Monday, January 30, 2012

Vroooom....put put put.....crash.

Well, last week I started off great. Rested and refreshed and ready to get back at it. I registered for Marathon #10 - Shires of Vermont May 20th. My birthday weekend, what better way to celebrate than run my tenth marathon. I also signed up for a few tune up races between now and then. Couple of half marathons and a 20 miler. Feeling pretty good and back to my normal crazy running addict self.

Monday I went for a run after work - 5.7 miles along the Charles river. A little more Tuesday for a nice even 6 miles. Hilly Ayer 5 mile run with Kim and Daisy Wednesday. Rest Thursday and a 5.5 mile run along the Charles in the rain Friday night. Have to admit Friday's run was kind of an epic fail. I just wanted to do a short easy run to kick start the weekend and instead I got boo boo belly a little over half way in and had to walk for a little bit. Then I got stuck in traffic on the way home and couldn't get to the running store to buy new shoes for my long run Saturday morning. Whatever, I could just go after my run Saturday.

Saturday morning the plan was to do a nice 10 mile run with Kim and then Nutter and Erin surprised me and showed up too. I hadn't seen them since around Christmas so it was great. We began the run around 9:15am. All of my long runs start the same way going up a giant hill but on the brightside you get to run down it on the way home. That didn't really make anyone feel better about it. I don't mind the hill, I figure it's good training. Anyway, we all made it up the hill and then to the lollipop part of the run. I settled into a nice pace and started chatting with Erin since I hadn't seen her in a while and Nutter and Kim fell back and were running together for a while. We got to about mile 7 and Erin and I stopped to let Kim and Nutter catch up. Nutter was now ahead of Kim. I asked Kim if she was ok and she said no. She had a pain in her knee. We still had 3 and a half miles to go.

Kim said to keep going she was ok, just slow. We ran a little then stopped and waited and then ran a little more and stopped and waited. I felt really bad. What none of them knew was that the 10 mile loop was really 10.75 miles. I didn't want to say anything at the beginning of the run because I knew they might bail, but now it was even worse timing and I couldn't tell them now that the run was a little long. Erin and I continued running about a mile then waiting for Kim to catch up. Nutter was in the zone for the last 3 miles and just kept on going to the end. I finished and then ran back to run the last little bit with Kim.

Everyone finished the run, but they were all pretty miserable at the end and I felt like they all hated me. I didn't think 0.75 miles would be that bad, but add in the hill and as Nutter said, "that 10 mile loop felt like 13 miles!" I run that loop all the time and love it, but they DID NOT love it. Lesson learned next time, if there is a next time, tell everyone the exact mileage and elevation profile of the run ahead of time, if they bail on the run, but return for a different shorter flatter run that's better than losing all my friends because of extra mileage and hills.

Anyway, I felt like crap afterwards even though I felt ok on the run and actually ran it at a very good pace and talked the entire time. It was almost like someone punched me in the stomach and then kicked me while I was down at the end of the run. Saturday night I was suppose to have dinner with a friend, but she wasn't feeling well and we rescheduled, so I was left to spend the night alone wallowing in the suckfest of the day.

Sunday I woke up super early, couldn't sleep. I wanted to go for a run, but the events of the previous day pretty much sucked any motivation and energy I had in me out. I had a few cups of tea and thought about going for a run, but couldn't peel myself off the couch. Totally demotivated and destroyed. I spent the entire day on the couch watching National Geographic Channel. Around 4:00 I finally got up and did some laundry and made lunches for the week, but then returned to the couch for the remainder of the weekend.

I'm hoping that I can get my mojo back this week with a few short fast runs along the Charles after work and another hilly Ayer Run on Wednesday with Kim. Plus, registration for Chicago opens Wednesday so I'll be signing up for Marathon #11. I gotta get motivated, I have a lot to do this year.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Taking a break

So, when I got back from Disney I brought the flu with me and was out of commission for a few days. I literally spent 3 days on my couch in a semiconscious state with a fever over 100 degrees and no energy to even eat. I started to feel better towards the end of the week. Which was good because I had planned another mini-vacation with friends to the White Mountains of New Hampshire for some snowy adventures.

