Tag Archives: Marathon

Week 2 training & the hiccups (or kidney stones) that accompanied it

I knew going into last week’s training that it was probably not going to be my best training week in terms of hitting all the miles required, but I had no idea it would turn out the way it did! Last week was busy for me in terms of class & assignments, and since that is my top priority right now and it’s sooooo early in the training cycle, I was okay with it. I missed my Sunday 9-miler because I was on a home visit – I always feel blah about missing a long run, but it is what it is! I intended to do a second 5-miler this week as well but didn’t get to it. Oh well. Here’s what the week looked like:

Sun: no run

Mon: 3.1 at 8:48 min/mile – I was NOT feeling well that morning!

Tues: no run

Wed: 5 miles at 8:40 min/mile

Thurs: 3.1 miles at 8:20 min/mile

Fri: no run

Sat: 7.1 at 8:37 min/mile

The 7-miler was my scheduled long run this week (it was a low-mileage Kurtis week), and while it was scheduled for Sunday, I wanted to get it in on Saturday because Audrey & Caroline had their own races to run Sunday morning – Potomac River Running’s Mighty Mile Kids’ Race! They were both really excited for it, especially Audrey. Good thing I got that mileage in early since Sunday morning took an unexpected and unpleasant turn.

I woke up around 4:30am on Sunday with abdominal and pain on my right side. I thought I had pulled a muscle or something and tried to switch positions and go back to sleep. That did not work out very well – I could not find relief no matter what position I tried! I suffered alone for a while, but then I started getting nauseous and throwing up. I felt like maaaaybe I should wake Brian up, but I didn’t want to get him up so early! We are going through a bad sleeping spurt w/ the girls, and he is always up at the crack of dawn (or before). I didn’t want to be the cause of the early wakeup this time when we go to bed every night hoping that the next morning is the morning the girls sleep in! I couldn’t stand it anymore, though, so I woke up and told him what was going on. He said that I looked so pathetic that he couldn’t find it in his heart to be mad at me…ah, love. 🙂 We sat on the couch for a little while with me in fetal position before I decided I was going to try and get some sleep. I went back to bed and still couldn’t get any relief, and then I threw up again – all over the sheets. I called Brian in and he sat next to me for a while. Eventually it got bad enough that we decided to get the girls up and go to the ER, so the girls came along with their crazy bedhead and footie pajamas.

Long story short – after lots of time in the hospital, more throwing up, an IV, a urinalysis w/ elevated red blood cell count, bloodwork, and a CT scan, the diagnosis was a kidney stone. I actually passed it in the waiting room, and it wasn’t very long after that I felt way better. B told me he could tell when I was feeling better because I actually talked audibly instead of whispering and mumbling 😉 On our way out of the hospital, we spotted the Ft Belvoir Fisher House! I don’t really pay attention that much when leaving the hospital because usually I am driving chatty children home from doctor appointments, so this was maybe the second time I noticed it. I remember when they were building both FH and the hospital and that area was just a huge pile of dirt. So cool to see it up and running – and it is beautiful!

So, yeah. That was our “relaxing” Sunday morning! I have had two natural births (I call Audrey’s birth a “supernatural” birth), so I am not a wimp when it comes to pain – and that is what made B realize it was serious because I don’t cry wolf with things. If I complain, I am probably already way past being in normal pain and on my way towards excruciating pain, ha ha. And for the record, I prefer childbirth to kidney stones. At least with labor you can move around and ease the pain, contractions come in waves and aren’t constant, AND you get a sweet baby after.

The girls were angels during that whole 4 hours in the hospital, but Audrey was really sad to miss her race. I am doing a 4th of July 5K, so she gets to come run the fun run to make up for it!

Here’s to a better training week this week – it can’t get worse, right? I will leave you with pics of my sweet baby Bear (her older sister was pouting in the other room):

 

 

 

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Filed under birth, Fisher House, Fitness, Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, natural childbirth, New York City Marathon, NYCM, Race, Racing, Run, Running, Team Fisher House

Nike Women’s Half Marathon recap {4/27/14}

This race last year was my PR half marathon race at 1:54 (official clock time = 1:55). That put a little bit of pressure on me to run another PR this time around but for many reasons, that didn’t happen. I have mixed feelings on not making it, but it really wasn’t my day, and when it all comes down to it, I am not as well prepared as I was last year. I’ve also been opting more to run pressure-free races because that is far more enjoyable. Then again, when I cross the finish line in a slower time than I’ve seen before, I am not always happy about it, so it’s a balance I am still working on.

