Saturday, October 31, 2009

Monster Dash Half Marathon

I won! As my dad always says - I had the most fun so I was the winner! If they gave a prize for that. But unfortunately the only thing that seems to get measured is your time. And why shouldn't it. It's a race after all. I'm beginning to see why people don't race, just to race. Why they only like to do it when they can do their best. But I still had fun today, so this was still a good race.

The Monster Dash is a bit of a challenging course. It's much hillier than I anticipated. I tried doing the whole "slow down so my perceived effort is constant" approach, but there were many rolling hills and towards the end I just didn't have it in me. My hip was giving me problems again, but not until about mile 9 or so, which is better than Des Moines. My knee felt great, but I think it's going to be tight for a few days. I learned that when my left quad worked itself to the brink, my tendons above my knee took over and absorbed all the impact so that it why I've been having pain. I need to strengthen my quad. I think that is why my hip is sore too. What's with you quad? You're big and bad and supposed to be a menacing force, yet you are punking out time and time again? Ok - so I have asked a lot from you lately. Right quad, maybe you can talk some sense.

Anyway, my main goal for this race was to not injure myself beyond recognition. I knew this race would be a set back in my recovery, but this was it, so I thought if I just took it easy enough the damage wouldn't be too great. Um yeah. I took it easy enough. 2:47:50 easy. Whew. That's hard to swallow. It's weird. I don't feel bad about that time like I'm ashamed or anything. I still ran 13.1 miles and I did the best I could do today, but I don't like it to be written down. In the books. I didn't want it to 'count'. Well then, I should have run it. But I think I'm gonna use my daylight savings hour 'fall-back hour' for this race, so my actual time was only 1:48. I didn't invent that joke. Allison's boyfriend did. It's such a good one though, I had to use it as my own - but I added this footnote so it's legal.

I've been talking a lot about the run aspect, but not so much on the fun aspect. The reason why I had a great day anyway. I had a friend who ran a 2:15 for her debut half. Debut running really, she's done a few 5ks but then came out and totally rocked. Plus she won the costume contest. So that was fun to be a part of her day.

My friend Allison (Ally as bloggers know her) and I were Chippendale dancers. I was skeptical at first, but it totally rocked! We looked fabulous! I'll post some pictures later. I think I've got to get this post published already. But I had a great time running. I stopped to linger at the water stops. Ate my gel, walked on. Ran on, waved to the locals. It was so leisurely. As my time shows. But I enjoyed the whole dang thing. So maybe while the time is hard to swallow, it's one of those things where I just enjoyed the race. Contrary to what I was just talking about in the first few paragraphs. Am I running for fun or for performance? Pick one and then stick to it. I had fun, that was the point. No need to get all worked up about performance. A week later, I've let it go.

I fully recommend this race. Two very enthusiastic thumbs UP!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Photo Recap

Along the TCM course

Finish in SIGHT!

WOAH Nelly! Time to stop!

Good show for the camera at Des Moines 1/2

Truth is I was grimacing in pain.

These pictures make it look like I actually have a stride instead of a lame shuffle!

I juiced it at the end and managed to pass one last person. His chip time was faster though :(

What are you saying?

I'm saying, I think running and my body are no longer in love. They just want to be friends. The Des Moines 1/2 Marathon race report comes with a longer post-race report instead.

Just when I thought the weather couldn't be any better for a run than it was during TCM, we went to Des Moines and discovered IT COULD BE. It was about the same temperature, but it was sunny. The sun gave you just the right amount of heat in the crisp fall air. I wanted to go out with the 2:20 pace group. Why - I have no idea. (yes I do know - I always want to be better than I was) It was 2 weeks since the marathon and I wanted to PR the race by 4 minutes when I am at the point in my running ability when 4 minutes is a big deal. It's not like your first 10K and then 1 running year later you knock 23 minutes off. I pushed for the 2:24 I got at the Gopher to Badger 1/2. It ended up not mattering because the 2:20 pacer was gone like a rocket and left me in the exhaust. Note: I ran the first mile in 10:50 and the 2:20 pace group was NOT 9 seconds ahead of me even though we started at the same time.

Into the race. I went out around 11 minute miles and felt pretty good. Until mile 6. PAIN. My right hip absolutely ached. Not a sharp pain but felt like it popped out of the joint or something. I made it to mile 6, and decided this was it. The best I could do today was all that was needed and I needed to walk. When I started to run again, my knee was giving me major problems thus my stride was choppy and uneven and unbalanced and painful. On the verge of tears, I told myself to slow it down, be smooth, take smaller steps...just work through it. And that helped. For the rest of the race when my hip started to hurt I knew I had to walk to give it a break and then I was good for another 3/4 - 1 mile - which is about where the water stops were so it worked out well. It got better after mile 7 or so and I finished the race in 2:25:54! Only 2 minutes off my PR and I was walking a lot and just off a marathon! This tells me that when I could, I WAS RUNN-ING! I was pleased and besides the obvious hip and knee pain, I felt GOOD at that pace.

