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I’m feeling a little lost right now.
For the past year, my life has centered around marathon training. I was either running, or thinking that I should be running.
Now I’m in the recovery phase of marathon training and I don’t really know what to do with myself. The last few days have gone by so slowly and I feel so bored and antsy. I pulled up Hal Higdon’s Marathon Recovery Plan and am following that (loosely – since I have a half marathon on Halloween). Tomorrow I start running again, and I can’t wait! I definitely needed to have some kind of recovery plan to keep myself from doing too much too soon. I’ve got this feeling of “I just ran 26.2 miles! So why the heck would I want to run just 3??” But my body still needs to recover from that 26.2 miles!
Now that I’ve been through my first marathon, and the year of training that preceded it, I have a better idea of what worked for me and what I want to do differently the next time around. With marathon #2 only a few months away (January or May 2011 – haven’t decided yet), I have a couple goals/training modifications:
- Add in swimming as my cross training activity – I would also like to add in biking, but since I’ll be training through the winter and I hate the stationary bike, I’ll go with just swimming for now. While I do know how to swim and spent countless hours/days in the pool at my childhood home, I am a crappy swimmer swimmer. When it comes to laps, I am a total rookie. So bear with me.
- Use the New Rules of Lifting for Women for strength training – Yes, the New Rules plans are not really meant to be used in conjunction with marathon training. I’ll use them as they are written while I’m in the lower mileage weeks. Once I get into higher mileage weeks, I’ll tweak the plans to fit my needs. I don’t want to overdo it. But I am a real novice when it comes to lifting, and I need some kind of a plan to get me going.
- Actually do speedwork! – While I am certain I can beat my time from the Adirondack Marathon without a problem, I’d really like to get faster overall. And that means it’s speedwork time!
I’m really looking forward to working my way back into the thick of things. Now that I have a good mileage base, and a marathon under my belt I feel stronger and more knowledgeable about the whole thing in general. I think this round of training will be exciting and a lot of fun!
Two days ago, I became a marathoner. It was, without a doubt, the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. But it was also, without a doubt, the most satisfying thing I have ever done.
I trained for almost a year to get to this point. I’ve been through injuries, illness, burnout, tears, stress, and sleep deprivation. And I wouldn’t take it back.
What I did right
- I improved my diet, which gave me loads more energy and made me feel a million times better. First I went vegetarian. Then I started to eliminate processed foods. Finally, I made the last step and went vegan. I feel great and now LOVE cooking and experimenting with food.
- I developed a healthy relationship with food and learned how to eat right to fuel my runs and my body.
- I learned what was important to me. I developed a new sense of who I am and what I want in my life. I now love the person that I have become.
- I developed a great support group of friends who love me and make me happy. Some are runners, some are not. But they all get behind me and my goals and for that I am extremely grateful.
- I learned a LOT about nutrition and physiology. Which helped me immensely.
- I worked on switching to a mid/forefoot strike, which improved my running form, strengthened my leg muscles, and helped me overcome multiple overuse injuries (runners knee and plantar fasciitis).
What I did wrong
- I didn’t strength train.
- I didn’t cross train.
- I didn’t stretch.
- I didn’t follow my training plan as closely as I should have. There were lots of missed/skipped runs.
- I made excuses for skipping/missing my runs.
- Initially, I tried to do too much too soon. Which was what gave me my runner’s knee problems when I was training for Buffalo in May. I should have developed a stronger base first.
- Initially, I didn’t have a healthy relationship with food. I restricted my calorie intake too much and didn’t have the fuel my body needed. It made me feel lethargic and burned out and I basically wasted two whole months (February and March of this year) because I didn’t have the energy for running.
What I learned
- I am capable of things I never thought I could do.
- My body is amazingly strong.
- Once you have a good base mileage, running is mostly mental.
- With enough time, patience, and determination, you can do just about anything.
- It’s more fun to run with a friend. (Thanks Carrie and Chelsea!)
- Sometimes, you just need a break. A couple days off here and there can do a lot of good.
- Food is GOOD! It’s not something to be feared. Eat right and eat enough, and you’ll feel great.
I am definitely NOT one of those people who crosses the finish line and says “never again!” I crossed the finish line and immediately thought “oh I can beat that time EASY.” I’m already itching to get back out and run/lift/swim/bike. But I need to give my body a couple days of rest so I can recover first.
At the moment, I’m trying to decide what exactly is my plan for the winter and spring. I was planning on running the North Face 50 miler at Bear Mountain in early May, but I want to redeem myself at the Buffalo Marathon at the end of May and I definitely can’t do them both. They’re too close together. I’m still deciding, but it looks like it will probably be Buffalo Marathon redemption for me. I’m working on convincing my friend, Chelsea, to run it with me.
Now it’s time to play around with my schedule and figure out what I want to do next!
Today was my first marathon. It was, in a word, challenging.
Yesterday morning I went and picked up my packet.
I was so excited that the weekend was finally here. It was like Christmas.
