A story of going from being a non-runner to planning for a marathon in three years...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Oh Deer


Click the picture to see it larger


That beautiful creature up there? Yeah, she was the best part of my Saturday run.

After the half-marathon I decided that I need to start trying to do my long runs in the morning instead of the afternoon. I've got to train my body to do that kind of work at that time of day. Since I'm not a morning person in the least this is a rather difficult task.

But, I forged ahead. I dragged myself out of bed at 6:30 AM and was on the bike path by 7:30 AM. My plan? Run 8 miles.

I think that was the hardest 8 miles I've ever run. Somewhere around mile 2.3 I had to stop and walk. I stopped. I stood there. I walked. I tried to decide if I should turn around now or just forge ahead to mile 3 and see how I felt at that point. It didn't help that at that moment I was passed by a long, lean woman runner in compression (aka bike) shorts and a sports bra with her fancy hydration belt. I literally came thisclose to tears.

But, I gave myself a pep talk. You are base-building, I said. These miles should be nice and slow and easy. Who cares if you're running at a 10:30 or even an 11:00 minute per mile pace? Who cares if you need to stop and walk a little bit? Just get the miles in.

So, I decided to run til the 3 mile mark and re-evaluate. At 3 I decided I could make it to 4. So, in the end, I did all 8 miles. I saw that lovely deer pictured above and another one a little later. It started raining around the mile 5 marker and I lifted my face to the sky, threw my arms in the air, and let the warm rain cool me off. However, I'll tell you, there's nothing like running in the rain and worrying about your electronic gear (I was paranoid after hearing about Lindsay's issues with her stuff after the rain during her marathon) to get you moving. That mile I ran in the rain? Fastest of the day.

I need to keep telling myself, though, that it's not about speed right now. I admit, I tend to pick one really good run and compare all other against it. Right now, I compare everything to this run. And if I don't hit those times? I'm disappointed. But, I also know that not every run can be a good one and not every run needs to be a fast one. And, although my times from yesterday aren't something I'm super proud of, I still covered 8 miles. And I should be proud of that.

So, in the interest of full disclosure, here's my stats from yesterday. Remember, I still haven't turned the AutoPause function on my Garmin back on so these times do include some waiting for traffic and intersections. But, mostly, they just include the walking that I did.

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Activity
Route:--Elev. Avg:621 ft
Location:Brookfield, ILElev. Gain:+0 ft
Date:04/25/09Up/Downhill: [+219/-219]
Time:07:29 AMDifficulty:2.9 / 5.0
 
Weather:Light Rain and Breezy
 70 F temp; 68% humidity
 70 F heat index; winds SW 22 G 35
Performance

Distance: 8.01 miles
Time:1:26:30
Speed:5.6 mph
Pace:10' 48 /mi
Calories:722
Map
 
Elevation (ft)
 
Pace (min/mile)
 
Splits
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
Gain
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
110' 14-0' 345.9+0.3-4 ft
210' 31-0' 175.7+0.1+3 ft
311' 32+0' 445.2-0.4+9 ft
49' 50-0' 586.1+0.5-7 ft
512' 20+1' 324.9-0.7+7 ft
69' 10-1' 386.5+1.0-7 ft
712' 17+1' 294.9-0.7-10 ft
89' 37-1' 116.2+0.7+7 ft
end10' 00-0' 486.0+0.40 ft
Versus average of 10' 48 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Friday, April 24, 2009

Run vs Drive

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The Green Transportation Hierarchy
I suppose runners count as pedestrians, huh?


My usual "short" running route takes me past the cross-street on which my gym sits. A few weeks ago, while driving to the gym to take my Pilates class and do my 30 minutes of cardio, I realized that it would take me approximately the same amount of time to run to the gym as it would to drive there. Chicago 'burb traffic is a lovely thing, isn't it?

From my house to the gym is a little over one mile. I'd debated running there, doing Pilates, and running home several times while I was doing my half-marathon training. I didn't know, though, whether breaking the run up like that would have the same effect as doing it all in one stretch. Granted, it's not like I wouldn't be doing anything in the interim, but my understanding is that doing all the miles in a row is what really helps with endurance. So, therefore, I never did it.

