Monday, November 30, 2009


Pfitz not only puts forth an intense marathon training program, he also has a pretty tough recovery schedule. I've been doing about half of what he suggests..and doing it on my own terms. No need to rush this process.
While my legs are feeling great, I know that there is all kinds of muscle damage that needs to heal after a rigorous 26.2 mile effort. Therefore, my re-entrance into the running world started with two easy miles on Thursday (Thanksgiving). I've always loved running on holidays , so I was thrilled when I felt good enough to venture over to the rez and run around it! It was only twenty minutes (I ran home too!), but I loved every minute of it! It's funny how much better I felt on this run than I did on the one last Thursday (was too nervous to enjoy that one..).

Here's a pic of me with my Philly shirt running (jogging) the rez--the best place to do a recovery run! Saturday was also a short one--3 miles, again with the rez. And Sunday was the same. It was fun to just get out there and move the legs. I felt great on all these runs and hope to get back up to six or seven by this weekend. But I'm taking it slow. I'm also doing lots of rolling, stretching, and eating! This is all good recovery stuff.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"A" Goal in the Bag

Feeling much less sore.. So here's how the show went down..
Saturday--I did my traditional one mile run to loosen up and stretch. Now here's the thing-- I was having some crazy ankle pain that kept coming and going all last week. It seemed to intensify on Friday and stayed with me Saturday. I was able to run okay, but it constantly hurt afterward. I tried to ignore it because the truth is, I hadn't done anything to it!!

Soon we were on our way to Philly via the megabus. After a short ride, it was time to check into the hotel and head to the Expo. I met K of Team Stick, who was also running the thon. We were both trying to stifle our unwanted race-week-appearing ailments. Not good. Anyway, anxiety was high -- I lost it on a street corner minutes before entering the expo. But pulled it together to get the bib, d-tag, pace band, etc.
Dinner was with a bunch of Flyers at a nearby restaurant. Luckily, I had lots of pep talks and reassurances from friends. Thank you Lam! and Flyers DK, JB, and DG!!

After the worst night's sleep (ankle pain, restlessness, marathon-themed nightmares, etc), I woke up at 4:30a and realized it was go-time. Breakfast was three-quarters of a bagel with pb and "sports drink" endorsed by Brian Sell.

My husband (best fan ever!!) walked with me to the start at oh-five-forty-five-hundred hours. He got to see the typical start line madness: lengthy lines for the porta-potties, chaotic bag check, confusion re: starting corrals, etc. Also, he had to deal with me, and I was quite the mess. He handed me off to some Flyers friends at the start and I tried to settle my nerves.

The actual race was rather dreamlike. I just tried to run solid. I felt light and strong. It was fun looking for family and friends along the course. Everyone was so encouraging. My feelings ranged from strong, steady, fast, terrified, nauseous, injured? The first half was kinda fun. The course was mostly flat, but there were some cat hill type hills. I realized I was on pace for a sub-four, especially at the half. I'm not sure of my exact split, but it was either 1:57 or 1:58. I felt I had another sub-two half in me, but I was concerned about injury. Of course, my knee had to speak up around mile 22. Since I had a pretty decent time buffer, I pulled over a few times to stretch (after mile 22, 23, and 24). I KNOW I could've run faster, but I didn't want to risk injury. Instead, I slowed to nine-somethings. After mile 25, it was obvious I could've crawled to the finish in under four hours (I exaggerate some..)

Flyer EA was on roller blades and skated a bit with me to keep me going--that was awesome!! (though against course rules..) I declared to him, "I am never doing this again!" He replied, "Well, do it now. Do it today." I thought that was perfect! I pushed on and finally saw the finish line signs..and then the finish line.. And I crossed at 3:55.29. Besides elation, I felt an enormous sense of relief. And pain all over. But that's expected ;)

Soon I found K of TS, who had killed her previous time with a PR of 3:16! Wow!There were lots of Flyer PRs--all of you rock!! I reunited with the fam (best fans ever!!) and we took lots of pics. I rode the high all through the day~

Refueling was difficult for some reason. I had no appetite but was clearly starving. I think ingesting those gu's are killer for me (I nursed two of them between miles 5-10 and 14-20, respectively). Ick!

