One down and, like, eleventy billion to go.

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Published on: September 24, 2009

This felt like my first “big” weekend with the whole marathon training thing.  One weekend is now in the books.  And an incomprehensible number more to go.

On Saturday, I had to run 7 miles at marathon pace. 

First off – marathon pace??   I have absolutely NO idea what marathon pace may or may not be.  Well – that’s not true – there’s the marathon pace I’d LOVE to run.  There’s the marathon pace I’d be pretty excited about running.  There’s even the marathon pace that I’d be pretty satisfied with.  And then… there’s the marathon pace that lives in reality instead of in my dreams.

So, I decided to start off at what I thought was a conservative pace and get faster from there to see if I could find a “sweet spot”.  That turned out to be one of those “good in concept, not so good in implementation” ideas.  I started out somewhere around 10 minute miles, and moved down to about 9:30’s for the last few miles.  And, as it turns out, anything sub-10 is more a of tempo pace for me these days.  How frustrating!

But, in the end, that run felt good.  I worked, sweat a lot, finished up feeling like I had accomplished something.

And then – Sunday.  14 miles.  Uh oh.

I decided to tackle it in two 7-mile loops to give me a break to refuel (and, uh, defuel, if you know what I mean).  The first loop? Not exactly my definition of “fun”.  Legs started out feeling heavy and sore and my mind was set on trying to get me to stop.  Running at my long run pace was difficult – and long run pace is supposed to be the speed where you feel like you could run forever.  Me?  I could barely fathom finishing off the first 7 mile loop.

But – I somehow managed to squash my basic instincts to stop and toughed it out.  And once I hit home and took in some more nutrition and water (and took a minute to stretch out my incredibly tight achilles and calves), the second loop didn’t seem quite so daunting.  Or, at least, I couldn’t come up with a good, believable excuse not to go out and run it.

The second loop was an interesting little thing.  The first three miles went by with a “whoosh!” kind of feeling.  Like, when you’re driving somewhere and look up and realize that you’ve missed your exit by 20 miles.  All of a sudden I was done with 10 miles.

Miles 11-12… working, working, working… but getting it done and feeling mostly okay.  The end of the run seemed tantalizingly near.

Miles 13-14?  Well, let’s just say that every car that passed, I was hoping it was someone I knew (or even just a car I recognized) so that I could flag it down and tell them to bring my broken, beaten body back home.

And that was only 14 miles.  Last time I checked?  Yea, a marathon is 26 miles. 

It freaks me out that this itty bitty little 14-miler did that to me.  That it pushed me to that place that I only associate with the end of half ironmans and the last few miles of a full marathon.  Seems to spell trouble, doesn’t it?

And then I rationalize:  I ran 7 miles the day before.  I didn’t eat like I should have the night before.  I ran much later than I usually do.  That all makes a difference, right?

I suppose I’ll find out.

You know, in one of those eleventy billion weekends I have ahead of me.

And so it begins

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Published on: September 18, 2009

So…

Vegas.  December.   Marathon.  26.2 miles of suffering misery challenge and wonderfulness.

The training is just starting to pick up and become more hard work, sweat, aches and pains and less about the pure joy of running.  And it’s not like I’m even doing the Really Long Runs yet – just the Itty Bitty Long Runs so far.  This week, in fact, is the first time I even edge over the half marathon distance.

Things so far have been going pretty well, considering that I went from full training down to 50% mileage down to 0% mileage and then sky-rocketed to “Hello MARATHON TRAINING!  Here I come, ready or not!”.  I’m pretty pleased that my ankle hasn’t really caused me any trouble yet (though it’s a sneaky bastard, so I’m keeping an eye on it) and I haven’t managed to mangle any other body part yet.

