Monday, January 28, 2013

90 days until Big Sur

I sort of lost motivation after Goofy and took some much needed time off from running.  12 marathons in a little over 4 years, I think I earned a break.  Plus, New England has been stuck in a deep freeze for about a week.  I still prefer this over hot and humid, but it does make it REALLY hard to step out the door and go for a run when the couch and my pajamas are so cozy and comfy.

So, anyway, since Goofy I haven't done much.  I went to my acupuncturist the Tuesday after I got back.  She is seriously a magician.  She did micro-electrical current treatment on my legs and pretty much erased all muscle soreness.  It was amazing.  I mean I know I didn't run as fast or as hard as I have in previous marathons, but I was still sore.  She fixed me right up and reduced the recovery time for me for sure.

The weekend after Goofy I did a nice easy 6 mile run with Kim and Ryann.  Technically, I had zero miles on my plan, but it was ridiculously windy and we were barely moving so it was kind of closer to a long walk than and short run.  Sunday, I decided to be lazy and stay in my PJs.  I made some lentil soup and relaxed.  I continued that pattern for the week, partly because I had a Dentist appointment and because it got ridiculously cold out, like single digits and dangerously low wind chills cold.  I call it "tourettes cold" because it's so cold out that as soon as you walk out the door you start swearing.

Work was a little crazy after I got back from Florida.  I had a mountain of work that had piled up from the end of the year and I had lots of meetings for beginning of the year goal setting.  It was overwhelming and on top of that there were some organization changes announced too.  My boss took a new position within the company, I absorbed all of his responsibilities, and my role got added to another group with various areas of expertise that I've always been interested in learning more about.  All really great opportunites for my boss and me to grow and develop, but a lot to digest and deal with after coming back from running a marathon and a half.  It was exciting and stressful all at the same time.

I'm really looking forward to being part of a team.  My role has been kind of isolated up til now.  I work with a lot of different groups, but I'm not PART of any group.  Anyway, last week there were a lot of meetings to discuss transitions and whatnot and I'm still working on my mountain in the meantime.  I had to facilitate a pretty big meeting with all the Vice Presidents and Directors to talk about priorities and goals and the discussions got a little heated at times with me stuck in the middle.  I went home after that LONG day and had TWO glasses of wine with my dinner.  I normally don't drink at all.  I probably should have just gone for a run.  The next day there were a lot of emails flying around about the meeting and information people needed to gather and present for the next meeting, some constructive and helpful others less so, all directed at me. 

Thursday, I had planned on going for a run after work.  And I really should have because I was wicked stressed out from work.  I even brought my running gear with me, but when I looked at the weather app on my phone and it said something like 7 degrees, but "feels -13 degrees" I decided another rest day might be better.  I ended up just going to visit with my friend Jenine's daughters and telling them all about Disney and showing them my medals before meeting a friend later for some really cools plans.  We had registered for a 'Zombie Preparedness' class at the local REI.  It sounded interesting and we hadn't hung out in a while so we signed up.  It was pretty cheesy, but entertaining. 

Friday work went by really fast.  I had a few meetings and scrambled to get information together for everyone that was requesting it and then went out to lunch with my new group.  After lunch, one of the VPs came over to my desk and asked me to add a few more columns to the table of info I had created, then said "just kidding, it's perfect!"  Totally made my week.  I had been working so hard and trying to please everyone and not overload them with useless info so we can all make informed decisions and finally someone recognized my efforts.  It felt really great.

I kick started my motivation and momentum to get my butt off the couch over the weekend.  Saturday morning it was really cold out AGAIN, but I was determined to get out there and get in some miles.  I took my time getting ready, drank some tea, made some pumpkin pancakes for breakfast, watched some TV, then Beverly Hills Cop came on and I realized it was a marathon of back to back to back movies and I was going to get sucked into it.  So I had to get out before I was stuck watching the Eddie Murphy movie marathon.  I had a REAL marathon to train for.  It was really cold, but I have run in single digits before.  The roads were clear and the sun was out so it was actually a really great day aside from the wind and the temperature.  I did my favorite 7 mile loop and got home, warmed up and showered just in time for Beverly Hills Cop 2 to start.