Anyway, I LOVE this race. I think this may be my favorite DC race, and it’s only 2 years old! I had a wonderful experience at last year’s inaugural Nike Women’s 1/2 DC, and this year’s logistics and experience were even better. One thing that I didn’t like about last year’s race was that packet pick-up was in Georgetown only, and that is really inconvenient for a lot of people. Nike listened, though, and offered early packet pickup for locals at a few area running stores. This was so much better! Another complaint that I heard from people last year was that the course was so crowded. I didn’t really feel that as much because I was in the second pace corral (and not many were in the first) so we were towards the front, but the people behind were pretty bottle-necked. Nike fixed that, too, by using a wave start this year. They also cleaned up the finisher/celebration area and organized it better, and we got lots more goodies (awesome NWM water bottles that were pre-filled with water, huge bottles of chocolate milk, a goodie bag from Whole Foods, etc)…AND the necklace was a huge improvement over last year’s. I might actually wear mine this time around! AND Shalane Flanagan & Joan Benoit Samuelson opened the race AND ran it – this was less than a week after Boston. Bad ass.

The course itself was really fun and picturesque. The finish line photos with the Capitol in the background underscore that for sure.  I was so happy they revamped the course so that we weren’t hanging around so close to the finish line for 2-3 miles this year, unlike last year – that was torture! Instead, we did that part at the beginning of the race this year. Running through the tunnel at mile 1.5-2 was so fun and LOUD, especially with the drum band there. There was also a lit-up We Run DC sign there, and we got to run through the tunnel twice. The energy was crazy! I wish I had taken a picture, but I am not one of those people who can do that while running. The bands on the course were awesome (including Mason’s Green Machine right before Hains Point!), and little C LOVED the drum band at the finish line – spontaneous toddler dance party? Check!

There were two areas with HUGE TV screens that played personalized messages to you as you crossed a certain point. One was at the halfway mark and the other was at the 20K. It was so cool to see your name up there! There were Shot Blok stations, Luna bar stations, and even a Whole Foods chocolate stop at mile 11…I’m not sure who can eat chocolate at mile 11 of a half marathon when it isn’t next to a water station, but based on the wrappers on the ground, some people did! Nike really rolled out the red carpet for all of the runners. The spectators were awesome, too! There were even some on Hains Point which is so unusual.

I swiped some pictures from the Run Nike Women FB page because they did such a great job capturing some of the fun aspects of the race:

My race was not so pretty, but I tried to enjoy the atmosphere. I thought I had had enough bathroom trips prior to the start of the race (is 2 not enough?!) but ended up veering off at mile 3 to make another quick stop. At this point, I felt like my goal of PRing was gone, but I knew I would end up stopping at some point along the course, and since I was in Wave 1 and towards the front of the pack, I decided to stop when there were no lines. I was also fighting a sinus infection during the race (started w/ a sore throat that Friday night…), and breathing was tough (though definitely not as tough as running w/ bronchitis!) I started getting chills at mile 7 or 8, and ended up taking a walki break because it freaked me out. I didn’t know if it was from dehydration or being sick, but why play with fire? I texted Brian at that point (first time ever texting someone mid-race) to say I was really struggling and not feeling well, but he told me that I needed to get my butt to the finish because I had two sweet cheerleaders on their way! I made it a goal to run until water stops and then take as long of a walk break as needed. I should say I had an awful race, but once I accepted that a PR was not happening and decided instead to enjoy the race, I had a much better time. Final Garmin time was 2:04 and change. Maybe someday this season I will hit my sub-2 1/2 marathon again…if not, whatever! There is always next fall during marathon training! I have two more chances this spring, but they will be challenging halves!

 

Sorry if this post is disjointed – it feels like it is to me, but I am still in my sinus infection-induced haze, so who knows! Long story short – I love this race, and can’t wait for next year’s!

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Filed under Fitness, George Mason University, Marathon, Race, Races, Racing, Run, Running, Washington DC

Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon Recap and Reflections {3/15/14}

Hmmm, how to start this…

This was my 5th half marathon, and I did not have a good time at this race. I simply did not want to be there and it showed in my time. I think this race came too soon after B got back, and all I wanted was to be at home with everyone. It is also not my favorite course or race, and it was a logistical pain in the butt for me. I was so paranoid about it that I woke up at 3:45am and ended up at the starting line 2 hours (!) before race time because of my fear of the huge crowds (there were 25,000 runners!) and not getting there on time. That, paired with an additional 20-25 minute wait to cross the start line (wave start), just added to my desire to be anywhere but there. I was over it before it even started. I even texted Brian before the start that I wanted to come home and didn’t want to race at all!

