Saturday, September 24, 2011

OMG! 58 minute PR, 3rd place women's, and 4:19:29 finish!

Holy cow! I am still grinning! I did NOT expect today to go like this. I couldn't have asked for a better race (well except maybe the jerko at the finish - story to follow.) I'll start with the drive to the packet pick up. We got lost. We missed the turn somehow for the casino and wound up driving a good portion of the course actually. We didn't realize it was the course until we started seeing mile marker signs. We kept driving thinking well maybe it's this way since there are signs. Finally after a while we turned around. Fast forward get the packet and now it's late and we're tired. Pick up dinner and head back to the campground.

Get to the campground and great it's raining! This should be fun. I knew my Garmin needed to be charged, but figured the rain would let up soon. It didn't. So finally we find a ziplock bag and put it in a ziplock bag and kind of run it from the electrical outlet. I figure it'll be charged by morning and hopefully the rain will let up and the ziplock will keep it safe. Go to bed. Have Natalie my darling 13 month old crawling all over me, but she finally falls asleep. Rain, rain, rain, rain, and more rain. I wake up at 12:30am. Still raining. I wake up at 2 am. Still raining. I have a dream, a very vivid one at that, and dream that it is 6:49 am and I'm looking at my phone and realizing the alarm didn't go off trying not to flip out on my husband. I wake up again, realize it's just a dream, but just the same look at my phone to check the time. It's 4:00am. Still raining. Go back to sleep and the alarm goes off at 5 am. Still raining. I get up and go check on my Garmin and damn it. The stupid thing is sitting at the bottom of the ziplock bag NOT attached to the charger. The charge now says 0%. Lovely. I put it back on the charger and I go take my shower. Come out from shower. 5:37 don't ask why I remember the time when I checked the Garmin again, but I did. It says 100% charge now which I thought was weird because I didn't think it was enough time to go from 0% to 100%, but figured at this point it really didn't matter I needed to get going.

We head to the race. I stop at 2 gas stations. Got coffee at one and looked for a banana or something I thought I could stomach before I decided breakfast just wasn't happening. (I had a gu gel right after my shower just in case I couldn't find breakfast.) Get to race start with a little bit of time to spare and have another gu gel right before the start for good measure. Hear the national anthem both the Canadian version and the American one since we were in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. I go to switch my Garmin to training and the screen flashes a line across it and goes blank. I try 3 times to fix it knowing that the start should be any second. I type a FB message on my phone because I knew I was going to be running this without my gadgets. No HR data, no pacing, no distance, nothing. I actually for whatever reason didn't even get that upset. I was a little concerned, but I worked too dang hard at training to let this stop me. I was here to run a race and figured I'd just wing it and hope for the best. I knew anyway you looked at it, it was going to be hard!

The race starts and we are going over the International Bridge for the first 4 miles. Two miles into Canada, although it was a topic of debate among the runners whether this actually counted as running into Canada or not. I choose team Canada as that just sounds cooler having run to Canada and back. I have mentioned before that I have a fear of bridges so I was happy to see this one was pretty easy and not too scary. I can usually walk over them, but driving over them makes me cuckoo. Miles 1-4 I am running with two people and was talking to this one gal and she heard me talking about my Garmin and we talked a little before the race. She said she was aiming for 10 min/miles so I thought cool I can just pace off of her. Well, as were running this obnoxious guy jumps into our conversation and does NOT shut up for the entire 4 miles with irritating things to say. Including after us mentioning our kids "I would be a horrible parent that's why I've never had kids. I believe a little too much that if you shake them hard enough they'll shut up." Uh, yah, mama of 7 wants to listen to that! Go away. You don't want kids fine. Did I ask you? Do I care? That was enough to make me run a little harder to get to the end of the bridge to get away from him. The thought of listening to that for another 22 miles was unbearable and if I ran too fast off my pace right now oh well. It was worth it. I told my husband other than the guy I wanted to push off the bridge it was great (and the other jerk at the end of the race.)

