Saturday, April 18, 2015

Believing. Carmel Half Marathon.

Today was all about believing in myself.

A week ago, I decided to run the Carmel Half Marathon as my last marathon pace run. My training schedule had a 10 mile pace run with a 3 mile warm up and cool down on it. So, 13 miles and the dates matched up. Initially my coach didn't want me to do it. I think he was afraid I'd blow my legs out a week before my marathon. No way. I just wanted to run a race simulation with other people and aid stations. Pleeease..... talked him into it. Then he asked if I planned to do a warm up before my marathon. Ummm.... no. OK, plan then would be to run the first 10 miles at marathon pace then jog it on in. Got it.

This was totally a training run. Last night I realized maybe I should see what the course looked like. Then I found out there were pace groups. There was a 1:55 pace group. I could just run with them.

I've been running faster than 8:45 pace on my pace runs though and I kept thinking about being told that I was wasting energy by trying to run slower than what felt comfortable. Maybe I should just go out and run what felt right. As long as I didn't go crazy, I'd be OK right? That's what a training run is for...

Carmel is a small race but the start was incredibly congested. The half and full marathon started together and we only had one side of the street to run on. Standing in my warm sardine pack of bodies I realized that I hadn't even checked the weather or bothered to worry about throw away clothes for the morning. Funny how different your mind set becomes when you're not running for time.

This was a race simulation though so I had eaten exactly what I was going to eat on marathon morning and eaten a GU before the start. I had two more GUs for mile 4 and mile 8.

3...2...1 and we're off. Took another 1:30 to get to the starting line. One of the reasons I wanted to run in a race is because the congested starts freak me out. I always feel like I'm going too slow plodding along behind everyone so I dart around and end up going too fast. I've found that starting with the pace group prevents that... if you can start with them. Today I couldn't even see them by the time I got to the starting line so I just ran what felt right. First mile was still a bit fast but I settled down after that.

I caught up with the 1:55 pace group around mile 4, then went around them. Part of the problem with running with a pace group is that everyone is bunched up together and you keep running into each other. The other thing that I found was that I'd often cut my natural stride short just to stay with them. Today I decided I was going to run on my own. I thought that as long as I didn't go crazy and run faster than 8:30 pace I'd be OK. I still had to restrain myself because I felt GREAT!

10 miles came and went in no time. I was 2 minutes under 3:50 marathon pace at the 10 mile mark. In comparison, at Napa when I really worked to try and run an 8:45 pace I was 2 minutes under at mile 19. Cool down time. I slowed down but kept wanting to speed up. I normally don't take anything during a 13 mile training run and during races I just drink water and Gatorade. Today I'd had 3 caffeinated GUs plus water. I was bouncing off the walls... but I thought it would be poor form to run a half-marathon PR (which I could have easily done!) a week before a BQ attempt. Back off... back off...


I'm ditching the pace group next week and trusting myself to run what feels right. Today was wonderful. Now I just have to eat well, sleep well, and lay off the caffeine this week.

Beer has no caffeine

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Rain Rain Go Away! ... Derby Training Updates