Now for splits (note: I forgot to press the lap button at a couple mile markers b/c I was distracted with the H2O sitch--it was pretty crazy trying to hydrate and not get trampled..)

1) 9:08
2) 9:07
3) 9:06
4) 9:31 (I believe there was a hill? Not sure why the slow-down)
5) 8:53
6) 8:52
7) 8:50
8) 9:02
9) 8:51
10) 8:58
11 & 12) 9:54; 7:55 (got distracted..)
13 & 14) 9:48; 7:50 (again, hit the lap button late..)
15) 8:39
16) 8:50
17) 8:44
18) 8:54
19) 8:53
20) 8:57
21) 8:57
22) 8:39 (ha! I love this one!)
23) 9:07 (stopped the first time to stretch the IT)
24 & 25) 19:05 (I have no idea what happened--forgot to press lap. Also stretched twice)
26.2) 10:59 (there was no mile 26?? averages to 8:49 pace)

Total: 3:55.29
Pace: 8:59

My thoughts: This was a fantastic outcome! I accomplished my "A" goal and ended up with a terrific experience! Thank you to all who were out there cheering and supporting!! And congratulations to everyone who PR'ed!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tenth Time's the Charm

I finally broke four hours!! My official time from yesterday's Philadelphia Marathon was 3:55.29. I'm still a bit in shock--and crazy sore!!

(apparently, I'm tangent-running challenged..) More to come!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

683 miles later

Training for Philly began 683 miles ago..on July 20. In the past eighteen weeks, I've done everything I can to prepare for tomorrow's race.

I am filled to the brim with intense emotions. Mostly nervousness. Also fear. And some trepidation. There's a solid cup of excitement in there as well.

In just a few hours, I'll be at the Expo, picking up my bib and all that jazz. Dinner will be with a bunch of Flyers. And then it will be downtime. And bedtime.

I will try my best to kick some asphalt tomorrow! Or as my fourthers put it in a song they sang to me yesterday: Have fun, and be sure to run fast!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The First Nine

Philly will be my tenth marathon. I am not a marathon fanatic--I've done approximately one per year since 2000. But they have all been very special experiences, and before I add #10 to my collection, I thought I'd revisit the first nine. *Be warned--this is extensive*

1. Madison Marathon: May 28, 2000
Time: 4:28

I blogged about this one once before--when I was dealing with major injury in 2007 and posting about past races. Here is the link: first marathon. If that's too much to read (I get it), then here are a few pictures which had to be scanned b/c of the non-digital photog equipment of that era (thanks for sending, Mom!). In them you will see: my dad! (check out his video cam!), me at the finish (stupefied), two of the Sticks and me pre-race about to check out bags on the school bus!

Me crossing the finish line; the Sticks and I dressing/deciding what to check; me with my finishing medal; running the course.
Running the course on the UW campus, with L of Team Stick post race; heading toward the finish line; with the other L post race. What a day!

2. Green Bay Marathon: June 24, 2001
Time: 5:12

This one was about a year after my first. It was approached with a very sophomoric attitude. I had finished one marathon and had the mistaken thought that any subsequent marathons would be much easier. Therefore, I haphazardly trained. Since I had created detailed training plans for Madison, I tried to copy these for Green Bay, but not with the diligence or seriousness that perhaps I should have. I felt ready on race day, but I was not prepared for the high temperatures. It was above 80 at 8am! And humid. Things I remember about this race: I was a very recent college grad; C of TS ran the half; there was a part of the course on a trail with trees on either side--the sun was directly overhead at this point and no breeze could penetrate the trees--this was in the latter part of the thon; I'm pretty sure I hit the wall; I saw a runner chug a can of pepsi b/c she was so desperate for the caffeine; I was delirious and laughing quite hard when I arrived at mile 24 or so; C helped me make my way to the finish line, slightly amused at my deliriousness. I got sick and dizzy and pretty dehydrated. Not my best experience, but another marathon finish (see pic below for finish line crossing).

