Thursday, April 28, 2016

Big Sur Marathon... Completing B2B

My treat after Boston, the Big Sur Marathon!

We flew home early Tuesday morning (the day after Boston) and I actually felt pretty good. Tuesday night I did 30 minutes (2 miles) on the elliptical and soaked/stretched for 10 minutes in a hot tub at the Y.

Wednesday I woke up feeling like I'd been run over by a truck. Seriously got worried I might not be able to finish in 6 hours on Sunday. I got a massage late morning and felt better.

Thursday I spent the whole day flying out to Monterey, CA. Got to my hotel at 5 pm California time (that's 8 pm Indy time) and couldn't decide if I was more tired or hungry. Finally mustered up the energy to get off the bed and wandered down to Fisherman's Wharf which was about a quarter mile from the hotel. My taxi driver had told me all the restaurants on Fisherman's Wharf had free clam chowder samples so people could walk down the wharf and sample it all before deciding on where to eat. It was one restaurant after another on the wharf. I sampled three little cups of chowder which gave me the energy to make a decision on where to eat. Settled on The Old Fisherman's Grotto where I got a salad and an appetizer sampler.

Made it through the shrimp and crab cake, then wanted to take a nap in my calamari so the server boxed it up for me to go and sent me out with a long-stem rose. I think I'm going to love Monterey...

Friday I planned to run some shake out miles but it was raining when I woke up. So... leftover calamari, hot tea, and some Nutrigrain bars that I had brought along for breakfast and then caught up on email. Rain stopped around 9 am so I went on my run along the coastal trail. It was gorgeous. Thankfully, my legs were no longer sore either. I actually wanted to run further so I could look around some more but I could still feel the fatigue in my legs so I stopped at 3 miles.

Lunch was at a wonderful crepery called Crepes of Brittany, then it was off to the race Expo to pick up my bib and look around. I actually got "trapped" at the Expo for quite some time because it started to pour rain again while I was there so I stayed until the rain let up. Then, it was back to the hotel across the street to rest a bit, then back to the Expo to meet up with Sole Sister Abbie who was also running the marathon and staying with me on Saturday night.

More down time after that so I made a quick trip to the hotel hot tub to soak and stretch. Had a great dinner at Paluca Trattoria, then more resting in the room until my friend John got into town. He wanted to run Big Sur with me but didn't get drawn in the lottery so he drove down from Napa to hang out with me all weekend instead. We sat down in the hotel bar for awhile, catching up and discussing what runs we should do together over the next couple years... which we'll disclose after we tell our spouses.

Saturday morning John and I walked down to the Monterey Plaza Hotel to eat breakfast. The sun was out and the views of Monterey Bay were like out of National Geographic. We saw sea lions basking in the sun and sea otters swimming in the water. During breakfast I saw dolphins porpoising out of the water. After breakfast we saw whales leaping out of the water. It was a bit surreal.

Walking back towards the Expo, we met a man named Michael Sinkoski. He had stopped us because John had on a Western States T-shirt and he wanted to know whether we had done the race. We ended up having a pretty long discussion with him as he had run Western States several times in the 1980's (even ran sub 24 hours) and shared quite a bit of ultra running history with us (the guy is 63).

At 10 am, we went to a seminar by Jeff Galloway. We thought it was going to be about injury prevention tips but he ended up talking about his Run-Walk method instead. It was actually very interesting. Jeff Galloway is now 70. He looks like he's about 50. He said he and his wife were planning to use the Run-Walk method on Sunday to run a 5:15 marathon, alternating running for 90 seconds with walking for 30 seconds. I filed that away in my brain. If I totally crashed and burned on Sunday I would try to stay with Galloway's group if they overtook me.

After Galloway's seminar, it was time to eat again. Yup, John and I both love food. We ended up at Sushi Moto. And no, I was not brave enough to eat raw sushi the day before a marathon. John ate raw sushi. I had Udon noodles.

At 1 pm we went to a Strength Training for Runners seminar put on by Fitz Koehler. She's a former kick boxer who now has a Master's in Exercise Science. Basically the woman's a badass who knows her stuff. She has a blog at  and showed us a runner's strength routine - video link of this routine is also on her blog HERE. (I know this because John looked it up and did it Sunday morning, then ran 10 miles on the hotel treadmill while waiting for me to finish my marathon.)

Back to the Expo tent to look around after that since John didn't get to look around yesterday. Might I add at this point that this is why we like to hang out together. Our families would have died of boredom by now if we'd dragged them around with us all day.

At the Expo

At 4 pm we went to see Dean Karnazes speak. His talk was suppose to be on Tips for B2B Runners. Instead, it was all about him... he was such a pompous a**hole that about a quarter of the audience walked out after about 10 minutes. Not informative at all. He wanted questions, but then when he got them, it was all about him. For example, someone asked how endurance athletes prevent overuse injuries. His answer was that HE had never had an injury. Puhleeez....

All the B2B runners (that were left) after the talk were asked to get on the stage for a group photo.

Dean's the guy in the white tank

After Dean's talk it was back to the hotel to meet Abbie, then the three of us went to Café Fina for dinner. It was bedtime for us girls after that.

"us-ie" by Abbie

Sunday. Race day. Up at 3:15 am and on the bus by 4 am.

Let me tell ya, going to the starting line I about decided I was never going to do this race again. The bus ride about killed me. I get motion sick. I don't do buses. I really don't do buses that lumber along winding roads that go up and down for miles and miles. It took an hour to get to the start at Big Sur. I could not get off that bus fast enough!