Until last night. I got home a little late from work and was almost tempted to skip Pilates all together. Except that next week I'll be at a conference out of town and I don't know if I'll get in any exercise. So, at 5:45 (class starts at 6 PM, FYI) I threw on some running clothes and dashed out the door. I didn't even give the Garmin a chance to connect with the satellite until a few minutes into my run.

I have a horrible fear of being late, so I ran pretty hard and, thankfully, only had to pause for traffic at one intersection. I figured that I could run the distance in 15 minutes or less but, since I'd never done it before, I didn't know exactly how long it would take me.

Turns out, with pauses at intersections, it takes me less than 15 minutes. In fact, it takes me less than 10 minutes.

The splits are a little funky from the Garmin and, as much as I would LOVE to trust the Bones in Motion data, I don't know if I really ran a mile in 8:07. Also, I had to pause for a lot more traffic on the way home and I didn't have the Autopause function turned on so I'm sure that it didn't take me over 10 minutes to get home, even though I was trying to take it a little easier.

Regardless, it felt good to run to the gym instead of driving. Did it give me as good of a workout as if I'd done my usual 30 minute elliptical routine? Don't know. Will I run to the gym every day? Probably not. If I have errands to do or don't want to run four days in a row I'll still drive. But I like that now I know this is an option.

And, as always,

Stats

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Activity
Route:--Elev. Avg:621 ft
Location:Forest Park, ILElev. Gain:+0 ft
Date:04/23/09Up/Downhill: [+19/-19]
Time:05:48 PMDifficulty:1.8 / 5.0
 
Weather:Mostly Cloudy
 66 F temp; 35% humidity
 66 F heat index; winds SE 14
Performance

Distance: 2.36 miles
Time:0:22:22
Speed:6.3 mph
Pace:9' 29 /mi
Calories:234
Map
 
Elevation (ft)
 
Pace (min/mile)
 
Splits
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
Gain
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
18' 03-1' 267.4+1.1+3 ft
211' 02+1' 335.4-0.9-3 ft
end8' 45-0' 446.8+0.50 ft
Versus average of 9' 29 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Smells of Running

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I bet you thought I was going to talk about stinky running clothes, huh? Well, I'm not.

I'm going to talk about food!

While on my run this afternoon I got to thinking about all the foods I've smelled while running. It seems to me that many of my running routes have taken me by restaurants or bakeries or other places that emit yummy odors.

As I've mentioned previously, I live across the street from a candy factory and any time I run in my neighborhood I run past their building. Frequently the air smells of orange or lemon or grape.

Another place I run by frequently is the bakery in my town's little downtown area. And, yes, it often smells like donuts. Or pastries. Or something sugary. Something about the smell of donuts gets me every time. It's a good thing I don't carry money with me when I run otherwise I fear I'd end up in the bakery instead of running. And I don't even LIKE donuts!

Speaking of donuts, the year I started running regularly I ran with a women's running group once a week. We were training to run our first 5K race. Our usual running path took us past the local county fair grounds. Since our goal race was in September, we ran that path through the height of fair season. Any idea how difficult it is to focus on running when the smell of funnel cake and corn dogs is wafting past?

Several years ago I belonged to a gym that shared a building with various other retail establishments. One of those establishments was a Chinese restaurant. I would dutifully walk from my office to the gym, do my work out, and then walk to my car. Past the Chinese restaurant. Which always smelled like heaven at 6PM. Yet, believe it or not, I never once stopped in for take-out.

Other than the lovely smell of donuts, there was nothing good about today's run. I felt like a slow, plodding mass. My legs felt heavy, my intestines rumbled and threatened to do something horrible with every step, the wind blew in my face both out AND back. Looking at my splits it seems I ran a reverse tempo run. Started out fast, slowed down in the middle, and ended with a fast mile. Very strange.