This weekend scares me a little bit, though.  I’ve been following Hal Higdon’s marathon training plan, and the hallmark of this training is the marathon-paced run on Saturday followed by a long run on Sunday.  As a concept, this is pretty revolutionary to me:  I’m a hard-core rest-before-rest-after the long runs kind of gal.  So, to go out on Saturday and put down 7 miles of marathon-paced running before hitting the pavement for 14 more on Sunday makes me just a teensy bit nauseous.

But it’ll be good, right?  Sure, my legs will be tired and all whiny when I go out Sunday.  But that just means that when race day actually hits — and after I’ve taken the requisite rest days — my legs will feel like wings.  Just like if I drank a Red Bull – I’ll have wings! (and no, I get no money or free product for that plug…heh…).

Until the wings grow in, though… if you see me on the side of the road, napping or otherwise not moving forward any longer, please call the numbers on my Road I.D.  You’ll do that for me, right?

Wisdom from the inside of a chocolate wrapper

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Published on: September 12, 2009

“Be fearless.”

Yup, that’s what the inside of the Dove Chocolate wrapper told me.  And it can’t be wrong, can it?

As I licked the wrapper clean of specks of chocolate (we wouldn’t want to waste any!), I contemplated this little nugget of wisdom.  Be fearless.  Without fear.  Boldly go where no man has gone before!  Uh, sorry, got carried away there.  Not quite sure what to do with this yet, I picked up yet another delicious dark chocolate goody (dark chocolate is healthy, you know), and lo and behold, more insight in the form of a shiny, red wrapper:  “Think without boundaries.”

Whoa.  I mean, whoever thought chocolate could be so smart?

Be fearless.  And then – think without boundaries.

And now’s the time of year when I have friends who are embarking upon the ultimate adventure — Ironman Wisconsin. A commitment made a full year ago that required fearlessness and thinking beyond their comfort zone.  Some are now going crazy with the taper, others are guessing and second-guessing their training, and some fluctuate between thinking they’ll fly through the day and worrying about whether they’ll make the swim cutoff. But all have taken that step to shove through the fears and uncertainties, putting in the time, sweat and tears even when the end result wasn’t so clearly in focus.

And now:  it’s here.

And I can barely imagine being in their position.  The nervousness, the angst, the anticipation and excitement.  A year’s worth of preparation, all stuffed into one glorious weekend, then into one 17-hour stretch of time.  And I admire them all greatly; some day, I want to be in their position, that’s for certain.  What courage it takes to sign up for a race like this!  2.4 miles of swimming, an interminably long 112 miles on the bike, topped off with 26.2 miles of running. Most will finish after the sun has gone down, navigating through the dark towards the high-energy finish line to the cheers and whistles of their friends and family, all who know the sacrifices it took to get to that one moment in time.

So, good luck to everyone out on the tomorrow!  You put your heart and soul into training, now’s the time for the payback

My kind of town… Chicago is…my kind of… eh, scratch that.

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Published on: September 1, 2009

So, after all the brouhaha, what’s become of my grand plan to race the Chicago Marathon?

Mostly, it’s dead.  And I’m bummed about that.  Seriously bummed.

In the end, good sense had to prevail:  after 5-6 weeks of limited running and then 3 weeks of absolutely no running, I couldn’t just start up training where I left off (never mind starting my training at the point of the program that I should have progressed to by now) without risking re-injuring the ankle or developing some new-and-improved injury to some other body part.  It just wouldn’t have been prudent.

And lord knows, I’m nothing if not prudent.

Or something like that.

What’s the new plan, y’all ask?  Well, let me tell ya:

I’ll still run part of the Chicago Marathon.  I mean, I paid for that race and I’ll be damned if I don’t at least eat some of the post-race food (how many bagels do I have to eat to match the $125 entry fee?).  The plan right now is to keep a triathlete friend of mine company for whatever my long training run is for that weekend.

Wait.  Training run?  Long training run??  Oh yea -so, out with Chicago and in with VEGAS, baby!  I’m targeting the Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon on December 6th.  There’s a full and half marathon option – something for everyone!  Who’s with me?

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