Monday, June 18, 2012
I did it. I ran a marathon. And it was more than I could have asked for. The whole weekend was very special.
I am a city girl and I truly love my city. Trails and lakes galore. This is the land of 10,000 lakes. Sometimes when I read people's blogs about traveling for a race, I wonder, why? Is it worth the effort? That sounds like so much work and effort and opportunities to forget things. I know I'm lucky to have so many races in my backyard. I guess I always thought Twin Cities would be my first marathon. But then my dad sent out an email saying that he'd get lodging if some of us would commit to run Grandma's Marathon in Duluth.
You've all heard this already: my dad is my running inspiration and my husband helped me become a runner. In their own ways, these two were my coaches. So it was pretty perfect that the 3 of us would do this together. And because we were having so much fun we conned my sister into running the Half.
I had no idea what I was truly committing to when I responded to that email. The hours of training, the 5 am runs, the juggling schedules and finding babysitters, saying no to many social outings because trainings runs come first.
I've gotta fast forward to Saturday morning or this will take forever. The race starts in Two Harbors and runs along Lake Superior. I followed my plan and got as close to the 4:30 pacer as I could. My dad started further back. I ran the first mile with DH. I stayed there for the first 2.5 miles as my warm up and then gradually picked up my pace. It was hot. Humidity was 90% and I was thrilled that there was already water and ice at mile 3. I rubbed ice on my face, threw some down my shirt.
I was right behind the 4:15 pacer as we were approaching the 5 mile water area. There were tons of people in that group and I am easily annoyed by people taking the first water and coming to a dead stop. I decided to zip around this group to avoid the congestion. This may have been too early to pick it up, I'm not sure.
At this point the miles were ticking off pretty easily and I felt great. I saw a blind runner tethered to someone else and was incredibly overcome with emotion. I was in complete awe of the human spirit. The wide range of abilities, experiences in life and running that all come together to do something incredible. I said a little prayer of thanks for my health and did my best to harness in the emotion and reminded myself to save it for later. I knew I'd need it.
At mile 9 my friend jumped in with me. She was going to be at 13, but that area was busier and she was too excited. She was impressed that I was right on schedule considering the heat, she thought I'd be further behind. I felt great. We chatted for awhile and the miles kept flying by. We could see the 4:00 pacer but I knew to stay back and not get overly excited or push it too much. Lots of race left.
I made a bathroom stop and when I came out saw the 4:15 pacer run by. WTF??? How is that possible? I got into a group of people and everyone was talking about how off schedule she (the pacer) was. 4:15 was right next to us and we could see 4:00 a little ways ahead of us. They should be 7 minutes apart. People continued to complain about her and I felt bad for all the people that had a goal & needed a pacer but she was going too fast. I finally called out, "Slow down 4:15!" which made everyone cheer, but also made her turn and give me a dirty look. whoops. A group of 3 guys ran over and thanked me. We started chatting me them. 2 of them were pacers themselves, not in this race, but in others. They were helping their friend run his first.
Somewhere in the middle miles we saw a guy propose. We ran by just as he was on his knee next to a huge banner. We cheered and then a few seconds later there was a huge cheer, must've been when she said yes. So cool!!
13.1 and I was 2:01, right where I wanted to be, a pretty good HM time for me. I still felt great
and the mile markers kept coming. We met a girl that had just split from her mom. They were running their first marathon together. I was surprised by how much I was talking to other runners. Sure, it was taking some energy, but it was giving me way more. I love the running community!
And then mile 15 happened. I don't know what happened, but suddenly my quads were so tired and I just felt done. Sarah noticed the change in me and helped me get through it. But I'm not gonna lie, 15-17 were awful. Absolutely awful. I wanted to quit. I thought about walking right off. I felt sick. I could taste the GU and thought I was going to throw up. I slowed down a bit.
We kept trading places with those 2 pacers and their friend. Learned that they were ultra-marathoners. I just listened at this point and concentrated on one foot in front of the other. Step step step. Yes you can. Say it over and over and over.
At 17 I remember saying, "Ok we've got a 5K and then the race starts. That's it. I can do this." I believe so much in the power of positive talk. All week I had been visualizing feeling good at mile 20. And I think it worked. My legs still hurt. A lot. I was tired and my clothes were soaking wet. I didn't feel cold, but I did notice that the spectators had gone from shorts and tank tops to sitting in chairs and covered in blankets. Apparently the temp had dropped quite a bit!
I told Sarah that I wanted to pass the 4:15 pacer when we hit mile 20. People were still complaining about her and I even heard a race official yell that she was way ahead of schedule. I was determined not to let her beat me.
Everyone is right: the race starts at mile 20. Luckily, in this race the scenery changes dramatically. You go from beautiful Great Lake views to a roaring town. I cannot believe how great the whole city of Duluth is. They really get into it. All the streets are lined with people. Families that set up sprinklers in the street. I leapt through every single one. Tons of kids giving out "free high fives". I hit everyone that I could. I pretended some were my daughter and son. Even high fived all the drunk college kids. They smelled so bad!
