Monday, December 5, 2011

Race Report: California International Marathon 2011

Well, hello bloggers!  Yes, yes, haven't been here in a while, but don't worry, I still keep checking in on all of you!
I ran CIM yesterday and had huge plans, but sometimes plans don't go as you, well, planned.  This is the post I put on my Daily Mile account.  Since some of you aren't on there, but probably still want to know how it went, I'll put it up here, too.  So proud of so many of you running and racing this weekend - cannot wait to go and read them all!  Hope you're all well!  Happy Running!

Wasn't sure how I wanted to write about this.  As you can see, I didn't reach my goal.  And I have been pretty beat up about it since yesterday.  The one thing that is keeping me sane is a quote from a friend who read in Brain Training for Runners is that if you're meeting your running goals 50% of the time, then you're not making your goals hard enough.  Running is not easy, and if I had gotten my sub 3 yesterday, that would have put me right at 50% - so I can rest a bit easier knowing that my goal is hard, is going to take a lot of work and is a goal worth fighting for.
So this may get long - sorry in advance!
I felt really good Saturday night, went to be early and slept great!  I woke up rested, went through my usual pre-race routine and felt ok.  Except for one thing, I couldn't go to the bathroom!  I was a bit panicked and hoped that by the time I got to the portta potties that things would be "ready to go," so I relaxed on the drive there.
Thankfully the wind had stopped, and other than the 35 degree temp at the start, I wasn't too worried about the weather for the day.  I was in shorts, a tank top and a light Lululemon shirt over that with gloves.  I felt ok.  But after I did a one mile warm up hoping to get things moving, as I stood in line at the potties I still couldn't go!  I told the hubbs that I wasn't sure if I even wanted to start since I was afraid it would be a suffer fest of running to the bathroom multiple times for 26.2 miles.  But, he reassured me and I bid him ado and went to the start line.
My legs felt good, nothing was hurting and had stayed good all week.  So, other than the cold and fear of potty stops, I was excited to race.  I ran into my friend Caitlin at the start line and we wished each other good luck.  I couldn't get right with the 3 hour pacer, it was packed.  But I wasn't worried.  When the gun went off, I felt great and just started cruising.
The first mile is down hill for about .8 until you make your first turn and hit the first hill passing mile 1.  It didn't faze me at all and I knew I was running a bit fast but thought I would just bank some time and capitalize on feeling good.
The first 4 miles went by easily, lots of ups and downs and my legs felt awesome!  I do remember in this time thinking my ass was literally COLD - numb!  But other than that everything was going to plan.  I was hitting my goal MP pace of 6:45 or faster and just went with hit.
mile 1 - 6:32
mile 2 - 6:43
mile 3 - 6:29
mile 4 - 6:37
The hills weren't bothering me at all, and I was enjoying the cool morning.  I saw the hubbs in here finally and just put on cruise control.  Still in the back of my mind I was sure I was going to have a bathroom stop.  But I was WELL ahead of the 3 hour pace group and I had banked enough time to make sure that if I stopped I would still be in a good place.
At mile 5, right before, you hit a good hill.  Each hill I went up, I attempted not to get out of breath and know that there would be a good downhill to help.  And this proved to be smart.  I wasn't out of breath, I wasn't tired and I felt good.  I also took a Gu in here, continuing each 5 miles.  I also took water from the hubbs on the bike, for some reason, I was really thirsty all day.
mile 5 - 6:44 - big hill
mile 6 - 6:53 - other half of big hill
mile 7 - 6:51
Around mile 7, I could feel the rumble in my tummy and I had to go.  It wasn't awful, but I knew I had to stop soon.  No worries, I asked the hubbs and I was way ahead of the 3 group still so I decided to stop at the next potty.  Right after mile 8, there was a potty and I stopped.
mile 8 - 6:57
When I stopped at the potty, I went in and squatted down.  As SOON as I squatted down, I felt my hammy seize up!!  OUCH!  I screamed!  I felt it run down my leg!  My hubbs even heard me scream and asked if I was ok!  I was panicked.  I finished my business and when I got out my leg was in PAIN!  I asked the hubbs if the 3 hour group passed and he said there were about 25-30 seconds ahead.  Fine, I can catch them.  Only, my leg was in pain.  My whole left leg was cramping.  I was trying to push through and find my stride as I chassed down the 3 hour guy, but my leg wanted nothing to do with that. 
From there on, I knew I was in for a fight.  I tried everything in my head to keep going.  And it worked.  I was loosing time, but the 3 hour group was just ahead of me and I still believed I could catch them.  Before the stop at mile 8, I was on track for a 2:56-2:57, after that, I was just hoping to make 3!
mile 9 - 7:55
mile 10 - 6:48
mile 11 - 6:52
mile 12 - 7:06
By mile 12, I felt so mentally and physically done.  I was fighting so hard but was in so much pain.  I had so many thoughts running through my head, like should I just quit at the half?  Am I doing permanent damage?  How do I keep going with another 14 miles?  I looked at the hubbs after the half and told him I was done.  But he just looked at me and said, find your stride, keep pushing.  You have a 1:29 half in YOU!
I will admit, when I hit the half in 1:30 I was so upset.  I KNEW I didn't have that in me anymore.  At mile 14 I got really low and down on myself.  The hills were pretty much over but my leg was just killing me.  The hubbs said my form was still good, which I guess I never broke, but my I was dragging my left leg.
mile 13 - 7:08 - half 1:30
mile 14 - 7:12 - the beginning of the end
mile 15 - 7:27
mile 16 - 7:21
With 10 miles left, I attempted to math in my head.  Yeah, we all know how well that goes during a marathon.  I thought if I kept 7:30's or better I would still make 3:05, so that became my goal.  I did everything I could to keep it there.  I still don't know how I did it.  I was still Gu'ing and taking in as much fluids I could - I was soooo thirsty!  But mentally I was done.  I saw many friends cheering and pushing me along, but I was so out of it.
When I would think about mile 18 or mile 20 or mile 22, I couldn't do it, so I kept it small, counting down the miles.  I could only think in terms of, "I have, 10 miles left, I have 9 miles left, I have 8 miles left," and so on.  I couldn't think about how long 26.2 was!
mile 17 - 7:13
mile 18 - 7:25
mile 19 - 7:36
mile 20 - 7:41
At mile 20, after I saw my wonderful friends Jana, Beth and Karin cheering, I realized I had done the math wrong.  I actually had needed like 7:15's to get that 3:05.  I was heart broken.  I didn't know how I would keep going - but I was too close to quit now.  That last 10K was some of the hardest miles I have ever run.  I felt a little like an out of body experience.  I thought of my friends, many of YOU, my family and trying to be grateful that despite my pain right now, I was out RUNNING!  A marathon!  And I am lucky!
Like I said, that last 10K was a blur.  I did everything I could to keep moving forward.  I just wanted to be done.  I tried so hard to not think of the loss of my sub 3.  But that was hard when at mile 20, the 3:05 pacer group passed me.  I was now just hoping to break sub 3:10.
mile 21 - 7:40
mile 22 - 7:46 - hill/bridge
mile 23 - 7:41
mile 24 - 7:49 - SHOOT ME NOW!
mile 25 - 7:46 - NO REALLY, SHOOT ME NOW!
mile 26 - 7:48 - GET THIS OVER WITH
Offical stat: 3:10:37 - 7:14/mi - this still amazes me.  I lost over a mile/min that second half!  I really had a lot of time banked in that first half!!  Argh!
AG - (30-34) 29/393
Women overall - 121/2484
Overall - 581/5755
When I crossed the finish line and stopped, my left leg gave out and I fell over.  Yes, I collapsed at the finish line - I was one of those people!  The hubbs has a good video of it! I couldn't move anymore.  My whole body just shut down.  Thankfully, medics were right there and my GOOD friend Layla who was on medal duty caught me.  I was so out of it.  I hurt sooo bad.  They took me over to the med tent where they tried to stretch me and get me some relief.  I don't remember much, but I do remember at one point they were stripping my wet clothes off of me and I screamed, "Don’t cut them!  It's Lululemon!!" LOL!  I still knew what was important. :O
Apparently, I was hypothermic.  My temp went down to 90.1 - even with 3 cups of hot soup in me!  I was shaking uncontrollably and my legs hurt soooo bad.  They wrapped me up and put me in front of a heater for an hour.  The whole time my hubbs was outside so worried - they wouldn't let him in.
After an hour, and my temp climbing to 96, they finally let me go.  And I felt better!  I could walk; I could talk with out chattering teeth!  But the reality of what happened hit me and I was a little overwhelmed.
I know I fought hard yesterday.  Am I disappointed?  Hell YES!!  Do I know that I still ran an incredible race despite all my odds?  Hell YES!  I found my friends and we all rehashed the day - thankfully all of them had HUGE PR's and that took my mind off my own race.
I am a day out and still a bit sad, but I know I ran a race and a time that some only will ever dream about.  I think the cold is what did me in.  I know that my legs were cold and that is what made my hammy cramp.  I probably should have gone with capri’s, but live and learn.  AND, I have a new FIRE lit.  I am MORE than determined now to do what it takes to get my sub 3.  It is a goal worth fighting for.  And like the Brain Quote says, it is a good goal – one that I can keep fighting for!
Thank you to all of YOU for the continued support.  Like I said, I thought of many of YOU yesterday and it brought me a lot of strength.
Thanks for reading ;)
CONGRATS to so many of you that raced yesterday and kicked ass!!! <3

