Back to Back Marathons

Word vomit and picture-less. Lame. BUT.  I potentially have the secrets of how to run races so close together probably not but you should keep reading regardless.

When I was on the bus heading to the start at the California International Marathon,  I started to chat it up with the nice man sitting next to me.  We went from talking about the race weather and how often we run and that sort of thing….to talking about our last race.  When I mentioned that I had just completed a marathon exactly 8 weeks prior his response was “WOAH there, soon to be doing another one, no?  AND you are trying to qualify? ha”

How I interpreted it was basically “good luck sucker”

Now, when I finished Steamtown and missed my goal I immediately started weighing out my options.  I also stumbled across this article from Runners World.  I took it as a “How To” on running races so close together. I immediately freaked when I saw it say I should take a considerable amount of time off if I had a tough first race.  I emailed it to my coach, we talked about it quite a bit.  I threw around the idea of taking time off and waiting till the spring or following fall.  Ultimately I knew I wanted it now, not in 8 months.  So, CIM it was.

Flights weren’t crazy expensive. I had a bit of vacation time to use up.  My family was in the talks of going somewhere for a long weekend away.  Why not kill 2 birds with one stone and race the same weekend we vacationed.  Perfect.

My coach was 100% on board.  He reminded me, several times after several emails saying “are you suuuuure this is ok? are you suuuuure it’s not too soon?” …He reminded me that as long as I was very careful with my recovery I would be ok to race in 8 weeks.

First week post marathon:

+Tons of cross training.  and not just any cross training.  easy cross training. I sat on my bike and at a low resistance but high cadence I just moved my legs.
+I was attached to my foam roller and I was stretching non stop.
+It wasn’t until a full week after the race that I had my first run and it was a short, easy 30 minutes.

Second week:

+A couple of easier, shorter runs no longer than 30 minutes.
+I continued to spin at an easy level but this week I added a tempo run with a few short repeats ( no longer than 3 repeats of 5 minutes at tempo pace).
+2 weeks post marathon I ran my first longer stamina run.  1 hour at just about race pace.  I died.  Hardest run all training.  I wasn’t ready for it yet.  2 weeks later and I still wasn’t recovered completely

Weeks 3-6:

+I took a few light days after that craptastic hour run and continued to cross train.  Eventually my tempo runs got longer…and harder.
+Each week the intensity and duration got harder and longer.  These 4 weeks were the working weeks.  I made sure to run harder than I had when I was training for Steamtown.  Every hill sprint I pushed the pace at least 5 seconds faster. Every long run I made sure to go a little faster.
+I basically trained like I did for Steamtown…I just gave it that much more.   My last long run of the 4 weeks of work was 19 miles with another 3 mile run later that day.

Weeks 7 & 8:

Taper.  I was pretty much panicking because it was only two weeks.  I mean, looking back I should be happy because the idea of a 3 week taper makes me itch.  But I was worried that I wasn’t going to be ready.

Race day:

Mentally relaxed and ready to do this. I trusted my training.  I didn’t once question if I was ready.  I knew I was.

I ran a race I am proud of. I enjoyed the run so much it almost didn’t feel like I was pushing it as hard as I was.  Seriously.  Did you know I love to run?

Post Race:

WALK!!!  After Steamtown I sat and cried.  And sat. And laid down. Andddd.yea thats about it.  This time I made sure to walk immediately after I finished.  I refueled with some chocolate milk, yogurt, granola and water.

*** I think I wrote this post for myself.  As much as I hope someone gets some sort of benefit from reading my blog it is also nice to be  able to look back and see what worked for me and what didn’t.  It’s nice having a place to keep track of this stuff.  And HOPEFULLY you can learn from it too 😛 ***

So… Thanks to those of you who believed in me.  Who supported my crazy decision and helped my calm my shit when I would have a freakout episode   And….Despite all the haters and the people telling me I shouldn’t try and I would never qualify because the races were too close together or the weather was shitty or whatever the excuse was….