Louisville, KY 4/3/15
As a self proclaimed fair weather runner, sometimes I feel like I'm cursed by bad weather.
Years ago, as a college student, I used to run a 5K that took place in February called the Polar Bear Run. The weather was always miserable. Then, it occurred to me that since I was the only person I was running for, I didn't HAVE to run in miserable weather anymore... so I quit running in the winter.
Flash forward to 2006. It had been over 10 years since I ran a winter race. I'd forgotten the misery. It was a mild winter. I got lulled into a sense of safety. I registered for the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in May and decided to do the training series 5K in February. Yup, 20 degrees and sleeting on race day.
So, no more winter racing again for a couple years. Now it's 2012. Again, mild winter. Progresses into a nice spring. I finally decided to do an 8K on April 21st. It's APRIL for Pete's sake! You got it... 20 degrees with, like 50 mph wind gusts. I considered just waiting inside the port-a-potty til the race started. At least I was sheltered in there!
When I started this blog in 2013, I still wouldn't run in bad weather. Then I discovered the indoor track. Voila! All my problems solved. I LOVE my hamster track. It keeps me running all year long.
...but this training cycle I got a coach... and he wants me to do speedwork... and I can't do the workouts on my indoor track because my Garmin won't work indoors. Ugh. Outdoors again, rain or shine. Of course, in my case, it's been RAIN!
So here's the low down on my last couple weeks... I left off with the long run on Week 2...
Week 2
Monday - 4 easy (indoors)
Tuesday - 8 (read about it HERE) It rained on me.
Wednesday - Rest
Thursday - 15 miles. Long run day. I was suppose to run 20. Of course it's thunderstorming outside so I took to the hamster track. I felt good through mile 8 then I started feeling horrid. Hot, nauseous, light-headed. I may have been tired from working plus I had a million other things to do on my "to-do" list as we were leaving for Spring Break to Playa del Carmen, Mexico the next morning. Anyway, I bagged it at 15. Fact is, I barely made it to 15.
Friday - Traveled all day
Saturday - 4 miles. Woohoo! We're in Mexico. It's sunny and beautiful but it's like 80% humidity and 70 degrees by 7 am. I went to check out the fitness center at 7:30 am. There were exactly 3 treadmills and they were all occupied. I took to the streets outside our resort. The scenery was beautiful. The air was NOT! The pollution and the constant smell of raw sewage was a bit overpowering. Gag.
Sunday - Rest
Week 2 Total Miles: 31
Week 3
Monday - 6 miles. Horrid run. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort - also known as an all-you-can-eat 24/7 resort. Frankly, we ate like pigs. By Monday morning I had ingested so much food my body didn't know what to do with it. I felt like my stomach weighed 100 lbs and had to take a bathroom break midway through my run just so I could finish 6 freakin' miles. Not pretty.
Tuesday - 6 miles. By now I'd decided I HAD to run 6 miles just to burn the calories! I'm never eating this much again...
Wednesday - Traveled home all day
Thursday - 8 miles. Workout was a 2 mile warm up then 800m at 5K pace, jog 400m, 400 m at 5K pace, jog 400m, then repeat 2 more times, then cool down for 2.5 miles for a total of 8 miles. Well, guess what... it was RAINING. I knew I was going to get wet but I didn't have a choice. This was the only day I could do this workout and the only time I could do it was while my daughter was at dress rehearsal at the Tarkington for a show she was dancing in so I packed a change of clothes and sucked it up.
Pretty darn proud of how this went. Here are the speedwork splits:
800m - 3:38, 400m - 1:53
800m - 3:46, 400m - 1:46
800m - 3:49, 400m - 2:01
By the time I got to the last set of speed sets it was raining so hard I could barely see. My shoes were so soaked they felt like they were 10 lbs a piece. I'm suppose to run a 5K on Saturday. If it's raining like this, I'm running in aquasocks! There was thunder and lightening crashing everywhere. I was the only fool on the Monon. It got scary. Lightening scares the crap out of me. I finally made it back to the safety of the Tarkington and changed clothes in the bathroom. Nevermind taking a shower, I was soaked to my underwear. All I had to do was towel off and throw all my clothes in a plastic bag. The only thing I forgot was dry shoes.
It stormed like crazy. The photo above is Louisville after the same storm. Roads were flooding everywhere.
Friday - Rest. We went to the show my daughter was in, then out for dinner afterwards. I didn't get to bed until 1 am.
Saturday - 12 miles. First road 5K of the year, the Arc's iCAN 5K. Plan was to do a 3 mile warm up, then run the 5K and do a 6 mile cool down.
Weather report - no rain but 30 degrees in the morning. Ugh. The alarm went off at 6 am and I considered blowing off the race and just running by myself later in the day, then peeled myself out of bed. Things didn't go as planned. I got lost getting to the race so I got there later than planned and barely had time to get 2 miles in before the start.
All things considered - eating like a pig for 5 days, 5 hours of sleep, first 5K of the year - things went OK. I had no idea how fast to go out so I just went for it...
Mile 1 - 7:13
Mile 2 - 7:50
Mile 3 - 8:04
last 0.1 - 0:34
Official time - 23:41
Obviously I went out too fast and my splits were all over the place. I ended up 4th in the women's race and won my age group.
Magda, Nora Jo, me and Jane
Cool down didn't go exactly as planned either. I never did really figure out the 5K course; I just chased the people in front of me. I decided to run the course backwards as my cool down but then I got to the last person on the course and realized there was a chase vehicle after them taking down all the course markers. Ack!! By the time I'd gotten 1.5 miles through the course the vehicle had picked up most of the signage and I was sorta lost on the course. I ended up peeking down neighborhood streets looking for runners or leftover pilons to find the finish again... so I only got 3 miles in before the awards ceremony. Finally, I drove home and ran 4 more miles to finish my 12 for the day.
Sunday - Rest. Happy Easter! I got to work all day.
Week 3 Total Miles: 32
Week 4
Monday - Rest
Tuesday - 4 miles. Easy run indoors... because it was raining.
Wednesday - 8 miles. Workout was warm up 2 miles then do eight 800m repeats with a 200m jog in between, then cool down 3 miles. Originally I was going to do this at 9 am. Well, guess what... it was RAINING... then started HAILING. Complete and total downpour at 9 am. I decided to postpone my run until the evening. Then the sun comes out and shines all afternoon. 4 pm rolls around. I'm driving to Carmel to take my daughter to dance and run the Monon. Guess what... it starts to RAIN again. This time I didn't think to pack any extra clothes...
So it's raining but not too bad when I start out. I get four 800's done in 3:53, 3:54, 3:54, and 3:52. By the time I finish my third 800 I'm about 4 miles from the dance studio. The skies open up and it's a complete and total downpour again. Then it starts thunder and lightening... like really really scary lightening. I got done with my fourth 800 and got to the overpass that goes over 146th Street and was too chicken to run it in the lightening. No way was I going to be the highest point on the horizon! I stopped under the overpass with several other runners. Problem was, I couldn't huddle under there indefinitely. My daughter's class was only 90 minutes. I was covering 8 miles. I had to get back before she was done. As soon as the light changed on 146th Street I left the overpass and just booked it back to the studio... never mind trying to get the other four 800 repeats in, I just wanted to get back! I got back and figured out I'd covered 8 miles in 65 minutes.
Talk about being wet! I was so soaked I went into the bathroom, locked myself in a stall, and was able to take off all my clothes and wring them out into the toilet. Then I had to put all the wet clothes (which at least weren't DRIPPING wet anymore) on again and just stand inside until my daughter was done with class.
OK, it can stop RAINING any day now! I think I've paid my dues.
Thursday - Rest
Friday - 16 miles. I was suppose to run 20. It was a deceptively beautiful day. There was a thunderstorm all night. I remember thinking at 1 am that I really wanted to do my long run outdoors but didn't think I'd be able to do it if it was still storming. Well, it stopped raining in the middle of the night and the winds picked up so much that the pavement was dry in the morning.
Deceptively beautiful. It was so windy it took my breath away. Plus, I think I got a little spoiled running all month on the flat protected Monon. The county roads by my house are hilly and, this time of year, all the farm fields are completely bare and open so the winds are brutal. I was tired from working all day Thursday plus, well, I was just tired! My hamstrings started aching and by mile 16 I just couldn't take it anymore and threw in the towel. I actually had to walk another mile home but it was just too much pain and effort to keep running.
Ugh. This was suppose to be my last long run before Derby and I bagged it. Time to rethink the training plan. I was suppose to do another 8 mile "steady state" run next week, followed by another longer run of 10 miles at marathon pace with warm up and warm down. If I moved the 8 miler to this week, maybe I can try 20 again next week... I emailed my coach.
Saturday - Rest. Spent the day at work.
Sunday - 8 miles. No reply from my coach yet so I did the steady state workout. 2 mile warm up, 5 miles at marathon pace, 1 mile warm down.

