Monday, September 1, 2014
When I woke up this morning it was September. I've been looking forward to it, even though it's been one of the best summers I can remember in my adult life. I got to travel, run races, do the things I love to do, and I feel good, I have the time to be at a peaceful place in my life, I've been healthy, and I am excited about upcoming plans.
My biggest worry has been about running lately. And that was just the fatigue that I've been feeling for so long. Last week I only ran 30 miles, actually 29 to be exact. After my run with Wheaties Boy on Wednesday I started thinking more about what I need to NOT do before my race. So I've cut back and I've been taking it a lot easier. And then as I was walking yesterday, I had an epiphany about my race plans that helped even more.
I wasn't even sure if I should run this race today. But I figured it would be a decent workout no matter what. I set my sights on a sub-2 hour finish so as not to be disappointed. My short races this summer have all felt disastrous from a pace and finishing time standpoint. I know I don't need the speed for the 24 hour event, but mentally there's something that nags at you when you're not performing in "short" races. But I signed up for this one last week, and I needed to do a run anyway.
The weather was about as perfect as you could ask for, about 50 degrees, which feels cool to everyone after the warm summer. Perfectly clear skies and a slight breeze.
Waiting in line to pick up my race packet, the crowd was energetic and happy. Lots of young people, probably a lot of CSU students who are back now.
Steve announced the start on the megaphone and also told us the news that just yesterday we lost a much loved and admired member of the running community. I will wait to say more in a future post...
I checked my watch split at one mile and it said 7:56. I wasn't struggling either. The next two rolling miles were just over 8 minutes, then we turned onto the dirt road, hill, and trail section that lasted 3 miles before we headed for the Spring Creek bike path. My slowest mile was uphill on the dirt at 9:10. I had my racing tunes on and tried to concentrate on turning my legs over as fast as I could. I kept thinking at that 8 minute or so pace I would eventually poop out, but I didn't, and by the time we turned onto the bike path and there were 6 miles left, I realized I might be a lot faster than 2 hours. I put it in fast autopilot and kept pushing.
The bike path is slightly downhill and I kept passing people, and holding an 8 ish pace was not that bad. My legs were turning over and I was working hard. At 10 miles I was at 1:24, then I ran 8:11 and 7:56 for my next two splits. At the 12 mile mark, precisely, I felt like I was going to puke. Really. So I pulled over onto the grass, had a quick dry heave that brought nothing up, and I got back on the path, starting slowly, but then picked it up when my stomach didn't complain. I was able to bring my pace back down in the 8s again and finish strong in under 1:50.
I was very happy with this finishing time, not because I am satisfied with the time itself, but because I ran nearly 20 minutes faster than I did two weeks ago in the first half of the marathon, and 13 minutes faster than I ran the second half of the marathon. And this is the fastest half marathon I've run all year. After just one week of rest, it has already made a difference.
I am so thankful for Wheaties Boy saving my ass again, talking sense into me. Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in your own...orifices? and forget what you're doing. It really helps to have a second opinion from someone who knows!
Back to taper mode...
Friday, August 29, 2014
Wheaties Boy suggested I get into the pool. And get some massage done. In Fort Collins it's hard to get in to the best massage therapists as they are all booked. Usually Dennis can take care of the minor issues but he's been so busy, he doesn't have time or energy.
Today I got in the pool and swam 500 meters, then ran in the deep water for a while. Only about a 30 minute workout, but afterwards I felt FANTASTIC. I always forget about the water, how good I feel when I swim. So I am going to start hitting the pool several times a week and get this body moving better. There is nothing I can do at this point without making myself more tired. I am running a half marathon on Monday and really, if I can average under 9 minute pace, that's fine. It's another workout.
It's all about rest and getting my body moving smoothly again before race day.
It's Labor Day weekend. Labor Day, for those who actually do the work, and will be working this weekend, too. Don't get me going on a rant right now. I'm going to relax this weekend. I do have some work to do, that never ends, but I had a productive week. When I think about where I was a year ago, I am thankful every day for the decisions I made, the support I have, and where I am now.
Smelling the flowers.
Saturday, August 23, 2014
If I didn't need to get caught up on things, I would have gone back up there this weekend to hang out. But I'm working on a revised marketing plan for my business, and getting things together for some classes I'm teaching and a cancer support group I'll be leading in the fall and winter.
My old reliable running watch finally croaked the other day. It crossed my mind a few months back that it's been a long time since I got my watch, and I wondered if I might have to replace the battery sometime soon. It was working fine, so I forgot all about it. And then suddenly, the other day, it went berserk on me.
