Saturday, March 24, 2012

Week 2 and 3 of Iroman training... and my husband is out of town.

I am so lucky to have a spouse that supports my training.  We've worked out a pretty good schedule and I can get most of my workouts in before 7am, and he also watches the children when I do long rides and runs on the weekends. Unexpectedly he is going to be out of the country for the next two and a half weeks... so training will have to take on some creativity.

I have a bike trainer in the basement, a bike trailer that I can put the children in, and a jogging stroller.  I can use the pool at the gym while the children are in the play area.  I also have 75 minutes between when I finish work and when I need to pick up my children from the babysitter.  So while I sadly have to give up Masters Swimming for a couple weeks, I should be able to get in most of my workouts this week.  My plan is to do my cycle workouts before they get up in the mornings, my runs either right after work or with the jogger, and do a couple nights at the gym so I can use the pool.  We'll see how this goes...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Race Report: Rock 'N' Roll USA Marathon

5 a.m. the alarm clock goes off.  I am still not used to this daylight savings time change (we're on day 6 now) and I really want to hit snooze and go back to sleep but I know if I don't get on the 6 a.m. metro there could be issues getting there on time.  So I force myself out of bed, wake up the baby, feed him, stick him back in his crib, get dressed, eat a Clif bar and down my coffee and head out the door.  In the car at 5:50, on the train at 5:55.   Score.  Especially since by the time we hit about 7 stops the car was completely full and people were getting turned away.  It pays to live at the end of the line.

Weather was about 64 at the start... fine for my throwaway long sleeve shirt and shorts.  Portapotty line went quickly and at 6:55 I started to wonder what I should do for the next hour.  They were letting people into the Armory (really?  Letting us INSIDE to wait for the start?  I like this race already.) so I decided to chill out for awhile, hit the bathrooms again, and get the body glide on.  

At 7:40 I headed out to find my corral.  Sheesh there were a lot of people doing the race -- most of them doing the half. It took me a good 15 minutes to get to the 3:55 pacers.  Decided to ditch my shirt right away at the starting line.  I was already hot.  This 26.2 I'd be wearing as little as possible -- with a high of 75 predicted after training throughout the winter, I knew those last miles were going to be tough.

I had the Nike+ GPS set to give me splits at every half mile.  After the first mile I decided to run ahead of the pace group... I always go slower the last 6 miles or so and in order to break 4 hours I figured I'd "run my own race."  Usually I play my MotionTraxx during races (it's a podcast set to 180-185 beats per minute and really helps me keep my foot cadence in check) but I was afraid that in a race twice as long as anything I'd done this year I'd get really sick of it after a couple of hours so I just enjoyed the sunshine and bands... good to get used to running without music since I can't do that in the Ironman anyhow.  

Nearing the 7th mile I saw a bunch of people with full marathon bibs running the opposite direction.  They yelled to me "You're going the wrong way!  The full course is this way!"  Seriously?  So I followed them.  After maybe a minute someone yells "That's a different year's course!  The half and the full are together until 12.5!"  YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!  I turned back around cursed a little bit and looked behind me to see if the 3:55 pace guy was in sight.  I couldn't see him -- I was still far enough ahead -- so I decided to speed up for a minute and hope that sort of made up for the little directional snafoo.  I took my first Clif shot and hoped for the best... race nutrition often is my downfall.  

Now my GPS was all screwed up.  When I got to 8, it told me I was at 8.5  How far did I really run the wrong way?  Ugh.  I turned it off for a half mile thinking that would correct it, but it must have tried to catch up because then it was really telling me the wrong splits.  And the pace was completely off (I think it told me my average pace was 8:19.  Which would have been nice.  But... no.) Although I had no idea what my time or pace was, I could tell was slowing down big time as I approached the 10 mile mark.  I turned on my music and tried to figure out how to get the GPS to shut up at every split without turning off the clock.  Couldn't figure it out so I tried to just ignore it. Took another Clif Shot.  Bid the half marathoners farewell (and really good riddance because I was getting sick of hearing "You're ALMOST THERE!")  and headed towards the 13.1 split timer.

I was still feeling pretty good at this point and it wasn't too hot... yet.  I had no idea when I crossed the starting line and the clock said 2:02... I still couldn't see the 3:55 pacer so I figured I couldn't be doing too badly.  I just tried to stay in my rhythm and take it easy on the (many) uphills and speed it up on the way down.  Took another shot.  

My friend Tuan was meeting me at the metro stop on mile 18.5 so I spent 16-18 visualizing his company.  I was getting hot and my legs were starting to hurt but I made myself keep pace.  I knew he'd push the crap out of me once we met up -- he's the reason I broke 4:30 4 years prior on a hot hilly course when I wanted to quit.  Oh was I glad to see him.