Still running faster than goal marathon pace. Should I just let myself run in the 8:30's?
Week 4 Total Miles: 36
So now it's Week 5...
Today was a rest day. Coach emailed me back. The 20 miler is still in discussion. Do I really need it? I'm running the Carmel Half-Marathon as my 10 mile marathon pace run on Saturday. Plan is to warm up 2 miles, run 10 miles at 8:45 pace, then cool down for 1 mile. He said I could do this as long as I didn't "cook my legs racing." Ummm, no way am I "racing" 13.1 miles a week before my marathon. I just don't like doing long runs by myself. I'm planning 4 easy miles tomorrow, then maybe 20, then two rest days, then the half marathon. That's only 3 days of running this week but 37 miles which would make it the biggest week of this training cycle. Still doesn't feel like a lot of miles to me but no going back now!
Should I run a 20 miler this week? Should I let myself run in the 8:30's? There are days I feel like "I've got this!" but then there are days I'm full of doubt. There are days I really want more time to prepare but then there are days I just want April 25th to get here so I can go do this!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A New Perspective... Derby Training 2015

Yes, it's true. I'm running the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon on April 25th.

Something happened to me between the ValenTimes 10K and mile 22 of the Napa Valley Marathon. I decided I was fast enough to run Boston. Fast enough to run sub 3:50 even. Never mind the shit storm that ensued at mile 22. That was a cruel twist of nature. I'm still capable.

So how do I prepare for a marathon in 8 weeks? I got a coach... and got some interesting feedback. After looking at my splits he thought I should have just run my race faster. I was really working hard to slow myself down... and when you work to slow down, you lose running economy because you bounce up and down instead of moving forward. It kinda makes total sense when you put it that way.

He also noted I already had enough endurance. I could run all day if I wanted to (agreed...) I just need to work on running longer at a faster speed... ugh, I was afraid he was going to say that! He then devised a schedule for me that started last week. Admittedly, it looked super light when I looked at it... but hey, this guy has two Olympic trials qualifiers... I should trust him. The key is that I have more quality (read FASTER) runs on the schedule.

Last year, or even earlier this year, I struggled with the idea of a marathon pace (8:45) tempo run. Then, something clicked inside me after running a 7:43 pace 10K on 2/14 and having a conversational run for 22 miles of a marathon on 3/1... 8:45 pace is not that big of a deal anymore. I can do this. Just let me try again.

I took 2 weeks off to recover from Napa. Just got on the elliptical to stretch out my calves and then did some easy runs. New plan started last week - so I guess I'll call it a 6 week plan. My days are going Monday to Sunday now just because that's what the training calendar I get looks like. For the most part it's 4 runs a week but I adjust it some according to my schedule. My work schedule was hell last week. I worked 6 of 7 days. So...

Week 1
Monday - 6 miles. Easy run after a hellish day at work.

Tuesday - Rest.

Wednesday - 6 miles. Easy run.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - Rest

Saturday - 2 miles. This was supposed to be a "Progression Run", meaning 3 mile warm up, 3 miles at marathon pace, 2 miles at half-marathon pace, 1 mile at 10K pace, and a 3 mile warm down for a total of 12 miles. Well, I was totally exhausted and just felt like hell before I even started so I bailed at 2 miles and decided to try it again on Sunday.

