Sunday, April 25, 2010

i did it!

I didn't tell many people that I had registered for the Blue Ridge Marathon for fear of another failed attempt. I had a very bad experience in Wilmington, NC in March for what was supposed to be my 3rd marathon. I feared that I would get sick again on race day or something else would go wrong so I kept this marathon a secret in case I failed here too. But that backfired a little... as close friends/family found out, they were upset that I hadn't told them beforehand, but then said they understood why I hadn't broadcasted it. I was sick last week which flowed over into this week. However, I was well enough to run my proudest marathon on Saturday. The following chronicles my week.

Monday:  Rest Day

Tuesday:  Walked 1.35 miles in 37:31 minutes. I traveled to Fort Lauderdale, FL today for a business trip. I was supposed to run 5 miles today, but am still feeling sick. I opted to go for a much needed, peaceful, zen, walk on the beach in the light rain after an amazing dinner.

Wednesday:  I was supposed to go swimming today, but I'm way too congested still and my ear is still quite painful. Took a rest/travel-home-from-business-trip day instead.

Thursday:  Jogged 3.81 miles in 45:24 minutes; average pace 11:55. Still congested with an ear ache, but did an easy jog through the new subdivision nearby. I've been sick for over a week. Hope I get over this soon!

Friday:  Rest day. Drove to Roanoke, VA for my marathon tomorrow!  Picked up my daughter from school at lunch and we drove to Virginia. Her dad, step-mom and half sister are going to be in Virginia this weekend too. We met her step-mom outside of Greensboro, NC and I handed her off, then drove the rest of the way to Roanoke alone. Glad she was with me for most of the drive! I arrived too late to go to the race Expo. As I was driving into town I noticed an amazing man-made star on a mountain; what a beautiful sight! Checked into the Rose Hill Bed and Breakfast around 8:45 p.m. What an amazing little B&B! LOVED the water and few pieces of fudge in my room!
Saturday:  Blue Ridge marathon!  I wrote a separate blog post about this marathon.  It was an AMAZING experience! Click here to read about my experience. After the race, I enjoyed a long soak in the deep claw-footed tub associated with my room at the B&B. Later, I asked for dinner recommendations and the owner of the B&B (Wendy) suggested I go to Wildflour.  It's a local bakery/restaurant that is just a few blocks from the B&B. Other guests at the B&B had dined there last night and highly recommended it as well. Wendy walked with me out onto the porch and pointed me in the right direction. She said it was within walking distance and I thought my legs would benefit from an easy walk, so I that's what I did. The food was AMAZING! I ordered a side salad with sour ginger dressing which was awesome! I had the maple soy glazed salmon as my entree' which was served with asparagus and black beans and rice. SO DELICIOUS!!!  I would highly recommend this restaurant if you're in the Roanoke, VA area.

Sunday:  Rest day. Before leaving Roanoke, I picked up a newspaper. The marathon filled the front page and was extended to another section of the paper. My name was in print! One woman was quoted to say that this race was harder than the ironman triathlons that she had completed.  Then I drove to the top of the mountains that I ran yesterday. Good thing I didn't driven the course beforehand or I probably would have panicked. Wow those roads are steep!  I took several photos for my race blog entry. After spending time amazed at the beauty and reveling in my accomplishment, I had mexican for lunch and then drove home. The ride seemed much longer alone. I hope my daughter had fun with her dad this weekend.

Weekly Summary:
  • Days run this week: 2
  • Miles run this week: 30.1
  • Highlight of the week: slowest but most amazing marathon
  • Goal for next week: recover

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Blue Ridge Marathon

I'm staying at the amazing Rose Hill Bed & Breakfast in Roanoke, VA. The owner, Wendy, was so kind to serve fruit, muffins and tea/coffee at 5:30 a.m., earlier than the normal breakfast schedule, to accomodate the guests that were running the race. The B&B has three guest rooms, all of which are occupied by runners: me, a newlywed couple (wife is running the half), and another charming couple (wife is running the half).

