Archive | July, 2011

Thank Goodness for Cross Training.

31 Jul

If you follow me on Twitter or are a friend/family of mine on Facebook, you may have noticed I’ve been complaining my foot hurts for the past couple of days.

Friday morning I woke up and my left foot just hurt.  I couldn’t put weight on it to walk normal all day.  The symptoms eased throughout the day, but it still hurt.  I did my research and talked to Coachy and my mom (she used to work for a foot doctor, how convenient!) and determined that it’s plantar fascitis.  Wonderful.  I spent a lot of time rolling my foot on a golf ball while I sat at my desk and I stretched quite a few times.

Yesterday morning was another wretched morning.  I spent it limping around my house until it loosened up, but eventually I was able to walk normal.  I still had pain, but it wasn’t as bad as Friday.  Hooray! I iced, I stretched, I golf ball rolled.  Walking felt good, even if there was pain. I was supposed to run 4 miles – instead I focused on keeping myself limber and did the P90X X-Stretch video.  THAT felt good and it helped open up my calves/ankles/feet.

Today I woke up still in pain, but the amount of time limping around my house was much shorter than the previous two days.  I iced and rolled and stretched some more before heading to the gym.  Today I was supposed to run 10 miles! It was to be my first long run since Marathon Sunday and my last long run before the Rock N Roll Providence Half Marathon, which is this coming Sunday, August 7th.

Well running is out of the question right now, even though the foot starts to feel better every day, I’m not taking my chances.  I will run and I will finish the RnR half next Sunday.

A couple of weeks ago I told everyone that I wanted to run the RnR half in two hours or better.  I’m not throwing that idea out the window, but I’m not focusing on it now.   I will finish the race, and that’s all that matters! I don’t want to chance making my foot worse.  I was counting down the weeks this morning – not including next Sunday, there are only 4 opportunities to get quality long runs in before tapering for Marathon #2. I don’t have time to be injured, so I have to be extremely careful.

All of that brings me to the topic at hand.  Thank goodness for cross training! Instead of letting my bum foot keep me on the couch, I got my butt up and I went to the gym.  I pushed myself through an hour of hill intervals on the bike, followed by 35 minutes with my dear friend Eli(ptical). An hour and a half endurance workout to replace my run – that’s about what a ten miler should’ve taken me anyway, so it worked out really well.

I will admit that I didn’t see this scenario so positively when it first struck me on Friday.  I was bummed, sad, thinking horrible thoughts like “What if I can’t run Marathon #2?”. It took me a while to snap out of the funk, but I realized that I can defeat this.  I caught it and quit running right away.  It will get better and I will run both of my upcoming races without problems.

After my gym workout I was craving some juicy fruits and veggies in a bad way, so I came home and prepared this lovely little late lunch/snack for myself

I’ve done a great job of plowing through that while I write. It seriously hit the spot!

And now, from left field for some good news!

I just hit my 5th month of 100+ miles with a grand total of 101.86 miles in July!
I’m hoping to see that number continue to creep up, especially in August as I peak for Marathon #2.
Have you ever suffered a running injury before? What did you do to stay positive/overcome it?

Seek the Peak (Part 2)

31 Jul

I know, I know, how long was I going to keep you hanging for Part 2 of last weekends wicked awesome mountain climbing adventure?

It’s finally here my friends! So, where did I leave off…?

Oh yeah!

WE MADE IT!

To be completely honest with you, it wasn’t that exciting.  It felt great to have accomplished the climb, but once you get to the top you have to walk a couple hundred feet to get to the spot where the above picture was taken.  And, you have to wait in line just to get the picture! In the line was a good amount of people who had driven up and/or taken the Cog Railway .  It made me feel great that I had to work for that picture, but it was also a tad disenchanting, almost like being stuck in some sort of cruel tourist trap.

We all agreed to take the hiker’s shuttle back down.  We were exhausted and the idea of having to climb back down was pretty much unappealing to all of us. So we bought our shuttle tickets and while we waited went to the snack bar.

I worked hard for this meal!

Pizza, peanut m&ms, and salt and vinegar chips.  That covers all the basic food groups, right? The concept of how many calories I was about to eat hadn’t even crossed my mind.  All day I had nibbled on small bites of things like trail mix, pbj sandwiches, swedish fish, etc… I needed real food and I needed it fast.

It felt so good to sit while we ate.  We all sat and enjoyed our food and rested until our shuttle time arrived.

I took a bunch of pictures of the beautiful view once we headed back outside, it was just so gorgeous up there.

The beginning of the Auto Road
Me – a little cold.

Cog Railway tracks – another vehicle I have no desire to ride in on this mountain.

Then our shuttle came back up the mountain and it was our turn to take the ride down.

