Sunday, September 30, 2012

Run ended at 4:33, tapering started at 4:34

Saturday was my last long run and it was a doozy. Two weeks ago I had the best run of my entire life and felt GREAT through 20.11 miles. I was EXCITED to test myself with another massively long monster run.

Sadly it had none of that magic. Sure, I got through it - 21.64 miles, but I was all too aware of the heat, the pain, the agony. It was a beautiful sunny fall day, but too hot to be running for almost 4 hours. I could have woken up early and avoided the heat of the day, but I really like sleeping in late. I didn't start until almost noon, with the goal of finishing before the Tigers started at 4.

My final time was 3:54, or a 10:50 average pace. Slower than race pace, but Hal Higdon says:
For experienced marathoners, I recommend that runners do their long runs anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds or more per mile slower than their marathon pace... 
It's better to run too slow during these long runs, than too fast. The important point is that you cover the prescribed distance; how fast you cover it doesn't matter.
I uploaded my gps run data then analyzed the information it provided, and did my own extrapolating. If I averaged 15 minutes per mile for 4.56 more miles, I would break 5 hours. My slowest mile was 12:41, so I see no reason why it would balloon to 15, although I know to add in several minutes to bottleneck at the bridge.

Both of my monster runs were done by myself, responsible for my own water, and I averaged 10:50 for each. I see no reason whatsoever why I'll be over 5 hours at the race. I just have to make sure I don't over-hydrate and spend time waiting for / using the toilet.

Here's a funny story about the run yesterday. I passed Allen Park High School, which had had its Homecoming parade the night before. I passed two pieces of candy that no one picked up. Can you see where this story is going...? I stopped, picked up the candy and ATE IT!!! lol lol Whatever. They were wrapped, so no worse than picking up during the parade and eating the next day. I was desperate for those 30 calories!

I wore my old shoes and there's no way they'll hold up for the race. Good thing I have time to wear the new pair before the race.

So now I'm tapering. It's always kind of sad to know I can run crazy distances, but I'm forcing myself to not do it. I know the logic behind it - rest my body, give it time to recover and get ready for the race in peak condition, but I always feel like I'm losing ability when I taper. Yes, I'll still be running 4 times a week, but 3-4 miles isn't much at all. Lol I'm such a running snob!


Running tip #6 - Use Vaseline on your skin to prevent chafing, wherever needed. It washes off clothing and doesn't feel nearly as gross as you'd imagine.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Great advice

I'm one of the few people still living in the Dark Ages who hasn't joined facebook. My one exception is the Free Press marathon site, which I can view without signing up.

The question posted today was "What advice do you have for first timers?"

Here are a few of the great responses:

"Keep moving forward; becoming a marathoner starts with that first step to a label you will keep with you for the rest of your life."

"Enjoy every moment, you've trained hard and you got this!"

"...When you feel weak and want to quit, find a hand to high five, it's amazing how much power you can get from a high five! And finally, remember YOU are doing something that every person standing on the sidelines isn't doing!!! Find strength in that!!!! You can do it and you are amazing!!!!! Enjoy!!"

"If you can feel PAIN, you're still alive!"

"Most importantly, you are doing something that most people will never attempt. YOU are wonderful and strong. YOU have put in all the training. This is the party so, enjoy it and listen to your body. Mind over matter is a powerful thing, but don't let enthusiasm take over your abililty. The race day happiness will give you what you need when you need it. Godspeed."

"Read the encouraging signs and listen to the encouraging words said by spectators. They are meant for you no matter what name is on them."

My favorite comment is still the one I read from mike2036 in 2010: "When I ran the Chicago Marathon last Sunday and was limping my way to the finish line, a woman was holding a sign that said, 'There will be a day when you cannot do this. And today is not that day!' That inspired me to finish. You'll find your inspiration, and you'll make it."

Have I mentioned how incredibly excited I am for this race?

The Freep's facebook also posted a video of some of the on-course entertainment in 2011. The video is good, but doesn't come close to showing the excitement and exhilaration on the course. I'm trying to figure out how to post it here, but for now, here's a link. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Peaking at all the right time

The marathon is 3 weeks away. I have one more long run, then two shorter taper weeks and it's race day! In a wonderful, unexpected surprise, I feel READY!!! My running has never ever felt this good, I've never felt this strong, this READY to attack the run and destroy 4:33 :D

Hal says to run 20 miles this week. When I was training for the Martian, I dreaded the 20-miler, I thought it would never end. A few months later, it's Thursday night and I'm chomping at the bit to go run it! I'm seriously considering running it on Friday afternoon, just because I can. I don't want to delay until Saturday what my brain and legs are itching to do NOW.