Booyaaaaa

gm

Advertisements

What worked and What’s next

I arrived in Sacramento 2 days before the marathon.  The day before the race was spent at the hotel, shopping at the expo, studying the course elevation chart and properly fueling with pizza, coffee, nuun and tons of water.

3

I was really worried about flying and becoming dehydrated during the race.  Luckily making sure I alternated between Nuun and water worked out perfectly and there were no issues!

You already know how I did in the race.  But the more I think about it the more I can’t get over how much of a good run with was.  Sure I was in a race situation with crappy weather but I am talking about the run itself.  The 26.2 miles went by so fast.  Thinking back I definitely would have done EVERYTHING the same except for breaking off when I did.  Next time I would push it harder a little earlier.

The top things I did right this time?

+Proper nutrition and hydration
+Following the pacer and listening to his advice
+Focus on form – especially leaning from my ankles
+Staying in the mile and not thinking about the next 1, 2, 10…whatever it was
+Confidence- TRUST my training and the work I put in to get there

I am still on cloud 9.  I have not run, exerted myself or even sweat an ounce since the run.  I am giving myself the rest that I need but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t starting to get the itch to run.

After the race I was SUPER sore.  Like….ice my ankles, knees, everything hurts kind of sore.  But I didn’t care. I was too busy staring at my medal and watch 🙂

4

The rest of my time in California was spent hanging with my family and doing all the touristy things possible.

2

1

photo 5 (22)

Fair warning that there will be many more pictures and collages to come.  My dad had his camera glued to his face the entire vacation so as soon as I get a hold of his memory card, they are all mine!

What’s next?

Definitely some well deserved time off.  I am looking forward to a more laid back schedule…or no schedule really…for the rest of the year.
I am excited to start throwing some weights around in CrossFit and really seeing what I can do there.

As for the running scene?  I am already drooling over a faster half marathon time and perhaps…. a 50k?!

gm

Brave the Run

8 Weeks ago I ran Steamtown Marathon in hopes of getting a time that was good enough for me to qualify for Boston.

8 weeks ago I missed my goal by 95 seconds

95 seconds lit a fire under my ass and made me more determined than ever

6 weeks ago I convinced the people I love the most and that are my biggest supporters to travel to California with me

6 weeks ago I signed up for the California International Marathon and booked a flight

That means, following Steamtown I had 2 weeks of recovery, 4 weeks of hard HARD work and 2 more weeks of taper

5 of my favorite people, my family, and I flew to Sacramento

I didn’t blog about it because I wanted this race to be mine. I put extra pressure on myself when I blogged about Steamtown, and I didn’t want that this time.  I am super happy with this decision because I didn’t feel the extra pressure come start time.  Actually…. I was extremely relaxed about the entire thing.

The week leading up to the race I had some family stuff and the race didn’t seem as important.  I told people that I felt indifferent about it.  Then I got a look at the forecast for race day and the race that was supposed to be THE BIG ONE turned (in my head) into just adding another notch on my marathon belt.

People were tweeting and blogging and talking about the race day weather.  Everything I read said to readjust my goals, to not try for big numbers if I am borderline to qualifying, that I will never make it.  What was the race day weather?  Oh just 35mph winds and 100% chance of rain….and not the drizzle kind of rain.  The rain kind of rain.  I decided to ignore the negativity and I was still going to give it my best shot.  I was still going to leave it all out there.

Still… I wasn’t too stressed before the race.  I got mentally prepared to get wet and run hard.  That’s all I could do.

IMG_0182

Since the weather was going to be a bit warmer, I decided on a hat, arm warmers and tech tee, shorts and compression socks.  Good decisions all around.

The start was awful.  I felt like Forrest Gump where the rain was coming up instead of down.  I’m pretty sure that’s as close to the truth as I could get.  I still felt strangely calm.  I was just going to run.  It was that simple.