I was fine as soon as I got off the bus. Then it was nine million trips to the port-a-potty. I think I overdid my hydration this week trying to recover. Race time. I spotted Magdalena Boulet, last year's Western States women's winner, on the roadway just in front of the starting line as we lined up on Highway 1. I figured she would win the women's race. She did.

So what was my race strategy? A) see what 10 minute pace feels like, B) maybe a 4:30 race but probably not since that's pretty much what I ran in Boston and this is a tougher course, C) less than 5 hours would be wonderful, D) try stay with Jeff Galloway, and E) don't get picked up by the SAG wagon - there is a strict 6 hour time limit for this race.

Mile 1 - 9:49. Feels pretty good.

Mile 2 - 12:59. OMG, I had to pee again. I spotted some port-a-potties right after the 1 Mile marker. Might as well go now before I get sweaty and uncomfortable. I had to stand in line with four people in front of me.

Mile 3 - 9:00. Probably shouldn't be running this fast but I feel like the whole world just ran past me.

Mile 4 - 9:27. Still probably going faster than I should.

Mile 5 - 9:27. Same. Also want to add that there are no flat places to run on this road! The whole highway slants one way or the other, depending on which way it is curving around. I ran on the dirt shoulder as much as I could since that was the flattest spot I could find. Never mind running tangents. I wanted to save my legs.

Mile 6 - 9:38. I'm in a good rhythm now. The scenery is AMAZING. Giant redwoods have given way to vast pastures and you can see the ocean. Point Sur lighthouse is off in the distance.


Point Sur Lighthouse

Mile 7 - 10:04. I catch up to the 4:30 pacer. Plan is to stay with her so I don't get in trouble.
Mile 8 - 10:15
Mile 9 - 10:18

Mile 10 - 9:44. Rut roh... I got ahead of the pacer on the downhill before Hurricane Point. Just before the uphill are the Taiko Drummers. You can hear their drum beats as you climb Hurricane Point.

Mile 11 - 12:08. Yup, 4:30 pacer is running by...  The wind is just incredible. I suppose that's why this is called Hurricane Point. The wind never let up for the rest of the race. I heard the following day that this was the second windiest race on record.

Mile 12 - 11:32. Jeff Galloway had advised on walking segments of the race, especially early on, and especially on the uphills. I was so paranoid I was going to hit the wall later in the race that I decided to take this advice. Walk, count to 30, then start running again... Did that on a lot of the uphills.

Mile 13 - 9:53. The iconic Bixby Bridge is the halfway point of the race. On the far side of the bridge sits tuxedo clad Michael Martinez, playing a grand piano, his music amplified all over the bridge.


Mile 14 - 10:15

Mile 15 - 12:51. I've set a new race record now. I had to stop a SECOND time to use the port-a-potty. I'm thinking I get a 4 minute handicap or something for all my stops!

Mile 16 - 10:48
Mile 17 - 10:34
Mile 18 - 11:21
Mile 19 - 11:50
Mile 20 - 11:45
Mile 21 - 11:44
Mile 22 - 11:26. Pretty much ran along mile after mile taking in the amazing views. Tons of people were stopping to take pictures with their phones. I'm not a picture taking person while I run so all the course photos here were from elsewhere on the web. There's actually a great virtual tour of the race HERE.

Mile 23 - 10:41. Little over 5K to go and I've come to the conclusion that I'm not going to bonk and I've still got speed left in my legs.

Mile 24 - 10:33

Mile 25 - 9:46. The only hard part about running at this point was that everyone else around me was walking.

Mile 26 - 10:07. I was kicking for home when John tried to snap a photo and missed... so I stopped for him.

Official finish time - 4:41:19

Earned my finisher's jacket!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Home Sweet Home

The sweetness of home. That is what I am enjoying today. It's a feeling of completeness that I haven't felt in quite some time - years perhaps... Things are done. I don't feel compelled to continue pursuing.

I finished the Big Sur Marathon on Sunday to complete the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge. I'll write about that later but for now let's just say I accomplished what I set out to do in September. By finishing Boston, I accomplished what I set out to do over two years ago.

In my recent quest to declutter my life and find more peace, I came across an interesting quote...

"Possessions also come in the form of titles and accomplishments."

With my competitive Type A personality, I've pondered that statement quite a bit since reading it. Do I really need more accomplishments? Who am I trying to impress? Is it for me or is it for status?

Truly, Boston was for me. It put to rest all the ghosts from my past where I felt I had not run to my potential in my youth. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the status that came with qualifying and running. Big Sur was the cherry on top and it really was fun to run around Monterey the last two days with all the other Boston 2 Big Sur finishers, sporting our finisher's jackets and being worshipped. However, I feel finished accomplishing for now. I want to enjoy just being. No more chasing things. No scheduled races. No scheduled competitions. I don't even think I'm going to compete out at the Fair this year. There's nothing else I need to prove to myself or anyone else. It's all peaceful inside.

My travels the last week have been unforgettable but I was ready to come home yesterday. I ended up having to "ironman" it home though, courtesy of United Airlines. My original itinerary was to fly out of Monterey, CA at 6 am to San Francisco. Three hour layover in San Francisco where I planned to have lunch. Fly to Denver. Two hour layover in Denver where I could eat dinner, then get to Indy by 8 pm. As good as it was going to get for cross-country travel. Well...

First, my flight out of Monterey gets delayed five and a half hours! Apparently the flights in the night before got delayed and didn't get in til 2:30 am so there were no available pilots that could fly until 11:30 am. Obviously I was going to miss all my connecting flights so then I get rebooked from San Francisco to Washington DC to get to Indianapolis.

Next, my flight out of San Francisco gets delayed because the incoming plane was delayed. We had a flight crew and all the passengers (in fact, it was overbooked) but no plane. Plane shows up and we fly to Washington DC, late of course.

