Thursday, April 28, 2011

Good times and fun on playgrounds

Tuesday night was another Good Times 5K in downtown Lowell. This week's theme was "Rose Maguire's Great Mill Girl Chase", the girls get a two and a half minute head start and see how many of the guys they can hold off. My goal was to make it to the first mile marker before they caught us. The first 3 or 4 guys blew past me just after the water stop which is at about 3/4m, but I don't count them because they're ridiculously genetically blessed and run 5 minute miles, I'm pretty sure they're all Kenyan, no joke. The first of the Greater Lowell Road Runners, Jason Bui, passed me right at the first mile marker. I had gone out kind of fast for me and ran it in 7:40, the rest of the course is pretty much downhill so I was hoping to hold onto that pace and finish with a new PR, but that didn't happen. The wind picked up and I faded a little in the last 2 miles and ran 8:00s, but still really good considering I ran a marathon a week ago. Seems like a month ago now. I finished the race in 24:42 about 20 seconds off from a PR, next week I'll get it. I was 8th in my age group and only let 96 of the 163 men pass me. Ugghhhh, that's horrible. Guess it just means there are some really fast guys in Lowell.

Yesterday, I got creative with my workout and decided to have a little fun at the local playground with my friend Kim. It's exactly 1.5 miles from her house so we ran there, did an upper body workout on the playground. It consisted of:
3x10 Pull ups (or jump negs since were not quite strong enough to do real pull ups yet)
3x10 Push ups
3x10 Dips on the park benches
3x10 Incline push ups on the benches
3x 30 second Planks
3x10 invert rows, they have a perfect area for them with handles right at the right height

It was hilarious because as soon as we showed up and started the workout, we had an instant fan club following us around and trying to do the exercises with us. One little boy was like a mini-drill sergeant. He grabbed the piece of paper I had written the workout on and I asked him if he could read it and he said yes. So, I said will you tell us what's next on the list? He was more than happy to help and even tried to call us out if we skipped something or went out of order. He helped us count each rep. It was awesome.

We finished up the workout and ran back to Kim's house. With the weather getting nicer and Tough Mudder sneaking up on me, I might have to make this playground workout a daily routine. We can even do box jumps on the benches and hill sprints too! Oh and as if Tough Mudder isn't going to give me enough of a beating, I signed up for the Spartan Race yesterday, another obstacle course race. I ran it last year for fun, but this year I want to RACE it. It's not til the end of August, so I'll have time to recover.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Back in the saddle again.....

Hard to believe just a week ago I finished my second Boston marathon. It always amazes me how long the training is and how fast the race goes by. Before you know it, the dream is over and it's back to reality. I wish the post race bliss could last a little longer, but I guess that's what keeps me motivated and moving on to the next race. Chasing the high - 165 days until the Chicago marathon!

In the meantime, I've got Tough Mudder coming up in 10days. The closer it gets, the more nervous I am. Not sure if any caught the episode of Bert the Conquerer on Travel Channel Sunday night, but he was doing the race in Pennsylvania. After watching it I'm torn, it looks way more badass than I originally anticipated, but that guy did it and I'm way more fit than him, so I should be able to do it. There are only a few obstacles that really have me worried. I'm totally ok with being cold and wet and covered in mud. I'm looking forward to it. It's more the running through live electrical wires while cold and wet and covered in mud that scares me a little:

Some of the other obstacles include: Cargo nets, Fire, 12 foot walls, Monkey Bars, Barbed wire and a few other surprises that will test you strength and stamina. They better have tons of course photographers because I want proof that I completed this race.

I've been training hard and doing lots of upper body strength stuff in preparation, but how do you train for electrocution? Even if there was a way, I'm not sure I'd want to do it. Saturday, it was rainy and raw and gross out, so I opted for an indoor workout with my friend Kim. We did a modified 300 workout that looked a little like this:
5 minutes jump rope
3x10 Plyo squats
3x10 Jumping Jacks
3x10 Push Ups
3x10 Mountain Climbers
3x10 Burpees
3x10 Speed squats
3x10 Dips
3x10 Alternating Lunges
3x10 Inclined push ups
3x10 high knees
5 minutes jump rope

Sunday we did a 6 mile run in the morning with some other friends and we were both still super sore from the 300 (in fact, I'm STILL sore). Needless to say our pace was a little slower than normal. I think we averaged 10:30s and complained the whole time about how sore we were. It was awesome.

After the run I went home and showered and made my lunches for the week, then headed back over to my friend Kim's house for Easter dinner and brought a giant chocolate cake with me. I found the recipe and after seeing the nutritional info for it that stated it was ~1300 calories per slice I had to make it. Something that high in calories has to be wicked good and it was! I made peanut butter frosting for the middle and the chocolate frosting for the outside had 3 sticks of butter and 24 ounces of chocolate in it! Easter dinner was great, Kim's husband Bill barbequed ribs, steak tips, and chicken. It was the most meat I've eaten in months and it all tasted delicious!

