Monday, January 30, 2012

Week 1 Training Recap

So I made it through week of 1 Boston training and I am so happy to be back on track.  My feet are a little sore; they were enjoying their rest but my legs feel amazing.  Here is what my week looked like.

Monday: Elliptical for an hour and strength training.  I hate the elliptical so I have to force myself to do this every week.  My strength training is going great for both arms and legs.  I can tell on my runs how much stronger my legs are finally getting.  Total workout was about an hour and a half that day.

Tuesday: 8.29 mile run in 1:09 for an average pace of 8:22.  Way too fast for my target easy runs, but I was just too excited to be running that I didn't slow down.  This non-easy pace was felt on my medium-long run the next day.

Wednesday: 11 miles in 1:43 pace for an average pace of 9:21.  This couldn't have been a worse run physically because of my stomach.  I made it about 7 miles in when my stomach decided it wasn't there to play that day.  I pushed but had to stop every mile to get my stomach to calm down.  I had a suggestion on Dailymile to do situps after this happens, so I may try this next time.  Not sure if it will help me, but what can it hurt right?

Thursday: 5 miles in 44 minutes for an average pace of 8:44.  This was supposed to be a recovery run and this was obviously not a recovery pace.  One of my goals this training cycle is to work on running easy on recovery days, and I need to focus on this.  Sometimes it seems difficult to run slow when you know you need to go pick up a kid from daycare.  Thursday I did my arms workout and Wednesday I got in my legs workout.

Friday: 11 miles in 1:40 for a 9:05 pace.  This run made me so happy.  My treadmill seems to be off in calibration.  What this means for my treadmill is that it says one pace, but it is actually running about 17 seconds faster.  This is why you may see my treadmill runs usually approaching the 9:30 pace even though it is around a 9:15 pace with the correction.  (I post the time from the treadmill, not what it would be corrected.) Running 11 miles at a 9:05 pace really made me happy and proved that I can run faster on my treadmill.  I swear that thing loves to mess with my head.

Saturday: 5 miles in in 44 minutes for a 8:42 pace.  Did I mention I don't know how to slow down on 5 mile runs.  Enough said.  I am switching my long runs to Saturdays next week so I am hoping running my recovery run after the long run will slow me down a bit.  I did get my arms and legs done as well today.  I love having a TV in my home gym, makes these workouts much easier to accomplish.

Sunday: 15.15 miles in 2:19 for a 9:10 pace.  I ran my long run this week with Steph.  Our time included many wardrobe malfunction walking breaks as we never pause our Garmins.  I don't think we actually ran slower than a 9 minute pace while we were moving.  Amazing amazing run.  We pretty much got lost in conversation and it was really a great therapy session for me.  Sometimes it is really nice to have someone from outside your family give you input to your complicated situation.  Meeting Steph has been one of my favorite parts of blogging and can't believe how much I look forward to our conversations.

My total for the week was just over 55 miles in 8:18.  I am happy with this total and happy my legs were ok with running again.  I really think the extra rest got me both mentally and physically ready for this training cycle.

Sorry for the boring training recap post, but I have my first Anatomy and Physiology test tonight and my mind is obviously elsewhere.  I have also been working on finding Physical Therapy offices that will let me observe so that I can build up my observation hours.  Yes, school has taken over, but my goal is to maintain 3x a week posting so we will see.

How did your training go last week?  One of my running partners finished her first Ultra Marathon on Saturday and her race recap is worth a read.  Congrats Colleen!!!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Joining a Run Club

I am a very shy person.  Meeting new people is very hard for me as I don't know how to make small talk at all.  I usually run on my own, because even when running with people, I run out of things to say.  Back in September I got a phone call that pretty much changed things for me.

In September, I was getting close to quitting my job and I was home from work for some reason.  I was about to head out the door when I got a phone call.  A woman, Cindy, on the other line introduced herself as a woman I had met on the track this past summer.  She was laughing because she looked up my name from the results of a race she had seen me run in and then looked up my phone number.  She was getting set to run a 200 mile relay in two weeks and their team was short a person.  They were looking for a local runner and she thought of me.

What Cindy didn't know is that I had been wanting to run a relay for years. My lack of being outgoing really prevented this from happening as I spoke to very few people at local races.  Some people recognized me, but no one really knew me.  I didn't know 12 runners that I could convince to run a relay with me so it would always be just a dream until that moment.  I, without knowing anything, committed immediately to this relay.  My excitement to run outweighed my fear of being around new people.

The Reach the Beach Relay was September 16-17th, 2011, and it was a weekend I will never forget.  Hopping in the van with five ladies I didn't know on that Friday morning was very scary, but the nerves quickly went away.  All five women in that van were so nice and incredible runners.  I learned to push myself to a point I never thought possible and also that motivation from other runners can really help.  Our team ended up taking 3rd in the Masters Women division, averaging an 8:01 pace over almost 200 miles.  I was so proud to be part of such an amazing team.

