Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Derby Marathon - Part 2: Reflections

I have a huge mix of emotions around this marathon...

Going into it, I questioned my motives. Why do I want to qualify for Boston? I really dislike running with a watch and running hard in general. What the heck?!! Why do I want to do this? I think it came down to this... I want to experience Boston - arguably the most prestigious road race in the country. I want to say "I did it" in all manner of ways - "I did it" in that I showed myself I could do it, "I did it" for bragging rights too. This is something that challenges me. Admittedly, sometimes it's hard for me to find a challenge. Maybe it's a selfish goal.

During the race when it started to totally suck, I found myself asking the same question again. When the cursing started, I decided this was a totally stupid idea and it just wasn't worth pursuing anymore. I wasn't having any fun... and why do I run? Because I enjoy it. I wasn't enjoying myself anymore. The training was too regimented. There were days I just wanted to explore a trail rather than work on speed. It just wasn't fun.

The last time I was this serious about running for time, I was a college freshman running road races on my own. I ran mostly 10Ks then. I would get frustrated with my times. It got to the point where if I felt like I was too slow at the 2 mile mark I would throw in the towel and just gut out another miserable 4.2 miles to get done. Needless to say, I got burned out. Since I was running on my own, I eventually just quit and became the on again off again runner for years.

So why do I enjoy running? Because I can. I like to say that I'm a runner. And, in my awful competitive spirit, I like to be able to go further and faster than the average couch potato. I enjoy it when I'm in shape to roll out of bed and run 10 miles.

So now what do I do? I felt like I put in the work this time around. I didn't skip my pace runs like last time. I did all my 20 milers. I didn't get hurt. I wasn't sick. But I still fell short. Am I just not fast enough? Do I have the motivation to try this again? Do I put the dream aside for awhile?

I was really looking forward to my post-marathon runs. My plan was to recover and do the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon on May 3rd, then just do some nice slow distance trail runs to prepare for Western States. I don't have to run fast at Western States. I just have to be in shape to run 20 miles of trails. I get to run with one of my best friends (John) to support him after he's already run 80 miles. I just have to be able to churn out 20 miles without a problem in case he has a problem.

My next marathon is planned for November. Boston registration is in September so this means no Boston 2015 for me. I'd have to try for 2016 in November. Part of me asks if I even want to try and qualify again. The most enjoyable marathon I've run so far was Chicago in 2011. That year I knew I wasn't in any shape to run for time. John had gotten me an entry for my birthday and we met to run it together. I took in all the sights and had some memorable moments. I wish I could run more races like that. I've told myself that if I ever get to Boston, I'll take it in like that and not worry about the time. So here I am thinking about Boston again...

So now I'm thinking... I'll have lots of miles in training for Western States. That puts me at the end of June. What if I found a late August marathon to try and qualify? Ughh... I would fry in a marathon in August. What the heck am I thinking? Plus, marathon training is a major time suck and I feel like I should be doing more things with my family. Why can't I have a family of runners?

As of now, I think trying to qualify for Boston 2015 is over. I think I need to back off the hard runs, relax, and find some more enjoyment in my runs. I want to be able to do more runs for the experience .

Hmmm... maybe I can talk John into running the Inca Trail with me....

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Derby Marathon - Part 1: The Race

So... a day has passed and I'm still pretty disappointed. Still sore as hell too and really mad at my legs for leaving the party early. So this is how it went down...

The weather was good. All of my clothing worked out perfectly and nothing chafed. I was well rested. No GI issues at all. All of my nutrition was good. I got plenty of hydration and I didn't really feel like I ran out of gas - but I might have.

I found my pace group right away at the start. The start was really more crowded than I expected - partly because the half and the full started together. Estimated 16,000 people which was way more than I expected. The first several miles were really congested with everyone just constantly jostling together and getting the soles of your shoes kicked. I think this is why I normally start too fast - to get away from this mess. Anyway, I stuck with the pace group and spent most of the first 5 miles keeping the pacers in sight and watching where I was going relative to the other runners. We were running through downtown Louisville but I really didn't look around too much because it was too hard to do that and try to stay with my group at the same time. I still love running with the pacers because I don't have to look at my watch.