I lined up at the start, found the 3:35 pacer, listened to all his tips about the course and decided I would stick with him the entire time.  That’s what I did.  I went through the highs and lows of running.  I loved it, I hated it, I laughed and I cried.  Basically, a crazy lady running.  The rain was constant the entire time and the wind was on and off.  It actually wasn’t horrible.  Focusing on my form helped SO so much. Focusing on the goal, on what I wanted the clock to say as I crossed the finished….that’s all I thought about.

I ate 5 GU’s throughout the race.  I stuck to the pacer and with the pack of runners.  I tucked in the crowd during the windy parts, I splashed through puddles, I dodged people falling.  It was a run unlike anything I had ever run before.  The most important part though?  Sticking to the pacer.

The last 2 miles of the race counted down city blocks from 57 to 7.  I stuck with the pacer until block 27.  At that point I gave it every last bit of what I had. 

IMG_0278

Wonkey arm and all, I was leaving it all out there

I rounded the corner to the finish and ran.my.ass.off.

IMG_0302

My shirt is blurry but VERY appropriate for this run. “Rain, snow, sleet, wind.  BRAVE THE RUN.”

I crossed the finish and found a seat and my family found me….

IMG_0353

I started my watch a few seconds late but it’s close enough

photo-102

Chip time: 3:34:17

!!!!!!!!!!IM GOING TO BOSTON BITCHES!!!!!!!!!!

The rest of my families reaction when they realized the 22 weeks of super hard and super strict training I had been through was over?

IMG_0371

All I can say is FUCK YEA!  I worked hard for this.  I got so close I could taste it.  I put family, friends and boyfriend through hell the past 22 weeks of training. I was strict.  I was dedicated.  I did exactly what my coach told me.  I prepared mentally and physically.  I learned from mistakes at my last race and fueled right this time.  I am still in shock.  Just goes to show…if you want it bad enough, it might take time but you will get there…

gm

Puppies, a Ramble and a Princess

Great Morning to you! 🙂

How was your weekend!? Awesome I hope!

Pretty much all of my Saturday was dedicated to this guy

Meet Vice!

Saturday J and I drove about 2 hours to pick up our newest member of the family!  Once we had this little furball home we headed straight to the park..aka neutral grounds, to introduce him to Jake.  How did it go?

Jake hates him and wants to send him back.  I have faith that after a few long and really annoying days things will get better.  Lola doesn’t mind him though so we are 1 for 2.  Oh, and I pretty much love the shit out of him so he stays.  I win.

Sunday morning I was up bright and early. I had a LR + Race combo.  I needed to run 45 minutes prior to competing in a local 10K.  I drove about an hour to where the 10K was and met up with my SIL and dad to get the 45 minute run over with.

That picture is stolen from sHm but I love it!  I also LOVE when they bike with me while I run.  It makes the time go so fast.  Thanks guys 🙂

After I finished a little over 5 miles it was time to line up at the start of the River Ramble 5K and 10K.  I was definitely nervous starting this race because I wanted to race it.  I mean, last 10K I did was on gravel, in the rain and I didn’t love it.  I wanted to try to beat my time of 47:35….

I ran my face off.  I definitely pushed it but it was worth it!

I ended up coming in 4th female and 2nd in my age group.  I also cut 1:10 off my time and on a hilly course AND after I already ran 5 miles.  I will take it 🙂

I never really race races so it’s exciting for me to see what I can do and how I compare to others.

HUGE HUGE HUGE shoutout to my girl B who ran her first 10K, longest run ever AND kicked HUGE ASS doing so.  What an awesomely awesome day for her yesterday! So pumped for her!

clearly it was sunny

After the race I headed for breakfast with my 3 favorite girls!  Bacon, egg and cheese on bagels please!

I also had the pleasure of dining with the fabulous princess Ryann.

As for the rest of my Sunday, there was enough excitement in the first 5 hours to last me a week so I got home and died on the couch. I was so tired…and still am!  BUT, it was most certainly worth it!

Tell me, did you kick ass this weekend like B?  How about bring home a new furry family member?  Or dine with a real life Princess?

gm

How To Help

I don’t know what to say about it.  I don’t want to seem insensitive or make anyone upset.  I couldn’t imagine any of it.  The beach, the city… that entire area.  So many of my memories, adult and childhood, are from the areas hit the hardest.  I want to help.  You should to. Here’s how.