On the way home from the race we got to talking about the Boston Marathon.  A few of the ladies were already registered to run and I was waiting to register because of the rolling registration.  One of my teammates asked if I would ever join her running club which offers group runs on the Boston Marathon course as well as transportation to the Boston starting line.  I admitted to her that I have always wanted to join a running club before, but due to my shyness stayed away.  They thought it was funny I would be scared considering I had spent the past 36 hours with complete strangers and had a blast.  I considered the option, but kind of put it in the back of my mind.

Fast forward a few months and here I am getting ready to run Boston.  I know I want to run on the Boston course, because I can.  Not only do I fear talking to new people, but I also fear new running routes.  I am afraid of being on an 18 mile training run and getting lost.  So, I re-evaluated my past few months....

  • I now run with someone nearly once a week.  This is a huge change from the past where I never ran with anyone.  
  • I spent 36 hours in a van with five ladies I had never met and had fun.  Runners are a great group of people and I love listening to them and I love having someone other than my poor husband listen to me talk running.  
  • I learned during the relay that there is a lot of experience to soak up from runners who have been running a lot longer than me.  Most started where I have and are now where I look forward to being in the future.  
This combined with the fact that I wanted firsthand knowledge of the Boston race convinced me to finally bite the bullet and join a running club.  I am now a member of the Greater Lowell Road Runners Club.  I am nervous to meet my new running friends but also very excited.  The experience that they have can only enhance my experience with running.

Yesterday, I received many emails that only got me more excited that I joined the running club.  I am about to sign up for the bus to the starting line and looking at how to incorporate some of their group runs into my schedule.  The running club also has a program for kids so my girls are going to get to be involved as well.  I can't believe I waited this long to join, but am so thankful I finally had the final kick to get me to join.  I guess you can say my hesitancy allowed me to find a group with people that I know I liked from the start so I am not jumping in blindly.

Have you joined a running club and if so what was it that convinced you to join? 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Changing Happy Meal

I got an email this morning that sparked my topic for today.  Chick-fil-A has a new kids meal option that looks like this:
I loved seeing the grilled chicken nuggets become an option finally at a fast food restaurant.  The problem I now have is the nearest Chick-fil-A to us is 25 minutes away at the mall.  This is great when we are out shopping, but honestly, this is not convenient and I would rather go to a restaurant while at the mall than fast food.  

Here is my confession:  my husband and I use fast food occasionally to feed our family when we are short on time or just tired and don't want to cook.  We have our favorite options such as Chipotle and Moe's Southwest Grill that allows me to find a healthy meal on the menu that I actually enjoy.  My kids love these restaurants and I love seeing them eat beans, rice, and grilled chicken in their tacos or burritos as opposed to fries or chicken nuggets.  We usually go to one of those restaurants on Sundays after my long run so that I can replenish my calories and feel the reward of running.  

Before I started running, I was very unhealthy.  I was obese and going to a fast food restaurant such as McDonald's or Burger King was not as big of a deal to me.  When I decided to change my life and lose weight, I had to rethink what I ate.  The first year, I avoided these restaurants like the plague.  This was not because you can't find a healthy option there, because you can.  I had to avoid these restaurants because it was a trigger for me.  It was too easy for me to go there and overeat and return to my old eating habits.  (I started my weight loss journey when my kids were basically babies, so they never knew me as an unhealthy mom.)

I have been at my goal weight for over four years now and I find making correct choices at restaurants is not as hard as it used to be.  Enter in having kids and an incredibly busy life.  I stay home with my kids so cooking meals is for the most part easy to do on a daily basis.  My kids eat a variety of foods.  The food you will see repeating in my house are beans, rice, chicken, variety of vegetables, and sometimes tofu.  My youngest acts as if she is picky but will always eat what is on her plate.  Making a healthy meal all the time is time consuming and sometimes I just want a break.  

If you asked my kids where they want to eat out, most times they will pick Chipotle and Moe's.  Due to the popular brand Happy Meal toys (Barbie & Hello Kitty), they have begun asking for McDonald's now more than they have in the past.  UGH!  

I am not going to sit and tell you that I am against feeding my kids McDonald's because I am not.  I am not a perfect healthy living mom.  I try to have good options for my kids at home but, yes, I do let them go to McDonald's occasionally.  McDonald's has recently reworked their Happy Meals to include less french fries (100 calories instead of the normal 250+) and adding in apples without asking for it.  Thank you McDonald's for beginning to make your meals healthier for my child since you tempt them with your toys.  I would love to see McDonald's changing their chicken nuggets into grilled instead of fried like Chick-fil-A has decided to do and hope this is in the future for them.  Why do you offer grilled chicken sandwiches for adults, but only fried for our kids?  I am not perfectly healthy, but I want my kids learning to love the healthier options that is offered.  Moms like quick and easy and it is nice that our kids are finally getting to eat  healthier when choosing the fast food option.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why I Love the Brooks PureFlow Shoe

So here is my first VLOG.  I was really nervous to put a video blog post up, but I am really loving watching others' VLOGs so I wanted to join in on the fun.  Please let me know what you think and if you would be interested in more VLOGs in the future.