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Activity
Route:--Elev. Avg:628 ft
Location:Forest Park, ILElev. Gain:+0 ft
Date:04/22/09Up/Downhill: [+88/-88]
Time:02:08 PMDifficulty:2.1 / 5.0
 
Weather:Partly Cloudy and Breezy
 61 F temp; 26% humidity
 61 F heat index; winds W 24 G 31
Performance

Distance: 5.01 miles
Time:0:50:09
Speed:6.0 mph
Pace:10' 01 /mi
Calories:513
Map
 
Elevation (ft)
 
Pace (min/mile)
 
Splits
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
Gain
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
19' 41-0' 206.2+0.2+3 ft
29' 54-0' 076.1+0.1+10 ft
310' 13+0' 125.9-0.10 ft
49' 57-0' 046.0+0.0-10 ft
59' 47-0' 146.1+0.1-3 ft
end9' 20-0' 416.4+0.40 ft
Versus average of 10' 01 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hydration Equation



What's that you see up there? Why, that's my new hydration belt! Or pack. Or whatever you want to call it.

As warm weather approaches and my running clothes use less and less fabric I discovered that the pockets are fewer and smaller. As I posted here, most of the stuff I take on my runs is carried in my hands. I admit, I was getting pretty tired of having to strap my phone to my hand and carry my water bottle in the other one.

When I ran with Lindsay, I admired the hydration pack she was wearing. I also knew she had a different one, one with four bottles instead of just one. So we talked about pocket size and bottle accessibility and other such running geek things.

Last weekend I went to Dick's Sporting Goods (aside, don't try to look up their website by typing dicks.com into your web browser. As a friend's mom said once, "It's not good.") to try out some hydration belts. Once I finally figured out where they were inside the massive store, I think I spent an hour trying on all the various types and doing short jogs around the weight lifting displays.

First I tried on

The Speed 4
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While I liked the thought of being able to carry both water and a sports drink, I didn't like how my arms would catch on the bottles as I ran. The hazards of having a very short torso, you see.

Next was

The Trailmix
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It fit my waist perfectly and I loved that the pocket held a ton of stuff, but I felt like the bottles were too hard to get in and out of the holsters. Plus, I didn't love that the pocket was on the back and might be difficult to get to.

Then it was on to

The Triangle
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This was my least favorite. The bottle was awkwardly placed for me to be able to reach it and the pocket was too small for both my phone and, say, a bag of Sport Beans.

Finally, I put on

The Muse
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I didn't love this one immediately. In fact, although the documentation states that it fits 26" to 42" waists, I couldn't get it quite small enough (another aside: Is my waist really smaller than 26"? I guess I need to find a measuring tape, huh?). However, the bottle was fairly easy to access once I figured out you didn't need to shove it back into the holster all the way. And it has two side pockets that A. fit my phone and B. are easy to access. Also, allegedly this is part of their "Women's Series" and it's supposed to be designed to fit women (third aside: why is it that none of my non-Microsoft spell checkers seem to recognize "women's"?).

Although I couldn't get the waist band to fit quite right, I went ahead and bought The Muse anyway. I tried it out on my run last night (4.4 miles) and, well, I think it's something I'll have to get used to. It doesn't bounce in the way I thought it would and it didn't leave any raw chafe marks, but I certainly felt it on my lower back. Also, when I pull the bottle out it tends to move the strap around my waist. I think that's just a product of the waist band not being quite tight enough. Additionally (and I'm not sure if this is an issue of me just not being used to it or what), I felt like it was making me hold my arms higher than normal. For the first time in a LONG time I started to get cramps in my collarbone area. And, finally, I felt like it was causing my shirt to ride up in the back.

Were there any pluses? Well, yes. I enjoyed having my hands free. By clipping my iPod to the waist band of the pack it bounced around less. The water bottle is easy to drink out of.

Will I keep using it? Yeah, I think I'll keep trying. I suppose there's only one way to know how it feels on a long run and that's to take it on a long run.

I do have one question though. Do you put your race number on over or under the waist band? I don't have enough torso to put it above or below.

*************************

Oh, and here are the stats from the actual run. Felt pretty good last night. FYI: These are with the Auto-Pause function on the Garmin turned OFF. So the splits include the time I spent standing at intersections waiting to cross the street.

