Sunday, October 26, 2008

The day after the Spinx Run Fest marathon

My legs and joints are sore, but not nearly as much as I thought they would be. I can walk, but I laughed when I couldn't lift my left leg into the car, after I was seated. I had to pick it up with my hand and help it into the floor well. I was too euphoric to sleep much last night. I am surprised. I thought I would sleep for days... I woke early, without an alarm, and went ahead and showered and packed and left the hotel to drive home. Later, I picked up three friends of Kyra's and took them to her birthday party which her dad and step-mom were hosting at the horse ranch where she takes riding lessons. It was a very small party of just a few of her closest friends. I was happy beyond words when my friend Ty gave me a card at the party, congratulating me on the accomplishment. I spent most of the time at the party talking to her about the race. And when my orthopaedic surgeon/friend and his wife dropped their daughter off at the party, he was very happy for me too. I'm still in a state of euphoria and tears came to my eyes at random times throughout the day due to my amazement of my accomplishment of this long-term dream.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Spinx Run Fest Marathon!

Saturday... I had set my alarm clock for 6 a.m., but woke up at 5:30. I showered and then changed tops three times before deciding to wear the race technical t-shirt instead of one of the ones that I had brought. I stuffed clif bars and shots into one pocket of the wind/rain jacket and my cell phone, money, and hotel room key in a zip lock back into the other pocket. The pockets had zippers, so I didn't have to worry about anything falling out and getting lost. A little before seven, after pinning my race number onto my shorts and lacing my timing chip onto my left shoe, I went down to a light breakfast. I thought the hotel breakfast area would be packed, but there were only a few people. I ate half a bagel with cream cheese and a bowl of berries. I was too nervous to eat much. I took my hotel room complimentary water bottle with me and then set off to walk to the race start. It was cool and I was so glad I bought this jacket. About half-way there, an older man caught up with me and we chatted about running as we walked. He said he's only been running for three years, but this is his 15th marathon. Wow!

I nervously stared out onto Fluor field while waiting for the start. At about ten minutes until 8, they announced that racers should head to the starting line at markley and main st intersection. I went to the starting line feeling good, but nervous. I reminded myself to start out slow and just go at a slow and steady pace. When I crossed the starting line I felt huge excitement that I was beginning my first marathon! The first mile was mostly downhill but I held my pace back as I knew I should. I warmed up during that first mile and took off the jacket while still running, and tied it around my waist. It was big and the stuffed pockets bounced off my legs. After a few minutes I remembered my last experience of running with with a minor irritation and knew that I needed to fix the problem NOW, not wait until later. I stopped and rolled the jacket and then tied it around my waist so it wasn't flapping any more. I decided to not take planned walking breaks like I had in my training runs, but to walk only when needed and at hydration stations. This turned out to be a great tactic. I felt great the majority of the race. I stayed adequately fueled and hydrated and didn't have any major chaffing or blisters. I drank two cups of sports beverage at each hydration station (about every 2 miles) and sipped on my water bottle as needed, refilling it at hydration stations as needed also. I ate a clif shot, gu gel or half of a clif bar every hour beginning at the 45 minute point. The race started out at 55 degrees and overcast. Misting rain occurred during the first 3ish hours. It was just a light mist that didn't really bother me since my hat prevented it from blowing into my face. The temperature was perfect! The first four miles seemed like they were all down hill and I worried about the hills that had to be ahead. There eventually were hills, but they were gradual and not as bad as I had anticipated. The majority of the course was along the Reedy River and through parks. Other portions were through downtown Greenville. I thought the course was beautiful! I especially liked the path along the river that had a softer track to the side of the asphalt path. I took advantage of that extra cushioning. The course was well marked, with lots of volunteers, and police blocking intersections. I walked up a few hills in the first loop, but more the second time around. The course was a 13 mile loop, that marathoners did twice. I felt strong at the half, but noticed the runners dwindled significantly as most entered the stadium for the half-marathon finish while much fewer runners continued on in the marathon. There were only 234 people who completed the marathon and they were all spread out along the course. The second half was a little lonely and I was getting a little delirious. At times I wondered if I was still on the right course or if I missed a turn. But before I got too far down that train of though I would see a volunteer or an arrow marker and knew I was still on the right track. When I lost sight of anyone in front of me as well as behind me it was really weird. I kept telling myself that I was doing great, feeling good, and running strong; which I truly believed. It was a good run. On the second lap, I even passed a few people and only one passed me back. This woman had slowed to a walk just shy of 14 miles and when I passed her, I told her she was doing awesome. In the 20s, she caught up to me and said, "Hey, this is my friend xxxxx, she's fresh/hasn't been running/ and came out to help me get through these last few miles. You're welcome to tag along if you'd like." I did for a few minutes, but then realized couldn't keep the pace and let them go on ahead. I jogged along great, with minimal walking during the first 17 miles. At this point is where the uphills began and I walked up most of them. I still kept strong, though. At mile 23 I could here Kyra saying, "3 miles is an easy distance for you, right mom?" She's said this quite a few times when I've gone for a "short 3 mile run". 3 miles seems like forever to her, but she knows it's short for me based on the long runs I've been doing. So for that entire 23rd mile I kept repeating "3 miles is easy, piece of cake". At one point, a cop was directing traffic to turn right and I wasn't sure if I was supposed to go straight or turn so I asked him. He smiled and said, "You're the leader of the pack. Go straight." I laughed thinking there are advantages to smaller attended long races. At about 2 miles to go, a volunteer delivering chicken sandwiches to other volunteers offered one to me. The thought of it made me feel like vomiting so I politely declined. I kept telling myself, 2 miles is easy... When I got to the high shool track to make the loop around it once (for the second time), I was the only one on the track. The woman that had passed me was exiting the track as I was entering it. I wondered if I was the last one, but remembered that I had passed several other people earlier, they just must be out of my distance. During the last mile I actually passed a few more people. By now, they were walking and didn't look like they were going to start running again. I was feeling elated that I actually was going to finish this race, and finish it feeling strong. I picked up the pace as best I could, which wasn't by much, but was a little bit. When I entered the field, tears welled up. I can't believe I accomplished this! I rounded the outfield and heard my name and home town announced and just wished my sister were with me. I looked at the clock as I headed towards the finish line beside home plate and attempted to sprint. It was not an all out sprint, but it was a faster pace to get me across the finish line in 5 hours 27 minutes and 02 seconds!