Post meal food coma lasted 24hrs because yesterday I felt like a zombie walking around work half dead. I could barely keep my eyes open all day. I think if I was given the opportunity to sit for a second I would have fallen asleep, but I was pretty busy all day. After work I went to the gym even though I desperately wanted to go home and crash on my couch instead. I just did an hour of intervals on the elliptical, but it was enough to get my blood flowing again and bring me back to the land of the living.

Assuming I survive Tough Mudder, the following day I'm signed up for a Mother's Day 5K. That should be interesting. I hope it's a nice warm day so I can show up in shorts and show off some battle wounds.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Post Race Recovery

After completing the marathon, we all headed to Maggiano's for an Italian feast. There were 14 of us and we were HUNGRY! So we ordered the classic family style meal. You select a bunch of stuff and they keep bringing it until you say stop. Here's what we ordered:
Stuffed Mushrooms
Caesar Salad
Maggiano's salad (with bacon and blue cheese)
Chicken Parm
Four Cheese Ravioli
Chicken and Spinach manicotti
Pasta with Sausage
Nonna's Pound cake

It was AWESOME! The pound cake is friggin amazing. Sounds like a simple maybe boring dessert, but the way they serve it is out of this world! It's toasted with a huge scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and some bananas and chocolate sauce. So yummy.
After dinner, we walked back to the car, I said bye to my mom and brother and Ann and Jack drove me home. I got home at 8:00 and was showered and in bed by 8:30. I wish I could say I slept great, but the sunburn I got kind of prevented that from happening. Lucky for me, I had Tuesday off and could just stay in my PJs all morning.

I got motivated (or bored with daytime TV) around 10am and decided to run to Target to pick up a frame for the Adidas poster I got at the expo. I walked around the store for a while and found the frame I wanted and then got a text from my friend Kim. Lunch at Life Alive? Why Yes, I think I would enjoy that. I swung by her house on my way home from Target and picked her up. She bought me lunch to celebrate my achievement and gave me a card and some homemade treats too! I have awesome friends!

After lunch I took a nap and watched a movie and basically did a whole lotta nothing. Then, you might think that the last thing I'd want to do after running a marathon would be go for a run, but that's exactly what I did. It was cold and drizzling (why couldn't we have that weather the day before???). I walked downtown to the Good Times 5K series and ran a pretty slow easy 5K. The first mile and a half was a little awkward, but then I found my groove and the legs loosened up. I finished in 28:32 (9:12 pace), not bad considering I ran a marathon the day before. I finished up waited to see if I won anything and then went home and straight to bed.

Wednesday, was back to reality and back to work. Why can't someone just pay me to run and write about it??? Oh well, gotta pay for my race registration fees somehow. I guess making drugs (that are approved by the FDA) will have to do for now. It was a long day, lots of congrats and telling people all about the race and re-playing it over and over again in my head and analyzing what I could have done differently. That's just how my brain works. Sure an 11 minute PR is great, but I KNOW I could have run faster.

My recovery continued after work with a little post-race acupuncture. Don't judge, I can't explain it and I don't know how it works but it does! Funny thing is one of my friends had the appointment right before me so obviously I'm not the only one that knows it works. I go to an awesome Acupuncturist, Peri Ozker. She has an office in Newton and one in Andover. Oh and she use to be my boss way back in the day before she left the biotech industry to study holistic medicine. She is amazing! I went to her after the garbage truck crash and before and after the Portland Marathon. She works magic and miracles. She focused on my quads and my sunburn and my little toe that is most definitely going to lose the nail. She did this crazy thing with tin foil and electrical current on my sunburn that seriously sounds like mad science, but IT WORKED! My sunburn doesn't hurt anymore and is way less red. And today my quads are significantly better. I can walk normal and go down stairs without a ton of pain and I can sit down without holding onto something to slowly lower myself down. :)

So, now that I'm on the road to recovery, you might be thinking what's next? Well, like a crack addict chasing a high, I'm onto the next event already. In two weeks I'll be doing an obstacle course race called Tough Mudder, then a half marathon Memorial Day weekend, a bunch of triathlons, another half marathon in July, a half Ironman in September, and then the Chicago Marathon in October. :)

Boston Marathon 2011, part 2

OK, so the big day arrived. I woke up a minute before my alarm clock went off (3:00am). Got out of bed and got dressed, braided my hair, double and triple checked my bag and made sure I had everything I needed. I made myself a cup of tea had a piece of toast with peanut butter on it and made myself a PB, Banana, honey sandwich for later in the morning in Hopkinton. Turned on the TV and started watching the early pre-race coverage on WBZ Channel 4 at 4:30am. Charles was picking me up at 5:15 so I had another cup of tea and tried to relax. I checked my bag again and grabbed the sunblock off my shelf, held it in my hand and thought, "I should probably bring this", then.....the decision I would seriously regret later in the day, I put it back on the shelf and said to myself, "Nah, won't need it."

