Thursday, April 29, 2010

Running Blues

I think I'm not alone in this, in fact I am sure I'm not alone in this.  But lately this week I have noticed I'm in kind-of a funk.  I couldn't quite pin point it, but I knew I just wasn't feelin' like my normal positive self.  I even went back and read my Big Sur Marathon recap and could tell my heart was just not in it.  I think I have a case of the running blues.

In case you're not familiar with this, and lucky if you're not, the following signs are classic examples of the running blues:
1. Just finished a big marathon and are sad that the excitement, build-up and training is over.
2. May have missed the time goals of above mentioned marathon which leads you to start rethinking why the heck you run at all.
3. Really want to go out and run but have no desire to lace up your running shoes - which by the way were last worn in your marathon.
4. You can spot every runner within a half mile distance and wish that was you.
5. Even shopping for running gear/clothes on line has lost its luster.

Now don't go worrying about me too much my friends.  I think I'm in this funk because like example #2, I had big expectations for myself and I fell short - way short.  I know I was dealt a really crappy hand for Boston, and then attempting to run a difficult course just six days later was not ideal, but when you train so hard and have a pretty decent training cycle, to have it all come up short can be a big blow.  I know I accomplished a lot.  Marathons 5 & 6 are done!  And I even pulled off times some only ever dream of.  But even all this self talk and reminding myself of what I did accomplish only goes so far before your mind wanders back to what could have been.

My legs are feeling pretty good this week.  I wasn't really too sore on Monday.  I was by no means in a position to run on Monday, but I wasn't necessarily feeling like I had just ran a marathon, or just ran a second marathon in just six days.  I can think back to my first few marathons and how sore I felt for days.  Maybe it was the "newbie" in me, maybe it was how I recovered right after finishing, but whatever the difference from then to now is, I definitely don't feel like I just ran a marathon and I"m disappointed in that.  In the moments after finishing on Sunday, I felt like I had left it all out there.  But maybe I didn't?  The fact that I was able to run a decent 10K last night in about 50 mins makes me think otherwise.  Yes, my friends, I ran 6.2 miles last night and felt pretty damn good.  My legs aren't quite "springy" but they aren't sore and tired.

Thankfully I have the Relay to look forward to this weekend otherwise I think my ego would be in a world of hurt.  All the chatter about all the fun we 12 are going to have is so fun to get excited about!  I even had a Relay dream last night!  But what about next week when I truly will be without a race to run for a few weeks?  I have been searching for my next race, maybe a half, and all my weekends seem to be filling up with non-running items I just can't get out of.  I know that I'm going to have to find something to race, I WANT/NEED to race again.  I need some redemption.  SF full is a definite go, and hopefully that will give me the satisfaction I'm craving from the Marathon.  But until then, I have to find a new race to give myself some positive feedback.  If you don't recall, I've been on kind-of a bad race streak.  Starting with the wretched cold I had for the Shamrockin' half in March and that crap half marathon in February.  I need to go out and succeed!

I know we can't all have wonderful race experiences.  I was bound to have a crappy streak of races after having such a kick ass year last year.  But it does still hurt.  When you know in your heart that you're better than what that finish clock says, it hurts.

For now I'm going to embrace the excitement of the Relay this weekend and be grateful for the opportunity to be part of a team of really great peeps.  I'm going to go out and run again today, and find my running mojo.  I'm also going to leave my watch at home again and just run by feel.  I think I have been too caught up in time and distance and I need to get back to the place where I ran because I wanted to, not just because a training plan said I had to.  Don't get me wrong, like MANY of you, we NEED that spreadsheet to tell us what to do and relish in the excitement of accomplishing whatever little workout it gives us.  But sometimes we need to step back and get back to the real reason we run...because it makes us better people, it makes us better wives and husbands, it makes us better all around.

Now don't go worrying your pretty little heads about me.  I'm FINE!  In fact, I know what I'm feeling is completely normal!  In fact, count yourself lucky if you have never felt this way.  But don't think your day won't come.  All runners at one point or another will hit their running "mojo wall" and as a result will become better runners themselves once they get through it.  I have nothing really to complain about in my life.  Actually, I count myself quite blessed and lucky if all I have to worry about was some crappy marathon times.  I have a job, a wonderful, healthy family, and a husband and dog that care tons about me.  I'm pretty damn lucky. 

So, to all you peeps out there who have been so kind with your words and support, I have to thank you again.  I love knowing that in some small way, I'm not alone in my running.  I have all of you out there pounding the payment right along side of me in a way.  So, thank you.

I'm off to keep trying to catch up with all of you!  You've been busy my friends!  I may not comment on each, but I'm reading!
And I swear, the happy, peppy Katie will be back soon - I just needed to wallow for a bit :)
Happy Thursday and Happy Running peeps!
P.S. I will announce the winner of the core challenge tomorrow!  I've been a bad bloggy person, now I know why companies don't send me their shit to review and give away! Ha!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Race Report: Big Sur International Marathon

Holy hills batman!  That pretty much sums up the entire race!  This was a difficult race for me, as I had no idea what kind of toll running two marathons within 6 days of each other would do to me.  I felt pretty rested all week and was even able to go for a nice recovery 5 mile run on Friday where my legs felt pretty darn good.  They were not exactly springy but they didn't feel like I wouldn't make it to the finish!  Boy, was I wrong!

I went and picked up my bib and packet on Friday with my little sister Erin.  Monterey is only about 50 mins away from my house.  I didn't want the stress of the expo on Saturday so this made much more sense.  The weather was beautiful and it was predicted to be the same on Sunday.  Saturday I slept in, attempted to carb up and just rest.  My appetite wasn't all that great.  During the week I was a bottomless pit, but by the end of the week I was not!  I think everything just caught up to me.  Saturday Ari had to work so when he got home that evening we loaded up the car and headed down.  I found a really nice Indian food restaurant on Yelp! and was not disappointed.  I was able to get a decent size meal down and we were back to the hotel hitting the sack by 8 pm.  I set my alarm for 2:45 am, as the buses were picking up the runners between 3:45 and 4:00 am!  That was rough!  When the alarm went off, I seriously thought of just calling it off! 

