Thursday, May 30, 2013

my first second marathon, race day

If you missed it, there is a part one to this story. It tells the harrowing tale of a cross country journey, meeting (and making an ass of myself in front of) Bart Yasso and the bizarre sub culture of elite water bottle decorating parties...go check it out
I woke up before my alarm on race day. The rain and wind beating against the dorm window. It was marathon day! I took a deep breath and tried to calm the eff down. I rolled out of bed and stumbled to the common area where I heated up my little container of oatmeal and ate a banana. 

My second roommate had gone to bed before I came back the night before so I still hadn't met her. She bolted out of her room about 15 minutes after I'd been up. I didn't have my contacts in so I could only read the frantic tone from her blurry body signals as she rushed to and fro. 

Be calm and detach
My other roommate had left her bag for me to take down to the warmup area so she could run down later. Our shuttle would arrive soon. I shoveled oatmeal in my mouth and tried to chew calmly and swallow. Everything was heightened. I tried not to let emotion in. My excitement and thrill over being here, healthy and ready to race was bubbling around inside me. I knew I needed to detach. It was difficult. 

Not only did I think marathons would never be possible for me because of the chronic residual pain from my broken back, but last year during Memorial Day Weekend I had an awakening. Like most awakenings, it was really a wake-up call brought on by a brush with (should have been) tragedy. It's personal, but my gratitude for being alive and well and about to race a marathon was burned pure by the memory. 

I knew that emotions are a waste of energy. I tried to return myself to amoeba state time and time again. Zone out until it's time to zone in. It was impossible, so instead I tried to reach a relaxed state of gratitude.

We dragged all our bags downstairs. The shuttle pulled up. We climbed inside to Lyman's announcement, "The Brazilians are missing." I couldn't help but imagine this piece of strange news as a sort of mystery adventure. A-ha! The plot thickens. I had our van laughing by the time we pulled up the staging area, without the elusive Brazilians.

The elites all camped out on the floor of a physical therapy office. Some nervously glancing around, others seemed relaxed. We stayed there for an hour. I made small talk and tried to relax. After an hour we got in the vans again and headed up the hill to our little tent to wait out the next hour. 

Shit happens... or not
My big morning drama was ... race morning poop! I didn't have one. Where was it!? And more terrifying, where would it show up?! Hopefully not a mile 17. I would have given anything for a little race morning poop. But we were lining up and its chance was gone. 

I saw my sis at the start. Both of us dressed in our trashbag warmups. We hugged and I told her to have fun. I couldn't believe this was it. After months of preparation it was minutes from the gun going off.  No stopping this crazy train now...

We had the two minute warning and trashbags and extra clothes were flying. The rain beat down. I breathed in and out. The air horn sounded and ... this was it!!

The course starts by winding around downtown before spitting us out on the highway for a little out and back then coming back through town and out before turning and driving us into a northern wind for about 8 miles then twisting through neighborhoods before dumping out on the bike path headed to the finish. 

Mile 1 - 6:36
Mile 2 - 6:20
Mile 3 - 6:30
Mile 4 - 6:24 
Mile 5 - 6:29

So far so good. My plan was to go out in 5 -8 in 6:35s. This part was twisty and I was cruising on downhills. So the pace was a little crazy.
So fun! I could do this all day!

Mile 6 - 6:39
Mile 7 - 6:37
Mile 8 - 6:35

Get calm
Around mile 8, my right calf is starting to cramp. I missed a fuel stop. I tried not to freak out. I breath out the word caaaalm, until I almost believe it. 

Mile 9 - 6:42
Mile 10 - 6:18
Mile 11 - 6:24
Mile 12 - 6:38
Mile 13- 6:28

Okay, a few weird miles in there. The highway was 1/2 into the wind and when we turned around the wind was at our back BUT the hill was going up. I hit the half marathon in 1:25:__ This wasn't good news. I knew I needed to see 1:23:__. As I come to that realization we hit the wind straight on. I start laughing and comment on the absurdity of the wind to my fellow runner. He is not amused. Luckily this is caught by the magic of race photography in a series of photos I've entitled: I'm Hilarious, He Just Didn't Hear Me

For the next 13.1 miles we venture into some upper 6:30s, touching briefly on some high 6:50s. This is getting real. Real cold, real crampy, real real. 