18.5 to 21 weren't bad.  Then... I started to feel like I was going to puke.  My digestive track has killed me on two previous marathons and I thought I had it all figured out -- I can't do a Gatorade and Clif Shot combo.  Gels and water had worked on my long training runs with no ill effects.  I'd just had water and 4 shots up until this point.  At 21 the sun was blazing, it was over 70 degrees, I was sweating profusely and my legs were killing me.  I think we were somewhere in Anacostia but honestly I don't remember much after 21.  My brain was missing some glycogen.  I walked through the water stop, drank three cups, had my 5th shot and then tried to run again.  Still felt like I was going to puke, and started cramping.  Really bad.  Tuan asked me if I wanted a gel and I resisted the urge to throw up on him.  Nothing sounded worse than gel right at that moment.  What I really wanted to do was ball up into the fetal position right then and there.  And cry.

Somewhere around this point the 3:55 pace guy passed us.  So between Tuan ordering me to pick up the pace and the devastation of slowing down so much in the final stretch, I made myself run through the cramps and nausea.  Around 23 my legs really started to hurt.  Of course my thought process is going something like this:  "Why did I pay $95 to torture myself?  Why did I sign up for ANOTHER marathon last week?  AND WHAT WAS I THINKING WHEN I SIGNED UP FOR AN IRONMAN?  Who does this after they bike 112 miles, never mind the swimming part?  I am insane.  I am truly insane.  I want to quit.  Forget breaking four hours.  If I stop right now and just walk to to finish I'll still get a PR.  OH SERIOUSLY THERE IS ANOTHER HILL?  Why did they put so many hills in DC?  Why is it so hot?  I know I always complain about winter but couldn't it have lasted one more week?  Okay Gretchen there are only three miles left.  That's like your recovery run out the front door to the elementary school and back.  The 3:55 pace guy is still in sight... just keep following him."

Final water stop.  Tuan dumps water all over me.  Which soaks my Iphone and I'm convinced he's killed it and I'm going to have to pay $200 to get a new one so I yell at him.  I give him my phone and tell him to dry it out and make sure it's still working.  He ignores me and tells me to run faster.  

And finally -- I see RFK Stadium.  At 25 miles I wished I could pick up the pace... Tuan is telling me to sprint to the end and I kind of feel like slamming him.  Because there is no way I can go any faster.  I am so done with this marathon.  People are yelling at me that there is only a half mile to go and I want to yell back at them that that's great but I already ran 26 thanks to the kind folks at mile 6.5 and really, this is killing me.  Then I hear "GRETCHEN!  You're almost there!" and our friend Saguna, who did the half, runs with Tuan and I for a little bit.  And my friend Katie (also did the half) is at the finish (waiting to cheer on her husband) and yells out my name.  And Tuan yells that I can still make 3:55.  SO.. I start booking it.  The 3:55 guys are ahead of me and I try to catch them.  Tuan ducks back to the sidelines and says he is going to meet me at the finish.  He'd better.  He has my phone.

The clock says 4:02 when I cross.  I knew I broke 4 but didn't think I did 3:55. However... I had signed Tuan's phone up for runner tracking so he could find me.... and lo and behold.... 3:54:53.  Just made it!

Pain?  Oh yes.


I was quite amused that the recovery drink they handed out at the finish shute is the same chocolate milk they serve in our school cafeteria!

THE AFTERMATH:  Apparently they had an after party with free bands and beer.  Who can drink beer after a marathon?  I still felt like puking.  After calling my husband (who said congratulations and could I please come home so we could go to a Saint Paddy's party at his friend's?) and lying underneath a tree for 20 minutes while Tuan tried to convince me to eat something (I refused - still felt like puking) we got on the metro.  I thanked him profusely for his supreme pacing and motivation and bid him farewell at the red line transfer.  30 minutes to go.  I am really going to throw up.

Which I did as soon as I got off the train.  Into a trashcan.  Then I got in my car and drove back home.  I got into the tub but then had to get out to puke again.  I was feeling really lightheaded.  Jamie calls and asks if I'd be ready to go to the Saint Paddy's party when he pulls up to the house (he'd been at swim lessons with Susie) and I tell him I need help.  Puke again.  I get into bed and ball up into the fetal position.  Jamie had been home sick with the stomach flu Monday so maybe that is what it was?  I say hello to my kids and he gets me some fluids.  I tell him to party on his own because what I really need is peace and quiet.  He happily leaves.  I puke one more time and take some Gatorade.  Then miraculously start to feel better.