I had plans to meet Aron and her friends Sandra and Jessica to ride the bus together.  It was early, but surprisingly it wasn't that cold out.  Right away that made me nervous.  The Monterey coast is famous for being foggy and cold.  It was not at all.  I was wearing shorts, my long sleeve race shirt and a sweat jacket and was fine.  I had brought my heat blanket but really didn't need it.  The bus ride to the start is quite daunting.  It is along the race course so even though it is pitch black out and you can't see a thing, you are definitely aware of the ups and downs of the road/race course.  I attempted not to think about it too much.  I was riding with Aron's friend Sandra who had ran the race last year and she described the miles and course as we drove.  This little head's up was actually quite helpful.  She warned me of a giant hill at mile 25 and that was a super helpful.

When we got off the bus it was packed with runners and we went right to the potties.  No real probs there since there were plenty of potties to go around.  We were able to go a few times and then all of a sudden, (again!) they said five mins to the start!  We quickly stripped of our warm up clothes and threw our seat bags into a giant pile and hoped they would be at the finish!  Aron and I had similar ideas of how we wanted to run so we decided to start together.  This was really helpful to me mentally.  We run pretty well together and do well checking in with one another.  At the start line we stood right next to Dean Karnazes!  He is a lot smaller in person, ha!  After a really beautiful rendition of the National Anthem, we were off!

The first couple of miles are all down hill and they warn you not to go out too fast.  Aron and I kept it in the 8:15-8:30 range I think and were cruising along really well.  This part of the course is through all the pretty Redwood trees and it smells sooooo good!  It was a pretty large pack around us and we just chatted and enjoyed the miles.  By about mile 3 I had to go potty.  It made me mad.  With such an early start I wasn't able to go before hand and I knew it was going to, excuse the expression, "rear it's ugly head," at some point.  I didn't want to leave Aron but I had to go!  By mile 6 there was a potty and I sped off leaving Aron in hopes of catching up to her again.  There was a line!  I waited almost 3 mins before I got to go!  And by the time I hit the course again I was off by 5 mins!  I was mad, but I thought I might have a chance to pick it up and maybe meet up with Aron in the future.  With that monkey off my back, I felt really good.  I picked up the pace in here since it was quite flat.  You could see the beautiful ocean in the distance and I was so enjoying the race.  In here I ran two miles both in the 7:45 range.  It was also already getting warm and by mile 9 the shirt was off! Hahahaha!

Then, in the middle of mile 9 the first big climb started.  It was the beginning of Hurricane Point.  This lasts until just after the half way point.  I decided to run this conservatively, keeping my paces slow.  It was hard!  And and I was feeling it.  Around the 11 mile mark my stomach started feeling sick.  I had taken in two Gu's by this point and quite a bit of fluids.  But for some reason my stomach was not happy.  I decided to just turn up my tunes and try to keep plugging away.  Another really rough part of this course is that it is all along the highway.  And you are running on the banked turns.  This means that, a LOT OF THE TIME the road is at an angle.  It really tears your ankles and calves up and is mean to your knees.  So not only are you climbing but you are dealing with the banked road.  I would try to find level ground on either side of the road but most times it just didn't help and you end up using more energy bouncing from one side to the other.

By the end of hurricane point, or as the sign read at the top, "huri-pain point" my stomach was mad!  I through up everything I had in me - my breakfast and my Gu's!  Oh God was all I could think!  Right away I felt a ton better but I knew that would not last long.  It was warm, I had lost all my nutrition and I had half a marathon left.  At the next aid station I drank two cups of water and kept running.  By now my pace had slipped in even the flat parts to the 9:00 mi pace.  But that was okay with me.  Even though I wanted a sub 4, I also had to remind myself that I had just run Boston, that I just got over the flu, and I was on a really difficult course.  I just kept plugging away, attempting to get up the hills and take in the beautiful scenery.  All around me the runners were complaining of the awful road conditions.  The road at an angle was really hard.  I don't think anyone, including me, thought this would be a factor. 

My stomach was starting to act up again around mile 16, but I thought maybe a Gu would help.  So I attempted to swallow one down and that was not happening!  I spit it out and just tried to get the water down.  Oh, did I mention that it was LEMON LIME GATORADE on the damn course!!!  Ugh!  I had hoped never to taste that shit again!  And I didn't! Ha!  So water it was and I kept plugging away.  By mile 17.5 my legs stared to cramp.  My glute which was giving me trouble since Boston was hurting so I decided to sit down and try to stretch out which had really helped in Boston.  After the stretch I stood up probably a little too fast and puked again!  Aaaaa!  This time I was near an aid station I think and the medic lady came over.  I told her I was fine but she really wanted me to come over.  I told her I just needed some water and I would be fine.  Really, I felt okay after I puked, but the stopping was making my legs angry.  So I chugged a cup of water and kept going.  I stopped looking at my watch as I saw a sub 4 melt away.  And I was fine with that!  It was so pretty out there!  The waves crashing, the sun shinning, it was a perfect day for running on one of the most beautiful courses in the world and I was still enjoying it all!

Around the 20 mile mark I ran in to Sarah Bowen Shea who was attempting to BQ with a 4 hour marathon.  She was looking tired but strong when I met her.  We chatted for a second and off I went.  I was feeling so so, my butt was hurting but I wanted to keep going.  At the mile 23 mark, I sat down again to stretch.  It was hot and I was done.  It was only 3 miles left but I still had the big hill at mile 25.  My legs felt a ton better but again, when I stood up, I threw up again!  I was really done at this point.  I sat there for a few and gathered myself.  I couldn't believe I was having this happen.  But I really tried to stay positive.  I wanted to finish.  I started running again but super slow.  The hills were still rolling but it was still really pretty out.  I was hot and dehydrated, I had cotton mouth!  At the next aid station I stopped and drank two cups of water and then saw Sarah pass me.  She looked good and was on track for the four hour goal.  I cheered her on, she waved and I watched her cruise by.  I was back to running again and soaking it all up.  Everyone around me looked spent.