I was doing everything I could to enjoy the experience. Mind over matter. I asked Sarah if she could see the 4:15 pacer. She turned around and said, "No and we're not turning around again. This is your race. Just focus on you. No regrets. You don't want to ask yourself tomorrow if you could have given more." She is the best. She was going to leave me when we saw my family, but I told her to stay. At one point I closed my eyes and walked while counting to 10. She jogged right in front of me. See? the best.
Miles 21-25.5 are all real fuzzy. I can't distinguish what happened when. My SIL was on a bike and kept appearing which made me keep my head up. She was an incredible boost. I choked up when I saw my family and ran over and gave my mom a hug. I don't think I'll ever forget that moment.
I skipped the bacon, Becky. ;) I just couldn't do it at that point. I continued to smile as much as I could. I made it up Lemondrop Hill without too much pain. Hill training pays off! My struggle were all those vicious turns at the end. You have to zig zag through town a bit to get to the finish line and it is tough. If I had been in a better mental state I would have understood where I was, but I was pretty spent at this point. Luckily I had made those pacer friends because they cheered me in at the end.
I didn't cry at the finish. I think I was too drained to do anything. I was proud, but mostly just happy to be done. My original goal was 4:09 based on some marathon calculator. After advice from many veteran marathoners, I shifted to 4:15 for good weather and 4:30 for heat. Chip says 4:04:16.
The really good feelings came the next morning. I woke up at 5 am and went out on the deck all alone. I stared at the rising sun and the water. I ran a marathon. I am a marathoner.
There's a lot more to the story, but this is all I got for now. DH, dad and sister all had good runs. I think it was a life changing experience for us all. Thank you to each of them. Thank you to the rest of my family for the support. Thank you to Spark for the inspiration, motivation and encouragement. I thank myself for being stronger than I ever thought I could be.
Monday, June 04, 2012
I love June. End of the school year, time at home with the kids, usually not crazy hot yet, the whole state is excited about summer. It's so great to see people out and about.
We've been biking as a family a ton lately. Not the toughest workout, but super fun. We've been exploring different neighborhoods and find a different park to stop and play each time. We sometimes stop for ice cream too. Summer is the best!
I got in my first real road bike experience last week. 12 miles. I loved it, but I'm still not confidant on the bike. I get scared when I get going with any sort of speed and I'm constantly worried about cars. Some idiot texting and driving or something. I'm going out with a group next week on bike trail for a 20 mile training ride so I hope that helps.
I met my goal of getting in one swim a week in May. I'm really proud of this because I didn't know how we were gonna make it work and we did. And then yesterday instead of doing my long run in the humidity, I went and swam 1 MILE. I swam a freaking mile. My shoulders feel awesome. Next week I start my 3 swims a week, one will be in open water. No ends to grab onto. No lane lines to watch. This should be a new challenge!
And then there's running. I need to take the time to blog/journal all the ups and downs that marathon training has been. It truly has been an incredible journey. I don't care how cliche that is. I've done a few long runs with my new best running buddy, one of the Irongirls. We've gotten very close in the past few months. Training will do that to ya! She took me on this crazy HILLY 18 mile run and we had a blast, talking the whole time, good pace. Then the next week we barely made it 12 because of the weather. I was dehydrated and crabby and awful. That was supposed to be my 20 miler. oh well. smart thing to do is add an extra week into a training schedule so you can make up workouts. The next week I did 20 with DH. It was hot again. I did not hydrate well again. I walked the last mile and was almost in tears by the time DH came back with water. (I had sent him ahead around 17.)
That was a real turning point in my training because instead of getting upset with myself about a "bad run" or doubting my ability to run 26.2, I celebrated. I mean, I had just run 20 miles. That's pretty incredible. And I definitely gained some mental toughness because of the experience. Now I'm not worried about the weather for race day. I know I can do hot. It may not be pretty, but I can do it. I also have 2 time goals now. I know what you're going to say; This is my first and the goal should just be to finish. Obviously that is the primary goal. But I have times in my head too. One for over 70 and one for under 70 degrees.
Other running news...
last week I ran 5 miles in 40 minutes. I barely said a word the whole time. I just told DH that I wanted to push the pace and he' have to entertain me. He did that AND pushed the double stroller. He's incredible. And I'm getting faster.
This morning I got up at 4:30 to get in that long run that I missed yesterday. holy dedication to this race. The first half of the run was horrible and i mean, horrible. And the second half was beautiful and energizing and made for the perfect start to a week. I love how a run can do that; just flip itself around and surprise you.
The marathon is in 12 days. Hello Taper! I love you.
Happy June to all of you!
