Wednesday, March 30, 2011

National Marathon Race Recap, Part 2

Here are some pictures from the race.  I don't run with a camera, so these were taken by my personal paparazzi squad (try saying that three times fast).  The pictures from the official race photographer are ready now, but they are awful.  I honestly thought I was looking at the cameraman and smiling every time; either there were two at every stop, or I was smiling at some random man with a zoom lens.  In almost all of the photos my eyes are closed, and in quite a few my hair is plastered to my head.

So, the pictures!
Can you tell I'm happy to see my family at mile 20?  Yup, I was.

A quick hug before going on.  No, my bum is not really lumpy; those are the rest of my chews.

At the finish.  I look serious.  And I have two chins.

The Bambino trying on my medal.  He says he's going to be a runner.  So cute!

Little Man helping me stretch after the race.

I have no idea what I thought was so funny, but I love this picture.  I appear to be on the Metro, still wearing my lovely space blanket.

I have yet to run.  Monday and Tuesday I couldn't walk normally, so running seemed silly.  Today  with school church, and weather, it just wasn't going to happen.  I'll try to go for a few tomorrow, but I feel absolutely no pressure to run if I don't want to.  I haven't run without a plan in a while, so I plan to revel in this before moving on to the next race, which will be a 5k on May 21.  A sub-22:00 5k will be mine!  Mine, I say!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

National Marathon Race Recap, Part 1

After much fretting (whining) about the weather, I finally decided to pack a whole lot of possible clothes and just see how I felt.  We left Friday for D.C., arriving at the Metro station around 5:00 to ride the train with my parents to the Expo.  This makes sense to any parents of toddler boys but possibly to no one else.  Our dear little boy talks about trains all the time.  When he figured out that he'd get to ride a train on our trip, he started planning: "Meme ride big train?  Pop-pop ride big train?  MINE ride big train? Together?"  It was pretty adorable and a great way to catch up instead of sitting in traffic.  The Expo was fine; at this point in the evening we realized that the little one had suspect pants, no change of diaper, and one long Metro ride before anything could fix the situation.  Hilarity ensued and we got out of there fairly quickly.

My dad graciously agreed to drive me to the race start so that I wouldn't have to get there on my own or try the Metro, which wouldn't open until 6:00.  I didn't really sleep the night before; every hour I woke up to make sure my alarm clock was still working, which of course it was.  At 5:00 it went off loud and clear and I bolted out of bed.  I had my lovely breakfast of peanut butter toast and coffee and then we were off!  The traffic was not pretty.  I was so glad my dad was driving so I could just freak out quietly about how close it was getting to 6:45.  We finally got to the stadium parking lot, Dad dropped me off, and I went off on a double quest for a potty and pins for my race number.  I had gotten pins at the Expo, and they were still in the pocket of my jeans, tucked away safely in my bedroom.  Oops.  I found the line for the port-a-potties and in that (very long) line I found pins.  The race officially started well before I got to the front of the bathroom line, but thanks to chip timing I did not even consider leaving the line.  Decidedly worth it.

So, for the actual race!  The first few miles were cold and a little sardine-like, but at about 3 miles I settled in and felt good.  I could feel my hands and toes, I was thankful for my mom's gloves because I'd forgotten my own, and my music was perfect.  I went pretty fast up until the half-way point.  Some of my mile splits were below 8:00!  I'd look down at my Garmin, see the lap (mile) average, and say to myself oh crap, this is going to hurt me later.  I tried to slow down but could not.    That 8:00-8:15 pace felt great, conservative even at times.  I knew, however, that I could not keep it up.  I had not trained hard enough to run that pace for an entire marathon, so I was really scared about how exactly my body would finally implode.

Well, at the half I began to find out.  It wasn't dramatic or painful; I simply slowed down.  My pace went from  too fast to just a little too fast, hovering around 8:30-8:40.  Mind you, this is still faster than I thought I'd be running at all during the race.  My family managed to catch me right around mile 14 for the first of several meet-ups.  They had these great shirts that said Team Margie and DC Marathon 2011 on the front and, when put together in the right order, made26.2 on the back.  Little man was the period!  Seeing them picked me up a lot.   I managed my first-ever race pit stop around mile 15 or 17.  It was totally worth it.  The only problem was pain in my right ankle, exactly where I experienced it in February.  It felt like my laces were too tight across the front of my foot, but they weren't.  It hurt but I was pretty sure it would go numb, so that's what I bet on.  As luck would have it, it did!  (More on that later).

