Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Curves Aren't Flat

I am beginning to understand this whole marathoning thing. I once naively thought that you get the marathon you have the fitness to run. This was my first marathon experience, so of course it had to be true! When Boston didn't go as planned, I knew I could blame some of that on the weather, but a lot of it, I thought was my training. So, I fixed my training to get myself some more fitness for the next one. I worked my little butt off all summer. I got the fitness to run very close to a 3:00 marathon. Too bad it takes more than fitness.

As chelle pointed out, luck certainly helps. I might have lacked that a little in Boston and Columbus, but more than anything I lack experience. I can read blogs and pick brains all day but whatever anyone else tells me about their experiences is no substitute for my own: there's no way to flatten the learning curve the way I want to.

This doesn't mean I can't run a marathon up to my fitness level, it just means it's a lot harder. More than any other race, the marathon requires skill and to execute that skill it requires incredible confidence. Without doing it over and over to develop skill and the resulting confidence in said skill, I believe it's very very difficult to race a marathon to the best of one's ability.

Looking back I didn't know what the hell I was doing! Ha! It sounds funny, but I mean it. I have drunk water from a cup while running a handful of times at best. I've eaten a gu while running sub-7:00 pace like three times in my life. There were a lot of firsts in Columbus: first time I took e-caps in a race; first time I ran a marathon in hottish weather; first time I ran a marathon with expectations of placing pretty high; first time doing a two week taper; first time running >65 miles per week, etc. And it's not like I have a whole heck of a lot of other racing experience to supplement my lack of marathoning experience.

My point isn't to explain why I didn't run what my fitness probably says I should have. My point is that marathons are very complex and there's no easy way to run a good one. Just like everything else in life, it takes patience, hard work and determination. Or a hell of a lot of luck!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Relatively Speaking

The period after a marathon is very strange. My legs are heavy most days I'm out there and 4 miles seems kind of long. My legs feel and have felt since the marathon relatively spectacular (focus on relatively) for having, well, just run a marathon. That's by no means to say they feel good, though. I have a particular tightness in my left hip and beyond that stuff all over the place just randomly gets sore or tight. It's kind of like taper when your legs first feel crappy before they feel better--although during my taper I never felt that crappy so they never felt all that better, but I digress. The point is, I'm not too worried about it because I think more than anything my legs are healing after all the miles I racked up this summer and this in turn causes tightness and soreness from time to time. No biggee.

My plan is to run comfortably this week. Since I have a wedding in 11 days, that means daily even if it's just a few miles to keep me relatively stress-free (again with the relatively). I even get to run 10 miles this weekend. Woohoo! Think of all that stress I'm gonna melt away in an hour and twenty minutes! Next week I get the club nationals training schedule. I'm guessing that means I'll probably get to do some sort of fartlek next week to reintroduce some speed (eh, might as well throw in a relative here too). Speaking of club nationals, today on my 5 mile tour of downtown Cleveland I ran on some grass near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because I'm a huge dork (no, no relativly belongs here, but I didn't need to tell you that, now did I?).

If you can't tell, I'm trying really hard not to talk about my feelings anymore. Fine I'll quit it. I do feel better. I think it has more to do with the fact that my brain is 95% occupied by wedding planning and now only has a tiny bit of space for brooding. And I might just be getting over it. Yeah, I think that's it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Loaded with Something

Uh oh. I've been drinking coffee all afternoon and I'm bored at work. This is a recipe for a blog disaster.

So last night, Mrp made an interesting observation: when we first started dating I ran for the hell of it while he was running 100+ miles a week preparing for the New York Marathon. Now, he runs for the hell of it while I'm (well, was) running sort of almost 100 miles a week preparing for the the Columbus Marathon. And this came up because I talk incessantly about it. He thinks it's funny, bless his little heart. I can't tell you how much I miss it as I haul my tight little stumpy legs around dreary downtown Cleveland during my lunch hour for 3 or 4 measly miles at a time. Joseph just posted about how his new coach told him he was going to overhaul his training to impose patience and self-control upon him. Hey, Tinman, are you listening? I need some of that! Oh yeah. You already know that, don't you.

But I am feeling better. I am still sad about the race, I'm not going to lie. I know everyone thinks I'm being one of those people who whines even when they got it good. But like I said, I can't help how I feel. Tinman suggested I post my race report over on therunzone, so I did. One of the frequent posters (who is a runner I am in awe of, by the way) there replied:

Well done Salty. I was aware before the race that you had hopes of a little faster finishing time, but when I saw the age group win and 11th overall I knew that you had run very well. What a bummer to get that stitch when you were going so strong. However, it just shows how far you’ve come—to still meet your original time goal and do exceptionally well from a competitive standpoint in spite of your troubles. You should be loaded with confidence now. Congratulations!