Sunday, I got up and moving a little faster and decided to do the same loop and add on if I felt good.  I felt great so I added an extra mile and made it 8.  Perfect start to my Big Sur training.  Easing into it with some shorter long runs.  I know they will quickly climb into the distances that I love the most 14, 16, and 18 milers.  But for now while it's painfully cold outside I'm ok with getting my miles in and done in a shorter time frame than the longer miles require.

Speaking of climbing, next weekend it the Fight for Air stair climb in Boston. I'll be running up 789 steps, 41 floors, 82 flights - TWICE! Maybe 3 times if I feel like it.

Click here to donate to my fundraising page: Fight for Air Climb

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Goofy #3 - I DID IT!

Leading up to the weekend I was a little less than thrilled about the weather forecast and getting nervous about how the race would go and unsure of the travel arrangements and group I was meeting down there.  Still not feeling 100% after the whole Plantar Fasciitis issue in the fall and struggling with my pace and just feeling off lately.  I ran a short easy 6 miles the Saturday before Disney and after that I did nothing.  Well, technically I was super busy and just didn't have time to run before I flew south.  Sunday I cleaned my house and did laundry.  Monday I had to do a last minute trip to Target to get travel sized stuff.  Tuesday night I had dinner plans with some former colleagues.  Wednesday I had to pack and Thursday I left for Florida.

Wednesday and Thursday the nerves and anxiety started.  Happens before all my big races.  Not sure if it's more travel anxiety or race related.  Either way, it's sucks.  I packed and unpacked and repacked my bag several times to make sure I had everything I needed.  This was my 12th marathon, you'd think I would be pretty good at this by now, but I still freak out.  I slept pretty good Wednesday night, only woke once in the middle of the night to the sound of my cat Slim purring like a diesel engine next to my head.  Thursday morning I got up and ate breakfast, had some tea, watched the Today show and waited for Kim to pick me up and take me to the airport.

My flight was a little late, but it worked out great because the group I was meeting down there took a later flight and arrived early so I didn't end up hanging out in the airport too long.  We got their luggage and the rental car and headed to the hotel.  The first night we only had a one bedroom suite and 4 people so I volunteered for the floor since I was the last addition to the group and it was just temporary so I didn't really mind.  The whole weekend was only costing me about $100 so I was not picky as long as I had people to hang with and reduced cost for the trip.

Friday morning I woke up EARLY.  No one else was awake and I didn't want to wake them so I went out onto our balcony and read a book.  Eventually, everyone was up and SLOWLY they got ready and we made our way to the expo.  It was such an adjustment for me being in Disney with a different group than previous years.  The usual crew had all bailed on me for various reasons before the race - injury, budget, family obligations, etc.  So I had to scramble to find alternate people to hang with for the weekend.  I met Andy while training with Dana Farber for the Boston Marathon, he was going with his girlfriend Kit and her friend Denise.  First big difference with this group was, unlike Jason the Disney pro, they didn't know where anything was and it took what felt like forever to get going and get to a destination because there was a lot of discussion and then programming a GPS and waiting for it to find a route and then time for the driver to familiarize themselves with the roads.

We made it to the expo.  This being my 4th time running in Disney World, I knew the drill, I knew where to go and what we needed.  Waiver, ID, etc. The rest of the group stumbled around a little new to the experience, not nearly as smooth, a few minor issues with packet pick up and then we made it to the giant health and fitness expo.  Everyone had phones and each other's numbers, but at first they tried to stay together.  4 people in a runner's paradise, shiny new products everywhere, different interests at every turn, thousands of other runners and their friends and family members, it is nearly impossible to stick together.  So, I broke off from the group and said we could find each other later.

After a few hours, I had enough and I found Denise.  Andy and Kit were still looking around.  Denise and I went outside and got cupcakes from a food truck - YUM!  We all gathered and decided it was time to get some lunch.  I suggested Downtown Disney because there are multiple options and lots to look at.  We walked around making our way to the sandwich shop, then after we ate we shopped a little before going back towards the hotel with a pit stop at the grocery store for dinner supplies.  That was an adventure in itself.  Newbies Andy and Kit were thinking grand elaborate meals with multiple ingredients and complicated cooking.  With Denise's assistance, I steered them to a simpler suggestion - Pasta, salad, and garlic bread.  When you are only staying for a short time you don't want to buy things you will have to throw out.  So, sauce in a jar and a box of pasta is the way to go.

