Happy Dance

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Published on: November 9, 2012

This race report is about, oh, a year in coming, but I figured you deserved to know.  You’ve been waiting a year, right?

So, without further ado, my Chicago Marathon 2011 race report:

The day started out ominously enough with a migraine. Blinding headache, nausea, shaky hands, the inability to open my eyes beyond little slits.  Yup – that’s exactly how I would have planned out my perfect marathon morning.

My normal pre-race Poptarts weren’t playing so nice with my stomach, so I opted not to be smart and not antagonize my stomach any more than I already had.  I wandered around the pre-race area (I had signed up with the running group CARA to train with and they had a spread out), trying not to puke, and after about an hour started to feel the meds kicking in … thank God.

I managed to force down half a banana and a few bites of a plain bagel and called that a victory! Headed out of the hotel to wander the streets — it was going to be another warm marathon — and once again was thankful for paying the money to train with CARA: they had special porta-potties just for us.

After all the pre-race rigamarole, I made my way to my 9m/m pace starting corral and bounced around nervously.  I was going to DO this!

The day started out ominously enough, but that all ended up being a non-factor, surprisingly enough.  I met the migraine with a “well, I’ll just have to deal with this” kind of attitude and I think that helped… getting all worked up about it certainly wasn’t going to make it better.

Went into the race as well-trained as I’ve ever been for a marathon. Nursing injuries that were only bothersome rather than worrying. The only downside: I had gained a good 5-7 pounds in the 2-3 weeks before hitting the start line. I’d like to have a mulligan on that, please.

Anyway – crossed the start line about 8.5 minutes off the clock time – not too shabby! I had lined up with the 4 hour pace group, but as we shuffled forward, I somehow ended up with the 3:55 pace group. This was *not* in the plan, but I just went with it. I had wanted to stick with a pace group, and ya just gotta roll with things, sometimes.

The 3:55 pace group disappeared by the third mile or so — I wasn’t really working to keep up with them — and I found myself all on my own. At that point my strategy was to keep as close to 9m/m pace as possible, without feeling like I was working too hard.

I was expecting spectators around the 3.5 mile mark, but they didn’t make it out — disappointing, but looking for them certainly kept me occupied! — and I knew that I’d have a long slog north and then back south before seeing friendly faces.

This first stretch actually went pretty well. I was feeling fatigued, but I thought it was “just enough” … meaning, I was pushing but not so much that I couldn’t keep this up. I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t supposed to actually feel “easy”.

Saw my posse around mile 11.5 and that was a huge boost! They were screaming and yelling and had great signs they made, too! I stopped and chatted for about 30 seconds while they kept urging me to keep running. :)

Got through the half marathon mark at around 2:00:50 … so, less than a minute off my goal pace. It was at this point where I acknowledged that sub-4 probably wasn’t going to happen, though I still figured I would keep pushing until I couldn’t and see how the chips fell.

Miles 13-16 kind of flew by. At mile 16, I think I made a mistake — I tossed the water bottle that I had been carrying. Since it was warmer than planned, I wanted it with me, especially during the early parts of the race where the water stops are fewer. After mile 16, I knew I could count on there being water at least every mile, so I tossed it. Never should have done that, in hindsight, because it slowed me down (I had been stopping for Gatorade, but drinking my water from the bottle on the run). Oh well. Lesson learned.

And a note about the heat: the race started out in the lower 60’s and was in the low 70’s by the end. Definitely not ideal marathon weather. But, while I know I probably could have gone faster with cooler temps, I also didn’t suffer any major consequences from the heat, either. And plus, it was PERFECT spectating weather!

Somewhere between 16 and 17, I saw another friend who was watching out for me — total surprise to see her there! I almost missed her, in fact, despite the fact that she was screaming at me like a crazy person. Lesson: if *I* don’t know you’re there, it might not matter if you see me…

The wheels started falling off this marathon around mile 19 — I could feel my legs starting to tighten and cramp. And I basically told myself, “Don’t suck. Just do it.” like the Nike t-shirt said. Remarkably, I think that kept me moving forward more than I might have otherwise…

I didn’t allow myself to walk except during water stations. Of course, as the race progressed, I stopped earlier and walked longer, and you can see that in my split times.