Charles showed up right on time (for him) about 15 minutes late. I poured one more cup of tea into a disposable travel cup and headed out the door. We drove into Boston, parked the car and made our way to the Common to get in line for the buses. This has to be one of my favorite views, right on par with a gorgeous sunrise or a finish line within reach, thousands of people and a sea of Boston Marathon bags neatly lined up like ants filing into an ant hill and buses one after another filling up and taking off for the invasion of a small town called Hopkinton, MA. The bus ride took a little over an hour, but it went by fast. Talking about training and the excitement of race day and expectations and goals, then we arrived. The experience was a little different for me this year. I was not going to the DFMC retreat at the church and hanging out with all the other Dana Farber runners. This year I was going to the Athlete's Village. WOW! It's like Woodstock for runners. Gatorade and Poland spring and bagels and bananas and mylar blankets and port o potties. Soooooo coooool.

Speaking of cool, the temperature was pretty chilly. In the low 40s, but sunny. I didn't really want to give up my sweatshirt to walk to the start corrals, but I did and curled my throw away shirt over my arms like I always do to stay warm. This year they had a 3 wave start and Charles was in the super fast first wave. I had to wait 40 minutes after he started to get into my somewhat slower 3rd wave. It was fun though, watching all the other runners go and watching their families wish them well on their 26.2 mile journey. One little girl started crying and didn't want her mom to leave her, but through the tears mustered a wimpered "good luck" as her mom walked away to the corrals. So cute!

Finally, it was my turn to go. I lined up in my start corral. I looked around to see if I saw any familiar faces. I found a few Greater Lowell Road Runners and chatted and before we knew, "BANG!" the start gun went off and we were running. The tail wind was definitely noticeable and I ran the first 5K in a little over 28 minutes - WAY TOO FAST. Next 5K and the next 5K in 28:30 - Still too fast. And I knew it. I kept trying to pull back and slow down, knowing that this was a mistake and I would pay for it later. I tried to play mind games with myself and think I was going that fast because of the tailwind and I would be fine. I was about 30 seconds per mile faster than my goal pace and right around the halfway point in Wellesley, the sun came out and Mother Nature, the douche, made what I knew was going to be a slower second half a little more challenging. I crossed the 13.1 mark at 2:01 and I had a feeling today was not going to be the day to break 4hrs especially now with the sun baking me and my sunblock back at home on the shelf where I left it.

At mile 15, my body decided to start showing me how much it hates heat. I threw up at the water stop. This is my first warning sign of severe dehydration (usually I can tell when I stop sweating, but I was dumping water on myself and it was tough to tell if I was still sweating). I slowed my pace by about a minute per mile and started sipping electrolyte replacement fluids from my fuel belt and got some more water at the next water stop and managed to keep it down. Coming up on Newton my favorite part of the course I was getting excited to see my friends and family and then almost exactly at the moment I saw the "Entering Newton" sign, I felt a pain in my right side like someone stabbed me in the liver. The dreaded side stitch that every runner has experienced at one time or another (tolerable during a training run, but devastating during the BOSTON MARATHON!).

I made it to my friends at the corner of Rt. 16 and Rt. 30 and just kept on running. I tried pushing through the pain and breathing into it. About half way up the first hill I saw my friend Tim and his wife and I was running with my right arm over my head and my left arm pressing on my flank trying to get rid of the pain. He asked if I was ok and I grunted "noooooo" to which he responded, "suck it up!" And that's exactly what I did. I gutted it out and started to feel better just as I got to Heartbreak hill. I practically sprinted to the top. The 30K was my slowest 5K on the course, but after that damn side stitch went away I picked up the pace and finished strong. My friend Cherie met me at mile 21 and ran me in the last 5 miles. I passed my Lowell friends at mile 23 and then my friends Ann and Jack at mile 25. From there I knew I could do it.

Cherie stayed two or three steps ahead of me and kept me going. We made the turn right onto Hereford and then left onto Boylston and Cherie said "this is it, don't leave anything on the course". I could see the finish and I picked up the pace and sprinted past people on that last stretch (I thought - crap if I had this much left maybe I could have done a little better on the hills, but who cares I'm almost done). We crossed the finish line and I gave Cherie a HUGE sweaty hug and looked at my watch - 4:16!!!!! A new PR by 11 minutes!!!!

We made our way through the finish corral and got water, food, and then of course, the medal (just for me, not for Cherie, in case anyone is thinkin' she grabbed one just for running 5 miles with me, she didn't). And just like last year, as soon as the medal was around my neck it hit me, I had just finished the Boston Marathon and I started crying.

I pulled myself together and we continued through the finish area, got my bag, and more food and met up with my friends and family. Here we all are (Ann, Jack, my brother Aaron, me, my mom, and Cherie):

Check out the awesome t-shirt Cherie ran in to draw attention to me and make people cheer for me. It was great!

Boston Marathon 2011, part 1

It really doesn't get any better than this race. Everything about it is amazing. Where do I begin? I guess I'll start where most runners started their race weekend, the expo. Last year was so simple, I went Friday after work by myself and took my time really enjoying the experience and taking it all in. This year was the exact opposite. I decided to meet a ton of people there on Saturday (the busiest day) AND I still needed to get my singlet to run the race in.