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Activity
Route:--Elev. Avg:628 ft
Location:Forest Park, ILElev. Gain:+0 ft
Date:04/20/09Up/Downhill: [+95/-95]
Time:04:50 PMDifficulty:2.0 / 5.0
 
Weather:Mostly Cloudy
 52 F temp; 58% humidity
 52 F heat index; winds W 13 G 22
Performance

Distance: 4.40 miles
Time:0:42:16
Speed:6.2 mph
Pace:9' 36 /mi
Calories:480
Map
 
Elevation (ft)
 
Pace (min/mile)
 
Splits
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
Gain
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
19' 29-0' 076.3+0.1+3 ft
29' 26-0' 106.4+0.1+10 ft
39' 38+0' 026.2-0.0+6 ft
49' 41+0' 056.2-0.1-19 ft
end9' 07-0' 296.6+0.30 ft
Versus average of 9' 36 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wii, Wii, Wii, All The Way Home



My lack of luck with technology continued yesterday when I went to do some of the 30 Day Shred video. We're a fairly geeky household (thanks to my husband) so many of our videos are saved on a server in the basement and accessed via a Mac Mini computer in our entertainment center and displayed on our television. Well, usually they would be accessed via that computer. Except yesterday it informed me that the specified file path was not available. Ooookay.

With the husband out of town and me just generally feeling like a big slug, I debated not doing anything at all. But, it's pretty rare that I have the house all to myself (except for the dog). Since I tend to feel self-conscious doing an exercise video in front of other people (although, I'm fine in a class and I don't seem to care that we have a huge picture window in our living room sans window coverings) I really wanted to take advantage of the empty house.

Thwarted by the inability to access the 30 Day Shred video, I decided to break out the Wii Fit. I got Fit for Christmas this past December but rarely break it out. Running and the gym took up most of my allotted exercise time. The introduction of the 30 Day Shred video took up the rest. In addition, I don't feel like I get that great of a workout from the Wii Fit. But it was what I had yesterday so it's what I did.

I did 30 minutes of aerobics first. Advanced Step, Rhythm Boxing, and some Super Hula Hoop. I admit, even with my dance background it took me a little bit to figure out the Advanced Step. And some of the advanced rhythm boxing, while incredibly fun, was also frustrating. It really took a lot of concentration. Super Hula Hoop really just makes me break a sweat.

After the aerobics, I moved on to strength training. First I tried the move where you do a push-up and then switch to a side plank. While, yes, I can do push-ups and side planks, I can't do them as slowly as the Wii would like me to. 4 months of Pilates and I still score a zero. I did better on the other strength moves I tried. Four star rating on most.

Then it was on to yoga. I tried a few new moves, did some of my favorites (Warrior and Tree come to mind) and scored as Yoga Trainer on most. I finished up doing the Ski Jump balance game since it's the only one I like.

Overall I did 50 minutes (well, actually over an hour if you count the breaks while switching between exercises), broke a sweat, and have a few sore upper back muscles today.

I have to say, though, that my biggest complaint with the Wii Fit (and one that I've seen on other websites) is that there is no way that I've found to set up a string of exercises and just let it run. No, you have to pick and choose and wait while it loads each exercise. It would also be nice if you could choose a time limit and it would choose which exercises to do. Otherwise I'm sure I'd just do the few exercises that I like and ignore the rest. There are separate games out there, though, that allegedly do something like this. The first one that comes to mind is Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2009. Anyone tried that one? What did you think? It gets really bad reviews on Amazon. I guess there's still a market out there for an actual "personal trainer" game for the Wii.

Have you ever used the Wii Fit? What did you think? What are your favorite exercises on it?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

System Failure



This morning, after hitting snooze about 30 times, I dragged myself out of bed in order to squeeze in a short run before I had to be somewhere. I've decided that in order to acclimate my body to these ridiculous race start times (seriously, what about all us afternoon and evening runners? Can we get non-morning start time for once??) I have to start doing my long weekend runs earlier than, say, noon.

I'm starting slow, though. This morning I finally left the house shortly before 9 AM.

I strapped my Garmin on my wrist, headed out the door, and did my warm-up walk while I waited for it to acquire the satellite signal. And waited. And walked. And waited. And walked some more. Finally I gave up and just started running. Somewhere around the half-mile point the Garmin decided it wanted to function. I tell you, I must emit some sort of field that makes that expensive piece of equipment decide to act totally random.