Mile 1 - 8:52
Mile 2 - 8:43
Mile 3 - 8:28
Mile 4 - 8:40
Mile 5 - 8:37
Mile 6 - 8:30
Mile 7 - 8:30
Mile 8 - 8:35

At Mile 8, we entered Churchill Downs. As we were going in, I felt a little burn in my left quad start up. Not too bad but just a little straining feeling that was just enough to worry me. My quads have not really bothered me at all this training cycle. Otherwise I felt great. I was still breathing very easily and running at what felt like a conversational pace. In fact, the pacers were telling jokes and we were all talking.

After we exited Churchill Downs, the half runners split off to run back downtown and the full runners continued on to Iroquois Park. The next few miles were wonderful. We ran down tree lined shady streets with beautiful Victorian houses. We finally had enough room to run without worrying about falling over someone. All the trees were flowering in shades of white and pink and there was a light breeze that would shower us with white petals from time to time. I think this was my favorite part of the run.

Mile 9 - 8:48
Mile 10 - 8:42
Mile 11 - 8:41

We entered Iroquois Park at Mile 11.5. I vowed to stay with the group. We all powered up the first 2 hills together. I needed to eat a gel at Mile 13 which just so happened to be halfway up the second long hill. There was a water stop there but the volunteers couldn't keep up with handing out the water. I kept holding my hand out and yelling "water" through the whole station but no one could produce a cup. Finally, I ended up stopping for a couple seconds and waiting for the water at the end of the water station as I didn't want to run another 1.5 miles without water after just eating a gel. I had to work to catch up to my group again but caught them going up the third hill and ran down with the group. We had another smaller hill after that but I stayed with them until we got out of the park (around Mile 15) and just felt relief that I was still with the group. We lost about half our group in the park.

Mile 12 - 8:46
Mile 13 - 8:27
Mile 14 - 8:34
Mile 15 - 8:30

I tried to settle back in to an easy run after the park but I could tell the hills had taken a lot out of my legs.

Mile 16 - 8:36  Just 10 more miles! Stay with the group!
Mile 17 - 8:57  I can tell I'm slipping a little but I'm still just a couple feet behind the pacers
Mile 18 - 9:22  I'm clearly not with the group anymore but just slightly behind.
                         Don't panic! Don't panic! Just keep them in sight. You can still make close to 3:50
                         even if you don't finish with them.

Mile 19 - 10:11  Still trying to hang on
Mile 20 - 10:47  I can't see the pacers anymore and I swear I heard one of the spectators on the
                           sidewalk say "I think she's dying" as I ran by...

By now I've figured out there's no way I'm running 3:50. I was still under 3:00 at 20 miles (2:57). If I ran 9 minute miles for the next 6 miles, I might still make it under 3:55. However, I also knew that to have any chance of actually getting into Boston, I'd have to run about 2 minutes under the qualifying time (the cut off this year was 1:38), so realistically, this race was not going to get me into Boston.

The other fact was that my legs just decided to leave the party at this point. I was beyond frustrated. Aerobically I was just fine. I wasn't even breathing hard. My left leg just didn't seem to want to work anymore. My quad was one big cramp and I don't even know what my hamstring was doing. I was using my hip to cycle my leg. My right heel started hurting too. Same kind of pain I had in both heels last training cycle - like someone was driving a nail in my heel with every step. Yeah, there was no way I was going to maintain a 9 minute pace.

I kept moving forward though. OK, so no BQ today. Let's see if I can run under 4:00.

Mile 21 - 11:20
Mile 22 - 10:32  There is a slight rise in the road at this point and the 4:00 pace group passes me.
                            I'm never running another f*cking marathon again! I hate marathons!
                            Oh crap! I'm already signed up for another marathon! Grrr....

Mile 23 - 11:50  I'm walk/jogging at this point and I just can't seem to control my left leg.

Mile 24 - 12:11  Just plain ugly
Mile 25 - 11:35  My right calf starts cramping too
Mile 26 - 10:27  Ran the whole last 1.2 cause I just wanted to be done!

Last 0.2 - 5:26  My Garmin says it was for 0.56

Unofficial time. Longest marathon ever!