3. Country Music Marathon: April 25, 2002
Time: 5:15

Another "learning experience." The course was quite hilly. Since I was living in Illinois at the time, I lacked the hills necessary to train properly for this course. I went to Nashville with C of Team Stick. We had a great time at the Expo and tooling around the city the day before--though we realized the hills were outrageous! (The course has since changed, I am told.) The race began well. I ran steady and felt good. Then I arrived at mile 19 and hit the wall, or as I like to remember it: hit the hill. I was completely spent and used every last bit of energy to keep myself moving toward the finish line. I walked A LOT! And when I finally finished, I was spent and near tears. I felt I had failed, because I had actually trained quite hard for it. But I am not one to dwell on disappointments, and soon I found myself happily eating potato chips (presumably for the salt), which later caused me quite a bit of sickness. C no longer permits me to eat potato chips post-race. After this race, my energies centered around thoroughly training for Chicago that fall. This was not meant to be; instead I spent many months (August- March) nursing a bad case of plantar fascitis. Not good times, folks. Pics: me about to finish the CMM.

With C at the finish line holding back the tears. Wah.

4. Chicago: October 12, 2003

This race is a long story. I will not tell all of it. The short story is that it was a beautiful day in Chicago and I had an absolute blast! My time was horrid, but that was not the point. The point was that I proved to myself that I could run 26.2 miles and totally enjoy myself. Life is not always a bowl of peaches (or whatever the saying is). I had a lot going on and held onto running as my saving grace. This marathon was memorable in so many ways--my favorite memory from that day was when I saw my dad around the half-way point and he said, "See you on the South Side!" Makes me laugh to this day--he was not going to let me give up. Pic is me before the race. Like I said, gorgeous day! (And see--I ran with a bandanna on my head back then ;))

5. Cincinatti Flying Pig: May 2, 2004
Time: 4:11.55

Finally! A marathon to write home about! This was a huge PR for me--I hadn't come anywhere near my first marathon's 4:28 before this race. I was told Cinci was hilly. I didn't notice any hills. That's because it rained (poured, really) the entire time! I had the worst morning experience that day too--one bite of a bagel for breakfast, hotel coffee (in a styrofoam cup), and a surly hotel staff that refused to grant me a late check-out. I was beyond stressed out when I noticed the pitch-black, rainy conditions. I have to confess, I remember nothing about this race. Maybe a hint of mile ten. And a concern about a blister at one point. But nothing else. Until I finished. When I crossed the finish line, I was in for quite the surprise. My boyfriend showed up from New York to spectate! Of course, he had other reasons for coming-- later that night I officially became a fiancee. A marathon PR and an engagement ring--can't possibly top it! Here are pics: my face shortly after I realized my surprise fan ;)
still smiling after they put the Cubs hat on me.

trying to deal with wet clothes (of course, right after I finished the race, it stopped raining..)

BEST surprise EVER!!

6. Myrtle Beach: February 19, 2005
Time: 4:14.38
This one was nothing but fun! C joined me again. She even flew to New York one blistery January weekend to run a twenty mile training run with me--I believe we were two of 15 people running in Central Park that morning. New York got like 3 feet of snow. But I digress.. Myrtle Beach: I ran huge negative splits (2:14 and 2:00), I never hit the wall, I passed people like crazy at the end, and skipped the potato chips at the finish line (C was not allowing it). We did drink a few beers and schmoozed with the "stick people" (see pic). We also met Steve and Paula Boone on the shuttle back to the hotel. This was a great race!
7. Marine Corps Marathon: October 30, 2005
Time: 4:04.59 (PR)
Four of the Sticks participated in this one--that's what made it so special. I felt great -- and ran steady. My first half split was 2:06 and then I ran sub-nines until mile 23. I experienced the usual quads-on-fire/general crap feeling between miles 22-25. The worst was the .2 at the end: though theoretically short, they had a steep hill that I practically had to climb up on my hands and knees! But I crossed the finish line with a seven minute PR! A Lieutenant put my medal on and I remembered to say "Thank you, Lieutenant!" The Sticks and I had a great visit! Pics: C and I running and various brightroom snaps.
Wearing the purple shirts post-race, with the medals of course.