Sunday - 12 miles. Success! My marathon pace was 8:45, half-marathon pace 8:20, and 10K pace 8:00. I told myself that I can run 6+ miles at 7:43 pace so I can run the 6 mile "meat and bones" of this workout at the prescribed paces.

First hard run of the training cycle in the bag!
Week 1 Total Miles: 26

Week 2 - so far...
Monday - 4 miles. Easy. My legs were super tight from Sunday so I hamster tracked it and it took all 4 miles before they were loose again.

Tuesday - 8 miles. This was called an "In and Out" workout. Not sure why it's called that but anyway, it's a 2 mile warm up, 1 mile at marathon pace, 1 mile at 10K pace, 1 mile at marathon pace, 1 mile at 10K pace, 1 mile at marathon pace, then a 1 mile warm down. It rained on me. It was not fun... but I got it done.

Again, my paces were faster than what I was trying to run. I have a hard time judging my pace and I think I'm simply too anal to run slower than a goal pace so my tendency is to speed up every time I see myself at goal pace.
Tomorrow will be a rest day and then I have a 20 miler planned after that. This week's total mileage still seems "low" at 36 but I'm definitely getting some quality miles in.
32 more days til Derby. I really do not have a Plan B this time. Onward!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Life Since Napa

So here's the main reason why I've been so quiet lately...


Can you guess?

We had a water issue just before we left for Napa. In fact, my husband almost didn't go at all. We had known for some time that there was a slow leak in our outdoor water line that connects to the main line at the street. The problem was that outdoor line runs a good 160 yards through woods and under a creek. Last month we finally found someone that could come trouble shoot the leak for us. We found a company that could run pressurized gas through the line to find the leak. Everyone else (water company included!) had told us any significant leak would be obvious by a wet spot in the ground. Ummm... not at our house. Not when the line goes through woods and a creek!

So the leak people came and found the leak... it was in the pipe where it ran under the creek. All the leaking water was going in the creek. We would have NEVER found it by looking for a wet spot. They found it because when they put the pressurized gas in the line it started bubbling out into the water.

OK. Leak located. We were going to find someone to fix it when we got back from Napa. It had been leaking for months. What's a few more weeks?

Two days before leaving, we suddenly lost water pressure in our upstairs bathroom. The leak had gotten worse. We figured that the pressurized gas must have popped whatever seal the pipe had left in the leaky area. We shut the water off to our house and left for Napa. My husband considered staying behind to coordinate getting it fixed but then figured we could find someone by phone just as easily and nothing would change since we had shut the water off.

So... we found someone to look at the line while we were gone. We would need a whole new water line. The weather needed to be a bit better... Arrangements were made for the new line to go in on Friday (3/6).

We got home on Monday night. We decided to turn the water one once in the morning and once in the evening so everyone could shower, flush toilets and we fill up jugs for the rest of the day. Just like camping. We could do this for three days... or so we thought! By Friday things were pretty tense around the house. I had spent Tuesday at the Laundromat washing everything from our trip. We really couldn't cook because I couldn't wash any cookware or dishes so we had to pick up food everyday..

Thursday night we were told the weather would still be too bad and the job would be pushed to Monday. Friday morning I turned the water on at the road and found we still had no water at the house. Our line had completely ruptured.

Saturday I upgraded my membership at the fitness center from an individual to a family so my family would have someplace to go to shower! The kids decided we were teetering on child abuse. My older daughter found friends to stay with...

Monday the plumbing people came. It was suppose to be a one day job. I am sure they now think our property is cursed...

I spent the day at a Pediatric Advanced Life Support recertification class and then had to run my daughter to a choir concert. The plumbers were still working when I got back from the concert so I went to the fitness center to run and shower there. My husband met me there as I was just about to leave. He was dropping my older daughter off for a shower and was going to the store to buy more water. I thought his head was going to pop off...

We have a VERY rocky yard. I can't get anything to grow in it. The are rocks the size of basketballs when you try to dig in it. The plumbing peeps were using some kind of boring machine with a drill bit to lay the new water line. They kept hitting rocks which made for slow going. They broke their drill bit. They put the backup bit on. They broke the back up bit. Oh, wait, they also accidentally cut our cable line. So now we had no water, no internet, no TV, and no phone...

We picked up Chinese and played Euchre Monday night. Ahhh... family time... you should have been there.

The new drill bit was going to be overnighted but wouldn't come til Wednesday. Tuesday the cable people came out and ran a temporary line that looks like an extension cord across our property. When the cable line in our driveway got cut, it also knocked out service to the rest of our street. The plumbing people also came and ran a temporary pipe into our house so at least we would have water. We ran four loads of laundry, two loads of dishes, and flushed all the toilets.

Wednesday the plumbers returned with the promise of getting the new line completed... or at least that was the plan. They went to work with the new drill bit in place, only to find that when the other bits broke on Monday, somehow the engine block had cracked. The boring machine overheated and became nonfunctional. Another knock on the door. We'll be back tomorrow when we can get a new machine.