Here are some Brook's PureFlow links with additional information if you are interested.

  • My first impression of the PureFlow shoe
  • See Mom Run Far, wrote a great post on the PureFlow shoes back in October.
  • Got2RunNow, posted her review of the PureCadence shoe.  These are even more minimalist than the Pureflow and I have only read amazing reviews of them.
Purchase the Brooks PureFlow here!

**I was not compensated for this review.  I purchased and wear these shoes and my opinion is my own.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Boston Marathon Training!

It has been 2 weeks since this...

For the first time since beginning marathon running, I rested after my marathon.  I took two weeks off.  I ran, but not a lot.  I cross-trained, but if I wanted to sleep, I did.  Yes, this was a mental challenge to me. I know many people that are pretty deep into their marathon training programs and I had to step back from mine.  I knew I wouldn't lose fitness by taking two weeks off, but I really wanted to ignore that fact.

I chose this route because I wanted to avoid injury.  I can't afford to go into training for the biggest race of my life with a bad hip or sore legs.  An update on my body:  I feel great.  My hip has twinges in it, but nothing more than I did before Disney.  My calves and feet feel great.  I let myself eat what I wanted to these past few weeks. I was so ready to get back into marathon mode with everything today.  And I did.

Today was a cross-training day.  I woke up this morning and was excited to put on my workout clothes.  (Note:  I hate the elliptical.)  After I dropped my daughter off at school, I did the elliptical for an hour and then did my strength training.  During my recovery I really focused hard on establishing my strength training routine and I am glad I did.  The workout is pretty long and has a lot of exercises that my PT gave me.  It takes a long time to complete all of the exercises, and I think practicing it with no expectations helped me make it a routine.  Based on the progress I have seen within the exercises, I know that I am getting stronger.  I am excited to see the progress translate on the road this spring.

Tomorrow, the running begins and I can return to my favorite site, DailyMile, and share with you my workouts again.  The following are my goals for this training cycle:
  1. Wake up for my runs in the morning if I don't have daycare to watch my kids.  I don't want to put off my workouts until the evening because with school starting, I am going to be exhausted at night.
  2. Focus more on the McMillan training paces for my runs.  My current 5k pace is much faster than what I can run the marathon based on the calculator.  This means, I don't have the endurance to reach my potential.  This cycle, I will run his recommended paces and hope that with the mileage, I can increase my endurance in the next 12 weeks.
  3. Strength train 3-4 times a week.  This is so important if I want to keep my hip healing correctly.  I am hoping this also helps with the Newton hills.  :)
  4. Run outside as much as possible.  This is going to be so hard with winter, but I want as much road experience as possible.  I usually run the Vermont City Marathon every May, coming off winter training.  The past two years at Vermont were not pretty and I am going to have to attribute some of it to all my treadmill runs.  I love the treadmill for speed training but my legs need to run on the road for long runs, and I am going to have to bite the bullet and get out there and run when it is cold.  I put in a big order at Brooks this past week so am hoping once my new gear arrives, I will be a much happier winter runner. 
  5. Focus!  I usually don't have a hard time focusing when I have a training program in front of me, but I need to focus on my end goal and that is a fun, successful Boston Marathon.  I will probably limit my extra races this training cycle and trust that my training plan will get me to the finish line if I follow it the way it is written. 
Back to running!  I am so happy and so excited.  I have been waiting for this training cycle to begin since last January when I saw that 3:37 on the clock.  I can't believe it is finally here and I can say:  I am training for the Boston Marathon!

What are your goals for your current training cycle?  Does winter running scare you as much as it does me?

Friday, January 20, 2012

See Mom Run: A Children's Book Review

You may think by reading my blog that all I think about is running.  This may seem like the case, but my little girls are my entire life and today I was able to do something I have waited since I gave birth to do.

Yes she was my little Brooks runner for Halloween last year.  :)

My oldest, Bridget, is in the first grade.  She loves to read, do math, and she really loves running.  When she started school last year, I was working full time as a nanny.  I was able to see her off on her first day of kindergarten, but up until September of this past year, that was the extent of my involvement with her school.  I had no time off during the day, so my husband did everything from parent teacher conferences and school parties to music performances.

First day of kindergarten and preschool.

A few weeks ago, I got a note from Bridget's teacher that they were looking for Mystery Readers.  It was finally my chance to be the "present" mom at my daughter's school.  Now, I am not saying not being involved was a bad thing....I was able to provide for my family when we needed it most.  But, emotionally, I missed my kids and I finally got to participate in one of the activities that the school puts on for parents.