Lora's Primary Photo

Lora over at Crazy Running Girl organized a virtual race.  Here are the details from her site:

How to participate

  1. Run a race of any distance the month of November. There are TONS of fun holiday races this time of year so grab a friend (or two!) and sign up.
  2. Register for the Virtual Race for Hurricane Sandy here.
  3. Pledge your donation (a minimum donation of $10 requested) here. ALL PROCEEDS will be donated to the Red Cross.
  4. Tell all of your friends that you are participating and invite them to join us, too.

This Sunday I am running in a local 10K and I already donated.  I hope you consider participating in the virtual race.

gm

Geeking Out

Earlier today I was chatting with a friend about the NYC Marathon.  She is (so awesomely) running this year and we were talking about how amazing it will be.  I feel like I get emotional watching any race let alone a race, in my opinion, in the greatest city every.  New York is no joke and to be out there running with 39,999 other people is just so amazing to me!

I just found out that the requirements to get into the New York City Marathon recently changed.  The times are insane.

I was almost wondering if I could qualify for entry with my (to me) “fast” half marathon time of 1:42.  HA.  yea right.

In my opinion these times are CRAZY and it isn’t even the most elite race I could think of.  Maybe because the times are so incredibly far-fetched for me?  When I think of qualifying for any race and running something that is an elite field, I automatically think of Boston.  Boston’s times dropped 5 minutes this past year.  If I would have tried to qualify last year, I would have been in no problem since the requirement for my age group was 3:40.

Luckily for me there is one more year that New York Marathon is participating in a lottery drawing.  I was convinced to enter the lottery because, why not?!

That would be the most epic year of running if I got to run NY ANDDDD Boston all in the same year?  I would probably crap my pants.  seriously.

I feel like I should probably comment that I don’t think every race will be fast and amazing and allllll that.  But for some reason I am fascinated by how fast these times are getting.  That just means that there are normal, everyday people out there that are SO incredibly fast.  Times that I bust my ass and train so hard for come to them so easily.  I get all geeked out over it and think it’s awesome!

You know what else I have been geeking out over lately?  Athlinks.com

I don’t know if I ever mentioned it here before but it’s awesome.  It is a database that stores pretty much any race you ever ran in.  Times, dates, locations…you name it, it’s there.  I love being able to look back and see where I was in good shape, where I definitely could have trained harder, races I ran with friends and races where I showed improvement.

What do you think about the times for all of these big marathons?

Anyone ever go to athlinks and stalk themselves, or others? 😉

gm

Race Recovery

After Sundays craptastic run I have been thinking a lot about the recovery portion of running a marathon. I mean, even Monday I was so exhausted.  I keep saying “I’m not sure what my deal is, what’s wrong with me” but I do know what’s wrong with me… I am not really understanding the recovery portion of running a marathon.

I think, ok, it’s been 2 weeks since I have done any kind of long or intense workout, I should be ready to go.  Well, mentally I am definitely ready to take on some serious killer workouts.  Physically is a different story.

After reading anything and everything I can on what do to after a marathon, these are the most common tips I have come across.

In the first hour:

  • Make sure to get some food in your system.  Carbs, protein, sugar….just get some calories in you
  • Lay with your feet up (preferably on a wall) for 10 minutes.  This helps get the blood moving which will help jump-start the recovery process
  • Move!  Make sure to walk around after you finish.  Stretch and move!