Finally, plane touches down at 9:35 pm in DC, meaning it's physically on the ground with all of us still on it. My connecting fly to Indy is suppose to board at 9:45 pm and leaving at 10:10 pm. The other passengers were courteous enough to let those of us with tight connections off the plane first but still, it takes a freakin' long time to get off an airplane...

My boarding pass to Indy as well as the gate agent tells me my departing flight is at gate D20. We arrive at C19.

I take off at a full sprint down the terminal toward the D gates. I'm wearing jeans, a long sleeve T-shirt, a jacket, all my hair is loose, and I'm wearing a backpack and carrying a shoulder bag... oh, and it's 70 degrees in DC. Get to D20 and the gate says "Philadelphia" - F******ck!!
Gate agent says my plane departs out of A2 so, go to the rotunda (green square), get on the shuttle (green dashes) to the main terminal, then take the train (blue dashes) to the A concourse. She didn't tell me I also had multiple escalators to navigate up and down in both the main terminal and concourse A... and A2 is clear at the end of concourse A. By now I'm running with my mouth wide open sounding like a freight train, throat is completely dry, and I think I aspirated something in the air cause I started coughing. By the time I got to the gate I couldn't even speak in full sentences... but the plane was still there and the door was still open. Gate agent shoves me through the door so I figure I'm good but I'm confused. I'm in a glass hallway with multiple doors that open to the tarmac. Then I see the ground crew waving at me. The plane is a regional jet so I have to walk across the tarmac to get on and, really, I'm about to pass out by now (not like a ran a marathon the day before or anything). FINALLY, get on the plane. Of course everyone is staring at me. My face is bright red. I have rivers of sweat streaming off my face and neck. My hair is completely wet and matted. All my clothes are soaking wet... and I can't stop coughing. I find my seat... next to the "big" guy. Arghhh. Of course I'm sure he's thinking, "Oh no, not me, not me..."
Luckily, the plane was only half full. Once I regained my senses I looked around and found another place to sit all by myself and everything was better. Plane landed in Indy at 12:45 am this morning. I was never so happy to stand on terra firma to walk to my own car and drive myself home.
All was quiet when I got home. Kids asleep in their beds. I climbed into bed, on my lumpy mattress, with the dog, the cat, and my snoring husband, happy to be home.
Home sweet home. My life is complete.

Friday, April 22, 2016

THE 2016 Boston Marathon

The dream... over two years in the making... three days, over in the blink of an eye. Hard to find a starting place for all the good memories so I suppose I'll go chronologically.

Saturday, April 16th
This was a family vacation. We left home at 10 am to get on a 12:40 pm direct flight to Boston. Clark's best friend William lives in Boston so he met us at the airport. We took a quick detour to William's office building downtown so we could see the city from it's 15th floor windows, then it was on to our hotel, the Hampton Inn Cambridge.

The hotel prices for this weekend were heart stopping. Anything at the finish line on Copley Square was $1400 a NIGHT! (Not that I could even get a room there by the time my entry was confirmed). We were about 3 miles from the finish line at $399 a night which was about as good as it was going to get. All things considered though, this hotel was a great pick. The "T" (subway) station was across the street. There was free parking, free internet, and free breakfast. The other nice thing was that the T station (Lechmere) was the end of the line for the Green E-train so we always had seats when we got on. We got 7-day T-tickets for $19 a piece. This was the most economical way to go and we got our money's worth.

After settling in, all of us took the T to the finish line at Copley Square.

The Finish Line. There were hundreds of people getting photos.
After getting photos at the finish line, we walked down Boyleston to Marathon Sports as well as Adidas RunBase Boston to look at clothing.
 Along the way we passed the site of the 2013 bombings.
The first bomb went off right outside Marathon Sports which is directly across from the finish line.
Marathon Sports had a countdown clock to the race in their window.

After looking around the finish line area, William took us on a walking tour of the city through the Public Gardens, past several cemeteries, famous government buildings, and into the North End which was a food lover's dream of Italian restaurants and bakeries. We had reservations at Vinoteca di Monica for dinner. I'm glad we had a Boston insider who knew to make dinner reservations or we never would have got a seat anywhere on the North End that night! Dinner was fabulous. I ended up ordering the gnocchi. We then wanted to get dessert either at Modern Pastry or Mike's Pastries as both are well known in Boston. However, the lines to even get IN the shops were around the block. I've never seen anything like it! We ended up at Bova's Bakery where we could at least get in the door but it was wall to wall people in there too. Finally we got cannolis to go. Took the T back to the hotel to feast on cannolis and then it was off to bed.

Sunday, April 17th
This was our "fun" day. Essentially I did all the things you're NOT suppose to do the day before a race. Spend all day on your feet doing things and eating all kinds of new things. Kids and I went to the Expo to pick up my bib and look around. Our intention was to spend about an hour there but we ended up spending several. It was wall to wall people with so much to see.

Adidas took up about half of one of the exhibit halls with their store. We picked up free posters that had all the entrants names on them then moved out to the periphery of the hall. One of the first booths we stopped at was the NormaTec booth where they were giving free 10 minute trials of their recovery boot system. The line was short so we went for it and took 10 minutes to get our legs pampered.

Dear Santa, we would like NormaTec boots for Christmas!

I got $10 worth of chews at the Gatorade booth cause one of the kids wanted the free Boston stocking cap that came with the $10 purchase. Went to the Marathon Tours booth so I could pick up my free Boston 2 Big Sur gift which ended up being arm warmers. Shalane Flanagan was suppose to be at the Runner's World booth and that area was insane so we skipped it and went back to Adidas were I bought lots of overpriced Boston merchandise.