There was a guy I kept playing leap frog with.  He was wearing a bright yellow shirt and every time we would pass one another we would high five and encourage one another.  That was fun, it felt good to have some comrade out there.  By mile 25 and the big hill my legs were done!  I was out of energy.  I started to walk the hill.  I wanted to cry but I didn't.  I was walking through beautiful trees and views and I was enjoying myself.  The yellow shirt guy passed me and tried to get me running but I told him to keep going.  I made it up the hill and attempted to start running.  My legs cramped!  They cramped bad!  And at mile 25.7 I saw Ari and decided to walk.  I was hurting so bad at this point.  It was awful, so close to the finish.  Ari gave me some water and attempted to encourage me.  I was in sooo much pain!  It was Boston all over again!  That last half mile took me almost 15 mins.  I had to keep stopping to stretch and collect myself. 

Ari got this shot of me walking!

Finally at the 26 mile mark, Ari told me to run and I did.  I didn't want to walk into the finish!  So I picked myself up and ran in.  I crossed the line in 4:20 and change and right away when I stopped my legs cramped up so bad I collapsed!  A cute marine and a medic picked me up and took me to the medic tent.  They were so nice to me!  They let me stop and get my medal first :)  In the tent I got some Advil and a massage and lots of water.  It felt so good to stop running!  Then they sent me to the ice swimming pool where I dipped my feet and calves.  Oh so good!  I also ate a banana right away and with in about 10 mins my legs were fine!  I think I was so depleted of potassium and electrolytes that I had really done a number on myself. 

I was finally able to walk okay and we headed over to the B2B tent where I got my other medal and jacket :) 

I was really proud of myself.  I didn't have the race I wanted but I enjoyed it none the less.  Even when I was puking my guts out on the side of Highway 1, I was realizing that I was accomplishing something most people only dream of.  I really need to figure out my nutrition.  I think I am done with Gu's.  I know I don't do well in the heat, and they may have contributed, but I can't let it stop me all summer.  This race is one to put on your list.  It is so well organized, so beautiful and so worth it!  As you can see, I still had a smile on my face.

Two medals.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to run this race.  I was cursing the difficult course out there the whole time, but it was worth it.  The beauty and the sense of accomplishment is so worth it.  I learned a lot about myself in the last six days.  I learned that I really am a strong runner.  That when I put my head down and focus on the task ahead of me, the possibilities are endless.  I know that next year I will be back!  I will take on the B2B challenge again!  I want my redemption!  I could look at my 4:20 time and even my 4:30 time and really get down on myself since I know I am a stronger and better runner than that.  But you know what?  I did it with less than I ideal conditions.  I ran 2 marathons in 6 days, one while recovering from the flu and the other on a hard course.  I saw two beautiful parts of the country, I ran two beautiful courses some only dream about.  I know I have talked a lot about soaking it all up and I did again on Sunday!  I can remember every mile, and even though I felt like poo for the second half, I enjoyed it!  I love to run, I think that is what I learned this week.

My plans are already in the works.  I have the Relay this weekend which I am SUPER EXCITED about!  And, I am switching to the SF full Marathon in July.  The next two months are going to be filled with more hill training, more core training and more speed work.  I know what I need to do and I can't wait!  I will say though, I am so done with the 26.2 mile distance for a while!  I know by July I will be itching again, but for now I am happy and proud and will bask in the glow of a hard 6 days :)
My two medals :) I also got a really NICE jacket that I forgot to take a pic of!  I will tonight and post it soon!

Thank you to all of you for your on going support and encouragement.  I really appreciate it.  I hope that I have inspired some of you to tackle something you never thought possible.  I may not have ran my fastest marathons, but I definitely ran the marathon's of my life.  I enjoyed every second of it, and I hope that is what you take from this.  Running can be easy at times and we take it for granted.  But it isn't always flowers and sunshine.  The marathon distance is long and hard and I always attempt to enjoy every second of it, even when it doesn't turn out the way you planned or hoped for :)

Thanks again for reading, I'm back to work today and now off to try to catch up with all of you!!
Happy Running peeps!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

114th Boston Marathon: Race Report (kind-of)

**EDITORS NOTE: FYI, this is a LONG post and it is filled with spelling errors and grammar errors.  It took me forever to write and I don't have spell check on blogger.  So instead of doing my usual copy and pasting into word to spell check, I have decided to for go that, bare with me peeps :)

I have written this post about 15,754 times in my head but I haven't been able to bring myself to put it out in bloggy land.  I needed time to decompress, to digest what was Boston, and to gather my head for tomorrow's race, Big Sur.  First off, I want to thank all of you for your support and encouragement.  I received so many wonderful emails from my post about being sick that I felt so much love and support.  Thank you.

I had big plans for Boston.  As I am sure many of you are aware, nothing went as planned.  I woke up on April 15th with a ragging stomach flu that left me drained and weak.  I cried all day on Thursday as I flushed my Boston dreams down the toilet.  But I was bound and determined to go no matter what.  Flying there was a nightmare, thank God for first class.  I was still sick as a dog and so worried about the race.  But everyone kept telling me Monday was a long way off.  Well, it was...and it wasn't.  Not only did I have to battle the drain from the flu, I had to collect my thoughts and my head so that I could even tackle 26.2 miles on a notoriously difficult course.  I don't care how prepared you are, flu or no flu, 26.2 miles is a long way even a peak conditioning.  I tried to take in the city and everything that the race had to offer but my self doubts did get the best of me.  I have to say though, the second I got off the plane in Boston, you could feel the electricity of the marathon.  Even in the simple kiosks in the airport, they were selling the Adidas racing gear and everyone, including the locals, had marathon fever.  It's electrifying, and you feel it everywhere you go.  That is what makes Boston so awesome.  It is everything that you hope for a race and then some.  And I was so disappointed I couldn't enjoy it more.

Friday we checked into our hotel and I continued to battle the flu.  I was still wicked sick and had a fever.  But Saturday morning I woke up and felt well enough to go and see the awesomeness of the Expo.  Every where you you went people had on their famous Boston Adidas jackets and I wanted mine!  It was rainy and cold and although they were predicting it to all clear up for Monday, it was hard to also not dwell on the shitty weather.  But the expo was calling and we had to get there!

They were setting up the start line and you could right up to it!
I felt like garbage here but was bound and determined to soak it all up!

