicked because I hadn't been running and I was afraid that if I tried to run, I'd fail. But I have to remind myself in times like those that NOT ATTEMPTING the run is just as big a failure, if not bigger. Anyway. So I was freaking out. I was afraid I wouldn't be ready for the marathon (and by afraid I mean certain) but it was a vicious cycle of being too afraid to run and then growing more and more panicked as the race drew nearer due to not running.

Last night I was supposed to have dinner with my friend Katie but she had to reschedule due to a dr's appointment. Mugsy had spent the day in daycare so he was already tired by the time we got home, meaning that I didn't have to spend time playing with him, or rather, not playing with him and worrying that while I had my back turned he was going to jump on the counter and gnaw on a block of cheese (yes, that happened on Sunday).

So it was kind of like the perfect storm - I hadn't run in a while (since last Tuesday or so) so my legs were fresh, and Mugsy was tired so I didn't have to be worried about him. I got home from work, ate 4 Clif Shot Blocks to get some quickly processed energy, and went up to the treadmill in my apartment building (it's been raining non-stop here for days). I set out hoping that I'd be able to do 5 miles. I started off nice and slow and really eased myself into it, then picked up the pace as I went along. I was feeling really good after 3 miles, and I thought to myself that maybe I could do more than 5, but I didn't want to get ahead of myself, so I just said "Finish 5 and then see about the rest." So I got to 5 and stopped the treadmill, got more water, and hopped back on - and I managed to run 8 total!

I think I totally needed that run last night - I've been feeling stressed lately about more than just the race, and I needed a good sweat session to work off some stress. And it proved to me that I've still got it in me. Somewhere. I made it a tempo run of sorts - after the first couple of miles of warmup everything else was run below race pace, so that felt great too. I'd never gone a step above 5 miles running on a treadmill before - I just mentally couldn't get there - so the fact that I also had the mental endurance to get through 8 miles of staring at the wall reassured me as well.

So - if you'd been wondering why I hadn't been posting about running...well, it's because I wasn't running much. I'm hoping that last night's run will motivate me through the rest of training. This weekend I will be packing more, then next weekend moving and spending Sunday at King's Dominion (JEALOUS?), then the next weekend my friend Emily is getting married (and I have to run 20 miles the next morning, but it's on an official course run so I think that will help), then the NEXT weekend Jeremy and I are flying back to California for another wedding...and then it's only two weeks til the race. So things are busy, and I'm going to need to be even more committed to my runs than I previously was.

So, I'll let you know how that goes.