Having run 20 two weeks ago - instead of Hal's prescribed 19 - gave me tons of confidence. Of course I can run another 20! If the weather is good, I'll make it 21 or 22. I tell all my runner friends and non-runner friends alike that anything past 4 or 5 miles is all mental, and for the first time I feel like my brain and spirit have been doing jumping jacks, gearing up to support my body in this awesome journey.

Something I consciously realized last night that could be a HUGE factor in how great the running has been going - my class was cancelled two solid weeks ago. Since then I have eaten ZERO fast food. I haven't had KFC Monday, no more Pizza Hut lunch buffet, and the worst of all? No more Chicken Shack. So my big it coincidental or causal? Did my running just happen to peak at the same time I banished fast food? Or did the lack of fast food CAUSE me to feel stronger, to run further and faster with less pain? If it's the latter, I never need fast food again! (Which is not to say I've been eating ultra healthy these two weeks, but the sodium and fat intake, the amount of processed food, the chemicals have definitely all been down)

Just for fun I looked up marathons for this weekend, but the nearest is in Akron, Ohio and it's sold out. Bummer :(

Running tip #5 (pertains to all races, but specifically the Detroit Free Press): If finishing time is of no importance, take a camera. I really wish I would have had one in 2010, in particular to take photos of (1) Me at the starting line, about to undertake the most painful, the most audacious thing I could do, (2) the thousands of runners in a spiral going up the Ambassador Bridge, and (3) the sunrise from on top the Bridge. It's a great race! I'm soooooooo excited!!!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New shoes

Tuesday I realized how incredibly comfortable my Mizunos have become. They're as soft and bendable as house slippers, but they're also falling apart and won't last through the rest of training and the marathon.

I didn't realize how dirty and grungy they were until compared to a new pair
Sadly I opened a box of new shoes and started breaking them in today. I don't know for what exact purpose I started the new shoes. It's either so I can wear the new ones for the race, or it's to extend the life of the old ones long enough to wear those in the race. For some reason I have this idea that every pair of shoes should be worn in a marathon. Even though the old ones have 450 (ish) miles on them, I haven't worn them for a marathon.

The soles are completely shot :(

Now I only have 5 pairs remaining in the basement and it's causing me some anxiety. What am I going to do when they're all gone?! I really don't want to find a new shoe! Amazon still has two pairs of size 11 for sale, but I can't pay $74.99 per pair, not when I found them for $49 each.

Wednesday's run was GREAT!! I did the same route as Tuesday. I was really happy with my 9:24 average on Tuesday. I had assumed I would be slower the second day, but Wednesday I hit 9:17 average pace. Awesome!

Race tip #4: Get a massage the day before the race. It'll loosen all the muscles and joints so you can run pain free.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Solid Run

Tuesday was in the 60s and CLOUDY. Not exactly great running conditions, but I knew waiting and procrastinating would only make it worse. After work I fueled up with a sugar cookie and iced coffee and forced myself to go.

The 5 miles were entirely ok. I ran faster than usual today, which is always a nice surprise. The best surprise I didn't realize until I had been home for a few hours - my hip didn't hurt! It didn't hurt before the run, during the run, or after. Sweet :)

I finished in 46:40, which represented a 9:25 pace, which is way ahead of my race pace. I generally slow down the further I go in my run, but today I completed the last 0.8 mile at an 8:11 pace. Garmin connect had my best pace at 6:51. Granted it might have been for only a few seconds, but that's ok.

5 miles doesn't seem difficult at all these days. Great :)

Running tip #3 (Specific to the Detroit Free Press): Buy a paper copy of the Free Press on the Friday beforehand when there will be a separate section previewing the race, and on the Monday after, when there will be several pages recapping the event. Instant scrapbook :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Setting the Pace

After the Martian marathon, I received an email from a guy named Sean who had run the 5K that morning and was planning to do another 5K the following week at Toledo. His real goal, though, was the Free Press half marathon. Thus began hundreds of emails about running, training, building mileage, food, water, Hal Higdon, music, hills, intervals, recovery time, cross training, tapering, etc. I tried to share my "tips" and "wisdom," about running which many times meant doing the opposite of what I had done, especially all the mistakes I made at the 2010 Free Press.