That is without question one of the scariest things I have ever done in my life.  I always swore I would never actually get in a vehicle and drive (ride) down theMt. Washington Auto Road.  It’s a narrow road, with some dirt portions, and no guardrails.  It’s 8 miles long, the first 4 are above treeline.  I was scared.

I tried to take some pictures to keep my mind off of the fact that my life was in the hands of a woman I don’t know driving a 12 passenger van down the side of a mountain.

You can’t really tell from the pictures, but one mistake and we were all a-goner.  My mother worked hard on reassuring me that this woman does this for a living and is a professional but I didn’t feel good about it until we reached the tree line.  Then it wasn’t so scary anymore.

Ahh tree line, sweet relief.

Needless to say I was more than relieved when we reached the bottom.

Next on our agenda was the Seek the Peak after party!  Our first stop was the pizza line:

Pizza was being provided to the hikers by the American Flatbread  Company.  It was delicious, thin and crispy crust, and oh so yummy.  We really need one of these in Rhode Island.

There was a bluegrass/country band playing music and a small expo (that I forgot to take pictures of … one of these days I’ll get better at this). Then it was dinner time (you bet a 6 hour climb up a mountain makes you hungry for hours).

Dinner was provided by Hart’s Turkey Farm.  You’ve heard of Christmas in July.  This was Thanksgiving in July.

Don’t be fooled by what the cup says – this was more of that delicious Tuckerman Ale.

The food was amazing! Everything was so fresh and delicious.  Even on a hot summer day!!

After dinner there were giveaways.  There were door prizes, and then there were bigger giveaways for the people who raised more money.  The more money you raised, the bigger the prize.  None of us won anything.

After the hike and the huge dinner we were all pretty beat so we went our separate ways to get a good night’s sleep.

Some more random pictures I took throughout the day:

The original Auto Road Toll House (I didn’t know the auto road is privately owned,  you pay $25 per car load and you get an audio tour on CD plus one of those “This Car Climbed Mt. Washington” stickers).
Does this make anyone else think of “The Shining”? Scary…

Before we left we had one last stop to make on Sunday morning.  Back to the Weather Discovery Center for our bragging rights t-shirts:

I wasn’t going home without it.

A great time was had by all! I’d do it again in a heartbeat! My brother wants to climb it now too, so we may be making another trip!

What do you do? (Getting Organized)

29 Jul

It’s time for me to get serious for a minute here folks, don’t worry, this isn’t typical and I’ll try like hell not to bore you to tears (or worse, death).

Ever since I started marathon training I have found time for little else in my life.  Well, aside from my social life, because I would rather go out for dinner and drinks with my friends than clean my bathrooms any day. Life’s too short to put cleaning before drinking friends and family.

I work 40 hours a week (like most people).

I spend 5+ hours a week commuting to said work (I know that could be worse, glad it’s not).

I spend over an hour a day getting ready for work (shower, hair, makeup, ironing, packing lunch, etc…)

Then of course there’s all the other nonsense like laundry, cooking, grocery shopping etc…

I’m not complaining, I know that these are all facts of life.  If I want to eat I have to cook and shop.  If I don’t want to be a nudist, I have to do laundry.

Then there’s my training schedule:

  • Monday – Yoga (1 hour)
  • Tuesday – Run (1 hour +/-)
  • Wednesday – Run (1 hour +/-)
  • Thursday – Upper body strength plus run (1.5 hours)
  • Friday – typically a rest day, but if I’m feeling strong I’ll add a core workout (1 hour)
  • Saturday – Run and extra stretching (2 hours)
  • Sunday – Long run (anywhere up to 4 hours)
That’s anywhere between 10-14 hours a week worth of workouts.  Wow, sounds like a lot when you put it that way! 
Sounds like I’ve got it all under control right? WRONG. I’m trying like crazy to figure out how to get it all under control and I’ve set a date that I’d like to do it by.
But what I need is advice. I work out after work because I am NOT a morning person. I love sleep almost as much as I love eating.  
How do I balance work/housework/training/plenty of sleep without making myself completely crazy? (I am only one person after all!)
Things I can’t (or won’t) do:
  • Give up blogging (duh) (won’t)
  • Exercise on my lunch break (can’t – only get 1/2 hour, nowhere to bathe, my coworkers would be appalled if I came back to my desk sweaty and didn’t shower)
  • Give up quality time with family and friends (won’t)
  • Train less (definitely won’t)

So that leaves me with the question, what do you do? How do you balance it all without the added stress (things like sinks full of dirty dishes give me anxiety).