I saw the family (plus a family friend!) again at mile 20.  We saw each other from far away this time, and I stopped to hug the little one.  The body and the mind are so connected, and I see that the most when something as simple as a wave or a hug from loved ones can literally make my legs feel better.  I was tired, a little achy, and worried about finishing strong.  Suddenly I saw them, talked briefly with them, and raced away feeling lighter.  Magical.

I didn't hit a wall with my first marathon, but I think that's because I didn't really push myself in terms of pace. I found miles 22-25 very difficult this time around.  The pain in my ankle came back and my calves were getting tight.  The course was flat at this point but windy.  Miles 23 and 25 were my only splits over 9 minutes.  Even my port-a-potty mile was under 9:00.  I am proud for getting through those miles and finishing strong.  I picked the pace back up and felt fast and in control as I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 3:44:31, a 6-minute PR and much faster than I expected.  I am so proud!  I found the family soon after I crossed the line.  I proudly wore my medal and my space blanket on the Metro to a glorious lunch of seafood enchiladas and coffee.  My right ankle hurt like hell, my left wasn't much better, and I didn't care because I was done.

More later, with pictures, too.  Thanks for reading this ramble!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Taper and the Weather

After my lackluster longish run Sunday in which I jumped a fence and begged an apartment security guard for access to a toilet, I think this week might follow a similar vein.  I ran today, but it was 80 degrees.  That's really hot compared to the normal 50-60 degree weather for March.

Speaking of weather, guess what the forecast high is for Washington, DC on Saturday?  FORTY.  FORTY DEGREES. My tank top and shorts are no longer appropriate.  According to a cool what should I wear feature on, I should wear shorts, long sleeve shirt, a vest, and gloves at the beginning.  I have plenty of shorts and capris, but I was dead-set on my tank and don't know how my other shirts will pass the chaffing test.  That's a bad thing to find out race day, you know?

I'll run again tomorrow (after going to the dentist for my first-ever fillings) and maybe Thursday, and that'll be it until 7:00 Saturday morning.  It will probably be 34 degrees and overcast.  I'll be the blue-lipped girl in corral 4.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

One Week Out and (four-legged) Running Buddies

I cannot believe that the race is next Saturday!  My bib number is 327, and I am in corral #4.  I've never been in a race with corrals before.  I don't know if I think it's cool or if it makes me feel like cattle.  I might use a pace group on this race.  Historically I do great on long runs holding on to the coattails of faster runners; why not try it for a race? The question is which pace group: 3:40, 3:45, or 3:50?  3:40 qualifies me for Boston and is 30 seconds faster per mile than my 21-miler and thus within the realm of possibilities.  On the other hand, my training has been really lacking this time around, and 3:50 equals an 8:47 pace, just 5 seconds faster than my 21-miler.  That seems a little too safe, you know?  It's also my time for the last race, on a much hillier coarse.  So then 3:45 sounds reasonable, and if I feel great at the half, I can speed up.  Who knows...

I've picked out my race outfit: Nike compression shorts (too big, but that's another story...), my Off n' Running race tank, my favorite oh-so-soft Balega socks with the little puff on the back so that they don't slide down into my shoes, and my New Balance 759s.  I'm kind of disappointed about wearing them, because I love my Brooks Ghosts, but the latter are dying and now also smell like cat pee.  Great.  I have some arm sleeves, too, but they are shiny black and look a little too serious.  Also, the one time I wore them I got under-arm blisters.

Today I took Jack and Scout, my two wonderful mutts, to the trails for their first run together in a while.  Usually I run with Jack alone these days; Scout used to be my most athletic dog, but she tore her ACL and shredded her meniscus a few weeks before our son was born.  Ever since, she's just like any injured athlete: she desperately wants to run but can't really keep up.  And since she's loyal (and doesn't speak English), I can't trust her to tell me she needs to stop.
Here she is right after surgery.  She's such a good girl!
I let her come along because I knew it would be a slow one anyway.  The sun was shining, it was nice and hot, and the dogs could not remember what the heck to do when running together.  The leashes got tangled, Scout fell behind, Jack peed on his leash more than once, they waded in the lake and shook their loving wet, muddy bodies all over each other and yours truly.  It was, in short, perfect.  Our pace was around 11:00/mile because I didn't want to stop and start the watch every time one of them did one of the things mentioned above.  It was one of those runs that reminds me it's not always about the time or the distance or even breaking a sweat (which I didn't).  It was just fun.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I made a friend!

This week's runs have been great!
Monday- 3 miles
Tuesday- 5 miles
Wednesday- 3 miles
Thursday- rest with yoga

Today I planned on 14-15 miles.  Since this is "Spring Break"- in quotes because it was only two days due to snow- I got to run long on a weekday.  Also because it's Spring Break, I had dental appointments.  Yes, plural.  Yesterday and today.  Today's appointment ended at 12:00, giving me time to grab lunch (sushi- good choice?), run an errand, change clothes in a public restroom, and get to runnin'.