My plan had been to do an easy three miles. I certainly did easy miles (average 9:58 pace) but I don't think I got all three in. All that warm-up walking and waiting cut into my available time. I think, in the end, I did just under three.

Was it a good run seeing as how it was my first "real" run after my half? It was so-so. My left shin started to ache AGAIN and I was overdressed so I was overheating. I have to admit, I was apprehensive about this run. It had been a week since I'd really run. Would my body forget how to run? Would I feel too slow? Would I feel too fast? Was I really recovered from my race? I think my apprehension really messed with my mind. I felt as though I was going too fast but when I looked at the Garmin I was only doing a 10 minute mile. I think I'm having a few mind-issues in regards to my running that I need to work though. Mainly, not every run will be great.

In the mean time, I would like to give shout-outs to Lindsay and Holly who are both running races tomorrow. Lindsay is doing her second marathon (the GO! St. Louis Marathon...and she did the 5K today!) and Holly is doing her first half-marathon (the Santa Cruz Half-Marathon). Show them the same support you showed me; wish them luck!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Runner's Lounge: Take it and Run Thursday



Every Thursday Runner's Lounge asks a question about some aspect of running. This week's?

Running Blogs - How and Why? Most of our TIaRT participants are also running bloggers - it's a way for them to talk about and think about their running. But we also know that about half of the runners in the Lounge aren't bloggers and many are interested in getting started but not sure how to get started, why to do it or how it can help their running. Share your tips for how you use your blog to help your running. Talk about how/why you started, what keeps you blogging and how you use it to keep you running.


I've been keeping an online journal via Livejournal since 2001 so I wasn't exactly new to the blogging scene. However, Livejournal allows you the option of filtering posts so that only a certain audience could see them. A few years ago I started a "health filter" as part of my account. I knew that not everyone who read my journal was interested in my trips to the gym or my attempt at losing 10 pounds or my running (once I started). Plus, the health filter function on Livejournal didn't allow for people without an account to read it. I thought that having a more public blog would help my non-Livejournal family and friends keep up with me. A few of my friends on Livejournal started blogs on Blogger (this website) in order to talk about just their running. I thought it was a great idea but wanted an actual reason to start one, not just start one out of the blue.

So, when January rolled around and I realized it was time to start my half-marathon training, I decided to start this blog. Originally I had no idea how often I was going to post but I knew I wanted to start each entry with a picture of some kind. Do you have any idea how many hours I've killed searching for pictures? Anyway, it turned out that I liked updating about each of my runs (so, three to four times a week) and the occasional cross-training post. Sure, sometimes it's difficult to think of things to write, but I do it anyway.

I'm not the best writer out there. Seriously, there are so many GREAT blogs (both running and non-running related) that I could never compete. But I love sharing my ups and downs with people. I don't get a lot of comments (even though I like them. Hint hint) but I know that people who don't comment are reading anyway.

As I posted in the Runner's Lounge forum, blogging keeping me accountable. It keeps me honest. It helps me make sure I did those runs and did them as well as I could.

Who knew it would give me something to think about while running? I mean, what better time to compose a blog entry about running than when you're running?

Who knew it would introduce me to so many new people who have been nothing but encouraging? Who knew it would let my friends and family get a glimpse into a part of my life they barely understand?

My running blog is my first "theme" blog. I thought it would be difficult. Turns out it's not.

However, I will say that sometimes I think blogging about my running can be detrimental. I feel accountable not only to myself but to my readers. If I skip a run or have a bad run I feel like I'm letting all of us down. I am my own worst critic, though.

Overall, I love writing about my life online. I love sharing it. I love getting feedback. I don't have a lot of people in my every day "real" life that understand my running so I truly appreciate the online community support.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Random Post Race Thoughts



Yep, that's pretty much what I looked like when I got done running on Saturday. Cold, tired, and disoriented. Too bad the picture's not in focus.

Speaking of bad pictures, the professional race photographers didn't get a single good one of me crossing the finish line. I'm bummed! You can see them all here. I was thinking about framing my medal with a photo of me crossing the finish line but I guess it's not to be. Maybe I'll make a color copy of my race bib (the original goes in the scrapbook) and frame those two things instead? Hmm.