At the expo I also had to pick up my 5K gear and when I mentioned to the volunteers I had the flu they were shocked I was there!  But it's Boston! And I had worked soooo hard to get there, I wasn't going to miss it!  The expo is everything you want it to be.  At packet pick up you felt like a rockstar and it was so cool to see how many people were running it.  26,000+ runners, and they had an entire expo wing dedicated to packet pick up.  This was the MOST ORGANIZED expo I had been to.  They made it easy and fun and it was hard not to get sucked into all the excitement even when you felt like crap!

I quickly grabbed my packet, went shopping for my jacket and hit the expo.  BTW, I spent way too much money there!  The second you walk in, you are accosted by the Adidas Boston garb.  You want it all and it's hard to hold back!  I walked away with my Boston jacket, a pair of Boston capri's, a Boston long sleeve shirt and a Boston sweatshirt!  It was awesome.  The expo is a blast too, and even though I was hot and light headed, I didn't want to leave.  The electricity of it is contagious and you want to be there surrounded by the best of the best in running.  But I also had the 5K the next day and wanted to rest.  I still hadn't eaten much by then and I wanted to start feeling better.  On our way back to the hotel we snapped some more fun pics of the starting line.  I kept having to pinch myself that I was actually there!  It is everything you want it to be and more :)

It was so cool they let you walk right up to the finish as they were working on it.  I could see myself crossing it and I got a little teary eyed.  There is nothing like the feeling of seeing yourself to the finish line (literally) of your goal. 

Saw this and had to take a pick.  I would have loved to go to this, as I needed all the help I could get, but it was during the same time as the 5K and the bloggy meet up breakfast, boo!

When we got back to the hotel we took a nap and I attempted to start fueling up.  I was going to use the 5K as a measure of how I would feel come Monday.  My brother had told us we had to go to Fenway Park.  We are HUGE baseball fans at my house, especially my hubbs and he told us to go to a specific bar called the Bleacher Bar.  So, that afternoon we headed out on the "T" to Fenway and take in the sights.

I won't ruin it for you, but Bleacher Bar has a little secret in it for the guys.  If you go with your hubbs or BF next year, take them there and have them use the men's restroom, they won't be disappointed!  You can watch the game from out in center field of the Green Monster  while you sip your beer.  Soo cool!  When we go there, I ordered a beer and a giant pretzel (yeah, probably not the best with the flu but I had to carb up!) and Ari told me he wasn't feeling to well and headed off to the restroom.  As I waited for our drinks Ari came back looking as pale as a ghost!  He told me he had caught what I had and we had to leave NOW!  It was awful!  He got my flu!  So we high tailed it back to the hotel (sans beer and pretzel!) and proceeded to take care of him.  So far we were off to a really rocky start for Boston.  I was kind-of feeling better and he had come down with it!  He could tell his wasn't nearly as bad as mine, but we both spent the rest of Saturday sleeping and resting.

Sunday morning, the day of the 5K I woke up feeling pretty good.  Well, well enough to run a 5K and see some bloggy peeps.  We headed down to the start line and I right away met up with the Redhead, Spike and Lauren.  Lauren wanted a PR, and so did the Redhead.  But the Redhead wanted to race and I knew I didn't have a sub 22 in me, especially the day before a marathon.  So I stuck with Lauren and paced her to a 5K PR!  Whoo hoo! 26:26 - she did great and felt awesome to be apart of some one's goals.

Pre 5K - I think I might puke!
Sorry it's sideways, won't let me flip it!
Me, Lauren, and the Redhead - as you can see I'm all bundled up, and they are ready to race! Hahaha!
After the 5K - awesome PR's!!

After the 5K we had a bloggy breakfast meet up with 18 bloggy peeps!  It was so cool to finally meet everyone in person and make sure they weren't actually serial killers :)  I finally got to meet Jill, Sam from, Marcia, Christy and tons of others! (Check out their blogs for great recaps and more pics!)  It was so nice to sit down and chat with people who you feel like you have known forever!  Breakfast was tasty, the conversation was great and I was finally feeling a bit decent.  I was actually thinking I might do okay the next day!

So excited to finally meet this guy!  Please go and check out and see what Sam is doing!  He was just as great in person as on his blog.  Cool thing is, I get to run with him in a couple of more races this year, San Francisco Marathon and Lake Tahoe marathon!  Whoo hoo!  Also, go and check out the Redhead's blog for many more bloggy photos of the breakfast.  I wasn't feeling all that picture happy that morning but she did a great job!  Thanks Morgan! 

Sunday afternoon I just lazed around and tried to eat.  I had no appetite beyond a few bites of food at a time.  And I tried to get down the water and fluids, but I knew trying to make up for lost time was a lost cause.  I went to bed on Sunday night praying I wouldn't die out there, and that I would just make it to the finish line.  I had resigned myself to even being picked up by the sweeper bus if need be.  After all, Boston is your victory lap, right?

Monday I woke up feeling okay.  Tired, but okay.  The buses were picking up peeps at Boston Commons which was just down the street from my hotel.  I had plans to ride the bus with Marcia and Jill so we meet up and waited and waited.  One thing about this race, you walk a lot before you even hit the starting line.  I had probably walked a good 3 miles already that morning before you even get to the start.  And since I was already running on low, that was a heavy toll to take.

I had no idea what to wear.  I went with capri's, shorts and a long sleeve shirt.  It was chilly but not bad out and they predicting the 50's by race time.  But I was still not 100% and my body temps were all over the place still. 
Waiting in line for the buses!

I didn't really have a race plan.  I knew I need to run conservatively until the Newton Hills and Heartbreak hill, but I had no other idea than that.  I also thought I could do a 3:50 or 4:00 marathon, keeping it right around the 9:00 mi/pace.  Jill had said that was what she was shooting for since her glute was giving her trouble and she just wanted to enjoy it.  So I decided to stick with her.  The bus ride was a blast.  I had so much fun chatting with Marcia and Jill that I totally forgot we were on our way to run a marathon!  Those ladies are SO NICE!  Love them both so much!  Thanks girls for everything!  They were both veteran Boston runners and I soaked up everything I could.  Our buses were running a big behind, so by the time we got to the athletes village, we literally only had time to use the porta potties once, check our bags, snap some photos and head to the start line, which by the way, is 0.7 miles away from the village!  Add that to the long day already!  We checked our bags, said good bye to Marcia and Jill and I raced to the corrals.  She was in corral 18, I was in 15 but she couldn't go to mine but I could go to hers.  So we attempted to get in, but all of a sudden they said one minute to the start!  We raced into the corrals and off we went!  A little chaotic for my taste but really I was just going with the flow!