On our way back to the hotel we got new room keys and an additional room.  Looking forward to sleeping in an actual bed we opened the door to the adjoining room and found one king sized bed NOT two standard beds.  :(  So, I took the sleeper sofa.  We prepared dinner, ate, and went to bed early since we had to be up at 3am to get ready for the half marathon.  At 2:45am the phone on the side table right next to my head started ringing!  Kit had arranged for a wake up call and forgot to tell me!  Awesome way to start the morning.  Anyway, I was up.  

For the half marathon, like the years before, I dressed in a costume.  This year's costume - Cinderella.  I had tried it on before leaving and I was a little worried about chaffing, but Denise thought of the perfect solution for me.  I folded the top half of the costume down and basically just had the Cinderella gown and a light blue running top.  It worked out great.  (Thanks Denise!)  
My approach for the Goofy is to run the half really easy and have fun, stopping at every character for a photo.  I got a ton of great photos.  The costume worked out great.  It took me 3 hours and 30 minutes to cross the finish line, but I felt fine and I had so much fun.  Just goes to show, Disney really is the Happiest place on earth.  Here are just a few of the pictures:

I had a great time.  After the race Denise and I waited in the finish area for Andy and Kit to finish and then we all went back to the hotel for ice baths, showers and food.  I took a short nap on the couch and in the late afternoon we started to plan dinner again.  Same deal as the day before, newbies started suggesting elaborate complicated meals.  I kept it simple, frozen thin crust pizza and some more salad.  After dinner I pulled out my bed and turned on the TV to wind down.  Andy and Kit hung out and started watching with me despite the fact that they had a TV in their room.  I eventually had to kick them out so I could go to sleep.  It was a little awkward, but comical at the same time.  This time I unplugged the phone next to my head just in case Kit had arranged another rude awakening.

2:45am Sunday, the phone started ringing in the other room and it woke me up before my alarm went off.  UGH! Oh well, just one more race to run and then I would be done.  Got up and got ready.  Forecast was hot and humid so I threw all time goals out the window and decided to just fuel and hydrate appropriately and do the best that I could.  My goal was to finish standing and not vomiting.  In 5 hours and 24 minutes I reached that goal.  The course was a little different this year because it was the 20th anniversary of the marathon.  We got to run on a racetrack and through the ESPN Wild World of Sports complex.  It was kind of cool.  I celebrated with a $9 glass of champagne and my medals proudly displayed around my neck.  :)

Marathon #12, Goofy #3 - DONE and DONE.  Denise and I hung out again in the finish area for Andy and Kit to finish.  They were walking because Andy had a bum knee.  Denise and I met a bunch of other runners and chatted while we waited.  I took a few more photos with characters.  We got some food.  And after being on the course for 7 hours Andy and Kit got to claim their Goofy medals too.

We headed back to the hotel and iced again, showered, snacked, and got dressed and headed out to Downtown Disney for dinner.  We had reservations at the House of Blues.  It was nice to walk around a little and stretch the legs and flush out the lactic acid.  Oh and we replenished our electrolytes with some salt (on the edge of a giant margarita).
My flight out was early Monday morning, Kit was nice enough to get up and drive me to the airport.  They were all staying additional days to enjoy the parks.  My work was done and I was ready to go home.  Got to the airport, got some coffee and breakfast.  Got on my flight and I had the window seat.  There was a guy in the aisle seat and the middle was empty.  I foolishly hoped it would stay that way.  Just as I started to nod off in my corner, I felt someone sit down beside me.  I looked over and it was a giant sumo wrestler sized dude dripping sweat and stinky, and he sat down and kicked off his shoes!  Just my luck.  No sleep for me because I was gagging for the 2 and a half hour flight from the obnoxious odor.

Landed back in Boston and my friend Steve from DFMC picked me up.  Finally back home.  It's a little weird.  I can't believe I just ran another marathon AND a half marathon the day before.  It's surreal.  Like someone else did it not me.  I mean my legs definitely feel like I ran the marathon, but my brain has already forgot.  I RAN 39.3 mile in two days!  Crazy.  I LOVE MY LIFE!

Friday, January 4, 2013

2013! I guess the Mayans were wrong.

Guess the end of the calendar wasn't really "THE END".  It was just like every other calendar, just time to get a new one and start a new year or baktun if you're Mayan.  I wrapped up 2012 with an extended vacation that I like to call my winter hibernation vacation the last two weeks in December.  I'd love to say I was wicked busy and traveled to some exotic island or ran a bunch of crazy races, but I didn't.  I rested and relaxed.  It was awesome. 