We meet in Hell and passed each other on the route a few times, then decided to run together again last Saturday. It was 55 and drizzling for 90% of the run, but that just couldn't be a factor. We stayed together for the first 3 miles. I've never paced or cheerlead another runner and I really enjoyed it! Every few minutes I glanced at the gps on my wrist and updated the distance and the total time, mentioned the pace, reminded him to drink water. I'm pretty bossy and it worked here! :)

After three miles he told me to run ahead and I grudgingly did so, then because it was an out and back route, I knew we'd meet up at some point and finish the run together. Running with someone was great! Being someone's cheerleader was even better. I see why Nita likes it so much :)

One of these days *ahem* April 2013 *cough* I'll get him to do a full marathon with me :)

On a related note, the Free Press published images of the race bibs. I'm soooooooo excited for the race!!!!!!! :D I'm completely blocking out how painful it will be, just thinking about running with 20,000 other runners, passing by thousands of spectators. Thank you Detroit! I love you all!

I'm blue this year!!!!

Running tip #2: Don't eat ANYTHING on race day that you haven't previously tried on a long run. Don't wear anything essential (bra, shorts, socks, shoes) that you haven't worn on a long run. (Sweatshirt and hat are exempt from this rule because they won't last more than a few miles :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Running tip #1

Just for fun, I thought I'd share the running tips I've put together over 2 years. There are an unlimited number of websites that have the same information, but here's my take on it:

Running tip of the day #1: Buy a sweatshirt or jacket, hat and gloves at the Salvation Army to wear before the race. Due to construction, parking, and 20,000+ people, all the logistics take time and it's better to get to the race hours early, rather than be close. I arrived at the 2010 Detroit Free Press around 5:30 am and it was really cold! Wear the stuff for a few miles, then toss it to the side of the road and charities collect it all - mountains of clothing! - and donate it back to charity. Some people like to cut a hole in a garbage bag and wear it like a poncho. I haven't tried that idea yet.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bidding adieu to the Y

I like the Southgate YMCA. I figured out the times when it's not busy, I worked out which exact treadmill, bike and elliptical I like. I know who the people are, I know where the stuff is located. I like the comfort and familiarity of it all.

Yet my night job canceled one of my classes. I was already living check to check, so to do it with even less money sucks royally. At the very least, it's 16 weeks with less pay before it could possibly change next semester. There are very few expenses that can be eliminated, and unless I become anorexic, something else had to go. (I can't be anorexic - I like the taste of food too much and I need food for energy and for strength to run, which is my mainstay for mental health :) The Y is the only thing I'm willing to live without at this point. Granted I could live without electricity, but I REALLY don't want to. Likewise internet access isn't an essential, but I like the convenience and I need it to do my side job. Heck I need internet at home to do my normal daily job.

I learned about the reduction in hours on Wednesday evening. Thursday at lunch I went to cancel my membership. It was only $25 a month, but I can eat for two weeks on that money. Besides, the past year I've done 95% of my workouts outside. For the 3 or 4 times a month I use the gym, I can go somewhere cheaper. Mom gave me a flyer for a $10 a month gym. I bet I can find even cheaper :)

I really like that the Y has a track, but I used it 6 times since last October. I can't pay $300 a year to use it 6 times, not when the other stuff (weights, bike, elliptical) can be found elsewhere for much less. Besides I learned that I actually can wake up at 6 or 7 am to run on Saturday, which would take care of the 4 times I ran inside due to heat. Not to mention I used the pool maybe 4 times in as many years. I never used the open gym, never took any classes. For the little I actually used, I was overpaying, even at the reduced resident rate.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The best run ever

The first several miles of the Toledo marathon, my mantra was "This is going to be the best run of my life." I kept repeating it in my head, out loud, timing each word with a step, counting the words on my fingers, etc. It was a decent run but nowhere near the awesomeness of September 15, 2012. Hal said to run 19 miles. I figured if I was scheduled to do 19, I may as well do 20 because what's another mile, right? HA! Most weeks the long runs are absolute agony and I can't fathom going one step further.

The forecast was good - low 70s, low humidity and plenty of sun. With that weather, I could run any time I wanted, but I woke up somewhat early just to get it done. At least that was the plan. I woke up at 9, had a 320 calorie chemical bar and a bottle of Hawaiian punch that was leftover from a recipe. Loaded my pocket and water holster with two packs of PowerBar gel bites and somehow all that took 2 hours. Huh?