So, the plan was to meet my friends Jenine and Mandy at 11:00, they were leaving Melrose at 10:30. My friends Scott and Paula were also planning to get there around that time so I told them I would see them there too. I got there a little after 11:00, traffic was insane and parking was only easy because I have a small car, thank God. As soon as I got to the Hynes Convention Center I texted Jenine and Scott and see if they were there yet. I should have known it would not be that easy. Jenine is chronically late (and I still love her to death), she called to say Mandy had forgotten her Garmin at work and they were stopping to try and get it. Why they couldn't do that on the way home from the expo when someone wasn't waiting for them is beyond me, but I accepted it and sort of expect unexpected delays when meeting up with Jenine. Lucky for me (and unlucky for my visa bill) there was plenty to keep me distracted while I waited. Scott was relying on the Green Line to get him and Paula and their two kids to the expo (along with the other 20,000+ people in the city for the weekend). So, naturally that was taking longer than they anticipated.

11:45 still waiting at the expo, Jenine stuck in traffic and trying to find parking, Scott and Paula on the Green Line with about a 5 minute walk to the convention center once they got off the train, a happy coincidence occurred. One of my blog followers happened to be in town for the weekend also running the marathon. We had been emailing back and forth for about a year and now we were in the same building. One of the things I love most about running, and probably the main reason I keep doing it, it's amazing ability to bring people together of all shapes and sizes and levels of experience and fitness. I joined the soccer team in high school to try and meet people and failed miserably, had I known then that I just needed to sign up for a local 5K maybe high school would have gone a little differently. Anyway, it was so great to finally put a face to the name I had seen in emails for the last year and connect in person with someone that has connected with me and my "funny stories" (his words not mine) online. Here is a photo of us (me, Gideon, and his two daughters Celia and Sadie):
His wife was kind enough to take the photo. His daughters were a little shy, but very polite. I told them I was shy at that age too, but I eventually came out of my shell. Although, now that I think about it, kids probably shouldn't talk to strangers their parents meet on the internet. Good thinkin' girls! :)

Scott and Paula finally made it to the Expo and shortly after Jenine and Mandy showed up. I left Scott and Paula to find Jenine and Mandy and then attempted to navigate the expo with the two of them. By this time it was the peak hours for the expo and it was insanely crowded. It was Mandy's first marathon so I can only imagine how overwhelmed she was feeling. I still needed to find my singlet somehow in the chaos and I wanted them to get to look around a little before we went to lunch. I got a text telling me a person to see at a particular booth to pick up my singlet and started asking people, "is this booth 1929, are you Dom?" Eventually, I found Dom and my singlet, but I lost Jenine and Mandy. I texted Jenine and she tried to call me, but it was so loud I couldn't hear her. We managed to find each other and Jenine decided it would be a good idea to call the restaurant and make reservations for lunch. It was about 12:45 and she wanted to make the reservation for 1:15. I tried to tell her to give at least an hour for us to get out and get to the restaurant, but she insisted 1:15 would work. We slowly moved through the crowded isles and didn't stop unless they were giving away free food (that wasn't loaded with junk and artificial colors). Made it to the street and walked to the restaurant, got to the hostess and asked about our reservation.......well, since it was now 2:15 they couldn't hold our table so we had to wait.

It was totally worth the wait. We ate at Cafeteria on Newbury St. It's not ridiculously expensive like everything else on Newbury St. and it's not snooty or pretentious, they serve simple food like grilled cheese and tomato soup and burgers and fries and the best brunch ever, BUT it's all locally sourced and the meats are all hormone and antibiotic free and the burgers are made with grass fed organic beef. It's delicious! I had a bacon cheese burger with fries. YUM! I'm drooling just thinking about it.

After lunch, I actually had to go BACK into the expo to swap my singlet because the one I got from Dom was too small. So, I had to bring it back to him and then find a girl named Sarah at the Gatorade booth. It was like a twisted scavenger hunt in the middle of the most chaotic crowded ever. At least now I was on my own and not concerned with meeting anyone or losing someone. I found Sarah and got my new larger singlet and then relaxed and shopped around a bit before leaving. Boy am I glad I did. Not only did I find some really cute stuff and load up on freebies, but as I was walking back through the Prudential Center and over to Copley Place where I had parked my car, walking in the opposite direction was this oddly familiar tiny brunette walking with her friend. She was pulling her hair over her face, unlike most girls that tuck it behind their ears, which I thought was strange until I figured out who she was. It was Kara GOUCHER!!!! I didn't want to cause a scene and try and get a photo or disturb her and possibly ruin her pre-race calm before the storm so I quietly went on my way knowing that I had seen her and to me that meant a sign from above, I was gonna run fast like her (well, maybe not as fast as her, but fast for me). It was AWESOME!