I started off the race trying to shake off my bad attitude, and even paced myself well for the first half. I held back at the start and forced myself to slow down after starting at 8:10 min/miles, and up until mile 7-8, I was averaging around 8:40-8:45 min/miles which I would have been thrilled with at the end. My heart and head were not in it, though, and by mile 5, I was ready to be finished. The huge hill of this course comes at mile 6 (exiting Rock Creek & heading into Georgetown), and then there was another sizable hill in mile 7, and I think those were the catalysts to my complete loss of interest in the race. I started alternating between walking & running at mile 9 (?) – even considered texting Brian to tell him how miserable I was, but refused to stoop that low (ha). If I had really pushed myself at mile 10, I still could have finished sub-2, but I just didn’t care enough to fight for it. Knowing it wasn’t my goal race did not help my apathy, either.

And guys – I DIDN’T EVEN SMILE FOR THE CAMERAS (well, most of them). YOU KNOW THIS WAS A BAD RACE WHEN I COULDN’T EVEN MANAGE THAT! I ran a 7-miler with BRONCHITIS and still smiled for all of the cameras! This was clearly dire 😉 .

My final time was 2:03:34. Despite my bad race, I still finished in the top third(ish) of all competitors, top 30% of age division, and top 26% of women so there’s that, I guess…

Splits:

5K = 27:45, 10K = 56:59, 10 miles = 1:32:58.

Something that Brian reminded me of when I got home was the difference in treadmill training vs. actually pounding the pavement, simply from an impact perspective. He asked me if my legs felt tired/sore earlier, and when I thought about it, they had. I noticed it during the race but didn’t really connect the dots. I’m sure it was because my training over the past 2-3 months has almost exclusively been on the treadmill (thank you weather + military life). Honestly, when I was sprinting to the finish of this race, my legs felt like they were sprinting to the finish of MCM (and they felt like I had just run a marathon for the rest of the day, too). I haven’t gotten any hill training in, and this race is pretty hilly in the second half. At least my days of single parenthood are over for a while and I can get outside for runs again – gotta get used to the pavement impact and hills again!

Another more sobering feeling that has been running through my mind (even prior to this race) is burn-out. I went all out last year in terms of my race schedule, and while it was rewarding, it was also exhausting. I have a packed spring race schedule this year, too, but I’m not sure if my desire to push myself is there. I am prepared to run them, but I almost want to run them for FUN, not for time. At the same time, though, I know that my very competitive nature will be annoyed if I don’t meet time goals. UGH, such a catch-22. But isn’t running supposed to be fun?! I’ve lost that feeling lately. Waking up at 5am to squeeze runs in isn’t fun. Running on the treadmill isn’t fun. Feeling like I don’t have a spare minute in my day isn’t fun. Hopefully these feelings improve now that Brian is back and I have room to breathe again, but I guess time will tell. I’m not really sure what the solution is, but I’m trying to incorporate more cross-training just to give myself a break.

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And in HAPPY news, GO HOOS! It was so fun to watch the ACC Tournament this weekend, especially because we are not used to being on the winning side! Caroline wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but she cheered along saying, “GO, HOOS, GO! HURRY, HURRY, HURRY!” in her sweet little baby voice!

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Filed under Celebrations, Charlottesville, Family, Fitness, Georgetown, Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, military, Military Life, Race, Races, Racing, Run, Running, University of Virginia, Washington DC

THE BIG ONE: Marine Corps Marathon 2013 recap (10/27/13)

Wow, I don’t even know how to start this post – there is so much to say and I am not sure my brain has processed it all, but I want to get it down before I forget anything! First off, I AM A MARATHONER! How surreal. On one hand, it doesn’t even seem like it happened, but on the other hand, my body definitely feels it! This post will probably be long because a) 26 miles is a long time and b) this race was awesome and I want to share/remember all the awesome parts of it!

I stayed at the Fisher House team hotel the night before the marathon so that I could avoid the metro chaos into Arlington. Plus, Fisher House offered the amazing service of an escort to the team tent in Charity Village (right behind the finish line!) which had tons of food and water, and then another escort from the tent to the start line. It is nice not to have to worry about those logistics when you are already stressed about the race ahead of you! Also, we bypassed main race security because we had our own security, and we didn’t have to do bag check because Fisher House allowed us to keep our bags in the tent – SO convenient. Everyone on the Fisher House team woke up to an inspirational sign on our doors which was a sweet way to start the morning, and we all shared duct tape and markers to put our names on our jerseys (such a crucial thing in a race!).