After eating a small muffin, some fruit and drinking a cup of tea, I drove down to the packet pick-up location. I picked up my bag and race chip and returned to the car. Somehow, I made a wrong turn and the walk to the car took much longer than it should have. It was a good thing because I realized I would be way too warm in this rain jacket, so I decided to just leave it in the car. The weather forecast was 55-65 degrees with 50% chance of rain. Back at the car, I put on my chip and number and then realized that I had left my iPod earphones back at the B&B. Oh no! But rather than get upset, I decided that I would just enjoy the sounds of nature instead. I can do this!

Just before the race started, the announcer said this is one of the most challenging marathon courses in the country. Uh oh... He said at mile 6 would be the steepest climb (15% slope). He said runner's goals shouldn't be for a specific finishing time, but to simply enjoy the scenery and finish. He emphasized that walking would be advisable during portions of the race. It's funny, but before I got there, my goal was not based on time, but simply to enjoy the scenery.

The race began at 7:30 a.m. The first mile was easy and I clicked it off in 10:45. And then the challenge began... We began our ascent to the TOP of Roanoke Mountain (I took this picture the next day). A few miles into it, I caught up with someone and we walked/jogged together and chatted for a while. He's an ultra runner and feels no guilt in walking up the steeper sections. I enjoyed listening to the birds and really soaking in the gorgeous views of nature. My goal for today is to just totally enjoy this experience, even if it takes me all day.

And up, up, up, up we continued to climb. I walked up a lot of the hills, but knew I couldn't walk up all and finish within the 7 hour cut-off time limit, so I picked markers to run to (fallen tree, sign, light post, cone, etc.), then walk a little and repeat. The announcer at the start of the race wasn't kidding. Mile 6 was STEEP uphill. I knew the highest elevation of the marathon was at about mile 7.5. As I approached that point, I noticed runners coming down with smiles on their faces and encouraging us that we were truly almost to the top. A volunteer was at the top and as soon as I was within his sight, he encouragingly yelled that I only had about 300 feet to go. I was walking. I said, "really?" He said "yes", so I laughed and started sprinting a few yards. We both laughed. It was fun. This is my day to have fun.

I took a moment at the top overlook aid station to admire the view. I asked if this was the mountain with the star on it that I had seen when driving into town last night. The volunteer said no, that mountain will be the second one we climb, and she just heard that the leading male just arrived at the top of that mountain (Mill mountain). WHAT? There are TWO MOUNTAINS in this marathon? You're kidding, right? Guess I should have done a little more homework before registering for this event... Not going to let it bother me, though, because I'm feeling good and enjoying the views.

The descent was steep. I ran as fast as I felt I could safely; I could imagine tripping and rolling down the mountain. I passed an Asian man running barefoot and carrying flip flops in his hands. Wow! My feet hurt in shoes... I can't imagine... Another woman and I passed each other back and forth. I passed her on downhills, she passed me on uphills. Ultimately, I finished before her.

After coming down Roanoke Mountain the course went back down Blue Ridge Parkway then up for several miles to the top of Mill Mountain. (I took this photo of Mill Mountain the following day.) Roanoke Mountain was steep, but the climb up Mill Mountain seemed longer. In hindsight, I don't really think it was longer, I was just tired. For those that ran the half-marathon, Mill Mountain was the only mountain they had to climb. A few miles after the marathon began, half-marathoners were sent up Mill Mountain while marathoners were directed to conquer Roanoke Mountain.

I enjoyed the view from the Star overlook, then sped as fast as I thought I could safely do back down the steep road down the mountain.

Now I'm at 16 miles. This marathon is kicking my butt, but I'm loving every minute of it!!! The rest of the course meandered through neighborhoods, greenway, parks, Hwy 220, etc. The worst stretch for me was along Hwy 220. I was tired, the road was busy, and there weren't many volunteers/spectators/other runners here. I was tired of going up hill. Then I focused again on mini-goals: run to the next fire hydrant, mailbox, cone, etc. At about mile 18 the fun had worn off. Why did I sign up for this??? I'm never going to run another marathon again!!! I can't do another hill... I recognized this as a mental low, ate a Clif Shot block and focused on one foot in front of the other. Before I'd overcome this mental funk, a volunteer said: "just past that speed limit sign is a downhill." I can't remember what I said, but he must have sensed that I wasn't at the top of my game. He said he would walk with me to it. We chatted about random things and after we made it to the speed limit sign, I started running downhill in a happier mood. THANK YOU, MR. AWESOME VOLUNTEER!!!