8. nyc '06.
Time: 5:05.38
Luckily, I have this one on the blog. Details are here. To summarize, I was on the fence about competing in this one. Injuries and lack of training stifled my chances of running a decent race. But I decided to go for it! I had a blast with the Flyers at Fort Wadsworth and just took it all in during the race. It was a gorgeous day! Pics: Me on the phone with my parents around mile 19--I wanted to tell them I was alright--they worry.

The homestretch--somewhere in Central Park.
Finishing! Yay!
9. nyc '08
Time: 4:43.24
Another one already on the blog: go here. I still had injuries woes (when haven't I?). But this was another fun one! I had so many spectators (family, sticks, and lots of students!) and totally enjoyed myself. I just tried to run steady and finish in one piece. Pics: an unknown mile.
In the park--very serious (because I was hurting, most likely..)
One of my favorite pictures by BC! Around mile 25. I was psyched and so happy! In my element!

Phew! That's all I've got so far! If you're still with me, thanks! As is apparent, I have experience, but it's not helping me relax for my upcoming tenth marathon. I am as giddy and nervous as a first-timer. I have no idea what to wear, what to eat, how to strategize.. I'm sure I'll figure it out since I have a one track mind right now--all marathon all the time.
post script: Saturday was five easy miles (48 min) in the park. Sunday was a tenner (1:35)--all systems a go. Today was a sixer in 54 min. Eight miles stand between now and the starting line of number ten~

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Last tough one...check! and goals..

Ten days to go... this means I can start checking the ten-day forecast for Philly (which I have...multiple times already..).

I don't even know where to begin. I cannot believe I have made it through this rigorous training schedule! I love this ad for something or other that really sums it up:

The "long part" has been an amazing journey for me. No matter what happens race day, I have trained and prepared to run the best race of my life. At this point, there is nothing more I can do. I cannot control the weather or any of the many other factors that contribute to a crap race. But I am proud of myself for making it this far.

Today was my last tough run: 8 miles with 3 x 1600 @ 5K pace. For those of you in the dark, 1600 = 1 mile. So that's code for mile repeats. I don't think I've done mile repeats since college--and I remember it was quite horrid. Mile repeats are fear-inducing. But I figured I'd give it my best, or at least get it over with. I started with two miles of warm up. Then did one mile: 7:53. After this (which was pretty smooth--don't want to say easy, but kind of..), I did a half-mile recovery jog, and then began mile two: 7:45. Again, pretty smooth, so I picked it up at the end. After another half-mile recovery jog, I belted out mile three: 7:35. Luckily, there were only three of these puppies, so I was good to cool down about two miles, the first of which was at marathon pace. Then I really cooled down. Done with the hard stuff til race day!

Tuesday was a seven miler--just a loop that averaged 9:09.

All that's left is a tenner this weekend, and possibly a shorter run as well. Next week will consist of very little running. omg.

So goals. I've thought a long time about my goals for Philly.

*My biggest goal is to remain uninjured. Injuries prey on me because I am weak and foolish (mostly foolish, but also weak ie. muscle imbalances and the like). I've tried to stay strong, but injuries are tricky little devils. I hope to emerge from this marathon unscathed.

* If that goal is accomplished, then there are three goals I have, which can be broken down into Goal A, Goal B, and Goal C.

*Goal A: My most ambitious goal, which will only really happen if there is a constant tailwind, the course slopes downward, and I get chased by rabid dogs for the last six point two. But crazier things have been known to happen. Goal A is to have splits in the eights (ie. 8:59 avg pace or faster). Splits in the eights would land me a 3:55 or something.