It was 11 and I was off. With all moderate and long runs, my strategy is to run a mile, then take a walk break from 0.02 to 0.1 miles, eating one gel bite and taking two sips of water. Many many runs I feel like the breaks will never come, but this time, they arrived so quickly and I felt like I didn't even need to break. I always did, just to force myself to hydrate.

The miles passed. At mile 15.67 I had the most amazing thought - "I feel good!"My hips felt good, both my knees were fine, my breathing was good and ample blood and oxygen were free flowing.

Mile 16, mile 17, mile 18. I was cruising along! So many times after about 10 miles, my body doesn't want to run full miles any longer and screams to break every 4-5 minutes. Yesterday I just kept going all the way to the end.

I realized I go through much more water on the second half of the run and that I would need to make one more stop to fill my water holster. The problem was that I was in the section of the run that didn't have any drinking fountains and I didn't see anyone watering their lawn. With so many churches now holding Saturday service, I figured a church would be my best chance for water. At one of the Park Ave. churches, I tried the door and it was locked! My parched mouth was screaming for water. I tried the side door. Hallelujah! It was unlocked! The lights were all off and no one was in the building, but there was a fountain just steps inside the door. Aaaah water!!!!

I finished the run and felt GREAT!!!! I felt STRONG and it gave me tons of confidence for the marathon. All summer I've been stressing about not feeling anywhere near ready, but this run was a huge mental boost. It was so good I absolutely believe I could have finished the full marathon. Sure I was tired at the end, yes I was dehydrated, but I never hit the wall! I normally slam in to it around mile 18, but I finished 20.11 with my form and mind fully intact.

The final time was 3:38:10, which was an average time of 10:50 per mile. I was only 17 seconds over my target race pace. Sweet!!! The times were more consistent as well. About half the runs were under 11 minutes, the other half were in the 11 range. Only 2 miles hit 12, which isn't terrible. At least there were no 14 or 15 minute miles :P

Saturday was the best run I've had in a long long long time, likely the best run of my entire life! It's kind of a bummer it wasn't during a race, but I'm perfecting my pre-race and during-run ritual, so it'll get easier and easier to replicate the awesomeness of Saturday during the actual race.

Hal gives me an easy 12-mile break next Saturday before gearing up for my "big" 20-mile training run. No sweat! I can do this!!!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The easy-peasy run

Hal said to run 13 miles this week. It was an "easy" Saturday. I really wanted to go back to Hell to run the Hippie half marathon at the Woodstock fest. The finances being what they are, however, there was no way I could justify a $50 entry fee just because I wanted to run it. Woodstock was never a big priority, it's certainly not on the bucket list, so I had to just say no :(

Something great about Saturday was that the weather was really cool. Long gone were the Saturdays of waking up at 6 am to run before the heat kicks in. I could stay up late on Friday, sleep in late on Saturday, eat whatever I wanted for breakfast, including coffee, then lounge around until I felt ready to run. 

I finally reached that point around 2:30 and appreciated all over again waking up early to run. Yes, it's super early and therefore miserable, yet it's REALLY nice to have the run done and out of the way.

Running felt easy, the joints felt good, everything was great. I normally run through a particular subdivision half way (or less!) through my monster runs, but this time, I went through the sub, then came home and I was done! The time went really fast, the miles passed quickly. There wasn't any massive agony or wall-crashing. I'm thinking half marathons will become my race of choice :)

When I was done, sure I was hungry, but not ravenous. I was a little tired, but not so bad that I spent the entire day / night laying down. It was really really easy, even though saying so makes me sound like a total running snob :P

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The great albeit humid run

Tuesday was back to work day. I closed my eyes for a few minutes after then set out for my "short" 5-miler at 6:45 pm. It was still sunny, still 78 degrees and 82% relative humidity. Yuck! "It's not the heat! It's the humidity...."

For some reason I tend to run really well in the super humid weather, most likely because it's so gross that I just want to be done with it! Tuesday was no different. Hal said to do 5 miles, so I did my "5-mile" loop. Carmenita only gave me credit for 4.8, but mapmyrun was more generous with 5.15. The average distance I used was 4.97.

Final time was 48:06, so I was well under 10 minutes per mile. It was hard and painful to get there, but no one said it would be easy. If it was, everyone would be marathoners.