Friday night I drove up to the bustling town of Campdon, NH with my friend Kim and we met the rest of the crew up at the ski condo we rented for the long weekend. It was actually snowing when we got there and neither one of us had eaten dinner yet so I used the handy 'Around Me' app on my phone to find a pizza delivery place and ordered a pizza. It took forever and when the kid finally showed up the pizza was a little soggy and not exactly hot, but I didn't care I was starving. Lucky for us, not only did he provide food, he also provided entertainment. He got stuck in the driveway of the condo and couldn't get out. There was a steep hill out to the main road and it was all ice and covered with fresh white fluffy snow so it was super slippery and his front wheel drive sedan circa 1998 could not get any traction. We stood in the doorway laughing and trying to guide him, but he just kept getting more and more frustrated. I actually felt bad for him. He would get 90% of the way up the driveway and then gun it spinning the tires and sliding back down to the bottom. We tried to tell him to go slow and put the car in low gear and ease his way up the hill, but he was a frustrated teenager with no patience and obviously very little experience driving in snow and ice. We eventually got him to drive up the hill towards the edge in a wide turn and he made it, not so sure if his car's transmission survived the night.

Saturday morning we all got up and ate breakfast. It was time to check off another item on my 'to-do' list, I was going to try snowboarding. I grew up in Maine and skied from middle school up through high school and some of college, but hadn't been since then. So, we're talking over 10yrs since I had even been to a mountain in the winter time, nevermind trying to get on a chairlift and then going down the mountain. I borrowed snowpants and a jacket and rented a snowboard. Kim's husband Bill had recently learned to snowboard (from watching youtube videos) and agreed to show me the basics. We made our way to the bunny slopes and I strapped the board onto my foot and hobbled up to the chairlift. Bill road up with me and showed me how to get on and off. I wiped out almost immediately and couldn't stand back up. It was pretty comical.

I think the first run took about an hour or maybe more and I spent more time on my butt than on my feet. Bill and the others did one more run with me and then I told them to go ahead and have fun on the rest of the mountain. I didn't want to hold anyone back and I knew I'd be on the bunny slopes all day just trying to stay up and make it down the hill without falling. I got better as the day went on. I could get on and off the lift without wiping out and taking other people down with me.

I stayed on two green trails the whole time 'Stemtation' and 'Leroy's loop':

By the end of the day I did 8 or 9 runs and managed to make it down the hill without falling on the last run of the day. I made it the last run because I wanted to finish on a high note and I was pretty psyched I didn't break anything and felt like I only bruised a few areas.

I met up with everyone in the base lodge and we packed up and went back to the condo. It was still early evening and we had a pass to the local fitness club/spa so we decided to utilize the hot tub and pool. Only one problem, in my rush to through everything in my bag before leaving Friday night I forgot my bathing suit. I ended up just going in the hot tub with my sports bra and underwear on. It was a little weird to be in a hot tub outside with snow on the ground and temperatures quickly approaching zero degrees.

Sunday, Kim and Bill had lift tickets to another mountain and Moe and I had planned on snowshoeing. Mother Nature had other ideas, it was -6 degrees without the windchill and the winds were 20-40mph gusts making it roughly -25 degrees. Kim and Bill went to the mountain and turned around and came back to the condo. Moe went baack to the fitness center/spa for a workout and I explored the area a little. By the time we all reconnected at the condo it was late lunch/early dinner time. We went to the Common Man for some food.
If you've never tried it I highly recommend it. There are several locations around New Hampshire and the food is amazing.

When we got back to the condo, I decided to drive home instead of staying another night. I was really sore from snowboarding and the thought of another night in a twin bed with a plastic matress was not appealing. I was surprised how sore my upper body was from boarding. My legs were fine, but my chest, shoulders, and arms hurt so much it was difficult to shampoo my hair and to get dressed. Putting my jacket on and taking it off was a pretty painful process. I got home around 7:00pm and ate a little dinner before crashing on my super comfy bed.

Monday I had taken the day off from work expecting to still be in NH, but it was nice to have a day at home to catch up on chores and do some laundry and just chill. I felt like I hadn't really been home since before Disney even though I was home sick for much of the previous week, I wasn't awake for most of it so it didn't really count. I could have gone for a short easy run, but I was still really sore and didn't have any motivation to even get up and get dressed. I stayed in my PJs all day. Tuesday I brought my running stuff to work with the intention of running after work in and around Boston, but by the end of the day I had no energy and just didn't want to run. I went home instead and fell asleep on my couch at 5:30 and didn't wake up until 10:30, then I just went to bed.