Today is tomorrow and I'm still waiting... they may have fled the country by now rather than come back to my yard. I'm stuck here waiting because someone needs to be home when they show up. Running has been on the back burner this week. I did meet with a coach yesterday and I'm going to have a new training plan starting next week. I hope to have water by then!

Pictures from top to bottom...
The now nonfunctional boring machine
Our temporary water line
The excavator that cut the cable line
Our temporary cable line

Appreciate your water!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Napa Valley Marathon

Overall, Napa was a wonderful experience. I decided to do two separate posts - one about my race and one about the trip in general. Since the whole purpose of the trip was my race I'll give the race details first.

I suppose one of the draws (if you can call it that) of running a marathon (or any distance race) is that you never know what will happen over the course of the race...

Napa was the perfect marathon for so long... but then it felt like the forces of the Universe conspired against me and denied me again. What happened was a complete surprise. There was no rain, no wind. No Garmin problems. No hamstring or glute issues. No GI issues. No one ran into me. I didn't lose my footing or turn an ankle. The course was far less hilly than I expected. No fueling issues. No fatigue. I was just cruising along then BAM!! It was over.

So here's how race week running went...

Sunday - Rest.
Monday - Rest
Tuesday - 4 miles. Easy. I was really tempted to do a pace run but didn't.
Wednesday - 4 miles. Easy.

Thursday - Rest. We flew to California and it took the ENTIRE day. We got up at 5:30 am and I looked at my phone to find a text from John saying "You are famous in Napa" and a link to THIS ARTICLE. I had a moment of panic before I opened the link but thankfully it was more about him than me. Our plane got delayed out of Indianapolis right away so it was actually 11:30 am by the time we actually flew out. We missed our connection in Denver by over an hour but got on the next plane to San Francisco. We finally got into San Francisco at 5:30 pm their time (8:30 pm Indy time), just in time to hit rush hour traffic. It took another 3 hours to go the 60 miles to Napa. My left leg was killing me by that time with all the sitting I had done all day. We finally got to John's house after 11 pm Indy time. Scarfed down some food and collapsed into bed.

Friday - 2 miles. Easy shake out run in the morning than a nice massage in the afternoon. I was pleasantly surprised by the massage. I had asked John to book a sports massage for me as I figured I would be stiff from traveling all day on Thursday and was worried when I found out it was booked at the golf resort/club next to his house. I have never had a good massage at a resort. In fact, some of the crappiest massages I have ever had have been at hotels or resorts. This one actually turned out pretty good.

Saturday - Rest.
Sunday - RACE DAY!

Napa is a point to point race so John and I got up at 4 am so we could be at the finish area at Vintage High School to board the buses to the start in Calistoga by 5:15 am. Calistoga is a small town and they didn't want any more race day traffic than necessary so his wife and my husband just slept in while we left in the morning. We got to Calistoga shortly after 6 am for the 7 am start.

My plan was to take a GU and water at the start, then every 4 miles as I had done in Charleston, alternating with Gatorade. The aid stations at Napa though weren't as regular as they were in Charleston so it actually ended up being, one GU at the start, then GUs at mile 4, 6.5, 12, 16, 21 and 24 with Gatorade at the stations at mile 2, 9, 14, 18, and 22 - or so that was the plan.

The bathroom lines at the start were loooong. We went as soon as we got off the bus but then I wanted to go again. Then it became obvious I was not going to get into a Port-a potty before the race. I took my GU while waiting in line but ended up squatting behind a bush with about a hundred other people before making it to the starting line in the middle of the National Anthem. I didn't get a chance to drink any water and I was a bit more rushed than I wanted.. rushed enough I almost forgot to turn on my Garmin. I was VERY relieved it picked up a satellite almost instantly when I turned it on.

It was cold at the start - high 30's. Much colder than it had been in Charleston. John and I both took off our throw away jackets at the start but then spent the next two miles commenting on how our hands and feet were numb. By mile 4 though we had warmed up, the sun was up and it was perfect.

We cruised for 19 miles, chatting like magpies about everything under the sun. It was like old times, just out for a run together. It was almost too easy. We talked to a woman who had had a stem cell transplant last year for her cancer and got a deferral into this year's race. We talked to another woman about our watches. John was constantly slowing me down because for some reason my Garmin kept telling me I was going too slow (8:50 pace) and his Suunto was showing our pace to be about 20 seconds faster. He told me that when we got to the red barn around mile 23 that I could do what I wanted but until then he was going to keep the reins on me.

Mile 1 - 8:47
Mile 2 - 8:34
Mile 3 - 8:35
Mile 4 - 8:23
Mile 5 - 8:34
Mile 6 - 8:26
Mile 7 - 8:42
Mile 8 - 8:31
Mile 9 - 8:37
Mile 10 - 8:47
Mile 11 - 8:39
Mile 12 - 8:46
Mile 13 - 8:34
Mile 14 - 8:56
Mile 15 - 8:35
Mile 16 - 8:42
Mile 17 - 8:43
Mile 18 - 8:35
Mile 19 - 8:42

I missed my fluids at the mile 14 aid station. I wanted Gatorade and all the aid workers kept telling me it was on down at the end. The stations themselves are pretty small and I got all the way down to the end and there was nothing at all so I ended up just continuing on. I got my water and took a GU at mile 16 as planned and Gatorade at mile 18.