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Race Report: Portland Marathon 2011

I know, I know!  I haven't been here in ages.  And I am truly sorry I haven't updated here in a while.  Life has been crazy, but thankfully good and I have been plugging away at work and training.  I wanted, more than anything, to post my Portland Marathon race report on here to give you all a glimpse into what I have been working towards.  Training has been priority #1 next to work and family and finally this past weekend I had a chance to give it my all and see if I could hit my goal.

Running had been going really well, I have been nailing all my workouts for the most part and really enjoying this training cycle - even though I was SO ready for race day to come.  As you will see, the stars sometimes don't always align on race day, but these are the days and races that make us stronger and hungrier for more.  This is the post I put up on my Daily Mile account so if you already got to read it there, thanks.  I am more than ready to keep my head down and keep plugging away at my new, big goal of sub 3.  Thank you to all of you who continue to support me through Daily Mile and twitter - I thought of all of you as I ran on Sunday and it kept the fire lit under me as I ran my heart out. 

And, as's a long one ;)  Grab a cup of coffee and settle in!

Where to start, where to start!?!
Sorry this is a bit late, but I was traveling home and recovering from this and I wasn't sure what I wanted to say just yet.  I had a lot of obstacles to overcome this weekend and the race and I am not sure how much I want to give credit to all of it.  So, I am going to just give you all of it (there is a lot, grab a drink and settle in!) & hopefully you'll see where I am coming from ;)

Friday when we arrived in Portland at our hotel, it was NOT like the hotel on Expedia that we booked.  It was a dump - reeked of cigarette smoke, filthy and just plain scary.  I couldn't stay there and we panicked as we attempted to find another hotel.  I will admit, this sent my nerves for a tail spin, but after a couple of hours we found another, better hotel and all was well.  We spent the evening with some family and trying to rest up.

We slept in on Saturday and got up and decided to drive the course.  I did this in Eugene and it helped a lot.  Once again, this proved smart.  I had been hearing over and over again that this was a PR course and great for racing.  Well, driving and running parts of it scared the crap out of me.  There were a lot of hills, a lot of bridges and even though I am good at hills, the placement and degree looked challenging.  I tried not to let it scare me too much and just use the info we gathered as best as I could.  I made lots of notes on the maps, and that afternoon & evening went over them and the map TONS to make sure I knew what was ahead.

Fast forward to race day morning.  I slept pretty well and woke up ok.  We got ready and I thought I had taken care of “business” at the hotel so I wasn’t too worried.  Also, it wasn’t too cold out so that made me feel better.  We parked, got my stuff together and I said good bye to the hubbs who was going to see me around the ½ mile mark on his bike.

I waited in the corral area and used the bathroom a few times.  But by now my nerves were a wreck.  I started to feel a bit sick to my stomach and tried the bathroom again.   Nothing, so I figured that once I started I would be ok.  I was in the first corral and they don’t do “elite” status for this race, so I had all the fasties around me.  After the national anthem, I lined up next to two ladies about my age and we exchanged goals.  Both were going for sub 3 and only one had done it before.  This was perfect – my rabbits!  I should also note, we were just ahead of the 3 hour pacer.  I was also wearing the 3 hour pace band that was specific to the course – which means it took the hills and stuff into consideration for mile splits – very helpful.

When the gun went off I felt great!!  The weather was perfect, low 50’s and light rain, it wasn’t too crowded and my legs felt right on.  So, I went with it even though I was a bit ahead of my 6:45/mi pace goal and the pace goals on the pace band.
Mile 1 – 6:35
Mile 2 – 6:38
Mile 3 – 7:05 (BIG HILL)
Mile 4 – 6:37

By the time I was starting mile 5, my stomach went crazy.  I felt sick and nauseous right away and got all sweaty and hot.  I had to use the bathroom, NOW!  I wanted to cry, there was nothing I could do to push this down and I was freaking that this would be the end of my sub 3 goal.  I tired to stay calm and ran to the first bathroom I could find.  I was in there forever it felt like, but I also wanted to take my time so that it would be the ONLY time for the day.

When I came out I felt good again and started to find my stride.  I also caught back up to the 3 hour pace group so my nerves were calmed once again.
Mile 5 – 7:48 – potty stop
Mile 6 – 6:40
Mile 7 – 6:44
Mile 8 – 6:50

Even though I was feeling good, I could NOT get down a GU or any water.  My stomach still felt off and I was afraid to chance it.  But I also knew I couldn’t run a marathon without any fuel.  The whole time, the hubbs on the bike was trying to get me to eat a GU, and I would open it and try to get some in before it would make me gag and I would throw it away.  Up until mile 8, I maybe had a little bit of GU, but not even a ¼ of a whole one. 

Once again though, in mile 9 my stomach flipped and I had to go again!!!  I was right with the 3 hour group and we were starting a 2 mile out and back section.  I didn’t want to stop but I had to and I was once again feeling like this was the end of the race.  No GU in me, 2 potty stops, what the hell!  So I stopped once again and hoped for the best.  I came out and felt a ton better and wanted to hit the half strong. 
Mile 9 – 8:10 – potty stop
Mile 10 – 6:48
Mile 11 – 6:52
Mile 12 – 7:04 (HILL)
Mile 13 – 6:52
13.1 – 1:32:04 – 7:02/mi pace

After the half I knew we didn’t have much more time until the next big hill was coming.  I still hadn’t taken but maybe a swallow of GU or water at this point and I was worried.  I felt strong but my stomach was just off.  I couldn’t  feel myself start to fade but I knew it would only be a matter of time with no fuel in me.  I also had lost the 3:00 pacer after the potty stop.  I was just behind the 3:05 pacer and knew I could catch him and just ahead of them I could see the 3:00 hour guy once again.  I didn’t think I had it in me to catch the 3:00 guy and this is where I had to switch gears.  There was nothing I could do to get my sub 3 now, the hand I was dealt wouldn’t allow for that so I had to refocus my goals and shoot for anything close to that.  I will admit, it was a HUGE blow.  I was running well when I wasn’t in the bathroom, but I also had no fuel in me and a hard section of the course coming.