I could go into major detail about the race, but I'm not.  Right off the bat I could feel that I was no where near 100%.  My knees started killing me, I was feeling tired by mile 3 and I just attempted to soak it all up.  One thing about this race, it doesn't matter where you start or how fast you are.  It is constant congestion the whole time!! There are 26,000+ runners out there and the roads at times are not very wide.  You would look up at one point and could see about a half a mile ahead of you and it was one giant snake of runners all crammed together.  It was actually awe inspiring.  I have goose bumps still thinking about it.  Also, it's Patriot's Day and everyone has the day off! 

Jill and I just started running and enjoying each other's company.  We were cracking jokes about the peeps around us or on the side lines and complaining about our different ailments.  I think we both joked around mile 5, "that was fun, I'm done! Where's my damn medal!"  We both felt like garbage and just tried to smile and ENJOY the Boston experience.  As crappy as I felt, you couldn't mistake the energy of the race.  The ENTIRE RACE COURSE is lined with people cheering you on.  Sometimes it is 3-4 people deep!  Every town we ran through the people loved the runners!  Everyone cheered, young and old.  We even passed an old folks home where they wheeled out the people in their wheel chairs to cheer us on!  You couldn't help but get energy from the crowd and I def was feeding off it.  We kept checking in with one another and assessing our paces.  We were doing pretty good at keeping it around 8:30-9:15's.  There is no mistaking it, it is a hilly course.  It's constant ups and downs and you feel it.  I was taking my Gu, drinking the Gatorade and water at each stop and just trying to survive.  My legs were feeling tired, something that I usually don't ever battle through.  That was hard, I wasn't prepared for that.  Normally, on my long runs, my legs can keep going and going, it's my head and my body that give out first.  But right off the bat and through the whole race my legs felt like led - like somebody had taken my batteries out.

The other neat thing about the race is that the spectators are out there for YOU!  There are rogue water stations and people passing out orange slices!  I def took advantage of the orange slices.  I was tired of lemon-line Gatorade by the half way point and I would be happy if I never drank that shit again!  But I had to since I need the electrolytes.  I also took three salt tabs but it never really helped since I had already started the race so depleted.  Right before the half way point is the famous Welsley girls.  It is an experience I will never forget.  I was feeling kind-of low, we had just tackled a rather large hill and I needed a boost!  They are soooo nice!  They are holding out signs for free kiss and hugs, screaming wicked loud and their energy is contagious!  I even stopped a few times for some kisses!  It was just so awesome.  At this point, Jill's bladder was about to explode.  She needed to stop, but I was afraid if I did I wouldn't start again.  I also wanted to see if I could work on my stride and get some more power.  The Welsley girls had given me some strength and so I decided to try to pick up the pace and leave Jill.  We said our good bye's, hugged and kissed and we vowed to pick the other one up if we saw them on the road dying at any point.

It felt good to start running a bit faster.  My mile 14 was an 8:15 but after that I kept it around 8:40.  At mile 16 I was feeling tired and drained again but then I saw ARI!  He had taken the T out there to see me and I was so surprised!  I wanted to stop but he wouldn't let me!  He just told me to keep going, enjoy the race and he would see me at the finish.  That couldn't have come at a better time.  The Newton hills were about to start and I was very worried about them.  The Newton Hills are a series of 4 big hills from mile 17-21, with heartbreak hill coming it at the end.  When I got to hill one, I just put my head up and ran.  I used everything I had in those hills, and when I would get to the flat parts, I would back off, take some water and gather myself for the next one.  I was running like 10:00 miles up them, but that was okay.  I was not stopping.  But by Heartbreak hill I was done.  I think I ran an 11:30 up that one.  But I knew that if I made it to mile 21 it was all down hill the rest of the race.  So I just kept plugging away.  Finally at the top I had a Gu and a crap load of Gatorade from a nice rogue water stop.  It was blue Gatorade and it tasted fantastic!  I was tired, I was spent, and I was still on track for a sub 4.  So I pushed on.  But, then mile 22 hit and all of a sudden my legs seized up.  I was running one second and the next I was sitting on the ground with the worst cramps of my life.  I was crying and it was hard.  It was near Boston College and all the drunk boys were out there screaming and telling me to get up!  I couldn't though.  I was trying to stretch but I had nothing left.  I got up and tried to walk but that was hard.  So I sat back down and tried to stretch on the side.  It felt like forever, and I think it was.  But I had to get up, only 4 miles to go.  There is a good side to all the cheering, and then there is the bad side.  I just wanted everyone to shut the F up!  They kept yelling, you're almost there!  LIKE HELL I WAS!  My legs were cramping, I could barely walk and 4 miles is a long f-ing way!  But I started to walk and told myself I would finish no matter what.  I tried to walk/jog but every time I would stop jogging my legs would cramp even worse!  I was crying, and there is no crying in the marathon!

By about mile 22.5  I was drained.  All of a sudden, Jill comes up behind me!!  Thank GOD!  I saw her and started crying really bad, and so did she!  We exchanged war stories from the last 10 miles and vowed to finish together.  I was so thankful for her.  She helped me stretch it out good, we got some water and plugged away.   We were reunited again and back to laughing and telling ourselves how crazy this race had been.  The crowds just get louder and louder.  By this time also, I had passed the four hour mark.  I was ashamed, I was sad and I wanted it to be over.  I had never felt pain and heart ache like that before, but I had Jill with me and we tried to just enjoy the race.  We distracted ourselves with run/walking and looking at all the crazies on the sidelines.  It's funny, the closer we got the Boylston street, the more it smelt like beer and sweat! Hahaha!  People really embrace the marathon there!