All that being a Mystery Reader involved was listing mystery clues to my identity and then reading a book to her class.  Can I tell you, I was nervous?!  I was only going to be reading a book to a bunch of first graders, but I wanted my little girl to be proud of her Mom.

This past week I sent in the following list of clues: 1) We love to camp at Disney 2) I love to decorate cookies & 3) I love to run marathons.  I knew these clues were a dead giveaway to Bridget, and I was excited to see if she could figure it out.  Bridget's teacher did tell me that the kids were excited to meet me because they wanted to learn more about what a marathon was.

While waiting in the hallway, Bridget walked by and looked incredibly confused as to why I was at her school.  The second time she walked by, you could see that the lightbulb had turned on and she duckwalked to the classroom with the silliest grin on her face.  Bridget's teacher came out to get me and had me wait outside while she announced the Mystery Reader was here.  Bridget started jumping and saying it was her Mom.  I was beaming at this point, my little girl was excited to have me there.

I sat in front of her class and began reading.  I brought See Mom Run by Kara Douglass Thom to read to her class.

See Mom Run is a story about a little girl named Penny who brings her mom's marathon medal to school.  She explains to her class what a marathon is and how you can get a medal for trying hard not winning.  The book then goes on to explain that her mom let her have the medal because she helped her mom run her marathon.  

I love this book!  I bought this book for Bridget when she was three and if you saw how worn it is, you could see how well loved it is.  It shows my girls how I wouldn't have something as important to me as running without them.  It shows that the little things they do to support me means so much to me.  I think the book also illustrates how fun being active can be to kids.  Bridget wants to run races with me now that she is getting older and this book has told her since she was three, that she can run alongside Mommy in a race.  

I highly recommend this book if you are a mom and want to show your little ones what running is.  I find it is a good book to explain why I disappear for 3 hours every weekend and that getting running shoes for your birthday is normal.  :)

Bridget's class loved the book as did her teacher.  It was a different book that she had never heard, yet really told you who we are as a family.  I am proud of my active family and so happy that my girls enjoy this crazy running life as much as I do.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stressing About My Training Schedule

Currently I am 10 days out from the marathon and I am still giving my body a break.  I have run multiple times and my legs are feeling pretty good.  I promised myself that I would not push hard to get back into training for at least two weeks.  I know I beat up my body pretty hard during my training and the marathon.  The problem with not running for me is that I get all my good thinking done when I am running.  Running de-stresses me and gives me energy.  So going on my 2nd week of VERY limited running, I am itching to get outside.  I need my time in my head, and I need that energy.  As you will see from the following ramblings, my thoughts are all jumbled up inside.  One week and I will be back to the road!

I start training for the Boston Marathon on Monday.  To say my road to get here was easy would be a lie.  My first attempt at qualifying for Boston was in October of 2009.  I had only been running for two years and at the time, I thought I was in perfect shape to qualify.  Looking back and reading the race report, I know I wasn't ready.  I crashed pretty hard and it was a death march to the finish line.

Now two years later, and I am a totally different runner.  I am confident, I am strong, and I am ready to tackle the race that I have been planning to run for five years.  Toeing the starting line is no longer a fear to me.  I have been to the starting line of 16 marathons.  I love the atmosphere and I know at that moment there is nothing more that I can do to change the outcome of my race but run.

Training for said marathon is a whole different story.  Choosing a training plan and executing that training plan can determine the outcome of my race.  A decision I make today will effect how I run in 12 weeks.  I have made bad training plan decisions in the past and have gotten to the starting line not as prepared as I had hoped.  I am hoping to avoid this mistake so I have been staring at training programs for the past week.
For Disney, I went with an Advanced Marathoning program and my plan all along has been to repeat my same training for Boston.  It took me three days of reading and studying plans to come right back to where i started.  The Pfitzinger book has produced the best results for me and I am not willing to try something new with only 12 weeks to go.  I plugged my workouts into my calendar and then started reading to make sure they fit with my weekend scheduling.

Through February, I am completely satisfied with the schedule.  I have a few marathon pace long runs and not too hard long runs during the week.  This doesn't stress me out.
March on the other hand, stresses me out.  First Boston, is on a Monday and not a Sunday.  Based on my current plan, my last 20 mile run will be greater than 21 days from the marathon.  I am considering adding in another 20 mile run for the Saturday of March 31st, but then my whole schedule just blows up.  Also, I am considering running my long runs with a running group on Saturdays.  They go to the Boston course and this seems like a good idea.  In terms of my training plan, this doesn't work at all and would cause me to rework everything.  The annoying thing to me is, I know whatever I plan on doing won't make any difference physically.  I have done this training program before and it is tough.  I know that sticking to exactly what it says and changing nothing will produce the results that I am looking for.  So why am I stressing over adding 3 miles or moving a day here and there?  