Goal B: My "real" goal; the everpresent one that has never been accomplished. This is the sub-four marathon (ie 3:59.59 or better). I don't really care, as long as it starts with a three!!

Goal C: The "I'll take it" goal, which is a PR. My current best is 4:04.59, set at Marine Corps in 2005, when I was naive to the harm injuries can do. I trained decently, ran for fun, and had a blast!

Of course, let's not forget the overarching goal: do not get injured! If I accomplish that and bomb all three goals, I will still be grateful. Probably not thrilled, but happy to complete another marathon and proud of my successful training.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Two Weeks to Go

Time is flying! I cannot believe I am down to two weeks. When I started my Philly training, I discussed my selection of training plans (pfitzinger 18 week /55 miles plan) and truth be told, I never thought I'd make it this far! Yes, I have modified it at times, but for the most part, I'm a pfitz follower. Come November 22 I will either put pete up on a well-deserved pedestal or berate him and expose all his shortcomings. (Statement made in jest....sort of..)

For now, the taper continues. I avoided the illness I spoke of last week. It disappeared as quickly as it appeared. But I'm still wary of sniffly people and staying at least six arms length from my fourthers. Last week's mileage (taper week one) was similar to the peak mileage weeks of my past. This is sad, but true.

* Thursday I ran five miles. I liked the splits: 8:53, 8:58, 8:40, 9:01, 8:48. Total: 44:22.
* Saturday was my last long run: 15 miles. It was cold when I started--42 degrees. But there was bright sun. I'll give splits for this one too:
8:59, 9:29, 9:31, 9:42, 9:34, 9:34, 9:26, 9:21, 9:26, 9:15, 8:47 (bumped into crazy b, jb24, and flyer JT--they pumped me up!), 9:21, 9:23, 9:05, 9:12. Total: 2hr20
* Sunday was an easy three. Time was ~ 30 minutes.
* Weekly total: 35.75 miles

This week will give me time to think about my strategy for Eleven-twenty-two. And write report cards..

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Enter the Taper

First off, congratulations to all the nyc marathon runners!! I had a blast watching you all pass the by the power gel station on Sunday!! I have to give a special shout-out to Lam, who not only gave me a *huge* smile as he passed by, but a high-five as well! It was a special day full of energy and magic. As cool as it was to watch the elites zoom by, it was even more amazing to watch the herds of runners digging down deep to snag a PR, BQ, or marathon finish. I am so proud of my teammates (johnny!, crazy B) who can add another nyc marathon to their resumes because of Sunday. It's truly "a race like no other."

Back to my own little world...Saturday's twenty miler was killer. For starters, I bonked around mile 16. No idea why. Maybe my heart was not in it? I took one gel at mile seven and felt like I had a big lump in my stomach. I also fought back several side stitches that kept sneaking up on me. My splits were all over the place: 9:47, 10:03, 10:14, 10:07, 10:04, 10:10, 9:56, 10:12, 9:34, 10:02, 9:50, 9:53, 10:27, 10:56, 10:51, 9:19, {stick a fork in me..} 10:25, 10:18, 10:06, 10:33. Supposedly, Saturday was humid. I do not want to make excuses, but perhaps that played some small role. That, coupled with tired legs from 15 weeks of tough training, might have been the culprit. Either way, the bulk of my training is behind me! I ended October with 196 miles (another monthly mileage PR!).
Now that it's taper phase, my main job is to get sick so I get that out of the way before eleven-twenty-two. Looks like I will be achieving that goal sometime this week. I already feel my voice going--I'm gulping down some fresh squeezed orange juice and I stocked up on lemons and honey to make tea. No matter what I do, it's a-coming.

As for the first week of taper, yesterday was a recovery six. I felt pretty good on this run, but it got dark so early! Today I was scheduled to do eight but cut it short on account of the looming illness. I did a couple miles warm up, then 5x600 @ 5K pace (which was ~7:45 this time) and ended with a mile cool down. Total was 6.25. Blah.