** Lucky for me I did none of that in my first hour.  I sat, cried and had no appetite. Go me.

Next 72 hours:

  • Move some more.  Go for long walks.  Swim.  Get the blood flowing to help promote recovery
  • Eat well.   Remember you aren’t planning and long runs anytime soon so no carbo-loading necessary
  • Sleep.  Your immune system has just been shot from the long, hard work you put into your race. Make sure to get enough sleep and rest to help prevent yourself from getting sick
  • Stretch/roll/massage/combination of them all!  Treat your muscles nice.  They just carried you 26.2 miles so be as kind to them as they were to you

** I was really good at the moving, rolling and sleeping part.   Eating well?  That’s another story..

Next few weeks:

  • Let cross-training be your friend.  Spin, swim, elliptical, walk…just make sure they are all done at an easy effort.
  • One general rule of thumb is one rest/easy day for each mile run.  I, personally, hate that rule.
  • A majority of what I have read says to give yourself at least 14 without an intense or long run.  That doesn’t mean no running, it just means take it easy.
  • For the average runner it can take 2-3 weeks to finally start feeling yourself, so give yourself that time.

I think I am below average because even at 2 weeks out I just do not feel myself.  I am going to definitely be more aware of how I feel (and start being better friends with my foam roller) and pray I get that running groove back soon!  I had a shitty run Sunday but I am trying to not let it get me down.  I need to remember the next few “hard” runs are going to feel tough and that’s ok.  That doesn’t mean I am out of shape or anything, it is just going to take time for me to get back into the swing of things.

I read this from Shalane Flanagan’s blog here:

” Athletes should never underestimate the power of recovery.
While my mind and competitive spirit are raring to go, my body is not quite there yet.”

So much goes into training for a race.  The day leading up to race day you train mentally, physically and emotionally.  For a marathon, that is typically 16-20 weeks.  It took a long time to build up to the point where you are able to run for 3+ hours so recovering from that won’t happen over night.  It won’t take as long as the building phase but it will definitely take time.

I think I wrote this post just so that I can get down on paper have written proof that the way I feel isn’t because I suck, it’s because I am still coming off a tough race.  Hopefully this helps at least one of you as much as it helped me!

And, for no reason at all, a photo of me face timing with J the dogs this weekend.

gm

Cheering is no joke

Since I wasn’t able to participate in the race I decided to wake up early and get my run over with so I can focus on my friends and family racing.

The only time I was able to run would be before the sun comes up.  That left me with the treadmill.  Safety First.

I ran a 10 minute warm up and 50 minutes at 8:00 pace.  I made the incline at 1.5% to try to make it as similar to being outside as possible.  Let me tell you…the entire time I was running I was so glad I wasn’t racing later in the morning. It was a shitty shitty run.  I mean, I did it but it sucked.

I sweat more than normal, my breathing was super labored, I couldn’t find a rhythm.  It sucked.  But, whatever, it was over and I could focus on the task at hand….CHEERING!

We got to the start nice and early and met up with two friends that were also running.  Unlucky for me, I didn’t get to catch any photos of my old roomie and this was her first half!  She kicked ASS but I am pretty bummed I have no photo evidence.

Once the runners started I got to hang out with these guys to cheer our faces off!

Let me tell you…. Cheering is no joke.   The way the course was set up, mile 12 and the finish were close to each other so I bounced back and forth trying to cheer people on with a mile left and scream them into the finish.

I am so proud of everyone that ran today!  Although I didn’t get to run with them I tried my best to let them know that I was pumped for them and I wanted to pay back all the cheering and support they give me all the time!

One thing I did learn this weekend?  Cheering is NO joke. I am so tired.  I mean, I may or may not have complained about how tired I was.  Ha. I didn’t even just bust my ass and run a race, I was a cheerleader.  Let me tell you, I have a much better appreciation for the screaming, cowbell shaking supporters!

Congrats to everyone that raced this weekend!!  You’re all super kick-ass.

gm

Because I can’t stop obsessing

Remember I said I wasn’t sleeping well?  Apparently this weekend has been on my mind a lot more than I expected!

When J came to bed last night, a good 3 hours after me, I asked him what the results were…

G: What are the results?
J: What are you talking about
G (clearly sleeping):What are the results?!?!
J: WHAT?!
G: TO THE RACE YOU IDIOT.  WHAT ARE THE RESULTS TO THE RACE.