I knew my parents were going to be at mile 22.5 and it was awesome to see them. I stopped for a bit, and both of them just kept snapping pictures of me standing there. Hee. My family doesn’t understand my desire to do these things even one bit, so it meant a ton to me to have them out there in support.

It was hard to get moving after that, but I did. And felt the blinders go on and the focus just be on one step after the other. Move forward. Go faster if possible. At this point, I was shooting for sub-4:10…

The rest of the marathon after seeing my parents was tough: I had thought I’d have some posse on the course, but never saw them (to their credit, they were there, but since I didn’t know WHERE they were, I ran right by them, oblivious to the screaming). But I knew I was just SO GLAD to almost be done with this thing.

Going up the bridge on Roosevelt and then turning the corner to see the finish line? Best feeling ever. But I knew I still had work to do — I was running right up against the 4:10 demarcation point that I had made up in my head somewhere down the line. So, I dug deep, upped the pace and stumbled across the finish line, 20 seconds ahead of the 4:10 mark.

And then I just about collapsed. And then I started crying. And then I started thinking, “damn, if I hurt this much NOW, I’m not even going to be able to walk tomorrow!”. Hee.

Got some water, got some food, took pictures and the sloooooowly made my way back to the hotel, where I was meeting up with everyone.

All in all, this was — by a huge margin — my best marathon.  I never gave up.  I never gave in.  I trained as well as I ever have and I know that I left everything I had out on the course.  Absolutely no regrets.

At this point I can say: I’m satisfied with my results and I’m never going to do another marathon ever again!  Yay!

(do you believe me?)  :)

 


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?

When pigs fly…

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Published on: May 8, 2009

And they did!  Just this past weekend at the Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati.

I was a little trepiditious going into this race – as I drove into the city Friday night, I was reminded that not everywhere is as flat as the Chicago area.  Actually, just about NOWHERE is as flat as Chicago!  Out in Cincy, though, the hills were alive… with the sound of me cursing them, mostly.

I had intended to do hill training.  Really meant to.  Honest.  Somehow that never happened – weather, lack of time, over-abundance of laziness – these all conspired against me.  Which is how I ended up at a very hilly half marathon with nothing but concrete flatland miles under my belt.

Race morning came early – a 4:30am wake-up call to give me enough time to eat some breakfast.  Seeing as how the hotel was less than a mile to the start line, I had time to kill. So, being the lazy camper I am, I grabbed my bagel and crawled back into bed with it. Remarkably, one of my new-found skills is simultaneous eating and sleeping (hmmm… now that I think about it, perhaps I can blame all my weight gain on “sleep-eating”…).

Finally, I grudgingly roused myself from sleep and got ready.  The weather was iffy:  low 50’s but rainy.  Then, not rainy.  Oops, raining again.  Now just misting.  What to wear, what to wear…  After a couple of wardrobe changes, I settled on my cuter-than-cute running skirt and a long-sleeve tech shirt.  With the temperature being so low and with there being some precipitation, I knew I wouldn’t overheat and I’d rather be too warm than too cold any day. Being cold makes me whiny, and believe me – no one wants that.

About an hour before the gun was to go off, we left the hotel and started following the mass of people down to the riverfront.  Luckily, there wasn’t some other kind of gathering congregating at 5:30am in downtown Cincinnati.  Imagine my chagrin if I ended up at, say, a morning service for recovering meth addicts, or something like that.  But, I digress.

The air was buzzing with excitement down at Paul Brown stadium, where the morning festivities were being held. The morning was still dark – the sun wouldn’t rise for another 90 minutes –  but that didn’t stop the music from blaring and the hubbub from, well, hubbubbing. We wandered in and out of the stadium, staying out of the rain, using the facilities (just like any good sporting event, there were lines for the women’s rest room!) and then finally made our way out to the starting area.

With just about 10 minutes to the starting gun, the corrals were getting a little tight.  As I made my way forward, I got an overwhelming urge to use the porta-potty just one more time. I sprinted out of line, and found an almost unending row of them – and no lines!  Huh??  What a rare sight!  So, last minute business taken care of, I once again started (politely!) pushing my way towards the front portion of the corrals.  I got as far up as the 9:30m/m pace group and couldn’t go any further without having to start hip-checking people, so I took my spot and began waiting for the gun to go off.

