Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Random Thoughts...

I have several things rolling around in my brain right now.

Like random things you think about while running a marathon:

  • Wow! Those lilacs smell WAY better than that dead raccoon did!
  • Running in fog with poor visibility is weird. I can't see what's coming up. Wait. It's probably better that way.
  • Yeah, way better.
  • Wow that hill is big. 
  • Why does that girl keep trying to pass me? Doesn't she know we are racing & I'm going to beat her?
  • (While passing a long line of stopped cars)....some of these people are NOT race fans....
  • Some of them are AWESOME! Crank that music HIGHER!
  • Why are my fingers so swollen?????? They look like sausages! (Really, why? Do you know?)
  • It made me really happy today to dig out these & hit the trail! It was crazy slow going, but so fun!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pocono Mountains Run For The Red Marathon Race Report...

This was the toughest, hilliest, most satisfying marathon yet!

Huge PR by 6 minutes 12 seconds!!!!!!

We headed out for the 3 hour trip to Stroudsburg early Saturday afternoon & got to packet pickup with plenty of time before the 7pm cutoff time. The expo was small, as you'd expect from a small race. They didn't have my shirt as the smalls didn't come in, but the volunteers and race directors were so nice that it didn't even bother me. They'll mail me my shirt. It's grey unisex long sleeve. Ok. Nothing fancy but I'll probably wear it in the fall or winter. 

A whole lot of yellow going on!
We then went to check in at our hotel and grab some food. Seafood linguini from Red Lobster might seem like a questionable choice for carbo loading but I had zero GI issues race day. In fact, this was the first time I didn't have to stop for a potty break during the race! Thank goodness for small blessings. We were going to drive the course but then decided it wouldn't make any difference the next day...except to add hill we headed back to the hotel and I laid out my race day stuff. 
I also got my 'pace band' ready for my 'Oprah' goal:
I knew 4:29 was a stretch but hey, go big or go home, right???

Race day dawned early & my alarm went off @ 5:45. I actually slept fair. Not perfect, but I wasn't tossing and turning all night. I got up, opened the drapes...rain. You have got to be freaking kidding me??? Rain again? Not heavy, but rain. Sigh. Resolving to accept my impending cold soggy run, I dressed & ate...& sent a pathetic text message to trail buddy.  A cliff bar in the room & half a pb sandwich & juice in the car during the half hour drive to the start. It was a point to point course & we chose a hotel by the finish in Stroudsburg. The host hotel had breakfast out early for runners so it was easy to get on the road. There weren't buses to the start so lots of runners were carpooling in the lobby. No problem getting to the start at Pocono Raceway. Bag check was organised & there was ample, no wait, indoor plumbing and a covered area in which to wait. At 7:45 I said goodbye to SD and walked to the start line.

Luckily they had potties there for a last minute (again, no wait) stop. Btw, my knees are fine but I chose to KT tape as a precautionary measure given the crazy hilly nature of the course. I figured it couldn't hurt and if it bothered me was easily ripped off.

At 8am, 603 brave souls set off in a light drizzle that would continue the entire race, to tackle the relentless hills of the   Pocono Mountains. Although on paper this looks like a fast and easy downhill course, I can assure you it was not. The first 4 or so miles were rolling hills. Long and gentle. I did not join a pace group but I made note of the 4:30 gal and kept her in my sights while finding my happy pace. My goal for this race was to run strong & comfortable....Leaving all i had on the course. Ideally this pace would be 10:18 overall but knowing how constantly challenging the course would be, I knew the split would be all over. 

Miles 1-4: 10:14/10:39/10:38/10:07

So far feeling good. Usually by now, if I'm going to have a GI issue, I know it. Feeling good and strong. 

Mile 5 started with a half mile climb and then plummeted to the tune of a 12%grade. 9:33. I am glad I taped. 