Just after mile 16 you begin your climb up the St. John ’s Bridge.  The climb up this is something like the climb up
Lincoln Blvd.
in the SF Marathon – only this is at mile 16-17!  My energy was fading here but I knew I was strong up the hills  so I made it my goal to pass the 3:05 group up the hill.  And yes, I passed them no problem and got across the bridge into some more flat sections.  I was feeling a lot better in here and found my stride.  I was just between the 3 hour and 3:05 guy and this felt doable.
Mile 14 – 6:49
Mile 15 – 7:00 (real mental breakdown – reassess goals)
Mile 16 – 6:59
Mile 17 – 7:33 (HILL)
Mile 18 – 7:09
Mile 19 – 6:56

Through this section I had zero energy.  I honestly don’t know what kept me going other than I knew I had so little miles left and was so close to my goal.  I was on auto pilot .  The crowds were good through this neighborhood and I attempted to feed off them and kept going.  But, once again, my stomach had other plans.  I tried to push it down and tell myself I only had a few miles left but it wasn’t working.  I felt so defeated.  I had no clue what to do.  Do I stop?  Do I keep going?  I wanted so bad to be sub 3:05 at least now and knew a potty stop would ruin that.  But I had no choice and I stopped once again in mile 21.  This time, I wasn’t in there but a few seconds as I just had nothing left in me.  When I came back out I was RIGHT with the 3:05 pace group and jumped in and told myself to just hold on.

Mile 20 – 6:49
Mile 21 – 7:14 – potty stop, slight hill
Mile 22 – 6:49
Mile 23 – 6:56

I was moving pretty well with the group.  We had some big hills to get over once again in this section.  We had to go back over the river and the bridge just ate my legs up.  At this point, I was so done.  Physically and mentally.  My legs were toast from the hills and the lack of fuel.  But I had to keep going, I was so close.
Mile 24 – 7:57 – HILL!!!

When we came off the bridge back into downtown and I knew we just had over 1.5 miles to go, I felt so good mentally.  I was going to at least get my sub 3:05.  I  knew I could out kick the pacers and I knew that I had a bit more in me.  I also knew at this point I was 11th or 12th woman and I wanted to keep that in my sights. (A spectator told me this more than once).  As we were winding through downtown towards the finish, all of a sudden the train barrier came down and we were STOPPED FOR A TRAIN!!!  I screamed!!!  Literally, I screamed, “NOOOOO!!!”  I wanted to cry!  Really, after everything I had been through?  They warned us that trains were a possibility, and that most likely people later in the race would encounter them, but not us at the front.  But here it was, mile 25 of my hardest marathon and I was STOPPED!  They had also said a race official would be at the train crossing to take down bib#’s, but there wasn’t one, only a cop.  The pacers had no idea what we should do.  Everyone was pissed, screaming, swearing….at MILE 25, to be sopped was awful!  Also, when I got to the gates coming down, I totally could have ran across, the train was at least 30 seconds away.  But the cop stopped me and I had to wait.  We were stopped an almost full 2 minutes!!  By the time the gate went up, the pacers said hold on and run!  I knew sub 3:05 was gone but I was now trying to beat the clock and at least PR (sub 3:08:36).  When we stopped, there was probably 12-15 of us with the pacers, after the stop, only 2 of us could keep up. 

We ran hard and we ran fast.  I don’t know where this came from.  I had DEAD legs, ZERO energy and just wanted to be done.  We had to bob and weave the half marathoners who were walking but it didn’t matter, I was sticking to those pacers like white on rice!!  I found my stride but my legs just felt so gone. 

The finish of this race for me was the hardest ever.  I had no emotion other than to just finish.  As we hit mile 26 and I began to look for my family, I had this overwhelming feeling of sadness.  I just ran the hardest race of my life, gave everything I had and still ended up short.  We finally crossed the finish line and the announcer said my name and that I was woman #12 – not even the top 10 I wanted.  The second I crossed and stopped, I burst out into tears.  I held this back for so long.  I was so deflated, so defeated.  The finish line was just a line – I felt like I hadn’t reached my goal or accomplished anything for the day.  I was sobbing, the volunteers were thinking I was injured, but all I could say was, “I WAS STOPPED BY A TRAIN!!”  There were ZERO race officials around so I gathered my schwag, blanket, and water and tried to find my family.  I was crying so badly.  I was so sad.  And I was mad I was crying.  I ran a great race, still ran fast and PR’ed, but didn’t feel like it.
Mile 25 – 8:30 – TRAIN!!
Mile 26 – 6:50
Mile 0.2 – 2:46 – 6:53/mi

Official Results:
26.2 – 3:06:40 – 7:08/mi
12th woman overall/ 4,405
144th overall/ 8,386
3rd AG (30-34)/ 753

Garmin Results:
26.4* – 3:06:40 – 7:04/mi
*the race website said the course measure with a Garmin at 26.37 - so I guess I naile the tangents pretty well once again.

I am a few days out from this and feel slightly better.  I want you to know I thought of many of you out there today as I ran.  I know I had a lot of obstacles to overcome from the upset tummy to practically taking in ZERO fuel the whole race.  That, in and of itself, is huge and I can recognize this.

Also, THIS IS A HARD COURSE!  It is NOT a PR course, don’t let anyone tell you that.  It is deceiving.  I am good at hills, I love hills, but this race is tough, and you better be mentally ready for it.  It is a beautiful city and AWESOME crowd support, volunteers and organization, but don’t go there thinking you will set the world on fire.  It is tough, and I feel so beat up physically from this race.  I haven’t been this sore after a marathon in a LONG time.  Granted, I know that I went into a huge deficit by not fueling and that will play into my recovery, but this was marathon #11 for me and I have felt better and stronger after harder races.

I am more and more determined that I will get my sub 3 SOON.  I have said it before and will say it again, the stars have to align on race day for you to reach your goals.  Had my stomach behaved, had there been no train, I would have maybe got my sub 3 here, but the course is hard.  I probably would have come in 3-3:01.  I know now though, that in December, at CIM, sub 3 is possible.  I am right on track for it.

Thank you to all of you for your continued support through this training cycle and journey.  Like I said, I thought of many of you out there as I ran.  I promise, that sub 3 is right there and I can taste it!  Also, I will probably have my time adjusted for the train, they will probably put my time around 3:04:40, which would put me as 9th woman overall and an even bigger PR ;)  I’ll let you know when it happens.  Thanks again peeps! 
Happy Running!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Race that Wasn't

I am sure you are all shocked to see a blog post from me show up in your reader!  I know I am!  Life has gotten busy, life got hard and things like blogging took a back seat.  I want you to know though, that I have been keeping up on the reading for the most part.  I read many of your blogs on my phone when I get a free chance, but being able to comment has been put on the back burner.  I already follow so many of you on Twitter and Facebook that I haven't felt too out of the loop, and that has been my main source of communication with many of you.  If you want to keep up with all things Katie, you can follow me on Twitter, SJRedGirl is my handle, come on over and find me!