As I stood there, I reviewed my race plan in my head.  Oh wait – that’s right – I didn’t really have a race plan.  See – remember – I’m not actually “racing” this year … I’m just going to races and participating.  At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself. So – my non-racing plan for the day:  conservative through the first 5-6 miles of the race — I didn’t really train for this, so I wasn’t sure what kind of pace I could expect out of myself.  Survive the 3 miles of uphill.  Trust gravity and ROCK the 3 miles of downhill.  And with those not-at-all-a-race-plan thoughts – I was off!

The first mile suffered from the too-many-people-too-little-space malady that is inherent with most races.  The tip-toed dance around the walkers or people who seeded themselves too far up, the excuse-me’s and the death glares when someone cuts you off without a backward glance.  It plays almost like a video game, and as frustrating as it can be, I choose to see it as s challenge to find running room (without tripping and eating pavement).

Bridges and state line crossings were the name of the game for the first 3 miles or so.  Did you know that the Ohio river is rather wide?  And that bridges across it would be considered Big Hills in the Chicago area?  Well, if you didn’t know before, now you do.  The course heads south into Kentucky for a spell, and then back into Ohio with some great views of downtown. At this point we’ve hit some hills, but nothing too major – just enough to wake the ol’ legs up.

My split times were all over the place — between the hills and dodging people, I had a hard time getting into a groove, but didn’t worry about it too much, figuring that if I just kept kind of moving along, I’d get where I needed to go.  Knowing that the first 6 miles were just rolling hills, my main goal was just to stay strong and keep the legs as fresh as possible for the climb that was awaiting me.

The next 3 weren’t all that memorable – a little industrial, a little bit of downtown Cincinnati, a few crowds cheering as I ran by.  Net downhill rather than uphill, but felt very rolling in nature. Legs, amazingly enough, were still feeling pretty fresh and rarin’ to go.  And then – the uphill started.

The middle of mile 6 began “The Climb”:  about 2.5 miles of nasty uphill.  This was the part that I had dreading because I hadn’t prepared for it in the least bit.  And it kicked my ass.  Handed it to me on a platter, in fact.  But – I was expecting that, so it didn’t crush my spirit.  Like an audio loop playing in my head – “just keep moving, just keep moving” – I knew that I needed to only make it through this section and then I’d be close to home free for the rest of the course.

Luckily, the uphills came with some scenery to take my mind off the fact that it HURT like HELL and that my knee, hips and legs in general were screaming at me.  My labored breathing did nothing to assure any of my fellow runners that I was going to be okay and not just collapse and cry uncle on the side of the road, but I climbed upward anyway. And then Eden’s Park – looking much like the Garden of Eden to me – suddenly appeared.  And the hills flattened out and all was right with the world.  Made it.  Whew.

It was then that the race started in earnest for me.  I couldn’t believe how easy the flat-land running was; quick turnover meant a quick pace and it didn’t even feel like much of an effort. Not having reached the 9-mile sign, I knew I shouldn’t push too hard, but couldn’t help it – I don’t know that I’ve ever felt that good at that point in a half marathon before, ever.

The 9th mile brought a somewhat cruel twist … you could see all the way up the street, and while not a hill, just a gentle incline, it was mentally a chore to work through.  See, the downhill was near; I knew it.  And I wanted to be there SO BAD.  And that kept me going.

And then…. WHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE………!!!!!!

Downhill!

Major downhill.  Like head-over-heels, somersaulting down downhills.  FUN downhills.

I was totally surprised at the number of people I passed – I was literally weaving in and out of people who were putting on the brakes, trashing their quads trying not to go too fast.  Me?  I couldn’t have had more fun if I put my arms out at my sides and made airplane noises as I wheeled downward (and believe me, I gave some thought to doing just that… I was having an awesome time out there!)

Aside from a bit of flat and then a small uphill heading into the Finish Swine (it *is* the Flying Pig half marathon, after all), the last 5k was fast, fast, fast!  And oh-so-enjoyable – I think I must have had the biggest grin on my face the entire time.  It’s a wonder what 3 miles of downhill will do for your attitude during the last part of a half marathon.