I cried. I achieved my goals! #1, I finished! #2, I wasn't last. #3, I did it in under 6 hours. After receiving my finishing medal and having the volunteer remove my timing chip from my shoe, I went to the bathroom and then headed for the food table. I wasn't hungry, but the hot grits looked delicious. I filled a styrofoam cup with grits, grabbed a water bottle, and then sat down in the stands to watch other runners finish. I first called Kyra and told her my exciting news. She sounded distracted (she was painting), but she said she was happy for me. I fought back tears thanking her for her encouragement during the past few months and telling her how her words helped me through the last few miles. After talking to her I called my sister. She answered the phone "you're alive?" She was very happy for me and I kept telling her that I wished she had been here. Then I just sat, soaking up the sun, in the bleacher seat until what was probably the last runner crossed the finish line. It was probably in the low to mid 60s now; beautiful weather. And then I accomplished goal #4, I proudly was able to walk the half mile back to the hotel, feeling amazed and feeling only a little pain. I was exhausted, my muscles and joints ached from such a long event, but it was the pushed to the near limit soreness, not the pain of an injury. And I honestly anticipated the soreness would be much worse than it actually was. Yippee!!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Day before the Spinx Run Fest Marathon

Friday... The day started out as a typical commute back to Atlanta from Wilmington normally does. However, I arrived at the airport to find out my flight would be delayed because of thunderstorms. Thankfully, it was only an hour delay... I left the airport around 2:45 and debated about stopping by the house to pick up some long sleeve shirts and a wind/rain jacket, but decided I should probably head straight to Greenville instead. I wanted to get there in time to pick up my race packet, have a decent dinner, and go to bed early. But... traffic was HORRIBLE! It was very slow for miles, and then came to a complete stop at the I-85/I-985 split. I was able to merge over and get on I-985 north and was so greatful that I've got GPS in my car. I went several miles out of the way to get around the accident that I had heard on the radio was at the hamilton mill road exit. By now it was after 5 p.m. and I was getting really worried that I wouldn't make it to Greenville by 8, when the packet pick-up/expo ended. I picked up a burger and fries and ate while stressing. Then I ended up on 2-lane roads to get back to I-85, above the accident exit. But for quite a stretch, this road was very slow moving too. I called my sister's house to ask her to look on the internet to see if I could pick up my race packet in the morning. If not, I was seriously considering turning around and going back home. I left a message and a little while later her husband called me back saying that he looked it up and I could pick up the race packet in the morning starting at 6 a.m. So I continued travelling... Once I got back on I-85, traffic flowed smoothly to Greenville. It was raining lightly. I pulled into a parking spot at Fluor field at 7:30 p.m. I picked up my race number, t-shirt, timing chip, etc. and then browsed the goods for sale. It was cool and still raining lightly. They had light-weight wind/rain jackets on sale. The smallest size was a men's medium, which was too big for me, but I bought it anyway. I also bought two clif bars and then left to find the hotel. An expo worker told me that the hotel was just a half-mile away and pointed in the direction that I needed to go. However, it took me a long time to find it. It only had a tiny sign and the entrance was on Camperdown although the address said Riverplace. I had driven up and down the nearby River St many times and couldn't find it. But I eventually did. I checked in and went to the room. The room was nice, but I was disappointed that there wasn't a tub, only a shower. I like to soak in the tub after long runs... I almost came to the conclusion that too many things had gone wrong and that I shouldn't run tomorrow. I was exhausted and couldn't think straight. I then forced myself to change my mental attitude, go to bed, and mentally prepare for a great race.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Monday - Thursday before the Spinx Run Fest Marathon