Sometime during mile 19 was the first inkling of trouble. John and I were still running and chatting when I suddenly had a Charley horse in my right calf. It only lasted a split second. It was so sudden it made me gasp mid-sentence and stumble a few steps and I thought, "What the hell was that?!!" I have never EVER had a Charley horse while running or, for that matter, any kind of hard sudden cramp while running. Sudden hot poker pains yes, but cramps no. My problems in the past have been things tightening up more gradually as I run to where they are so tight I'd have to stop... on my own terms. I've never had a sudden cramp before. I've had Charley horses in my calves in the past but I only get them at night when I'm sleeping. The pain wakes me up and then I get my legs to relax. I actually haven't had one in several years though.

Anyway, the first one lasted a split second and made me stumble. A short while later it happened again in my left calf, and I stumbled again. I commented to John that this was really weird and he pointed out we were running a slight uphill grade and maybe we should slow down a little.

I was wearing a pace band as well as my Garmin. I was looking at my Garmin for my pace and mile splits but the actual course mile markers were a little bit farther out than what my Garmin was reading so what I'd do is look at my actual time as I passed the mile markers and compare them to what was on my pace band. Since we had been running slightly faster than 8:46 pace for most of the race, by the time we got to mile 19 I was actually a little over 2 minutes under my 3:50:00 goal time... so we backed off the pace a bit.

Mile 20 - 9:04
Mile 21 - 9:02

I continued to get the split second hard cramps and continued to stumble. Otherwise though, I was still running fine. We even started to joke about what kind of pharmaceuticals I might need to make it though the rest of the race... Valium... Dilaudid... Ketamine...

I took a GU at the mile 21 aid station and took an extra cup of water even though I didn't feel thirsty. I remember thinking just a little over 5 miles. I've got this!

Just before mile 22 though, things changed and it was not a laughing matter anymore. I suddenly got a hard painful cramp in my entire left leg. My toes were stuck and trying to cross, the arch of my foot was curled up, my calf was hard as a rock, and, interestingly, so was my left inner thigh. This left my left leg frozen in a semi-flexed position where I couldn't straighten the leg nor could I push off with my foot or even bear weight. All this happened in a split second and when it hit I screamed and almost fell. I've seen people fall down screaming in other races but I've never understood what was going on until it happened to me. It hurt so bad all I could do was stand there and scream. It felt like all the air was getting squeezed out of my leg. I remember someone stopping and asking me if I'd like an S-tab but I shook my head. I've never had an S-tab and I didn't think it would help at this point. Once I got over the shock I just stood there as precious seconds ticked away trying to calm down and will my leg to relax so I could straighten and stretch it out.

As soon as I could straighten the leg we started running again. The problem was that I was now starting to get Charley horses in both calves and this time they were not fleeting. They hurt like hell and I was trying to run through them as long as I could push off with my foot. I remember running and screaming "No! No! No!" as they got tighter and tighter until finally I couldn't push off anymore and I'd have to stop. Once I got going I could run at a 9:00 pace but all the stopping and stretching was killing my time. We got to the mile 22 aid station. I drank two cups of Gatorade and took off running again.

Mile 22 - 9:44

After that things got WAY UGLY. My entire left leg was cramping again and all I could do was stand there and scream until it passed. I didn't even care what people were thinking. I think the only thing that could have hurt worse was if I had broken something. I was angry and frustrated and felt that my body was betraying me but, more than anything, I was panicked. Time was slipping away. As soon as I could start running I would start running as fast as I could because I wanted to go as far as I could before the next debilitating cramp hit. I remember standing and screaming with the red barn in sight thinking this can't be happening to me!

Mile 23 - 10:19
Mile 24 - 9:32

Things became a blur after that. I stopped looking at my watch. All I could focus on was staying upright. It was getting harder and harder to get the cramps to stop and even after my legs relaxed they were still painful. I remember John trying to coax me to go a little faster, telling me that we needed these seconds. He was doing the same thing I had done to him at Western States, running just a couple feet ahead of me, trying to pull me along with some invisible magic thread. I remember passing the 25 mile marker and telling myself that I was not going to stop until I got to the finish line no matter what.

Mile 25 - 10:54
Mile 26 - 9:28

The only thing I remember about the last half mile was putting one foot in front of the other as fast as I could and watching them go over the blue and red timing mat at the finish. I slammed my hand on my Garmin and saw that the first three numbers were 3:55 and knew I hadn't qualified. As soon as I stopped in the finish chute, I couldn't stand up anymore either. Both my legs completely locked and two volunteers grabbed me. Once they grabbed me and I got my head up, I realized I was having problems seeing too. I was seeing little black dots all over the place and felt light headed. It was then that I realized I might be having a heat problem too. But was I? Your blood pressure can drop suddenly if you stop running too fast too and you'll have the same symptoms.

