Sunday, October 18, 2009

Next Best Thing

The next best thing to running my own pr is tracking three friends to huge pr's of their own. I just wish I could be there to celebrate!

Congrats E (3:05!), CV (3:12!) and DD (3:27!)

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Big First

Proof I was relaxed and happy! Well, at least relative to how I usually am in a race. But not bad for mile 15. I didn't look quite so happy at the finish, of course. But hey, this is a good start!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I was laying in bed with peanut conked out on top of me and I couldn't really move. My mind was wandering and I started reflecting on the marathon and suddenly it all made sense.

+ 2:30 because my long runs were not long enough. My splits slowed way down the last 5-6 miles and I was running in the 7:50's and I felt like I had picked it up!--means to me that I was running out of fuel.

+ 1:10 for the pitstop--48 seconds for the actual stop and then 6 seconds for getting back up to speed (not easy at all after stopping at mile 17.75) and 8 seconds each for the 2 miles before hand when I was trying not to go in my shorts!

+ :20 for the numb feet at the start. My first couple of miles were pretty slow. They should have been somewhat slow, but maybe not quite as slow as they actually were with my stumpy frozen feet.

+ 2:00 for the course--I actually think it was slow because of the terrain--it sucks the life out of your legs--but also because it is BORING as hell especially later in the race when it's easy to lose focus anyway. Although, the softness makes recovery quick! I feel so so so good now!

+ :30 for a hairpin turn at mile 20.25. Seriously. It's bad enough to start from a stop at mile 17.75 but try it after mile 20.25. Not cool!

+ 2:00 because of my crazy taper/Akron DNF/life stress, etc.

So that gets me to 3:05:45 which is about what I thought I could do on a good day before Akron. Add 3:00-4:00 for my ego and we get a more reasonable 3:09ish.

Yeah, I know this sounds like a bunch of excuses. I like to think if it as an explanation for the result I am content with. The difference being I am in no way trying to take credit for a result I didn't earn, I am just trying to understand the result I got.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Calling All Archaeologists

It's two days later and I don't feel at all like I ran a marathon. I feel totally fine. Certainly better than I did post-Akron and probably better than I felt before Akron! My butt was nagging me for weeks and feels fine now. Go figure.

So the mystery is why couldn't I cash in on my training and run a marathon equivalent to my short race times? If anything I was in better shape than I was two years ago, yet I wasn't even close to matching my marathon performance from then and that itself was also an underperformance. Why was I able to comfortably run 13.1 miles at 6:59 pace on the towpath 5 weeks ago and barely holding 7:30's on the towpath two days ago? What the heck happened to me?

If you have some time and feel like doing an archeological dig into my training here's a link to my log.

Some ideas mrp and I have bandied about:

- crappy taper

- not long enough long runs

- life stress

- still nursing

Otherwise, we have no idea. I really want to know what happened. Any ideas or insight would be greatly appreciated!

PS This is not a bitter I should have run faster post! I did my best and I am happy with it. I am just trying to figure out why my best was much slower than all indicators seemed to suggest (at least what the suggested before Akron).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Autumn Leaves and Zebra Stripes

After my DNF at Akron I swore off running marathons--for all of 6 hours. By that evening mrp and I were discussing plan B over dinner. We did not think travel for a marathon made any sense so the only real alternative was the Towpath Marathon two weeks and one day after Akron. So, I decided to see how things went for a week or so and then decide whether a fall marathon was worth another shot. I still felt crappy all week, but even so I felt like I needed to close the chapter on this season of marathon training and the only real way to do it was to run one. Mrp agreed and he also agreed to enter it and run it with me as long as he could--it would be a family effort.

My legs felt good enough early last week and mentally I wrapped my head around the idea that a pr was a long shot after a stressful few weeks and questionable training and taper (for another post). And I was really ok about it. Yes, disappointed to an extent, but overall accepting. So, on Wednesday, mrp signed us up.

It must be noted here that my wonderful mrp has not been running much this year. He has other fish to fry these days and his training has been left on the back burner. On a good week he's run 12 miles. On a bad week, maybe 4. Yeah, not the best marathon training! Even to run with me. So, it was extra special of him to do this for me. Awwww!

Anyway, so after another hectic week--this time spent hustling to rent my house. We were successful on Saturday--finally!!!--Sunday came and it was time to go. My mother came over to watch the nut and mrp and I snuck out by cover of darkness. It was cold! But the forecast was more or less perfect for a marathon. We made our way down the highway to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. As we descended down the hills to the river valley the mist rose from the river silhouetted by the sunrise. Once where we needed to be we found MN who kindly picked up our packets and hit the porta-potties (which were about a 1/4 mile away from the parking lot--the hell?) Then we ran back to our cars in the frigid morning air and got ready. My feet were FROZEN. They were numb, y'all. Nothing a warm-up wouldn't cure, I thought. I suited up with the zebra-striped arm warmers I borrowed from E, my race team singlet, favorite black shorts, favorite Mizuno Elixirs, throw-away purple stretch gloves and some bodyglide to boot. I looked like a clown, but felt ready to roll.