Well, Hello There Speedy, How I’ve Missed You

28 Jul

I went into last night’s workout with mixed emotions. I hadn’t done any sort of speed workout since June 22nd and I was slated to run 8 x 400 (that’s 1/4 of a mile for those that aren’t down with the running lingo – and yeah, I forget sometimes too and have to ask Coachy, “How far is that again?”) at some sort of fast pace.  Basically, Coachy said, blast out your first interval and adjust accordingly to a pace you think you can maintain for 8 intervals. And he figured I could do them all in the 7’s. I don’t know why but any kind of real endurance test turns me into a giant ball of nerves.

Run 20 miles? Even if I’ve done it before? Ball of nerves.
Speedwork makes me nervous.
Why? I think I’m afraid of failing. I think I’m afraid of not finishing or not going as fast as Coachy thinks I can. Self confidence issue perhaps? Any tips on overcoming this would be greatly appreciated.

So I drive to the high school track and it’s full of what looks like track practice.  STRIKE 1.

Then I drive to the bike path. The parking lot is FULL. STRIKE 2.

I’m getting frustrated and annoyed at this point. I think maybe I’m not meant to run tonight.  That’s got to be it, right? Nervous about speed, can’t find a parking spot, it all adds up.
WRONGO BUDDY!

I can’t seriously let two silly things like that stop me from running! Excuses are for quitters – NOT ME!
So, I did the next best thing and parked at the bank a couple blocks from the bike path parking lot. Turns out, there’s a little opening in the fence on the path so you can get right on, no prob.  The bank was closed so I didn’t think I’d be inconveniencing anyone anyway.
I love the bike path not only for it’s flatness, but for the fact that at 6:30 at night it’s completely shaded.  Ahhh beautiful – I don’t have to spend extra time putting on sunscreen, I don’t have to wear a hat, and I won’t swelter! 
So away I went.  My legs felt great right away and it was then the nerves dissipated and I knew it was going to be a great run. I actually had to force myself to slow down to an actual warm up pace because I didn’t want to waste my energy, I had 8 speed intervals I still had to accomplish!
And I more than accomplished those intervals, I slayed them!
I blasted the first one as hard as I could to get a gauge for what my “all out” speed is. Then I adjusted for the rest because I knew I had to get all 8 intervals in.  Not only was this my first post-marathon speed work, but it’s my only pre-Rock N Roll half speed work as well, since that’s only 10 days away!
I walked in between each interval, to regain my normal heart and breathing rate, and to keep the bugs off of me! Boy was it buggy out last night! I walked until I felt recovered on each one, rather than using some scientific method of distance.  
Each interval felt great. I know I had good form, I could feel it.  That’s not to say these weren’t hard for me, they were.  By the end of each one my heart rate was up and I was gasping for breath! 
There are a couple of things that amazed me during this run:
  1. My lungs have suddenly recovered.  My legs fatigued before my lungs for probably the first time ever. I could feel my legs getting tired and sore, but I was still breathing like anyone running at a 7something pace should be brathing, rather than someone who sounds like a running asthma attack.
  2. My last interval was my 2nd fastest interval, right next to my first interval.  I had to REALLY push to get that, but I love a strong finish!
  3. I had the energy to run a full mile cool down.  I have never been able to run a full mile cool down after intervals like that.  I am loving the strength and endurance that I have gained through marathon training!
So my friends, have you had any amazing workouts like this lately? Maybe you even surprised yourself? I know I did!

Seek the Peak Weekend Report

27 Jul

Because training for and running a marathon with 2100′ of elevation gain wasn’t enough for the month of July:

4 People (in our little group – approximately 500 total hikers)

5.25 miles

4,505 feet of elevation gain

6 hours on one awesome Saturday spent with my mommy and two of my favorite friends as we challenged ourselves to climb to the top of Mt. Washington – Home of the World’s Worst Weather.

$30 – worth every penny to get back down the mountain on the scariest ride of my life (aka Mt. Washington Auto Road Hiker’s Shuttle)

Flatbread pizza, beer, and a wicked bitchin’ turkey dinner.

All of this was part of an event called Seek the Peak, a fundraiser for the non-profit Mt. Washington Observatory.  My mother and I decided to take part in this event back in March, and invited along anyone else who wanted to join us.  The only other two people brave enough to join us were my friends Jen and Paul.

Friday


The weekend began with a kick off party at the Mt. Washington Weather Observatory Center. The party included hors d’oeuvres and free beer (YES, FREE BEER! Tuckerman Brewing Co. Pale Ale – it was delicious).  There were representatives from the Appalachian Mountain Club  on hand to answer questions and offer trail and other hiking advice. Most importantly was registration though – it’s where we got the goody bags!