Anyhoos... Final Official Time - 4:10:29

Pace - 9:33/mile
815/2030  Overall
212/807  Female
23/81   45-49 Age Group

Big thanks to all my FB Sole Sisters and other friends that tracked me during the race. After I got done, I wanted to know what my official time was but there was no official time table. I was told to look up my own results online. You had to sign up for runner tracking to do this as results would not be posted on the website until after the race was over and I had not signed up to track myself because, well, why would I track myself? My husband met me in the finish area and luckily, he had my phone with him. I knew one of my Sole Sisters had probably posted my finish time online by then and I found Mandi's post with my official finish time.

I wanted to get my time engraved on my medal before I left the finish area so I wouldn't have to worry about it later. My husband went to turn in my medal and I tried to stretch. The problem was that I wanted to stretch my left quad by pulling it up behind me. In order to do that, I had to stand on my right leg but I couldn't put any weight on my right foot because my heel hurt too bad. I tried sitting down. As soon as I sat, I got muscle spasms under my ribs and back. I husband had to pull me back up. Finally I just laid down and tried to stretch.

After about half an hour, my husband came back with my medal. It had my name and a finish time of 4:00:15 engraved in it. ????? I hobbled back to the medal table and asked where they came up with that time. They said that that was my official chip time from the timer's website. I told them it didn't sound right. They told me if it was a couple minutes fast, it was right. Ummmm... it's 10 minutes too fast. They double checked their info, then concurred that I was right. 4:10:29 was my correct official time. Thanks Mandi!

So, no BQ at the Derby. I did set a new PR. More thoughts to follow...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

3 More Days!

3 more days til Derby Marathon Day!

I'm working my last work shift of the week tonight. Of course it would have to be a late evening shift so I won't get home til 3-4 am... then I have to get my sleep fixed before Saturday.

So today I'm resting up for my shift and getting my marathon stuff together while I'm well rested.


I have to get Stella off my bed. She's the most well rested cat I know!

Yes you! Get off my bed!

So here's what I've decided to wear...

Temps are suppose to be in the 40's in the morning with a high of 70. I hope to be done before it gets close to 70! I went ahead a bought a throw away jacket just in case I needed it. I hate standing around in the cold at the start. I'd have to say this is about the ugliest throw away jacket I've ever bought - but it fits, it's water repellent, it's warm, and it zips. 'Nuff said.

All the other stuff to get me through my race. Gas-X and loperamide are for the night before and morning of. Body Glide and Ben Gay in the morning. I'll go a gel every hour during the race and pick up some water and Powerade along the course. Motrin for after the race.

My Sole Sister Trena was kind enough to bring me this for after the race too!

If you want to follow my progress during the race, you can sign up for runner tracking at http://derbyfestivalmarathon.com/runner-tracking/  I am registered as HaeWon Miller and my bib number is 4695.

I'm planning an easy 2 miler tomorrow followed by one last visit to my massage therapist, then it's off to Louisville on Friday!

Am I forgetting anything? Shoes and Garmin will be packed too.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Thrive Alliance 5K... Breaking Through

Yesterday I had to prove to myself that my 5K time of 23:06 last month was not a fluke... that the course wasn't really short... etc., etc...

The Thrive Alliance 5K was the last 5K before my marathon this coming Saturday. Was I really a 7:30 pace 5K runner? Plainfield did show me some things. It was not an Indiana Crossroads Series race, therefore, no one I knew ran there. Typically, when I run a Series race, I know about how fast the regulars are - who's faster than me and who's not - and tend to pace off the faster runners. In Plainfield, my time was faster than some of the women that always finish ahead of me in the Series. It showed me that I probably could run just as fast or faster than those that have been finishing ahead of me. I just needed to run my own race and quit falling in behind people.

So... Saturday morning. Perfect weather. Flat course. I looked around at the start and saw Sara who runs for the Quaff On racing team. She's a 6 minute miler. None of her male Quaff On teammates were here. "She's going to win this race." Looking around some more, there was one other woman there that I usually finished behind, although, I beat her in the muck run last week - mainly because I think she lost her will to live in the middle of the run...