Thankfully Wednesday I made plans to run in Ayer with Kim and get my butt back in gear. We did 4.5 miles and felt like we were running wicked fast, but upon reviewing the GPS when we finished we realized we only managed 10:00 miles. To be fair, it was very windy out and neither one of us had run in about a week. Plus, I still have some lingering congestion in my chest from the cold/flu I had the week before.

I'm hoping today to go for a run after work and get my motivation back. I looked at my training logs for the past few years and last week was the first week in over 3 years that I logged zero miles!!!! No wonder why it felt weird and it's really hard to get started again. I still haven't signed up for any 2012 races. I just have the stair climb coming up and that's it. I can't decide which spring marathon to run and that will help me decide which tune up races to register for. There's so much I want to do and limited number of weekends. Some races that I'm interested in overlap and part of me wants to leave some weekends open this year for trying NEW things. I can't decide what to do. I need to just pick something.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Gone Goofy again

They're not lying when they say every mile is magical. Disney really does do it right. What a great weekend. I flew into Orlando Thursday evening and had about an hour to kill before the next member of the group arrived. So, I just sat in the terminal and people watched for a bit. It was very entertaining. There was a very snooty older couple there with their little toy poodle in a purse (that the man was holding). The woman was using her laptop on one of the charging stations and complaining about the Wi-Fi bandwidth and how she couldn't send or receive any emails. It was hilarious and made the time go by fast.

Chris got in a little early and we went to dinner while we waited for Kristen and Jason to get in. They were on the same flight and scheduled to arrive about 3 hours after us. There was really no point leaving since we'd have to pay for parking when we came back so we just hung out in the macaroni grill until they closed up then made our way to the side of the terminal that Kristen and Jay were flying in to. Finally the gang was all there and we got the rental car and headed to the condo. I was exhausted and as excited as I was to be in Florida and on another marathon adventure with friends I just wanted to get to sleep as oon as possible. I knew I wouldn't sleep much before the half and especially before the full so I tried to get a good night sleep the first night we were there since we really had no agenda on Friday aside from going to the expo to get our bib numbers.

Friday morning we took our time getting up and moving. Ate breakfast at the condo, showered and got dressed and headed to the expo. Disney's Wide World of Sports complex hosts the expo and it was packed, cars and buses lined the road leading into the complex. We eventually found a parking space and started walking. The excitement in the air was like static electricity on sweater you pull out of the dryer on a dry winter day. There were little kids running around with medals on from the family races and adults with medals from the 5K race.

We got our bib numbers and headed into the expo. It's always so overwhelming, so much to look at and no clue where to begin. We all split up in 4 different directions. Thank God for cellphones and texting. Otherwise we'd never find each other again. I walked around up and down the isles and talked to a few vendors and amazingly only spent $15. I got myself a little 70.3 pendant to add to my necklace. It now hangs right behind my Boston Marathon pendant. After a few hours of expo exploring we all agreed it was time to eat. We went to Uno's on the way back to the condo and then stopped at the grocery store to stock up for the weekend.

Before we knew it the day had gone by and we were sifting through the goodies in the bags we got at the expo and laying out our clothes for the race the next day. Speaking of expo goodies, in the RunDisney flyer for all the 2012 races that Disney does, on the page for the Disneyland Half marathon there's a little photo of a Tinkerbell running through Anaheim Stadium that bares striking resemblance to a certain running addict/blogger, oh yeah it's me! We made dinner, pasta and chicken with garlic bread. Talked about our various strategies for the races ahead. Out of the 4 of us, I was the most prepared, but also the slowest runner in the group. So, it would be interesting to see where we all stacked up once we crossed the finish line.

We woke up bright and early, well early at least, maybe not so bright. It was 3:30am and we needed to leave the condo by 4:30 in order to be on the start corrals by 5:00am. We got ready, ate a little breakfast, had some coffee or tea and a little water and hit the restroom one last time before it was port o potties or palm trees as the only option. And off we went to the start. Chris was the quietest he had been since we arrived. It was his first half marathon and the nerves had set in. We all assured him he would do awesome and told him to enjoy the experience. The weather was perfect - in the low 50s maybe even high 40s. My costume looked amazing and I couldn't wait to get a ton of photos with all the Disney characters.