I took Sunday and Monday off from running. I did one mile on the treadmill last night at 5.4 MPH. I had planned to run for 25 minutes but after a mile I started getting some pain in my left shin so I decided to back off. I'll try again on Thursday.

I admit I'm sort of lost right now. How do I keep up my fitness level when I'm not actively training for anything? It looks like due to work stuff the 3.5 mile race I planned to run on May 21st will be a no-go. I tried to find another 5K distance that weekend but there's not really anything. There is a 10-mile race on May 23rd I could do but I'd need to sign up ASAP. Any suggestions on what to do between now and when I start training for my next half-marathon? Training for that is tentatively scheduled to start mid-May.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Illinois Half Marathon Race Report

Oh my goodness. Where to start? I suppose I'll start at the beginning. Warning: this post will be long and possibly picture-heavy.

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Friday I went over to the Expo to pick up my chip, bib, and goody bag. I was really hoping to check out a One More Mile booth or a Skirt Sports booth or some fun food booths. You know, do a little running shopping. Alas, it was not to be. The expo mostly consisted of booths for other races or running teams, a few booths selling books, a booth for The Stick, a few booths for local businesses (chiropractors, nutritionists, restaurants, etc) and, of course, a huge section devoted to the wares stocked by the local running store (Body 'n Sole). I didn't end up purchasing anything and there wasn't even anything good being given away for free. Thankfully, the chip and goody bag pick-up was extremely well-organized. And I got a cute photo out of the deal:

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I tried my hardest to carb-up on Friday night and I even made the exact same oatmeal for breakfast Saturday morning as I ate before my awesome 10 mile run last weekend. Sadly, my stomach was having none of it. I had intestinal issues starting Friday and continuing until shortly before I left for the start line on Saturday morning.

The weather report for Saturday called for sunny skies, highs in the upper 50s, and a slight breeze. Unfortunately, the temperature at the start line was closer to 30 than 50. Thankfully the sun was out. I looked for some of the people I knew were running the race but couldn't find them among the MASSIVE and DISORGANIZED crowd. Seriously. If you had any crowd anxiety this start line would have been your worst nightmare. Sure, the pacers were standing in the middle holding their signs up, but other than that there was no differentiation or corrals or areas or anything. Just one long street filled edge to edge with people. Almost 9,000 people.



I tried to situate myself near the 4:15 Marathon Pacer but ended up losing him within seconds of the start. As the MC counted down the minutes to the start of the race, I chatted with a few girls standing next to me and tried to keep warm. I took deep breaths and when the MC said, "You've trained for months for this and now you're down to ONE MINUTE" I went over my goals.

Goal A: Finish. Preferably under 2:30
Goal B: Pace at 9:45 minutes/mile overall. Start out slightly slower. Run faster in the second half of the race. Finish under 2:10
Goal C: Pace around 10:00 minutes/mile. Finish under 2:20

And then we were off.

Mile one went by in a blur. I hit it at almost exactly 9:45. Mile two went well. I saw a friend on the sidelines cheering and yelled to him. I did this mile a little too fast. 9:38. Slow down, I told myself. Mile 3 I did in 9:45 again. Gotta slow down. And I did. A little bit. I started to get warm. Even before mile two I had unzipped my fleeced and it was flapping in the wind. I wanted to ditch it so badly but I also didn't want to loose it. I thought I wasn't going to see my husband and my parents again until mile 10. I knew I would have to tie it around my waist at some point. I decided to do that at mile five when I slowed down to eat my first round of Sports Beans.

I sipped water from my bottle at every mile marker. I walked quickly while scarfing Beans. I paused for a minute to tie my fleece around my waist. The walking and the pausing certainly took a toll on my time. That was one of my slowest miles of the race. I've also discovered that my training bike path may be doing me an injustice. Because the path crosses several major streets I have to stop and wait for a break in cars before I can continue running. Therefore, I get three to four rests each direction for a total of six to eight running breaks. I should have taken those during the race. I didn't. And it really hurt me later. Also, I think I'm going to turn off the Auto Pause function on my Garmin during training so that I have a more accurate picture of how long it's actually taking me to run my training miles.