These goody bags were the end all, be all of goody bags.  SERIOUSLY. The bag itself is bitchin, big, two big pockets on both sides big enough to hold two water bottles each, a padded back, and super comfy and easy to carry:

But the contents of the bag REALLY made it: 
TONS of goodies!
  • Long sleeve Seek the Peak tee
  • EMS Merino Wool Hiking Socks (Loved them – comfy, didn’t budge, no blisters, and my feet didn’t get too hot or feel too sweaty ever)
  • Two small bottles of sunscreen
  • Two small bottles of insect repellent
  • A bandaid holder – with band aids (these last three items make me think this pack was designed specifically for me – especially the band aids!)
  • After bite wipes
  • Chapstick
  • STICKERS!
  • A trail map
  • Clif Mojo Bars
  • Two packs of Jack Links Jerky (which is either really good or I was really hungry)
  • Halo S’Mores Bar (Anyone else ever had these? I thought it was okay, but not great)
  • A Subaru water pouchy thingy
  • Green Mountain Coffee
  • A bottle of Pomegranate Blue Honest Ade (OMG Delish – I will buy this stuff!)
  • MORE STICKERS!
I think that’s everything. SERIOUSLY. AWESOME.  I have never had a bag this great from any event. EVER.   
After we picked up our stuff and I had my two free beers (unfortunately there was a limit on the free beer – damn the man), mom and I cleaned ourselves up (it was even about 110 in the mountains on Friday) and headed to dinner, where we met up with Jen and Paul.
Dinner was at Horsefeathers Restaurant, located right smack dab in the center of North Conway. 
In keeping with the theme of the night, I ordered another beer.  This time a blackberry wheat – it was HUGE, light, crisp, and refreshing on that boiling hot summer night.
Mom had a Horsefeather’s Lemonade, which she loved.  I had to try it too, it was very good (I’m just more of a beer kinda gal)
Jen and Paul made it about halfway through dinner before realizing they hadn’t ordered anything other than water! They were tired and run down from a long drive, and still had a kinda long drive to their campground, so it was for the better anyway!
Pre-hike deliciousness consisted of:
A burrito the size of her head for Jen
Swordfish special for Mommy
Pad thai for me and Paul
After dinner we agreed to meet at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center at 6 a.m. to start our hike, and went our separate ways to get some sleep.
Saturday

Our wonderful bed & breakfast hostess left some fruit and yogurt for me and mom, as well as showed us where everything was to make coffee.  We made some coffee, but passed on the yogurt since it wasn’t Chobani and we’re both yogurt snobs. On the way to the visitor center we spotted a Dunkin’ Donuts – iced coffee and carbs sounded like a great idea to both of us! (Well, I had iced coffee, mom had hot – I can’t drink hot coffee in the summer)
We finally made it to the visitor center and met up with Jen and Paul.  We got our stuff together (I decided on a last minute bag change into the wicked bitchin’ bag from above, rather than mine, which is more of a short hike kinda pack, not a trek up a mountain pack). 
I can’t remember if we had decided to take Boott Spur trail the night before, or if it was a spur of the moment (pun intended -hardy har har har I crack myself up) decision. (I’m literally laughing out loud at myself right now…). 
However it was decided – that’s what we did.  We broke from I’d say 95% of the other hikers at the start of Boott Spur.  For quite a while I thought we were the only hikers on that trail.  It got me to thinking – are we crazy? Are we in for something ridiculous? 
You could say that.
How about 1,339 feet of elevation gain in Mile 2. And 1,237 feet in Mile 3. And it took us roughly 4 hours to complete those three miles. 
Still smiling cuz it’s early in the hike…
Some call it rock scrambling, I call it boulder scaling
Rocks were … abundant.  Funny thing: When you don’t often show off your flexibility from massive amounts of yoga, then start scaling rocks, your mom says “Be careful, don’t get hurt.” She apparently doesn’t know how easy it is for me to throw my leg up on a rock and hurl myself up the rest of the way.  Well, I showed her.  And then I said, “Mom, I know what I am capable of.” In my best offended teenager style.  Sheesh, who goes hiking with their mom anyway? (Hehehehe just kidding MOMMY!!!!)
It wasn’t too long until we were in the Alpine Zone and above tree line (well, okay, it was a while – but it sure seems like the majority of this hike took place above tree line.
Not too long after we saw this sign, we were out of the trees, and Jen and Paul looked off into the distance as if to say “Damn that’s still so far” (direct quote from Jen when I posted this pic up on Facebook).
We’re going WHERE? SERIOUSLY?
A beautiful view of Tuckerman’s Ravine
And they were right.  We were over 3 miles away, and it was a HARD 3 miles. Well, that’s a lie.  The whole thing wasn’t hard – the end of mile 3 and all of mile 4 were easy-ish.  We were still walking on/over rocks, but it was some downhill and otherwise mostly flat.
Among all of this rock scaling we found
Photo Courtesy of Shirtless Handlebar Mustache Man
And the path was nice for a little while
Oooh, a nice break
And the view was even nicer
But then it got ugly