We decided to cross the finish line together and I was so happy to do it with her.  Jill is an amazing runner and person, and I felt so lucky to share my Boston experience with her.  As shitty as it was out there, we had made it.  We crossed the finish line in 4:30.  A PW for me.  I had ran Lake Tahoe in elevation, injured 20 mins faster!  I was devastated and excited all at once.

My legs were bad again when we stopped.  They cramped up bad!  But they have you walk FOREVER to get your water, blanket, medal, etc.  Which I am sure under normal circumstances is great.  But when I felt so drained and cramped it was awful.  Jill and I gathered our stuff and went to find Ari.  The man was a godsend at that point!  He brought us doughnuts that we both inhaled in about 30 seconds.  A doughnut has never tasted so good in my life.

Jill was a huge help to me out there.  I need to thank her a million times.  I have so many stories to share of all our Boston craziness that I just don't have the time or space to fill it with here.  But let me say, I was so honored to run BOSTON with Jill on her BIRTHDAY!  It was awesome :)

My facebook post after the race was, "A bad day in Boston is better than a good day any where else."  And it is so true.  As hard as that race was, as difficult and draining and miserable it was for the last 40 mins, I am thankful for it.  It showed me I am strong, I can do anything, and I can even pull of a decent marathon time just four days after the flu.  I could make a million excuses for myself, but I did it under some crappy conditions.  A 4:30 in Boston is something some people only dream of.  A 4:30 marathon period, is something some people only dream of.  And I wasn't at my best.  I did ENJOY the entire race, the whole experience.  It is like nothing else in this world.  It is worth all the sweat and tears of training for a BQ.  It is worth all your time and energy.  It is worth everything it takes to get there and when you do, even when you're not 100%, it is the race of a lifetime that will change you forever.  It is all the hype and more.  I am going back next year and I WILL HAVE MY REDEMPTION.  It is a hard course, but it is doable and I know I can run a BQ in Boston.  At the meet up for Jill's birthday race night, the general feeling was, either you ran your heart out and had a kick-as time, or you crashed and burned like me.  There was no middle of the road.  It is a difficult course.  26.2 miles is hard, no matter what and race day can bring anything.  I have had some pretty awesome marathon's, all of them had been great.  I was due for a really bad one, and even then I lucked out it was in Boston, where even on a bad day, it is still great.

This has been a long post, but so I won't bore you too much longer.  I got back to the hotel, iced bathed and was good to go.  My legs were tired but not beat up.  And I was angry with that.  The cramping I got was all due to lack of nutrition.  And there was nothing more I could have done about that.  I wasn't sore, I wasn't having trouble really walking, I was just okay.  Yes, my muscles were tight, but I wasn't marathon sore.  I know the ice bath was helpful but really, I didn't race it out there.  Which is probably a blessing in disguise since I have Big Sur tomorrow and I want to really go out there and race.  I have some time goals but I am going to stick with a pacer.  They say to add about 20 mins to your normal marathon time since the course is so hard, so I am going to stick with the 3:50 pacer and see how I do.

Thank you all for reading and supporting.  Boston was the best experience.  On Tuesday, the following day, Jill, Ari and I headed out for some pastries and some sight seeing.  That was a blast.  Both Ari and I were recovered from our respectable flu's and wanted to finally see Boston.  It was so fun to share it was Jill.  Thanks again Jill for everything, I had so much fun with you and am so blessed to be able to call you a friend.  Love ya!

I guess my final thought is that Boston was not everything I wanted to be but I have come full circle this week and can say I am so happy I went, I ran and I soaked it all up.  Even in the midst of the pain and tears I SOAKED IT ALL UP!  I actually saw and enjoyed what I was running past, usually something that gets lost on me since I am so focused on my race and pace and fuel, etc.  I can remember all the miles, I can remember all the pain and I can remember all the times I was smiling and pinching myself as I reminded myself how lucky I was to be there.  It was not lost on me.  If you want to run Boston, put all your heart and effort into to qualifying.  It is the best running experience on the planet and it is worth all the blood, sweat, tears and MONEY!  I can't wait to go back next year ;) Hopefully with many of you!

Go and check out Jill's blog, the Redhead's blog and Marcia's blog.  They all took a ton of pics and have their own race story.  Thanks ladies for everything, I am so blessed to call you all friends.

It took me so long to get this down because I needed to wrap my head around it.  I needed to come full circle, and I have.  Thanks for listening and reading and all of your support!
Happy Running Peeps!
P.S.  I promise my race report for Big Sur will be up sometime on Monday!  Wish me luck! It will be so much fun!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I Have the Worst Luck

I'm currently held up in my hotel room in Boston.  Not because the weather sucks (which it does - they're predicting snow tonight!) but because I am still attempting to get over the FLU!  You got that right!  I came down with the flu on Thursday.  And guess what Thursday was?  You guessed it!  April 15th!  THE ONE DAY out of the year when I really should be at work!  But I couldn't be because I was home sick :(  I take that back, I actually made it to work like a crazy person only to turn around and come home. 

Thursday was the worst day for me ever.   I was worried I flushed my Boston dreams down the toilet with everything else I had in me.  I don't know how I did it, but I managed to get on a plane yesterday and come to Boston.  I went straight to bed when we got here and emerged this morning to head over to the expo.  I was still feeling like garbage at the expo but I had a blast.  Actually, by this afternoon I was feeling somewhat okay, only to have my poor hubbs come down with it!  We are a pair!  He is currently in bed attempting to get over it now! Ugh :(

I almost cannot think about the race or I will start to freak.  I am caught up in the excitement of it all, but I have really backed down a bit on my expectations.  Originally, pre-flu, I had plans of BQing again at Boston.  Realistically, I don't think that is possible.  Hell, right now a sub 4 would be awesome.  But I know what I am capable of and running fast right now probably would be a recipe for disaster.  I have shifted my goals.  I am taking the pressure off myself and going to attempt to BQ at the San Francisco Marathon in July instead.  By just giving myself that out made so many of my fears go away that I might actually enjoy the slow death march from Hopkinton to Boston on Monday. :)  And before I get ahead of myself, I still have Big Sur next weekend - lots on my plate that I need to stay healthy for.