Work is mainly what has been keeping me busy - it is hard to balance your own schedule when you don't punch in and out of the same job day after day.  Learning to balance my time with personal things, work, training is a constant balancing act.  But I think I am getting the hang of it.  The good news is, I am actually making this "work from home thing" work and I couldn't be more happy being able to make my time work around my schedule.   One day I am super busy going from one client to another, while the next day I am completely free to do what I please.  Plus, it has allowed me to actually have time off with my hubbs since his day off always lands in the middle of the week, which before was a problem when I had a pesky day job to go to Monday through Friday.  Balance - it's what I am trying to achieve ;)

But, as you can see from the title of this post, it was a hard race experience that has brought me back to my blog.   My running and training has been going just awesome and I couldn't be more happy with how I am progressing with my running.  I have had quite a few races since Eugene and each one I have met my goals.  I actually have won, YES WON, two races since then and now have the confidence needed to push me towards my ultimate goal in Portland in October for a sub 3 marathon.  Actually, my training has been going so well I was bound to hit a rough patch.

This past Sunday there was a local half practically in my back yard that I hadn't raced for a couple of years.  The majority of the race was ran on a trail I run on quite frequently and knowing the trail was a big plus.  So, as I find myself doing with almost any race I enter now, I stalked the past few years of winner's times.  The Jungle Run has had some fast women show up the past couple of years, but each of their time's were not as fast as I have been running.  Last year's winner won in 1:28:xx and the previous year before that was 1:31:xx, both of which I have been running faster.  My last half, the See Jane Run in Alameda a couple of month's ago I won with a 1:25, so my confidence was through the roof that I could totally win a decent size race when I signed up.  

With the massive amounts of miles I put in each week, running 13 miles doesn't sound as far anymore.  I know for many runner's, this is still a hard distance.  And it is, don't get me wrong.  But I have progressed in my running that it isn't scary anymore - the other side of this is though, that I may not take it as seriously anymore.  I don't have the same pre-race rituals I do as with a full.  I don't take the day off before and rest, I don't worry about logistics as much and I don't necessarily watch my diet, but I also don't stress about it.  Again, this may be a down fall.

The day before the Jungle Run, I ran an easy 9 on the hamsterwhizzle.  A little bit of speed work thrown in, but if you have been following my running, 9 miles the day before was actually quite easy.  My legs felt fresh and strong and I wasn't stressing about my legs showing up to get the job done.  What I did stress about was getting to the start on time.  The race started at 7am, which meant I needed to leave the house by 5:30 (I like to get to any race at least an hour before), which meant I needed to be up by 4:30.  Yes, 4:30 is early, but I know many of us get up that early to get our runs on, especially on race day, so I wasn't too stressed about that actual time I had to get up.  The night before though, I think I ate too late.  The night before any race or long run, I like to eat by 6pm.  Well, the day before this race I didn't get to eat before 8pm, but again, I didn't stress about it too much - I was only running a half, right?

I went to bed nice and early and fell asleep just fine.  My alarm went off at 4:30 and this is where the spiral down happened.  Mistake #1: I guess I slept too well and turned if off completely!!  I NEVER over sleep!  Even though I work from home, I am up most days around 5:30.  An hour earlier shouldn't have made that big of a difference.  Apparently my body & mind had other plans because I didn't wake up until 5:10!!  AAAAAAAAAAAAA!!  I shot out of bed and quickly turned on the coffee pot and scrambled to get ready.  I had 20 minutes to get out the door and I rushed around like a crazy woman.  We got in the car at 5:30, right on time and I proceeded to eat my peanut butter toast in the car - mistake #2.  I know better than this, and it even crossed my mind if I should eat at all.  But I was planning on racing all out and knew I needed to eat so I gobbled down my breakfast.  I usually need at least 2 hours for my breakfast to digest otherwise I have a sour stomach.  But I was so worried about needing good fuel that I ate anyway.

By the time we got to the race start my stomach was in knots.  From pre-race jitters, to the stress of over sleeping and then shoving my breakfast down my throat so fast, my stomach was a mess.  I told the hubbs quite a few times I was worried about my stomach acting up but he reassured me like a good hubbs that by the time the race started I should be fine.  I had to believe him, it was all I had.  But as the clock ticked closer to 7am my stomach was still a wreck and I had no idea how I was going to do.  I wanted to run, my legs felt great but I was nauseous and just felt like garbage.  

I lined up at the front of the race and looked around for my competition.  From my view point, there didn't seem to be any "fast" chicks showing up.  I have learned this year how to look for the competition.  Yes, fast chicks do look different.  Don't act like you don't know!  They are usually in sports bras and shorts, speedy light shoes and sans iPod's.  None were around me.  I was the only crazy standing around in my sport's bra looking ready for a race.  This gave me a bit of confidence but not much, as my stomach was still a wreck.

When the gun went off I took off with the lead pack of guys and never looked back.  I knew that the men were going to be fast so I tried to stick with them for a bit.  With in the first tenth of a mile you are hit with a good hill and I charged up it giving it all I had.  I have been eating hills for breakfast in my preparation for San Francisco on July 31 so I actually got up the hill quite well.  But at the top of the hill I felt like I was going to puke!  I looked around and there were no women around me except for one, who recognized me as the winner of the See Jane Run race.  She congratulated me and I thanked her and took off.  I still had that pukey feeling though.  I was pushing as hard as I could.  I knew if I wanted a sub 1:26 I would need a 6:33/mi pace.  When I looked down at my watch after the hill and recovering from it I was in the low 6's!  Holy cow, slow down!  So I backed off and tried to collect myself.  I knew right away though, it wasn't my speed that was killing me, it was my stomach.  I was burping up peanut butter and felt like I was going to spew at any second.  I tried really hard to push it down and just run.  It wasn't working though, and when my Garmin beeped a 6:18 I knew I was in trouble.  I couldn't catch my breath, my breathing was very hard and I felt like absolute trash.

I decided to keep pushing and hope that my stomach would calm down if I backed off a bit.  There were NO women around me so I knew I had some cushion if I slowed down a bit.  It didn't work though and by mile 1.5 I had a volcano burp that sent so much acid into the back of my throat that it burned it!  Ugh!  My breathing was so hard at this point too, and I just couldn't catch my breath.  In all reality, maybe my first mile was a bit fast, but nothing too crazy I couldn't handle if my stomach had been cooperating.  I tried hard to talk myself down, to catch my breath, to just keep moving but it wasn't working.  My throat was on fire, I felt like I was going to puke at any second and I had no idea how to keep going.

My second mile beeped in at 6:27 and I knew I didn't have much left in me.  That mile felt like it took forever and I wasn't recovering.  I began to realize I needed to stop, that I couldn't keep running.  I couldn't catch my breath, the burning was so bad that one more step just felt too hard.  I tried so hard to push those "just stop!" thoughts out of my head but it wasn't working.  I was slowing down a ton and the spiral down just kept coming.  I finally couldn't take it anymore and stopped at 2.5.  Right away I started crying.  My whole throat burned, I couldn't breathe and I was so heart broken that I had STOPPED during a race that I was an instant wreck.  But...I knew I couldn't keep going, so I hit stop on my Garmin and pulled over to the side.  A few runners passing me asked if I was okay but I told them to keep going - I knew my race as over, don't loose any of your race on my sorry butt on the side of the road.  Tears came instantly.  So many emotions came over me.  A minute or so later, the hubbs found me on the bike and told me to start running.  "I can't," I yelled at him!  He offered me a Gu but I knew that was the last thing I could get down.  I couldn't swallow without it burning!  I told him my race was over and I sat down on the side of the road and cried.  A few minutes later the first woman came by and tired coxing me to get up and start running but I told her to keep going, that she had this and off she went.  That stung as much as my throat - I had a TON of time on the second place woman and the race was mine!  But there I was, on the side of the road, throat burning and in a puddle of tears.