We lined up in the corrals and watched the giant TV screens showing the announcer and the stage near the start line as we inched our way closer and closer. The Wheelchair start was first and then there were 8 waves after that. Kristen was in the first wave, then Jason in wave 2 and Chris and I were in wave 4. For each wave there were fireworks and a countdown of Donald Duck saying "Ready, Set, GO!" And we were off and running.

The half is so much fun because you just go from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom and back. You run through Cinderella's castle at about mile 6 and then you head back to Epcot. There are characters all along the way and all kinds of surprises and every mile really is magical. There isn't as much access road running as the full marathon and you're typically done before the sun even comes up completely so you finish just in time to get breakfast and enjoy the rest of the day. Here are a few of the photos I took along the way:

I had such a blast running the half then it was time to get serious and prepare for the full. We took a few more photos at the finish area and then went back to the condo for our ritual ice baths and hot showers before heading to Downtown Disney for lunch and a little shopping. The day went by surprisingly fast. Before we knew it we were back at the condo preparing dinner and getting ready for the next day of racing. Jason and I were doing the Goofy, Kristen and Chris would be on the sidelines cheering for us the whole way. We made pizzas for dinner and tried to get to bed early.

Again we got up super early in order to get in the start corrals on time. We left the condo at 4:30 and got to the start area right on time. No costume this time, this was all business, time to run! I felt a little nervous and a little excited, but more nervous than excited. I got into my corral and worked my way up to the front so that when we started I didn't have to weave in and out and around people. I was right at the rope when we approached the line. A little countdown and Mickey announced, "On your Marks, Get set, GO!!!!" fireworks went off and I was running my ninth marathon.

I felt great. Right away I got into a good rhythm and settled into a nice easy pace. First three miles flew by and then I had to use the restroom. I was so worried about getting dehydrated I overhydrated. So, my first 5 mile split was a little slower than I wanted, but it was ok because I made up for it in the next 5 miles. I had a pace bracelet on and I was right on track for a 4:30 finish maybe even a little under 4:30. Then just as we made it to the Magic Kingdom and through Cinderella's Castle, this time at mile 11 (not 6 like the day before) I had to pee AGAIN! I stopped on the way out of the Magic Kingdom and lost about 4 minutes, but figured I could make it up like I did before. I wasn't worried, I was having fun and feeling pretty good.

Animal Kingdom was next and the miles were flying by. I was already at mile 16 and still only about 4 minutes off pace for a 4:30 finish. Up next was the toughest part of the course, a long section of highway between Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. I ended up chatting with some guy for most of it and made it to Hollywood Studios and only had about 4 miles to go! I was slowing up a little, but still maintaining a solid 10:15-10:20 pace so I wasn't going to make up the time I lost, but I wasn't losing any more time. 4:35 would still be pretty awesome considering I did the half the day before. I'd take it.

Just about done, leaving Hollywood Studios, only the Boardwalk and Epcot left and a little over 3 miles. The end was so close I could taste it. Then my biggest fear going into the race caught up with me, dehydration. I started shivering and noticed my skin was dry and crusty. I grabbed a sponge and started soaking myself with water at each water stop, but it didn't help much I was already past the point of no return. So close though, I just kept running. One more mile I thought, I can do one more mile, then I'll go to the med tent. Last water stop and then just about a mile through Epcot to the finish. I grabbed a cup of water and took a sip and it instantly came right back up. I was in bad shape.

I pushed through and picked up the pace to get across the line and finished in 4:38 (4:37 according to my garmin), not too far off of my goal of 4:30. As soon as I crossed the line I was put in a wheel chair and brought into the med tent, triaged into the "yellow" section, whatever that meant, I'm not sure. There were 3 or 4 people attending to me right away taking my vitals and covering me with heated blankets. They brought me a cup of water with a straw but I just about choked on it because I was so thirsty and my body wouldn't absorb anything. After a few minutes of warming up I was finally able to keep some water down. I drank 3 or 4 cups of water and got a change of clothes before they would let me leave.