And so, with a rush (though the very end had an unexpected – and therefore evil – short uphill) my first half marathon of the 2009 season was over.  And I had beaten my pie-in-the-sky goal by a couple of minutes, even!  I bopped along through the medal and water crowd, then finally got to the food tables.  JACKPOT!

What an awesome spread!  I just wish I had a box or bag to fill because it turned out that I wasn’t even able to carry everything I wanted.  My eyes must have been as big as saucers as I kept coming to more and more tables filled with all sorts of delicious goodies, from Doritos/chips/fritos/cheetos to 3 different kinds of animal cookies (regular, iced and frosted, no less!), yogurt in a tube, ho-ho wannabes (the little debbie’s version, perhaps?) and even more that I can’t even recall anymore.  I stood there thinking, “Yes.  This is the reason I race.”

After that?  Get a picture taken, then wander about fruitlessly attempting to figure out how to get back to my hotel (finally found a cop who pointed me in the right direction).  Hoof it (uphill!) back to the hotel.  Shower.  And then – the long drive home, back to the land where curbs can be mistaken for hills.  And I don’t think the big grin left my face the entire time.

This race turned out to be a great re-introduction back to the half marathon distance; I had almost forgotten how much I enjoy racing it, in fact.  And this race was just plain ol’ FUN.  I don’t think I’ve ever had any race speed by as fast as this one did – I was almost surprised a couple of times that I had already hit mile markers!  That’s the kind of race it was.

And I think it’s kind of given me a half marathon fever – I was just strolling around teh interwebs and such, not even looking for anything in particular and found one for this weekend.  Oh, and then next weekend, too!  Oooo… and a 10k/5k double race for Memorial Day weekend… I got a fevah

I suppose I can’t call this my “season of no racing” anymore, huh….

I lied.

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Published on: February 1, 2009

So, sue me.  I’m going back on my word.  Wanna know what I did this morning?

I registered for the Chicago Marathon.

Yup, I am going to do one race this season and train for it in the right way, hoping to accomplish what’s been kept out of my reach so far:  my best effort at the marathon distance.

I’m coming back to do Chicago for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, though, is because of the incredible amount of local support – crowds line the streets throughout the entire course, cheering you on whether they know you or not.  And having friends on the sidelines is the best thing ever.  When I did Chicago two years ago, I spent the last 10 miles of the race doing nothing but looking forward to seeing a friendly face to boost my spirit and give me the kick in the butt that I needed to cross the finish line instead of just laying down on the sidewalk and napping.

(Maybe this time even my parents will put their cruise plans on hold for me!  Oh, I’m just kidding.  I would never ask them to rearrange their vacation plans just to be there for me on October 11, 2009.  Their oldest daughter. Their favorite oldest daughter.  No, I wouldn’t do that.  Right, Mom and Dad?  I mean, just because you guys are retired and could vacation ANY TIME you wanted doesn’t mean you have to be home for my marathon on October 11, 2009.  No, really, you don’t.  Really.)

And the second reason: I know everyone’s sick of hearing me talk about how I don’t like to do the long training on my own and since Chicago is not only local but HUGE, there are a ton of different training groups. Not only can I do my long runs with a group, but weekday runs, too, if I so choose.  After doing some research, I think I’m probably going to join up with Illinois Runs since they’ve got training groups out in the ‘burbs.  Not only will they be convenient to train with, but on race day they’ve got a private tent with THEIR OWN PORTA-POTTIES.  Wow.  Does life get any better than that?  

So, come mid-June I’ll be back at it again.  But, just one race.  And just running.  And then I can be done with this whole crazy marathon stuff.  Honest!

Running Scared

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Published on: November 24, 2008

Switching gears… I’m going headlong into marathon training for the next few months.  Before this, I was intent on the half marathon up in Wisconsin (by the way, Half Marathon?  November?  Wisconsin??... what was I thinking???  oh yea… beer and lasagna afterwards… heh….).  After that – some recovery time.

I meandered my way through the week after the half marathon doing a whole lot of nothing.  Enjoying some time off from the swim/bike/run, getting a rebellious thrill out of actively ignoring training set down by my coach (though she gave me permission to do so … as a side note, does having permission make me less rebellious?  Because I felt like a rebel when I made the decision to skip some of the training….), basically trying to enjoy my time off the way a normal person might. 