Mile 14 - 6:37
Mile 15 - 6:50
Mile 16 - 6:54
Mile 17 - 6:41

The fun is done. 
Somewhere in there "the big hill" happened. Probably where I sped up. I love me some hills. But like I said, it was getting real. My legs were fully cramptastic by mile 18. Robot legs. 

Mile 18 - 6:23
Mile 19 - 6:30
Mile 20 - 6:40

Either I'm crying or trying not to see those shorts...maybe both. But I AM doing a flawless imitation of a grumpy frog.

Passing the shorts, firmly entering the pain place for good.

Mile 21 - 6:46
Mile 22 - 6:56
Mile 23 - 6:46

Anti acid: can't run with it, can't run without it
Around mile 17, I grabbed my water bottle with liquid anti acid taped to the side in a baggie. As one might expect this went horribly. I couldn't get the baggy off the bottle so I ripped into it with my teeth, sucking the Mylanta through a tiny hole in the bag. Then I tried to drink the water bottle as the Mylanta flew in the wind all over my face. Yeah.... luckily I was wearing gloves and did a decent face clean-up job.... I'll just leave it at that. 

Get tough, get tougher, hang on
I could title all these photos 'here I am looking like I'm dry heaving next to random dudes while running'. This is around mile 19? 21? where somehow I'm passing women. I made the fatal error of passing two too soon at mile 22. Yeah that's enough to, two, toos for one sentence. My robot legs weren't ready to fight. I went from 6th to 4th and back again in the blink of an eye.

Mile 24 - 6:36
Mile 25- 6:38
Mile 26 - 6:33

That moment when you KNOW you will make it - 5 feet from the finish line
I ugly-tearlessly-cried from mile 25 on, I'm glad this photo missed it. I crossed the line in 2:54:05. 

My sister charged through the line in 3:02:59. She doubled over and when she looked up at me holding out a water all she could say was, "What WAS that!?" I have no idea. But I think I love it. 

I wasn't sure I was really 6th (the last place for prizes) until a girl handed me my medal and a big plastic card to wear that said 6th. I tried not to cry. I have never been so happy with a 6 in all my life. 

The elites had a little tent with sandwiches and drinks near the stage. I'm telling you ... so spoiled. We changed into warm clothes and waited for awards. I helped my sister over to the tent with me. Her feet were in a lot of pain. I didn't see any of my family, I knew I'd find them later. 

The awards were very special. To have Bill Rodgers, Jeff Galloway and Bart Yasso congratulate each recipient was pretty unbelievable. Bill Rodgers is so nice. He told me I had a good race. Unforgettable for sure. Below I think he's just asking why Oiselle doesn't make that hoodie for men. 

Maybe soon, Bill
Cheers to crazy marathoners!
The day was hard and I learned a lot. I was happy with what I brought, I didn't shy away from pain. And now I have a better idea of my threshold. I look forward to digging and seeing how far into the pain I can go. Yeah ... this sport is messed up. 

Thank you to my family who spend their whole morning in the freezing rain to cheer! It made all the difference. Thank you to Owen for the constant support. All the volunteers that made the Vermont City Marathon amazing. To Lyman for taking care of us all weekend. Totally spoiled for all other races. My coach, Tommy Nohillly, for kicking my arse all winter. Nuun for race day hydration. And my Oiselle family, because I wouldn't be running without you.  

my first second marathon, part one

If you're just tuning in, I ran my second (or raced my first) marathon on Sunday May 26th. Let's be clear on one fact before we continue: the difference to me between running and racing has NOTHING to do with finish time. It has everything to do with intentions and owning goals. My intention and your intention may result in different finish times. My goal race pace is a jog to Shalane Flanagan. This doesn't diminish the enthusiasm or pride I feel for my race.