The temperature was in the 60's when we finished and there had been no shade for the last third of the race. I felt it was warming up but I never felt like I was overheating while I was running. It was basically the same temperature it had been in Charleston six weeks ago; the only difference was that I was running faster. I must have looked really glassy-eyed because I got taken to medical where someone asked me the date and year. I felt much better in the shade but just really fuzzy headed. I just wanted to sit and try to stretch my legs. I finally gathered myself enough to stand and stretch, then found John and walked back to the car.

On the way to the car I checked the official results. 3:55:03. I already knew I hadn't qualified. I just wanted to know the time. I am disappointed but not devastated. I would have been devastated had running 3:55:00 guaranteed a Boston entry. However, it didn't matter whether I ran 3:54:57 or 3:55:03, neither would have gotten me into Boston. There are no more squeakers anymore. Realistically, I feel that I need to run 3:53 or faster to get in. It's almost better that I know I need another race than have run something like 3:53:30 and be in that gray zone where you've run the qualifying time but you're on the bubble and not sure if that time is fast enough to get into the race.

What next? I don't know. One of the best books I've read lately was Stan Beecham's sports psychology book Elite Minds. In his book he advised not having a Plan B. His premise was that if you had a Plan B then you may give up more easily on your goals if Plan A isn't working out. By not having a Plan B you can focus totally on your goal. So... I don't have a Plan B... quite...

I live in a world where work schedules get made two months in advance and if you have any inkling of getting a particular weekend off, you better get your days off requests in six months in advance. I have the weekend of the Derby Festival Marathon off. I even have plans to share a hotel room in Louisville with one of my on-line Sole Sisters. My plan was to be in Louisville that weekend to hang out with my running friends. In an ideal world, I would qualify for Boston in Napa then I would have fun in Louisville and run the half, maybe try to get a half PR. I certainly had no desire to run the full marathon again and tackle Iroquois Park in the middle of the race. However... that option is still out there and available for me right now.

I haven't registered for any more races yet. I need to figure out what is going on with my calves first. They are still incredibly sore. On Sunday night I was actually worried I was developing some sub acute compartment syndrome because they still had quite of bit of tone (hardness) and if I stopped moving for any amount of time I couldn't push off my foot for awhile. I iced them all night and wore compression socks on the plane ride home. They are loose now but still painful. I'm not sure how much damage I did by trying to run on them in a cramped state. I'm still having problems pushing off my feet. I'm going to give it a couple days and see what happens.

Plus... what the hell happened to me? I had plenty of long runs in. I felt like I did plenty of marathon pace and faster runs too. The outdoor runs I did here prior to the race were far hillier than the Napa course itself. I was fueled. I wasn't even breathing hard. I wasn't wearing a heart rate monitor but John and I were chit chatting along the whole race just like we were talking on the phone. I did go from 10-20 degree weather to 60 degree weather but I had also done most of my runs the last two weeks indoors due to bad weather and I figured it had to be at least 60 degrees indoors. I don't think I was dehydrated either. I generally run "dry" when I train, meaning I don't drink anything unless I'm running over 2 hours. I have a friend that calls me a camel. I just don't get thirsty. I'll purposely drink more often on some of my training runs just to make sure my stomach can handle the fluid. The first thing I had to do after I left the medical area after the race was go to the bathroom. If anyone has any ideas on what happened I'd like to know. Should I just carry a vial of pickle juice in my next race to ward off the evil spirits? Do tell!

I feel like I am more than capable of qualifying for Boston. In fact, I still believe I am more than capable of running a sub-3:50 marathon. So... for now... I guess the "BELIEVE 3:50" banner is going to stay up on my Facebook page for a while longer.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Napa Training Weeks 16 and 17... Taper Time

The infamous taper has started. It seems there's something about taper time that makes all runners restless. It's like you feel like you should cram a little more training in, yet you know that what's been done is done and all you can do is trust in your training and try to rest, eat right, and not do anything stupid.

So... trust in your training. I took everyone's advice and decided not to do any longer runs than the schedule dictated.

Rest. No problem there.

Eat right....well... that's tough. I'm finding myself falling off the good food wagon more and more lately. I've also come to the conclusion the scale at the fitness center MUST have broken over the weekend. Last week I was almost scared to get on the scale on Friday (the 13th) but did anyway and was relieved to see that it still read 124. On Wednesday, again, I was scared to get on after a weekend of bad eating... and it read 119. No way! I was alone in the locker room. I weighed myself three times. Then, I jumped up and down on the scale to see if I would weigh more. Nope, still 119. Does cold weather or the barometric pressure have an effect on how the scale weighs you? I haven't weighed this low since before I had kids. Plus, there is NO WAY I lost 5 lbs in less than a week. Today, I weighed myself again... and got 118. Ummm, I think the scale needs recalibrated or something because there is no way this is right. In any case, with one more week to go I just hope I'm not gaining weight!

So here's the summary...

Week 16
Sunday - Rest. Totally toast after my night shift.

Monday - 4 miles. Made friends with the dreadmill and did it at 8:41 pace.

Tuesday - Rest. I had to rearrange the run schedule to go to a funeral and didn't feel like running afterwards.

Wednesday - 8 miles. I wore my Garmin and hit the roads. Plan was to start easy then finish at marathon pace. I had the Garmin covered up under my jacket so all I could hear were the mile beeps. This is what happened...