I can tell you why I am stressing.....I was one of the unlucky persons with a Boston qualifying time that barely got me into the race.  They took everyone that was faster than BQ-1:07, and I was BQ-2:07. I sat for a week staring at my computer waiting to get this...
I want to show up for the Boston Marathon in the best position that I can put myself.  And just like on the day of the marathon, I have to trust that I can get myself to where I need to be.

Do you tend to over-think things or do you just trust your instincts? OR do you have a coach that you can trust to get you to that starting line and if so, how did you find your coach?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Applying to Grad School

Last week, I posted about my fitness goal for 2012.  I have a whole list of things I would love to accomplish this year dealing with my fitness.  Outside of these goals, I have one personal goal for the year that I want to share with you.  First, I am going to tell you a little bit about myself.

I graduated from high school in 1997, a 17 year old with no idea of what life was.  All I knew was that I wanted to get out of my small northern Minnesota town.  I got a full scholarship to join the Army ROTC and I took that scholarship and went to school to be a pilot.  My first year in the ROTC was torture.  I was not meant to be in the military and I learned this very quickly.  I was lost when it came to military training and even more lost when it came to the physical fitness tests.  They wanted me to run 2 miles in 17 1/2 minutes.  Seriously?  This girl couldn't run 2 miles in less than 20 minutes.  And wake up at 5am to run?  Are you kidding me?  I quit the ROTC on one cold morning in April in the middle of a 5 mile run.  I couldn't believe they were asking me to run 5 miles.  I found the Sargent that was in charge of my group at the time and told her that I was giving up my scholarship, I was not cut out for this at all.  I walked back to my dorm room, shocked that I made this adult decision without discussing it with anyone.

I stayed at the same school the next year, paying for it on my own.  I continued studying commercial aviation and got my Private Pilot's license in December of my sophomore year.  I was so proud of myself when I passed that test, I was moving in the right direction for completing my degree.

The summer after my sophomore year, I got a job to work at Space Camp.  This was an amazing opportunity as I was going to be working with students from across the country and teaching kids all about my love of airplanes.  I had a blast that summer and learned so much from the experience.

My junior year is when life took a dramatic turn.  My mom was diagnosed with colon cancer at the end of the first semester.  That first semester went amazing and I was really enjoying my classes, but the thought of going back to school with my mom sick was killing me.  My family decided that since I was the only adult child in the family that wasn't married and tied down, that it would be me that should move home to help out with my mom.  I think back on this decision all the time.  If this would have never happened, my life would be incredibly different that it is now, but I am still happy with my life, so I think to myself that things happen for a reason.

My mom did amazing through chemo and the following year, I was able to return to school locally and continue my education.  I also took a job as a flight attendant to test out the waters of the airline industry.  Taking that job really showed me what I wished I had figured out sooner.  Working on a flight crew is not what I wanted to do.  This wake up call was very frustrating, but it saved me from investing further money into flight training.  I was very far into my schooling so I switched over to an Aviation Management focus instead of flight focus and received my Bachelors degree in 2003.

I graduated in May of 2003 and met my husband in June of 2003.  When I met him, I had no intentions of getting married, but somehow things just happened and we were married in 2004 and had my first baby in 2005.

I took a job as a nanny just out of college because finding a job wasn't as easy as I had hoped.  My nanny job was the perfect job as a new mother as I was able to bring my kids to work with me.  This was fine for the first few years of their lives but the older they got the more I disliked having my kids schedules based on the family I worked for, so I left my job.  Since then, I have worked 2 more nanny jobs while my kids were in daycare and school.

I recently left my last nanny job and have been home with my girls for the past four months.  I love being home with them, but I know this is only temporary.  I want to find a job.  The thing is, my only experience out of college is as a nanny.  I can find an amazing nanny position if that is what I want, but I don't.  That is not who I am, it was what paid the bills.

Since taking up running, I have a new found love for everything fitness.  I have considered becoming a personal trainer or coach, but again, that doesn't quite match up with my goals for the future.  A few years ago, I suffered an achilles injury and met my current physical therapist.  I loved how the exercises he gave me were able to help me heal very quickly.  Again, I went to my physical therapist last month for my hip.  Three weeks of therapy and my hip was so much stronger.

Physical Therapists intrigue me, and that is why I decided that I want to become a physical therapist.  I returned to school last year and began taking my prerequisite courses to get into Grad School.  I have 4 more courses that I will be taking in 2012 and then I will be applying to school.  The programs locally are very difficult to get into, but I am hoping with my grades and hard work, that I will be able to get into a program in the summer of 2013.