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
I wrote up a little something about my marathon story. It's supposed to be under 300 words. This is 309. Any suggestions for editing, adding, taking out, changing, etc.
Thanks for any help!
I grew up watching my dad run. I rang cow bells on Summit, held ďGo! Dad! Go!Ē signs for many fathers to smile at, and tried on all his medals in the basement when no one was watching.
I gave running a few halfhearted tries in my teens and twenties. It wasnít until after my second child that running changed my life. I needed something more effective than hours in the gym to get that baby weight off. My husband helped me fall in love with running. He pushed the double jogger AND coached me. We planned runs around naptime and gradually increased distance as we explored our city. That runnerís high finally clicked in. I was hooked.
A year ago we celebrated Fatherís Day with the Lake Como 5K. My siblings, their partners, two joggers, 4 toddlers, and of course my dad. That was my first race. Now I was really hooked.
My dad has run so many marathons that he claims to have lost count. I wonder how thatís possible. He swears that Grandmaís is his favorite. He knew I had the racing bug so he reserved a place in Two Harbors way back in August. Since then Iíve run 4 half marathons, been a good MN girl training outdoors through this mild winter, and learned about fartleks, GUs, compression socks and foam rollers.
On June 16 I will be running my first marathon with my husband and my dad. My sister will run her first half marathon. My sister-in-law would have liked to join us but she is due with baby #3 on race day. This is sure to be a great day for my whole family.
I love racing: the energy rush, the community of people doing something healthy together. All of that is more important than any amount of baby weight that I lost.
Monday, May 14, 2012
This is the title of my personal pity party I've been having too often lately. Now, I'm not fishing for compliments. Or needing anyone to tell me that I don't need to lose any weight. I am pretty confidant with how I look and feel and have for about a year now. I feel even better with what I can do. I am an athlete and I love it.
But... why I am stuck at 148? I know that I'm a different 148 today than I was last July. Clothing and measurements prove that. And I really don't want to lose a lot more. 5 pounds. 2 pounds even! I just want to wear that pair of size 4 jeans that are hiding in my closet. I just want to look a little better. There are some pinchable areas that I don't like.
Here's the deal: I know why I'm not losing any weight. I don't want it bad enough. I am in training mode, not weight loss mode. I indulge in the extra piece of chocolate or cookie or homemade bread. I don't binge or overdo it, but I'm not creating that deficit. And I am fully aware of it. For the most part, I can predict my weigh-ins. I know when it's an up week or down week. It's been almost a year of bouncing around this weight so I'm familiar with the numbers. I know what it takes to see 147.4 and I know how very easy it is to jump up to 149.8. This maintenance business isn't easy!
And here's when I get snotty. And judgmental and whiny. While yes I certainly have had more sweets in the past few months or the extra helping at dinner, I eat incredibly healthy. Super foods, lean proteins, whole grains, good fats. And I am crazy active. I ran 18 miles on Sunday morning and it felt great. I teach HIIT classes, which forces me to regularly get in ST. (finally!) I swim once a week, I go to Zumba or Bodystep once a week for fun. I bike with my family at least twice a week. I have a job where I am on my feet and moving for most of the day. I have 2 toddlers. I get home and am chasing them around the backyard. I'm gettin those fitness minutes!!
We rarely get fast food or even eat out for that matter since DH is a chef and cooks incredible healthy and delicious meals at home. This weekend I didn't want to clean the kitchen so I biked to Jimmy John (sub shop) I got us turkey on wheat bread, mustard instead of mayo. Hold the cheese, and add avocado. A pickle instead of chips. No pop. I know this is not how most Americans order their fast food. And for whatever reason it irritated me last week. I don't want to judge what other people order. I don't want to be that annoying person peeking in your grocery cart. But sometimes I am. And that's when I start to wonder; why am I not skinnier? I mean, for the amount of things I say no to, shouldn't I be thinner?
I know this is awful, but I can't help it. At my workshop last week, my team went out to lunch and got hot dogs and onion rings. I stayed behind, went on a walk and ate my packed lunch. And I'm glad I did. That food would make my stomach hurt and I would regret it the next day. But I was still annoyed. Annoyed that other people can eat whatever they want when I am so very careful every single day.
Vent over. My guess is that other sparkers feel this way too. We're doing SO much and working SO hard. Why aren't the results bigger? I guess if it were easy, everyone would do it, right?
Ready for my positive spin? Yes, I'm still at 148, but I have not gained anything since marathon training began. From everything I have read, it is nearly impossible to lose weight while training for an endurance event. AT least I haven't gained the typical 5 racing pounds. Maybe all my "nos" are paying off. And I know I'll go up the week before the race with a serious carb load, but I also know I'll go back down again.
June 17: back to weight loss mode. For one week. Then it's triathlon training mode. Oh well! This whole racing lifestyle is way more fun than being a size 4 ever could be!!!
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