I don't think I have ever been so disappointed in myself until that moment.  I cried as I walked the 2.5 miles back to the start.  Actually...I sobbed.  The hubbs tried to be supportive but I think he realized that it wasn't helping so we walked in silence - well, almost silence, I was after all, crying.  One thing that I have learned from my running and racing is that was separates the rest of the running crowd from the "elites," is that the elites are able to push down pain and doubt.  They can run through the hard stuff.  And for the most part, I usually do.  Trust me, running 110+ miles a week there is pain.  Not every run is good, not every day is pain-free, but I keep pushing through, both mentally and physically.  And this was the source of my disappointment.  I push through so much during my runs in the week and today, when it counted - I couldn't.  I knew that I had a lot stacked against me with this race.  I over slept, I ate late, I ate my breakfast too late - things that are usually controllable but became uncontrollable that day.  I took for granted my ability to go out and race 13 miles, I didn't take it seriously enough and as a result I ended up on the side of the road with my first official DNF.

Those 2.5 miles back to the start/finish were the longest 2.5 miles of my life.  I actually took the side streets off the race course because I couldn't bear to see everyone running.  Here I was with legs that wanted to run but I was sidelined due to stomach issues.  It was just too painful to watch - which is the exact opposite for me.  I LOVE to cheer on fellow runners, but that day I just...couldn't.

When I got back to the start I saw my two girl friend's who came out to cheer JUST FOR ME!  I walked over to them and they had looks of disbelief on their faces.  I just started sobbing again and they listened to me as I retold my tale of disaster.  Thankfully though, these chick's rock and reassured me it was just not my day.  And they were right.  I say it all the time, race day can bring ANYTHING.  You can do everything right and still have it fall apart.  Or, you can do everything wrong and walk away with a PR.  In all reality, race day is a crap shoot - and any day you get to race, and on top of that race your best, is a gift.  The real journey, the real prize is the training that got you there, not your finishing time, not the medal around your neck.

I am a few days out from this and I am still saddened by what happened.  I am a bit more clear headed about it, and a lot less "woe is me."  I set myself up to fail in a way, and I only have myself to blame.  I should have gone through the motions of preparing for a race like I used to.  I should have eaten earlier the night before, I should have re-adjusted my breakfast....shoulda, woulda, coulda.  What I did learn from all of this is that a) every race needs to be taken seriously, especially when you have big goals for yourself, b) that it is ok deviate from some rituals, like breakfast, c) that you will survive and see another day after your first DNF.  

On the drive home my ego hurt as much as my throat.  And believe you me, that is hard to type.  My throat actually hurt all the way into Monday - I burned it good!  But my ego took a hit too, my confidence went down the toilet.  I was ready to scrap all my hard training, all my hard work and call myself a failure simply because I couldn't finish.  I knew though, that we all have days or races like this and in the end it isn't what the outcome is, it's how you handle it.  I will be honest, I needed that 24 hours of feeling like garbage to move past it.  I needed to wallow in my own shame and pain to see that I really am better than the DNF next to my name.  On Monday morning though, I got up and ran.  My legs felt awesome!  My spirits were on the mend and you know what?  I ran that 13.1 miles!  I didn't run it in a time that would have landed me on the podium, but I did run it in a time that would have gotten me a NY qualifier - which is awesome in and of itself.  Just a few months ago, that was my big goal - sub 1:37.  Now a days, I can run that on a training run no problem - and that is the lesson I take away from all of this.  I have made HUGE leaps and bounds in my training the last 6 months, I have PR'ed like crazy, I have hit miles I never thought possible - so when it didn't happen one day I needed to be slapped back down to reality to remind me that running isn't always easy.  Running is hard, running can't be perfect every day - and that yes, even on race day, there is a chance it won't be "my" day.

I am back on the horse this week and nailing my training runs already.  I feel good, I feel renewed and a new fire has been lit.  I am looking forward to October 9, the day I toe the line for the Portland Marathon.  It is my main focus right now and I want nothing more than to get to race day ready and knowing I did everything in my power to reach my goal.  In the meantime though, I have San Francisco to get through.  I feel like I have been training for this race for so long that it just can't get here fast enough so I can really start focusing on Portland.  But I know SF will serve it's purpose and I will get to the other side of it with a renewed energy for Portland.

I think what brought me back to my blog was the need to type out all of my thoughts.  That is one thing I have missed about blogging.  I don't get to "down load" all of my thoughts about my training or races.   But I haven't kept up with it because really, there isn't that many exciting things going on in my life.  Who wants to hear about another 20 mile double day I ran, or the speed work and times I just hit?  I don't even that much!  Yes, I have been racing and accomplishing things, but for me I have been really trying to live in the moment and appreciate things for what they are and then move on.  But this race really struck a cord for me.  I was knocked down hard but now I know that it is probably just what I needed.  I needed a reality check, I needed to step back from the miles and times and PR's and see what the big picture is.  Not every run or day can be fabulous, and not that I live like that, but I do live with a sense that every run is a gift and I try not to waste it.  That is why I have been pushing so hard - all of this could go away in a second.  I don't want to waste this moment, this run, this time.  I have big goals and dreams for myself and I want to do everything in my power to reach them.  Sometimes things need to be put aside to focus on them, and unfortunately, blogging has been one of them.

I promise to keep reading and checking in with all of you.  I LOVE reading how all of you are doing and what you are accomplishing - it is such a source of inspiration for me, so thank you blog world, your words are very powerful.

If I don't get around to updating again before SF, good luck to all of you racing and running.  I do promise to come back and update you on SF and fill you in on all of my goals and training for Portland.  Your support and comments mean a ton to me, and I hope that my experience here will help some of you.  Running is a gift.  Every day we get to run injury free is a gift.  And I intend not to waste it.
Happy Running Peeps!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Race Report: Eugene Marathon

Before I dive into the awesomeness that was the Eugene marathon this past weekend, I need to say I am so sorry I have been absent from the blog world.  I assure you I was reading, usually on my phone, but my ability to comment or update here has been hard.  Life got busy, life got rough, life threw me some major curve balls this past month +  and I just needed to focus on getting through everything.  Thankfully though, life has calmed down, things are beginning to look positive again and hopefully things will continue to stay positive and back to its regularly scheduled programming.  Thanks for understanding ;)

Among all the craziness that was my life, the streak...came to an end :(  I was doing really awesome, too, but life had other plans for me and the weekend before Eugene I came down with the flu!!  I was on day 108, I had managed to stay injury free the whole time, I was logging 110+ miles each week!  But sometimes you can't control it all and the flu caught up with me.  I was devastated...I even ran one of the days just one mile to try and keep it up, but I was just knocked out with the flu and was forced to take two days off.  And just like that I was reminded...all good things must come to an end.  I had a great streak: I ran well, I learned so much about myself, I became a better runner and person, it gave me structure and an outlet to keep me sane when life got crazy - it served it's purpose when I needed it most.  You can better believe though that I started up once again and this time I'm hoping, baring any injury or major life crisis, that I will surpass 108 days!  I'm thinking 365 days sounds pretty dang neat!  I want to be like my friend Shelly ;)

So...on to the race report of my life!!!  Sorry, it's long - you know the drill, grab a cup of your favorite beverage and sit back and enjoy!

All week I was just feeling "off."  My first run back coming off the flu and the "forced" rest days I felt like garbage and I wasn't sure if I was going to even be able to run Eugen like I had been training for.  I had visions of last year's Boston and Big Sur creeping up on me - I had the flu right before those last year, too!  But I was bound and determined to make sure I would get there and enjoy it and run as best as I could.