So now you know my goal for 2012.  I want to get into Physical Therapy Grad School in 2012.  I will be taking night classes which will be difficult to juggle with the kids but my husband and I will figure it out.  I also have to take my GRE test this summer. This test scares me, but I know I can do it.  I start classes next week, so there is no turning back now!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Marathon Recovery

If you have followed me for the past few months you know I like to run, a lot.  I averaged 65+ miles this past training cycle and peaked at 75 miles.  I run six days a week and hate my required rest day on Mondays.

While running on Sunday, my legs were on fire.  Not once did I feel any hip pain.  At the end of the marathon, I was tired, but I don't remember thinking, wow my legs hurt. That feeling went away the second I crossed that finish line.

I crossed the finish line, stopped my Garmin, squealed when I saw my time (my finish line video shows the squeal), and stood still for the first time in 3 1/2 hours.  Oh wow, did it hit me then!  Last year, I remember not being able to stand up straight after the race and it hit me again this year.  My lower back, my hip, the tendons behind my knees.  Everything hurt, immediately!  The marathon shuffle had begun.

I got my medal and hobbled for some water.  I had to get to the side of the coral to try and stretch my legs.  I was laughing and smiling, so the medical staff were not concerned with me.  Instead, they were trying to shuffle us out of the coral.

Now, I know, if people don't move, there will be a back-up.  I saw this at the Army 10 Miler in October.  I crossed the finish line and stood in a hot packed coral for 20 minutes to get water.  But, I needed to stretch!  I don't understand why races make the finish line area so big.  So the shuffle to the VIP tent had begun.  I was almost out of the immediate finish line area when I asked where I could get ice.  A volunteer pointed about 100 yards in the wrong direction, I told her, that wasn't happening.  Luckily, someone not far heard me and pointed that the tent just around the corner had ice.  Oh thank you!  So, I iced up, took a few Tylenol and headed the 1/4 mile walk to the VIP tent.  Erin, my savior, had claimed 2 mats and I was finally able to stretch.  The 20 minutes of stretching were incredibly painful, but very helpful.

After my sister finished (in an amazing 4:35!!!) we began our walk back to the buses and then the hotel.  It was slow going and my legs were not happy.  I decided to soak my legs in the pool at the hotel because I couldn't quite complete my walk to my room.
Do you see that sun?!

After a 5 minute soak, I finished walking and wrapped my legs in Arctic Ease.  Oh Arctic Ease, I love you.  Like I have said before, Arctic Ease is awesome for icing without freezing you.  I sat in the Arctic Ease for about 20 minutes and could finally move a little bit faster as my legs weren't quite as tight.
Tweeting & Absolutely Exhausted!

I have to admit, the recovery from this marathon has been the worst out of any other marathon I have run.  I don't know if it is because I ran as fast as I did or if I went into the race with an injury.  Whatever the case, it took me four days before I could actually roll over in bed without hurting.  Two days ago, I wondered if I had totally gone backwards on all the Physical Therapy I had gone through.

I tried running on Wednesday.  I ran/walked 3 miles in 40 minutes.  It was terrible!  I wanted to cry while I was on the treadmill.  Now I wasn't going to cry because I was in pain. Running didn't hurt as much as it was frustrating.  After my run, I went into the house and tried stretching my legs.  I got stuck on the floor.  My pubic bone/hip pain was out-of-control!  I finished my stretching because I knew I needed it, took some Advil and went to bed.

Yesterday, I woke up in a little bit of pain, but it was getting better.  I stretched again and took some Advil.  By the end of the day, the pain was almost gone.  I got on the floor and tried doing my planks with toe touches and I could do it.  Sigh of relief!  My hips had strength again.  It wasn't easy but I completed my long workout that I got from my physical therapist followed by more stretching.  I went to bed and could finally roll to my side without feeling like someone was stabbing me.

Today, I am pain-free!  My girls and I had a dance party before school, dancing to my marathon playlist.  I was so happy to have my legs back.  BUT, I still haven't run again.  Mentally, the lack of runs is killing me this week.  I know I have 2 weeks before Boston training starts so I am letting my body rest.

I have had to stay off of dailymile this week.  I can't see everyone running amazing miles at amazing paces.  I am jealous!  I want to run, but I know I shouldn't.  I have been injured way too many times in the past, and I know that I will benefit more from resting than from running on broken down muscles and inflamed tendons.  So I am not a runner this week.  I am sitting on my couch.  I will read, I will watch TV, and I will play with my kids.  I will not lose speed by taking time off, I can only get stronger.

Do you have a hard time listening to your body?  Do you ever get jealous of runners on Twitter, dailymile, and blogs?  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Disney Marathon 2012--Another BQ!

I am so excited to finally write this race report but at the same time I don't know where to even start.  I am now three days out from the marathon and am still feeling it.  I guess sore hips are a small price to pay for running a race I will never forget.