I should be loaded with confidence now? I should? Huh? And then I thought about it. Wow. That's such a different way to look at it. What I see as some sort of failure, others see as an accomplishment. I consider myself a realist. I am not one to pat myself on the back for something that is not worthy of patting myself on the back for the sake of making myself feel good. I am a lawyer, afterall. I know that there is always an argument for whatever point I want to make. If I want to argue I am so utterly awesome for this race, I could. I guess in trying to see the "truth" of the situation I kind of knee-jerked and got stuck on the negative aspect of the whole thing. In reality there is a little bit of failure mixed in with a lot of accomplishment. I guess I'm not a huge wuss if I focus more on the accomplishment part.

In other news on my way back to the office from my run, as I passed the throngs of sunken eyed sneaky smokers, I passed a van that said "Disability Records" and had a little handicap symbol with sweet rims on the wheelchair as it's logo. All afternoon I've been wondering what kind of music might be on a Disability Record. Food for thought.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Anatomy of a New Plan

I’m still in figure out what next mode. I know I want to run another marathon and the only thing for sure is that I want to run one before the summer. My current top 3 marathons in no particular order (unless you count chronological) are:

  • Tampa 2/10

  • Boston 4/21

  • Cleveland 5/18

  • Here are the factors I need to consider:

    Training Conditions: Winters here in Cleveland can be brutal for training. Trail running is all but impossible once the snow starts. That leaves treadmills and roads as my only options. I don’t mind running in the cold really, but running on roads all the time last winter seemed to wear me down. And then do I even need to explain why treadmills aren’t ideal? Besides the normal boring aspect, there’s the fact that my current gym is at work and the treadmills are not accessible on the weekends—lame. So, when we have a situation this winter when the roads are completely icy on both Saturday and Sunday (which we will), I either have to scrap the long run or run it very tentatively and risk injury. Also, it’s dark so much of the time too. How does this affect the decision?

  • Tampa: my big months will be December and January. There is little light, but the snow is not yet completely entrenched everywhere and I still could be able to do some trail running. I also have a lot of time off of work for the holidays in the middle of that, which helps. Finally, I feel like I’d more pick up where I left off and wouldn’t have to mentally ramp back up. On the negative side, there are very few good tune-up race possibilities, but I could run lots of nice shorter local Spring races.

  • Boston: my big months will be February and March. Yeah. It doesn’t get much worse around here than late February and early March. The snow is stuck everywhere. There is no chance for trail running. The winter has worn us all down and it’s just hard to stay motivated. Not that I can’t, of course, it’s just hard. Again, not many good tune-up races, but also I'd miss out on a couple of nice Spring races that fall too close to this marathon on the calendar.

  • Cleveland: my big months would be March and April. There would be more light and the weather would break early in this time span. There are a lot of good local tune-up possibilities.

  • Race Weather: Headwinds and me don’t mix as evidenced by my last two marathons. I need to reduce the possibility of that. Cold or hot is preferable to windy.

  • Tampa: The course has a long out and back along the ocean, which seems to me to invite the possibility for a nast headwind at some point during the race. The potential for heat and humidity scare me, too.

  • Boston: It can’t get worse than last year. Or can it? I feel likeBoston is due for some good weather!

  • Cleveland: The headwinds would most likely come at the beginning rather than the end, which is good. It could be hot, since it’s later in the season, but typically isn’t too bad.

  • Race Experience: I think this will be my last competitive marathon for a while. I want it to be a good one. How does this affect the decision?

  • Tampa: I have no idea. It would be nice to be in a more pleasant climate in February, but beyond that I can’t say the idea of going to a place I’ve never been before and have no ties to is very appealing. Also, it looks like the start is 6AM! Eek!

  • Boston: The crowd support would be great, but even with the significantly improved qualifying time, I am still running the risk of being stuck in a herd. I suspect I’d be in the 4th corral. At least this herd would be moving faster than the 9th corral herd! It would be nice to conquer the beast too and redeem myself after last year’s performance.

  • Cleveland: The crowd support would be thin for much of the race, particular the second half. Although I would have my own fans in my friends and family and this would more than make up for that. Also, to race well on my home turn would be incredible. Theoretically, I should place pretty high here—if I have a good race top 3? That would be pretty rad in my home court! And my Grandma’s could come watch, too!

  • Race Courses: I don’t necessarily need a fast course for this race. I don’t want an insanely challenging course, though either. I mainly just want a course that will allow me to race a marathon from beginning to end.