I knew it was going to be a boring run, but I had prepared for it.  I had my shuffle, some Gu chomps, and a Gatorade bottle which I left on the top of my car.  The plan: three five-mile legs, each ending at the car for a snack.  Oh, the boredom.

I ran the first leg.  No one was at the park.  Lunch time on a Friday is not popular for exercise, apparently.  It was pretty windy, too, but that breaks up the monotony.  I crossed paths with two runners, a few bikers, and a dog walker, but that's all.  I got back to the car ready to lose the jacket and slurp some Glacier Freeze.

And there were the two runners!  The man talked to me, but I couldn't hear him with my loud music.  I took out my ear buds and we chatted.  Then the woman said she was running 9 more.


Dork that I am, I unhesitatingly said, "Can we run together?"  Thankfully she only looked at me strangely for a split-second, and then we (re)introduced ourselves.  Turns out we knew each other from the running store!  We negotiated pace- I love how runners always swear they'll slow each other down when it is so not the case- and took off.

My new running buddy and I ran 9 miles at about 8:30 pace.  We talked about our families, our children (who go to the same school!), racing plans, and all the sorts of things two runners talk about: arm sleeves, shoes, race fuel.

So, my planned boring run turned out to be fast, challenging, and really fun.  I'm thankful for a monotonous first 5 miles to highlight the next 9.  My legs are happily sore from a lot of running and a little yoga, but the red wine is helping.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Runnin' Music

Until I got my second-hand iPod shuffle (thanks, Gam, for the Christmas check!) I ran with no music. I wasn't against music on a run, I was (and am) just cheap.  But those solo long runs started to get to me and, flush with holiday moolah, I got a tiny blue iPod.

Turns out, I love listening to music when I run!  It did take me a few tries to work everything out.

The shuffle holds a relatively small amount of music, but it's enough that you count the time in days.  I filled that sucker up with my favorite songs (albums, groups) and went for a run and pressed "shuffle."  Well, in days of music, there are some songs that you really like and that just don't work for a run.  Songs about dying, for instance.  Slow movements of cello concertos.  Thankfully I discovered this on a treadmill run and didn't trip into oncoming traffic while repeatedly pressing the "skip" button.

So back to the computer I went, this time editing out the slow stuff.  It was hard to delete favorite songs.  I felt like I was breaking up with them.  It's not you, it's me- I'm just looking for something different right now.  They're not really gone, just relegated back to itunes, but it still feels like a divorce.  After the purge, I even turned the first twenty or so songs into a playlist.  This is the playlist that fires me up.  These are specific fast songs that motivate me and sometimes even push me to go too fast.  It contains...

  • Ani Difranco (Gravel, In or Out, Fire Door, Arrivals Gate)
  • Amy Ray (can't name them all.  pretty much everything fast she's recorded, including but not limited to Lucy Stoners, Blender, Driver Education, and Black Heart Today.  and "Let it Shine" multiple times.  I can't listen without crying a little and pressing repeat.)
  • Bare Naked Ladies (Hello, City and One Week)
  • They Might Be Giants (Birdhouse in Your Soul, Ball and Chain)
  • Indigo Girls (too many to count...)
Yes, I have bought new music since high school and college, but I like this stuff.  Ani and Amy make me run fast, and I try really really hard not to sing along.  Sometimes I do sing along, and it's loud and out-of-tune.  Part of being a well-adjusted grown-up is figuring out what you like and following it, right?  I love music, and I love this music.  Other favorite artists that made the short list are...

  • Dixie Chicks
  • Todd Snider
  • Keb Mo'
  • John Prine
  • Paul Simon
  • Simon and Garfunkel
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Tom Petty 
  • Eric Clapton (including Cream)
  • Grateful Dead
  • Bob Dylan
  • Cat Stevens
Maybe a few (okay, a lot) of these artists seem mellow, but I'm not a big pop/hip-hop aficionado.  I love acoustic guitar, two and three-part harmony, and angsty and political lyrics.  The storytellers on the list (Todd and John, and Paul Simon to a point) can lose me for a few minutes in a song the way I get lost in a good movie.  I don't always want to get lost on a run, but it's nice to have the option.

My next trick is going to be podcasts.  I listen to a lot of NPR.  I'd love to listen to episodes of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, Car Talk, The Splendid Table, or This American Life during a long run.  If you haven't heard of these shows, you should google them.  They are free to listen online and funny, smart, and sometimes moving.