Boy was this week an emotional roller coaster! I was doubting my abilities after that poor 20-mile long run two weeks ago where I walked the last three miles entirely, and parts of the prior miles as well. Tuesday night I did my planned 3 miles on the treadmill as soon as we arrived home. It had been a stressful day at work and I needed to work that out so I ran a little harder than usual. Near bedtime I started packing my suitcase for a business trip as well as race weekend since I would be leaving for Greenville immediately after returning to Atlanta from Wilmington. When it came time to pack my running clothes, both for during the week and the race, I started to panic. Kyra reassured me that I was well prepared and that I would do great. Kids are awesome! The next day, Wednesday, I flew to North Carolina. I got on the rental car bus with my luggage, but when we arrived at the car location, my luggage was missing! I freaked out because my race shoes, etc. were in there. It turns out that the driver had accidentally pulled off my bag, with other passengers, at the terminal after the one he picked me up yet, thinking that it belonged to one of the passengers that was exiting the bus. I got back on the bus to drive around to that terminal in hopes that it would still be there. Thankfully, someone saw it it called my cell phone (on my luggage tag) and they stood with it until we arrived back at that terminal. A moment of relief... It was getting dark when I finally arrived at the hotel, so I opted not to run tonight. I got up Thursday morning and went to the beach at sunrise. I had planned to jog 2 miles on the beach. The sand was not as hardpacked as it usually is in the mornings. I started out jogging, but switched to walking when at a half-mile I received a phone call from Kenya. I decided to just turn around and walk and call it a major taper week.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

1 week til Spinx Run Fest Marathon

I only ran twice this week. I had planned to do more, but it just didn't happen... I got in a great 6.05 miles on Wednesday and a less than exciting 5 miles on the treadmill on Saturday. After my treadmill run we went to look at golden retriever puppies. And guess what, Kyra found the one she wanted... See our other blog for that adventure...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

2 weeks til Spinx Run Fest Marathon

My motivation to run is waning early this week... I took a vacation day on Tuesday to chaperone Kyra's field trip. The field trip was a lot more fun than going to work... As you can see from this Civil War demonstration of soldiers sleeping next to each other to keep warm, the girls had huge belly laughs watching two boy classmates being pushed together on a sleeping mat. Later in the afternoon I planned to do a 4-miler on the treadmill, but just couldn't get into it and quit at 1.5 miles. I was missing Kyra before she even left to go spend 5 nights with her dad. So I quit running with the excuse that I needed to spend more quality time with her, while I could.

Wednesday evening I was grateful my motivation had returned! I took Tasha out for a 2-mile jog, although we walked most of the last half-mile. I let her set the pace. I dropped her back off at home and ran a lap around the block (1 mile) to accomplish a total of 3.05 miles. I celebrated afterwards with dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant.

Thursday, I decided to do a long run on the treadmill while watching my favorite TV show, Grey's Anatomy. I had dinner around 6 p.m. At about 9:30 p.m., half-way into the show/my run, I had an immediate feeling of hypoglycemia. I quickly consumed a Clif Shot, but it was too late. I walked for 10 more minutes and then gave up. 3.23 miles in 40 minutes.