  • Tampa: Nice and flat. But, I still worry about wind.

  • Boston: Well, it’s Boston. I think I can handle the course, but it also would be somewhat intimidating just because I didn’t handle it that well last year.

  • Cleveland: It’s not a fabulous course by any stretch, but I am already very familiar with the first half since I’ve run the ½ marathon twice now. I am also very familiar with the last 5 miles or so. The only real potential course pitfall is a pretty significant hill at around mile 25. Although, I run that hill at least once or twice a week all year. It’s not that intimidating.

  • Mrp: Mrp is planning to run Boston. I want to be able to support him as much as he supported me leading up to Columbus.

  • Tampa: I’d get the marathon over with early and then be more available to mrp during his peak training weeks and during the race.

  • Boston: Well, I’d be a little wrapped up in my own race to be very supportive. I can still be supportive, but it’s not even remotely the same.

  • Cleveland: I would be in the middle of my hard training when mrp heads to Boston, but that’s fine. I would do my big workout on Friday or Saturday so I could not be preoccupied and could be a good spectator with him on Sunday for the OT and on Monday when he’s running. Plus, he’d inspire me for my race!

  • So, based on all this, doesn't it sound like Cleveland is the right choice?

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    Diary of a Disappointed Runner

    6:30 AM

    November is too soon and too busy to run another marathon. I don't think December is good either because it would be to close too xc nats. January or February. Arizona or Texas. Hmmm.

    7:50 AM

    Right now I want to cry thinking about missing out on running those last few miles. I apologize for this melodrama, but I feel like I'm mourning the race that could have been (gag--I told you). But just like when your dog dies, going out and getting a new one the next day isn't probably a wise move. Part of me wants to pick it up and get right back to it and run another marathon as soon as I can, but part of me (yeah, probably the rational sane part) says no. no. no. I know I need time to sort it out. I need to jump back into the rest of my life and immerse myself in all the other things that make me happy. This is the down side for being a hyper-focused goal driven person. It's hard to ever feel satisfied.

    9:00 AM

    I really would like to run another marathon in the coming months if it made any sense. I can kind of wrap my head around a late February race. I would certainly have to travel (I'm not running a 26 one mile loop course in Ohio in February!) And January is typically pretty demanding at work, so I'm not sure heavy training is even possible. Mrp wants to run Boston again. So it would kind of make sense to do Boston again. I am really nervous about committing to another winter of training--the weather can just be brutal here. And the dark. Can I stomach 20 mile wave workouts on a treadmill? Also, I want to support mrp in his quest to do something with the marathon. For the past year we have focused on my marathoning. I'm not sure we have the ability to focus on both of us striving to run our best at the same time. I know I'm not supposed to be thinking about this, but I can't help it! Oh, and I'm still sorry for the earlier melodrama!

    10:14 AM

    Hey look! I might have actually smiled in a race photo!

    11:24 AM

    Running shmunning. Mrp and I are getting married in 18 days! My goodness. I can't believe how sometimes I can lose sight of how great things are just because one thing didn't go perfectly. At the same time, I know I feel very disappointed and that's ok too. I just need to vent my disappointment and then I'll be better able to move on. So, yeah I'm disappointed about the marathon, but you know? I am so happy about everything else right now. So there.

    2:30 PM

    I went down to the gym during lunch and hopped on the eliptical for 1/2 an hour. I got my heart rate all the way up to 130 and I even sweated! My legs feel great. The only thing that is sore still is my left hip and of course my side is still annoying too, although less so today. But it felt great to release some endorphins and just move around a bit. Maybe I'll do a short run tomorrow. I think I know I can't run another marathon until next year even if wanted to so I'm going to try not to think about it for a while and defer making any decisions for at least 2 weeks.

    3:48 PM

    Once in a while when I'm bored at work I'll just check letsrun for a good laugh or an occasional tip. Today I found this: Just check out the results. Wow! His Paris marathon report made me feel better. I better get some work done today!

    4:36 PM

    Holy crap! I smiled in TWO pictures!

    4:41 PM

    You know, I had fun and I did the best I could. It was a good race. I'll be fine. See, I even felt that way on Sunday.

    Thanks everyone for all your support and advice!

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    Me and My Stitch

    Well, that didn't go quite as expected. The time is fine with me: 3:10:15. That is just 16 seconds shy of my original goal, so that's great with me. But, what isn't so great is how it came to be. I watched a certain sub 3:05 vanish before my very eyes, not at the hands of bad pacing strategy, tired legs or an overestimation of my cardiovascular fitness, but at the hands of a side stitch. Yes, a side stitch, the bane of beginning runners' existences. The one thing, the only thing, that has ever made me stop dead in my tracks in a race or even a hard workout.