Walking to the start line with Team Fisher House was so fun and there was really a sense of camaraderie. As we were walking in towards the start, we paused for the flags and anthem. Marine and Army veterans parachuted in with a huge American flag as well as service flags from all of the military branches. It was so cool, and, because it was so early, the moon was still out, so it was a beautiful backdrop. Once we heard the National Anthem, we moved on into the starting area, took a last bathroom break, and hopped into the 4:00-4:15 corral (or so we thought but I think we got slower people with us!).

Flag being parachuted in

Flag being parachuted in

Corrals were split across a highway with a barrier, so you had a left side and a right side of people in the same pace group. Once the Howitzer cannon went off to signal the start (awesome, by the way), everyone went – it wasn’t a staggered start. The announcer said there were so many people running this that runners would cross the start line continuously for 25 minutes. That is insane! Anyway, we must have picked the nervous half of the start line because everyone in front of us was walking to the start, whereas the group on the right was jogging towards the start. Being impatient, we hopped the fence and ran in with the right side. Because people had to self-select into corrals and because there was not a staggered start, we were completely jam-packed through almost the entire marathon. It was so painful to see how slow some of our earlier paces (and even some of our later paces) were because we were trapped behind people and couldn’t get around them. We finished the first three miles in 31+ minutes, and that was really hard to see on the Garmin. I know marathon pacing is SO different, but when you can run 25 min or less 5K’s, that’s a hard number to see, especially when you didn’t necessarily want to go that slowly to start off with.

Anyway, the first 3-4 miles were the hilliest miles, and sort of lonely because it was through a wooded area and the George Washington Parkway but at that point, you don’t mind not having so many spectators. We did get to see Danny’s wife, Dominique, pretty early on which was so fun! I also happened to run into a friend from my Montana days on the course at around mile 2 – wow, what a fun and unlikely reunion! We squealed and gave each other a big hug and then were off again. What are the chances of us seeing each other in a crowd of 30,000 runners? Amazing. One of the other really cool things about MCM is that you get to race with wounded warriors who are riding their hand cycles, and there were many times when runners were instructed to move over because a cyclist was coming through (first time was right around mile 3) – talk about inspirational!

Once we hit mile 5 or so, we were running through Georgetown. There were tons of spectators there and it was amazing! The spectators throughout the whole race were just insane – they really made it so much easier! I actually didn’t even turn on music until mile 23 because of how incredible the atmosphere was. After we left Georgetown, we went through Rock Creek and the Potomac Parkway for what seemed like FOREVER. It was a U-turn part of the course, and it was hard to see people running the other way and not knowing when it was your turn to turn around! We came out of it around mile 9, and Danny and I decided to make a bathroom break. Eek, that might have been a mistake, because it wasn’t a desperate situation for us, but the line didn’t seem that long, so we stopped because we knew we’d eventually need to stop. However, the people in there took FOREVER, and the whole trip ended up costing us about 7-10 minutes. Oh well.

Once we hopped back on the course, it wasn’t too long until we had our first Brian sighting! He found us (and startled me) around mile 10 or 11, right before we hit Hains Point. Hains Point was, well, Hains Point. For those who don’t know what Hains Point is, it’s a long stretch (5 miles?) along the Tidal Basin/Potomac River and it is SO lonely. I usually don’t mind it, and it wasn’t that bad for most of it, but the isolation gets to you after a few miles. It was also an emotional stretch because there were pictures of fallen soldiers, their names, and ages lining the roads. I know I got choked up, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. All of a sudden I was like, “Why can’t I breathe easily anymore?! What is going on?!” and then realized it was because I was getting emotional. After we passed by all of the pictures, there were people lining the route single file holding American flags. Wow. It made you really stop, think, and reflect. I think we left Hains Point around mile 14 or 15, but I felt my first “down” moment of “yikes, this is a long race” at the half marathon mark. I was still feeling okay physically, but coming off of that isolation and realizing I still had a long way to go definitely wore on my spirit for a little while. Being alone for so long with just the people you were running alongside did allow for some extra bonding time among strangers, though!