My family surprised me at mile seven. I was SO happy to see them that as soon as they came into view I made an immediate bee-line for them. I could get rid of my fleece three miles earlier than I'd thought!



I shoved the fleece at my husband, hugged him and my parents, and took off running. You can see what a huge moral booster it was to see them. My time dropped by almost a minute for that mile!

And then the wheels started to fall off.

When I saw my husband at mile seven he told me there would be a surprise for me between miles nine and ten. That helped keep me motivated, but I admit I had to walk for a few seconds during mile 8 and mile 9. Just a few seconds. Maybe a few hundredths of a mile. It was about this time I was passed by a group of rabbits:




And what was my surprise at mile ten? Not only that my parents and my husband were there cheering for me, but some friends of ours drove all the way down from Chicago to cheer for me! I had no idea they were going to be there!



I think I must have looked like a total fool as I waved to them. Those Beans I ate at mile 5 were starting to wear off by this point. I'm doing a Phoebe-esque move (if you've seen that episode of "Friends" you'll know what I'm talking about") and I believe I yelled "THANK YOU" at them. Whatever I did, it definitely caused the runners next to me to stare.

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Shortly after I passed my parents, I slowed to a walk to eat my second bag of Sports Beans. My plan all along had been to sip water at each mile and eat Beans at miles five and ten. I realized, though, at mile ten that my body had apparently not absorbed any nutrition from the food I'd eaten the day before. Those intestinal issues were definitely coming back to haunt me. The bottom of my right foot hurt. My legs felt like dead weights. I really did want to cry. In addition, in some part of my hind-brain I was realizing that I'd now run farther than I ever had before in my life and I still had 3 miles to go. But I knew I couldn't give up. I had more spectators waiting for me at mile 11!

Another friend of mine came out to cheer me on. Here's her sign:



When I saw her I paused for a quick hug and then trudge along. The last few miles were hard. So very, very hard. But when I hit the mile 12 marker, I knew I had to keep running. And run I did. Again, as you can see from the splits table, my last mile was the first one back under 10:00 since mile seven. Unfortunately, as I turned the corner to what I thought was going to be the last 300 or so yards, I realized that we actually had quite a ways further to go! Instead of turning the corner, going a short ways and then turning left towards the entrance to the finish line, we had to turn the corner, run PAST the entrance to the finish line, and loop back. Thankfully, I managed to hold off on the afterburners a little while longer. And when I headed into the tunnel towards the finish line, I was actually smiling.

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Only 150 more yards to go!


As I rounded the final turn to the finish line, I honestly didn't know how much I had left in me. But I dug deep and passed a few people on the final sprint. I was grunting and I'm pretty sure that if the race photographer got a picture of my face you'll see a grimace instead of a smile on it. The race clock said 2:16 something when I run under it and I was hoping that it took me at least six minutes to cross the start line. I had enough brain power to remember to his stop on my Garmin and it was pretty close to the race clock. I didn't have enough brain power left to figure out what that meant. I took the medal that was handed to me, shuffled off the one side and stood there with my head hanging down and my hands on my knees while I tried to catch my breath. My iPod was still playing but it wasn't registering. Above the sound, though, I heard someone ask if I was okay. I told a nice medic that I was fine and he informed me that I should wearing, not holding my medal. He took it from my hand and put it around my neck.

Shortly afterward I found my friends and family. The post-race areas were total chaos. My husband went to find me water. My friend lent me a coat to warm up. We fought stairs and crowds to find food. My blood sugar was so low I was about to bite someone's head off and my back and legs hurt so much that all I wanted to do was sit down. I knew I needed food and I knew I needed to keep moving, so we pushed through the crowds for bananas and granola bars. There was hot food, too, but I couldn't wait. I eyed the massage area with envy but couldn't face fighting the crowds to get there. I looked around for a spiffy Mylar blanket but apparently there weren't any. I never did find the chip removal and am still confused about whether or not we get to keep them. My mom claims she heard them announced that they were commemorative chips but yet we were given a return envelop for it that says we'll be charged the standard $30 if we don't return it. It is a little spiffier than your standard chip, though.