Cruising right along. After mile 4 I had no idea of my pace. I knew the first 4 I ran some under 10 min and some at 10 min because the gal I was running with was giving me times. From miles 5 to 10 no idea of my pace, just pushing as hard as I thought I could maintain without feeling like I was running too fast. I was running mostly with the half marathoners at this point and honestly did not see a single runner that was running the full. I'm sure they were there, but not sure where. At 10 miles I see some spectators cheering us on and ask one of them if they know what time it is. He says 9o'clock. When he said 9 on the dot like that I had a feeling he was rounding. Not like most non runners realize that I want exact time. Plus I wasn't 100% sure when the race actually started because I think it started a few minutes late. (Still not sure about that.) So with that I only had a rough idea that I wasn't too far off of the pace I was aiming for. Keep running.

Somewhere after that the half marathoners have their turn around. At that point it was kind of lonely, but I could now easily see how many marathoners were. I still had no idea what pace I was running. I just decided to try and keep up with whoever was in front of me. At some point around mile 12 I think I realize I hadn't seen any female runners. There was one gal in front of me and I thought she was a half marathoner. She turned out to be a full. I decided to use her for my pacing. I figured I was not going to lose site of her and keep at her pace. For whatever dumb reason I had convinced myself that everyone was running an even pace so that I could just keep her pace and be steady the whole time. By mile 14 though I kind of thought she was slowing down, but wasn't sure without a watch. I came up right behind her and passed her. I was really scared to leave her because she was who I was using to pace, but decided what the hell. I had been chanting my mantra in my head from mile 12 on "Make it count". I even named my playlist "Make it count." (I lied I wasn't totally running naked. I did have my music. The advice that I read most was not to do anything drastically different come race day so I figured music counted so it came with me.) Anyhow, passed the one gal at mile 14. I figured she'd be passing me back soon, but surprisingly she didn't.

I keep going and at mile 17 you start seeing people coming back from the turn around. There is the first place guy running awfully speedy, and right behind him Miss Speedy Gonzales. She won overall 2nd place (2:55 finish) and 1st place women's. Sadly for me she was in my age group. Anyhow, I am watching for the females at the turn around to see how many there are. I see another gal go by and she was pretty fast, and then a 3rd one go by and she wasn't too slow either. I saw 2 people ahead of me that I think are also females but can't be for sure at this point. So I'm thinking that puts me at 6. I figured I couldn't be running too slow if I was sixth place women's. Of course when I saw the two speedy people at the turn around I thought oh goody I don't have too much further to go.

Now keep in mind that was THEIR mile 17, not mine I was still at maybe 15 miles. Oh my gosh, from there to the turn around felt like an eternity! I still didn't know my pace, but my goal at that point was not to let another female get ahead of me. Still chanting in my head "Make it count." Keep running, honestly just putting one foot in front of the other trying to block out the fact that I have 11 miles to go. Instead I tell myself 5 miles to the 20 mile mark. You can run 5 miles and keep pushing along. From mile 18 to mile 20 my legs start really hurting, bad. I start thinking oh crud. I hope I don't hit the wall and wind up walking. It kind of freaked me out a little bit. I had a gel at mile 5, mile 10, mile 15, and was planning to go to mile 20 for the next one. When I started feeling my legs hurting I figured fuel. Fuel might help. I didn't know, but I figured it sure as hell couldn't hurt so had another gu gel at somewhere between mile 18 and before mile 19. It seemed like an eternity before mile marker 19 showed up. I was trying to convince myself that I missed it or that they didn't put up a mile marker there and that mile 20 would show up instead.

I am still keeping site of the two girls running together that were runners 4 and 5. They were maybe 1/4 mile ahead of me most of the last couple miles. Somewhere around mile 20 though I realize I'm gaining on these two. I thought they are running together and the one will slow down for the other and I pass them right about mile 20. I was totally surprised that I passed them at this point. From mile 20 to mile 21 I was trying to put as much distance between me and them as I could. I was number 4 now. That would be so cool to say I was number 4 and I was not letting them get ahead of me. At this point I didn't care about my PR or my time. I mean come on, I could say I came in 4th place women's in a marathon. How cool is that? So I run and mile 21 comes and I'm having a hard time keeping at the faster pace and honestly really tired. I look behind me and those 2 are no where to be seen so I figure I am okay and just keep telling my little legs that all they have to do is keeping moving now and I've got this.