Back to it, I raced the marathon distance for the first time at Vermont City Marathon. I set an A, B and C goal. I wrote them in my training journal back in December:
marathon goals
I'm 99% sure I'm using those little less-thans wrong. But they mean run 2:50 or my mind. And since I'm the sole audience of my training journal, that's good enough for me. Unwritten, but my true #1 goal: learn from the experience. I'll outline the rest of this entry using the lessons I learned, tried to learn or gave up on... kidding. 

Have a plan
Two weeks out from the marathon I started my taper. Here's what those weeks looked like leading up to Vermont City Marathon:

5/12 - 5/18
sun - 15 miles
mon - x
tues - easy 6
wed - 2 mile warm-up, (:75 at 6 min/mile, :75 at 7 min/mile x 8) x 2, 2 mile cool-down
thurs - elliptigo 
fri - easy 6
sat - easy 5.5
total: 43.5

5/19 - 5/25
sun - 10 miles
mon - x
tues - 5 (4:00 at marathon, 3:00 at half, 2:00 at 5k, 1:00 at mile)
wed - easy 6
thurs - x 
fri - easy 3 with striders
sat - x race eve
total: 24

I am lucky enough to be coached by Tom Nohilly who works with NJNY Track Club.

Don't waste energy on things out of your control... 
The week leading up to the marathon was really busy. There were projects with loose ends flying in my face and my stress level was higher than I would have liked. My appetite was very low, as is usual in times of stress, and I had to remind myself to eat. I wasn't sleeping well. To buoy my spirits, I thought of the amazing mama marathoners who somehow juggle everything. I thought of all the people with busy lives who run so fast and strong. And I didn't let myself play the excuses game. "Life is full!" I thought to myself. "How lucky!" 

...focus attention on what you can
BUT I did look forward to getting on the plane early Friday morning when I could become a selfish little marathoning amoeba. Stress leaves me without appetite and my natural state of ADHD in hyper drive. Thoughts flying around so fast and without any order. When I would see a thought fly by, I'd pin it down. I ended up with a long helpful list of what not to forget for the trip. I find it therapeutic to take my time packing for a trip. I spent hours organizing and reorganizing, uncharacteristically slowly. Setting an intention to be calm. It's freak show that Owen has learned to steer clear of. 

Race day blues.  ADHD meet OCD coping methods... 
Owen dropped me at SeaTac just after 6am on Friday morning. I had a direct flight to Boston. My mom would pick me up and we'd drive straight up to Vermont. I was nervous about what spending over 10 hours crunched in a various seats would do to my legs. I did what I could to minimize the affects. I bought the extra legroom on JetBlue and made sure I got up often. I wore compression socks under my jeans. I took an ice bath the night before. 

Enjoy the journey, sometimes literally
When I landed in Boston, I hurried off the plane and we took off toward Vermont. Holiday traffic was crawling until we hit New Hampshire.  We pulled into a truck stop in the outskirts of Lebanon NH and I took my cramped legs out on a 3 mile shake-out. I love running through little unknown streets. I wound my through a corporate parking lot and small neighborhoods. I found the Northern Rail Trail and turned around. 

Be thankful
We arrived in Burlington around 9pm. I'd been traveling for 12 hours. I called the Lymann, the elite coordinator, to let him know I was in town. He invited me to come up the Sheraton for dinner. I was exhausted but since I had been surviving on Picky Bars and pretzels all day I figured some real food would do me good. I also was looking forward to meeting the person who'd taken a chance on me despite my slower marathon PR. Lymann had paid so much attention making sure everything was just right for the weekend. I could tell it was simply in his character to care about the athletes he'd invited. 

Besides there wasn't much to do in the dorm they were putting me up in besides sleep...

When's the last time you slept on an extra long twin? Awww yeah. 
My mom graciously lent me her car. I dropped her off with my brother, saying hi quickly and headed up the hotel. I had a burger and nervously chatted with the volunteers at the table. Bart Yasso popped over to say hello. He was just as friendly and unassuming as he comes across in his writing and on Twitter. I fell over my words as I typically do when meeting anyone famous. Saying something silly like, oh I've met you on Twitter. Yeah...