I got home sort of late and I was exhausted so I passed out on my couch around 7pm and woke up around midnight and went to bed. I tried to sleep in, but my cat had other plans, he was hungry. I still got about 10hrs of solid sleep so it was ok. I lounged on the couch all morning and caught a few more z's here and there between segments of the Today Show. Then I texted my friends to see who wanted to join me for a pre-race lunch at Flatbreads. Shannon, Kim and our newest Lowell lady, Ryann joined me and we had the most delicious pizza ever. The Carne special was chicken, bacon, ranch and the Veggie special was bell peppers and baby spinach with fresh figs. We got one of each. We almost finished both, I ended up taking home a few extra slices (which I pretty much inhaled as soon as I got home).

I spent Sunday night relaxing and going over final preparations for the big day. My bag was packed, a made a mental list of things not to forget in the morning - body glide, garmin, iPod, camera, gloves, throw away shirt, etc. Pinned my number on my singlet and tried it on to make sure it was straight and wouldn't bother me while I was running.
I was as ready as I could be. I tried to go to sleep at 8:30 but tossed and turned and woke up every hour anxious and excited to run. Good thing I got so much sleep the night before. Stay tuned for my race day recap and post race update......

Friday, April 15, 2011

The race is the reward for the training

I have to keep telling myself that. In the past few days I've really started to get nervous and anxious. Last year I was excited and overwhelmed with the idea that I was about to run the Boston Marathon. This year is different. I've done it before and I know what to expect, but I'm even more nervous than I was before any marathon I've run up til now.

Tuesday night was the start of the Good Times Spring 5K series and a chance for local runners to get in one last tune up race before Boston and then chat over pizza and beers about their training and time goals and the weather forecast for Marathon Monday. I ran to the race with my friend, Nutter, and we warmed up along the course. We did a little over 2 miles and then headed to the bar to get her registered for the race. The Good Times series is fun because it's a different theme every week. This week was BYOB (bring your own buddy), basically buy one registration get one free. Since I was already registered, Nutter ran for free. I had no time goal going into the race and just treated it as a training run. Taking it easy and not pushing myself is very hard for me to do, sometimes impossible. The gun went off and I instinctively jumped like a jack rabbit and ran off with the pack. The first mile went by fast, maybe a little too fast. I ran it in about 8 minutes. Second mile was the same, 8 minutes. If I kept it up I might set a new personal record, then I remembered, 'hey idiot, you're running a marathon next week, cool your jets'. The last mile and a tenth I stayed almost even pace, but slowed up a little. Finished in 24:50, not far off from my PR (24:24) and 14th place overall for the women. I'd say I'm ready for the BIG race.

Wednesday, work went by slower than death. It seriously seemed like the clock stopped at some point during the day and Father Time was taking notes from Mother Nature and being kind of a douche. I made it through the day and went to the gym for a little light cross training and stretching. I jumped rope for about 10 minutes to warm up and then hopped on the elliptical for an hour of intervals. Nothing too crazy, I lowered the resistance from what I normally do and made sure my heart rate stayed at a moderate level and didn't get too high. After that, I stretched for about 20 minutes. Probably more than I have stretched over the last 20 weeks of training. Felt really good, I should maybe try doing that more often.

After I left the gym I went home and instantly got bored so, yup, you guessed it, I baked some cookies. I made some Oatmeal Awesomeness. I would LOVE to bring them to the Copley Marriott for the DFMC runners, but with over 500 people on the team plus volunteers I think I'd need to bake about 10 batches. So, instead, I ate about a dozen cookies for them. I still want to swing by the Marriott and wish them all luck, it may just have to be empty handed, but open arms for free hugs. :)

Thursday, I woke up in a panic. My heart racing and thoughts running through my brain faster than a Kenyan. I'm not really sure why, but I started having an anxiety attack out of nowhere about the race. I think it's a combination of last minute nerves and the high expectations I have for myself. Either way it sucked. I started worrying that I might get sick last minute and not be able to run or I'd trip up the stairs at work and hurt myself and not be able to run. I checked the weather forecast and it says 60 degrees and sunny, gorgeous day to watch a marathon, but a little warm for running one. What if I get dehydrated and sick and start throwing up at mile 20 like I did 2 years ago at Disney? Deep breathes, calm down, the hay is in the barn (thank you Jack Fultz), my training was perfect, I will be fine.

After work, I did my last run before race day with Nutter. We did an easy 4 mile out and back on the same route I ran last Saturday. I was kind of hoping I would find another dollar bill in the road, but that didn't happen. It was still an amazing run.