Outside the Expo Hall

We finally left the Expo and went to check out L.A. Burdick, a chocolate shop just off Copley Square. William had said the hot chocolate was incredible - like drinking melted chocolate - so of course we had to try it. He was right. Heaven! I got a box of chocolate to bring home. G got a chocolate elephant and J got a chocolate mouse. They were almost too cute to eat.

What was suppose to be a quick trip to the Expo turned into several hours and we didn't get back to the hotel until almost 4 pm. We met back up with Clark and got back on the T to go to the Museum of Science where we got tickets for a Duck Boat Tour. A "duck boat" is actually a WWII amphibious landing vehicle. We got to tour the major Boston landmarks by land and by boat.

My day was pretty much over after the Duck Boat tour. It was back to the hotel to order pizza for delivery, then off to bed with a 6:30 am wake up call.
Monday, April 18th - Marathon Monday!
Unlike most marathons, Boston does not have an early morning start. The elite men as well as Wave 1 started at 10:00 am, with the elite women and wheelchair racers starting slightly earlier. I was in the first corral of the last wave, Wave 4, so my start time wasn't until 11:15 am. However, I still had to take the T to the finish line area, check my gear bag, then board one of the buses that would transport the runners to the start in Hopkinton. So, 6:30 am wake up it was. Ate oatmeal, coffee, and a banana, put a banana, a bottle of water, and a GU in my bag to take to the start, and it was out the door of the hotel by 7:15 am to get on the T. In retrospect, I wished I had left a bit sooner but it all turned out OK.
I got off the T at the Arlington Station as the stop at Copley Square is closed on Marathon Monday. I went to the finish line area to drop off my gear bag only to discover there were lines of runners going through security, having their drop bags checked. Ugh. Stay calm. Got through the line then ended up doing a brisk walk to board the bus by 8:30 am. Finally got on the bus and it was time to relax and take it all in!
The bus ride took about an hour. It was warm. So warm I ended up taking my throw away sweatshirt off. Then we were there. The Athlete's Village at Hopkinton High School and Middle School.
It was a sea of runners inside...
Finding a bathroom was the first order of business. It took me 40 minutes to get in my first port-a-potty. It took so long I seriously considered staying in there until they called my wave!
After taking care of business, I found a spot of shade under a tent and continued taking it all in. Caught up on some Facebook posts and tried to post this...
... but couldn't get things to upload from my end. Ate my banana an hour before the start. Ate my GU walking to the start... then it was GO time!
By virtue of being in the first corral, I was WAY in the front... like I could see the starter and everything! And away we went...
Mile 1 - 8:51. We're packed like sardines going down the road and I'm looking at EVERYTHING!
Mile 2 - 8:38.
Mile 3 - 8:39. It's pretty much downhill the first couple miles and the running felt effortless so I let my legs go at what felt like an easy pace.
Mile 4 - 8:34. Ashland. Entire families are out in their yards cheering us on. Pace still feels unbelievably easy and now I'm having an internal debate. I've never negative splitted a race and it's certainly not going to happen today. I wasn't planning on running anything faster than 9:00 pace today... Coach Ebersole told me I might have BQ'd in Napa last year if I had just allowed myself to run faster in the beginning rather than holding back... but I'm not trying to BQ today. I'm not nearly in the shape I was in last year either.
Mile 5 - 9:09. The field finally spread out a little and I could feel how hot the sun was and the headwind that we would run into for the rest of the race. I am NOT running under 4:00 today. I need to slow down! That's what I decided. Take it all in!
Mile 6 - 9:15.  Framingham. I think the whole town is out by the road. People lined the streets forming a continuous line of humanity, kids holding their hands out for high-fives. I had been running in the middle of the road since I didn't want to end up bent over to one side by the end of the race due to the camber of the road like Trena last year (Thanks for the tip Trena!). In Framingham I moved over to the right side so I could run in the shade and slapped hundreds of hands. I came upon a woman holding the front legs up on her full-size dog, paw held out for a high-five so I high fived the dog too.
Mile 7- 9:31
Mile 8 - 9:50
Mile 9 - 9:52
Mile 10 - 9:42
Mile 11 - 10:04
Mile 12 - 9:29
Mile 13 - 10:16
Mile 14 - 9:42
Mile 15 - 10:15
The crowds continued to line the road from Framingham to Natick. I don't think I've enjoyed a race this much since Chicago 2011 where I didn't have a time goal either. I wanted to remember everything in the film reel in my head. BE PRESENT!
Mile 16 - 9:35. Running through Wellesley now. The course goes downhill through the Wellesley campus, through the famous "scream tunnel." It was fun to look at all the signs the girls were sporting.
Mile 17 - 11:18. My family was suppose to be somewhere after the 16 mile mark. Finally found them!
Mile 18 - 10:47. The first of the Newton Hills started shortly after I saw my family... and I suddenly got twinges of cramps in my calves. My right foot started throbbing too. I willed myself to relax and not panic. Keep smiling!
Mile 19 - 10:41. Calf problems are gone now but now I feel like there are weights on my legs just above my knees and realize the medial heads of both my quads are solid knots.
Mile 20 - 10:43. Where the heck is Heartbreak Hill?
Mile 21 - 12:14. Never mind. THIS is Heartbreak Hill! The running was getting hard yet I realized there were only about 5 more miles left and, strangely, it made me sad that it was going to be over soon.
Mile 22 - 10:21. We entered Brookline. There were Boston College students screaming their heads off everywhere. They were at least ten times louder than the Wellesley girls. The cheering was just incredible and the crowds would just get bigger and louder from here on in.
Mile 23 - 11:48. Legs are really feeling it now and I'm thinking I need to protect them for Big Sur on Sunday. Lots of people are walking or running crooked around me. Thanks again Trena for telling me not to run on the side of the road!
Mile 24 - 11:38. I get my first glimpse of the big Citgo sign which marks one mile from the finish.
Mile 25 - 13:33. Shortly after mile 24 I tried to accelerate to get around a guy that was moving slow in front of me and got a full on Charley horse in my entire left leg from thigh to foot. I had to stop to massage it out so I could straighten my leg. Sigh.
Mile 26 - 11:13. Right on Hereford. Araminta is supposed to be standing in the turn but I don't see her. My family is also supposed to be on the right side of Hereford but I don't see them either. People are three to five deep screaming their heads off on Hereford. Left on Boyleston. The road opens up and the incredible cheering continues. No finishing kick for me. I run in the middle of the road taking it all in.
Official time 4:29:28
Not one of my faster times but definitely my most memorable marathon... plus, I didn't end up in the medical tent like my last two!
The finish chute was really short. Got my medal, warming blanket and food. Immediately downed the Gatorade Recovery drink, got my gear bag and met my family. Turns out it was so crowded they couldn't get to Hereford before I did so they worked to get to the other side of the finish line before me. It had been 75 degrees when I started and I was hot the entire race. However, it was actually cooler in Boston than Hopkinton and even with my track pants and sweatshirt on I started shivering in the breeze as soon as I stopped moving. I had planned on sitting in a tub of cold water as soon as I got back to the hotel but my teeth were chattering by then so I put my feet in trash cans of ice water instead and took a hot shower. After that, it was compression tights and socks and out the door for a nice dinner. William had reservations for us at Legal Sea Foods at 6:30 pm so there was no time to stop moving!
 Outside Legal Sea Foods
So there you have it. Three days. Over in a blink of an eye but the memories will last a lifetime.
Now it's onward to Big Sur!