    Marathons involve so many variables: weather; fitness; mood; biorhythms; courses; etc. And those are the big categories. Within each of those are infinite little things that can go right or go wrong. For example, weather alone can involve too much heat, too much cold, precipitation, wind (which I HATE) among other things. It's so rare that everything falls into place.

    In Boston last Spring, a few things were off for me. My legs beat up too early, I had problems pacing with the crowds, my body just felt off, and of course the Nor'easter. In that race, things started falling apart for me long before I got a stitch. Yesterday, everything was good and I was executing the race perfectly to come in 3:03-3:05 until we made a turn shortly after mile 19 into a blustery wind and I got a wicked stitch.

    My plan all along had been to start the race easy and then pick it up to a point where I naturally found a groove. I started with the 3:10 pace group and ran my first mile at 7:16. Then I picked it up a tiny bit and was just under 7:10 for two and then close to 7:00 for three. After that I hovered between 6:55 and 7:05 for a while. Around mile 8 we met back up with half-marathoners who were running about 8:30 pace. I knew this could throw me off and it did a little. That mile was my fastest at 6:44. I felt fine, really. At the half I was right where I wanted to be averaging just a tiny bit over 7:00 at 1:32:07. After the half point, it's pretty lonely, out in the open sun, and slightly up hil for about 4 miles. I found some guys that kept me company and we pushed along up up and up to the turn off around mile 17. The pace naturally was a little slower here--I think the last mile up high street was 7:12 or something, but just about what I expected. Right before 19 is one more hill and that mile was a little slow too--about 7:20. But I was feeling very strong. I felt fully capable of picking it up at 20. Right after that last hill we turn into a little neighborhood area that is pretty twisty and turny. I was fine until we made the first turn into the southerly wind. Wham. That was it.

    I stopped to stretch it out. From experience, I know that that is my best strategy for getting rid of it. Stretch it out. Get the diaphragm spasm to stop to get the breathing under control and try to relax and move on. I started running a few seconds after the stop and I held my side until we were out of the wind. I managed to run a pretty good 7:15 despite the stop. I was good for another mile and somewhere after 21 it got bad again. This is the beginning of the stopping and starting. I felt my 3:03-3:05 slip away. I was worried mrp would be up here to cheer me on and that if I saw him I would cry and fall apart. I was ok. If another woman passed me I would have been upset and if the 3:10 pace group passed me I'd be pretty mad too. No women passed me at all, which surprised me. But by mile 24, the 3:10 pace group went by. SHIT! I tried to stay with them but my breathing was all messed up and the pain in my side was horrendous. I tried so hard but I had to stop. I stretched it out and it wasn't going anywhere and I was so close so I tried to just run with it. I was running with my hand jammed up under my ribs and I finally came to the spot where mrp was waiting with my mom and my sister. I just looked at him and tears welled up and I just yelled, "Stupid stitch. I am so pissed!" But, somehow letting out my anger and frustration just gave me the gumption to push to the finish and make something of this race.

    With my hand still firmly entrenched in my side I winced and made myself breathe deeply and I managed to get it somewhat under control to the point where I could let go and just go. When I got to the 26 mile marker I looked at my watch and knew 3:10 was close--maybe just maybe I could eek in under 3:10. I sprinted down the brick road to the finish. I think I did the most damage to my legs right there! Heh. But I didn't care. I didn't care what hurt. I was going to at least push for a tiny portion of this race. I ultimately didn't quite break 3:10, but the 3:10:15 I made is fine. Hey, if I ever decide to get a sex change, I can still run Boston! And it's an 8 minute pr and I was 11th out of something like 1300 women and I was first in my woefully slow age group (just had to throw in a little eyeore there, sorry). Really, I would be so happy with the time if I ran my guts out to get it. My disappointment comes from not being able to run my guts out over the last 10k like I have tirelessly trained to do for months now. Ugh.

    Oh, and this is funny. I swear I saw white spandex guy from last year's Columbus Marathon around mile 2, but this year he was wearing silver and I wizzed by and never saw him again.