I tucked that burger away and then drove my roommate, Michelle, and I back to the dorm at Champlain College. She was really friendly. A good person to share a dorm suite with. We laughed about the creepy staph infection poster in the bathroom and hoped we would be okay showering without flip-flops on. Then it was lights out. 

I let myself sleep in because I couldn't fall asleep AND I knew what a sleepless night race night usually was. Might as well put some hours in the bank. I popped out of bed around 9:30am.  I was excited to meet up with my family! Nearly everyone in my family lives in Burlington/Shelburne. We met up at Panera Bread... mmm carbs. 

As you can tell they are SUPER excited to see me... over here guys!!
The first rule of race not talk about race day 
I was glad to meet up for breakfast and talk about anything and everything besides the marathon OR the marathon forecast, which was looking worse and worse. The work is in the bank, the plan is made, the 20 mph winds are out of my control... there is no reason to obsess on any of that. Instead I wanted to hear about my grandparents going back to Tony's homeland, Italy, or my Aunt Liz winning tickets to see 30 Seconds to Mars and meeting Jared Leto. Please tell me, are his eyes really *that* blue?

After fueling up with carbs and conversation I snagged the roomie and we hit the expo. I got my number, met up with my sis for the first time, and took photos with our clique. 

What up guys? Next time can you please invite Joannie?
I told my roommate I wanted to find a banana for the next morning. She told me there was one in the hospitality room. I assumed this was a place we could sneak food even though we weren't staying at the hotel. To my surprise, no! It was even better! An oasis for elite runners. Subway sandwiches, bagels, cookies, Gatorade, snacks, and The Spirit of the Marathon looping on a TV... it was nervous runner paradise. Why the hell hadn't we been in here all day?! 

Feathers are for music festival teens
I stalled out there for a few hours eating and decorating my first elite bottles. I'd dreamt of the elusive elite bottle since the first time I'd seen one... maybe a year ago. Oh, the visions of pipe cleaner creations I could make!! But when faced with the supplies, I froze. I knew Susan Empey always made little handles with pipe cleaners so I started there. But what to fill them with, banana or watermelon Nuun? And how do you stick the PowerBar gels on?? And what about the tape? Should I use feathers??!? Eff yes!! 

Meeting in session, but I'm too into my Nuun bottles. 
As I went out of my mind crafting, other elites began to filter in. A runner from Brazil sat next to me and immediately burst into laughter, pointing at my bottles. Rude! His coach began filling his bottles with an inch of Pedialyte and nothing else. Another runner showed up with 16oz Coke bottles filled with 2 inches of bright blue liquid. Yet another began to unpack and fill little Ketchup and Mustard bottles. Holy shit, I'd underestimated the intensity of elite bottles. This was a whole other world of crazy. 

Pretty sure you can visibly see me freaking out in this picture... I'VE MISCALCULATED THE # OF FEATHERS!!
Anyway, after sizing up all the elites while silently freaking out  our technical meeting (which was basically: 1. the weather suuuuuucks 2. here is a diagram of the water bottle table 3. you're going to get up effing early 4. don't worry we'll treat you like the race day baby divas you are (phew) and being called "a mountain" by the Brazilian coach I headed over to my grandparents house for pasta. Took a few awkward family photos and called it a night. 

I can't tell you how many photos we have right here, or how many times I've laughed through it... #fail
Someone's having fun on the floral love seat! Oiselle FTW. 
Marathoners! If you listen closely you can hear our silent screams for help... 
Time to toss and turn in the extra long twin bed... at least I had my rad Podium PJs (available this holiday from Oiselle). Tried to calm down with deep breathing and legs up the wall. Finally took a Melatonin and then drifted around between worlds until my alarm went off. (Melatonin is an herbal remedy, but I'm super sensitive to it.)

RACE DAY!! Coming in the next installment of "My First Second Marathon".... 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

what google taught me about marathon taper

Get ready for a short term relationship with complex carbs. Carbo loading is for the weeks before NOT just the night before. Sure, cake is a carb, but not the best for right now. Instead add more quinoa, oats, brown rice and other complex carbs. Nutritionists recommend 3-5 grams of carbs per one pound of body weight.

