Nov 22, 2011

Philadelphia Marathon 2011 Race Recap

The morning started off pretty smoothly. We left the apartment by 5:00 AM and were parked super quickly once we got off 76. I was incredibly happy/impressed by how easy it was to park so close to the start and finish.

Before I knew it, it was time to run.  

Up until mile 12 I was holding some pretty even splits... all were right around 9:10min/mile... with the exception being mile 7 when I got caught up in the excitement of the crowds on Chestnut street and dropped an 8:41min/mile down. Fail. Overall I felt pretty comfortable and I really enjoyed these miles.

I found myself to be incredibly thirsty during the majority of this race. I'm so very thankful that I made the decision to carry a small handheld, despite my complete hatred of them. I felt like I couldn't get enough fluid and had no idea where any of the fluid stations were so I was trying to be conservative between being able to refill my bottle. I tried alternating between gatorade and water but I was actually feeling thirsty so I knew that meant I was probably dehydrated and therefore opted for Gatorade more often then water. 

When we split from the half marathoners the reality of how much pain I was really going to be in by the finish came crashing down on me. I knew this was going to be a painful race because I missed a few long runs in the middle of training. Frankly, this was probably the biggest thing causing my anxiety leading up to the race. At this point my legs were mildly uncomfortable and the thought that I was only half way brought on the reality that this pain was at least going to double over the next 13 miles. For about 1/2 a second I contemplated calling it a day and finishing at the half. BUT then I realized my time wouldn't even be good and just not what I was there for. 

From mile 13 to 17 my splits were again pretty even, but now hovering a 9:16 min/mile average. I was okay with that. Again, I was still comfortable. 

I'm not sure where my brain went but when I reached the mile 17 marker I was really expecting it to be 18 and I can't even begin to describe the disappointment. At this point I had already begun to count down the miles left. I kept telling myself one more mile and I'll be at 19, then 20, etc. Basically, this is where things got ugly for me. I remember coming to terms with the fact that a sub 4 was not in the cards today. This was when I told myself it was time to settle in and just finish. 

From mile 18 to 22 I settled into a slower more pain accommodating 9:42 min/mile. I was officially uncomfortable and grumpy. Manayunk was terrible. It was hilly and incredibly crowded. I did not enjoy it for a second. This made me really sad because there was a TON of crowd support and I was just miserable. I didn't want to play anymore. At this point the sun was also all up in my face, I was getting hot, and there was moss growing on my tongue from all the Gatorade I had been drinking. All I wanted was to chug water. I also wanted to throw in the towel more times than I could count. 

At mile 22 I told myself there was JUST 4 miles left. I can run 4 miles. 4 miles is nothing. This worked. As I began to approach mile 23 I tried convincing myself that 3 miles is a joke, anyone can run 3 miles. This worked until I got to mile 23 and 3 miles was not a joke and seemed absolutely impossible. By some act of God I held on for another mile.  Mile 24 I dropped in my first 10:00 min/mile. I'm pretty sure I don't want to see the official race photos because I was either pouting, holding back tears, or actually crying for a hot second. Not pretty.

I caved to the pain and took 2 one minute walk breaks  and one additional walk break of about 30 seconds right before the 25 mile marker. In my head I had dedicated the last mile to a friend who was killed at war in Afghanistan last November. I knew that I could not stop until I finished at this point. I pointed to the sky and buckled down. The thought of stopping didn't even cross my mind. 

Then there were the crowds. These were probably the most encouraging crowds I'd seen the whole race.  I was finally happy again. I knew I was close to the finish and I felt surprisingly really good the last 1.2 miles... probably because I knew that I was going to finish

I saw my boyfriend and mom about a quarter mile from the finish and I was feeling really good. I felt strong. When I crossed that finish line I put my hands over my head and was so excited and relieved. I did it. I finished. I went through a lot of highs and lows over those 26.2 miles but I stuck it out and I effing finished.

SO excited.
On a positive note, I did meet my biggest non-time goal.. I didn't bonk!! The only thing that was really killing me was the pain in my legs. I felt like I had the energy and the stamina but the muscles in my legs did not agree. I know I stopped fueling properly towards the end because the Shot Bloks sounded terrible and I just wanted to finish. Thankfully this didn't happen until the last 4 miles or so. 