2012 was not as epic as 2011, but I DID do a lot.  Nine triathlons including my second half ironman, six half marathons, three marathons, and two stair climbs.  I worked on experiencing more than just running and trying new things.  I started off the year with a polar plunge and jumped in the ocean on New Year's day.  A few weeks later, I learned to snowboard, granted it was just one time, but I did get down the hill once without falling so I think it was a success.  I got a passport AND traveled outside the country for the first time in my life (Canada doesn't count, it's Maine's neighbor).  It was for work and I didn't really get to see much but I went to Iceland and Denmark, I need to go back to Iceland for fun, it looks so cool from the airport. 

As much as I wish it was, 2012 was not all fun and games.  I hit a few speed bumps and road blocks along my journey.  First, I ended up in the medical tent at the finish of the Disney Marathon.  I ALMOST made it without gettting dehydrated and overheated, but in the last mile my body failed me.  Training for my next marathon (#10) went really well and by May I was totally ready.  I should have known that a race in the Green MOUNTAIN state would be a hilly course, but I told myself it wouldn't be that bad.  It was really hilly and it was really HOT.  I survived it, slowed my pace and kept cool with the ice provided by the awesome volunteers, but it was not the race experience I was hoping for.

I had bought myself a new bike for my birthday, but thanks to the jerk that hit me in 2011 I was hesitant to ride it.  I did get out a few times, but not nearly as much as the year before.  After the Vermont Marathon, I struggled.  I felt off and my pace on training runs was not where it should be.  I did a bunch of triathlons, but since I wasn't biking much my race performances were less than ideal.  I started training for Chicago anyway, but with 6 weeks to go til marathon #11 I got injured.  Plantar fasciitis!  I took a break and got acupuncture, but I had my half ironman to do before Chicago.  I knew it wouldn't be as awesome as the year before, but I hoped I could just get through it.  Well, I got through it, but just barely.  I felt like I was drowning for the entire 1.2 miles of the swim, I couldn't breathe on the bike, and by the time I started running I felt like someone was sitting on top of my chest.  I finished and it took me an hour longer than the year before, but I collapsed as I crossed the finish line.  Something definitely not right.

For about a year, I switched to a plant based diet, vegetarian and almost vegan (I occasionally ate eggs and cheese).  I'm not sure, but I think over time I totally depleted my body's iron stores and as much as I want to avoid meat and animal products for my health, my training volume requires more iron and B12 than I can get from plants.  On my way home from the half ironman I got myself a grass fed organic rib eye steak and ate it for dinner.  I have slowly started to add a little meat back into my diet, but it's not making a big difference yet.  I started taking supplements too.  Hopefully that helps.

Anyway, Chicago was a fun trip but the marathon was not great.  The weather, my foot, and my body in general did not work well together.  Since then I have sort of backed off and slowly brought my miles back up to train for Goofy.  My pace is still a lot slower than it was a year ago.  I've also gained about 15lbs. this year, maybe from running less, maybe from not biking much, maybe from my body's weird reaction to a plant based diet.  Who knows.  I just know something has to change in 2013.

In December, I did a few back to back training runs for Goofy 12 and 18 miles.  Felt pretty good.  Slow, but overall, not bad at all.  I think I'm ready.  I know I won't be as fast as I was last year, but I'm not going for speed, I just want to have fun.  I had a few long runs inbetween the 12/18s that did not go well so I'm hoping that I just finish and feel good.  My heart rate has been weird lately-really low despite feeling like I was doing an all out effort and my resting heart rate was high for a few weeks.  If Disney doesn't go well and my heart rate is still wonky I'm going to a doctor when I get back.

Anyway, it's a new year and I've got a lot planned.  More running of course, but I'd also like to do more exploring and more non-running fun.  It'll be good for me to expand my horizons and try more new things.  I am looking forward to challenging myself in new ways and continuing this journey.  For now, I'm tapering for Goofy, watching the extended forecast, and recruiting people for the stair climb for after Goofy.  I've got a long to-do list and I hope to check off some more items on it this year.  I'm thinking skydiving on my birthday, learning to ride my unicycle, and perhaps accepting a dare.