So, now it's Friday and I have nothing left to do, but rest and go to the Expo tomorrow to get my bib# and maybe a few other things. Oh yeah and EAT. I mean, it's not like I'm going to have a bucket of pasta strapped to my face for continuous feeding over the next few days, but I'm definitely not going to be counting calories as much as I would during training. After all, I am going to burn approximately 4000 calories on Monday. Great motivation for anyone out there thinking of training for a marathon, but don't run to lose weight, run to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I get to eat more, but I still eat all good stuff. I splurge on ice cream and cookies, but I eat all natural no chemicals or crap added in treats. I can't wait for some post-marathon treats. I'll make sure to post all the details of my awesome meals over the weekend and next week. :)

Until the next post, remember a few of my favorite running mantras, "Find your happy pace", "don't worry about how far you've gone or how far you have to go, just run the mile you're in", "the pain is temporary, the pride lasts forever", "just keep running", and my favorite "The Race is the Reward for the Training". I told my friend that is running her first marathon on Monday, "Don’t think of it as a challenge or obstacle you have to overcome. Think of it as a celebration of things you’ve already done!" And that's exactly how I approach the marathon. So, let the celebrating begin!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

OMG, waiting is torture

If anyone ever needs to interogate me they only need to tell me I can't run to get answers. These last few days are always the hardest for me. Not the days of doing 18 and 20 milers and 50+ mile weeks, but the week of nothingness. I mean I'm not doing "nothing" just drastically scaling back in preparation for the big day. It's driving me insane.

This weekend was the beginning of the downward spiral into craziness. After finishing the Newton Hills on Thursday in record time and having a blast at Crossroads when I was done, Friday I was exhausted. Only about 4 hours of sleep and I had to get up for work. I muddled through the day like a zombie and made it to quittin time. Then the decision, what to do with the REST of the day. Key word being REST. I texted my friend Kim and we went for a walk with her baby girl Ryann. When we finished the walk it was still only 4:30. I headed home and started laundry. Made some dinner - Baked Sweet Potatoes with Warm Black Bean salad. Spent the rest of the evening on my couch watching TV.

Saturday I actually slept in (until about 6:30am) and then spent most of the morning in my PJs sipping tea and watching the Today show. I would like to say I folded my laundry, but it's still in the basket, clean, but not folded. I hate folding laundry. I vacuumed and mopped and dusted and even went through all my old race shirts and made a pile for Salvation Army. By noon I couldn't take it anymore, it was gorgeous out and I needed to get out there and go for a run. A SHORT run. I really wanted to go for like 10 miles but I held back and limited myself to a nice easy 4 miles. As much as I HATE shorter runs this one turned out pretty awesome. I found a dollar bill in the road just after the turn around on my out and back. If I had done a longer run it would have taken me on a different path and I would have missed the dollar bill.

So, another 35 minutes of my day gone by but still tons of hours left. I took a shower and went to the mall in search of the elusive Runner Fit Jeans. Seriously, why is everything slim through the hips and thighs right where my glutes and quads need to go? I tried on several pairs and still have not found a brand that fits just right. Then for shits and giggles I started trying on cocktail dresses. Express has this wicked hot dress on sale right now that I really want, but I have no occasion to wear it. I tried it on and looked AMAZING in it, but I can't justify spending $100 on a dress I may never wear. That's like two half marathon registration fees or a new pair of running shoes.

Anyway, Sunday morning was my trial run with my friend Cherie who plans to pace me from Chesnut Hill to mile 25 (or the finish if she can stay on the course). We were doing 6 miles and it would be my last long-ish run before race day and her first long-ish run since her last marathon in the fall. She was worried that she might not be able to keep up with me, but I told her not to worry, no matter what distance she could run with me it will give me a mental boost just at the point of the race when I need it most. We ran the hills of Methuen near her house and she did AWESOME! We averaged 9:30s (my garmin said 9:20s) and ran a bunch of really tough hills. So, she should be fine for the last few miles of the marathon considering it's mostly flat except for my least favorite hill right at mile 25 coming into Kenmore Square. That little "bump" over the Mass pike SUCKS!

After the run, we got back to her house and her son Mitchell had made us his signature blend of coffee. I don't drink coffee often, but when Mitchell makes it I have two or three cups! It's seriously the best coffee in the world. I don't know how he brews it or what he adds to the coffee but it's delicious. We sat and chatted over the coffee and Cherie made me pancakes. I'm so excited to run I'm practically jumping out of my own skin. I was telling her that while I was getting ready to go to her house I was watching the Channel 4 news and they kept playing commercials for the marathon. I was getting goose bumps watching them and one of the commercials almost made me cry!

I spent the rest of the afternoon on a high partly from the awesome run we completed and partly from Mitchell's coffee. I went grocery shopping and baked some more cookies. I tried another new recipe of my own creation, chocolate chip, but I replaced the chocolate chips with Trader Joe's mini peanut butter cups. I told my friend Kim her husband might have to arrest me because the cookies should be a controlled substance. They were RIDICULOUSLY yummy. I think I ate about a dozen of them at least.

Monday was the longest day EVER. And I have a feeling the rest of the week will be just as painfully slow. The clock seemed to move backwards time went by so slow. I finally made it to the end of the work day and decided to skip the gym and just relax, "the hay is in the barn" as Jack Fultz says. I went home and found a new issue of 'Running Times' in my mail and blew through it in a matter of minutes. I finished Dean Karnazes new book and even took a little cat nap. Then I ate some cookies. :)

Here's hoping the rest of the week FLIES by although I know better and it will be painfully slow. SIX MORE DAYS...........

