Friday, October 21, 2016

Highlights of Training

Five Highlights of This Training Cycle

Crossing Training: I opted for a shorter 3 month training cycle for this marathon (July to September).  After my stress fracture last year, the number one priority was to stay healthy and actually line up this time at the Chicago Marathon.  I logged 376 regular ol' running miles.  But, I also rode my bike 285 miles and swam both in the pool and in open water.  At its peak, my weekly swimming time was 84 minutes.  I also water skied on the weekends, typically 45 miles (or 90 minutes).  This was definitely the cycle of extra cross training!

My favorite cross training!

Sprint Triathlons:  After my somewhat accidental first sprint triathlon in June, I went on to compete in one each month from July to September.  This was by design.  You see, I tend to obsess over things {who me?} and needed a distraction of sorts from my marathon training.  By competing in the triathlons, my focus turned elsewhere and forced a much needed monthly break from excessive pavement pounding.

At my 3rd Sprint Triathlon

NutritionI did not use this training cycle as an excuse to overeat.  The wonderful result was that I lost those few stubborn pounds that had been hanging on since Winter.  I've always eaten a balanced diet and simply adore my veggies.  But, I carefully watched my sugar intake and upped my protein.  I used a scoop of BeFit Vanilla Protein Powder every day.  I'm simply addicted to it blended with half parts 1% milk and half parts 1% low sugar chocolate milk!   TRY IT. 

Heart Rate:  As someone guilty of always running at the same intensity, I began paying attention to my HR last year, even more after completing my RRCA Running Coach Certification.  Our instructor could not emphasize enough the importance of what he termed Brady Bunch runs -- at a slow enough pace to easily belt out the show's theme song.  So, I adopted a game for long runs (and some short ones).  I'd set a low target HR and did whatever it took not to go over that number.  And yes, I admit to a some singing.  My watch stayed on its HR screen and I completely ignored my pace.   It was liberating.

Jumping for joy after my last long run!

The Results:  If things went smoothly, I thought perhaps I could finish around 4:30.  And maybe I would have been close had I not fallen -- but I'll never really know.  Nasty fall and rib cage spasm aside, I do know my body held up wonderfully.  I had no IT band pain, no cranky hips, no piriformis pain, no foot-calf-hamstring cramps -- no aches or pains below the bra line whatsoever.  Upon waking the next day, I could find little evidence I had run a marathon.  By day two, I could find none (well, minus those busted up knees).   Walking down the stairs?  Sitting on the toilet?  A breeze!

Which just leaves me itching to try it again...

Have you done anything different lately with your training plan?

I'm joining on the new Friday Five 2.0 linkup
Stop by and see what everyone is talking about.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Chicago Marathon Recap (WW # 63)

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Before I get to my race recap, I've got to show you what delightful surprise arrived in the mail Friday.  Sarah Marie Design Studio has outdone herself!  Look at this ingenious letter man's jacket.  And the best part?  You add patches for your achievements!  PR?  Distance?  Specific Races?  The possibilities are endless.  Use VARSITYTEAM at checkout to receive 15% off. 

Coolest idea ever!

On to the recap...

Wow -- Chicago!  The one I worked so hard for last year, but didn't make it to the starting line.  My redemption race.  By now, you may know I fell.  I don't want that to overshadow my experience.  Yet, I'm having a hard time remembering details after that occurred.  I remember a lot of pavement and a lot of people.  Let me start at the beginning...

My only expo picture!
I arrived early Friday afternoon and sat in that awful traffic mayhem like everyone else.  I finally made it to the expo dragging my luggage behind.  I had just enough time to quickly find a headband and meet up with Marcia to attend the Generation UCAN live webinar event with Meb Keflezighi and Sarah Crouch.  I'm so grateful to Marcia for including me.  Fellow bloggers Sherry, Wendy and Sharon were also there.  Meb and Sarah were down to earth, very inspirational and so generous with their time.  I'm also excited to try the UCAN family of products we were given.

Meb, Me, Sherry, Marcia, Sarah, Wendy and Sharon

Wendy was very gracious to have a late dinner with me.  It truly felt like we were lifelong friends simply catching up.  I think we could have relaxed and chatted all night but it was getting late and I still hadn't even checked into my hotel.  She was kind enough to drop me at the door.  I look forward to spending more time with both her and Marcia later this year.  (Hey Wendy, I owe you that sticker!)

Saturday was purposefully low key.  I did some sightseeing and ran into Pam while walking along Michigan Avenue.  We were so surprised to meet that way that it slipped our minds to take a picture [#bloggerfail].  Sherry, Sharon and I took the Wendella architectural boat tour that afternoon.  It was crowded and we were somewhat disappointed there were no seats on the top deck.  

I enjoyed seeing the different buildings and learning about their history.  I can certainly report that Chicago is beautiful from the water!  I got drowsy sitting in the warm sunshine. {Ladies, I'm usually perkier!}  After more sightseeing, I went back to the hotel and fell asleep.  And I never nap!  After a spaghetti dinner and a little college football, I called it a day.

