On the Eve of My Second Marathon

Ok, Ok, technically it is not the eve of the marathon…I have two days until the Duke City but I feel like everything I do from here on out is going to effect my performance on Sunday so let’s take a look at where I am at.

After getting over strep throat four weeks ago, I went out and kicked some serious a$$ on my 20 miler.  I averaged a 9:53 and felt pretty decent when I finished…and by decent I mean completely spent but think I will be able to push for the last 6.2 at something close to that pace.

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Now, I know that running race pace for a long run is frowned upon, but I had such a horrific 19 mile run two weeks before that I really needed a confidence booster.  So I did it.  Race pace on my longest run.  And then I decided to not follow conventional wisdom the next week either – 16 miles at 9:30 pace.

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 Yes – a long run at FASTER than race pace, but it gave me the ego boost I needed and made me feel like I was ready to tackle the race.

Then came speed bump number one: Achilles Tendinitis.

While out on an easy 4 mile run two and a half weeks from race day I was stopped in my tracks by a pull in my calf.  I knew right away it was my achilles and it did not feel good.  I hobbled home and rested for a few days, iced, road my bike like a crazy person around town and yes, perhaps cried, because I was again going to have to DNS another marathon I had signed up for just like last fall.

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Circa 1994 Schwinn Mountain Bike that weighs 1,000+lbs. It gets the job done, though.

I immediately went in for an assessment with a PT and it was recommended I get deep tissue massages, rest, ice and take some time to let it heal.  After all, I was two weeks from the race and my training was done – I wouldn’t gain anything by pushing through long painful runs now.  I had two fabulous massages that loosened both my achilles and my bum hamstring that has been bothering me since March and followed the strict PT directives to take it easy and am feeling so much better.  I also went out and bought a new pair of shoes.  About two weeks before the achilles strain happened I switched to a new pair of Mizunos – a type that I had never worn before because they discontinued my current Mizuno line.  I just had an inkling the switch might have something to do with my injury.  The minute I put on the new Brooks Adreneline I felt almost immediate relief.

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Shoes sent from heaven to save my achilles.

They are much more supportive, and while heavier than the Mizunos, I feel like these shoes are going to get me across the finish line.   If you are a runner you know that I am about to commit one of the cardinal sins of running: switching to a brand new brand of shoes days before the marathon.  I know.  I know.  I have run in them for my short taper runs this week and they just feel so good on my achilles.  I have to do it.  Stay tuned for the race report next week when I am either going to be praising Brooks or posting pictures of my blistered and battered feet.  Lets hope for the former.

Speed bump number two: Sickness (again?!!!)

Our household was hit with another round of sickness within a months time. I started with the kids and then, as most moms do, I came down with it right after they got better.  The dreaded cold with congestion in my head and chest.  It caused me to skip my long run three weeks out from the race and couple other runs and suffer through my last long run of 8 miles with all sorts of walk breaks and nose blowing.   After 10 days of complaining and barely running and taking every supplement I could find, I have turned a corner.  Congestion has cleared, I have slept well and I feel like I have my strength back…JUST IN TIME!

Race day in Sunday.  I am monitoring everything I eat from here on out.  I have the world’s most sensitive stomach so nothing but white bagels, plain chicken, potatoes, and oatmeal for the next two days.  I also have some Immodium tablets in the waiting for Sunday morning.  The weather is calling for low of 49, high of 75 with ‘sun and clouds’.  I am super excited about the ‘clouds’ part of the forecast because we don’t get a lot of cloud cover in the Land of Enchcantment and a little shade will be nice on the trail, which is mostly exposed for about 24 of the 26 miles.  I plan to wear a tank top with my new Oiselle Roga shorts (don’t worry. I have tested these out on a couple long runs.  Wasn’t going to make a second cardinal running mistake by wearing new shorts!) which I absolutely love!  I have a pair of knee socks that I cut the feet off to wear as arm warmers for the first couple miles when it is freezing out and then can toss in the garbage when I feel I don’t need them any longer.  I plan to fuel with GU along the way and will pack one bag of honey stinger chews just in case my stomach can’t take another GU after 20 miles.  I have three salt tabs to take each hour to ward off cramping and will take water and powerade along the race course.  The pace plan is to start slow for the first 3 miles at 10:00/miles and then pick it up at four to race pace of 9:45.  There is a particularly hilly part to the course from mile 10 to 14 that I would like to really hold on to race pace, and then if I am feeling good at 14 I plan to push a little faster on the way back (the course is out and back).  This is all  hypothetical of course, because with my last marathon being a total bust (due to mono) I really don’t know how I am going to perform.