Started flashing and doing this high-pitched beeping thing, and then it went into a loud, screeching monotone. I couldn't get it to shut up so I buried it. The back of the case looked weird, maybe it finally suffocated from all the dried sweat and peeling skin that it suffers through every day.
I think it went into V Tach and then maybe deteriorated into PEA. Compressions wouldn't help, I didn't have an AED or epinephrine, and I finally pronounced it dead.
So then this morning I went for a run after loading a bunch of new songs on my iPod last night. I added all kinds of stuff, from the 70s through the 90s, everything from Earth Wind & Fire and Marvin Gaye to Queen. Rolling Stones to Red Hot Chili Peppers to REM. Anything that would give me some variety to get through the night in Cleveland.
I ran 10 miles listening to my tunes, mostly easy but threw in 30 solid minutes of tempo pace, between 7:50 and 8:20. Felt damn good, even though I could tell my legs are still tired. I got home and started doing some chores and at one point went to check my phone and it was dead. I couldn't believe that in two days I could lose two gadgets. I thought maybe I got some moisture in the phone, or maybe there was some S Cap powder that clogged up the buttons. I tried blowing air on it and scrubbing with a dry toothbrush. Nothing.
Time to head over to the phone store and see what they had. I had the iPhone 4, so now I upgraded to the iPhone 5s. A chunk of cash I didn't want to spend, but a necessity. None of the chargers, including my juice pack, work on the new phone, so I had to replace all that too. Very smart, Apple. You know how to get the consumer.
The dead legs problem has continued, but I talked with Wheaties Boy yesterday morning. I knew he would have some good advice. He told me what I would tell someone else, if they were asking me for advice. But it's hard to tell yourself the same thing, so it was a good call to ask Wheaties Boy.
He advised me to back off, that there isn't much I can do to improve fitness at this point, but there is a lot I could do to make myself more tired. He recommended some tempo runs but not too long. No more long runs, nothing over about 15-20 miles.
Wednesday I ran 14 miles mostly with Cat, and I felt okay but my legs still feel stale. I took Thursday off, and for Friday I was thinking 10 miles or so but Wheaties Boy said, how about 3 to 5?
Friday I ran just 3 miles. Then this morning, when I went out for 10 miles with short tempo, I did feel better.
On Wednesday while I ran with Cat I was doing a test of different foot goo materials from samples John Vonhof had sent me. At Badwater I asked him about my concerns for Cleveland, since I'm not used to running in wet conditions, and if it is wet, how I can prepare my feet so I don't run into issues with blisters and maceration. September is supposed to be the rainiest month in Cleveland.
I am starting to get excited about Cleveland. After feeling better this morning, and running with my new tunes, even more so. I stopped off and got a box of salted caramel Gu. I just need to get some of the high caffeine crack and I'll be set with gels.
It's not quite taper time, I still plan to get a few miles in next week, but I am to the point where I can start tapping my feet. Less than a month away!
Monday, August 18, 2014
When I was in forestry school at NAU (where I got my bachelor's degree way back in the ancient times, when dinosaurs still ruled the earth) we used to have a joke among our classmates, that when we went out to forest recreation sites, among the many wildlife species we would encounter were Touroidus celluloidus. The fat-assed tourist.
They drove as much as they could, parked as close to the destination as possible, the picnic was the highlight of their trip, and they always asked stupid questions.
It's true, we really did say that. Not PC at all. But that was also back in the days before the obesity epidemic really took hold, the early eighties. Reagan was president, the "gourmet" food craze was just starting out, and fat was only beginning to be thought of as the demon. What followed was the removal of fat from the junk food diet and replacement by carbohydrates, which led us to the great waistline expansion and Type II diabetes explosion of today.
When I think about my life back then I think I was some kind of alien among my classmates who were mostly male, very conservative, a few were rednecks, they listened to annoying, twangy country music and chewed and spat tobacco, always had a blob in one side of their jaw, spit into soda cans, drank cheap beer, and drove big pickup trucks with long antennas on top and wore pointy boots, jeans, and flannel shirts. And hats, always cowboy hats or baseball caps.
I was one of a small handful of women in my class. An alien race for sure.
Prime Touroidus celluloidus habitat. There was a long line of cars leading up to the entrance station, and I momentarily considered turning around and bagging it. But then I knew I'd be disappointed, so I stayed, sitting in line with the line of cars blowing exhaust, surrounded by tourists at the KOA and little stores advertising ice cream, trinkets, and other touristy garbage. There was even a car show going on.