Friday, April 8, 2011

Last “long” run before the big day

Last night was bittersweet, but WAY more sweet than bitter. I drove into Boston to Crossroads and I ran the Newton Hills for the last time before race day. We hit a ton of traffic on the way there and got to Crossroads after everyone else had already left, but that wasn’t going to stop me from getting one more hill run in before Boston. Charles and I ran to the T station and got on the Green Line to Woodland for one last time. We chatted during the ~40 minute ride about how beautiful this section of the course is and how it definitely ranks in the top ten favorite runs for both of us. We talked about race day logistics and previous marathon experiences and random fun facts like how many concussions I’ve had and some of my funnier blonde moments (I didn’t figure out til college that Han Solo and Indiana Jones were the same person).

Finally, the train stopped at Woodland and we hopped off and started running. Made a quick pit stop at the Newton Fire Station to use the restroom and then hit the hills. Charles is much faster than me, but was nice enough to give me a little bit of a head start from the Fire Station. I made it to the top of the first hill before he blew past me and wished me luck. After that it was just me, my sneakers, and the road that I have grown to love and respect. My GPS didn’t pick up the satellites right away, so I just ran by feel and I felt GREAT!

I made it up and over the first few hills and then onto Heartbreak. Someone had spray painted hearts on the road! It was so cool. They wrote things like “the beat is in your heart” and “is your heart breaking?” and “we heart you”. I wondered if other runners noticed them or if they just run right over them not looking down. I was secretly hoping to run into Kara Goucher out for a training run, but that didn’t happen. I said “See ya in ten days” when I got to the top of heartbreak and then continued the rest of the way into Boston and down Beacon St. to the Crossroads bar.

Got to BC and past Eagles Deli, OMG, it always smells so good. I need to make a special trip there to treat myself to a greasy burger and fries. Every week the aroma teases me as I run past. After that I weaved my way through Cleveland Circle and down Beacon St., the longest road in the world. For some reason last night it didn’t seem so long. I was making incredible time. I actually looked at my watch at one point and thought I had about 2 miles left to go, but didn’t believe my watch. If I was running my usual pace I had 3 more miles, but I knew I was closer than that. And I was actually closer than 2 miles left. I reached the intersection that I KNOW is one mile from Crossroads and to my surprise, Charles had looped back to run the last mile with me. He even said he hadn’t expected to see me so soon.

We picked up the pace a little more and I pushed to finish the last “long” run strong. Nine miles up and over the Newton hills and through the last miles of the marathon course; it was AMAZING!!!! I finished the run in 1:20, breaking my previous record for the run by about five minutes!

After a few high fives and nearly hacking up my lung from the all out sprint in the last tenth of a mile Charles and I joined the rest of the runners in the upstairs bar at Crossroads and as promised I brought cookies; chocolate chip to be specific. This picture is from last week, but you get the idea. Post-run refueling with cookies, maybe not in any training manual or issue of Runner’s World, but I highly recommend it.

10 days to go!!!!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Weekend race recap

Well, Mother Nature might have been kind of a douche on Friday, but she made up for it on Saturday and Sunday with two beautiful running weather days. Mid-40s and partly sunny, a little windy, but not too bad.

Saturday, I ran Shifter's 5K in Waltham - a fundraiser for Dana Farber. It was great to see some familiar faces from DFMC and some new friends from Team RaceMenu/Mix1 too. Oh yeah, I'm on that team now. I warmed up around the neighborhood with the guy that recruited me to the team, Brian. Then we made it back to the starting area just in time to line up and here Shifter yell "GO!" The course was a nice lollipop through some local neighborhoods, starting and finishing behind the Waverly Oaks Athletic Club. I didn't want to push too hard because I had a half marathon the next day and technically I'm tapering and suppose to be taking it easy. Finished in a respectable 26 minutes.
After the race I went home, showered, and passed out on my couch for several hours. Now that's how to taper! I love naps. Why do we phase them out somewhere after kindergarden and only bring them back into our lives after retirement? I think we should keep naps as part of our daily routine, I felt amazing when I woke up and took another shower and headed out for the night to go to a friend's birthday party. I tried to eat something quickly before the party so I wasn't starving when I showed up. I can be like a hoover when I'm hungry and inhale everything in sight. That plan backfired because I ate too fast and scalded the roof of my mouth so bad it formed a blister. Well, on the brightside, the blister kept me from demolishing the beautiful spread of food my friend had at her party. I left the party around 9:00 and went home and straight to bed. Had to get up early the next day.

Sunday morning, I woke up, not by my alarm clock as planned, but by my fat cat "Slim" whinning in my face at 4:00am!!! He has no concept of weekends and sleeping in and demanded fresh food and water. I tried really hard to ignore him, but he's very persistant. If the loud obnoxious meowing doesn't work he proceeds to jumping up onto my dresser and knocking everything on it off so it goes crashing to the floor with loud bangs that piss me off and force me to get out of bed to try and kill him. Anyway, I was up and had to get ready for the Great Bay Half Marathon anyway (even if I now had a few EXTRA hours to get ready).