Post-race though, I'm concerned. I tried running on a treadmill the other day and felt ok. Only did 1.5 miles but the knee didn't hurt. Then I got a massage. But today, my hip is still hurting me and my knee is hurting in all kinds of new places. I've never been known as the one who ever over exerts leading to injury. I always do the minimum. I got a Dr. apt on Friday to just check things out. The fact that my right quad and right calf are sore like crazy and my same left muscles are fine, tells me that something was off during that race. I'm hoping the outcome is that I need rest and stretching and strengthening. I don't think it's any actual "injury". But Chad commented that maybe it's time for a rest and then to come back strong in November. And I'm thinking that is a super idea.


I am signed up for the Monster Dash 1/2 Marathon. I just want the medal that turns into a belt! But I am also acutely aware of what my body it telling me. I wanted that race to be my season ending high, but that ship might have sailed with the Des Moines half. And that's ok with me. I'm running 7-8 on Saturday depending what I hear at the Doc's and how I feel. I'm going to go day by day and see how I feel and relax a little instead of feel the pressure to get out there and maintain or run harder and faster. I do want to sign up for another 1/2 in January in FL, but what's important to me is that running and me remain friends. We can see other people for a while, but I think it is in both of our best interests to go on a break.

Friday, October 16, 2009

On my mind today

You know what hard? Consistency.

Consistency is what makes a good person great. It's a defining line between amateur and professional. Think of where you would be if you just took one thing and made a consistent effort at it.

I'm just saying. If I build one bookshelf, they don't call me a carpenter. I don't hit the driving range once and declare myself a great golpher.

Commitment. I can commit. I got married didn't I? I committed to training and running a marathon. I am committed to doing my job to the best of my ability. I need to commit to consistency. I'm hitting a post-marathon slump. Where I want to ride the rest of the year out in gluttony and laziness. But I haven't fully succumbed to that fate and I'll fight it to the death. My brain is still actively fighting the voice of the quitter and the enticement of McDonalds french fries (even though they are playing Monopoly at McDonalds and I LOVE McDonalds monopoly season).

Just some random ramblings on a Friday afternoon. Sunday, I am running the Des Moines 1/2 Marathon. My left knee has been hurting; think it needs more rest. But that causes my right quad to pull double duty to compensate for the lack of weight I put on my left knee and also causes my left hip to ache because instead of a normal step I push my hip out to take the impact that the knee complains about. Suck it up, Left Knee! We're doing this and we aren't out of the woods yet!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Time to stop being polite and start getting real

For the past 3 months I have been being polite to my body. Because I was asking a lot to train for a marathon, I appeased it in other ways. Like abstaining from all other forms of exercise and indulging in every treat my heart desired. I was like a first time grandmother when the parents are away - "Anything you want dear".

And that worked for me for a while. I was exercising enough and building more muscle to live the dream baby. Eat whatever you want and still stay slim. Until today.

I can walk! I can walk normal again! There is some residual aches, but I can see the light, I have exercised the demons! But my pants are a little snug. And my abs are more like fl-abs. My shoulders seem less toned.

This woman I run with congratulated me for at least getting 1/3 of my day right when I told her I always start with a good-for-me breakfast, but it goes downhill from there. And while I love her outlook, we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is a habit. To paraphrase Aristotle. And to prove it, I've got great legs, but the rest of me feels like a french fry.

No complaining mind you - these are the facts Jack. And the facts are saying "lift a weight", "drop the brownie", "do a sit-up", "forget the bagel".

I'm not quite sure how this is gonna shake out, but the foggy vision in my brain has a few goals that I'll need to detail out. And soon.
  1. Cross train - yoga, weights, swimming, group classes, spin
  2. Think healthy - not indulgent. Fuel for the body, not comfort for the brain
  3. Get faster so I can run a 2:20 1/2 marathon on Halloween - a PR by 4 minutes

And just so that these goals are a real challenge; I'm super busy this week to start. But what else is new. That's life right. Life can't wait for that perfect day to start. Tonight before my post-marathon party with my group I'm going to try to go 1-2 miles on the treadmill and then some core work and/or weights. I better make sure I have a plan before I get to the gym. A plan ALWAYS helps. Never trust a man without a plan. Just kidding - I just threw that in there to add credibility.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Twin Cities Marathon - 2009

I really don't even know where to begin. This whole experience has been nothing like anything I've experienced before and not really much of what I thought it would be. It's just a strange feeling.