Once we emerged from Hains Point, the crowds were so intense!  It really felt like they were carrying you. Miles 15-20 might have been my favorite stretch because of that, and also because that’s when we ran through the Smithsonian area, the Capitol, and the memorials. We saw Dominique and Brian about 2-3 more times each within those 5 miles, and each time we got a huge boost! Brian even ran with us for a few steps to coach us on the final hill before the finish (shh, we won’t tell security). He had run the MCM 10k which finished at the same spot, so he had all the intel and it was so cute. He also passed me his headphones because I had accidentally dropped mine at the start and was panicky about not having music as a possibility to carry me through the last 2-3 miles.

Feeling great at mile 17!

Feeling great at mile 17!

We passed the Gauntlet at mile 17.5 (the first timed cut-off) and still felt great, and we hit miles 18, 19, and 20 and still felt AMAZING. We knew that we had to “beat the Bridge” at mile 20-21 (the second and hilly timed cut-off at the 14th St Bridge) and head back into Virginia, so we made sure to hydrate and fuel up, and off we went! Once you “beat the Bridge,” within the time allotted, you knew you were going to be finishing that marathon one way or another. Pretty sure I choked up for a brief second there, too. One thing that surprised us, though, was how many super fit-looking people started walking REALLY early into the race, and that made us feel really good about our training.

No more pictures!

No more pictures!

We took the 14th St Bridge a little more conservatively than we did last weekend at Army 10-Miler (no 8:30 pace for us, ha), but we finished it strong and kept on going. We had said to each other that we would be happy if we hit 22 miles feeling good and constantly running (especially since our longest training run was 20 miles), and after that, we’d take the next 4 as they came. We accomplished that (hooray), but oh my gosh. Mile 21-22ish was when it got HARD. I think it was a combination of so many things. Obviously, we had just run 21 miles and that is a lot, but we were now in the sun (the rest of the course was pretty nicely shaded) and it was getting warmer, there were less people there cheering, the bridge is no joke, you are just tired, and it seriously feels like you are NEVER going to be done. It’s so weird because it’s only 4 miles to the finish at that point, but those 4 miles just seem insurmountable. Based on everyone around us, we all started struggling at the same time.

We took a few short walk breaks starting at 22 to the end, but nothing super long (proven by the fact that our paces stayed so consistent through the whole race!), mostly enough to conserve energy for the finish and to stretch out painful muscles/cramps. I don’t even really know what to say about miles 22-24 heading into Crystal City other than they were the hardest miles I have ever run in my life. Even once we got into a more spectator-filled area, it just didn’t matter anymore. At that point, nothing brought me up! My feet were killing me, my toes hurt, my muscles hurt – everything hurt. I did see the Lululemon cheer people at 23, and that was a good pick-me-up, but then we saw someone who collapsed at mile 23.5 and heard medics reminding us to drink our fluids because it was getting warm out, so that was a major womp womp moment. I finally turned on some music with headphones in just one ear so I could still hear the crowds, and hoped that would carry me through. It helped a little bit, but not much.

Once we headed towards the Pentagon and mile 25, it got a little easier because there was a nice downhill and I knew we would be finished soon-ish (I add that “ish” because never before has a mile felt so long). I knew I’d see Brian soon, and we’d be done soon, but we were definitely moving slower than before…at least it felt like it, but our pace isn’t that different once you look at it. We got heckled by a Marine, too, so that helped us pick up some speed, ha.

Something that was mentally tough for me was my watch was 1/4 of a mile ahead of the mile markers so every time it beeped, I knew we weren’t really at that mile. We saw Brian again right around when my watch beeped mile 26 (so in reality we had about half a mile left), and I gave him a sad face. He told me later on that he didn’t understand why I gave him that face because we only had half a mile to go at that point, and I gave him a look and said, “seriously, that is the LONGEST half mile ever and everything just hurt!”

Once we hit the actual 26 mile marker, everyone dug deep to conquer the hill leading up to the Marine Corps War Memorial (aka Iwo Jima). We saw Dominique at the base of the hill which was a nice boost, and the pavement itself had a ton of sayings on it like, “Marine up!”, “Take the hill!”, and there were bleachers set up for people to watch the finish. The hill was HARD, but short, and the finish was not far after you made it up the hill. It was so, so sweet to hit that finish line and be greeted by tons of Marines giving you high fives right before crossing, and then all of them congratulating you afterwards. Honestly, I don’t remember how I felt the second I crossed the finish. SO happy, of course, but I don’t think I actually teared up as I crossed it, though I was positive I would just start crying right away. I teared up at some earlier miles when I realized that I was actually going to finish this, and I teared up in line to get my medal, but I probably just felt relief at the finish line itself!