2. Leading Ladies Marathon
After the tower, it was about an hour drive to Spearfish. First I stopped off at the Holiday Inn to pick up my race packet. It's an all women's marathon, so there were a lot of colorful items in the expo. Close encounters with a lot of pink stuff. Nothing I was interested in.
I walked around a little, got my number, t-shirt, and chip, and the information I needed, and then I went across the street to my hotel and was able to check in. Once I got up to my room, I cranked the air conditioning as cold as it would go, and started getting my stuff organized for a 3 am wakeup. The buses were leaving the Holiday Inn across the street at 4 am, for the 6 am race start.
I went out to get some food. I didn't see anything that interested me except a Mexican restaurant that someone told me was good. So I decided to go there and get take out, and go back to the room and eat. I could not believe the size of the portion they gave me. There were enough refried beans for an army. I happen to like refried beans if they are the really really bad kind, the Mexican kind, probably made with lard and they taste awesome. Well that was the case. And I ate them. It was 4 pm. I figured I was eating early enough that I'd be able to fall asleep.
I organized my clothes and stuff for the morning and thought about my plan, sitting down on my mat on the floor to stretch.
I was thinking if I could keep a 9 minute pace that would be good, so my goal in my head was to finish in under 4 hours. I had fantasies of running 3:30 a few weeks back, but given the fatigue in my legs I dismissed that altogether, even with the downhill. My goal would be to run sub 9s average.
I only ran 26 miles before the marathon that week. But one day I did do almost 16 miles and felt pretty dead at the end of it, so I knew my legs weren't going to perform any miracles. Plus with my tight hips and gluteals that I've been obsessively stretching and strengthening only for about a week, I knew I was limited.
I slept okay, turned off the lights at 8:30 and woke up once to pee but went back to sleep. No hot flashing, thanks to the AC.
I woke up at 2:55, and did my usual prerace routine. Coffee, thyroid pills, stretch, shower, dressed, eat something. I packed a sandwich to eat on the bus along with some water and a vitamin water zero. I took my running pack and a water bottle half filled with ice.
I left the room at 10 to 4, to walk across the street to catch the bus.
The bus went to the park where the finish line was, to pick up more runners, then up to Deadwood and past the town of Lead up to the country club for the start. We passed places I remembered from my trip with Ed, like the burger place on the highway that was our motivation. And I remembered getting lost trying to find the trail head and almost driving to Wyoming in the process, and finally coming back to the same road past the country club.
The woman I sat next to on the bus was doing the 50 states so she picked my brain for some ideas for marathons in different states. I was able to help her with about half a dozen.
We could see lightning in the distance, but there was no rain. When the sun rose it was clear. I hit the portapotties first- got at front of bus with that in mind. After 3 trips I thought I was done. I stretched in the dark, waiting for the start.
When we lined up at start, I was surprised to see pacers. A man was pacing the 3:45 group-the fastest paced runner group. Then there were women pacers: 4 hours, 4:10, 4:20, 4:30 and who knows what else was back there. The women pacing the pace groups looked like they might struggle with the times they were supposed to be pacing, but I do my own thing so I really didn't care. There were two women who looked like twins at the front. They looked to be older than me but had dark hair, they looked fast and skinny and had some sort of Boulder shirts on. I figured they would be up front so I got several rows behind them.
I stood in line next to the 3:45 pace dude, not intending to stay with him. The horn sounded, and we were off, on a gravel road, going straight up a fairly steep hill. After a couple of miles we were on pavement.
3. The Shrubbery
Shortly after mile 2 I realized I needed to use the facilities, which were nonexistent. They promised portapotties at most aid stations, but I knew I wasn't going to make it to the aid station, wherever it was. I spotted a place just up and off the road in some thick trees. It was a good three or four minutes before I got back on the road. Even though I was smart to bring some TP and baby wipes, I didn't bring enough. I was in trouble.
Then I was worried that my intimately close encounters with the shrubbery might have been poison ivy since I remembered it from my trip with Ed.
My splits looked like this (for those who are interested in such things): Mile 1 10:23, mile 2 19:57, Mile 3 33:53. Then it faded into an amorphous mess of uneven splits broken up by sprints into the woods. I was only focused on finding the next spot to take cover. I resupplied myself with toilet paper at one of the aid station portapotties.