And then it got uglier still
Someone to Paul (can’t remember who) “How’d you get up there?”, Paul “I went up…” 
And then we reached the summit…of Boott Spur
That peak in the distance where the towers look so tiny, yup that’s where we’re headed…
At this point we were getting pretty worn down so we decided to stop for a lunch break.  We sat, we ate, we chatted.  Paul tried to drug us gave us some electrolyte tablets. We also opted for a wardrobe change at this time – the wind was picking up and we knew it’d be cold at the top.  We found out later that from base to peak there are 4 climate zones on Mt. Washington. Then we headed back on our merry merry way.  
Soon enough we began our ascent up what I am now referring to as the worlds longest flight of stairs.  While headed up there we saw Lake of Clouds Hut
WE’RE ALMOST THERE NOW!
0.2 miles – piece of cake, right?
Do you have any idea how long 0.2 miles is when you’re climbing the worlds longest flight of stairs? Especially when the very end of it looks like this:
I lost the trail going up this, I couldn’t see the white paint on the rocks… I mean, is there really a trail here?
Lets just say it felt like an eternity…
But then, a miracle happened…
WE MADE IT!
Cold and windy! BUT WE MADE IT!
Our awesome hiking group – happy we made it to the peak!
Oh yeah baby! The weather at the top? 50’s with 70+ mph winds.  Mom was the only brave one, as you can see, in shorts.  What’s funny is the tourists who take the train or drive to the top – never dressed properly LOL People watching at the top was more than amusing.
There’s more, but this is enough for one post…
To be continued…

Mad Marathon Race Report – THE RACE!

22 Jul

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for: MARATHON SUNDAY RACE REPORT!

