Sunday, October 31, 2010

'da marathon

All in all, it was a pretty uneventful race, but I somehow found a way to fill a page with inconsequential details and, of course, a little TMI. Enjoy :)

The Start:

Chilly, 46 degrees, crisp and clear. I was able to warm up enough jogging and jumping around to start in shorts, a long-sleeved shirt over my T-shirt, gloves and my running cap. There was the usual bottleneck at the start but things opened up within the first few miles. I had to be careful to go out too quickly because of the cool air and the downhill start but my first 4 miles were still at an 8:00/mi. pace. Whoops.

The Single Digits / 1st Third:

Things were great through mile 8. I kept the ipod off to keep myself from getting pumped by a poorly-timed Green Day song and running too quickly. My mantra through the first third was "easy peasy." I thought about how much nicer the weather was than what I've been training in all summer. I thought about what I'd order at my old restaurant when we went out to eat later (side note: Papas Bravas, Spanish-style home fries, if you will, are FANTASTIC after a marathon). I thought a little about my race strategy and settled on deciding that whether it was fast or slow, I just wanted to be albe to keep running, so that's what I did.

The Double Digits / 2nd Third:

After mile 8 began the start of a 10-mile uphill battle. I didn't realize this until about 10 miles later; a fact I would have known if I'd simply looked at the elevation chart. Whoops. I knew about miles 8-12. I was familiar with those roads and had run them often in years past. Beyond that I figured we'd hit rolling hills, not mile after mile on non-stop, low-grade incline that would slowly eat away at my calf muscles. My pace suffered a bit too, as I struggled to maintain 9:00/mi splits through this portion of the race. The good news is, I kept running. No major GI issues and no major pains, even though the run itself was becomming a pain in the butt.

The 20's / "The 2nd Half":

We've all read about and/or experienced mile 20, the wall, and that the 6.2 miles following it are longer and harder than everything before it. What was great about yesterday is that this wasn't the case for me. By mile 19 we were back on Swamp Rabbit Trail - part of a rails-to-trails path - and heading downhill at a nice .5-1% grade. I was able to bring my pace back down a little but did struggle with the fact that my legs were starting to want to lock up and my low back was killing me. I pushed on though and started up the ipod to rock through the last portion of the race.

Mile 23:

Just as I started wondering if I might be getting close to a wall, things started feeling funny "down there" (did I mention I was surfing the crimson tide?) and I had to STOP and clench my cheeks together to keep things from, uhm, moving. I worried the immodium I took beforehand was going to completely fail me so I had to walk for half a minute until the sense of urgency went away. The combo of cramps plus running had made things suddenly rather uncomfortable. But I slowly got back into a jog and then a run just as I came up to my husband and mother a couple miles from the finish. I didn't really say anything to them, just took a swig of water from the bottle Zac handed me, and muttered, "gotta keep moving," and ran off. Later, Zac told me I had a real funny look about me but when I told him what was going on, he went, "Ahhaaaa..."

The Finish:

By mile 24 I was back at my old clip but realized the long uphill had slowed me down too much to qualify for Boston and just totally did not care. And I loved that I did not care. After all, there's always the spring. I knew I'd be proud of my time so I plodded on and conserved a little energy for a strong-looking finish, complete with devil horns and sticking out my tongue to the camera guy. (pictures later, if I can steal them from the website).

The Day After:

I'm walking like I'm 86 and my calves woke me up a few times last night, but other than that I feel good, I feel accomplished, and I'm looking forward to another couple days of lounging and pigging out before driving back to Georgia.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

reluctantly crouched at the starting line

I've been giving a small bit of thought lately to what I'm running for this Saturday, and all the usual answers just aren't appeasing my self inquiry.

To prove to myself that I can do it.
Well, already have, twice.

To prove to myself that I can do it after birthing a child.
Meh, not really an issue. If I can run around a restaurant for 14 hours, I can run 4 (hopefully less, which brings me to the next possible answer...)

To prove to myself that I can run it in 3:40 or faster after birthing a child.
I'm not sure just how much that whole childbirth thing plays into Saturday's race, considering she's now 15 months old and everything's been healed up for quite some time. I'm pretty far beyond the point where I can boast about my running abilities "just" after having a baby. Three hours and forty minutes (the cut-off for my age group for the Boston Marathon) is more about training and stamina. I think I have the stamina, even if I haven't trained as intensly as in the past.

So I know I can run it, and I think I can run it well. What is it then that drives me to do another? I mean, I don't exactly like running 26.2 miles. The fun disappears somewhere between mile 13 and mile 20, and the last 6.2, well... we all know how awesome THAT is.

My best guess is that I want to enjoy the entire thing. I want to feel like the distance and effort come naturally, and that maybe, some day, I might be able to do something even more crazy, like an Ironman, or even a 50-miler. Because as fantastic an achievement as running a marathon may be, let's face it: Oprah's not signing up for any ultras, so that level of BAMF-ness can remain firmly intact.

In the end, I don't think I'll know the answer to why I needed to run another marathon until I cross the finish line. Because then I'll be able to pinpoint the exact thing that pushed me through the race and made me keep going, and use that as my strength and focus as I move forward to see where else this crazy running thing might take me.

Monday, October 4, 2010


My 20-miler wasn't the glorious laugh-in-the-marathon's-face experience I had with the 18, but it was... nice.

"Nice" is not a word most people would use to describe having to run 20 miles, but that's about the only word I can think of to sum it up. It wasn't spectacular - no land speed records this time - but the weather was absolutely gorgeous, I didn't have to guzzle water like I've had to all summer, and having a Garmin to run with allowed me to make a few wrong turns and not freak out because hey, it was all going toward the same mileage anyway.

But my run did bring me to another question: why do some people run so much when preparing for a marathon. Besides my weekly long runs (with cut-back weeks / aka weeks of working too much to attempt anything more than 6 miles at a time) I haven't been doing much of anything, yet I know I'm pretty much on track for the BQ. How is this possible with 20-30 mpw?

And what if... what if I could run more? I'm almost scared to think what some *real* training might do.

Well, I'll have most of the rest of Autumn and the beginning of Winter to decide where my running takes me. I figure after I run on the 30th (25 day! Eek!) and qualify for Boston (while we're being cocky, here), I'll take some time to x-train and focus on some shorter races before deciding if I'll actually run Boston, and how hard I'll train for it or if I'll just sit back and enjoy the race on cruise control.