It's okay to gain a little weight during taper. In fact you should gain between 2 to 4 pounds. This is because "with every ounce of glycogen the body stores, it also stores three ounces of water."* And you want all your glycogen stores full up to the brim!

Don't leave your race anywhere but on the race course. Not in a peppy 6 miler, not in an all out fast finish to an easy 4. Just bottle it! For me this means NO music on the run. And when slow miles feel "hard" no worrying. It's just a mind/body disconnect. And race day magic is real.

You might feel achey, sore, or have ghost injuries. Do. Not. Freak. Out. You might feel slow or sluggish. Do. Not. Freak. Out. You might be super tired or feel like you're getting sick. Do. Not. Freak. Out. Apparently it's all normal. Seriously this sport ... so messed up.

This I've been bad at, but there is really no need to use up energy stressing or getting excited for the race. No reason to check the weather a million times or Google every weird run/race question you have...try to block it out. My plan was to catch up on the fashion, lifestyle blogs and watch some good movies. Rest and relax.

This didn't happen though. I mean I guess did watch like 4 hours of 30Rock on Sunday while working (hence the term 'mind grapes'). I don't know if things are really as stressful as they feel right now at work or if it's Taper Tantrums. But between that and race day anticipation... I feel like I'm having an excruciatingly slow panic attack. I'm just breathing and trying to check things off the list. No time for relaxation, but hoping to avoid paper-bag-breathing level of panic. Inhale. Exhale.

What tips have you picked up for taper success?

Friday, May 17, 2013

the week in pictures

A week in pictures. I'd say this week isn't typical, but that'd be a lie. No wonder I'm tired!

We are lucky enough to know someone who sails! Last Friday we headed out on the water for a few hours, soaking up the last of a very warm week. We were followed by a whole bunch of little dolphins, but they were camera shy.

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early to run and do some recon on West Seattle garage sale day before the sales started. Everyone was setting up and I found a bed frame for $50! Score. Didn't fit in the car though, luckily I know a pretty strong dude. We spent the rest of the morning walking around West Seattle and rifling through peoples stuff. Garage sale day is the best.

After garage sale day it was off to a Kachaala! A Ugandan pre-wedding ceremony... sort of like a public proposal. My friend since middle school, Joel, met his future wife in Uganda. They will have a wedding there and in the states.

We all got traditional Ugandan party clothes to wear. I think they wear these dresses to important events, like weddings. The food was perfect runner fuel: yams, rice, bread, fruit... delish!

Saw Gatsy late on Saturday at The Big Picture. Did my last long run (15 with 3 at mgp) on Sunday.

Monday Fast K8 is in town!! I creeped this photo of her doing drills at Roosevelt.

Wedesday was Oiselle's Fall 2013 photoshoot. My first time directing solo. Phew, what a fun day! But I was exhausted after we wrapped. I'm so excited to share the photos!

Was running by 4:45am (11 miles with :75 on, :75 7:00 pace x 16). Wrapped the shoot at 5:30pm. In bed by 8:30pm. My life in a nutshell...

Lauren steaming all 70+ looks. Like a boss.

Oiselle as street wear... what?! Kate and I came up with rad street style outfits combining Oiselle and J.Crew. Katie is playing with a few pieces below. Those pants need to come home with me...

Not the most restful taper week, hopefully all I do is sleep this weekend! How was your week?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

taper ramblings

I'm at that rambling taper time, two weeks out from Vermont City Marathon. It's my second marathon, but first one with a time goal. I ran Chicago in 2009, but I was so injured if it had been a local race I would have skipped it. But my plane ticket was purchased, hotel room booked and bib ready for pick-up. I am happy I ran it, it was an amazing experience. But after the marathon I took over a year off from running. Actually I quit. But we all know how that ended.
all I can remember is how bad my hips hurt and drafting off that chick in purple
marathoning is beautiful. i should really find this outfit...
I'm 2 weeks away from my second marathon. If all goes to plan I'll PR by over 35 minutes. But Chicago showed me that the marathon is a race like no other. The day can bring anything. At Chicago I  ran within a comfortable aerobic zone but I remember feeling a very abrupt change after mile 21. That brush with the wall stayed with me. I know things can go from great to uh-oh, fast. Especially, I imagine, when your foot is firmly on the gas pedal.