Upon waking race morning, I ate a banana and Clif Bar and drank half a bottle of water.  I stuffed my skirt pockets with 4 peanut butter GU and 6 Saltstick capsules and was ready to go.  My hotel was a half mile from the start and I was soon in back-of-the-pack Corral J (read about that HERE).  It didn't occur to me to stop at a porta-potty nor check the weather one last time.  [And I call myself a runner!]  

My view from Corral J

Soon enough, we were off.  All 40,000 plus.  Immediately, there were piles of discarded clothing to avoid getting tangled in.  I was amazed at the number of men and women that stopped right away under the first overpass to umm ... urinate.  Sans.Porta.Potty.  No thanks.  I intentionally started slow.  Oddly, and a little concerning, my heart rate was high.  I didn't feel nervous, but I kept at my slower pace hoping to settle it down.

Usually in a race, a mental picture gets seared into my brain.  This imprint occurred early on.  We must have been running slightly downhill because I could see way ahead in the distance and watched as an el train crossed between the tall skyscrapers lining the street -- all against a beautiful, clear blue sky. *Snap*  The crowd support was unbelievable and at times the noise almost deafening.

It was difficult getting to and keeping my desired pace.  Part of the problem were the water stops.  It seemed they were in every mile.  Let me say, the sheer number of volunteers at each one was amazing!  But, these stops were long, crowded, covered in cups and slick with liquid. First we'd run through the Gatorade section, long enough in itself, but then we'd run through the water section.  It killed my pace every time.  I've got to work on this.  I did wonder if it was better in the earlier corrals??

Back in mile three, I had stumbled hard and thought "Whew!  It would have been horrible to fall in this race!" {Cue ominous music}  I've always taken pride for not falling in over 150 races now and being an eyes-on-the-payment runner.  I vowed to pay extra attention, although it was difficult at times with so many people.  I rocked along trying to keep a decent pace until somewhere late 12 or early 13 ... Splat.  Suddenly, I'm on the ground and I see the rounded hump of pavement that grabbed my shoe.  I landed hard on my hands, knees and one elbow.  The nice people around me stopped but I got up quickly and continued.  I was very relieved nothing was broken but can see the blood running down my shins.  The medical aid station was just ahead. 

I won't go into detail (read about that HERE) but after an eternity in first aid, I'm free to go.  I'm badly shaken.  I'm trying not to cry from pure old lady frustration.  I'm holding it together because I know Marcia and Wendy are spectating just ahead.  I originally planned to give them a shout and slow long enough for a picture, but I stopped completely.  Truth be known, I needed to gather myself momentarily.  I've never been so happy to see two familiar smiling faces!

... Just put on a happy face ...

They are few memories after this.  I hit the half marathon mark at 2:18 and thought that wasn't too shabby because it included my lengthy stop.  Maybe I could negative split the race {I didn't}.  I smelled something horrid and noticed the man in front of me.  A massive amount of baby-golden diarrhea was clinging to the back of his black shorts.  I chuckled to myself thinking "things could be worse".  I had a brief WHY ME pity party in mile 15.  But once I got down to 10 miles left, I decided "I can do THIS $#*+".  I continued running...gingerly.

I caught up to the young fellow carrying the American flag and was immediately covered in goose bumps.  The cheering from the crowds as he passed with Old Glory was truly magnificent.  I briefly contemplated staying near the flag, but decided to pass by and keep running my own race. 

The sun was relentless later in the race and I got warm.  I remember nothing more until miles 23-24 when I came close to panicking because I.could.not.breathe.  An acute pain had developed under my rib cage, right at the bra line.  I was forced to walk off and on in those two miles to get air and control the rising panic.  My knee wraps had also come loose so I'm carrying bloody bandages and gasping.  I'm sure I was a sight.  Whatever spasm I had finally released and I continued on.  I thought the throngs of spectators in the last mile or two were the most enthusiastic and I was touched by their support.

As someone who runs in a hilly 'hood, I appreciated every little hill in this super flat race, especially that last one!  I also loved seeing the final blue 1 mile and subsequent meter signs.  I wanted to scream -- I can do 800 meters!!  The 100 meters sign was a beautiful sight.  I crossed the finish line in 4:44:30. Although I expected better, all things considered -- I'm OK with that time.  In fact, I battled pretty hard for it.  It is also technically a PR.  [The first post-fractured-foot marathon was 23 minutes slower as I was unable to run much prior to that race.] 

My left knee was bleeding so I stopped at the medical tent for more bandages.  The nicest young woman helped me.  She went the extra mile to get me the post race food bag (that I somehow missed) and a Gatorade.  I almost passed out when she touched my bruised knees to clean them.  As I sat there light headed, a man crawled in vomiting profusely.  Every.Where.  Oh yeah, things could be so much worse. But I believe the most pleasing thing of all was when I awoke Monday morning (and other than my busted knees) could not tell I had run a marathon.  YES!

It was a gorgeous day and a gorgeous city to run my 2nd marathon!

Chicago was exciting.     Chicago was humbling.

Chicago was challenging.      Chicago was rewarding.

Chicago was everything I expected it to be.