I decided second place was mine to lose. The horn sounded and I took off. Sara led, then there was a pack of men, then me. I told myself to try and maintain a 7:15 -7:20 pace. I can do this!

Mile 1 - 7:20

The woman I beat last week started coming up on me about half a mile later. I knew she was right behind me because I could hear the footsteps and the breathing and people were cheering her name. She sounded like she was working... I pushed harder. "You're on pace for a PR. Make her push you." I quit looking at my watch and just ran. Somewhere around 2.5 miles, the footsteps went away...

I could see the final turn now. I knew that the 3 mile mark was just after the turn. I knew she was still behind me somewhere close. "Don't let up. Don't let her catch you." I made it to the 3 mile marker. Still no noise behind me. "No one's going to catch me now as far as I can help it!" I can see the finish clock. The first two numbers are 22. Run, run, run!

I can across in 22:50. The woman behind me, Jane, came across in 22:57. Sara won the whole freakin' race in 18:54 - beat all the guys. She's a bad a$$!!

I DID IT!! Plainfield was not a fluke. I ran a PR. My former PR was 22:57. I ran that in 1987 at a road race when I was 18 years old and won the 14-18 age group. Today, I finished second overall woman and won the 45-49 age group.

Race organizers must think that runners are a thirsty bunch. Last week the age group winners got pint glasses. This week we got tumblers...

The overall female and male runners actually got huge trophies. Then, they also handed out huge trophies to the first, second and third place female and male walkers. Jane and I stood around and pouted because we didn't get a trophy. Actually, the funniest thing was when I got home and G said in disbelief, "They gave you a paper ribbon?!!"

Yeah... but your race time and internet results are forever. I'm good with that!

I also decided that I love competition in some type of sick and sadistic way. I actually like getting chased and hearing the person behind you, pushing you as you try to pull away. Like I said before, the feeling of getting chased but never getting caught. I want to earn my award. I do not want to win by default. As a 45 year old woman, I know that I can usually place or win my age group but that's not good enough. I want people to say - hey, she actually ran a decent time - and beat the 20 year olds (except Sara!) The other thing I love about races is your time is the time. Fastest person wins. Period. No judges opinions or style points. Pure and simple.

Now to get my head together for Derby!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lessons Learned

Mother Nature intervened on Monday and I did not go down to Louisville to run the hills again. Perhaps Mother nature was looking out for me...

It was raining here on Monday. I checked the weather for Louisville and discovered they were having thunderstorms... with lightening. I can suck it up and run in rain. Lightening scares the hell out of me. I have been stuck running outside in lightening storms twice and both times they made huge impressions. The first time was at a high school cross-country meet. Lightening struck a tree a block down the street. It sounded and felt like a bomb went off and I can still remember the orange glow. (The meet was stopped.) The next time, I was half a mile from home, between two farm fields. Basically I was the tallest thing on the horizon. I had no choice but to keep running but I could see the lightening coming down and jumped every time it flashed.

Anyhoos... I don't do lightening. I didn't want to drive 3 hours and not be able to run so I bagged Louisville.

So last week started out pretty good then became horrid. 4 mile pace run on Monday was hard but good. 12 mile hills were hard but I felt good about getting it done. After that, I just couldn't move.

LESSON #1: Don't do 4 hard workouts in 5 days.

LESSON #2: Don't do speed work and hills on back to back days.

Speed work and hills both stresses your hamstrings and glutes. Mine were killing me and I just couldn't get them to loosen up. Running a hilly race on Saturday didn't help matters.

I decided to retreat to the hamster track on Monday. Turns out it was just what I needed. A nice flat surface. About two miles into my 8 mile run, my hamstrings finally relaxed... after a week of tightness.

The other thing I have not been so good on lately is stretching. When I run indoors, I always lay on the floor next to the track after my runs and get all my stretches and core exercises in before heading home. Since I've been running outside, I've skimped on the stretching. I'll run in the door, touch my toes a couple times, then head to the shower.

LESSON #3: Don't skimp on the stretching.

Got home, showered, and hit the foam roller. Later, I decided to really treat my legs and took a hot bath in our whirlpool tub to get the hot tub effect on my legs.