I finished in 4:10:43. This would fall under my C goal. In retrospect I still think this is a very appropriate finish time for the effort I put into training. I'm more disappointed with how training went than how the race went. I think I ran the best race I could for what I put into it the last 18 weeks. I'm mostly frustrated because I know how much better I can do and I know how much potential I have.  It just makes me want to work harder! Makes me want to be better, faster, stronger. I've said it before and I'll say it again, but I am so excited for what's to come. 

"I'm just beyond the UPS trucks. I'm sitting. Come find me."

Sitting = Good. Also, ouch.

I DID IT!! Marathon #2 in the bag!

Best boyfriend ever :)

Best mom ever!!!!
I don't really know that I would do this particular race again. I also don't know if it's because I had a rough last 9 miles or because I just genuinely didn't like it all that much. I felt like it was congested for the first 22 miles and the water/gatorade stops were hot messes. I hated the hairpin turns and the out and back type turn arounds that went with them. I felt like I was a hamster stuck in a maze with a lot of other hamsters. I'm sad that I didn't really enjoy the race but I did learn a lot about myself and can't wait to apply all of my newfound motivation and experiences to my next bit of life and training.

First thing's first...

Nov 15, 2011

GOALS: Philadelphia Marathon 2011

Okay it's that time. Time to put it all out there.

First and foremost (and probably most concerning), I'm still not really sure what my "race pace" is going to be. I'm trying to be realistic and I'm trying to figure out what pace I think would be best. I know I'd rather err on the side of being too conservative than to go out and have my wheels fall off at mile 20 but I just don't know where that fine line is. I finished the Empire State 1/2 Marathon in 1:51:02 (8:29)min/mile week 13 (5 weeks ago) and felt really really good. But I've also had some pretty miserable runs during which I struggled A LOT. It all comes down to the fact that I really don't know what I'm capable of and it's making coming up with a pacing plan incredibly difficult and anxiety provoking.

I'm not going to toe the line on November 20 with the intention to crush, kill, or own this race. In fact I'm only hoping that the course and miles don't do that to me. I've had a bumpy training cycle but I feel ready to take on the distance. I'm also confident it's going to hurt.

Overall Goals:
  • Start slow. Like slow slow. I have trouble holding back in race atmosphere just like 95% of other runners so I'm going to make it a specific point to be extra vigilant the first 5 miles. 
  • Aside from starting slow I would love some nice, pretty, even splits. I feel like negative splits are completely out of the question but slow and steady sounds doable. 
  • Along with this is to be mindful of my pace in areas with lots of fans. I get psyched on that and can easily blow the last of half the race by getting caught up in the atmosphere. 
  • Don't bonk/hit the wall. This one is a biggy.
  • Hydrate! I don't generally have an issue here but I'm pretty terrible at drinking out of those cups and running. I'm not one to stop and drink either. I'm contemplating carrying a small handheld as backup. 
  • Fuel! My plan is take 2 shot bloks on the hour and 1 blok on the half hour. This method seemed to work really well in training so here's hoping that it works on the big day.
I'm reluctant to share my time goals but I feel like putting them out there will help me better embrace the reality of how I will feel with my results.
A+ PR < 3:58:32
A sub 4:00:00
B 4:00:01 - 4:10:00
C 4:10:01 - 4:15:00
D 4:15:01 - 4:30:00
F > 4:30:01 

If I were to grade my training I would probably give it a B so that's what I'm thinking seems most realistic. I don't feel that I trained for a PR and I've come to terms with that. Perhaps if I had kept up with speed work past week 7 and put in more quality workouts I could feel more confident but that's not the case.  I don't know why I feel I need to be sub -4. Perhaps because I know I can because I have. I'm putting way too much pressure on myself and it's sucking the fun out of it. 

Above all I really just want to enjoy this race. I want to soak in the city and the day. I want to finish with a smile on my face, head high and RUNNING. Not limping, not grimacing, not walking, not grumpy. 

I hope to reserve the words crush, kill, and own for the races of 2012. The whole reason I started this blog was because I was on a mission. A mission to qualify for Boston in 2011. Let me end by stating that is absolutely positively NOT going to happen this year. BUT This year I have learned a lot about myself. 2010 was pretty terrible and to have made the comeback I have thus far says a lot to me. I will consider 2011 to be a huge stepping stone to great things to come. I'm SO excited. 