Once we crossed, it took forever to get our medals and jackets and food, etc, but Marines lined the entire chute, and each and every Marine shook my hand and congratulated me and/or thanked me for running with them. It was the greatest thing ever. I felt like such a superstar the whole race, but never moreso than in this moment. I felt amazing, as evidenced by the giant grin in the below picture right after a Marine handed me my medal.

SO happy!

SO happy!

We took a minute to take a quick picture in front of the Memorial (the official pictures will actually have the full Memorial in it) and we sat down for a few minutes  (painful in case you were wondering) before embarking on the search for family.

In front of the Iwo Jima memorial

In front of the Iwo Jima memorial

It was a giant mess to get from the finisher area back to Charity Village where we were meeting our families (even though the Village was right there!), but what else can you expect with a race this size? I think having to wait so long to see Brian allowed me to get some emotions in check – otherwise, I might have been a sobbing disaster when I saw him, though I did tear up a little and gave him the biggest hug ever. I cried when I said bye to him that morning, and I cried when we got home, but I kept it together in public (ha!). I was just so exhausted and happy at that point that it was hard to keep emotions in check. Literally, every single feeling that exists in the world, I probably felt at some point that day. I also felt so, so grateful to him and touched by both his unwavering support of this ambitious goal and his pride in me, and all of that came pouring out, especially once we made it home and had a few minutes to ourselves.

I was really proud of the way we ran this race, even though it was just outside our goal (goal was 4:00-4:30, and with our bathroom stop we were a smidge over). There came a point when we realized that we either had to stick with a 10ish min/mile pace or risk continuously wasting energy passing everyone and we just sort of adapted our end goal to accomodate that. Neither of us anticipated this being an issue, but we rolled with it. I’ve been religiously reading other people’s race recaps and the overall consensus was that because this race didn’t thin out until mile 20, it would be near impossible to run it for time unless you were at the very front of the pack. It was probably for the best because even running that pace, it really hurt at the end!

I tend to be wary/nervous during new longer distances because I don’t know what to expect and I don’t want to burn out at the end, but I feel way more confident now and know that next marathon is going to be even quicker! That being said, I couldn’t ask for a better first marathon performance – I am so happy with this. One of my goals was to find the balance between pushing myself but also allowing myself to enjoy the experience – you only run your first marathon once, after all! I think I accomplished both, and I had so much fun interacting with the crowd (and even had enough energy to heckle a Va Tech supporter!).

It’s funny because a year ago to the day of MCM, I ran my FIRST 5K. When I think about how far I have come in just a year, it’s incredible, and there is nothing but pride there. I never would have thought last year during that 5K that I would complete a marathon (and four halves, 3 ten milers, etc etc) the very next year. And I spent the majority of the race with a huge smile on my face, so that in itself is a win.

Final shot of the Garmin

Final shot of the Garmin

Marine Corps Marathon itself was an incredible experience, and I felt lucky to be a part of it. It was inspiring from start to end. Where else do you get Marines handing you water, fuel, high fives, and encouragement? And the crowds were the best. I had so many people cheering for me individually (that’s why you put your name on your jersey!) and it was so uplifting! And I will run for Team Fisher House every single opportunity I get because that was an awesome experience, too. The support they offer on course, afterwards, beforehand, etc was unmatched. Running for a charity is seriously the way to do it! The historical and meaningful setting of the race added to the poignancy of the day, and I really can’t believe I have to wait a whole other year before running MCM again! I think that living in such a huge military community, being a military spouse, and raising money for a military charity also affected how personal this race was for me. It was so special!

The first thing I said (well, whimpered) to Brian when I saw him was, “That was so hard, that was SO HARD!” and I repeated it for 2-3 hours after meeting up with him, yet I am already looking forward to running another marathon…runner’s amnesia for sure! It’s just like childbirth, which I also loved because apparently I am a masochist.

Medal & finisher warm-up jacket

Medal & finisher warm-up jacket

Anyway, wow, I cannot believe it is over! I think I am going to have a running identity crisis for a little bit. I have a 12K in mid-November and a couple of short races before the holidays to look forward to. There are a bunch of halves on the spring schedule already, and I think my plan for now is to work on PRing them. But for now, I rest (and eat) and feel eternally grateful to my amazing and supportive husband and babies…time to dedicate some weekend mornings to them!

