Thursday, April 22, 2010

The day after Christmas

Have you ever noticed that there's a post race let down? No matter if you're coming off the high from a PR or grieving over a tanked race. It's like the day after Christmas. All the preparations are done. It's taken months. Plans and lists are followed religiously. You've done your best, dotted the i's and crossed the t's. Then in just a few hours time, it's over. And while you're left with an awesome medal around your neck (or a living room full of wrapping paper, empty boxes, and bows) you can't help but feel a little sadness that it's over. You know there's next time, but it's over for now. And while when you're young you have the spoils of Christmas to play with the days after, as an adult I might look kind of silly wearing my medal to the grocery store a week later. (That's not to say you can't wear it around the house with doing dishes and such.) And as added insult, there's not supposed to be any running for a week. So the thing that makes you happy and gets rid of the blues is forbidden. What's a girl to do?
Well for me I think that this time is the best for reflection. It's when the highlights seem to shine through. It's when I make plans to fix the things that didn't go well. But mostly I've been hit with this great sense of gratitude. I've become even more grateful for friendship over the last couple of days. My relationship with Heather, my other good friends, my family, and the bloggers whom I've never met, yet share and support me. Today as I reflect, I'm not focussing on possible mistakes or sadness. I'm just reveling in the feelings of friendship. It's a pretty great thing. And it makes me want to be a better friend. Thanks again to all you out there that inspire me and make me want to try again.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Salt Lake Marathon 2010

Another marathon, another learning experience. I'm still not sure what I learned yet. It could just be that marathons are hard and painful. No matter how good the training is, no matter how prepared I feel, it's still going to be hard. It IS 26.2 miles. It's pushing my body to the very limits. And just because I've done it before doesn't mean it's going to be a breeze.

Gotta have a porta potty shot!

Getting ready to start!

The half marathoners (about 4600) and the marathoners (about 1100) start together and then split apart a few miles down the road.

The day started out well enough. In fact the first 17 miles felt really good. Our pace was good and I felt like I could keep it up the whole time. I was loving the rolling hills, beautiful parks and neighborhoods and just the general feeling of race day. It was good! I didn't put on my music right away. I just listened to others runners talking along the way and got in the groove.
Once I started the music however, it carried me. Especially on the closed freeway when the song "Highway to Hell" appropriately came on. I did the salt and really couldn't believe how well my calves were doing. But my hips were aching. And if there's one rule during a marathon it would be that whatever is hurting a little at the half will be hurting 20 times worse at mile 20.

It really started to come apart around mile 18. I did some mental concentration exercises and that worked for a while, but my body took over. That was especially disappointing. I held on until about mile 19 or 20 and then threw up. The last 6 miles were the longest of my life. Those electrical shocks that run through your calves warning you of immense cramping started to show up. And then the cramping started. I did more salt and they went away by the next mile. But my hips continued to get worse. Every step was pure torture. I wanted to quit. I wanted to sit down and cry. I could see my time goal flying out the window. I was holding back my loyal running partner. And really, that was worse than the time thing. She pushed me when I didn't want to be pushed. I was grateful. We finished. There were tears. I'm o.k. though. I will have new rules for Heather to run her own race next time.

My brother and his wife surprised me by being at the finish line. He's leaving in a month for Alabama to finish out his military training and become a helicopter pilot. He's one of those things I thought about during the hard miles. So to see him there brought tears to my eyes. And then there was my sweet family. My husband that was worried and my kids, mom and sister that were proud. Heather's mom really got the water works going when she hugged me and gave me words of encouragement. As she talked about friendship and loyalty the tears just flowed. What a sweet woman. Our time was 5:02. Exactly the same time as the last time I ran this marathon. 32 minutes slower than my time goal, 14 minutes from my best time and 32 minutes faster than my worst.

The only thing that keeps me thinking about the "next time" is that sooner or later I'm going to have a really good experience. When I do, it will make all these ones that fall short of expectations seem worthwhile. I have to keep believing in that or putting myself through this doesn't seem to make much sense.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Taper Madness

I've forgotten how a good taper makes you go a little crazy. The past couple of weeks have been good. We had a really good 13 miler and then the last 5 miles of speed work. Then on Saturday we had a 10 miler. It was really a struggle. Isn't that just how it would be? Since then all of my confidence has seemed to slowly be fading away. And NOT running hasn't really helped. I had a nice 3 miler with some strides toward the end yesterday that was really good, but in my mind I kept thinking that it was only 3 miles. Nothing like 26. I have one more 3 miler before the marathon on Saturday. I know I need to wrap my head around positive thoughts. I'm just having a hard time today. The weather reports aren't helping either. Last Saturday it was predicted that it would be 56 degrees on the marathon day. That sounded just perfect to me. It meant I could still wear my vest with all the pockets and not be too hot. It would also be the temperature we've been training in. And it's my favorite temperature. Yesterday I checked the weather. It was up to 62 degrees. And this morning it's at 72 degrees. 10 degrees overnight. By the time the actual day gets here it will probably be 92. It seems like every single time I run a marathon in the spring, it just happens to be the hottest day of the year so far. And if you know me, I don't like the heat. I know I sound like a negative Nellie right now. I know I need to change my thinking. But past bad experiences at marathons are creeping in. I've been telling myself that this one was going to be different but now I'm not so sure.
So here's my plan for not freaking out:
*Spend 10 minutes each day focussing on positive thoughts. Some ideas to focus on; the great 20 miler we had, how it feels to feel good while having a good pace, the speed work, and the progression of endurance from beginning to end.
*Visualize the day of the marathon being a good run. I'm going to enjoy myself and feel good while running. It will be a good experience.
*I will not check the weather again until the night before and only then to see what I should wear. I will not freak out about warm weather.
*Focus on the things I am grateful for; a great training companion, the blogging community, the ability to run, not being injured, a supportive husband and family, the beauties of nature that I get to see while running, and the life lessons I learn from running.

Well, here we go again!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Monster Month - Done!

I've been dreading and worrying about this month ever since I typed up our marathon training schedule into a calendar. Monster marathon month. On paper it looked intimidating. Especially the 10 x 800M Yasso's that we were scheduled to do after the 20 miler. They were tough, but I did it. Actually, doing it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. I need to remember to just take things one day at a time. You'd have thought running would have taught me that lesson by now. Anyway, this is what monster month looked like for me:
132 total miles.
of that 36 were speed work miles,
64 were long run miles,
8 miles ended up being a tempo run to make sure I wasn't injured,
and the rest would be recovery miles or junk miles.
I went to 3 spinning classes, did my kick boxing video 4 times, lifted weights 5 times, and lost 0 pounds. On the up side, I only woke up during the middle of the night hungry once and that was after the 20 mile run.
I doubt I will have another month like this the rest of this year. But I guess you never know.
The good news is that I'm feeling good. Really, really good. I'm more excited for the marathon than nervous. And that may be a first. I guess in a little more than 2 weeks I'll find out!