By mile 2 I was DRENCHED in sweat but it felt so good to run 5 hard miles and be no worse for the wear. My body felt GREAT. All my joints were good, all my muscles were good. What a great run!!!

Wednesday morning wasn't nearly as great. I didn't start work until noon and had plans after, so I set my alarm for 8 am, so as to run my 8 miles before work. I did it last Wednesday and it was fine. This time, I was super tired and kept thinking of all the dumb errands I had to do before work. I gave in this morning and I know Thursday is another non-running day because of my work schedule. Hal has it as an easier week and I'm definitely abusing it :(

Monday, September 3, 2012

Toledo called....

I received an email first thing this morning from the Toledo marathon organizers. Registration for the 2013 race opened this morning! I don't feel the need to register within an hour like I did with the Free Press, but I'll do so by the end of the year to save $$.

I dreamed on Friday night that a newbie runner was doing the spring trifecta of Martian, Lansing and Toledo, running 2 halfs and 1 full, and which did I recommend as the full? Definitely Toledo!!!! The primary reason is that it's the last one, so a first-timer would have unlimited recovery time without worrying about future races. Other reasons Toledo rules?

1. The full and half racers start together and stay together almost 9 miles.

2. The course is FLAT!!! There was ONE big hill.

3. It's (relatively) CHEAP!!

4. Thousands of people came out to watch and cheer.

5. Santa Claus kept popping up in weird places.

6. Post-race beer (for those who finish before it runs out)

7. Post-race massage

8. A glass beer mug for half and full finishers. Never mind that it's too small for a pint.

9. Pacing teams!

10. A few months later, they send a scrapbook with all the finishers' times and numerous pictures from the morning.

See you at the finish line!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Musings on 18 miles...or 19...or 18.67...Heck I don't know

When I was only tracking distances with Map my run, the distances evidently were wrong, but I thought they were right and perception became reality. The website said 3.13 miles, I accepted it and that was that. Now with gps and knowing both measures are wrong, I'm a mess. I'd rather be wrong and not know it, than be wrong and definitely know I'm wrong. Ignorance was bliss :(

Saturday I woke up at 6:30, yet didn't make it out of the house until almost 8 after a breakfast of a MetRX meal replacement bar and a "Mexican" Coke. I had a pouch of Energy Blast gel bites in my pocket and a definite plan for my route.

The beginning was relatively easy, it felt TONS easier than last week's 16 miler. I was slower than my 10:35 goal, but kept reminding myself of Hal's description of Saturday runs as long slow runs. Loooooong Sloooooooooow runs. As long as I'm in the ballpark range, I should be able to drop a few seconds at the race because (1) I'm not alone, and (2) there is on-course distraction / entertainment to break up the monotony.

It was humid, but cool and cloudy, everything felt good until mile 4.5 when my left knee felt funny. The best description was that it torqued, it felt like the joint had been forced to move in a manner that it doesn't normally move. Did I stop and go home? Noooooo I kept going :)

It bothered me a little through the run, but seemed to feel worse when walking than when running. I immediately showered at home, then started the RICE treatment. It never actually HURT, just didn't feel right when I bent it. So I did a little home yoga, tried to keep it propped up and went to bed early.

Sunday morning it felt ok. After doing a little cross-training to burn out the lactic acid, it feels as good as new. My left hip has been sore when I run for the whole summer and my yoga teacher - who is a chiropractor by day - said it's bursitis. With 98% certainty, it's what I had in 2010, but whereas that was a sudden horrific onset, it's been slow this time around. Like then, I felt it in my knee, even though there's absolutely nothing wrong with my knee. I kept the old pill bottle from the Salsalate, so if I need to see a doctor, I'll go in with my own diagnosis and remedy, just needing the official signature to get the meds.

Anyway, even with a gimpy knee, the run was feeling really good until about mile 12 when I plowed headfirst into the proverbial wall. I don't normally hit it so soon :( As the best description, "In some form or another, it becomes a collapse of the entire system: body and form, brains and soul." The last 6 ish miles were a tortured exercise of my mind willing my body to do what it was screaming and fighting against.

The final time was 3:27:01. I don't know the distance though and it really bothers me! Carmenita (gps) said 18.01, Google Maps said 18.67, Mapmyrun said 19.01. I averaged it and came up with 18.56. That's my distance and I'm sticking with it!

The Free Press just posted the image of this year's shirt. It's ok. I like the 2010 one better, but this one is better than 99% of all race shirts. It's tech with NO sponsor logos :)