Mile 6 had a little climb. I think I had the best tasting orange ever at an aid station & ran 10:36. 
7,8,9&10 continued downhill at sometimes terrifying quadbusting angles that were interrupted with brief steep inclines. 
In the spirit of self preservation, I actually reined myself in a bit here. 
At mile 10 I popped 2 Tylenol, ate a Gel and did a little inventory. Yup, quads & knees at dull roar but hopefully the tape & Tylenol would see me through. 
It's hard to see but the uphills were constant and brutal
At this point, I actually started to be thankful for the light drizzle. I know! I have a hard time even typing it, but it's true. That rain was the perfect temperature regulator. 

Mile 11 was ok with just a short climb:10:12

Then the constant hills started. Mile 12 was a long haul & my first mile over 11. It was 11:04. I feel like my mile splits don't tell the true story. When I look at them It seems like I was losing it. But honestly, I felt strong. Those hills over and over again kept coming and several times I just tackled them ultra style & power walked up them (with everyone else). I really don't think it cost me much time. 

At the half I was right on target:2:14:38

For a small race with only 603 runners, there was amazing crowd support all along the route and at each aid station. Aid stations were every 2 miles, which was perfect. Each aid station was also littered with cool supportive signs before and after. I really appreciated that and looked forward to seeing what they'd have at the next station. A small touch, but one I loved. 

Miles 13,14,15: 10:37/10:57/10:45

Miles 15-20 are always the toughest mentally for me. I had a really good 5 miles. I lost the pacer somewhere around 14 but I was ok with that. My paces, given the grade, were challengingly comfortable. And by that I mean that I was pushing but not dying from it.  Make sense? There were some very very pretty downhill sections beside a creek and forest. I was passing people here and there & really just enjoying my run....achy quads and all. The roads twisted so you never knew what was up ahead. If the hill you were climbing or hurtling down was going to end around the next bend or not. Definitely kept me alert & in the game. 

Miles 16-20: 10:30/10:23/10:19/10:33/10:27

At 20, I know I can finish this. I know I can run a strong 10k any day of the week. Except, crap, there's another hill. And it's steep. What's a girl to do except power walk when necessary & explode as much as possible on the crest. Then another. 4 steep climbs in the last 10k. I put my head down and bulled through them as best I could.  Strangely, it was hard to do but I felt like I was giving my all. I was still passing people and with every step I knew I was closer to the finish line. 

Miles 21-25: 10:50/12:02/10:56/11:37/11:36

Mile 26 we enter Stroudsburg and it is blessedly flat. I'm close. I can feel it & I want to finish strong. Is it wrong that I enjoy passing people...especially in the last 10k? 10:27

At mile 26 we step onto the track. Let me tell you that after pounding 26 miles of asphalt, the spongy track felt like heaven!  3/4 of a lap and I crossed at 10:08 pace! 

I got my medal and water & headed to find SD. 

This was a small race....smaller than usual too due to the last minute course change that had to be made, but I have to hand it to the race organisers. It was a well done event. Though the course was not closed, I never felt unsafe. I think there may have been more volunteers, road marshals & helpful spectators than runners! While walking across the school grounds on our way back to the hotel a volunteer ran up to me, asked me if I was ok, did i need a shuttle (they had shuttles back to the start for those that parked there). When I said no, I'm just walking back to the hotel he asked if I'd like another water and ran to get me one. Very nice people in this town!

 I would be lying if I were to say I was confident going into this....far from it. I used a vastly different method of training....the torture plan that Thing 1 drew up for me had me doing speedwork at a pace I never would have pushed myself to normally. Paces I didn't often hit bang on but must have made me stronger. Given the technical difficulty of this course I am beyond satisfied. I got a PR on a crazy tough course & felt pretty good all through the race. Apart from my 1st...what can compare to crossing your first marathon finish line? This is the most satisfied and happy I have been in a running performance. No regrets. The tape, the Tylenol, the training, walking a few of those hills, even the vacation taper...they were all the right decisions. You've gotta love it when a plan comes together!

Monday, May 20, 2013

My New Ride!!!!!

I know you are all waiting for my marathon recap...and I'm working on that I promise! But I couldn't wait to share this.....

What's better to do the day after running your best marathon ever than get a new bike? That's right....I can't think of anything else either!