Usually, I remember everything. Details, feelings, times, distances. But Sunday is just all a blur to me. I got down to the dome in plenty of time to sit with my MDRA peeps and go to the bathroom. The weather was GREAT - 42 degrees. Never rained on my head once the whole way. Since I was in wave two, I sorta of heard a horn go off for wave one, but then next thing I knew is we were walking and then THAT'S IT. We were starting. For real.

I was with 3 other girls from my training group when we crossed the starting line but they quickly pulled away from me and I was sad. I really wanted to run with them, but I had to do my own thing and I kept remembering the coaches saying to take it easy and run your own race and my race called for 12 minute miles. So I had to let them go.

Here's what I remember from miles 0-11. Woah. This is easy. So slow. I got a smile for every fan. Heck even high fives and fist pumps. Man I got a long way to go. This is getting kind of monotonous. Fun, exciting, but monotonous.

Saw my parents and husband at mile 11 and I told them I was feeling great and practically fresh as a daisy. By the time I ran into them again at 13.5 I was starting to feel like I'd been running for 13.5 miles. Knees hurting. A little bored/tired. Not so fresh anymore. Not really thinking about anything.

Miles 14-20 got worse. I kept thinking this is where the rubber hits the road. This stretch is where my mind takes over for my legs and I trust in my training. I had to believe I would get to 22 and I focused on 15. Then on 18. Then on 21 because I knew I would see my family. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. I wanted to know if my legs starting to hurt already was normal. Were other runners feeling this way too? But looking back, I was actually doing great. I wanted to run 5 miles per hour average, and I hit 20 at 3:59. Plus I was really passing people while I was running. I was achy and tired, but still had some juice in me.

I blew right by the wall at 20 excited to see my family at 21 and friends with M&Ms and oranges at 22. I had a HUGE crowd at 21. Aunts, cousins, parents, husbands (just one of those actually). And I got another burst of energy. I surged on to mile 22 and saw my friends and that propelled me to mile 23. At mile 23 ish (I think) I saw some folks from my MDRA group. They had a huge sign so I could see them from a ways back and they cheered me on. Then the coach of our group was there a little bit up and yelled my name and to stay strong. All this lasted until about 23. 23-25 were tough. I lost 2 minutes off my pace somewhere between 20-25 even with all that cheering. I think it probably happened after 23 to be honest. I started walking at the 1/2 miles more and more.

Going from 25 to 26.2 was great. For some reason 1 mile didn't seem like that much to me. There were fans and a lot to look at and it flew by. Plus I ran into a lady that works at the same company. Different building, but she was really supportive and we ran together and encouraged each other. The last .50 at least I think I had a pretty good kick. I caught site of the capital and there was no stopping me. I was so glad TO BE DONE. Five hours is a long day! Official chip time: 5:17. And I look back and I can't think of one place where I could have done more. The way I felt finishing, well, I might not have had that same feeling if I didn't walk at this point or that point. So absolutely no regrets. I just ran a perfect race.

But here is what I didn't expect. I've had more emotional races. I think I've even had more meaningful ones. Don't get me wrong. THIS WAS AMAZING! But I didn't get too emotional at the end. And I thought my first 1/2 marathon was harder. Heck, I think my first 10k was harder. In my opinion I was well trained for this race. And 20 miles is hard. 26.2 hurts the same, you just have to be smarter in the beginning of the race and then hold on for longer. I owe a lot to the coaches and trainer in my group from MDRA. They know how to run marathons and train people.

Here's what I think of the marathon. It's a strange race. Because you spend the first 1/2 and then some holding back, pacing steady, waiting for the 'race' portion to start. Then by the time you get to the 'race' portion you don't have anything left to race with and you are just trying to hold steady like you did in the first 1/2. That's just my take at my ability level. But it's like you are waiting for the moment to go, and when the moment arrives you don't actually go you just hang on.

Next on tap - email the Des Moines Marathon and drop down to the 1/2 marathon. I originally signed up for this race before Twin Cities and until yesterday thought maybe, if I walk a lot, maybe I can do it. I know I could. But I don't want to. The time and energy and pain.....nope. The 1/2 will be a great time. I'll take it easy, and then be ready to rock the Monster Dash on Halloween.

I was just an average runner. Nothing notable really. I found a good group and followed directions and I ran a marathon. Anybody can!! You can!