I woke up just before my alarm went off at 2:30am.  This would normally seem way too early, but I was sleeping by 7:30 the night before, so I was happy with seven hours of very restful sleep.  I hopped out of bed, took a shower, and started getting ready.  Besides having a sore throat for the past few weeks, I felt great and so full of energy.  We left our room with our bagel in hand and headed to the buses around 3.  Our hotel was very close to Epcot, so it was a short bus ride over to the parking lot.

We arrived at the parking lot and headed to the VIP tent.  At Disney you pay for the VIP tent, which they call the Race Retreat.  It is not cheap, but it is SOOOO worth it.  It is a heated tent with seating, mats, food, porta potties, and changing rooms.  If the weather is bad or you have to wait for someone at the finish, this is the way to go.  
Sisters ready to run a marathon!

We met Erin at the tent and sat for a few minutes.  We all took turns going to the bathroom and then checked our bags in the tent before heading out to the corals.  We left the tent at 4:15 for what should have been a 20 minute walk to the corals.  I would have to guess it took us about 45 minutes to get down there.  We hit the porta potties one more time and Erin and I made it into the A coral with only about 15 minutes to go for the 5:35 start.  I let her head to the front of the coral as I knew she had faster goals than me.  I didn't want to be tempted to go out too fast so put myself in between the 3:25 and 3:35 pace groups.

The start at Disney is AMAZING.  I have been at the same start line for 5 years now and I get just as excited to see the fireworks and characters as you cross the starting line.  One goal I had for this race was to keep a smile on my face for as long as possible.  I figured it is a lot of work to be in pain and smiling always makes me feel good even if I am not feeling happy.  So I crossed that starting line smiling and was ready for an awesome race!

One thing to note with a 5:30 race is that is still dark outside.  There is enough lighting on the roads so that you can see where you are going, but looking at your pace on your Garmin is not as easy.  Because of this I was trying to run by feel for the dark miles and not keep up with the 3:25 group because that was too fast.  The first few miles went by quickly when we circled Epcot.  I told myself at mile 2, "This is your day!"  HA!  As soon as I said that to myself I laughed.  Who was I kidding, thinking I was going to run a good marathon 2 miles into the race.

My first 6 miles looked like this:

My mile splits were faster than my goal pace of 8:08, but I really did try to slow myself down.  When you can't continue to look at your Garmin, you have to trust that your legs are going at an OK pace.  I figured it was the beginning of the race and hoped that as long as I wasn't approaching my half marathon pace, I would be OK.

After mile 6, you loop around on the highway and head towards Magic Kingdom.  The first 2 miles on the highway are really dark and really boring.  The entire race, I pretty much was running alone.  I had people around me, but I was not in the tight pack that you feel in the further back corals.  This is great for avoiding weaving and really allowed me to concentrate on my race.  Mile 8 welcomed us into the Magic Kingdom property and I knew I was going to start seeing crowds.  The spectators at the Transportation and Ticket Center were great, they always give you the boost to get into the park.  At this point the water stops seemed to be coming at nearly every mile.  I have a tendency to dehydrate easily so really focused on grabbing a Powerade and water at every aid station unless I had just taken a gel then I only grabbed a water.  I was worried my strategy would over-hydrate me and cause me to stop to use the bathroom but it worked out great.

I knew mile 10 was coming up and that would mean a mat to send our split for everyone tracking me and also that we were entering Magic Kingdom.  I actually considered slowing down even more before this as I didn't want you all thinking I went out too fast.  :)


I guess my legs were not ready to slow down yet.  At this point, I figured I was going to post a nice positive split marathon.

We entered Magic Kingdom and as always, it is impossible to not pick up the pace.  Main Street was packed with people.  I ran down Main Street and into Tomorrowland when someone kicked my heel nearly sending me to the ground.  I stumbled a bit but just kept moving and headed into Fantasyland where I saw Alice in Wonderland, Rapunzel, and Cinderella.  I was tempted to get a picture as my daughters would have loved to see it, but I didn't know what lied ahead for me so I headed for the castle ready for the photographers on the other side.
Exiting Cinderella's Castle

I always seem to slow down as soon as I leave the Magic Kingdom as it is a long road to the Animal Kingdom.  There was a relay this year that split off at the halfway point, but I barely saw anyone headed that way.  The crowds were starting to build around the half marathon point and I was got a little scared that I had to run 13 more miles at this pace.  I hit the half at around 1:45:30 or so.  This was WAY faster than I had planned so I knew the 2nd half would lead to a slow down.

Split at the halfway point:

Leaving the halfway point is when my legs finally started feeling something.  I wasn't tired by any means, but I could feel a burn in my thighs and knew my mental game was going to have to start then.  I was taking my gels every 5 miles and I think I pulled out my third gel around 14.75 miles.  At the same time I developed a side cramp.  Oh how I hate side cramps.  I knew that if this side cramp went on for too long, I would have a terrible stomach ache the whole week, but I also knew, I was not letting a side cramp slow me down.  This is when I remembered what Steph had told me about her marathon. She told me she had yelled at her legs when they started hurting so I yelled at my side.  I told myself, you will not win today body, I am not slowing down.  I questioned the amount of electrolytes I was getting so decided to drink extra Powerade and see if that would help.  