So it wasn't the flu.  I think my electrolytes were out of whack.  My dad (a pediatrician) said I probably got hyponatremia from drinking all water and no sports drink.   I looked up the symtoms.  Disorientation (yes), vomiting (yes), chills (yes), severe headache (yes), and possibly coma and death (thank God... no.)  Lesson learned.  Need to come up with a better nutritional strategy.  I don't think Gatorade is the solution so I'm going to experiment with salt tabs or Nuun.  

Overall -- pretty happy.  PRed by 33 minutes.  Not bad.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

California International Marathon

I just registered for the California International Marathon!  Why?

1.  It is in December which will give me time to recover from Ironman Louisville.
2.  It will NOT be close to 80 degrees, as is predicted for this upcoming marathon.
3.  The course is a net downhill....
4.  My sister lives out there and I convinced her to sign up.
5.  Hoping my brother will sign up too!
6.  It's always best to sign up for your next marathon BEFORE you finish the one you're signed up for so you can't chicken out when you are so sore you have to walk down the stairs backwards.
7.  Also having another race in the horizon will comfort me if I bonk, and will lesson the "post marathon blues."

On another note - I have a cold.  I can't taste anything so I haven't been eating much.  Which isn't good the days preceding the marathon.  

Cannot.  Stop.  Obsessing.  Over.  Possible.  Race. Day. Situations.

That is all.  Goodnight.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pre-race jitters have already hit big time.  I think they are worse than they were for my first marathon.  Back then I only had one goal - to finish.  I had a vague time goal of 4:45 but I felt good the whole race and finished in 4:38.  I never did any real training other than long runs -- other than that I just made sure I ran at a leisurely pace 2-3 more times per week.  That was pretty much my training plan for all the marathons I've done, although the two I crashed and burned on (Shamrock 2010 and Marine Corps 2011) I may have only gotten 1-2 other runs in per week... and not done any 20 mile training runs.... and maybe I was pregnant for one of them.

But this time around I've trained my tush off.  I started at 30 miles per week in December and built up to 60 right before the taper.  I actually did the 800 repeats every week, adding one each session for 2 months  I weight trained.  I cross trained.  I did my 20 and 22 mile training runs.  I want to do well on this race.

Weather report is not looking too promising.  After so many training runs in frigid winter temperatures I was hoping for a high of 55 or so. Forecast is saying 70-75.  Too hot, especially this early in March.  My is unacclimated body will hopefully do alright.

A marathon is scary if you've trained this hard for it.  Because if you bonk, you bonk.  And it's not like a 5K where you can just race again the next weekend.  Once this race is over, I've got to switch gears and really focus on the Ironman.  Which means I probably won't be doing another marathon until I've recovered from that event -- late late fall if not early winter.

The Taper Has Begun

First of all, my legs are still sore from Sunday's race.  I think that will be my last "all out" effort until the marathon.  These legs need some serious recovery.  (Pretty happy overall with the "12K" race results though... 9th woman overall, 6th in my age group, 57:39 time.  I'd love to claim that I did the race at a 7:45 pace like it says, but my GPS proves otherwise.  The course was short.)

Tapering is a funny thing.  Two weeks ago I ran 62 miles in one week.  8 mile runs seemed like nothing, no big deal.  I cut my mileage in half last week but still did fast running. This week and next I've got easy runs only, my longest run being 8 miles this coming Saturday.  I ran 5 this morning and it felt like a big chunk of time whereas two weeks ago 5 felt like I barely ran.

Really it couldn't have come at a better time because the next two weeks are insane.  My daughter's birthday is Friday, her birthday party is Saturday and on the same day my school choir is singing the national anthem at the Washington Wizards game.

Thursday I am going to run with a co-worker right after work which means I GET TO SLEEP IN!  Until 7.  Hey, 7 is a lot later than 5.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Burke Lake Trail "12K" Race Report

A few things I learned today:

-Pre-race day nutrition is important.
-I like mud.
-I will never, ever beat my husband no matter how hard I train.

This was my final "all out" effort before the marathon... tapering for real starts right now.  I didn't prepare very well though.  My dad was in town for the weekend and we decided to have a late lunch at Ray's Hellburger. They are arguably the best burgers in the world -- a picture of President Obama chowing down hangs their front door to prove it.  My pre-race day rules -- no dairy, lots of carbs, not too much protein.  What I ate -- a 1/3 lb hellburger with roasted garlic, grilled mushrooms, and hecksauce, an order of french fries, and a butterscotch milkshake.  This was at 4pm.  I was too full to eat any dinner.  I had a couple of seltzer waters around 10 pm and a nutrigrain bar.  Then I went to bed.