Nov 9, 2011

Map My Race

So the other day I was on marathon prep freak out #476 when I got an idea. I was concerned about my family getting around Philadelphia on race day. I went over to Barnes and Noble and picked up this hand dandy map.

Then I had the brilliant idea of highlighting the route on the map. GENIUS! It was actually really fun and exciting. I've been into the city probably about 5 times in the year that we have lived in the suburbs (sad, I know - but I'm only here every other weekend and other lame excuses). I love love love this city. Maybe I'm just underexposed and ignorant but there is just something about it.  I didn't really know where the course went so I looked up the map online and copied the route onto my map. This got me really excited. This course is going to go through some pretty awesome places. 

When I finished highlighting the route that fit on the map I had it reminded me of something...

Back when I was training for the NYC Marathon in 2009 I had this poster on my wall. This map helped me prepare mentally in so many ways. I knew when to expect the bridges, what borough I would be in every mile and oddly enough it made the distance less intimidating. I could break it down into sections.

So now not only do I feel more confident that my family won't get too lost and that we might actually be able to plan where they spectate, it has also helped me ease the fear and anxiety of the unknown course that lie ahead in 11 DAYS!!

Nov 7, 2011

YURBUDS! - A Review

I've been on the hunt for a new pair of headphones for a while now. I've been using the simple Apple ones that come with an ipod and they've been okay. Recently the wire has been starting to fall apart and the speakers getting crackly with the rubber on the edges fraying. 

I did some very brief research (READ: window shopping) and decided I had no idea what I was really looking for. I've glanced at the Yurbuds in the stores but thought they were a little too pricey to impulse buy.

Cue the BIRTHDAY! Apparently I have a BF who listens really well and is into technology enough to actually do legit research. #winning (sorry, had to). Anyways..

Yurbuds Inspire Pro
I was hesitant about these (as was the BF about buying them) because I'm really weird about my ears. Long story short - they're awful and sensitive with a long history of being bitches (more specifically - chronic ear infections, scarring, tubes, etc.). Also, they are small, so I've been told.

They have a twist lock type mechanism that keeps them tight in your ears. You put them in your ear at an angle and then twist them into place. You can yank downward on the cord and they don't budge.. seriously.

When I first opened them I tried jogging in place and whipping my head around among other things. I looked like a fool but they passed my initial tests.

They also come with a larger size "bud" to switch if you happen to have bigger ears. The packaging says that if you have further fitting problems you can take a picture of your ear next to a quarter and they will send you a special fit. Sweet.

The Yurbuds also claim to be sweat proof which is awesome in and of itself. I think my incredibly salty sweat has been the downfall of MANY pairs of headphones. Only time will really tell on this one. But I'm confident in them.

Perfect fit
The true test was on my disasterous 16 mile run on Sunday.  They didn't move once and I never ever had to adjust them. With my Apple ones I was constantly adjusting them to direct the music into my ear canal rather than at my ear lobe. I've also had ones that go over the ear and I was never crazy about them either. These Yurbuds rock. They don't bother my "sensitive" ears at all. They even sound better than my old ones. Now this isn't a very technical description especially considering the deteriorating status of my old headphones and my terrible sense of hearing. BUT they seem to sound very clear and the music seems much more direct if that's possible. I don't need the music turned up nearly as loud as I used to in order to hear at the same level.

Three button control 
Lastly - and best(ly?). They have a 3 click remote type system on the cord. You can control volume, pause, and move to the next song all at the touch of a button. This is hands down the most incredible part about them. I don't have to fudge with the clear plastic coat on my ipod case, accidently jack up the music too loud because I moved my finger wrong around the dial, AND I never have to take my gloves off in sub zero temperatures to change the music or song because the ipod doesn't sense glove material. Also, it's great on long runs because instead of wearing my arm band I stash it in one of the pockets of my hydration vest and not having to fudge with it's location to change a song or adjust the volume saves so much time and energy. LOVE.

So if you are indeed in the market for headphones I highly recommend the Yurbuds Inspire Pro. Highly.

Week 16 Philadelphia Marathon Training Recap

2 weeks until the big day! This was my first official week of taper..