Takes FOREVER to get to mile 22. At mile 22 I see another runner in front of me. I had my final gu gel there as well. I thought it was a male runner for quite a while and decided my new goal was just to try to keep him in my site. There was nobody else on the course and I didn't want to get lost so I was keeping an eye on "him". As I get a little closer I realize crap. That's not a guy, that's the 3rd place girl! I had no intentions of trying to pass her. She was ahead of me, not by a lot, but I was tired and did not have the energy to try to catch up to her. I just figured I'd just try and follow her all the way through. At mile 24 1/2 she stops! OH MY GOSH. Can you imagine? I felt kind of bad for her. She's rubbing her leg, but she's not running she's walking. Um, hell yah, I was going to pass her. I feel bad for her, but you know this is a race after all. Mile 25 I am pushing my little legs as hard as I can make them go. I am 3rd place women's now. No way, no how am I letting her get back ahead of me. I get to the sign that says 1 mile left to go and I am still chanting make it count in my head. I am also at this point begging my legs to cooperate and keep moving.

Now to the stupid @#&^% guy that I mentioned several times. They had to do some detours due to road construction at the end of the race. I am maybe 1/2 mile left to go and I know this from the sign. Well I get to the bridge and there are cones everywhere. Cones for the construction, cones for the detour. I can't make heads or tails of where the damn course is. I was really pissed at this point. I finally remember oh yes, there's the grass and cones there. That's where we ran through at the beginning. This has to be it and head down the grass. I get to the end of the grass knowing I have to be close, but can't find anybody, no signs and can't see a finish line. There's a bunch of guys standing outside. I thought they were with the race at fist. I asked them if they knew where the finish line was. The guy says I think it's a good mile away. I am honestly thinking he's screwing with me at first. I'm like it can't be a mile away. There was a 1 mile left to go sign a good 1/2 mile back. And he's like "Do you need somebody?" I'm like NO I NEED to find the darn finish. I finally walk away because he's wasting my time. He should have just said right from the start I don't know and I would have moved on. I finally see 3 other guys with college jerseys on that I knew were part of the race and they point me to the right direction. I see the finish line. I see my little boy Leo! My big sweetie was there to cheer me on. He was the only one of my kids that wanted to come to my race. He told me he wanted to cheer me on because if he did I might win. I saw him cheering. I saw the finish. I saw the timer and it said 4:19 something! HOLY COW! My goal time was 4:26:30. I couldn't believe I was that much faster than I was aiming for. I ran hard. I was getting in under 4:20. My final finish was 4:19:28. I came in 3rd women's overall. 2nd in my age group behind speedy gonzales, and 16th place overall (out of 43 total). Today was absolutely perfect! Thanks so much for reading this and thanks everyone that has encouraged me along the way.

EDITED: Time was 4:19:29 not 4:19:28. Close enough.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Feeling quite delusional tonight

When I first started running, my goal was to run a 5k and believe me that was a BIG deal to me then. Marathon, I will admit I don't even know if I knew exactly how far the distance was. I have always had enough sense to keep my mouth shut if I'm not sure on something (or ask and not assume) though and knew that a marathon was a specific distance and not just another name for a race. As I started running and working on my weight was when I stumbled on a blog from someone running marathons and that's what kind of started the itch. At that point in time I honestly had no idea what the buzz about Boston was. I knew it was a marathon and probably the only one I'd really ever heard of, but that's about it.