The hubbs, aka "running Sherpa," and I drove up to Eugene on Friday morning.  After staying up all night with my mom watching the Royal Wedding, we jumped in the car and made the 577 mile drive up to Oregon.  The hubbs had never been to Oregon and we were actually excited for our "little 9 hour" road trip.  We hit every type of weather you can have while driving there, from heat to wind to rain and even snow!  We arrived early Friday afternoon and right away I went for a run.  Yeah, that run was awful!  And I was immediately worried that I was aiming just a little too high.  I was forgetting though, I was living off zero sleep and just sat in the car for 9 hours.  After a quick 5 mile run we enjoyed the town of Eugene.  If you are not familiar with Eugene, it's the running mecca of the world.  It's home to the Oregon Track Club, Hayward field, and the roads and trails were Prefontaine himself ran.  It's rich in running history and the town never lets you forget you are right in Oregon Duck country ;)

Saturday the hubbs and I slept in and then went out for another quick 5 mile run.  Thankfully the legs felt good this time around and I even was able to hit some MP miles while I was out there.  It was just the confidence boosting run I needed.  I finished up the run and spent the rest of the day driving the race course, stuffing my face full of pizza and attempting very hard to not focus on the fact I was running a marathon the next day!

All week the weather said a low of 47 - perfect for this running wimp.  But Sunday morning, race day, we were greeted with 32 degrees and frost!  Argh!  Oh well, the lack of wind made it not so bad and we walked the mile together from our hotel to the start line.  Right away I could tell this was going to be a great day - even if I didn't meet my "A" goal time.  The start area was filled with electricity.  Right away the hubbs and I noticed that the majority of people who were there were "runners."  You know the type, hard core runners.  Everyone looked and played the part well.  I was excited to be surrounded by such awesome talent!

The Sherpa and me (he's going to kill me for this one!  Sorry honey bunny!)

After using one of the zillion port-a-potties a few times, it was soon ready to line up in the starting corral.  I said good-bye to the hubbs who was going to meet me at the top of the first hill on his bike, and stood in the front of the first corral with runners who all had the same goal as me - sub 3:10 or better.  I wasn't sure if this was even possible that morning though, I had even taped on my wrist the 3:15 pace band because I was sure that would have to be my "B" goal for the day.  But I still decided to line up in front of the 3:10 pacer and hope for the best.

After the cutest little 8 year old girl sang a great rendition of the National Anthem, the gun went off and I right away felt great!  The pack of runners was thick, and within the first 1/2 mile you are greeted by your first "hill."  It really isn't that bad, maybe a 10th of a mile up, but many people were already slowed down by it.  The 3:10 pacer even caught up to me and I soon found myself behind the large back of runners who were attempting to pace off him.  The 3:10 goal pace is a large BQ for many men, so it was a LARGE pack.  I tried to stick with them, but just past the first mile marker I had to get out from there.  So I decided to speed up and pass them.  At first I was worried this could use up too much energy and I could pay for it later, but I knew I had to find my own stride and go with it.  I passed the big group and I was finally out from all the crowds.  There were a lot of half marathoners in here, but it wasn't crowded by any means and I decided to just go with it.  My legs felt really fresh and my kick felt good, too, so I decided to see how long I could hold my pace.  I was, at this point, thinking I would just try to hold this for as long into the race I could and if I bonked...well then, I bonked.
mile 1 - 7:08
mile 2 - 7:02
mile 3 - 7:09
mile 4 - 7:13

The pace I needed to get a 3:10 was 7:14's and for 3:15 was 7:26's.  At this point I was banking some time and I was hoping it would pay off in the end when I would need it.  Around mile 4 I started to realized I really had to pee!  It was bad, we were in an out and back portion and I was trying to stay focused and I just couldn't - I had to go and there were no porta potties.  I was also thinking that maybe I could just hold it and that the "urge" would eventually go away.  At mile 5 I took my first Gu and instantly felt a good surge from it.  But it was short lived since I had to go so.damn.bad.

I knew that between miles 7 & 8 was the big hill of the course.  I was trying to stay focused and even through here since I wanted to conserve some energy for it.  But damn, that urge to go was bad.  When we turned a corner and saw the big hill in front of us, I knew there was no way I could make it up that hill without peeing my pants, so I found the first port-a-potty and dove in!  Man, it felt like it took forever!  But as soon as I was done I met back up with the 3:10 masses and passed them again before tackling the big hill.  It was a good thing I stopped, I finally felt clear headed and tackled the hill good.  And, what goes up MUST come down, and on the down I took full advantage of it before we were dumped back on the road passing the start and finish line once again.
mile 5 - 7:07 (gu)
mile 6 - 7:04
mile 7 - 7:06
mile 8 - 7:37 (potty break)
mile 9 - 7:10

I will be honest, that potty break made me worried.  Before it I had about 200 meters on the 3:10 group and I was now trying to hold a steady pace and continue to stay in front of them.  But the whole time I was feeling really good.  In fact, I had to hold myself back at times.  There a were quite a few times I would look down and see my Garmin showing sub 7's and I knew that would not be smart so I would rein it back and just try to focus on my stride.  The crowd support was pretty good through here, too, which really helped.  This was also my first full marathon where I didn't wear my iPod - and I am so glad I didn't.  I could really pay attention to myself, my breathing, my form and just soak in the historic paths we were running on.

Around mile 10 you cross over the Willamette river and onto the bike trail that follows it.  This is also were we split from the half marathoners.  It was good to get away from them.  Finally the paths would open up and it would be easier to navigate the more narrow trails.  This section is just beautiful, with the river next to you and tons of beautiful trees.  I tried hard to soak it all up.  When I hit mile 12 I saw 1:2X:XX on my watch and knew that I was going to hit the half well ahead of the 1:35 I would need.  This was just the confidence I needed, and when I crossed the half timing mat in 1:34 and change I was right on target.  Again, I was feeling so fresh in here and just enjoying the whole run.  I wanted to pinch myself I felt so good, because still, in the back of my mind I was convinced it would eventually come crashing down and I would feel like garbage.
mile 10 - 7:09 (gu)
mile 11 - 7:14
mile 12 - 7:13
mile 13 - 7:10

I was nothing if not consistent.  I pulled back when I needed to and pushed it when I needed to.  When I hit mile 14 and I realized I only had 12 miles left it felt sooooo good!  I run 12 miles all the time!  And by doing some math in my head I knew that even if I slowed down a ton, I would still have the 3:10 in my sights.  I also was running with the same people at this point.  They were all as consistent and strong as me.  So it was good to have a few regulars around me.  At mile 15 or so we had to cross over a large overpass.  My strategy for the hills was to go up them by feel and not burn out.  I knew I would make up time as I went down and got to flat ground.  I couldn't believe how many people were already walking the hills, especially at this fast pace!  But I held onto my pace going up and didn't feel burned out at all.  And when I hit mile 16 and just 10 miles left, it started to feel soooo real!  I could finally see that my goal was totally possible. 
mile 14 - 7:10
mile 15 - 7:12 (big hill + gu)
mile 16 - 7:06 (gu kicked in!)
mile 17 - 6:58

After 16 I was feeling like I was on top of the world!  I was so in tune, I felt so fresh and felt so good!  I had to rein in my emotions because we still had some race left and as you can see, for a bit there, my emotions got away from me and I even ran a sub 7 by accident.  I quickly realized this though and began to scale back.  At this point though, things began to hurt.  My right leg was feeling tight, my right achilles started to ache (WTF? It NEVER hurts!) and my kick started to suffer.  I didn't know what was going on but this is what I had feared.  I had been running so consistant, so strong and then out of no where my leg started to ache and act up.  I tried hard to push it out of my head and began to tell the hubbs, who was on the bike next to me, to keep my focused.  I was complaining to him...a lot.  He was great though, and kept reminding me to stay focused, watch my kick, push through it.
mile 18 - 7:08
mile 19 - 7:13
mile 20 - 7:12 (gu)