LESSON #4: Don't fill the tub up with just hot water. You really can scald yourself.

After about 2 minutes, I cried "Uncle" and put some cold water in the tub! Once I got situated, I got my legs stretched out even more and sat there until I was too hot to take it anymore then rinsed off with a cool shower. Then I dried off and slathered Ultra-Strength Ben Gay on my legs.

I do not suffer from sensitive skin... I can basically put anything on my skin and it won't bother me. I really like muscle rubs. Muscle rubs work by having an active ingredient that dilates the superficial blood vessels in your skin. This increases blood flow so you get that "warm" feeling. I actually use muscle rub on my legs before runs, especially races, on cold days because I think it helps with my warm up.

So... my legs are all warm from my hot whirlpool bath stretching session. I slater them with muscle rub. About 60 seconds later...wooo haa...they are burning! Like my skin is all red and I was expecting blisters to appear. I got a wet washcloth to try and wipe some of it off. No effect. I finally had to jump back in the shower and use soap to rinse the muscle rub off.

LESSON #5: Don't slather muscle rub all over "hot legs"!

Finally got myself all fixed then put on compression tights. I can't run in compression but I like to wear it afterwards. It might be psychological, but I think it helps with recovery. I hadn't been wearing my compression much lately because, like a lot of things have been for me lately, it was just too much trouble.

Slept in compression tights. Took them off yesterday morning and my legs felt like new. I did 4 miles on my rolly hills and they felt fine. Phew!! I was getting pretty worried last week that I had really screwed things up by pushing just a little too hard at the end.

I also got my May issue of Runners World yesterday. There's an article in it about sleep and how it can make you a better runner. I think Ryan Hall's statement at the end of the article sums it up best when he says,"If I cannot recover from my training, then there is no point training."

LESSON #6: Make sure you allow recovery time in your training.

Have a great day!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Arc's iCan 5K and Week 16 Summary

There are days I question my sanity... or my motives. Yesterday was one of them.

First off, I didn't want to get out of bed. It was cold and dark. It had been raining for the last 2 days. My race yesterday was a cross-country race. I've been really tired all week, ever since I ran the hills in Louisville, and I simply didn't feel like racing. However, since I was signed up, I got up and drove to Columbus.

So why the heck was I doing this? It's suppose to be my speedwork for the week. But really, on a wet cross-country course, I'm not sure how much "speed" there will be. It will be a workout, that's for sure. Plus, I wanted the points. It's a Crossroads of Indiana points race. I know I'm not going to be able to make it to every race so I might as well get to the ones I can to get my points.

This year the Crossroads race series has a new points system. The Overall winner points are still the same: 10-8-6 for first-second-third. The age group points are different. It used to be 5-3-1 for first-second-third; now its 4-3-2, then everyone that participates but doesn't place gets 1 point. That makes the age group placing a lot tighter. Grrrr.... not happy about it but, like everything, it's a business. It's to the race series advantage to get people to participate in more races. And, overall, I do like the way the series is run. All the races are reasonably priced - $10 to $15 usually, with the no T-shirt option. It's my kind of race as I don't want to pay extra for T-shirts, medals, and swag. There are usually 100-200 runners so it's not crazy crowded either. I've run enough of them now that I know all the "regulars" and the race director cheers me on by name since I've become one of those "regulars."

So... cold wet morning. I did have the sense to wear old shoes and pack dry shoes and socks. I checked out the course. It was your classic high school cross-county course. Three loops with several hills, gullies, and you ran though, then around some trees. The whole course was flooded. Standing water everywhere. The gully was a small stream. There was mud around all the trees. This was going to be a muckfest. My feet were soaking wet within the first 10 steps. I got back to the starting area and re-tied my shoes - much tighter and double-knotted the laces. I felt like my shoes were going to get sucked off my feet with every step I took...

The race itself was pretty much awful. SO much work!!

Mile 1 - 8:41

After that, I quit looking at my watch. I think at one other point I glanced down and it said I was running at 10:10 pace. In any case, I decided the splits were irrelevant. No one was running a fast race. I was actually passing people all throughout the race but since it was three loops I really had no idea where I was in the overall placing.