    So what's with me and stitches anyway? I'm finally comprehending that this is problem pretty isolated to me--at least to the extent I get them. When I started running I'd get them periodically, but that's nothing unusual. What is unusal is that in the spring of my first training cycle, I started getting them almost every time I'd run. Out of nowhere, too. Just one day it started and didn't let up for months. Actually, it didn't really stop until I got pleurisy, which mysteriously was painful in the exact spot of my stitches. From about March to August I constantly was in fear of a stitch making my run miserable. I tried everything. The opposite foot down as I exhale, the hand under the ribs, posture, belly breathing, etc etc etc. And since then I know the difference between my abs cramping from dehydration and this weird windy/breathing thing stitch. I can get a stitch sometimes when I'm dehydrated, but it is fundamentally different than the stitch I got yesterday or the stitches I got last year. As I sit here typing my diaphragm is very sore.

    But there is hope. I talked to Tinman yesterday after the race and besides being wonderfully supportive and generally encouraging, he suggested it might be something related to the alignment of my spine. It could be something so simple that a trip to the chiropracter is all I'd need to nip it in the bud. And this makes sense. My back was out of whack all that spring and summer and was only made to rights when I came down with pleurisy and change in my posture associated with that solved my problem. Two weeks before Boston and now two weeks before Columbus I had the first real stitch of those training cycles. As I'm tapering and tense (and at least during this cycle) I had a couple of days where I woke up with a spasm in a muscle in my back or my neck early within two to three weeks of the marathon. So my fingers are crossed that someday I can remove stitch from the list of things that stop me dead in my tracks and one of these days I'll run a marathon with no asterisk.

    Friday, October 19, 2007

    Like Sands Through the Hourglass

    Newsflash: Apparently there is runner tracking for Columbus. If you're so inclined go here and type in number 2386.

    So, we're just two days away from the big day, folks. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty excited. Of course, I'm nervous and a bit jittery, but it's way more a 5 year old's Christmas Eve jitters than the day before a root canal jitters. Something that helps me with nerves is to always have some sort of plan for after the race. What next?

    I really feel like all the work I did this summer, while it will certainly pay off on Sunday, will really pay off after the marathon--after I've had time to rest and recuperate from it and my legs are back to 100%. Just for fun I scoped out my recent past by looking at my log for the last 8 weeks and I am amazed at what I have done! Over those weeks I ran 75.75, 78, 78.5, 80, 90.25, 89, 66.5, with this week panning out to be 39 before the marathon. I never thought I could do that! My first week of taper was more miles than I ran during my peak weeks for my previous two marathons. Insanity! Theoretically, all those miles shouldn't just make me a good marathoner, but a good every distance runner. After the marathon I should easily be able to set some serious pr's at shorter distances. I am planning to race as much as I can throughout November and December. There won't be a ton of races to choose from up here in the tundra, so I couldn't overrace even if I wanted to, don't worry.

    The one race I am really really looking forward to is USATF Cross-Country Nationals in Cincinnati. I am so excited that I have an opportunity to run with my team among the country's best runners. Sure, I'll be bringing up the rear, but that's cool with me. Just having that opportunity just amazes me!! And to think, three years ago I could barely run 3 miles straight!!! And cross-country is tons of fun to boot!!!

    Anyway, back to the boring terrained present. This morning, I trotted along on the treadmill for a 3 miler and felt great--better than I have in a long time, actually. I ran my normal easy easy pace, 8:30 or so and played with the incline a bit just to engage as many muscles as I could. Nothing fancy. My shin felt fine. Maybe I ran too slow on Wednesday and my form was out of wack and that's why the shin acted up. But whatever the reason, the niggle appears to be transient. No worries there. Everything else felt pretty good. My butt and hammies weren't tight on the run, but I noticed my left hammie/butt was quite a bit tighter than the right one when I was stretching. I'll keep working on that, but I also don't think it's anything to worry about.

    Also, the weather appears like it's going to behave for the most part. It's supposed to be a perfect 53 or so at the start, but a pretty warm upper 60's by the time I finish. As no one needs reminding, it could be way worse! Actually, now that we're on the topic, if you're looking for some running inspiration check out Bridget's performance in this year's Chicago Marathon. All I can say is WOW! When I'm all hot and feeling crappy at mile 24, I'll think, "Bridget wouldn't back down!"

    Yikes! I can't believe I'll be finished in less than 48 hours! It's crazy how fast the time went by. As all my wonderful running buds have assured me, I am as ready as I'll ever be and I've worked so hard and I'm ready to roll. So, look out Columbus, here I come!

    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    Category of Being

    I just received this e-mail from the race director for the Columbus marathon and wanted to share.

    Welcome The Salty One to the Nationwide
    Columbus Marathon. Packet pickup begins on Friday. To speed up the process, print out this email with you bib number.

    You bib number is: 2386

    You have entered the Marathon and you are a Runner.

    For more race information, visit

    Good Running!