Up to this point I was still very consistent.  And with just a 10K left I was still feeling confident, but in pain.  I was so upset, things that were hurting had never hurt before.  I was becoming mentally drained.  The peeps around me that had been just as consistant as me were beginning to fade too, but I tried to stay focused.  The hubbs was planning on leaving me around 23.5 to get to the finish and see me and now, the thought of not having him out there to keep me focused made me worried.  I was pushing through this crazy leg pain and so fearful it was going to come crashing to a halt at any second.  In here we were on a bike path that had some un-easy footing.  It was hard to find my footing and my kick and I just felt so off.  Around here too, some women came out of no where and started passing me.  I attempted to stick with them but I was afraid of kicking too soon so I let them go and stuck with my group.  When my watched beeped a 7:19 mile for mile 21 I got scared!  I wasn't ready to see that!  So I dug deep in here to make sure I didn't see one of those again!  Right before the hubbs took off I decided to take one more Gu - each time I took one I always felt good within a mile and I knew that was just what I would need to get me through the last 5K.  I took a Gu at 23 and said goodbye to the hubbs in hopes I would see him before the clock said 3:10.  I had been working so hard out there the whole race, I was going to be damned if I let it get away over a little bit of leg pain!
mile 21 - 7:19
mile 22 - 7:16
mile 23 - 7:24 (gu)
mile 24 - 7:17

After mile 24 I didn't feel the Gu kick in.  I was getting worried, and one guy who had been even more consistant than me began to fade bad.  I tried to kick away from him but I just couldn't shake him.  We both were fading.  People started passing me and I just felt so bad.  I felt like the race was being lost with less than 3 miles left!  When I got to mile 25 and my watch once again beeped 7:26 I freaked!  I did not want to finish like that!  So I decided to kick with everything I had.  And I'll tell you, it wasn't much.  I felt like I had energy but my leg was just killing me!  I could push but my right leg did not want to respond.  So...I zoned out.  We were running through a beautiful park, along a beautiful river, the sun was shinning, crowds were cheering and I was running the race of my life.  I put the pain out of my head and focused on getting to the finish line strong.  I eventually dropped Mr. Consistent and just put my head down and ran.  There was a chic who had passed me earlier ahead of me now I set my sights on her.  I eventually caught up to her and passed  her - she kicked too soon.  When I got to the mile 26 marker my Garmin beeped 7:09!! and I switched my watch over to over all time.  I saw 3:07:xx!!  It was JUST what I needed!  I rounded the corner and saw the finishing shoot and took off!  My leg pain would NOT hold me back!  In the final tenth mile I could hear the crowds, see the entrance onto Hayward field and saw the hubbs cheering me in!  I kicked with all I had and finally crossed the finish line in 3:08:36 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
mile 25 - 7:26
mile 26 - 7:09
last .2 - 1:11 - 6:12/mi pace

Official Stats:
26.2 miles - 3:08:36 - 7:12/mi pace
26.2 miles - 3:08:38 - 7:12/mi pace (ran the tangents perfect!)

I screamed in excitement once again when I finished!  And of course...started crying right away!  I felt amazing!  I was in so much shock, I ran the race of my life and everything went according to plan.  There are no words to describe that feeling when I finished.  All of my crazy screaming and excitement once again got every volunteer out there wanting to put my medal around my neck ;)  I grabbed my medal and a bottle of water and started looking for the hubbs.  I did stop though and look around - I had just finished the marathon of my dreams on HAYWARD field!  Home of many Olympic Track Trials and the famous Organ Track!  It was not lost on me.

I felt great afterwards.  My right leg did not hurt - grrr!  I wasn't sore, I wasn't gimping around like the rest of my fellow runners - I just felt...amazing ;)  I quickly found the hubbs, put on my jacket and just relived the greatest last 3 hours, 8 minutes and 36 seconds of my life.

I am still on cloud 9 today - that is the only way to describe it.  I did everything right out there.  I stuck to my plan, I stayed focused with my eye on the prize and didn't let myself waver too much even when my leg was killing me.  Funny thing, it doesn't hurt at all today.  It didn't even hurt yesterday as I took the one mile walk back to our hotel.  I even sat in the car for over 9 hours on the way home yesterday and it's just fine.  Who knows what aggravated it - maybe it was the uneven pavement, maybe it was one wrong step - who knows - but I am thankful it doesn't hurt anymore.  And that just goes to show you, anything can happen during 26.2 miles - what it also shows me, its not how the pain affects you, it how you LET the pain affect you.  I pushed the pain down and showed myself I am stronger than it. 

When I started the race I only wanted to run a smart race - and the goal of hitting sub 3:10 even in the starting corral just felt like a pipe dream.  Today, I know that faster is possible.  With some tweaks to my training, I am now believing that even a sub 3 is possible...soon.  All of my crazy miles, all of my crazy double days paid off.  My legs never got tired out there, I never felt out of energy and I do know that it was all due to my crazy miles and doubles - they were used to hurting! LOL!

I would recommend this race to anyone who wants to run in the footsteps of the greats.  It was so well organized, the volunteers were amazing, the scenery was out of this world and the course is PR worthy.  Put Eugene Marathon on your list of "must-do" races, it is worth the travel to the crazy little town of Eugene, OR.

I am not sure what is next for me.  Of course I have an urge to find another one right away to start ticking away at that time.  I know faster is possible and I am hungry for more.  Right now only SF Marathon in July is on my books, but I will find another between now and then.  I hope next year, when I go back to Eugene to run, I will be seated in with the elites - you need a sub 3 to line up with them.  Before yesterday it seemed like a pipe dream, today it's not a matter of "if" it's now a matter of "when."

Thank you to all of you for your encouragement and support - I thought of many of you yesterday as I ran.  I talk to so many of you on Daily Mile and Twitter that you all know who you are - so thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I'm off to catch up with all of you - many of you, like Marlene, Denise, Aron, Page, Tara, Kristen and Alyssa had great races this weekend! Congrats ladies!!  Oh, and send LOTS of healing vibes to our buddy Tonia - she had a bit of an accident yesterday :(

Happy Running Peeps!
P.S.  Here is the video the Sherpa took of me right before the finish - I have watched it a zillion times and tear up each time!  I still have to pinch myself that yesterday actually happened!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Race Report: Sactown 10 Miler

I'm sure none of you are surprised that I am writing yet another race report ;)  I had originally been signed up to pace a friend in his first 12K on Sunday, but he ended up canceling last minute due to injury.  Whoo hoo!  A free Sunday to race!  The Sactown 10 Miler was a run I had been eyeing, and since I hadn't raced one since the fall last year, I was excited to see what my new found legs would be able to do!

I was able to easily recruit my buddy Punky to join me in Sacramento.  Being just one week out from his first 50 MILE race, it was a good race for him to get some fun taper miles in. 

All week I had some goals in mind, but wasn't really sure what I would have in me.  My high mileage weeks are still in full force, and as you all know, race day can hold anything.  It also didn't help that Punky was feeding me motivation by telling me I had a good chance at hitting up the podium since it was the inaugural race - read, none of the "fasties" are coming so you're a shoe in ;)  I liked his thinking though and began stalking the past 10 mile race results from Sacramento and the Bay Area.  The top women were coming in around 1 hour, and then the peeps following around 1:06-1:10.  I love running 10 miles, and recently, on a training run/speed workouts, I had been nailing 1:06-1:07 quite easily.  If none of the fast peeps showed up, Punky might actually be right!