Sunday morning, up and at ‘em at 5 a.m. Kinda. I might have hit snooze a couple of times.  I got my hotel provided coffee and breakfast, and even though I wasn’t that hungry, I forced myself to eat half of my bagel with peanut butter, and a banana. That’s all I typically eat before a long run anyway, and I pride myself on being diligent about mid-run fueling.
Blah blah blah boring stuff… I ate, I got dressed, I applied sunscreen, Vaseline, and body glide (wow that sounds dirty).
Time to go!!!! It was about 55 degrees, 80% or so humidity, and overcast.  Perfect running weather, if only it had stayed that way.
Coachy and I headed into town around 6:30 a.m. It was super easy to find a parking spot, and we didn’t even have to use the gear check, it was close enough to leave all of our stuff in the car.
There were plenty of people milling around. 
Yum yums
We wandered through the finish area (it was early, I think we were both still half asleep), checked out some of the delicious goodies being offered for post-race food, and scoped out the potty line.  
Both sets of potties had huge lines already.  I skipped the potty line, which I later regretted.  Coachy skipped it too, but being a man found an easy tree to hide behind.  Sometimes I wish I was a man, just so I could go to the bathroom outside easier.  Is that weird?
Yup, totally freaking out.
 The Star Spangled Banner was sung, and we were all told to make our way over to the start area.  It was a tad confusing, but there were some wonderful volunteers telling us where to go.  You could see flags on either side of the road; they were marking the start area.  Volunteers announced “Go to the front if you’re running this race for a qualifying time!”  SAY WHAT? Who runs a race with 2100′ of elevation gain for a qualifying time?! Well, there were people that did.
At the start
Coachy and I found our way to about the middle of the pack or so, it seemed like a decent place to start.  People watching was fun – some people were wearing gloves, others were wearing pants and/or long sleeves! I hoped they were throw away layers, for the sake of those runners, but I had to giggle a little to myself too because 55 degrees isn’t really that cold to me.  I was a tad chilly in shorts and a tank, but I knew I’d be warm by Mile 1.   I choked down a GU (hard to do on a nervous stomach) and half a bottle of water.
In the moments leading up to the starting gun I really started to feel nervous.  The reality had FINALLY sunk in.  I was mere moments from running my first marathon.  WHAT HAD I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?!!!! I looked around at people, tried to make some jokes, but I was really nervous at this point.
BANG!
And we’re off – there’s no time left for nerves.  By the time we finished Mile 1, at a pleasantly easy 10mm pace, I was indeed fine and ready to tackle the next 25.2 miles. 
 Mile 2 provided us with a 342’ climb (I love my Garmin – does anyone else love their Garmin? It’s kinda like, how did I ever run without this thing before?). We started running up this hill at Mile 2, but I slowed way down when I realized that it wasn’t ending any time soon.  The one thing I kept telling Coachy for the entire race was that I didn’t want to waste any of my energy reserves – I will finish, I will finish strong (I hoped). So that meant walking the REALLY crazy hills.
The start of mile 3 we were still climbing this crazy ass hill! I thought it might never end! And then it happened, the hill took an immediate turn down, JUST as steep as it was to climb! YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!! I took off running like a crazy woman, hauling ass as fast as I could down the hill (and of course yelling WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE).  Garmin data says my fastest pace was 7:07 in mile 3.  SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET! I actually had to turn around and look for Coachy – his knees don’t like him when he tries to run downhill like a stark raving lunatic.  I’m grateful I don’t have that trouble. 
Me and Coachy! End of Mile 4 maybe?
More of this fantastically awesome downhill awaited us in Mile 4 – there wasn’t a single foot of elevation gain in Mile 4 – and it turned out to be the fastest mile we ran for the entire race.  Coachy called that one – I believe his exact words were “This will probably be our fastest mile all day.” Well maybe not the exact words but close enough.
Near disaster struck somewhere after Mile 4 – my fuel pouch opened and started spilling stuff everywhere! Gummy bears and GU littered the road! Luckily some super nice people behind me called out that someone was losing their stuff, and I noticed it was me.  ARGH! I quickly gathered up the GU I had lost, but left the gummy bears.  Bummer, I had a good pile of gummy bears and ended up losing most of them. I saved the important fuel, that’s all that matters!
It was also about this time we started hearing a voice from behind us yelling “Maniac!” every time someone in a Yellow Marathon Maniac’s singlet ran by.  I was highly amused by this, it happened a lot.  I just couldn’t help but laugh every time I heard “Maniac!” from behind me.
Mile 9 was another ridiculous hill – 353’ of gain! There wasn’t even a question that we’d be walking that one.  And then it happened – the Maniac caught up with us! We chatted with him for a while, about his 63 marathons, 7 marathons on 7 continents, his daughter running with him, Coachy’s daughter (she’s a wicked speed demon), how I came from Couch to 5k to marathon running in just over a year, it was really awesome.  The marathon for the non-elite, non-crazy ass speedy runner is just an amazing thing.  This was my first dose of how awesome it is – power walking up a wicked hill, chatting away with someone I’ve never met in my life, and enjoying every second of it.
Miles 10-13 weren’t terribly exciting.  My bladder had wanted me to empty it for a while, and I kept holding out hoping for a port-a-potty.  I finally gave up on that idea when after running for two hours I just couldn’t hold it in anymore.  Coachy spotted one of those big transformer boxes off of a side road and told me to run over there and then I could catch up to him since we were headed down a big hill.  So I did just that.  I had seen various people bolting off into the woods and side streets all morning, and every time I had a comment like “oh, somebody’s gotta go!”, now it was my turn!
I have never peed that fast in my life, or felt that good after peeing. (Aren’t you so glad I shared?). 
I had been feeling a little run down during the 10-13 mile area – 10 miles used to be my “wall” before I started marathon training.  I thought I was past that, but I had never run anything so hilly in my life.  I had made sure to fuel up with another GU about an hour or so in, and I started chomping away at some sport beans and gummy bears at this point too.
Mile 13 it hit me out of nowhere.  Having never run a race longer than a half marathon, I was used to this point being where I take every last ounce of oomph that I have and make a mad dash for the finish line.  “Not today.” I thought to myself.  “Today you are only halfway there; today you are running a marathon.”  I quickly changed that line of thinking to, “Only halfway there? Oh hell no, ALREADY halfway there!”  Coachy was behind me taking some pictures, so I was alone for a couple of minutes with my own thoughts, and I started to get really emotional.  There were a few tears. I couldn’t believe I was halfway through my first marathon.
Halfway there…feeling kind of dejected
 I got a second wind for a little while, shouting things like “I’m halfway through my first marathon” I wanted the world to know!
It was also obvious to so many of the other runners that it was my first, because every person I chatted with along the way I asked, “So, how many marathons have YOU run?” We saw an older man had run 50 states – TWICE! He was on his third time around. Texas (as we started to call MANIAC man, when we found out he was from Texas) had run 63.  Blue shirt lady (I’ll get to her in a minute) had run 17. Another older couple had run quite a few – he had more than his wife, but I don’t remember their numbers.  In any case, I was so amazed by how many multiple marathons so many people had run. It was a fun little game to me to ask everyone I could how many marathons they had run, and it took my mind off of the fact that I was starting to suffer.
The clouds had quickly burned off, and by mile 14 or so it was getting hot.  We had been running for about 2 ½ hours or so by then (maybe a little more) and the temps were rising.  I was hot, I was tired, and for some odd reason I was hungry.  Gummy bears seemed to help, but I wanted more.
Mile 15 – I had no sooner said to Coachy, “I could really go for something like an orange right now.” When we came upon a woman outside of a little shop with a table – HANDING OUT GRAPES! I was so happy I told her I loved her.
I ate my grapes, which made my mouth and my belly happy, and we continued on our way.
Another HUGE hill to climb (which actually started at mile 14 – we went up, and up, and up, for 3 miles!).  There was NO END to this hill – at least that’s how it felt. 240’ of gain over 3 miles. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great. 
What really sucked was every time I stopped to walk, I didn’t want to start running again.  At this point Coachy was consistently saying, “Are you ready to run again?”, “Come on, this is a race, lets run”.  I think I punched him at least once, if not more. Apparently when I punch people it hurts, because I have boney knuckles, not because I’m strong.  I think this made him want to kick my ass and annoy me more. My breathing was off, and my throat was dry, and I was having a hard time picking the running pace back up every time we started.  I couldn’t wait for the next water stop.
We got to the top of the hill (FINALLY) at about 16.5 miles.  There was a man at the top telling us, that’s the worst of it.  You are at the highest point in the race.
Um, wrong.
Well not entirely wrong.  We were at the highest point, but it wasn’t the end of the climbing.  It was just a bunch of down, and then some more up, and then some more down, and then some more up. At the next water stop they also told us “It’s all downhill from here.” I don’t know where these crazy Vermonter’s get their idea of downhill, but it was not all downhill from there.
It was not all downhill until almost mile 22.
But, before we get that far…
Next thing I know we’re approaching Mile 20.  MILE 20! Only 10k to go! I AM “THIS CLOSE” to finishing my first marathon. 
YAY
Coachy decided that now would be a good time to play a game, to keep my mind off of what was about to happen (you know that crazy mental block that so many people hit at Mile 20, when they hit the wall, when the race “begins”).  We were going to pick off as many of the people in front of us as we could between Mile 20 and the finish line.
Starting with Blue Shirt Lady. We had been playing a furious game of cat and mouse with her for almost the entire race.  She’d pass us, we’d pass her, etc… this went on for MILES. 
Given my naturally competitive spirit, I wanted to pass her and stay past her.
We started counting people as we passed them.  It was a fun game – and it definitely kept my mind off of the fact that I was tired, hot, and in pain (mostly in my feet and toes). And mostly hot.  I was not acclimated to the heat at all. 
HOT. TIRED.
Somewhere between Mile 20 and 22 (I don’t recall exactly) was a man with a hose.  He was spraying it for anyone that wanted to cool down.  You know damn well I took advantage of that.  I got sprayed and then had a BRILLIANT IDEA.  Why don’t I take my shirt off? I can run in a sports bra and shorts.  I’m sure I scared some people with my white belly, but I don’t care.
I took my shirt off, soaked it down with some more water at another water stop, and wrapped it around my neck, tucking the ends into my sports bra.  HEAVEN.  This helped make the “picking off game” even more fun because I was feeling SO MUCH BETTER. It kept me cool for the remainder of the race.
Mile 23 – I’m running downhill yelling “ONLY 5K TO GO IN MY FIRST MARATHON! ONLY 5K TO GO IN MY FIRST MARATHON!”  There was no stopping me now.