It was a screaming downhill for a while, I hit 10 miles in 1:35:56, then there was a mile uphill gravel road section to some waterfalls. I actually considered quitting at mile 10!! I felt so crappy I just didn't want to do it anymore. But then I decided to continue with a tourist stroll. Maybe I would feel better later, I could only hope. I was behind the 4:10 pacer, I could see that group of three or four runners far ahead of me.
Walking uphill to the waterfall a young runner came up on me and started chatting. she was running and I was walking, she asked me if this was my first time. I smiled and said, I wish! I asked her if it was her first and she said it was. She asked me how many I've done and I said, I don't keep track, but it's a lot. I started to talk with her and started jogging along with her. It got me going.
She said her goal was to finish without walking. I gave her my nicest-toned gentle lecture about walking, which is, never feel bad about walking, there is nothing wrong with it, it gives your muscles a break and you end up going faster in the long haul. I walked for about 3 minutes before she caught me, and that was it for my walking.
Just before 13 miles there was an aid station. I stopped for some bananas and more water, then I took off. My legs were sluggish, but they were moving. By then I was only thinking about making it back to the hotel room in time to check out and get a shower before I drove home. That was my new goal, 5 hours.
I wasn't even mad at myself for not bringing my phone to take pictures. It was beautiful, but I was not in an enthusiastic mood.
I hit the halfway mark, the half marathon start, in 2:08:25. I had a couple more portapotty and shrubbery breaks before 17 miles. I ate a gel at 14, and another one at 18, plus a few banana pieces at the aid stations.
I saw a dead snake on the side of the road that made me jump. Maybe it was the adrenaline from that, but something happened after 17 miles, suddenly my legs kicked in, my gut felt better, and I started moving. My splits started to be consistently under 9 minutes and kept getting faster.
I didn't need any more pee or poop breaks, I must have gotten rid of whatever it was, the alien that took over my insides was finally expelled. I had exorcised the demons, or the other-worldly thing that followed me from Devil's Tower.
We had cool shaded canyons for the first 20 miles, a few sunny areas after halfway but it was quite pleasant and didn't really get warm until the last hour.
Around 18 miles I passed the 4:10 pacer, then around 21 miles I passed the 4:00 pacer, who were each running alone. Yup.
As I was descending the canyon I was passing people left and right, and not just the half marathoners who were walking. I must have passed about 25 marathoners on my way into town in the last 9 miles.
Whenever you're in a race and feeling good in the second half, spectators always see you and cheer for you. "You're looking great!" because compared to everyone else who passes them in a semi-death march state, you look good. That was happening to me, and of course that helps.
When I made the turn that takes you to the bike path that delivers you the last 3/4 mile to the finish line, I was flying, relatively. Eight minute pace is flying at the end of a marathon. I felt good and cruised into the finish, but really glad to be done. 4:10:52 on my watch. Not bad. Not good, but not disastrous. I know that without the poop breaks it would have been easily under four hours, I had to remember that.
I showered, checked out of the room, and hit the road to drive home. It took 6 hours, and as I drove, my left thigh was screaming for about two hours. It seriously hurt. I was afraid to step on the clutch, I cringed every time I had to shift. I briefly wondered if I had fractured my femur, it was so bad. I was planning to take some ibuprofen when I stopped for gas, but by then it had quieted down and I didn't take any. Now it doesn't feel any different from the right leg. Not sure what that was about, but it's gone.
And now I'm home. Back to the routine. I'm slightly sore but not too bad. I walked and stretched today and didn't run. I'll see how things unfold this week, I might wait until mid-week before I start to hit it hard again. Only two more weeks and I'm tapering.
So it wasn't my best day, but I forgot about marathons. They are a different creature. Sort of alien to me now.
But the best news is, it wasn't poison ivy!!!!
Thursday, August 14, 2014
This morning I went for a run where I go past a schoolyard that is often filled with kids playing soccer. The parents park alongside the street during the practice. I am always amazed at the number of people I see, sitting in their cars, sometimes running the engines, presumably for air conditioning, and texting.
When I first ran by, there was a VERY overweight woman sitting in her front seat, texting away. On my way home, about an hour later, she was still there, sitting in the car, still texting. I think it's a safe bet she hadn't moved the entire time.
In that hour, she could have gotten up and walked around the soccer field, getting some good exercise. I think her kid would have respected her more for doing that.
People like that woman in the car are contributing to the enrichment of pharmaceutical and hospital executives and sucking the life out of the rest of us.
Saturday, August 9, 2014
I'm happy to be home, though every time I get by the ocean, I wish I could spend more time there. I hope that in the future, we will.