Punky & Me at the start in front of the State Capital ;)

Sunday had some of the best racing weather in store for us - minus the wind :(  It was was chilly out, but the wind was a bit gusty.  The race was very well organized, too.  Easy packet pick-up & easy parking.  With about 10 minutes to the start they called everyone to the starting corral.  Punky pushed me to the front.  We started eyeing the competition - and he was right, it didn't look like too many fast women had showed up.  We did notice one woman who looked like would be the one I could latch onto and run with.  We started calling her "booty-shorts chic."  She had some skin-tight underarmor booty-shorts on and a sports bra.  She didn't necessarily look like a fastie, but she moved to the front confidently when the race director called all people wanting a shot at winning to move to the front. 

With about 5 minutes to go, I stripped my throw away shirt to the side and stood in the cold.  With nothing more than shorts, my sports bra and arm warmers, I was cold!  Then, all of a sudden, the race director came back on and said they had to delay the start due to the train.  UGH!  I quickly went and grabbed my throw away shirt again and found Punky a few feet back.  We chatted up race strategy as we waited in the cold.  And waited.  And waited.  Soon the 10 minute delay had past and they were saying another 10 minutes!  WTH?  Finally, it looked like the race was going to start, I once again stripped my shirt and lined up next to booty-shorts chic.  It still seemed like we had a few minutes before the start so I started messing with my headphones and things.  Then, all of a sudden the horn went off with no warning!  I crossed the mat and hit start and was off running!

Right away I noticed that booty-shorts chic was FAST!  But I was banking that she would eventually find a slower pace and I would hold on.  I was running at a pretty good clip when I looked up and two OLDER women came out of no where and took off!  I latched onto them good, bobbing and weaving the first half mile.  It felt fast, but again, I was banking that they were just trying to get ahead of the  crowd and would soon find a good clip I could tail off.  Soon though, it became apparent, they were NOT going to slow down to the 6:30's I was hoping for.  I had to back off, and around 3/4 of the first mile, I backed off and let them take off, booty-shorts chic included.

When I hit my first mile, it beeped 6:12 - way too fast!  I was glad I decided to scale it back, I knew I would find my stride quickly and settle in.  I wasn't thinking anymore about winning, I only wanted to see what I had in me.  But I would be lying if I didn't say I was hoping they would eventually bonk and I would catch up to them once my legs warmed up.  The first 3 miles went by quick and I set a PR in the 5K during the race - 19:44!  I tried to keep a level head though, I didn't want to burn out too quickly.

By the end of mile 3, and numerous turns through downtown, I was starting to feel a bit off.  My stomach was not happy, my legs were NOT warming up and I felt like I was just holding on for dear life.  It was also in here we began to hit some rollers.  I had passed a few more women that went out way too fast and was holding onto some faster men around me.  I was just feeling a bit off the whole time through here.  At the mile 5 turn around I decided to GU and hope for the best.  I also got to see the front runners on their turn around.  I counted them - I was in 6th.  And the two older women were WAY ahead!  I put it out of my head though and just tried to run.  I also got to see Punky at this point.  I just looked at him with a "I don't know what is going on?" look, and he told me I was about 35 seconds behind 5th.  I didn't know if I could catch her, but I was going to try.

Around mile 7 I started feeling a ton better.  My legs were warmed up, and the GU had taken affect.  Also at this point, I had come up on a dude.  We were kind-of alone out there, aside from the "out" peeps still passing us on the other side.  When I came up to pass him, he started trying to respond.  He did NOT like a girl passing him.  So he grunted LOUD and tried to match my stride.  This bothered me though, he was slowing and it was causing me to slow.  We had this whole wide road and he was right on me!  Every time I would kick and try to drop him, he would get mad and try to respond - and again, it would slow me down!  Finally, I dug deep and took off, at the same time yelling at him to stay off of me!  He got the message and backed off.  He had some poor race etiquette - we had the whole road around us, no one around, he could have tried to pace with me instead of being right on me.

After I dropped him and I realized that I had less than 3 miles to go I started to kick.  I found another pack of runners right away and passed them.  Soon though, we were back in down town and it was WINDY!  We were winding through the city and the headwind was bad!  I HATE THE WIND!  Every time we would turn a corner I would hope we would get a respite from the wind but NO!  It was still coming at us sideways.  It was hard to stay focused.  Around the middle of 8 I came along a lone man running pretty well.  I decided to pace behind him.  We began leap frogging the mile.  He liked a chic pushing him and I liked him pushing me.  I was running pretty well in here despite the wind and was glad I had someone to push with.

After mile 9 I switched my watch over from "current lap" to overall time.  I had a goal the whole time of coming in sub 66.  The race directors had a fun way of rewarding you for your speedy race.  They were going to put your time on your shirt at the finish if you finished in sub 60, sub 65, sub 70 or sub 80.  At the start of the race, I was happy with sub 66, but as I was running I began to really want and see if I could get sub 65.  When I switched my watch over to current time though, I knew that sub 65 was probably not an option, so I kept my eye on the prize and my original goal of sub 66 in the front of my mind.

The final mile was straight into the wind and I just wanted to be done.  At the final turn the guy I had been running with kicked well and took off.  I tried to respond and match him - we raced side by side crossing the finish line together in 1:05:37!  I was sooo glad I had made my goal!  I felt awesome when I finished.  I felt like I could have kept going!

I thanked the guy I had ran the last 1.5 miles with, and we both agreed we pushed each other well.  Let that be a lesson to others and that dude from back around mile 7.  If you can tell people don't want you tailing them, back off or move!  But, if you find they are up for the push, work it!  You're only out there competing with yourself, don't ruin other people's race because your ego can't take being "chicked!"

When I received my sub 70 card in the finisher's shoot, I will admit I was a bit bummed.  I was just 38 seconds from the coveted sub 65.  I'm not sure where I would have made up those 38 seconds - maybe in those middle miles where I wasn't feeling so great, or...maybe not.  I am finding that with all these miles, my legs do so much better once they are warmed up - usually around mile 5.  I ran as well as I could on the day that was given to me - and I made my goal ;)

I finished the 6th woman overall!  And 2nd in my AG!  Turns out, I was competing against some of the fastest women in NorCal - so my original feelings of being bummed about 6th have been squashed, I ran well!  The top two women were in their 40's and ran 59 and 1:02 respectively!  And the three in front of me where only a minute or two off of me or just a few seconds - I'll take it!  I learned a lot about race strategy out there so that made the race more valuable than my finishing time.  I was smart in the early miles to back off and not try to stay with the rabbits.  I took the race as my own when it became apparent I was running with the big dogs.  I also rallied through some hard miles out there and was still able to meet my goal - all great mental prep for Eugene.
Official Stats:
10 miles
1:05:37 - 6:34/mi pace
6th woman overall
2nd in my AG (30-34)
Garmin Stats:
10 miles - the course was measured well!
1:05:38 - 6:34/mi pace

I found once again, that racing 10 miles is just has awful as racing a 10K.  You are pushing for what seems like forever!  I want to thank my buddy Punky for coming out with me and continuing to believe in me.  He pushes me when I think I don't have it and that is invaluable to me.  It is so easy to doubt your training, your ability, your whole training sometimes, but it is nice to have someone remind you that you are better than you think - thanks Punky ;)

I finished off another week at 122 miles - and 87 days straight of running.  My legs are still thriving off the high mileage.  I actually really love the double days and am finding that the second run of the day is usually my best day - they do so much better when they are all warmed up.  I am less than a month out from Eugene and couldn't be more pleased with how my training is going.  I am already worried how I am going to taper!  I love the high mileage and double days - I have a feeling taper is going to be awful!

Congrats to all those who raced this weekend - you guys were amazing!  Especially my buddy Marlene who surprised us all when she "ran" a marathon this weekend as a training run and ended up with a 12 minute PR!  You are amazing girlie - you are going to rock your goal race!
I'm off to catch up with all of you!
Happy Monday and Happy Running peeps!