 Coachy told me to draw a target on our next victims persons ass and we’d “reel them in”. We kept passing people.  One tall skinny guy that looked fast.  Another guy who was miles ahead of us at the start – I feel bad, he must’ve hit the wall hard or been injured.  Another guy who looked fast. Another girl who we had also had a “not as furious as blue shirt lady” cat and mouse game with. A couple, walking.
Mile 25 – ouch. I hit another low point.  I felt terrible.  I was exhausted. I couldn’t breathe. There was a tiny hill that looked like Mt. Everest. I stopped and walked.  Coachy YELLED. “YOU CAN’T WALK WITH ONLY 1 MILE LEFT IN THE RACE.” Like hell I can’t, watch me.  Here I go, walk, walk, walking.  I don’t think he liked that very much.  But then, the ultimate motivation came.  The two walkers we had passed earlier – THEY WERE GAINING ON ME! HOLY CRAP! We can’t have that!
I didn’t actually realize it until Coachy turned around (he was a bit ahead of me by now, I could tell he was losing patience with my walking and was trying to get me to catch up to him). When he turned around he said, “You passed those people already – DON’T LET THEM CATCH YOU!”  I was like, “Oh hell no.  I’m not letting anyone by me.” And off I went. The total count: 18 to ZERO.  Yup, we passed 18 people and got passed by NONE. ZERO people passed us. Rock on.
Next thing I know I’m turning the corner onto the grassy area that leads to the finish line. 
Now I can see the finish line (and now I’m starting to cry again as I write this).
We bust into a kinda sort half assed we just ran for 5 ½ hours sprint (10:11 pace LMAO). And before I know my arms are up over my head and WE’RE CROSSING THE FINISH LINE!
I just finished my first marathon! I immediately start balling my eyes out.  But apparently I look like I’m having an asthma attack when I cry because I was approached by a woman asking me if I was okay.  In between sobs I said, “Yes, I’m find, I just finished my first marathon.” Turns out it was the race director, Dori.  She was greeting each and every finisher as they came through.  What a sweet woman.
Sweet finishers medal
This was such an amazing experience for me.  Every second of it.  The race was very well organized.  The volunteers were incredible.  The amount of townspeople that were out lining the streets cheering for runners was a beautiful thing.
Once we finished the race we found our way into a tent that had fans in it.  We were greeted by a man we had met the day before (whose name I did not catch).  He gave us apple cider and potato chips, and made sure we didn’t need any medical attention. We were fine, we just wanted to sit in the shade and get cool.  I had to take my shoes off anyway, my toes were throbbing.  (Final tally – 5 bruised nails, because my dumbass forgot to cut them short).
We relaxed in the grass for a while, watching a local band perform.  I taught Coachy about Phineas Gage – the band name was The Phineas Gage band, or something like that, but Coachy didn’t know who that was.  Once upon a time I was a psych major in college – so I was actually able to teach someone something!
I felt incredibly good for having just run for 5 ½ hours.  I spent some time stretching while sitting there in the grass watching the band, but then we both decided it was lunch time.
Back to our HQ for some delicious lunch. 
Food is never as good as it is after you just burned 2500 calories. 
And who did we run into at lunch? None other than Blue Shirt Lady! Turns out she has a name and it’s not Blue Shirt Lady! LOL Her name is Sue, and she was with another of her friends, who both congratulated me on my first marathon finish.