This simple gesture made such a huge impact on my outlook and got me through the rest of the marathon. The ENTIRE course was either mountainous or hilly. At mile 19 I looked at my watch and thought: I can walk 7 miles in 2.5 hours (course closing); I can do this. I ran/walked. Mostly walking up hills and running down. At mile 23 the course passed the B&B that I'm staying in. I waved to the newlywed husband whose wife ran the half. He was on the porch. I asked how she did and he said good. They're getting ready to go to lunch. If I didn't want this medal so bad, I could have quit at the B&B and enjoyed a nice bath. But I kept going. 3 more miles... 3 miles is easy. Anyone can go 3 miles...

I fought back tears as I neared the finish. I can't believe I did this! I'm SO HAPPY!!! Official chip time: 6 hours, 16 minutes, 29 seconds. This was my slowest marathon, but who cares? I don't. It was the hardest, most challenging run that I have ever done, which makes it the most rewarding. Every muscle in my body is sore. Not injured, just sore/tired from the hard effort. Life is good! Feeling proud! I hung around the finish area for a while, hoping to see a few people finish that I had passed along the way. I cheered for each person that crossed the line, knowing what an amazing accomplishment this was.

I exceeded my goals for this race: finish within the 7 hour time-limit and enjoy the scenery. And you may be asking how did I exceed the goal? Well, because I didn't listen to my iPod by a fluke mistake of forgetting my headphones, so I was forced to enjoy the sounds of nature and interact with fellow runners and volunteers. MUCH better entertainment!!! MUCH more elevating! And I think I observed more by focusing on the next target to run to. Pretty flowers, lovely views, fallen trees, steep grades, sweet birds, old bridges... I didn't finish last, and I passed a barefoot runner who was wearing socks and flip-flops on his hands (plus a few more people) in the later miles. It was my slowest marathon, but one I can honestly say I'm most proud of completing. WHAT A CHALLENGE!!! TWO MOUNTAINS plus rolling hills for the entire race! Good thing I didn't drive the course before the marathon or I would have been totally freaked out before the race. Those roads were STEEP!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

the cooties

Well, this week didn't go as planned...  Monday and Tuesday were completed per Coach Josh's instructions, but the rest of the week wasn't. Last Saturday I woke with a sore throat and headache, but completed my long run. Last Sunday I started sniffling. Monday I began coughing. I pushed through my speedwork on Tuesday, but later that day I totally lost my voice. I woke in the middle of the night, in the wee hours of Wednesday with a wicked ear ache. This was the final straw. After taking my daughter to school, I went to the doctor in pain and unable to speak above a whisper. He said I have "the cooties"; I kid you not! What a comedian! I always wondered what "the cooties" really were...  In my case, he translated it into strep throat, sinus infection and ear infection. The sinus gunk is draining into my lungs causing the cough. Oh joy! He gave me two shots and prescriptions for antibiotics and decongestant. I still felt horrible throughout the week, so no more running for me... Hoping for next week :-)  On Friday, I read Holisticguru's post about mindfully eating fruit. So Saturday morning, I mindfully ate my breakfast and took this photo. I sent her a tweet with the photo saying "mindful eating = silly face". To my surprise, she posted it on her blog!

Monday:  Rest Day

Tuesday:  Speed work.  Ran 5.6 miles in 58:10.  Did the run as Coach Josh planned, but it was less mileage than he predicted. 1 mile warm-up at 10:45 (coughed up lung congestion and then felt much better). [I'm not sick, I'm not sick, I'm sick...] Then 3 x 1 mile at 9:40 pace with 0.2 mile jog at 12 minutes/mile pace after each. Followed by 1 mile at 10:45.

Wednesday: Unfortunately, my prayers and proclamations from yesterday of not being sick were ineffective. Woke in the middle of the night with a wicked ear ache on top of the sinus congestion, sore throat, cough, and loss of voice. See intro paragraph for diagnosis.