I overshot the finish but filed away in my head that I was capable of a sub-8:00 mile after running 7 miles.

Thursday - 12 miles. Ran 9 easy on the hamster track then ran to the dreadmill and did my last 3 at 8:41 pace. My fitness center limits our treadmill time to 30 minutes so I really can't do any long runs on it. 4 miles is the longest I can go and I'm going over by almost 5 minutes when I do.

Friday - 1 mile. I was tired. I had a ton of stuff to do. I finally got to the fitness center but just didn't feel good when I started running and all I could think about was all the other stuff I had to do so I bagged it after a mile. I originally had 5 miles on the schedule.

Saturday - 7 miles. ValenTimes 10K plus a mile warm down. Maybe rest on Friday was good. I ran a 10K PR of 47:57.

Week 16 Total Miles: 32 miles

Week 17
Sunday - Rest.

Monday  - 4 miles. Easy run on the hamster track.

Tuesday - 6 miles. Again, an easy run... except my legs still felt way fatigued from the race on Saturday.

Wednesday - 4 miles. I'm still tired and having a wee bit of panic about it.

Thursday - 8 miles. Felt better but still ran all of it easy.

Friday - Rest. Got up at 4:30 am and spent the whole day at work then rushed home to get my daughter to cheer at the Center Grove vs. North Central basketball game - which turned out to be one of the best high school basketball games EVER. CG tossed in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime after being 16 points down at the start of the 4th period and never leading the game, then won it in OT, beating the 3rd ranked 4A team in the state. It was crazy exciting. I also didn't get home until 10:30 pm. Talk about a long day!

Saturday - 4 miles. All done at 8:41 pace on the dreadmill.

Week 17 Total Miles: 26 miles

So this is it. One more week to go before my big race. Eat well, rest, and don't do anything stupid!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

ValenTimes 10K

Last year I ran a 5K PR (22:50) a week before the Derby Marathon. I plugged that number into the magical race predictor calculator and it gave me an average predicted marathon time of 3:39:21. Obviously I didn't run that time but it was eye opening to see the potential.

So here I am, two weeks from my goal marathon and the last road race before my marathon this year is a 10K. This year, I looked at the race predictor backwards. I put in a marathon time of 3:50:00 to see what kind of 10K time I needed to run to potentially run that time. It spit out a time of 49:39. My 10K PR was 49:19.

I still have this because I'm a sentimental packrat.

I ran this time 28 years ago. I thought then that it would be a beginning to competitive road racing but then life got in the way and I stopped racing. I went to college, med school, and finished a residency. I got married and had two kids. I've been a Girl Scout leader, dance instructor, and have carted my kids around to dance lessons, skating lessons, cross country meets, track meets, ice hockey games, dance competitions, soccer games, cheer practice, football games and basketball games. I used to glance at this plaque sitting in my basement and think that I would never run that fast again. 49:19 is 7:56 pace. No way I could hold that pace for 6.2 miles ever again...

Until today. I felt like I was capable of holding an 8:00 pace... and if I could do 8:00, why not push it a little and do 7:56? If I could PR I could prove to myself that I was capable of 3:50.

It was not the ideal morning for a race. It was cold - in the 20's - but what bothered me the most was how windy it was. That little voice inside my head was messing with me. It's windy today so it's OK if you don't PR...

I looked around at the start and started thinking though that there was a chance I could win the women's 10K race. Then we were off...

Mile 1 - 7:31. Too fast. Slow down! Why the heck do I always run my first mile too fast?

Mile 2 - 7:38. Better. We get to where the 5K and 10K runners split and I realize there's one woman ahead of me. I want to speed up to catch her but I won't be running my own race if I do. Pace yourself! She'll come back to you.

Mile 3 - 7:56. Just keep this pace. I peeked at my watch at 3.11 miles and saw 23:58. I remembered from the race predictor that the 5K time for a 3:50 marathon was 23:57. Just keep this pace!

Mile 4 - 8:03. Now we're running into the wind and I feel like I'm faltering... but I think I'm slowly gaining on the woman in front of me.

Mile 5 - 8:10. I almost gave up this mile. We were still running into the wind. The little voice was talking to me again. It's Ok. You ran some really good miles. You will finish in second place matter what your time is today. Second place is good enough. Then, three men caught up to me. I stayed with them for at least a quarter mile. It was much easier running in a pack and I saw that we were running an 8:00 pace. We ran through the 5 mile mark together before two of the guys pulled ahead of me and one fell back. Thanks guys. One more mile to go. I can still do this!

Mile 6 - 7:50. My Garmin was not exactly matching up with the mile markers on the course. Miles 1, 2, and 3 were all long on the course. 4 was pretty close, but then 5 and 6 were short compared to when my watch was beeping. In any case, I ran past mile 6 and the girl yelled out 46:00. I knew then that I was going to PR. I wasn't going to catch the woman in front of me (who turned out to be a 13 year old) but I ran my race and had my time.

Official time - 47:57 (7:43 pace)
PR by 1:22

I'll take it!