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?)  :)


Holiday Plans

Categories: me, race, training
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Published on: November 6, 2009

So, where were we?

Let me summarize my life the past few months (since I’ve been alarmingly absent from this venue for awhile)…

Chicago Marathon training.  YAY!

Ankle injury.  No training at all.  BOO.

Vegas Marathon training.  YAY!

Chicago Marathon with friend as training run for Vegas.  YAY!

Mystery foot injury for entire week before Chicago Marathon that was so painful that I broke down and went to the doctor (mostly to ensure it wasn’t a stress fracture).  BOO.

Ran the full Chicago Marathon.  YAY!

Endured my most painful marathon EVER.  BOO.

Conversely, experienced my most enjoyable marathon EVER because I got to run the entire thing with an awesome friend of mine (sans a few miles where I frantically ran to catch up after an unanticipated bathroom stop). YAY!

Which just about brings you up to date with all my goings on.  Nope – you didn’t miss much.

Because of the injuries and the “I’m training!” and then the “I can’t train!” and then the “I’m back again!” and so on, I decided to end my season on the high note of the Chicago Marathon.  I had done (kinda) what I set out to do at the beginning of this year, and finally acquiesced to the signals my body was screaming at me and shut it down.

I mean, what fun is training if you’re always worried about how much things are going to hurt when you hit the pavement?  I’ll tell ya – no fun whatsoever.

And since the joy was gone, I decided I needed a break.  A long break.

So – I’m on a self-imposed running boycott.  It’s been almost 4 weeks now since I’ve run at all, and I almost don’t even miss it.  The act itself had gotten stressful because I never knew what to expect (and conversely, always had such high expectations that I was trying to meet). Though tinged with regret and sadness, it felt good to let it all go and give myself permission to not run.  And to not worry about not running.

It took a bit, but I’ve developed a new plan (yes, another New Plan… I’ve got an endless supply of ‘em…).  For now? My focus will be in two areas:  biking and strength training.

I’ve taken up a Winter Cycling plan created by one of the talented coaches that frequent beginnertriathlete.com (which is where I call home and hang my virtual hat) that will turn me into a monster on the bike by early next year (that’s a promise, he says!).

And the strength training?  The program my trainer has put me on just might kill me, but if it does, I’ll look damn good in the casket.  I had started to see results from my previous efforts, and with this kind of focus and planning, I’m going to be a rock star by early next year.  And that’s a promise, too.

Running will be slowly added back into the mix, starting in the next few weeks.  Easy runs. Short runs.  Runs without any expectations of pace (my biggest obstacle to ever being able to “ease” back into things).  I have plenty of time between now and next race season – no need to rush.

And between now and race season is the holiday season!  For which, I’m hoping that armed with a solid bike/strength training program, I’ll navigate with a minimum of poundcakes added to the hips and without thighs that look more like well-endowed turkey legs than the legs of an athlete.  And here’s hoping that Santa will be nice to me and send me muscle tone and motivation in a pretty, bow-tied package for being such a good girl all year.

It could happen.  :)

Now what?

Categories: me, race, tri
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Published on: August 17, 2008

And… the end of the triathlon season.

Now what?

Free time.

Hmmmm.  Such a strange concept.  What – you mean I don’t have to fit in 8-12 hours of training this week?  I don’t have to plan my weekend around what bike course I’ll spend my Saturday or Sunday on?  That perhaps I’ll just take ONE shower a day (instead of my usual 2-3)?  Again — HMMMM.

To be frank, I’m not exactly sure what to do with such a luxury.  For those that know me, abundent down time from training has always come at a price:  for the past three years, I’ve had forced downtime each fall with three surgeries on my left forearm to correct/fix/make better something or other with it.  And – to me – that “free time” was more a prison sentence because of the doctor’s orders to not do anything stupid (difficult for me!… do you know how many fun things fall into the “anything stupid” category??).

So, my off-season begins, having started about 10 hours ago with me running across the finish line of the Pleasant Prairie International Distance triathlon.  And I believe that I’ve commenced it the way all off-seasons should start:  with good friends, outrageously sinful ice cream and topping it off with a chilled adult beverage and pizza.

But again …. now what?

First up, I’ve got about a month and a half of coach-mandated “fun” time.  Fun?  I’m not even sure what it is that I do for “fun” anymore, if it doesn’t involve a wetsuit, a bike or a pair of running shoes.  I need a triathlon-free zone for awhile to sample life in the outside world.  And I think I have friends out there who don’t care one whit about bike paces or running splits … of course, whether they remember me or not is another story.

This 45 day period may prove to be difficult — it’s hard for me to be a little goal-less, to not have a race out there that I’m actively working towards.  See, I’m a couch slug by nature and I’ve got me some mad skillz in that arena.  So, in order to fight my lazy nature, I’ve got a list of things to accomplish during My Fun Month (and a Half):

  • Stay up past 10pm.  And NOT because I’m working.  Has to involve alcohol of some sort.
  • Read a book.  Cannot contain the words “swim”, “bike” or “run”.
  • Rediscover one of those sports that I used to have time for, like racquetball or roller-blading.  Or something to really get a cardio workout in — Trash Talk Darts.
  • Watch everything I’ve DVR’d over the past year.  Anyone up for 61 gazillion episodes of What Not To Wear?
  • Win the lottery.
  • Clean out all the empty plastic water bottles from my truck.  And then build myself a plastic fort out of them.
  • Cheer on the White Sox to a World Series victory!  Go Sox!!
  • Get lost hiking at Starved Rock.  You don’t think that’s possible?  It SO is.  Trust me.
  • Eat Clean out the Travelin’ Triathlon candy bag (it IS the off-season… no need for that to hang around)
  • Get the oil changed in my car (what – does everything have to be funny??)
  • Sign up for IMWI.  (Heh.  Just kidding!)

Looks like I might have enough to keep me busy now…  ya think?!

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