Monday- rest
Tuesday - 6 miles EZ
Wednesday - XT 30 minutes
Thursday - 5 miles EZ
Friday - 3 miles EZ
Saturday -  rest
Sunday - 16 bogusly terrible miles

Total: 30 miles
Taper Tantrums: 1 (see below)

  • New compression socks! I invested in some hot pink CEP running compression socks and they are super. I tested them out on my long run this week in case I wanted to wear them for the race. 
  • I think I'm narrowing down race day outfit options. It's all up to the weather now.
  • I'm not getting fat! One week deep into taper and I'm feeling great. I never thought weighing myself every day could be so successful. I thought I might become obsessive but that's not happening. I simply get on at the same time every morning and voila - peace! It has made me more aware of everything going into my mouth and keeps me way more accountable than my simple "as long as my pants fit" method. 
The BAD:

  • See below. Bad and Ugly. 

  • I had a 16 mile long run on Sunday. It was right up there in the top 5 most miserable runs of my life. I really wasn't that excited about it in the first place but it got a lot worse. I could not get into that run mentally for the life of me. I tried fast music, slow music, new music, pep talks, and even called the BF to have him tell me to suck it up. NOTHING. I almost started crying at mile 11.. ok I might have actually cried for a second. It was awful. Things hurt and I stopped running every mile because that's as long as my attention span would let me keep moving. I got incredibly frustrated and mad at myself. Not just about that run but my training in general. It was ugly. So much self-loathing over 16 miles.

  • I was able to open one of my birthday presents early, mostly because I ruined the surprise by announcing that I was going to buy them myself (I really had no idea they were going to be a present). What did I get? Yurbuds. AKA the best headphones I've ever worn, ever. 

Review soon to come!

  • Dinner, obvioiusly. 
Yes, those are the BF's socks in the middle of the floor. Also, homemade meat sauce, fresh from the bakery whole grain italian bread, and vino.
All in all I'm feeling depleted and worried. I'm worried I might have overtrained and tried to fit in the miles that I missed mid-training for miscellaneous set backs too late in the game. I'm taking Sunday's crap run as a note to take the next two weeks super easy.

Nov 2, 2011

From 18 weeks to 18 days

That's right. The Philadelphia Marathon is 18 days away. Holy crap.
The taper has begun. For those of you unfamiliar with what a taper is, it essentially means run a lot less than I have been. Or in my terms - have less access to the mechanism I use to cope with stressful situations best. It's supposed to make it so that I have fresh legs to carry me 26.2 miles on 11/20/11.

In the next 18 days the following will happen:

Study for not one, not two, but three nursing exams. Including one cumulative final which is set to happen 5 days after the marathon, AKA the day after thanksgiving.
--> it should be noted these are the last ever exams of my undergrad nursing school career aside from the NCLEX ... holy shit.

Start a new job assignment

Attend an open house at Villanova to scope out their MSN programs.

Celebrate my 26th birthday. Where is time going???

Mourn the one year anniversary of losing a good friend who was KIA in Afghanistan

Continue the job hunt... Trying to find a graduate nurse job in a city I know very little about is turning out to be quite a task. I have hit a couple of road blocks already but I'm more determined than ever. This is NOT a fun process. Especially when I'm looking to start in January. GAH.

Reach the 1000 mile mark for the year. Yes, sometime next week I will have run 1000 miles this year. No big deal...

Break in a new pair of kicks, so as to have a freshly cushioned pair at the starting line.

Figure out my pacing plan and goals for the big day.

Get a cavity re-filled. Seriously?? Really?? COME ON.

Ice the crap out of my achilles and right knee. They aren't adjusting well since the 22 miler.

Try not to get fat. Running less with the same raging training hunger does NOT mix well with pants that fit. I have instated a "weight myself every morning" protocol to keep things in check. This is huge for me because I haven't weighed myself in a very very long time. This could be great or disasterous.

Finalize my race day outfit choice at least 12 times. Compression socks with shorts or new stability tights, long sleeves or short sleeves with arm warmers, what colors, what layers to bring for the start... you get the drift.

Prepare myself mentally to run 26.2 miles.

All the while run less and try not to lose my shit.
I estimate no less than 6 taper tantrums.