Although I like my Amphipod hydration belt, it just doesn't hold enough liquid for runs over 3 hours in the warm weather. Friday after work, with my 20% off coupon from REI, I purchased a Camelbak Trinity for women which holds 100 oz of liquid and has lots of cargo space.

I decided to go to a place I'd never run before for my longest run of my life. Saturday morning I went to the Columbus Riverwalk. It's over two hours away from my house, but I needed a new setting. I hoped to catch up with an old friend while in the area, but I couldn't reach him when I called Friday night.
I LOVED the path along the Chattahoochee River! It was fairly flat and very scenic. The Camelbak allowed me to pack my camera and I was able to get a few shots of nature. I saw quite a few beautiful birds, but they flew away before I could grap my camera to snap a photo. There is one in the distance on the other side of the river in this photo if you look close enough. It was on my side of the river when I first came up on it, but by the time I got my camera out, I flew to the other side. I loved the Earth Art and really appreciated finding a clean restroom here. I felt good for the first 7 miles, then slowed taking more frequent walk breaks for the next 10 miles, and then walked the last three miles wondering how I am ever going to be able to run 6 more miles in a marathon in two weeks. I loved the Camelbak, once I got the straps adjusted so it sat snuggly on my back. I ate Clif bars instead of clif shots and felt like I had plenty of fuel. I ate salt with water and much preferred that over sports drinks. But my knees, muscles and feet hurt from such a long distance and refused to trot the last few miles. Since I went 10 miles then turned around, I didn't have the option of cutting the distance short. Hopefully the excitement of the race and proximity of other runners will get me through the marathon. I was so tired driving home that I feared falling asleep at the wheel. I don't recall ever feeling this physically exhausted. Back at home, I took care of the pets, took a shower, and climbed into bed at 6:30 p.m.
Total miles for this week: 27.7
Total runs for this week: 4

Monday, October 6, 2008

3 weeks til Spinx Run Fest Marathon

Since I didn't get much running in last week, I mixed up the schedule for this week. Monday is normally a rest day, but since my last run was on Friday, I decided to run on Monday instead. I flew from Atlanta to Raleigh-Durham and then drove to Wilmington, NC on Monday. I checked into my hotel late afternoon, changed into running clothes and headed to "The Loop" at Wrightsville Beach. I felt energetic and strong. I completed three laps around "The Loop" as it became dark, making a total of 7.5 miles. I had enough energy to continue another lap or more, but don't feel comfortable running after dark. I finished strong and proud and vowed to run each night during my stay, but that didn't pan out.

Tuesday my shins were a little sore. I alternate running shoes and tonight was the night for a pair of shoes that I haven't had great success with. They are light-weight, which is a bonus for races or short runs, but not so great for longer distances. Almost immediately, I felt the pounding in my shins which worsened as the distance increased. At about 2-miles around The Loop, I headed to the beach instead of continuing on concrete. The sand was very soft and hard to run in from that aspect. I decided to just go for a long walk on the beach rather than struggle through soft sand or pound my legs further on hard concrete. I walked until dark, which ended up totalling 5 miles for the day, about 6 minutes longer than the 7.5 mile jog from yesterday. I'll chalk it up to a cross-training day. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day for running. On the positive side, I picked up a cool green stone for Kyra and I listened to the Ultradad podcast for the first time and really enjoyed episodes 1-3. The beach appeared to be eroded. I wonder if it is because of the recent storms...

Thursday, after flying back to ATL, I stopped by Stone Mountain on my way home with the intention of running around the mountain once (5 miles) since I was limited on time. But half-way around, the road was closed for paving. I turned around and then noticed a trail through the woods. I had seen it on a map, but had never explored it so I decided to give it a try. At first I was thrilled to be running through the woods. But after twisting my ankle on a rocky patch, stubbing my toe on a root, and then coming to a steep ascent up the mountain, I had had enough and turned around to make my way back to the car. Total distance = 5.5 miles.

On Saturday, Kyra, Tasha and I participated in the Atlanta Dog Jog 2-mile fun run at Piedmont Park. We ran the 1-mile race last year and really enjoyed it. Kyra was confident she could do two miles this year so I registered us for that. We had a lot of fun, except for the part when we thought we had gone the wrong way. Kyra's a sprinter and doesn't seem to understand how to maintain a slower pace, and to be honest, neither does Tasha. So we alternated sprinting with walking. We didn't win, we weren't last, and we had a blast.

Miles run this week: 20

Days run this week: 4