Apparently I am a mean sleep talker…. After he refreshed my memory, I have no idea what I was dreaming about I remember that conversation.  I also remember being so annoyed he didn’t understand me and that quickly turning into me being really embarrassed because I didn’t understand me.

I have been waiting for the race to post photos from this weekend and today was that day.  Needless to say I am not the prettiest or most photogenic when I am running.

Exhibit A

I look terrified.  Either someone jumped out of a bush and scared me or I just sharted…one of the two.

Exhibit B

The finish line….Why is my jaw just hanging open.  Every picture taken in the last 2 miles look the same.
Apparently when you bonk you lose all control of your face…all of it

And one more example of a lifeless jaw.  I am apparently really sad at mile 18 too.

I keep going back and looking at the results hoping there was a HUGE error and acccctually, the course was too long and the 26.2 miles I ran got me qualified.  Ha.

nothing changed…

18/116 age group 25-29 women

488/1957 finishers

I am also agonizing over my splits.

I like the way that looks!  even around mile 20/21 I was nice and strong……

and then

ok I am done now.

gm

One more emo post

I had to leave work early yesterday.  Seriously.

The combination of pms, exhaustion and confusion got to me and I was that girl trying to pretend I was yawning and that’s why there were tears streaming down my face. “I swear, it was a yawn, not me obsessing over 90 seconds.”

I am full of emotion.  I go from one extreme to the next.  I am pissed and eager to get running.  I am sad that I have been talking about this race since January, 10 months ago…and something like a rookie mistake of not properly fueling is what (I believe) held me from reaching my goal.
I know that I am new to marathon running.  This was #3.  My first two experiences were all about simply crossing the finish line.  This one meant more to me.  This one I was running to reach a goal.  A big PR and BQ.  Yes, I hit one of two goals and I will eventually be super proud and happy with that, but it will take time.  That’s fair, at least in my book.

I am not saying a 3:36:35 marathon is bad.  HELL NO.  If you told me at the end of last year that I would run a marathon anywhere in the 3:30’s I would have told your you’re crazy.  I never thought that I would be able to pull those kind of numbers.

Despite what my feet say, that’s an 8:06 pace around mile 17

This race…this whole training cycle really…has turned me into a believer.  I know I can BQ.  I have it in me.  And I swear I will be done obsessing and stop with these super emo posts soon.

I learned a lot about junk miles and how they can do more harm than good.
I learned how crucial cross-training is.
Whether I like it or not, I also learned that my body can’t handle high-intensity and high-mileage.

In a perfect world I would be able to run 50 mile weeks and go to CrossFit 3 times a week.  I am no Emily though, my body can’t handle that much and it showed.  When I started to focus on running, working with a coach, working towards one goal of running a fast marathon I started to notice the difference. I was able to reach the paces I needed during workouts.  Being able to run for 2 hours was never my problem.  Being able to run for 2 hours at a pace that is uncomfortable for me was my problem.  After Sundays performance, I can definitely say I am able to run at an uncomfortable pace for a lot longer than I ever thought possible.

Somewhere around mile 20

Like I said, yes this is only marathon #3… but another HUGE difference with this compared to the other 2 I have run?

I am itching to get back out there

For my other races, before I even crossed the finish line I was saying I will never EVER do another marathon and I have no desire to run ANYTIME soon.

Not this one.  I have unfinished business.  There is a fire lit under my ass.  Less than 48 hours later and I am already searching for what my next marathon will be, new sneakers have already been ordered and I am doing everything I can to help recover from the race so I can get out there and run.  Not even for time or a pace… I just love to run.  And I am looking forward to my next run, already.

A painful everything won’t allow me to run for a few days weeks I don’t know how long.  I did an easy swim yesterday and plan the same thing today. My knees, quads and even toe nails are still in pain.  yes, pain, not just achy…pain.  But I am doing anything I can to speed up the recovery process.  I won’t rush it because staying healthy and not getting injured is my number one priority right now.

But I am ready.  I am ready to run, to sweat…and I am ready for redemption.

gm