    Better than a fortune cookie! Unfortunately there is no runner tracking, but if you want to play my number (or avoid it) in the lotto, feel free.

    Ghost in the Shin

    On a comments thread linked to Joseph's blog recently, there was some talk on running slowly. All of us egomaniac competitive types think, oh like 8:00's or MAYBE 9:00/mile, right? Wrong according to some. Mrp told me that one of his running pals who regularly runs marathons in the 2:30's runs recovery runs well over 10:00/mile. I thought he was exaggerating, but apparently 12:00 is a perfectly normal pace for some very accomplished runners. Who knew? While I can't quite run 12:00/mile I have run two runs really close to 10:00 recently. And it felt kind of good. One was on the treadmill and I vanely covered the monitor with a towel--I have a reputation to uphold! Not really, but with a marathon looming in three days, allow me to be a little big-headed. Thanks.

    Then the next morning, my legs felt tired and tight, and again with the marathon looming in three days (four days as of that particular run), I decided what the hey, just trot the 6 miles. So I did. I felt much looser at the end of the run and I just stretched my hammies and my piriformises (i?) which have been giving me the most problems and went on my merry way to the hair salon for my bridal hair and make-up trial. (I used to find this stuff nauseating and cheesy as hell, but I have since relented and am actually enjoying this most girly time of my life. It's a refreshing change.) While I was sitting in the weird spinny chair with the black cape over me and as the hairdresser prattled on about homecoming hairdos, I suddenly noticed an ache at the bottom of my shin. The hell? I blew it off and continued basking in my pre-bridal girly bliss. When I was finally done and rose from the chair, I realized the shin was quite sore.

    I iced it when I got home and felt pretty fine as mrp and I ran all over nearby country roads as our photographer shot engagement shots of us. I bought a cheap off the rack simple wedding gown, threw on a black belt to make it not so wedding gown and completed the look with running shoes. Since the dress was so long on me anyway, I figured my little niggle could use the extra cushioning. Plus, even if the sneaks did make it on camera, that might be kind of cute. After our photo session, it was pretty sore. So, I iced it again. I was now, of course, worried it was a career-ending stress fracture. I fretted and fretted as I ran my finger along my shin bone. But on further inspection, I realized it was just soft-tissue. As I massaged a little muscle anterior to the bone, it was tender--the bone itself was fine. I massaged it pretty good and iced it one more time before bed. When I woke up this morning it was still a little sore but as I've been up and about it's been feeling better and better. I actually have a scheduled day off today, my first since 7/1/07! So, I can rest it up and hopefully it will be fine for my short runs tomorrow.

    Since my weekly mileage has plunged into the not very high land of taperville, my butt's been tight, my hammies have bugged me, my adductors are tight (probably from being too old to piggy back ride), and of course now the shin niggle from heck. All of this while running about half my peak weakly mileage. It's just funny how the old bod hardly complains then and you give it a little break and suddenly it acts like a spoiled brat! It's also funny that now that my mind is ready my body needs a chance to freak out a little. Hopefully, both will behave for me in three days.

    Monday, October 15, 2007

    The Foo and a Happy Feeling

    Did I ever tell you about my newfound love of the Foo Fighters? I don't know why, I swear I have better taste, but I just love them. Although I always appreciated Nirvana, I actually never even noticed the Foo Fighters until like two months ago (and yes, the Foo is definitely cheesecake compared to Nirvana). Before then, I couldn't tell one of their songs from another one. And now, of course, I'm obsessed. Apparently Everlong is really popular as a first dance song at weddings, so apparently I am very normal for liking the Foo Fighters in this wedding state of mind I'm in. (Thank goodness. I was beginning to wonder.) But over the past few months every time they come on the radio in the car mrp and I sing along and act fools. Usually we hear Monkey Wrench, Learning to Fly, or Everlong. But, get this--Times Like These and My Hero make me cry! I am such a sap--and not just any sap, but a sap with questionable taste. Yikes! The reason I am telling you this is that I just found this string quartet that did an album of all Foo Fighter songs and I can't stop listening to it. The string version of those songs makes me happy in that sappy kind of way, but so far I am tear free today in my office.

    Anyway, so if you couldn't tell, last post I was a bit nervous and that was my attempt to reassure myself. Repeated barrages of positive self-talk and plan corroboration with Tinman and mrp have helped me to be really confident and zen about the whole thing. Now I can say, without lingering scaredy feelings lurking in the back of my mind, that I am excited and ready to roll. Yes, of course I'm nervous! But, in a good way--in an I'm amped up and excited and hope it's a great day kind of way.