It got to be such a miserable slog that I considered just jogging it out but I didn't. Here are the rest of my splits from my Garmin...

Mile 2 - 9:08
Mile 3 - 8:59
last 0.1 - 1:16

Official time - 28:01
Pace - 9:01

My shoes stayed on... barely. I had mud spatter to my thighs!
I was actually really surprised to find out I had placed third overall in the women's race. The winner ran 27:08.

Winners were awarded pint glasses
So here's my training summary for the week...
Sunday - rest
Monday - 4 mile pace run
Tuesday - 12 miles hills
Wednesday - rest
Thursday - 4 miles (felt horrible and cut an 8 miler short)
Friday - rest (extra rest day cause I still felt horrible)
Saturday - 5 miles (I think I ran my warm down on the streets as fast as my race!)
Week 16 Total Miles: 25
I'm resting again today. My legs feel a bit over trained. I'm in my taper now so I'm hoping they will start feeling better soon. I'm planning to go to Louisville tomorrow to tackle those hills one more time before my marathon.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Turning the Corner and Facing the Beast

Yesterday I told my Sole Sisters that I felt I had turned a corner in my training. I had a 4 mile pace run on the schedule. My legs were still dead from my 10 mile pace run on Friday and my 20 mile long run on Saturday but I made myself do it and pulled it out!

Mile 1 - 8:30
Mile 2 - 8:35
Mile 3 - 8:39
Mile 4 - 8:32

Overall, it was SO much harder than Friday but I kept my head and made my splits. SO HAPPY!!

I had to do my pace run yesterday because I went to Louisville today to face my "beast" - the hill in the middle of my marathon. This is the elevation chart from the Derby Festival Marathon website...

That hill in the middle of the race is in Iroquois Park - the highest point in Louisville. You enter the park around mile 11.5 and exit it around mile 15. I feel like if I can make it through the park then I might make my time.
Anyhoos... I had a long day as things didn't exactly go as planned.
Since G's room is currently non-existent, she is sleeping on the couch. She got cold in the middle of the night and crawled in bed with me and Clark. Belle sleeps with us. Belle and Stella are now co-existing in harmony so Stella likes to sleep with us too. So now we have me, Clark, G, the dog and the cat all in bed together. Clark got up at 6 am to use the bathroom and then declared there were too many people in "his bed." I was going to get up at 6:30 am anyway to leave at 7 am for Louisville so I got up and went to the couch. G followed me and went to the other couch. Stella followed me and curled up on my chest. I couldn't wake a sleeping cat that was snoozing so comfortably on my chest so we all slept til, um, 9 am.
I finally got on the road a little after 10 am. Then I hit construction on the highway. Grrrr... It took me over 3 hours to get to Louisville.
I got to Iroquois Park and started driving the course. That put me in full on freak out mode. The beast of a hill was much more than just a "hill." It looked like a small mountain. It was steep enough that there were switchbacks.

I parked the car and started breathing again. One foot in front of the other...

The first big hill was 0.5 miles long then there was a downhill. Phew... then another hill, about 0.2 miles long, then a little downhill, then another 0.5 mile long hill, another downhill, small hill, downhill, then big 0.5 mile hill followed by a long downhill and then rolling hills til the park exit. So... three big 0.5 mile long hills and two smaller 0.2 mile hills, then some rolling hills to the exit.

Some of the switchbacks were so severe that you could almost run a straight line if you ran the angles, however the camber of the road was also so steep that it was easier to run in the middle of the road where the camber wasn't so steep.

I did this course 3 times. This is what the elevation looked like on my Garmin...

I was ready to die.

So I froze on my long run Saturday. This is what it looked like after my run today...

I was so hot I felt like my head was going to blow up.

It was a beautiful day. However, note to self... do not wait until almost 2 pm to start running 12 miles on a warm day!

So, I've faced the beast. I'm a little scared. OK, I'm more than a little scared. I don't know if I can handle these hills halfway through a marathon. Maybe I should have picked a different race. Well, too late now. I just need to stick to that 3:50 pace runner like the original plan. I may try to get down to Louisville one more time next week... earlier in the day!