I was hurting when I entered Animal Kingdom but welcomed the distraction of the characters and music.  I put on a smile for the cameras and pushed through the park.  I got out of the park and at about mile 17, the cramp disappeared.  This is when I thought to myself, maybe today really would be my day.

You would never guess mile 15 I was in pain, maybe I was running from the pain:

The Animal Kingdom parking lot was full of people and my favorite person of the day appeared with a box of tissues.  When the sun came out about 30 minutes before, it was bright, but my sunglasses were soaked with sweat.  I saw that tissue and nearly gave that woman a sweaty hug.  I wiped my sunglasses, put them on, and got ready for what would be that hardest part of the race thus far.

Exiting the Animal Kingdom parking lot is mile 18.  This is the point last year when I knew I was going to qualify for Boston.  I looked at the clock and again did the math and figured that if I could maintain a decent pace, today was going to be my day again.  I also got excited because it was at this point that I wasn't going for a sub-3:35 anymore.  I got to race to see what time I could get.  I was in control of the outcome of my race.  

This is also a highway-filled part of the race.  The next 4 miles were spent running on highways to Hollywood Studios.  Normally there is nothing fun happening at this point, but today I noticed something exciting.  I was starting to pass people.  Lots of people were slowing down and I was still maintaining a decent pace.  I knew mile 20 would be the out-and-back and I could look for my friends that I was running with and also gauge where I was.  I took another gel just before mile 20 and headed into the out-and-back.  First I saw the 3:25 pace group.  I knew they were well in front of me so wasn't surprised to see them.  Next I saw, Erin taking water at an aid station.  I yelled for her.  What a boost it was to see her.  I hit the turn around and began the trip back.  Not far behind me was the 3:35 pace group.  I figured I had at least 2+ minutes on them.  I love out-and-backs and that one was no exception.  That mile flew by and I was suddenly at mile 21.

This is when the race started to really get tough for me.  I cringe at the memories of how tired I was.  First you have a highway ramp that has a pretty rough cambered incline.  My hips were not happy with the incline and a climb at this point wasn't so fun.  You peak the ramp and then you are still on highway for another mile before you enter Hollywood Studios.  My stomach was starting to hate me at this point and I concentrated on drinking more.  My power songs came on my iPod and I laughed to myself that I somehow timed it perfectly for when to put them on.  I entered Hollywood Studios and wasn't as excited as I would have liked.  I was so ready to be done running and I had so far to go.

My splits tell the story, as does this picture from Hollywood Studios.

I was hot, sweaty, and completely spent.  But I also knew I was so close to running an amazing marathon and if I could help it, I didn't want to slow down much more than I already had.  I exited the Studios and saw the path where I fell last year.  I concentrated on lifting my legs and heading onto that path without tripping. 

I knew I had a 5k left to run and was trying to figure out what pace I could run and where that would put me at the finish line.  I think all the math I did in my head during the race really helped keep the negative thoughts out.  I was hurting but was constantly doing numbers to see what I could do.  The path from the Studios on the Boardwalk was nice, but I just wanted to get to Epcot so pushed as hard as I could.  I tried high-fiving as many people as I could as I knew I was basically done and I had made my goal.  I knew I could run a slow final mile and still qualify for Boston so it was time to celebrate and enjoy that final stretch. 

I entered Epcot and would pick up the pace and then slow down over and over again.  I would pass someone and they would congratulate me and I would start yelling.  Yes, I did celebrate for over 1.2 miles.  Yelling out when you have a mile to go is not easy to do, let me tell you.  :)

I finally entered the Mexico Pavilion and knew my final stretch was just around the corner.  My calf muscle seized up for a second but I shook it out and tried picking up my pace.  I continued to yell my way out of Epcot and rounded the corner to the Gospel Choir.  If you have never done the Disney Marathon, I suggest you do for the choir.  At mile 26, the choir sits there singing you in.  I waved and thanked them and turned my last corner and saw that finish line.  

The crowd wasn't cheering much but I did my part to get them going.  I was cheering myself when I saw that the clock had 3:33 on it.  I didn't know what my overall chip time would be, but my clock time was still an amazing time.  I sprinted as fast as my legs could and crossed that finish line with my arms in the air.

Final Splits:

And there you have it.  I am now qualified to run the Boston Marathon in 2013.  I walked around on cloud 9 on Sunday and am so excited to start my training for Boston after 2 weeks of rest.  

Thanks again for everyone's support this past week.  It really helped mentally to know that I had people following my race and that I would get to report back to you.  The blogging/Twitter community has made my running that much more fun.  And if you made it through this entire report, thank you.  

It's time to start talking BOSTON!