Goals:

A: 9:45 pace for the race.  This would translate to a 4:15 completion time.  This is a big stretch, but maybe if the stars align I can get there.

B: Beat my first marathon time by an hour.  This would be a finish time of 4:39 or a 10:15/mile pace.  This may be the most realistic goal.

C: Not walk.  Have fun.  And remember that this is just the start of my marathoning journey, because I already have my eye on some 2015 races.

Happy racing this weekend everyone!

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#342! If you see me on the course give me a shout out! I am certainly going to need every good vibe I can get!

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December Goals

Wow, did December just fly by?!  Seems like yesterday I was setting my goals for the month and today we are wrapping up the year.  So how’d I do?  I’d give myself 75%.

Goal 1:  Hit 1,000 miles for the year.  I did it!

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And with one more run on tap with my running friend, Ceci, I hope to end the year at 1,065!

Goal 2: Stay Healthy.  I’ve worked hard this month at really listening to my body and not over doing it (see Goal 3).  I have been doing a lot of foam rolling, stretching and self massage on my shin splint and it is feeling much better than the beginning of the month, although not totally healed.  At the beginning of December I still was holding out hope that I would be able to complete the full marathon at Phoenix Rock and Roll.  I really, really wanted to cross that finish line and had even given up all time goals just to be able to say that I had done it, but then I went in to my local running store (Heart and Sole) to buy a new pair of Mizunos.  I just love this running store and the people that run it – they are very experienced and always have great advice.  I started telling them about my injury problems this fall and how RnR was coming up and that I wasn’t sure what to do.  They reminded me that I have many, many years ahead of me and why push my body beyond what it is ready to do and risk further injury?  (This advice was accompanied by their own stories of ‘pushing beyond their limits’ and ending up hurt for months afterwards).  So that sealed the deal for me.  I needed someone to talk me down from the full marathon and they did.  I am now signed up for the half marathon on January 19th, and have been training as such.

Looking forward to earning one of these in a couple weeks!

Looking forward to earning one of these in a couple weeks!

Goal 3: Complete the Runner’s World Holiday Streak.  I loved, loved, loved doing the Holiday Run Streak last year.  It kept me focused through the busy holidays and got me out the door even when it was cold out.  This year was different, though.  I already had a goal – get to Rock and Roll without further injury – and after two weeks of streaking, I decided to take a break.  I was feeling worn down and tired and I knew if I pushed through the month of December running everyday I would be burnt out in January.  As I look back on the decision, I think this has shown my growth this year.  Last year I wouldn’t have stopped.  This year, I have learned that I am not invincible and injury can happen.  I’m ending the month stronger than I started, and I attribute that to having a few rest days here and there.

Goal 4:  Complete the Run Chat Holiday Scavenger Hunt.  I absolutely loved doing this Scavenger Hunt this month.  It kept my runs interesting and forced me to run some new routes to find some of the items on my list.  My favorite run was when I had just three more things on my list –  I knew where I could find the items, but they weren’t in the neighborhoods I normally ran in, so I set off on my adventure.  I needed to find a body of water, a railroad crossing and a local coffee shop.  What I thought would be a 3-4 mile run, ended up being 7 miles that flew by.

20131231-071153.jpgWhile I didn’t win any of the prizes from this contest this round, I connected with some new runners via twitter and instagram and looking forward to their next hunt this spring.

That is my December in a nutshell.  Accomplished most of my goals, stayed healthy, am on the road to Phoenix and am looking forward to setting my 2014 running goals.

Let me just close with this one last snippet about running goals.  My 6 1/2 year old daughter loves to hear about how far my husband and I run and is always asking about how far a 5k, 10k, half and full marathon are.  She has completed four 5k runs this year – some running, some walking – and really enjoys crossing a finish line.  This week she decided she wanted to up the ante.  She wanted to go to the track and try to run 4 miles.  On Sunday morning, I took her up to the local high school, strapped my Garmin to her arm and told her she needed to complete approximately 16 laps to hit 4 miles.  I didn’t really think she would complete it and reminded her every time she passed me that if she was tired it was ok to stop.  Well.  She did it.  She didn’t run the whole thing, taking several walking breaks, but she did complete all 4 miles.  She was so happy and proud, and it reminded me about what makes goal setting so important.  Setting goals for yourself pushes you beyond what you think you can accomplish.  It makes the impossible seem possible with the right training.  My daughters enthusiasm and belief in herself was so innocent and beautiful.  It will be something that sticks with me during those hard training runs this coming year.  Believe and you can do it.

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