Thursday - Sunday:  No running. Hope I feel better next week.

Weekly Summary:
  • Days run this week: 1
  • Miles run this week: 5.6
  • Highlight of the week: nailed that speedwork session on Tuesday despite waking up coughing
  • Goal for next week: feel better and psych myself up for 4/24 marathon

Sunday, April 11, 2010

good girl

I was a good girl this week and ran all the miles that Coach Josh had planned for me!!!  I think it's been a month since I've done that. His pep-talk on Monday helped tremendously. I'm so glad that I have the most amazing running coach on the planet! I got in all the hard miles he had planned and turned my "recovery run" on Sunday into a fun/scenic one. Read below for daily adventures as well as a weekly summary, highlight of the week, and goal for next week.

Monday:  Rest Day. Received a phone call from Coach Josh. He's concerned after reading my posts about my runs. He said I'm not the only one in a funk and that this weekend would be the last "long run" scheduled before my marathon. He's confident that I can complete the marathon as long as I get this last long run accomplished. I can do it. I told him it's been a challenge juggling child-care and getting motivated to run long, but my daughter will be with her dad next weekend, and I'm thinking of doing an out-and-back route that will force me to complete the distance. He encouraged me to call him any time, for reassurance, etc., and that I'm not the only one going through this "change of season" phase. I felt better after talking to him.

Tuesday: Ran 5 miles in 53:16 minutes, 10:39 minutes/mile average pace. Coach Josh prescribed 5 minutes in 54 minutes; done. I got up early and did the run. Kyra's ill (and was still asleep), so I did the run on the treadmill in the basement. I increased my pace slightly on each mile. Felt good to get it done early. Noticed that Coach Josh only had my activities posted for today and tomorrow. He usually posts a week at a time. I wonder if he's holding out to keep me from stressing over future runs. He has swimming on the agenda for tomorrow; yay!

Wednesday: Kyra was supposed to go to her dad's house tonight, which was when I had planned to swim. But due to circumstances beyond our control, she's staying with me tonight instead. She's been sick for the past week and she did not want to go to the pool. I don't blame her. I stayed home with her instead of getting my swim in. She fell asleep on the floor, cuddling on her puppy. She only naps when she's sick. Hope she feels better soon.

Thursday: Ran 5 miles in 53:00 minutes, 10:36 minutes/mile average pace. Coach Josh prescribed 5 minutes in 54 minutes; did it 16 seconds faster than Tuesday. I arrived at the office late this morning; I wanted to let Kyra sleep as late as she would in hopes that would help her cold. So, I worked late to make up my missed time. By the time I got home, it was dark so I opted to run on the treadmill again. Wasn't necessarily trying to beat my pace from Tuesday, but just tried to have it be slightly less than 54 minutes.

Friday:  Rest day. Psyched myself up for tomorrow's long run.

Saturday:  Ran 18 miles in 3:54:01, 13:00 minutes/mile average pace. Wasn't exactly how it should have been, but done.  Started out at Stone Mountain with the intention of completing all 18 miles there. I ran by heart rate rather than trying to maintain a certain pace. I kept my heart rate under 75%. The first 5 miles were easy. The next 5 miles felt "easy", but I noticed I had to walk a lot more to keep my heart rate below 75%. I knew that I would be better off running rather than so much walking, so I decided to finish that lap and then go home and run the rest of the miles on the treadmill in the coolness of the basement. When I took off my camelbak at the car, I was amazed at how heavy it seamed. As soon as I got home, I stepped on the scale with it, then without, and calcuated it weighed 8 pounds! And this is after I had drank about half the water! I'm guessing it was probably 12 pounds when I started. No wonder I had to go so slow to keep my heart rate in check! After weighing, I went straight to the treadmill, not wanting to put too much rest time into the run. I set the pace at 12:00 minutes/mile and easily clicked off the next 5 miles. But then, something weird happened. I started having cramps on my right side at the base of my rib cage. I stopped to walk for a few seconds and it disappeared. Then it would start again a few minutes after I started running again. So for the last few miles I did run/walk intervals at approximately 0.2 to 0.4 miles run with a 0.025 to 0.05 mile walk break. (As I'm typing this on Sunday, I notice that my right rib cage is still tender to the touch. Bizarre.) I almost quit at mile 17 because of the pain and told myself that I would take the dogs for a mile walk later to get the total miles in. Then I told myself that just wasn't acceptable; suck it up and push through that last mile. I did. 18 miles done... The ice bath afterwards felt oh-so-good!