I could go on and on about how disappointed I was in the organization or lack-thereof of the post-race festivities , but I think I'll focus on the positive. Remember those goals I listed way back at the beginning of this post? Well, I achieved two out of the three with an official time of 2:13:25. And I really think the third is do-able. At one point during the race I thought about one of my life goals is to run a full marathon next year. I thought about how crazy that was. I was in so much pain during this half, how could I go double the distance? But, of course, as anyone who has been bitten by the running bug knows, the pain is secondary to the goal. I will get my half-marathon time under 2:10. And I will run a full marathon.

For now, though, I will be proud of 2:13:25. I am a half-marathon finisher. And I've got the medal to prove it.





Oh yeah, and I'm buying myself one of these for my car:



P.S. All photos here were taken either by me or my husband. Professional photos or photos taken by my parents may be posted at a later date.

P.P.S Again, there are not enough words to express how thankful I am to every single one of you who either supported me in person or online or both. You have a few months and then I'll be ramping the training back up for my next half-marathon in July :-)

**************************

And, in case anyone cares, here are my stats from the race:

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Activity
Route:--Elev. Avg:733 ft
Location:Champaign, ILElev. Gain:-30 ft
Date:04/11/09Up/Downhill: [+229/-259]
Time:08:07 AMDifficulty:3.1 / 5.0
 
Weather:Fair
 45 F temp; 47% humidity
 45 F heat index; winds NE 13
Performance

Distance: 13.17 miles
Time:2:13:28
Speed:5.9 mph
Pace:10' 08 /mi
Calories:1471
Map
 
Elevation (ft)
 
Pace (min/mile)
 

Posted from bimactive.com

Saturday, April 11, 2009

All Done!



Apparent official chip time: 2:13:25

I'm pretty proud of that. Full race report to come later!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Who is want to spectate?



For anyone reading this that plans to be along the course on Saturday, the above it what I plan to wear. I'll most likely just be wearing the pink top and not the blue jacket by the time you see me. Also, my bib number is 9591.

My plan is to run between a 9:00 and 10:00 minute mile the entire time. Which means that if you want to see me at any point, use those times to guesstimate when I will pass any specific mile marker.

If you rooting for me from afar, the race starts at 8:00 AM Central Time. Give me a few minutes to cross the start line and then I'll be off. If you can't wait for a brief or full race report, email me with your phone number and I can text you my finish time. I already have two people's numbers ready to go!

Today I'm hitting up the expo and then hanging out with my mom. I promise a FULL expo and race report (with pictures!) after this weekend. I will try and post a quick results post after the race as well.

To anyone else reading this who is racing or just doing a run this weekend, have fun and good luck. And THANK YOU to everyone who has ever commented (either in person, via email, or on the blog itself) so far. It means so much to me that everyone is so supportive. I can't WAIT to share how it went with all of you.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Final Countdown

The last 5 miles before the race on Saturday. Tempo run of warm-up, 3 miles at 9:08 minutes/mile, cool-down.

Mile 1


Mile 2


Half-way point


Mile 3


Mile 4


Mile 5


Post-run welcoming committee (including an embarrassingly dirty front door)


Me


Stats
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Activity
Route:--Elev. Avg:628 ft
Location:Forest Park, ILElev. Gain:+0 ft
Date:04/08/09Up/Downhill: [+101/-101]
Time:06:25 PMDifficulty:2.0 / 5.0
 
Weather:Mostly Cloudy
 51 F temp; 36% humidity
 51 F heat index; winds NW 9 G 18
Performance

Distance: 5.00 miles
Time:0:46:11
Speed:6.5 mph
Pace:9' 14 /mi
Calories:548
Map
 
Elevation (ft)
 
Pace (min/mile)
 
Splits
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
Gain
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
19' 40+0' 266.2-0.3+3 ft
28' 50-0' 246.8+0.3+10 ft
39' 42+0' 286.2-0.30 ft
49' 38+0' 246.2-0.3-6 ft
510' 05+0' 516.0-0.5-6 ft
end10' 50+1' 365.5-1.00 ft
Versus average of 9' 14 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com