The starting line was about a half mile from the porta-potties. That just seems dumb for such a small race. It worked out for me. I used the distance to do a mile warm-up with a few pick-ups. One thing several people mentioned to me post-Akron was that I should try a warm-up. So I did. Unfortunately I arrived at the starting line with numb feet. I found mrp. I told him it felt like my socks were bunched up between my toes. I took of a shoe to check and they weren't. My feet felt like stumps. Ugh. Oh well. They'd warm-up. I hoped!

The bell finally sounded and we were off. Mrp and me in a big swarm of running humanity. Oh. I didn't wear a watch. Well, I did, but I covered the face with blue tape so I couldn't see it. Yesterday I ran completely by feel and I did not sweat any of the splits, well at least I didn't sweat most of them. Mrp had his watch, but he was under strict orders to keep the data to himself. I was nervous about letting go like this, but it was great not knowing. Really!

Anyway, as the runners made there way down the road for about .75 miles and then hit the autumn leaf decorated trail, I was the fourth woman. The race was so small I could see pretty much everyone in front as we made the turn. By mile 2 I was third. By mile 5 I was second and by mile 6 I passed my friend TG who happened to be using the race to motivate her along her training run. So, I was now first (both officially and unofficially). Also by 6 my feet FINALLY thawed out enough that I could feel them. By 7 my toe hurt really bad. But after the turn-around at 8 it felt fine. Go figure.

The first turn-around was a great point in the race. As the first woman all the runners still headed out were very excited to see me and cheer for me. It was exhilarating. I'm sure all the smiles they gave me added up to something. By mile 11, I had reached the end of the running spectators and it was back to mrp and me. Well, and a guy in orange who decided he'd tell me my split was 7:10. I told him I didn't want to know. Also around this time I felt like I had to poop. (Sorry. I am just going to put it out there. We're all [well, mostly] runners here so why tip-toe around it.) I told mrp and he said, "no you don't." And I have to say that actually helped! For a while.

Then we hit mile 12 and the orange dude came up on us and said, "7:20!" I yelled at him this time. "Dude! I said I don't want to know!" He had headphones on. Ugh. He got huffy and said, "Fine!" and ran on ahead. Mrp was really pissed at the guy. I have to say I really didn't want to know I had slowed down.

We hit the half-marathon point and I felt pretty good. I knew my friends would be at the next aid station and that they'd be excited to see me in first. They were and it really meant a lot! I needed their support!

After my friends my next checkpoint was going by the finish at mile 15. We made it and I still felt pretty good, but once we passed it the poopy feeling came back. Around mile 16 we caught back up to orange guy and tried to pass him but he said, "Oh good. I was getting lonely. I'll pace off of you guys." Mrp had gotten a little ahead of me trying to pull me a long and prevent me from slowing more. I was stuck with orange guy who kept trying to chit-chat while I just wanted to poop! I finally broke away and got close enough to mrp to tell him I was going to make a pit stop. I saw a sign for a porta-potty before the next aid station. I can make! I can make it! I repeated to myself! We came to the aid station and there was no porta-potty in sight. Crap! Literally!!! We kept going and I thought I might poop my pants. But just ahead was a little offshoot of the trail and by some miracle someone had left a cloth there for me! Haha. Sorry everyone! So I scooted off the trail and did what I had to do. Mrp timed me. What a sweetheart. 48 seconds to poop. Not bad! I thought another woman might pass me. There were a few of them fairly close at the 8 mile turn-around. None did. Orange guy of course got back ahead, but so what.

I felt a lot better, but the stop made it difficult for both of us to get back down to pace. I was pretty sure we slowed a bit, but it didn't feel too bad. I had NO idea what pace we were on. When I needed a boost I could pretend I was on pace for a pr. I wasn't, but I never had to mull that over in my head and feel disappointed. Seriously. It was great! I might never wear a watch in a race again!

Now the focus was on the next turn around somewhere after mile 20. Mrp was ahead of me. I thought maybe he felt good and was just going to break away and finish strong. No. I maintained contact. I just needed to get to 20 now. Finally, 20 came and went. Now I needed to get to the turnaround. Finally, the turnaround. Only it was a hairpin. Just what any marathoner needs at mile 20.25--a hairpin turn! Mrp went first and had to stop to get around it. So did I. Yuck. But now I was back with him. And then I saw three other women breathing down my neck. They were closing in. It was hard again to get back to pace after the stop. But I felt like I was ready to push. At 21 mrp said, "Ok. Now is the time to remember why you're here. Go get the orange guy!" And with that I took off. It only took me about a mile to catch orange guy. And then I passed every other guy in sight except one who had picked it up more than I had. I took the tape off my watch and saw the split going past 8:00. Wha?! Thankfully the next split was 6:58. I felt like I was hammering, but I think the 8:00 was long and the 6:58 short--in retrospect.