My pre-race routine -- coffee and a Clif Bar.  Got up and looked in the cupboard.  Clif Bars gone. Apparently the darling husband had eaten them all week for breakfast.  He had some toast and peanut butter but I wasn't sure I could handle the protein before running so I had a couple of nutrigrain bars and a coffee with soy milk.  We said goodbye to the kiddos, wished my dad luck with babysitting and headed off.  Weather was right on the border of "do I wear tights or shorts."  I think it was 37 degrees when we arrived to the packet pickup at 9:30 but by the time the race started it had warmed up a little.  I opted for shorts and a running jacket.

I hit the bathrooms right before the race start and got to the starting line late as usual so I missed whatever the race director was telling people.  I arrived and heard "GO!"  So I went.  The first half mile was on a paved road and then we hit the trail.  The trail had huge puddles of mud since it had downpoured on Friday and most people were trying to carefully avoid getting their shoes soaked.  I followed them at first but then realized how much this was slowing me down so I started to just run right through the puddles.  After a few of these and realizing how fun this was, I decided I need to sign up for one of those "Tough Mudders" one of these days.

At the first mile my GPS said I was going at a 7:58 pace.  I hoped to do under 8 minute miles for the race, but I could tell that the rolling terrain and puddles were going to slow me down a little bit.  It made for great scenery though -- right along a lake on a clear sunny day.  At 2 miles though I started to feel like I was running out of steam.  How could I do 22 miles at under a 9 minute pace last weekend feeling fantastic, and feel like I was going to keep over and collapse?  Perhaps it was the lack of carbs yesterday.  I took my lone Clif Shot -- chock full of as much caffeine as a cup of coffee -- out of my pocket and sucked it down.  A little early in the race but I figured adrenaline would carry me through at the end.  Cause I was running on empty.

About a mile later I started seeing runners coming the other way on the out and back course.  I was starting to get a little boost from the sugar/ caffeine mix when I saw my husband come around the bend.  Seriously?  AURGH!  I don't think the guy has run more than five miles at a time since the marathon in October.  Where he got a 3:45 with his longest training run being one 19 miler and no real training plan.  He lapped me at the Turkey Trot with two kids in the jogging stroller.  He chugged beers with my father last night and signed up for this race as an afterthought at about 8 p.m. last night.  I'm not sure if seeing him made me move faster or slower.  I hit the turnaround/ water stop soon after that and gained a little more confidence - I was pretty sure I had enough energy to keep this pace up til the end.

Mostly though what was going through my head was "I will never ever beat my husband.  And I will never ever ever qualify for Boston."  Well, not qualifying this year is a given.  I need a 3:35 and that's an 8:10 pace -- which was about what I was running for this race.  No way I could keep that up for an additional 19 miles.  Next year I need 3:40.  I'm pretty sure I couldn't run only 10 seconds slower for that many miles.  I feel like I've kind of hit a plateau in my running after having so much improvements this year, and I'm not sure if more training could get me to 3:40 in 6-12 months.

In fact, I started to worry that even breaking four hours is a lofty goal.  It might not happen, especially since the course is pretty hilly.  I know breaking 4 is something I am capable of, but I think it will all depend on the day, the weather, and other variables I can't really control.

Today's race course was on a public trail that gets a lot of foot traffic from joggers, dog walkers, and families.  I ran straight through a puddle and another racer turned around and yelled (nicely) "Remember what the race director said?  Be careful not to splash non-racers so we don't lose our race permit."  Oops.  So that's what he was talking about.  Ergh.  Guilty as charged.

I tried to get my last three miles under an 8 minute pace but I couldn't do it.  Again, I don't know how I pulled out a 7:36 for the 22nd mile last weekend.  The fastest I could get today was 8:03, which I did for mile 6 and 7.

Now I'm pretty sure a 12K is supposed to be 7.46 miles.  My plan was to all out sprint when the GPS said 7.  However before I even got to 7 my husband popped out to the sidelines and yelled "There's the finish line.  GO!"  Like 150 yards ahead of me.  So I sprinted.  And I finished.  But it was not a 12K.  My GPS said "7.12 miles."  Other people's GPSs said 7.3 but I'm guessing they were puddle avoiders and thus added some extra terrain.  No one's said 7.46.  So I think I could have hit a faster pace at the end had the course been more accurate.

Jamie and I post race.  I still love him even if he is fast.

  My muddy legs.

Next race -- the big one.  St. Patty's Day -- ROCK AND ROLL USA MARATHON HERE WE COME!