I have set an A, B and C goal. The C goal is don't walk, quit, land in the med tent or poop my shorts. I think that's most people's C goal. There's a reason it's been 4 years since my 1st marathon, it's a big scary race. You can't fake a marathon. You dedicate months of training to this one window of time. And over the hours you race you get down to the bottom of your barrel. You empty the tank. There is nothing more raw than watching runners finish a marathon.

As I approach the taper phase of this ride, I have a mix of excitment, respect and sheer terror. The work is done. There is no sense in looking back and wondering if the training was perfect, if I should have done more core and lifting or strides or hills... it's done. Just like owning my first real goal in the half I know I did good work, that I could have done more, less, better or worse... but either way it's logged in my journal and after the race I can pour over it and find the solid work and the gaps. Now is the time to look ahead to the starting line, blinders on.

Most of what I feel is excitement. Because Chicago also showed me the magic of marathon. The sense of accomplishment when you cross that finish line. The way 26.2 miles levels the playing field and brings runners of every speed together as a tribe. That's what I can't wait to jump into again, whatever the day brings. Anything can happen. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

last long, long, long run

Saturday was my last long run with a capital L. 22. I headed down to Tacoma with Owen on Friday night. Stayed with his parents (my 'in-laws', but that sounds so ugly). My weekend plan was three four fold: long run with Allison on Saturday, relax with family, cheer Megan on while she ran the Tacoma Marathon on Sunday and ... clean my filthy car. Check, check, check and check.

Saturday morning, I rolled out of bed, ate my oatmeal, put my shorts on one leg at a time... normal stuff. Headed over to Point Defiance to run at 10am, afternoon by runners' standards. I wanted to get some 'heat' training in. We did 11 on the trails, then 5 mile drive and at 14 miles started what was supposed to be 8 at 6:20-6:30 pace.... which turned into 6 miles at nearly sub 6:00s with a 2 mile cooldown. Oops.

Allison was great company, I wish she lived closer. She's faster than me, and it's fun to chase the bunny. I am excited to follow her race times this year, she has big things in store for her.

I lolled around the rest of the day. We had some friends over for burgers, beers and s'mores at night. It was the perfect faux summer day in Tacoma.
milo: professional loller
Sunday AM, I got up at 6:30am, cooked some eggs and planned my cheer attack for the morning. Got to see Megan 3 times before 13 and even drove along side blasting Eye of the Tiger out my windows. The weather was amazing for spectators, which of course means it was too damn hot for marathoners. Bummer. But she had grit!

smiling at mile 10

I never stand silently waiting for "my runner". It only takes one race to make you realize how lame that is. People just standing there, silenting watching you roll by. I'd take Booing over that. If you feel weird cheering, here are some go-tos "You look strong (insert color) shirt!!!!". If there's a group, "That's right!!! Work together!!! YOU GOT THIS!!!" If (and only if) you standing within 200m of the finish, "You're ALMOST there!!" 

Tacoma Marathon has that small town feel and the runners looked stunned by random cheers. But SO happy. And what was funny is like 70% of the runners would look right at us and say thank you. A first for sure. Classy racers.

Oh yeah and my car got cleaned, that baby's squeaky.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

happy marathon may!

The Vermont City Marathon has edged its way onto my calendar view. May 26th! It's coming for me. Or I'm coming for it.

Here's what I've been up to:

I'm feeling super fit though! Super fit, super sore, super tired...ready for my taper tantrums. I think...

Found the Vlog of advice Sally and I came up with last year for Marathon Month. All I can see are my highlights and lipstick... who has the time!? Who!??! Sorry, pre-taper tantrum. Alright off to eat and ice bath. Maybe at the same time. Don't judge.