    The plan is to go out at 7:00 pace for the first three miles and then per Tinman's instructions, drop the pace at the three mile mark to 6:53. If I feel like it later in the race I can pick it up and go for it! If not, I'm running a great time as is. I am very happy with this plan and I feel confident in my ability to adjust as needed given circumstances beyond my control. It'll be neat to see how it actually pans out. I'd put my money on hitting those paces exactly for every mile. Heh. Actually, I will just be happy if I don't go out to fast and I'm somewhere in the ball park.

    Other than making plans and writing little OCD lists of things to pack, and wear, and eat, and buy, etc etc etc I am enjoying my short little runs, getting out in the gorgeous fall weather and trotting around the woods alone or through the city with my running buds. After all that hard work and weeks of zombieness I am feeling like a happy little runner again. I love when hard work pays off!

    Friday, October 12, 2007

    Everything I Ever Needed to Learn About Running Marathons I Learned From Watching SNL Reruns

    I have something important on my mind: strategy, also known in some parts as strategery. Broadly, my strategy for the marathon is confidence. That is, I want to be confident that I will achieve my goal.

    Well, I guess this begs the question: what is my goal anyway?

    After much wracking of the brain, I've realized that the best outcome for the marathon is to finish strong. I want to run a race where I am still trying to beat the clock over the last miles. I want to chase down my best possible time whatever it is from the start to the finish. I have an idea of what my best possible time is and I am going to go after it, but whatever the end result is if I have fought for every last possible second and done the best with what I have to work with that day I will be happy.

    Ok, now it's time to explain why I can achieve this goal. Pardon me, as I Stewart Smalley my way to confidence.

    1. I have worked my tail off! The one thing I cannot say at the end of the race is that I have not trained hard enough. I gave this cycle everything I've got. I pushed myself way harder than I ever thought I could and I made it to the other side and I'm feeling good. As Tinman once told me, I have worked to give myself enormous strength and endurance and I can run close to my maximum for a longer period of time than I ever could before. I am ready for the marathon!

    2. I am not afraid of pain or discomfort or weird stuff happening. I know how to deal with all of that. I have run marathon pace on ouchy legs, when I want to stop and plop down under a tree and sleep for weeks, and even with a side stitch or when I was horribly dehydrated. I also know how to hang in there and get back on pace after a bad mile or two or to laugh off tripping over others or how to deal with a guy running near me wearing see-through bike shorts.

    3. I can check my ego and not go out too fast. I really can, despite what my last 10k tells us. Whatever it takes, I ain't doing that.

    4. I will stay positive and I will enjoy this marathon to the fullest. I will savor every moment of this race because it is my dessert for working so hard this summer. I deserve to bask in those one hundred and eightyish minutes of glory. I am not nervous, I am excited to get out there and give it what I got! It's going to be fun and one of the best experiences of my life. I can't wait!

    Sure, I have doubts and fears, too. But at this stage of the game, it doesn't do any good to entertain them. It's time to focus on the joy of running and racing and everything positive I have done to get to this point. This way, at the end of the day, when the going gets tough I'll be confident enough to give just a little more cowbell. Sorry. Yes, I know that was horrible! Heh.

    Monday, October 08, 2007


    It just sucks that you can put in months of training only to have it all flushed down the toilet by global warming. Maybe this heat wave is not part of some politically charged environmental "theory," but as polar bears lose their seal hunting habitat and as the leaves in Northeastern Ohio struggle to even show the slightest hint of fall color in the middle October, one has to wonder. And as I check the insanity inducing 15 day forecast for Columbus, Oh and it is STILL supposed to be hot in two weeks I want to scream! Down with weather-related asterisks!

    Seriously, it sucks so much that success in our sport, unless your national or international class to a limited extent, is measured by a clock. And weather can speed up that clock making it impossible to demonstrate the success that we have worked so hard for. Sure, we can all say "given the weather, that's a great performance." But no matter how much we weather-affected runners rationally understand that to be true, the fact that the clock shows a slower than goal time makes us feel, at least a tiny bit, like we have failed. We can latch on to those couple of people who ran phenomenal times despite the weather and wonder why, if they could do it, I couldn't? Or wonder what would have happened if we would have just started a little slower, or just drank more gatorade, or on and on and on. It is like purgatory. Not heaven. Not hell. Just stuck in the middle wondering.

    So here's to you all October 7 midwestern marathon runners. Given the weather you pulled out some great performances and I know by me saying that you don't feel any better.