Fast forward a little bit as I get more serious about my running and get an idea of what the Boston Marathon is and how fast you have to be to run it. Up until probably the last month I didn't think I could ever be a Boston Marathoner and didn't have much of a desire to actually run it even if I could. I may not have mentioned this here before, but I have problems with anxiety, not huge any more, but still there. I have two things that will cause anxiety attacks for me any more, well maybe 3 or 4. One is driving over bridges and driving any place that has barricades on both sides or through tunnels. Not sure what causes that, but I hardly ever drive over bridges if I can avoid it and if I do I will have to have someone on the phone or in the car with me to do it. Second is heights which goes along with bridges. The third though and most annoying is crowds. I hate them. I don't like concerts, crowded sporting events, or large races. I can handle them if somebody is with me, but doing it by myself stresses me out. Not sure if you're following my train of thought here, but Boston is crowded so up until recently I really didn't know if I wanted to do it even if I could.

Today though, I am sure that I want to do it! I am pretty good at not letting fear hold me back from things (unless of course it's a rational fear like jumping out of an airplane - No thanks. I choose life :)) Anyhooo... back to my rambling for the night. Up until recently I hadn't wanted to run Boston nor did I think I was capable. I've always believed that if I put my mind to something I could do it. I'm kind of stubborn that way. I know that I have my work cut out for me, but I think I'm putting this goal in writing. I might have to wait until I move up another age group or two, but darn it I'm setting my eyes on it now. Haha, that would be one for a great blog title - 5:17 to BQ dream on.... Well, that's where I'm at for tonight. Dream big or go home!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Putting the Big S on my shirt!

Yep, that's it. Putting on my Supermom outfit and getting back to my day job. School is in session and you can sure tell because I am juggling everything to get things done. On top of marathon training I have decided to start classes online. I really wanted to go back to a traditional college, but the cost of daycare right now I just can't do it. Once Steven is driving and Natalie is in school that will be an option, but for now online is what's going to work. So far this week I have had to use the treadmill once, run in the complete dark twice without being able to see my Garmin because the backlight is now not working, and had to run with the jogging stroller once. BUT and the big but is, I got it done! Woohoo go me! I originally thought to title this post - Got kids, so what?, but you know I will acknowledge that kids sure can make running/exercising a little more challenging. However, even people without kids can have obstacles and sometimes theirs can be even bigger than mine. You see, if you want it, you really want it, then you can make it happen. And me, I want it! I have worked too darn hard this summer to throw in the towel now. I have realized though with the start of the school year I am going to have to make some adjustments to my running schedule.

1. Treadmill time again. BOOOOOO. If anyone has any amazing blog post on how to make the treadmill magically more exciting please let me know. I loathe the treadmill and am going to have to come up with some ideas on how to make it more entertaining.

2. Me and the jogging stroller. I never thought I'd be one of those moms that could push a stroller and jog for 10 miles, but dag gone it I think that's going to be me! I am up to 6 miles with the stroller and Natalie is an amazing companion. She keeps me company and gives me someone to talk to so I don't look like the lunatic talking to myself. I am going to be adding more stroller runs in. I will have to figure out how to keep her bundled up as it's getting cooler and probably keep it to shorter runs as the temperature drops.

3. I can't believe I am saying this, but I may even resort to GASP getting up at 4 or 5 in the morning to get my run in while hubby is still home. Unfortunately for me he leaves for work really early so not sure I can make that work even if I have the willpower to get up insanely early. Not firmly committing to this one.

4. Night time running - Yeppers, been doing this one a little already. Although honestly I hardly call 5pm night running, but I know real soon the sun is going to start setting crazy early. The great state of Michigan provides for wonderfully early nights. I am also going to have to figure out how to suck it up and run in the cold, but will save that for a later date as not up to tackling anything new today.

Okay, that's all I got right now for strategies to get my running in. Mostly right now it's a matter of just doing it and figuring out how to not the day slip out of my hands without getting it done. This week has been particularly challenging. I've had on top of all my kids going back to school I have also had 3 doctors appointments for my kids as well.

I see a lot of people, sometimes myself included, come up with 1000 reasons why they can't get things done. You know sometimes there really are obstacles that get in your way. Sometimes you just have a crappy week or even a crappy month and fitness just can't be your number 1 priority. However, I do believe the majority of people can work in the time to exercise if they WANT to. Yep, I said it. Take a look at your day. Have you watched TV today? Now don't cheat. Even 15 minutes of TV? If you stumbled across my blog on Facebook um yeah, that means you, then um yeah you had time to exercise today.