Once I was cleared to go from the med tent I collected my medals and got my bag from the bag check and met up with the gang at the finish festival. We took a few more photos and headed back to the condo for showers and fresh clothes. Back to Downtown Disney for lunch and more shopping and then a little pool time and much needed naps before we went to dinner to celebrate a weekend full of amazing accomplishments. Chris finished his first half marathon, Kristen beat us all in the half with little to no training at all, Jason beat me in the full by 4 minutes and he didn't train at all either! Totally not fair because he ran with his phone and was tracking me the entire time, picking it up a little everytime he noticed I was ahead of him. And I finished my 9th marathon and 2nd Goofy Challenge. Cheers!

Now I need to decide what's next???? Marathon number 10 and maybe a few other challenges and checking off some items from my list. Stay tuned, I'm sure 2012 is going to be epic.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bring it 2012!

Happy New Year! I had an amazing year in 2011 and it is going to be very tough to top it in 2012, but I'm off to a good start. Before I get to that, let me sum up 2011 real quick. I wrapped up the year with a total of 1725.65 miles (205 miles in December). 51 races run (2 less than last year), 1 stair climb, 2 marathons (a new PR in Boston), 5 half marathons (not including the one in my Half Ironman), my first half ironman, 5 sprint triathlons, and Tough Mudder! I'd say I accomplished my resolution to challenge myself in new and different ways.

So, I started off 2012 with the Hangover Classic 10k in Salisbury, MA. My last race before Disney and a good final tune up a week before I run Goofy. I had no expectations and didn't push myself, 'I'm tapering' I kept telling myself. Just a nice easy 6.2 mile run. I felt really good. I didn't wear my garmin or anything, I just ran for the love of running, plus I planned on doing the optional polar plunge at the end of the race and didn't want to forget I was wearing expensive electronics and ruin them. I did that before with a cheap pedometer and had visions of the same fate for my garmin and it WAS NOT cheap.

I finished the race and ran right onto the beach. The sun was out and it was unseasonably warm, not to mention I just ran 6 miles so I was pretty warmed up too. I decided the best way to do the polar plunge was to not think about it and not hesitate, so I stripped off my running clothes, I was prepared and wore my bikini underneath, and I ran right into the water as if it was the start of a triathlon. I dove right in. The water was actually really refreshing and I don't mean that in an icy, took my breath away and kinda hurt way, it was just right like an ice bath after a long run, a little painful but totally worth it. The water at Tough Mudder was colder. With the sun out and my body warm from the run, it felt really good to jump in the water. I think there were over 1000 runners and close to half of them did the plunge. So, I can check that one off my list.

Monday I had the day off and didn't really have anything to do, and since I'm tapering I tried really hard to resist the urge to go out for a run. It was VERY difficult because it was a really nice day out. I closed my blinds and refused to be tempted. Instead I spent the day relaxing and sitting on my couch doing nothing. I never even got out of my PJs. It was a little boring and I got antsy and fidgety throughout the day, taper maddness at it's best, my muscles ached and twitched to be used, but I refused to give in and rested. While I was resting I looked up the results from the race the day before, I finished in 55:12! That's almost a PR for me. If I had actually tried a little bit and ran 25 seconds faster I would have PR'd!!!! Oh well, next time maybe. Just means I'm in really good shape for the Goofy Challenge and I can't wait to run it.

This week should go by really fast, but I know it won't. It will go by painfully slow and I will go insane with excitement and energy and a little pre-race anxiety. I really have no pressure going into this race because I am not running it for a PR, I'm running it for fun, so there is less anxiety than I had before Boston and Chicago. Mostly just excitement. I can't wait to go down to Orlando with my friends and go to the Expo and maybe one of the parks and downtown Disney and then run the most magical race on earth. 39.3 miles in two days.

So, since my goal in 2011 was to challenge myself in new and different ways and I pretty much crushed that goal and had an amazing year, I've put some thought into what my 2012 goal will be. I still haven't totally settled on something, but I have a few ideas. I think the overall theme is going to be take more risks and have A LOT of fun! I may work on my list and see how many things I can check off this year and I may attempt some things I never thought I would even think of doing. Stay tuned, it's going to be a good year!