Here she Christmas & Birthday & next christmas present all rolled up in one awesome white/silver/ teal blue package:

I've been putting off going into the bike shop to get fitted until after my marathon...well, basically because I'm a scaredycat (I'm afraid of going clip less) & if I'm going to drop $$$ on a bike I want to be able to use it right away. And quite frankly, with marathon mileage ramping up the past couple months I've had zilch in the way of cross training motivation or time and as a result it has fallen to the wayside. Until now!!!!

I'm going to give a blatant endorsement of the Geneva Bicycle Shop because they are amazing. My husband made this appointment for me a long time ago. I wasn't really sure I wanted to spend money on a tri bike or just get a regular road bike. I do not think of myself a a 'triathlete' but rather as a runner that dabbles in triathlon. Chad listened to everything I had to say (including my fears & budget & was respectful of both) and showed me both kinds and then it was time to get on the trainer to see how they felt. After many tries and adjustments I got on 'my' bike. The others were ok but this one felt more like it was a part of me right away. I have always felt like I was waging war with my bike whenever I got on it. Not with this one. (She needs a name...SD suggested Glacier for how fast I ride...he cracks himself up...I can't imagine why he hasn't been scooped up by comedy network). 

I spent over 2 hours with Chad and once we found 'my bike' (& bonus, it was on a huge sale so I could actually afford it), Chad had me on that trainer for almost an hour practicing clipping in and out safely. Watching my technique and adjusting it until I could say I was comfortable. I was surprised that it was. Chad told me he'd have no problem changing to regular pedals if I really wasn't comfortable so I tried it. Btw, it turns out that biking clears a ton of lactic acid from the quads so I actually feel ok tonight. Not like I want to go run 5 miles, but ok. 

I excitedly get home and of course want to try it out. I look good in the picture above don't I?  That was taken about 15 seconds before I tried to get on the first time and promptly fell over in my driveway. It hurt. I may have bruised a rib. 

And I did this:

And this:

Well, I guess she is christened & I know what falling feels like. With much trepidation I tried again & did it! Yay me! Managed to get off our hill and to a flat road with little traffic and just rode back and forth for a while practicing getting into aero position and stopping/starting. I cannot believe how much easier it is to climb a hill on this bike! I actually made it home without having to walk! 

Aero is going to take some practice. It's a little nerve wracking having your weight in the center like that. I wobble. & clearly I'm no weeble. 

Here is proof I survived my ride:

It was meant to be. She matches the one cycling outfit I own ;-D

And do not panic...the Garmin is ok! It was just a pin that popped out. Phew!

Who knew a tri bike would be for me??? Not me for sure. But there you go...I have one. 

I'm taking advice from all you brave clipless pedal, aero bar folks...

...and I promise...marathon report soon!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Marathon #4....Done!!!!

Pocono Mountain Run for the Red

4:37!!!!!!! PR by 6:40!!!!

If I never see another hill it'll be too soon ;)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

4 Days To Marathon 4....

The countdown is on.  Sunday, whether I'm ready or not, I will be running the Pocono Mountains Run for the Red. I am pretty sure this will pan out to be my best race by far or a complete and utter disaster.  I don't think there will be any middle ground here.  I almost backed out of this race.  But then Boston happened and I feel that I NEED to do this.  I need to run.

It has been a tough training cycle.  I have pushed myself through a craptastic (that is a real word...I'm sure of it ;)) winter with Thing 1's torture training plan. Sometimes hitting my goals, sometimes wanting to die & failing.  It has been SO cold & windy! I have had more speedwork than I am used to and my long runs have not been as plentiful.  I did 2 16's, an 18, a 20 and a 5.5 hour trail run that substituted for a 20.  Then I went on vacation and my taper has been really tapered! I had a fantastic time in Spain, but we were only able to run 3 times in 9 days.  I ran my last 'long' run the day we left...10 miles.  Then I got in 3, 3, 5.5 and had to work back to back 12's starting the morning after getting back.  So I figure I'll either be REALLY well rested and awesome or crash and burn.  Then there is the course.