I will be completely honest, I have no real desire to motivate people that don't want to be motivated. I don't have the energy. It takes all I got motivating myself. However, if you are feeling a little overwhelmed trying to do it all then take a deep breath, make yourself a list, put your BIG S on your shirt and just do it!

That's all for tonight. Oh yes, 16 days until race!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sucky run yesterday, ready for a good one

Last week's 20 miler was almost perfect, up until the last 3 miles which went to crap. That kind of shook me a little, but honestly not too much. Yesterday's run however was just down right sucky. I had to drive Steven to school. Plus hubby and the kids were all heading up north for the bridge walk (Mackinac Bridge walk - It's a Labor Day tradition for us. Feel free to google it.) Anyhow, trying to get everyone out the door I knew I would not be able to do my run in the morning. By the time I get to look at the weather report I realize oh crud it's going to hit 90 today. Yesterday's run was supposed to include 8 miles at marathon pace - the new marathon pace. That's what I get for running a 5K PR. I knew at that point waiting until 7 or 8 pm was going to be the next best option, not a good one. We have no AC in our house so running on the treadmill only buys me some relief and I hate running on the treadmill. I've been able to handle the heat up to about 6 miles so I was still hopeful that I could do this one.

OH MY GOD was it hot! I was actually rocking and rolling thinking okay I can do this. I just kept trying to think positive even though I had been nervous all day about this run knowing the heat. I made it through the warm up and the first 2 miles at marathon pace. I was doing okay, but it was definitely hard. Fifth mile and I just couldn't do it. I started walking. I didn't care. For the first time in this entire training cycle I just didn't care. I just had this whole screw it attitude. I'm hot and I'm tired and I want to go home. I walked for maybe a minute, less than 2 because my pace for that mile wasn't awful. Then I pulled myself together. I decided to change my focus and keep on goal for getting those darn 11 miles in. I was mad that I couldn't do it at marathon pace, mad and frustrated. I got to 6 miles and felt a little better. At 6 miles I decided I was running to 7 miles and then going home and doing the last 4 at home on the treadmill. I got to 7 miles and decided no, I'm not a quitter push a long. I just kept thinking about this race coming up and I would not have the option to go to the treadmill to finish up. Come hell or high water I was going to finish this run.

The entire rest of the run sucked big time. I was hot. It was dark now. I couldn't see my watch. I was tired. I really wanted to quit. Not the type of run you want ending your training cycle really. I am still a little ticked off about it, but what can you do. I got home and looked up the weather and looked at my heart rate data. It was dark so I could barely see my watch and the backlight wouldn't turn on so I just was listening for the lap beeps mostly to see when I was done. Looking up the heat index it was 97! I like to type that out to make myself feel better about it. I did finish 11 miles in 97 degree heat. That's got to count for something. Anyhow, I got one more 20 mile run until taper.

I talked to coach about my paces for tomorrow's run. He made some adjustments. Now of course I feel like a big baby and like I should try to do the original harder paces, but going to just play things by ear. I figure I'll watch my heart rate and if it is being surprisingly good I will pick up the pace, but for right now it's more important for me to be able to run a consistent pace for the entire 20. I'm freaking out a tad bit about the actual race. Up until now my goal had been less than 4:40 so 4:30anything finish. With these new training paces though I was starting to think maybe just maybe I could do better than that. Now, I'm not sure what to think. I don't want to walk away thinking if I would have pushed a little harder I could have done better. That's been my whole goal this whole training cycle to always give 100% and do my very best. I've only had 2-3 runs where I haven't finished on target (even if they were bad runs most of them I've finished at the paces I was supposed to). I'm heading up north to the lake to run this 20 again. Hopefully the creepy old guy won't disrupt my run. I won't be able to update this blog until some time next week. (I won't have internet.) I need to nail this run tomorrow!