Sunday:  Ran/walk 3 miles in 44:51 minutes, 14:57 minutes/mile average pace. This was supposed to be an easy "recovery run" so I decided to explore a new-to-me trail. I went to Yellow River Park.  The trails that were marked as pedestrian weren't very long, so I did multiple loops. I think the bike trails are longer, but decided not to risk getting hit by a biker. I enjoyed the view, just wish the trail was longer. I walked up the steep hills and stopped to step off the trail a few times to allow bikes to pass. My right rib cage is still tender and my legs are still sore from yesterday. Since this was supposed to be a recovery run, I didn't focus on pace, just enjoyed the new scenary.

Weekly Summary:
  • Days run this week:  4
  • Miles run this week: 31
  • Highlight of the week: ran all the miles Coach Josh planned
  • Goal for next week: taper and psych myself up for 4/24 marathon 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

another one bites the dust

This week totally sucked for running. It was a busy week; I had to get tax info to my accountant, lawn mowed, bills paid, work done, buy stuff for Easter, take care of my sick daugther, etc. I only ran three days, and didn't complete the long run as scheduled; I opted to "run for fun" instead. I ended up getting sunburned so it's a good thing I didn't run for an hour longer and get 3rd degree burns...  I think we skipped spring and went straight from winter to summer.  Read below for daily adventures as well as a weekly summary, highlight of the week, and goal for next week.

Monday:  Rest Day

Tuesday:  didn't run; compiled tax info for my accountant instead.

Wednesday:  Intervals (that were scheduled for Tuesday). I got up early and ran 4.9 miles in 52 minutes; 10:37 minutes/mile avereage pace.  1 mile in 10:53 minutes, 6x3 minutes at 9:40 pace with 2 minutes at 12:00 minutes/mile pace jog after each. 1 mile in 10:41 minutes. Then I showered and went to Kyra's Junior Beta Club induction. She had the leading role by reading the introduction. So proud!

Thursday:  didn't run

Friday:  Rest Day (mowed the grass)

Saturday:  Long Run.  Ran 9.35 miles in 2:03:10; average 13:10 minutes/mile pace; at Alexander Park while Kyra was with Bryn at their lake house.  80 degrees and sunny.  At some point during the past month or so I lost sight of my motto, run for fun. I need to get back to that place. Was scheduled for 16 miles but decided to run as long as it was fun, and walk when I felt the need. Should have worn sunscreen... 80 degrees in the sun ended the fun early. But I felt good when I stopped and have no regrets about not meeting mileage plan. May downgrade to the half marathon on 4/24 if next week is similar to this week. But who knows... maybe next week the long run may be much more fun :-)

Sunday:  Happy Easter! And Happy Birthday to my brother and Zoe (Kyra is dog-sitting for her pups this weekend and is pictured here with Roger giving her a kiss). Ran 5.38 miles in 1:03:53; average 11:52 minutes/mile pace; in neighborhood. It was 83 degrees and sunny. I wore sleeves to cover my sunburned shoulders from yesterday.  After first mile, I decided to try to keep heart rate in Garmin Zone 2 (60-70%) during run since can't hit usual paces because of heat. 70%=148 bpm. When I hit zone 3.1, I walked until heart rate came down to 2.8, then resumed jog. Think this was a much better strategy than pushing too hard to keep an 11 minute pace or simply walking up hills and jogging in between. Not sure if this is the correct range for longer runs, but was a good trial; should probably keep it lower for longer runs because was tired towards end.

Weekly Summary:
  • Days run this week:  3
  • Miles run this week:  19.63
  • Highlight of the week:  Ran for Fun this weekend
  • Goal for next week:  COMPLETE LONG RUN and get back in the mental game for marathon on 4/24