Monday, April 11, 2016

B2B Training Week 17 of 18... Trust the Training

Nothing left to do now but trust the training...

One more week to go. This time next week I'll be in Boston with the goal of taking it all in.

I've had mixed feelings about this training cycle. From the beginning, as soon as I found out I had gotten into both Boston and Big Sur, it was all about being in shape to complete both. A PR was not going to happen in Boston if I was going to survive Big Sur six days later. I was worried about the long layoff I'd had all summer but after running my first 20 miler 5 weeks into my training cycle, I felt like the pressure was off. I can do this. Last year I ran my last 20 miler in February before running Napa on March 1st. After that I blew up on my two 20 miler attempts before Derby on April 25th so I never got another 20 miler in. I wanted to try to do 20 ten days before Derby but got talked off the ledge by Coach Ebersole. He told me then that, based on my running history, distance was never going to be a problem for me. I didn't need another 20 miler. Distance was never going to be a problem for me. It's kinda like when Mary Alice Collins told be she thought I'd won the Maple Syrup Contest at the State Fair last year. When someone like that tells you something, you believe them. Still, the training did not go exactly as hoped.

Last year, going into Napa and Derby, I felt like I was in the best running shape since high school. However, I was exhausted, starving, and stressed. I'd spent two years chasing a BQ. I'd pawned off my children to friends so my husband and I could fly out to Napa while they went to school. I went on a caffeine fast so my caffeinated GUs would be more effective in the race. I felt like I HAD to qualify because I didn't know how much longer I could live like this. Qualifying was a huge relief. Boston was my reward.

For a runner like me - age grouper at best - Boston is my Olympics. Getting there was the goal. Never in a million years will I podium but experiencing it all is what I want. Now that I'm in though, I feel a kind of responsibility to run a respectable race... for all those that tried but didn't get in. Does that make sense? It's that time of year again when you start hearing all the stories about those that tried to cheat their way in (off topic, but I'd love to hear opinions about Gia Alvarez - more info HERE) and you realize even more how special it is to run the race.

So, the training cycle wasn't exactly as I planned. I got my miles up but couldn't get motivated to do anything else - nutrition, weights, cross-training, speedwork - all fell by the wayside. Then my right foot started hurting. A scary kind of hurt that became really noticeable in Week 11... too far into the cycle to take any extended time off. Sure, I suppose I could've done pool work and rode a stationary bike... but I didn't... and my training took on a new theme. Days my foot hurt, I was scared to death my next step was going to be my last, that I'd have some excruciating intolerable thing happen to my foot and I wouldn't be able to run, yet I had to keep running on it. Days my foot didn't hurt I wondered if my fixation on my foot was just a cop out and I should be training harder. Back and forth, back and forth, that's how it's gone.

And now, with one week to go, I finally took the time to write out what I had run the past 17 weeks. I never had a set training schedule so it was a week to week run-like-I-feel plan. Seeing it in black and white, I don't have a crazy number of miles but I do have a decent number of miles. I had wanted to do five 20 milers with four of them on back to back weeks. I managed four with 2 of them on back to back weeks and a 20 and 17 on back to back weeks so I was close. I think I'm ready.

Week 17
Sunday - Zero miles. Got up at 3:45 am to catch a 6:45 am flight home from Florida. Home before noon but then had boatload of laundry and grocery shopping to do before going to work an overnight shift at 7 pm.

Monday - 7 miles. Home from work at 7: 30 am. Slept all morning then took G to dance in the evening. It was in the 40's and I had on tights and a thermal shirt on for my run but needed gloves and a headband. Quite the change from the 90 degree Florida weather the week before! My hands and ears about froze off. Plan was to run easy on the Monon. Besides freezing, I felt fine. I got passed by a pack of runners from a training group at the Y on the way back to the Y. The last runner got about 50 yards in front of me and suddenly I decided I wanted to get the run DONE so I sped up and passed every single one of them.