And that's a wrap!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Me, Irritable?

I'm irritated that I'm irritable.  I've felt this way for a while.  I don't want to feel this way, so that just becomes another irritant.  But, instead of harping on my specific day to day irritations -- clearly due to gender, age and stress, I thought I'd touch on the marathon I just ran because it's fresh in my mind.

Do not misunderstand, Chicago is a beautiful city.  I had a spectacular weekend, met some incredible people and will talk about all the lovelies and goose-bumpy feels in my race recap.  Running the Chicago Marathon was a tremendous opportunity and one I'll be forever grateful for.  But yeah, there were a few things that got under my skin. 

Upon my arrival Friday, I spent more time in a cab in gridlocked traffic than I did on the airplane.  In fact, time got so tight I was afraid I'd miss the Meet Meb and Sarah Crouch Event sponsored by Generation UCAN that I was lucky enough to be included in (thank you Marcia!).  Last minute, I asked the cab driver to take me straight to the expo instead of my hotel, where I proceeded to drag my baggage around for many hours.  I apologize to everyone I hit with it!   On top of that, I felt covered in airport/cab grime and stench.  Hopefully Meb, Sarah nor my blogger buddies noticed.

Chicago, you are a beautiful city!

I was also irritated to be placed in one of the last corrals.  Honestly, I think this was due to my DNS last year as my estimated finish time for this year did not warrant it.  I kept telling myself it didn't matter.  But did it?  Not only did I have to dodge the expected throngs of people running a different pace, sewer caps, grates, bad pavement, discarded clothing and accessories, and maneuver through the seas of discarded drinking cups and whatnot -- but I also dodged spectators.  Spectators!  Too many times to count, they crossed right in front of me to reach the opposite side of the street.  Bad spectator etiquette!  Bad. 

I admit after my ever-so-graceful swan dive into the pavement in mile 12 or so, I was not the most pleasant person at the first aid station.  I kept barking at them to hurry up!  They wanted me to sit down but I refused.  After an eternity they got the bleeding stopped, or at least slowed enough to wrap my knees.  Then, they proceed to whip out what appeared to be very wide, clear packing tape.  Once again, I was less than kind.  "I can't run with that around my knees!"  "Ma'am we don't have bandages wide enough."  "Don't you have some gauze?"  On and on and irritable black hole of time!  {I did thank them profusely when I was free to go.}

Speaking of my fall, I fear this race will forever be thought of as "the one where I fell".  And that irritates me.  I don't want my experience to be overshadowed by it.  I'm trying hard to at least think of it as "the one where I got up".  

Again, don't think my Chicago Marathon experience was a bad one.  In fact, I highly recommend it. There were so many positives which I promise to get to later.  But today's Wednesday Word is IRRITABLE -- which was apparently suggested by me at some point.  So BOOM, there you go!  A dump truck full. 

Oddly...I feel better now.

Does anything make you irritable?

I'm linking up with Deb @ Deb Runs for the Wednesday Word.

Please visit Deb and the other participating bloggers.  It's fun!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

I've Fallen and I Can Get Up! (WW # 62)

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M - Rest
T  - Ran 4 Progressive (10:16 / 9:49 / 9:25 / 8:55)
W - Ran 3 Easy
T  - Rest
F  - Rest (Travel)
S  - Rest (Sightseeing)

Hello, Chicago!!

Hi, everyone.  There's not much to say about this last week leading up to the marathon.  It was taper time.  I acted crazy.  When this goes live, I will have completed the Chicago Marathon.  My phone doesn't edit blogger well, especially pictures so you'll have to wait.  No doubt I'll have several lengthy posts about my experience in the coming weeks {wink}.   

RACE:  I had a hard and nasty spill during mile 12.   I literally went flying and landed on my hands, knees and one elbow. Blood was gushing from both kneecaps and luckily there was a medical tent just ahead.   I was shaken up pretty badly but happy nothing was broken. After coming upon a man with diarrhea all over his shorts, I realize my fall probably wasn't the worse thing that could happen.   I finished in 4:44:30 which is a PR of 23 minutes (if you count the foot-fracture marathon).

I appreciate all of the well wishes before this race. 

There were a lot of races this weekend.  Tell me all about it!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Surely you all knew I couldn't head off
to Chicago without a little poetry...


Every step I made
In our southern summer heat
No treadmill steps for me
They do not like my feet

All that sweat I lost
I wish that I could weigh
I may have lost myself
If you think of it that way

Would I get through training
Without injury or harm
Only time could tell me
If this would be the charm

What did I do different
To keep myself from straining
Actually, nothing much
Just maybe more cross training

All that swampy air
It was very hard to breathe
Would it get any cooler
Before the time to leave

Sweet redemption's what I hope
It would really make me glad
To run the windy city
And FULFILL that dream I had

I pray that I'll be strong
For each and every mile
But regardless of my pace
I will finish with a smile

I think that the reward
Of crossing the finish line
Will FULFILL that need to challenge
My mind

I'm linking up with Deb @ Deb Runs for the Wednesday Word.

Please visit Deb and the other participating bloggers.  It's fun!