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Filed under Celebrations, Fisher House, Fitness, Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, Race, Races, Racing, Run, Running, Team Fisher House, Washington DC

Revenge of the Penguins 20-miler recap {9/15/13}

Today was the culmination of marathon training (pre-marathon anyway): the 20-miler. There’s technically another 20-miler on the training docket, but getting this one out out of the way was a huge accomplishment, and now it feels like the rest of training is not quite so overwhelming. Even though Hal Higdon’s Intermediate training plan called for the 20-miler to come next week, I pushed it up a week because this 20-mile race is a race that is specifically planned to be a “training” run for MCM, and I felt like participating was a no-brainer, even if it meant altering the training schedule a bit.

The race took place along the C&O Canal Towpath and started at Carderock Recreation area in Maryland. It was all gravel and all on a narrow path, and we ran past 150 year old locks & gatehouses. It was so pretty! I would say it was about half & half on shade versus sun. The trail itself was 12 ft. most of the time, but it was much narrower during the first three miles (we were tempted to lay down and measure using our bodies) which made passing people impossible.

This is the picture I took pre-race. There was fog coming up off the water, but I don’t think the panorama captured that!

C&O Canal at Carderock

C&O Canal at Carderock

The weather was chilly at the 8am start so we knew we’d have good temperatures for a good portion of the morning, thought it did start to get warm by the end – especially because the sunny portions were right around miles 10-17. Once the race started, it took a LONG time for the crowd to thin out (and for our hands to warm up!). We ran the first 2-3 miles very, very slowly (12 min/mile paces) because we couldn’t pass people. If you did, you’d be in the canal. Once we got going, though, we kept a pretty stead 9:30 pace for probably about 80% of the race. I didn’t pay too much attention to the pace we were running, but was pleasantly surprised to find we were still holding onto that pace at 15 miles in. We passed 17 miles and 18 miles in a much more respectable fashion than our past two long runs (way, way quicker) and stopped to walk twice around mile 17.5 and 18.5 for maybe 30 seconds or so before picking it back up. My legs were definitely feeling it between miles 17-20!

Something that didn’t mentally help was the fact that the mile markers were really far off  (.3-.5 miles off). I know this happens sometimes during longer races, but the weird thing about it being off this time was that it started before mile 3…that’s definitely not normal and we overheard others complaining to race marshalls as well. Here are the final results according to my Garmin:

Image 3

It came out to about a 9:57 min/mile pace overall, which given our slooooow first few miles and our mini-walk breaks, we were so happy with! I know this was the confidence-boosting long run we both needed. Not going to lie – I was doubting my goal time after the last two long runs, but now I feel like it is realistic again. We were really proud of ourselves and this performance even standing on its own. When you factor in the time we lost at the beginning (which, let’s be honest, will probably be the case at MCM too) and the fact that this was all on gravel, we are hopeful that we’ll clock even faster times in October. I definitely teared up a little at the end (I will totally cry at the finish line of MCM, I just know it), and was sort of in awe of what we’d just done once it really sank in (on the drive home!).

I wasn’t even too concerned about official results because I was happy with what we did, but it turns out we were right in the middle of the pack. I was 12th out of 27 women in my age group and right around the middle for all 20 mile runners (there were only 192 of us brave souls!).

Can I just mention again how eye-opening marathon training is in regards to pace? The pace I am aiming for in MCM is so different from my half marathon pace!

Afterwards, I came home to this adorable sign made with love. There is nothing more motivating than your little lovebugs rooting for you!

sniff, sniff

sniff, sniff

I’m sure I’m completely skipping over lots of details about this race, but believe me when I say I came home and ate a footlong Subway sandwich and took an ice bath. Those two things were heaven!

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A belated Workout Wednesday and a new personal challenge

Here is Workout Wednesday (on a Thursday)! Oops. It’s a busy time of year for those of us who work in higher ed, so things are a little bit delayed (just like traffic around campus).

Can you believe there are less than 65 days to Marine Corps Marathon?! They just released a new course map this week…eek! Sometimes it feels so close and other times it still feels really far away. As I may have mentioned before, I am following Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 1 marathon training plan which basically has two weeks of higher mileage followed by a week of lower mileage (for recovery). This week has been a lower mileage week and it honestly doesn’t feel like I’m training for a marathon right now. The plan only called for runs of 4, 5, and 4 miles during the week, and this weekend will have a 7m pace run followed by an 11-miler the next day. Once upon a time 11 miles felt SO LONG, but now seeing that as a long run distance is a relief! September  (and the first week of October) will be the toughest month of training with long runs of 17, 18, and 20 miles (and weekday runs of 8 miles!), but the months go by SO fast these days, so I know training will be over in the blink of an eye. It’s crazy to think that at the end of August I will be halfway done with marathon training!