I want to thank all of you for your support and encouragement through my journey to Boston.  It just goes to show us that we are all still human.  I will admit, I probably pushed myself a little hard the last couple of weeks leading up to this with all the added stress of tax season.  But live and learn and move on and enjoy.  I will be thinking of all of you when I run on Monday! 

I still have the 5K tomorrow which I am excited about and hoping will give me a better idea of my fitness and capabilities for Monday.  Cross your fingers for me!  Maybe I'll even get a chance to update you all!  Lots of great pics of me trying not to look sick! LOL!
Thanks again to all of you! 
Happy Saturday & Happy Running!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

3 Things Tuesday

Just a quick check in.  I needed the time to zone away from work for a few and check in with you all :)

1.  Just three, long days left.  I am spent.  And all the while I am hoping that this isn't going to have a long term effect on my running next Monday.  I am exhausted and am feeling like it will never end.  Yesterday I worked 12 hours and fit in a 5 mile run.  Maybe I should scrap the run, but really it was the only thing that made me smile yesterday.  I think I will continue to keep squeezing them in - my sanity is at stake!

2.  Remember that you have until 5pm Pacific time tonight to send me your total days for the core challenge.  I will be picking the winner tomorrow and also letting you know who won the donation challenge.  I still have only heard from a few of you, and I know tons of you started off strong!

3.  Amanda over at RunToTheFinish is hosting a great challenge/giveaway.  It is a first of it's kind.  You get to decide what 3 things you would like to make a habit in the next 30 days.  You can make it running related or not, but it's a challenge to get you to make positive changes in your life.  Plus, there is some REALLY cool prizes for the winner.  Go on over and take a look, you won't be disappointed :)

I'm living off coffee, protein shakes and Luna bars at this point.  No time to really stop and eat anything of substance because it either just gets cold or I forget to eat it!  I am super swamped but can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I want to thank all of you for your continued reading and listening to me complain about my job.  I know it could be worse; I'm employed for goodness sake.  But I'm definitely spent and can't wait for 5pm on April 15th.
Have a wonderful Tuesday peeps and Happy Running! :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Santa Cruz Half Marathon - Race Report (kind-of)

I say "kind-of" to this race report because really, I want Sarah to be able to tell her story.  After all, it was her race, and I was just there to support her and see her to the finish.  I don't want to ruin her first ever race report because she ROCKED it out there!

My weekend didn't start out as planned.  I had to stay at work late which caused me to miss my medium long run for the week.  I had worked 12 hours that day and by the time I got home I just wanted to go to bed!  So I decided to get up the next day, go to work and tackle the run when I got home again.  Maybe not the smartest idea when you have a half marathon the next day, but I had to get it done!  I worked until about 1pm on Saturday and by the time I got off the wind was blowing bad!  Like 30+ mph gusts!  There was no way I was going out there alone!  So the gym it was :(  Thankfully it was near empty and all I had to do was pick my treadmill and start running.

I decided to try and keep the pace conservative, but I just can't run that slow anymore.  So after 1.5 miles at an 8:11 pace, I ramped up the speed and cruised to 12 miles at a 7:30-7:45/mi pace.  It was HOT in there!  But I brought plenty of water, 2 GU's and just ran to my music.  But why is it, when I am the only one on the treadmills, with five EMPTY ones to each side of me, does the big fat guy always pick the one next to me?  Really dude?  The place is empty and you choose the treadmill next to me?  Is it for inspiration?  Is it to try and show me you're a badass at the gym on a Saturday afternoon like me?  Because your 350 pound ass sweating next to me, trying to run like me is NOT COOL!  Thankfully he only lasted about 20 mins and I got my space back.
12 miles 1:33:24  7:47/mi pace

I wasn't too spent when I was done so I headed home for a quick shower and then off to get my hair cut.  I would totally post a pic of the new "do" but my hairdresser went a little crazy with the scissors and cut off more than I would have wanted.  Oh well, it will grow.  It's not terrible, but it is SHORT!

Sunday I woke up in plenty of time to "take care of business," get dressed and pick up Sarah on time.  The wind was already bad, and they were predicting down pours all day with wind gusts of 30-40 mph.  The weather was not ideal for Sarah's first half mary, but when I picked her up she was excited and ready to tackle it!  When we got there, we had about an hour to hit up the potties and then get our race gear together.  It was already windy and the rain was threatening.
Waiting in line for the pottie :)

Sarah is in one of those! LOL!

Not sure if you can tell, but the ocean was choppy and had huge waves!  You can see the storm coming in! (Trying to look calm & collected)

Sorry it's blurry, but pre-race rockstar pose!

Sarah pre-race rockstar pose!

Pre-race and ready to go!!!

We had plenty of time to get to the start.  When the gun went off it took us about a minute to get to the front. It was packed, too!  The race starts right off with about a 1/4 mile uphill climb, the first of many.  You also get dumped right along the coast.  It was beautiful.  Thankfully, the pack was so thick at this point that the wind was still being blocked for us.  It was funny though, Sarah is a lot like me in that we are both sweaty runners.  And if I had been going at race pace I would have done the same as her - by mile 2, she was down to her sports bra :)  I was carrying everything like a good running sherpa.  I had both our gloves, her jacket and a whole bunch of other crap.  We kept a really good pace for the first few miles, right around the 9:45-10:00/mi pace.  Which is right where she wanted to be.  The wind though, once we hit the back of the course was awful and we were being blown to bits.  At about mile 4 or so, we hit our first big hill and she charged up it like a champ.  But right after this, you are thrown on to a dirt road that is covered in rocks.  It is hard to run on it, and I had worn my trail shoes just for this reason.  Also, the wind was relentless at this point.  We had slowed down a lot because we were out on the cliffs by the ocean with no protection.  She kept up like a champ though, and we kept moving.  When we finally got off the dirt road and back to the paved road, we were near mile 8 and she was tiring.  This was also another BIG hill.  I coached her up it, reminding her to look straight ahead, keep her torso straight and to pick up her knees.  The people around us liked the coaching too, and many of them said thanks for the advice.  She did great and we took a little jog break at the top.  This is a rolling hills point, too.  So this wasn't the last one.  We had about 3 more big hills after this and she did fantastic!  I was having so much fun keeping her on pace.  At one point to make her smile when she was feeling low, I played drill sarge and was yelling, "Run faster!"  It took the edge off and we all had a good laugh.