Tuesday - 15 miles. It was a wee but warmer but not much. I stopped and almost bagged the run after a mile because my right foot hurt so much. All my online Sole Sisters got to hear how schizophrenic the run ended up being. Overall, I got it done but it wasn't pretty.

Wednesday - Zero miles. Rest day. Went to work in the evening.

Thursday - 5 miles. Pace run on the treadmill at exactly 9:00 pace. No problems. Felt good and warm afterwards and had a nice stretch.

Friday - 5 miles. Hamster tracked some easy miles early afternoon. It poured rain outside. Went to work in the evening for an overnight shift. Rain turned to sleet. Seriously? It's April 8th for cripes sake!

Saturday - Zero miles. Didn't get to sleep after I got home in the morning for various reasons and was too tired to run.

Week 17 - 32 miles

So one more week to go. It's GO time!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

B2B Training Weeks 13 to 16 of 18... Life

Time has gotten away from me and March went by in a blink. Boston is now less than 2 weeks away. I only realized it after I started receiving the emails and final letters. Same goes for Big Sur. My March calendar is still on my refrigerator. I suppose I should turn the page.

Here's my training summary from what I've written on my calendar.

Week 13
This was to be a rest week after being on the struggle bus during Week 12.

Sunday (3/6) - Zero miles. Rest day.
Monday (3/7) - 3 miles.
Tuesday (3/8) - 6 miles.
Wednesday (3/9) - 10 miles.
Thursday (3/10) - 5 miles.
Friday (3/11) - Zero miles. Rest day.
Saturday (3/12) - Zero miles. I worked overnight on both Thursday and Friday night. I thought about running once I woke up Saturday afternoon but then decided I would rest. I was scheduled a boatload of hours at work the next week due to everyone else being out of town for Spring Break so I thought I'd knock out my long run on Sunday. So, I took Saturday off too, reasoning that this was suppose to be my "rest" week.

Overall, I felt pretty good this week.

Week 13 - 24 miles

Week 14
This was going to be my killer week. I jumped in with a "OK, here goes..." attitude.

Sunday (3/13) - 12 miles. This was my day off and plan had been to go 20 miles. It was going to be a nice easy run and I hadn't been needing any water for my 10 milers plus I hate carrying a fuel belt so the plan had been to run a 15 mile loop through the rolling hills south of my house then get a drink of water and a GU at the end of my driveway before finishing with a 5 mile loop north of my house. Well, the weather got warm. Like really warm - temps in the 70's and sunny. It was a beautiful spring day. I started my run around noon and quickly realized I was going to need water. I ended up cutting the 15 mile loop short at 7, got my water and GU, did the 5 mile loop and then I was DONE. Like put a fork in it done. I was too hot; should have hydrated earlier and more often. I moved my long run to my next day off.

Monday (3/14) - 5 miles. Worked 9 am to 5:30 pm and had a reasonably uneventful day. Got out almost on time. The skies started clouding over and spitting rain by the time I got home so I ended up going to the hamster track and cranking out 5 miles. The first mile felt awful but I warmed up after that.

Tuesday (3/15) - Zero miles. I was scheduled 9 to 5:30 again and I had planned to run after work again. This is always difficult as, usually, I am totally trashed after my shift. Today, again, was a very reasonable day and I was all set to walk out the door at 5:30 pm... but then the bus unloaded. The whole ED, hallways, and waiting room filled to a ridiculous volume between 5 and 5:30. The charge nurse asked if we should try to call another doctor in. Well crap. It would be another hour before someone would get here, provided we even found someone. For some reason I still felt surprisingly energetic so I ended up staying for another 3 hours and tabled my run.

Wednesday (3/16) - 20 miles. Day off and a perfect day to run, except for the wind advisory with 30 mph winds. My main goal for the day was to get my 20 miler in. I did. 10 miles out and 10 miles back with two bottles of water and three GUs. Not fast at all (3:33) but given the wind and the hills, I was satisfied.

Thursday (3/17) - Zero miles. Scheduled rest day. Worked 9 to 5:30 again. Decided I was leaving on time today even if the place was on fire; luckily it wasn't. Got home in time to watch IU play basketball in the opening round of the NCAA tourney against Chattanooga.

Friday (3/18) - 3 miles. Easy shake out miles on the road. Legs still a bit heavy from Wednesday. Went to work in the evening at got home around 3 am.

Saturday (3/19) - 5 miles.

Week 14 - 45 miles. I have to admit I was feeling pretty badass about getting all my miles in this week with a full work week.

Week 15
This was to be another big run week but I actually ended up having the whole week off work without asking for it off. I suppose that's since everybody is now back in town and I work part-time hours but worked a full time week last week. Woo hoo for me!

Sunday (3/20) - 5 miles.

Monday (3/21) - 5 miles. Yes, this is suppose to be another big mile week but my right foot is really hurting me. I'm pretty sure now that I have a stress fracture in my foot as it hurts with any weight bearing. I just try to think about other things when I run but I am trying reduce what stress I can on my foot.

Tuesday (3/22) - Zero miles. I was going to do my 20 miler today so that it would be 6 days between long runs, just like it would be between Boston and Big Sur but the day was windy again and I kept putting the run off until it was too late in the afternoon. Mentally I wasn't in it.