Great Bay is run in Newmarket, NH in and around the estuary and nature preserves. It's really a beautiful area, only about 5 miles from where I went to college. I can remember swimming at a nearby waterfall the summer after my freshman year. Those happy memories faded when I started running and remembered why I vowed to never run this course again 2yrs ago when I had last done the race. It's never ending hills that are just as steep as they are long. You can easily ignore the beauty of nature when you're cursing a hill that you can almost walk up faster than running up it. PLUS.......Mother Nature threw in a headwind to make it more challenging.

I held a pretty decent pace throughout the race and just thought to myself, "go easy and don't leave your marathon on this course" and "if you can finish THIS course in a decent time than Boston should be easy". I made it to the last 5K and I was on target to finish in about two hours. So, I picked up the pace and figured why not go for it. I just made it and finished in 2:00:27, not bad considering the hills and headwinds. I'd say I'm ready for April 18th.

Monday, shuold have been a rest day, but I was bored so I went to the gym and just did some upper body strength training. I need to get ready for Tough Mudder after Boston and I really want to be able to get over the 8ft walls and navigate the monkey bars without falling into ice cold water. That should be interesting.

Yesterday, I did an amazing workout, a little combo of my favorite things and my least favorite things. Here's what it looked like:
5 minutes jumping rope - FAST!
1 mile dreadmill sprint on incline
3x10 plyo squats
3x10 jumping jacks
3x10 Mountain climbers (10 each leg)
3x10 push ups
3x10 burpees
3x10 speed squats
3x10 pull ups
3x10 alternating lunges (10 each leg)
3x10 inverted rows
3x10 high knees (10 each leg)
5 minutes jumping rope - FAST!
1 mile dreadmill sprint on incline
It was a good warm up for the Tuesday night Lowell Ladies run and my friend Kim's first post baby run. We did a nice easy 3 miler in the rain. Kim did an awesome job. Right back at it, soon she'll be kicking my butt in the Good Times 5K series.

Friday, April 1, 2011

OK Mother Nature joke’s over……

Really??? Come on! Snow on April Fool’s day. And not just a dusting, there was at least 2 inches of heavy wet snow on my car this morning and it’s still snowing! Whatever, I’m so over this winter and ready for spring and summer.

This week has been rough and by rough I mean boring. Taper is tough. After the 20 miler Sunday, I took Monday as a rest day. And guess what I did with my down time???? Yup, I baked. I made some delicious banana nut bread (and muffins). I kept the muffins for myself and gave the bread to a friend. I might have been bored, but on the bright side, my house smells amazing!

Tuesday, I went for a short 5ish at 5:00ish with the Lowell ladies. I was still really tight from the 20 miler. My hamstrings and glutes are killing me, maybe time for another massage. We did a 3 mile loop and I added on to make it about 5 miles, but it was slow and I felt it. After the run we went for a walk with the newest Lowell lady, Ryann Ann, my friend’s new baby girl. She is not cleared to run yet, but she’s chomping at the bit and ready to go (mom, not baby).

Wednesday, I had a dentist appointment after work so I had to skip the gym. I LOVE the Dentist! It’s like a massage for your teeth. Plus, all the hygenists and the dentist I go to are runners so it’s fun to catch up with them every six months and tell them what I’ve been up to and see what races are next on their list. After my cleaning it was beautiful out (in the high 50s and sunny) and I really wanted to go for a run, but still a little sore, I listened to my body and resisted the urge. So, what to do with my down time….? I got new shoes for the marathon and swung by the grocery store to pick up a few things, then I went home and made cookies. New recipe with dried mango, cranberries, and blueberries. I think I will call them “Mango-berry magic”. They’re pretty good, no Oatmeal Awesomeness, but still pretty yummerific.

Thursday, I picked up my new iPod from the Apple Store and went to R.E.I. to spend my member dividends and then headed into Boston for the weekly Crossroads/Newton Hills run. I hit the sweet spot for traffic and made it there in record time, unfortunately that meant I was EARLY. I could either wait around for 45 minutes to an hour for other runners to show up OR I could hop on the T and start my run ahead of everyone and hopefully ahead of the Nor’Easter too. I opted for gettign on the T and starting my run. As the T moved outbound towards Newton the rain started to come down. Just light sprinkles, nothing crazy. Then closer to Newton it started to look more like snow and less like rain and it was coming down pretty hard. Oh well, I was out there and there was only one way back – the 9 mile run over the hills (well, I could have just taken the T back, but come on, I’m not one to turn down a fun challenging run in a blizzard).

I started out and headed up the hills. I felt really good. Like AMAZING! I swear sometimes I think my body’s natural state is running because I’m way more comfortable running than I am standing still. Everything aches and snaps and pops and cracks when I’m not moving, but once I start running, it’s like my body turns into a well oiled machine. I finished the 9 mile run in 1:25 and got a bunch of red lights along the way so I can probably shave 3-5 minutes off that. I was totally soaked and dripping wet, but I felt awesome. Changed into dry clothes, stretched (something I rarely do and need to do more often) and waited for the other runners to finish. Overall, a little soggy, but a great run, and finished out the month of March with just over 200 miles!