And then, I looked at my training for this week.  And I was scared.  Really, really scared.  The honeymoon, as it were, was over.  Done.  Finished.

I think up until this week, my coach has been taking it easy on me.  We’ve only been working together since early this spring, and I had thought she was all nice and stuff.  I couldn’t have been more wrong about that. 

First up – the track workout.  As I read through the intervals and paces for the intervals, I think my mouth was literally hanging open, trying to decide if this was some sort of over-the-top coach humor.  I decided it wasn’t.  So I’m all, “well, I like the track, I’ll just suck it up, and put it all out there, see what happens…”.

And then – the weekend long run with some tempo thrown in.  Is she mad?!  (my coach, that is)  That many miles?  All at the same time?  And at those paces?  Eeek.  I’ll be sure to wear my RoadID so they’ll be able to identify me when the run renders me curled up in the fetal position in a ditch mumbling the words “just let me run in zone 1… I love zone 1… “.

And now – through the magic of technology and time – fast forward to AFTER the workouts:

I nailed it.  Aced it.  Hit my paces.  Hurt like hell, but no matter – I love me a good track workout.

And I was surprised!  When I finally started breaking down the track workout into what pace I’d have to hit for each 400m, I started to get my first glimmer of “hmmm… maybe I can do this… maybe Coach really isn’t on crack…”

So, after days of whining and dread and intimidation, I come out the other side feeling like I could fly.  Feeling like I DID fly.  And damn, that feels good.

And the long run?  While not the unabashed success as the other workout, it’s training in the bank.  Executed the workout exactly as written, and it wasn’t pretty, but it’s done – getting me ready for longer and even less pretty runs on the horizon.  

The ice bath afterwards reminded me that good results require hard work and enduring some PAIN along the way.  Of course, without the pain, everyone would do it, right?  I mean, who said a marathon would be easy?? (what?  No one said that?  Hmmm… why did I decide to do this again..?)

 

A mile in their shoes

Categories: me, race
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Published on: May 13, 2008

(yes, I know it’s been awhile….)

Pacing Duty.  Some people love it, some people hate it. 

I was having a conversation about being the “pacer” for someone with a friend of mine who isn’t a runner.  First there was the explanation (“I’m ‘pacing’ – running with someone whose normal pace is slower than mine to ensure that they cross the finish line within their goal time.”) and then followed the question:  “but why?”

I’ve always enjoyed pacing people.  Maybe it’s because I love seeing people accomplish their goals, especially when it wasn’t long ago that they thought their goals were totally out of their reach.   Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I know that because I’m running at a slightly slower-than-normal pace, I’ll have enough energy to annoy the hell out of them (it’s amazing how aggravating ‘cheerful’ and ‘encouraging’ can be, given the right circumstances).

In the end, though, one of the reasons that I most love it because there’s this huge return for very little work on my part.  As long as I’ve done my math correctly and know where the splits should be, all I’ve got to do after that is be a cheerleader.  Talk about no pressure!  It’s an easy way to race, that’s for sure.  It’s such a relief to be on a race course but not worry about crashing, burning or hurting too much.

But now – my first half marathon race in quite awhile.  I’m pacing only ME.  The last time I put it all out there for a half mary, I blew up around mile 10.  Dizziness, nausea and all around not feeling well did me in…  after hitting my pace for most of the race, I walked the rest in and all my goals for the race melted in the hot sun.  That’s left me with two things:  this annoying seed of doubt about my abilities, and also this incredible motivation to get out there and tear up the course.

Come Sunday, around 9am, we’ll see how I did with pacing duty, whether or not I had the smarts and guts and legs and lungs to get me across the finish line faster than 1:52:46.  That’s the goal this time.

At this point, the training is behind me and there’s no changing anything about it.  Am I ready?  Did I do enough?  It’s hard to imagine someone who toes the line who doesn’t have those thoughts from time to time.  What am I 100% sure of?  This is gonna hurt.  Oh yea, there will be pain and tears and a small voice telling me it’d be easier to quit.  But you know what else I’m 100% sure of?  That I’m ready and this will be my most fulfilling pacing duty of all time.

Bring it on!

 

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