In order to better prepare for MCM, I am embarking on the Advocare 24-day Challenge, hosted by my good friends Lauren and Samantha! Some people use it to lose weight (though it is not a fad diet – or even a diet at all!), but I am using it to get back on track with healthy eating. I have been way too overly indulgent since my birthday and am looking forward to starting over. I have actually done the challenge before and found it beneficial, though I never followed through with all 24 days. I always got lazy about halfway into the last two week segment, but since this a group challenge, I know I’ll be held accountable this time. Even though the Challenge bundle includes a ton of stuff, all you really need to start the Challenge is the 10-day cleanse and the MNS vitamins (though Spark & Meal Replacement shakes are delicious!).

The Challenge starts with a gentle herbal 10-day cleanse followed by 2 weeks of taking specific, natural vitamins. There is no fasting and no deprivation involved, and all of the Advocare practices are backed by science! The only thing you need to do in addition to taking the vitamins is to EAT CLEAN. The cleanse portion is more strict on requiring you to eat clean 100% of the time, but once you get past those 10 days, you have more flexibility and can splurge more (as long as you are still eating clean 90% of the time)…and really, shouldn’t a huge goal of all of us be to eat clean anyway? It is so much better for you! I am working so hard to train for this marathon that I feel I would be doing a disservice to my body by filling it with junk, so I’m counting on these 24 days to re-set both my body and my mentality. I know that once I start fueling my body with better foods on a more consistent basis, improvements in my running will come, too! In fact, there have been some athletes (Drew Brees!) who have approached Advocare directly because they wanted to endorse the company…FOR FREE.

For any questions you may have on Advocare products, feel free to contact me, or just follow along on the journey. I can’t promise that I will update extensively about the 24-day Challenge, but I will try to incorporate it into MCM training posts somehow!

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What was I thinking?!

One of my qualities is that I tend to be impulsive, and once I get an idea in my head, I have to follow through on it. Just ask Brian – I’m pretty sure this drives him nuts. I am also really, really competitive. When you pair these two things together, you get…A MARINE CORPS MARATHON REGISTRATION.

Now, this was only sort of impulsive. It wasn’t like I looked at the calendar and said, “Oh, look! Active duty registration opened today, this seems like a good idea!” I had been thinking about challenging myself with  a full marathon for a while, but I didn’t think that challenge would happen any time soon. The impulsiveness aspect was basically, “Hey, why wait? Let’s just do it this year!” As I clicked “submit,” I started feeling nauseous because omg, I just signed up for a marathon. That’s a lot of miles. It will definitely give me something to work towards this summer, though! However, I’m not sure I will ever be a chronic marathon runner because honestly, it sounds like torture, but it’s something that I know I want to check off my running bucket list eventually. Maybe I’ll surprise myself and become addicted to it, but I’m not convinced of that.

This same impulsiveness is actually what made me sign up for my first half marathon which is, yikes, 10 days away. At first I thought that signing up for a 10-miler in April was an ambitious goal, and that I couldn’t possibly be ready for a half marathon by March. Then I heard that my cousin was coming down to run the full and I upped my racing ante because hey, if he is coming and doing the full, I can definitely do the half, right?

I am getting really nervous, though, and am at the point where I am second-guessing myself. I think that’s mostly because I have set a goal for myself and I think a part of me will be sort of disappointed if I don’t meet it. At one point I thought it was a semi-reasonable goal, but after this weekend’s tough, hilly 10-mile run, I am wondering if I’m being a little too ambitious for my first half. Really, shouldn’t my goal be to give 100% and to finish? Maybe since this is my first half marathon, I should just soak it up and see what comes. Instead I have it in my head that I want to finish in 2 hours (give or take), which is 9 min/mile. I can do this pace (I have done way quicker), and I can do it relatively easily in race situations BUT this is also not a 3-5 miler, this is 13 miles, so maybe I need to be a little more flexible on my pacing goal (especially if it is hilly! I don’t know what the course is because I would rather find out in the moment). Also, after my 8 mile, 7 mile, and 10 mile runs this past week, my right knee has been a bit tender, so I’m a little anxious about that, too.

I am trying to blend being realistic with being ambitious, and it’s tough! I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself and not enjoy the experience, but at the same time, part of why I love running is finishing that run at a goal time. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself and then start to hate running, but if I don’t have any goal at all, I won’t enjoy it either. Am I just overanalyzing this?!

Anyway…the countdown begins!

Sunday's long run

Sunday’s long run

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