    Thursday, October 04, 2007

    She's Not So Perfect

    jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjhumnmnm kk,hnun If you're wondering what's up with that, that was me trying to clean the grape jelly off of the u and j keys. I was being all professional and eating my pbj at my desk and a big glob of jelly suddenly descended like a bird dropping onto my keyboard. Eww. Now it's sticky.

    I have a very serious topic to discuss today, folks. Race pictures: why do I sometimes look so scary in them?! I swear I don't look like the child of Bulgarian weightlifters in real life (and my ponytail generally obeys the laws of gravity* and my head isn't truly that oddly shaped**). I'm hoping it's just the angle and the particular point in my stride because serious y'all, if that's what I look like I'm scared of myself! It's hard being a short muscular Slavic chick. When I was in college, when the unfortunate waif look was all the rage, my friends teased me and said I looked like a Romanian gymnast. I would scrunch my face and hmmph. But then again, I'd think, Nadia Comaneci was kind of cute, maybe it's not so bad. These days, mrp teases me and says I have stumpy legs--well, in his defense I was the first to describe them that way and he thought it was funny so he's not really making fun of me, he's making fun with me...or something. And then there's the whole problem of having visible arm muscles but no upper body strength to speak of.

    It's kind of weird being an athlete and a girl/woman/chick/female whatever. Athleticism kind of contradicts all the feminine ideals--delicate, graceful, passive, pretty etc. So, I suppose in the throes of it I shouldn't look any of those things and I definitely don't in that picture! I'm sure there's even a picture of Nadia with scary hulk quads out there somewhere.

    *Pardon the cheesecake. It was the only real life ponytail picture I had available.

    **Well, maybe my head is oddly shaped.

    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    Saint Notaperyet

    * Nope. Not tapering yet. Everyone keeps asking me. No! I'm not tapering yet. Don't tempt me to skip a run, people!

    After the race on Saturday I e-mailed dear Tinman telling him how the race went and to get my schedule for my final three weeks before Columbus. As he often does, he replied within a few minutes with a very detailed three week schedule. I quickly noticed that for this week he's increasing my miles. "Hey!" I thought. "You're not supposed to do that!" I had not so secretly been counting down the days when I could replace minutes running with minutes doing other stuff. Also, I've been over 70 miles for two straight months and close to or right at 80 for most of that time. Do I really need to go to 90! Sure, part me of gets off on the numbers and feels like a bad ass for being able to say I peaked at 90 miles this training cycle. Before this training cycle my high was 65! This seems kind of nuts. Or does it?

    The funny thing is that I actually feel really good right now! Even after running 18 on Saturday with the 10k and then 22 on Sunday. I have a few little niggling remnants from the race but that's normal for me. Otherwise I feel pretty fresh surprisingly. I'm still doing good with the sleep. No big sleep nights, but I have been consistently getting 8 hours every night. I am trying to keep up with the food but my furnace is just on high all the time. I throw something in there and it's burned up in seconds. I am afraid to weigh myself. My pants are all but falling off these days. I swear I am stuffing my face nonstop and I just can't do anything about it. Maybe I'll start a new style--the business casual chino sag. Or I could just go get a belt.

    Yeah, but I was all worried about this "insane" schedule. I decided to investigate. So what did I do? I barraged Tinman with questions! I must drive him crazy. He's a saint. If I ever get confirmed, Tinman will be my confirmation name in his honor. Apparently for some runners (apparently ones like me), cutting back mileage too soon cuts back endurance which results in poor performance over the last 8 miles or so of the marathon. He swears that the runner
    "who does the mileage and long runs (just doesn't hammer them) in the last 3 weeks doesn't run out of steam and passes a lot of runners from the 18 mile mark to the finish." After seeing countless people fade in the marathon last weekend, in Boston, etc. I want to be the one that doesn't fade. I want that strong finish charging through the OSU campus.

    I trust Tinman, but I was curious just how out there is ideas were. So, I checked out the let's run message board, where else? I found this thread. I always take let's run with a grain of salt because there are so many lying self-inflating assholes there, but when several pretty fast high mileage guys are spouting the benefits of the 2 week taper, it made me feel better.

    And then I just thought about it. From my own experience, when I'm running a lot of easy miles I feel my best. I felt like crap the second half of Boston. Part of that was the weather, but I really think part of that was because I screwed something up those last few weeks. My legs felt dead from the start but just three weeks prior I did 15 at goal pace on a very hilly course and felt great. I tapered for three weeks and cut my mileage a bit drastically: 58, 40, 31. And like I said, I'm feeling pretty good and racing pretty decently now with no taper so I think and hope this is going to work out for me.

    *Saint Sebastian, the patron saint of athletes.