But yeah. I felt like I was hammering. By 24 I started to worry I couldn't make it. My legs were leaden. I felt woosy. I took a gel at 22, but I'm not sure it helped. My next target was a road I needed to cross around 24.5. This half mile took forever. I saw Bob the mailman. He cheered for me in his dry style. And I loved it. Then I saw my old friend M from work. And then the road. I passed the road and knew it was less than 2 to go. Go go go!! I bulldozed all thoughts and just ran. I needed to go forward. I disregarded my watch. Left foot. Right foot. They're coming for you. Go. Win!

I came to mile 25. Still over a mile. Go. Go. Go. Left. Right. Left. Right. Ow. Shut up. Run.

I knew I was close, but I couldn't see the finish and my mind was afraid to admit I was close without the finish in sight. There was a little bump of a hill and over it was the last road to cross and the finish was right after that. I knew that. But I could not see the finish over the bump. Someone told me the finish was over the bump. But I still could not let myself admit I was almost done because if it wasn't close, I would not make it.

I crested the bump. I saw the street. I crossed the street. I saw matted grass next to a barn with an arrow pointed in that direction. I followed it and bumped along the grass and then onto some dirt and across the mats and into the arms of a race official who held me upright. I won! My time was 3:16:45.

I was not disappointed by that. It's not what I had hoped, but I know I did my best. Yesterday was a real victory for me.

I stumbled around waiting for mrp. I saw the next woman finish about 45 seconds after me and then the next one a few seconds later. But still no mrp.

E found me. "Tell me you ate something blue," she said. "Your lips are blue!" She dressed me in her fleece, scarf and hat. I looked (and smelled for that matter) homeless, she said. I got a banana. But it was cold. It made me colder. I felt light headed. Not right. Finally mrp came in. 3:28 and change. Just 40 minutes off his pr! Training is a good thing, he said.

I was still blue. No mylar. My bag was in the car about 1/2 a mile away--a world away. We ran into another friend B who gave me another sweatshirt and her and E took me in the bathroom and made me stand in front of the hand dryer. It helped a bit. But then it was just time to go. I wasn't going to get warm with all the wet stuff on me and peanut needed us home. I gathered my prize (a beautiful photo of the Cuyahoga Valley in the fall plus a fleece vest) and E walked mrp and me to the car. I was almost instantly better once there and I took off my wet clothes. But this is the second time I was hypothermic after a marathon! Oh the stories we will tell peanut.

Mrp and I drove home and we rehashed and speculated and had a grand time of it. We called home and heard peanut joyfully babbling in the background, so we stopped for a burrito on the way home. Blue tape, autumn leaves, zebra stripes, poop breaks, blue lips, true friends and beautiful companions. It really was a perfect day.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

(a very diluted version of a) Phoenix (like 3 parts water to one part phoenix)

Peanut's waking up, so this will be short.

I am running another marathon on Sunday ... and mrp is running with me! Fun times sure to abound! It's a very small local marathon run on a limestone path. Some say this will ensure a slow time. I used to do almost all my long runs on that path before peanut and I always really liked it. It's funny that I USED to do all my long runs on that path before and now that I'm running a marathon on it I've hardly run on the path at all this past year! Oh well. After a dnf and a haphazard 4 week taper, I honestly just want to finish a marathon with a smile on my face and close the chapter on this year of training. That's the goal.

In other news, the law school I went to hired me as an adjunct professor! It's just for one semester and I only get to do it if at least 8 people sign up for my class, but it's a start!

I am looking for another part-time gig of some sort: permanent, contract, whatever! We could really use some dough rolling in and I need the intellectual stimulation and adult-like structure to my life. Running clothes, infrequent showers and mussy ponytails be gettin' old, people.

Here's what my two weeks post Akron-DNF training looks like:

Su - Off to recover mentally and physically

Mo - 4 easy

Tu - 6 easy

We - 6 easy

Th - 7 with 1 at "MP*" (6:52)

F - off (massage!)

Sa - 10 with 2 at "MP" (6:56, 6:55)

Su - 7 easy

Total: 40

Mo - 4 easy (started to feel good!)

Tu - 7 woth 6 x 1:30/1:00 @ 5k (felt great--was :30-:40 faster for the .6 miles out of the valley from my house than usual!)

We - 3 easy (felt a little crusty)

Th - Planning 6 easy

Fr - Planning 4 easy

Sa - Planning 2 easy

Su - Race day!

Total: 26 + Marathon

* I said, "Legs, run marathon pace" and this is what they did. Pretty much every time I did that over the season they ran 7:15-6:50. I am committed to not being disappointed if that is not what happens on Sunday. Again, the point is a smile at the finish (for once)!