Wednesday (3/23) - 20 miles. G had rehearsal in Carmel from 1 pm to 8 pm so I decided to do my 20 on the Monon. It was STILL windy with gusts of 20 mph. I know that running it on the hills by my house in the wind would be better for me but I couldn't do it. I ran the pancake flat greenway trail that was protected with trees for most of the way rather than running past open fields. It was overcast and cool. As the wind blew in my face I kept thinking of it emptying my mind...just empty my mind... don't think about my foot, run easy. 20 done in 3:21. I guess I'm ready as I felt completely recovered from my long run last week.

Thursday (3/24) - Zero miles. Planned rest day.

Friday (3/25) - 5 miles. Thought about going longer but didn't want to stress my foot.

Saturday (3/26) - 5 miles... because I wanted 40 for the week.

Week 15 - 40 miles. Part of me says I should have done some more long runs but I'll take it.

Week 16
My real Spring Break and a planned drop down week where I dropped WAY down...

Sunday (3/27) - Zero miles. Flew to Florida.

Monday (3/28) - 5 miles. 5 wonderful miles on A1A at around 9:30 pace. It used to be for years and years that this is where I'd start my running season - in Florida, somewhere on A1A. My in-laws always winter in Florida and rent a condo in Fort Pierce. We would come down for Spring Break and I would start running... on A1A, Ocean Blvd, Atlantic Ave, or some other variation of road name that follows the beach. I'd start running one, then two, then three miles a day. Jump to 5, then 7 then go back and forth with some lower miles... all to train for the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon (half-marathon) the first weekend in May. If you do the math, that's a month of training. Then I'd be disappointed every year that I didn't run as fast as I wanted...and now, here I am again, starting to taper for two iconic marathons. Irony?

Tuesday (3/29) - Zero miles. My foot hurts.

Wednesday (3/30) - 5 miles. It was raining so G and I hit the hotel fitness center. More like, we rolled ourselves in there. We've been eating a ridiculous amount of food and felt we HAD to exercise! Ran just under 9:30 pace.

Thursday (3/31) - Zero running miles, gads of walking miles. We spent 14 hours at the Magic Kingdom. We got there at 8 am when the gates opened and left at 10 pm after the fireworks. I was hobbling by then but so was the rest of my family. First thing I did when I got back to the hotel was fill a trash can with ice water and soak my feet.

Friday (4/1) - Zero running miles, more walking miles. After the "Disney marathon" on Thursday, my husband changed our Fast Pass times to a bit later in the morning as he felt we couldn't get up at 6 am to get on the 7 am bus to get to Hollywood Studios when the gates opened at 8. We "slept in" until 8:30 and made it to the park in time to see our first scheduled show at 10:30 am. After that, it was another HOT day (temps to 90 degrees) of walking and standing in line. My feet started hurting almost immediately. Thankfully we did more sit-down shows today and got back to the hotel by 10:30 pm... so only an 11 hour day in the park.

Saturday (4/2) - Zero miles. This was our recovery day before flying home Sunday morning. All of us slept half the day, then mostly laid around the hotel room catching up on email, reading, and watching NCAA basketball... all with our feet propped up.

Week 16 - 10 miles

So now it's Week 17. Time to get ready to go. I'm caught up on my thoughts and just praying my foot holds together!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

My Meijer Deals This Week - Maximizing My mPerks

I haven't really been deal shopping for a couple weeks as I've been stocked up on all our essentials and nothing's really grabbed my attention lately. I suppose the itch to find a deal grabbed me on Sunday though as I was perusing through the ads. CVS had the Jergens lotion my older daughter has been using. It has a bit of a self tanner in it and the girls recently got in a fight over it after the older kid found her younger sister using "her" lotion. So, it was off the CVS where if you spent $20+ on the Jergens products this week, you'd get a $5 ECB and I had $2 coupons for the lotion.

The lotion was $10.99 each and I got a tube for each kid; used my coupons and got my $5 ECB. Not the greatest deal but, hey, I thought I was being a nice mom. Well, imagine my disappointment when I showed the kids the lotion and was informed I "bought the wrong one." Boo. Apparently they use the Jergens Natural Glow "+Firming" that "reduces the appearance of cellulite in as little as 7 days" and is for "medium to tan skin tones." Apparently the ones I got didn't have the "firming" and was for lighter skin tones. Seriously? Can I poke them in the eye with my finger?

Today I decided to return the lotion. I considered exchanging it for the "right" one as I had already received my ECB. Then I perused the new Meijer ad. They had a similar deal but it was "Buy $20+ Jergens and get $5 off instantly." So, same deal but a bit more appealing to me for other reasons...

I had a Meijer personal mPerks reward that was expiring today. My deal was that if you spent $400 over 28 days, you'd get a $9 off coupon loaded to your account. I had until today to spend $45.xx more dollars to get to $400. Originally I was just going to let this one expire and start over tomorrow on accumulating another $400. Not a huge deal for me as I really don't spend that much on groceries anyway. The beauty of the mPerks rewards is that the dollar amount you have to spend is the shelf price of the item. It doesn't count any instant reward or coupon that you may use at checkout. So, in reality, I usually end up only spending about half of the required amount out of pocket. If I bought the Jergens at Meijer it would put me about halfway to $45. Plus, their new ad started today and there were a couple deals I had been eyeballing... and, there were two more mPerks personal rewards that showed up in my account - buy $20+ lotions (and other similar personal care stuff) from Jergens and some other brands, get a $3 off coupon, and buy $10+ Finish, Lysol, and a couple other brands, get a $3 off coupon. You can double dip on the mPerks rewards - meaning what you spend for the specific branded products like Jergens will also count towards your overall spending reward. So, it was off to Meijer to spend $45.