By mile 10 we were back on the road near the ocean and getting blown again.  It was brutal and the rain finally decided to start.  It was nasty and hard to run in.  Even I would have had a hard time at my own race pace out there.  She did get a charlie-horse in her hammy around mile 11 that I helped massage out.  But she was a rockstar and kept moving.  The last couple of miles were just brutal, just trying not to be blown over.  My hat even got blown off at this point!  You could also see the finish on the beach below us so that was good motivation.

By the time we rounded the final corner at mile 13 we saw Ari and Lilly waiting in the rain for us and we charged ahead.  The finish line is on the beach, which was my biggest gripe last year.  You're trying to sprint to the finish then you're stopped practically when you hit the sand.  But we charged ahead side by side.  Then though, a woman came from behind us with about 5 feet before the finish, PUSHED us apart and ran across the finish!  I was SO MAD!  What bad, bad sportsmanship!  I was pissed!  She ruined Sarah's finish - I can't wait for the finish photo's.  I went right up to that woman, told her she was a biotch and that it was bad sportsmanship.  Really lady?  Trust me, you weren't going to be making a big difference in your time!  You weren't going to win and you're time was crap anyway!  But Sarah brushed it off and found her B and hubbs and was so excited to finish. 

I didn't stay long as I had to get home and get some things done before going to work again and getting ready for Boston.  I am working all the way up until at least 5pm on Thursday and our plane leaves on Friday morning at 6am!  So I need all the time I can get to get ready.

I am so happy I got to run and pace Sarah.  It's a different experience in the 10:00/mi pace group.  It never thinned out, like NEVER!  People are more relaxed, something I don't have in the faster pace group.  It was fun, it was friendly and I enjoyed racing so much yesterday.  Thanks Sarah for letting me be apart of your first race - you are a ROCKSTAR!!  I'll leave Sarah to tell you her final time, she totally rocked it in that weather.  It was a hard day to race, but she finished strong and she should be proud!
We popped a Blue Moon beer together in the parking lot in the pouring rain :)  A well deserved beverage.  I also took a pic of the medal, it's cute but my pic is bad so maybe Sarah will get to show you.  Congrats Sarah you did awesome!!!

Today begins the start of my hell week and the final stretch to the end of tax season.  If I'm not commenting or posting much, my apologies in advance.  I have so much to do before Friday, with work and getting ready, that if I think about it too much my head starts spinning!  But congrats to all you peeps who raced this weekend and who rocked your long runs!  Good job!  I'm off to read a few before my day gets crazy!

Happy Monday and Happy Running peeps!
P.S.  I didn't hear from many of you on your results from the core challenge.  In fact, I only heard from one of you!  So PLEASE, if you would still like to a chance to win, I am extending the deadline to turn in your results until tomorrow, April 13 at 5pm Pacific time.  Please, please send me your results!  A box of Gu/Hammergel, etc is the prize!!!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bring on the CRAZY!

This weekend begins my 4 weeks of racing with 5 races!  The last month or so, I have felt like a kid back in grade school waiting for Christmas vacation to start.  It seemed so far away back in November, but now that it's here I have to pinch myself!  I am excited and nervous all at the same time, and it's getting harder and harder to concentrate on my job.    I am sure some of you are getting tired of my endless countdown, but really it's the only thing keeping me sane as I am telling my clients, "oh by the way, you owe a crap load in taxes this year!"  LOL!  I am wanting to savor these last few days of quiet while at the same time I just want it to get here. 

This weekend I am running the Santa Cruz Half Marathon with my cousin Sarah.  It's her first half marathon and I am so honored to be pacing her.  She has worked so incredibly hard for the last six months that I know that the race will just be a victory lap for her.  She has the distance down, she even has a good pace, she just needs to put her head down and run and enjoy the experience.  But what would a first race be with out a major hiccup?  They are predicting rain and wind on Saturday, ugh!  Nothing like baptism by fire!  At least she will get all the crappy weather conditions out of her way so that when she tackles the SF half in July it will feel more like a walk in the park. 

In running news I have had a pretty decent week of running.  I know I said I don't do a two week taper, and I don't, but I have definitely scaled back on the large mileage but at the same time working on my speed.  All week I have been trying to keep my pace in the sub 8:00/mi range and it's getting easier and easier.  I think it's the shoes :)  So cushy and comfy and no knee pain!  Hallelujah!
Wednesday I went home for a six mile run at lunch.  Why didn't I discover this earlier in the year?  It's so nice to break up the day with a run, I just need to get better about bringing enough food because I am starved the rest of the day!
6 miles  45:11 7:31/mi pace  I was worried about time so I guess my brain sent a message to my legs to run faster :)  I felt really energized after this and ready to hit the office again.  I did crash though at 9 pm that night at my desk.  14 hour days after running a hard 6 miles catches up to you!

Yesterday I decided to stay at work later and go home to get my run done.  So after another 12 hour day I went home to run.  I did not want to run, and if it wasn't for Ari I probably would have plopped down on the couch with Lilly instead.  But as the saying goes, I did not regret going out there.  The temps have been so nice around here lately that I just had to enjoy myself!
5 miles 37:14  7:27/mi pace  My legs were turning over quickly again and at one point, my mile three was a 6:52 mile.  I think more than anything I just wanted the run done.  By the time I got home it was well after 7 and my body was drained.  I'm feeling this long work week and fast runs today.  I want to get in a medium long run tonight so I am going to leave work early, or my "normal" time to get this in.  I have to work tomorrow and again on Sunday after the race.  So I'm going to let the guilt of going home early today slide. 

What's a post with out a picture?  I thought I would share a picture of my favorite co-pilot when I drive.  This picture is from last Friday when I picked Lilly up from doggy daycare at my parents.  She LOVES to ride in the car and when she gets in it's all business.  Dog is my co-pilot.
Looking straight ahead at the stop light.  It's all busines in the car!

It's Friday peeps!  Good luck to all you racing this weekend and to those with their last long runs on the books!  And good luck to all of you in the middle of taper!  Enjoy the fewer miles, I know your legs will thank you :)
Happy Friday and Happy Running!