I am both a little excited & a lot scared! It has potential to be a fast course.  I don't mind those rolling hills.  I'm just not sure how to prep my body for that steep 5 miles of downhill.  Do you think I should tape my knees just as a precaution?  They have been ok in training so far.  Little twinges now and then but I haven't had to break out the KT tape like I did for Wineglass.  Honestly, I want to attack that downhill.  I really, really do.

Also, I lost my entire itunes when my harddrive crashed so completely that nothing could be recovered.  Yes, I know I should have backed it up.  Anyway, all my playlists are gone so I am starting fresh with a new one for the race.  Any suggestions????  I have a $30 itunes gift card burning a hole in my pocket ;-D

Also, Caro at Canadian Runner in Exile was taking pictures at her son's game and got one as he got hit by a baseball! Thank goodness he is OK! It reminded me that I had this image capture of the most epic steeplechase fail of all time at a track meet Thing 1 was competing in last month. (Actually, there is a 6 frame series that captures it all but this is the worst).  SD had to hold both me and another mum back from running out onto the track.  He did not even miss a step.  Got back up and kept running....I could not believe it.  I was sure he had hurt his head, given how red his face was.  Nope.  He had a heck of an abrasion on his leg where it hit the steeple but was otherwise ok.  And just so you know, he is ok with this photo.  It is all over his facebook. And Thing 1 would want you to know that he still came in 8th.

Check out the faces of the kids was that awful a crash!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Running in Spain...Seville

If you want to feel like a speed demon, I suggest you move to Sevilla! Went out for about 5.5 miles along the river path & it was packed with runners. I know a bunch of you live in big cities or in places where people do more than sprint to their car but I don't. If I see a couple other runners out its a good day....and mostly they are speedy folks that go by me so fast they are blurry! However....that was not the case in Seville! My 10:30 pace had me rocketing past many many leisurely runners even with stopping several times to take photos!!! It was AWESOME!

I will say that there were a couple guys out there that meant business. One was wearing a Rotterdam marathon shirt. I was wearing my Toronto marathon shirt. We did the runner nod as we passed in opposite directions. Yeah, I'm cool like that ;-D

Seville was my favourite running place. Nice temps. Easily accessible paths in the downtown core so we could minimise the stoplight stops.

Oh, and I think several Spanish rowing teams were practicing while we were running along the river! We saw 4's & 8's both men and women. The coaches were on these special boats behind the rowers yelling at them through electronic bullhorns. Rowing looks way more expensive than running!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Running in Spain...Cordoba

I almost skipped this run...we had to get up so early before catching our train to Sevilla. SO glad I didn't! Loved watching the sun rise over La Mezquita...

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Running in Spain...Madrid

I have been quiet since Boston. I have thoughts on this, but not quite yet.

In the mean time, please join me as SD & I celebrate our 20th anniversary with a trip through southern Spain :). When SD suggested this trip, back in December, it was actually a running trip....a very cool running trip. However, the company cancelled it because they were short 1 person. I was torqued briefly, but then, since we both had the time booked off work & Grandma agreed to come stay with Thing 1&2, I went ahead and booked a trip following a similar itinerary. Less running & more relaxing & sightseeing...but still running! Awesome way to explore a new city!

Despite US Airways best efforts (SD warned me not to route us through Philly, but did I listen...of course not) we finally arrived in Madrid only a couple hours late. No one was more surprised than is when our bags actually made it too!

After checking in at our hotel we explored the Puerto del Sol area & had some lunch. SD wanted a nap so I threw on my sneakers & headed out to explore. The streets & sidewalks are very crowded in the afternoon & I had to stop to take a ton of pictures but I finally made it to Il Retiro Park, which is basically a runners paradise in the middle of the city.

Refreshed from a run we headed out to explore & enjoy the tapas scene. I am quite enjoying the Spanish Rioja wine :)

The next day we took a day trip to Toledo. Definitely a place that looks like you've stepped back in time.

As I'm posting from my phone, the first set of pictures are Madrid, the second are from Toledo....enjoy...