Just as I was leaving the house, it occurred to me that Meijer's prices on health and beauty aids are usually lower than CVS. There was a good chance the lotion I wanted would be less than $10.99 and, if so, I'd have to get another Jergens product to get me over $20. I grabbed some regular lotion coupons to take with me too.

Good thing I did! The Jergens at Meijer was $8.99. I grabbed another lotion that was $3.39. That put my total at $21.37... and I would get $5 off instantly, plus I had two $2 coupons for the Natural Glow and a $1 coupon for the other bottle of Jergens lotion... which would be $11.37 out of pocket, plus I'd get another $3 off coupon. If I hadn't bought the extra lotion I would have paid $17.98 - 2($2)=$13.98 for just the two Natural Glows and not received another $3 off coupon.

To round out my spending...

There's a Buy 6, Get $6 off instantly deal this week. Included are Finish Max in 1 dishwasher tabs for $3.39 (shelf price) and Lysol wipes $1.89 (shelf price). I got 4 Finish and 2 Lysol, got the $6 off, then used 4 ($1 Finish coupons) and 1 ($0.50/2 Lysol coupon).

Innovasian Cuisine frozen rice is on sale for $2.50. I had coupons for $2 off a box. It's a convenience item for me. $0.50 for a box of frozen rice, can't beat that! Got 4 boxes.

Needed a bag of carrots ($1.39) and some hummus ($2.50).

-   5.00 instant savings Jergens
-   6.00 instant Buy 6 savings
-17.50 coupons
+  1.94 tax

Yup. Never pay full price!

$26.04 for everything in the photo

Earned digital mPerks coupons for $9, $3, and $3 off my next purchase. These can be used together so now I have another $15 to spend at Meijer. Plus, I found out that the Buy $10 on Finish, Lysol, etc. is a reloadable reward, meaning you can do it over again, and the register gave me credit for $17.34 in Finish and Lysol products today so when I checked my account, they had already credited me another $7.34 towards the $10 I needed to spend to get another $3 off coupon.

My original shopping plan had been to do my Meijer shopping tomorrow because there is a 2-day sale Friday and Saturday and you get 5% off groceries and 15% off general merchandise if you use your Meijer credit card. I got a better deal by buying some of my items today and getting my $9 reward.

I'll probably go back tomorrow to buy 2 more Lysol. My out of pocket cost would be $1.28 - 5%, and I'd get another $3 reward. Plus Maxwell House coffee is on sale for $1.99 (as part of the Buy 6 sale) and I have $1 coupons, Swanson's chicken and beef stock are $0.50 a can (and I need some), and I can pick up meat, milk, and veggies, get 5% off, and maximize using my $15 credit. Everything I spend tomorrow will count towards my new $400 overall spending reward. I'll pay off what I put on my Meijer card online as soon as I get home.

As for the Jergens I bought at CVS... I returned them. I tried to give my $5 ECB back too and the manager told me to keep it. :)

Monday, March 7, 2016

B2B Training Week 12 of 18 ... The Big Week That Wasn't

Week 12 was supposed to be another big mile week. Plan was to hit 40 miles by doing two days of 15 milers and filling in the rest with shorter runs but it didn't pan out that way.

Sunday (2/28) - Zero miles. Planned rest day. I felt like I should do something but I didn't. Did zippo all day long.

Monday (2/29) - Zero miles. I was scheduled to work from 9 am to 5:30 pm. I didn't leave work until almost 7 pm. By the time I got home I had no desire or energy to run.

Tuesday (3/1) - 3 miles. I hit the treadmill at the Y while G was at dance. I ran my first mile in 9:00 and the next two in 8:34. Then I didn't want to run anymore. I wasn't too tired and I had plenty of time but I JUST DIDN'T WANT TO! Done for the day.

Wednesday (3/2) - 15 miles. I knew I had to run long today. Fact was, I was making deals with myself even before I got out of bed on how I could do this another day. Finally I realized I HAD to do it today. Of course it was cold and gray outside. I took to the hamster track to bang it out and get home before the kids got home on their early release day. Made dinner and went to work.

Thursday (3/3) - 7 miles. Got home from work at 4 am so I laid around the house all day until I had to take G to dance then went to the Y. FINALLY felt like running. Actually had a very good run on the treadmill and felt strong.

Friday (3/4) - Zero miles. I got up at 4:30 am to go to work and never felt like I fully woke up all day. Work was busy and I had a bunch of patients test positive for influenza A. By the time I got off work, I felt a little crappy. Original plan had been to try and squeeze in a short 5 mile run after work but that didn't happen cause I got home and collapsed into a chair until it was time to drive again. By the time I got to Carmel to pick G up from dance at 8 pm, I felt REALLY crappy - achy, feverish, chest congestion, the beginnings of a sore throat...

Saturday (3/5) - Zero miles. It was supposed to be a beautiful day and I was suppose to run the Pink Power 5K in Columbus, IN at 9 am. Plan was to do about 5 miles in Columbus with the race and warms up/cool down runs, then come back home and do another hilly 10 miler. My alarm went off at 6 am and I knew immediately that that wasn't going to happen. I felt worse than Friday. I rolled over and went back to sleep. Mid-morning I crawled out of bed and considered calling one of my colleagues at work to call in a Tamiflu script for me cause I was convinced I had influenza too. Then I took some ibuprofen and talked myself out of it. I'd been vaccinated already and I really wasn't feverish... just tired and achy... and TIRED!

So there you have it.
Week 12 - 25 miles

The only advantage to feeling ill was that my family figured out I must be feeling REALLY crappy to skip my race and they were all really nice to me all weekend... like hubs actually drove the kids around and all of then picked up after themselves.

Hoping the coming week will bring me more energy, sunshine, and miles!