I am glad I chose the Mad Marathon as my first marathon.  It was hard.  It was humbling. But it was beautiful.  Between the scenery and the people that made it happen, running this race was one of the best things I have ever experienced in my life.
Final time: 5:28:58. I couldn’t be happier.

I Always Keep a Promise

20 Jul


Are you guys losing patience with my lack of race reporting yet? I’m so so so sorry.  I’m going on another adventure this weekend – Seek the Peak! I will try, VERY HARD, to get the report posted before I leave Friday afternoon. If I don’t I’ll owe you two reports – my first marathon AND my first hike to the summit of Mt. Washington.  I swear I will get to it – I always keep a promise.

Damn pesky thing called work and training gets in the way of blogging…oh and sleep, which I value, greatly.

Speaking of promises, earlier in the week I promised you a recipe for my Oatmeal Bluenana Muffins.  Here it is! I don’t bake too much in the summer because it gets too hot in my house, but I had some over ripe bananas that needed to be used.  Seeing how bananas are usually devoured before they can become over ripe, I took it as a sign that I needed to bake!

I adapted this recipe from a few different recipes to make it my own:

Oatmeal Bluenana Muffins


Ingredients

  • 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 c old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 3 overripe bananas
  • 1 c fresh blueberries 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 c applesauce
  • 1/8 c plain Greek yogurt (I use Chobani – it’s the only yogurt I’ll eat)
  • 1/8 c vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mash your bananas! I use a hand potato masher.

In a large mixing bowl combine flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
In a medium mixing bowl combine bananas, eggs, applesauce, yogurt, oil, and vanilla.  Mix thoroughly.
Does anyone else have one of these little guys for measuring small stuff: If you don’t, you should – what a great, handy tool! 
Mix your wet and dry ingredients until well blended. 
Fold in blueberries.  Spoon batter into muffin tins sprayed with non stick cooking spray.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Overflowing with blueberry deliciousness
This recipe makes approximately 16 muffins (but they’re kind of small)
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In other news, tonight I ran for the first time since Marathon Sunday!  Even though my glutes were sore from the P90X Core DVD I did for a workout last night (holy that workout series is no joke). 
I took off running and was shocked when I looked down at my Garmin for the first time.  I felt strong, I was breathing heavy but not feeling out of breath, I felt GREAT!
Do you see those first two miles?! OMGOODNESS! When I finished Mile 1 I played a game with myself – I told myself if I can finish Mile 2 around the same time then I’ll slow down for the next two miles (I am supposed to be taking it easy 9 days after my first marathon…whooooooooopsy!). Well it worked, so I slowed it down for Mile 3 (But I did manage to hit a BIG uphill in my neighborhood – the glutes that were sore before, they’re angry now – but hey, they’ll look good!). 
I rounded out the running portion of my workout right back at my house – so I ran in the house quick, grabbed Lexi, and went for a 1.3 mile power walk with her as a cool down.  It was too hot to take her on this run, and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t really appreciate the sub 9 mm pace. 
I’m sore but I feel great! Tomorrow I’m off to the gym for an easy speed workout (easyish – not my typical psycho intervals) and some upper body weight training (YIKES!). 
Do you ever surprise yourself in your workouts? Those first 2 miles came as a shock to me tonight, having never run a marathon before I didn’t know what to expect!

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