Saturday night it was time to lay out all my race day gear. I’m a little OCD when I pack for a race…
Complete with a packing checklist and a spectator plan for my husband.
Sunday morning I woke up super early (4am), got ready, and was out the door by 5:00. We picked up my mom and made it up to Schroon Lake by 6:30am.
Whoops! A little earlier than I planned. But it worked out well because a friend of mine was walking the marathon and was starting at 7am. So we got to see her off.
We killed time until about 8:45 until it was time to line up for the start.
The starting line!
Me and the hubs, pre race. All clean and NOT sweaty.
The hand cyclists got started a few minutes before us. These are some crazy bikes!
Runners line up!
And we’re off! (I think those guys might be laughing at me…)
It was a beautiful day. I really enjoyed running through the gorgeous woods and all the leaves changing colors.
My family was waiting at the halfway point and snapped some pictures of us as we went by…
At this point, I was feeling good. My hills had been slightly slower than they were on my 20 miler, but I was happy with how it went.
Just after I passed my family, my knees stiffened up and started to get really painful. REALLY painful.
I was only at the halfway point (13.1 miles), so I knew the second half was going to be an exercise in patience and willpower.
There was never a moment where I thought I wouldn’t make it. I knew I would be slower than I had planned (I was aiming for between 4:15:00 and 4:30:00). But I didn’t care about my time. This was my first marathon, and all I wanted to do was finish. Even if it was slower than what I planned.
For the second half, I alternated between running and walking. Every step was tough, but I pushed on.
Some interesting things I saw along the way…
- A woman who ran with me (chased me) with a wind chime from her front porch while singing and dancing.
- A guy playing a harpsichord at the end of his driveway. (Very pretty!)
- A taiko drumming group (twice).
- A marching band.
- A guy (spectator) in a kilt. No bagpipes to be seen.
- A woman at the aid station at the 20 mile marker with a PA system who didn’t stop talking once. I could hear her for a mile.
When I got to the 22 mile marker, I had a moment where I finally realized that I was going to finish. I started to cry. It didn’t last too long, but it was a really exciting and emotional moment. I’ve been working towards this for a long time, and it was becoming real.
The last few miles were incredibly difficult. With every step, my knees yelled back at me. But I kept counting down the miles. Finally, I was at mile 25!
ONE (.2) MILE TO GO!!!
I pushed on and ended up coming into downtown Schroon Lake. I took out my headphone and soaked in the cheering. A few steps later, I rounded the corner and could finally see the finish line!!!
See it? Waaaaaaay down there?
This was where I felt the tears coming on.
In the last stretch, I saw my friends and my family cheering me on. I knew my husband was waiting at the finish line for me. It was a fantastic feeling. I HAD DONE IT. (Just writing this is making me get a lump in my throat.)
Is it bad that all I could think as that guy passed me at the end was “hey! you’re going to block me in my picture!”
As I crossed the finish line, the tears started flowing…
I met up with my friends and family at the finish line and much picture-taking ensued. (I still have to get the pictures from mom’s camera, so I’ll add those later.)
Eileen, Carrie, and me
Carrie and me. Love the sign (thanks Mer!).
Griz (Carrie’s other running partner, still collecting herself after crossing the finish line), Carrie, and me.
My overall impression of this race…
This is a FANTASTIC race. It’s not easy by any means. But it’s beautiful and INCREDIBLY well run. The people of Schroon Lake put a TON of work into this event and it shows. I would recommend it to anyone without hesitation. The volunteers are all sweet, and the crowd is very encouraging. One of my favorite things was the race program they put together. It has everyone listed by bib number. So lots of the spectators have a spotter who will yell your bib number out as you approach and they’ll all cheer you on by name.
My overall impression of my performance…
I FINISHED! That was my goal and I’m thrilled with myself.
Was it perfect? Not even close. But that’s okay! When my knees started to give me trouble, I threw out any plan for a time or pace. I just kept going. I didn’t let myself get stressed out that I was going WAY slower than I had planned. I was STILL GOING, and that was what mattered. And for that, I am extremely proud of myself.
And hey, now I have a time I should definitely be able to beat when I redeem myself at the Buffalo Marathon in May 2011!
Thanks for all the support along the way, dear blog readers. It’s been quite a trip!
Okay, take a deep breath and RELAX.
This has been a long time coming, and you are SO PREPARED FOR IT. The miles have been run, and the strength and conditioning have been gained. There’s nothing left to do now but run and smile all the way.
Packing list? Check
Packet pick up? Check
Nap/lay low during the day? Check and check
Yummy dinner that has already been long-run tested? Check
All you need to do now is relax, go to bed early, and get a good night’s sleep.
Tomorrow is the big day, but in reality, it’s just another long run. You’ve done dozens of long runs. What’s one more? This time there will just be a lot more people around. And that’s always fun!
Do a quick self check: Nervous? Nope. Stressed? Nope. Excited as all get out? You bet!
When things get tough tomorrow, remember that you’re ready. You’ve trained for this and you’ve already done the hard part two times over.
Also remember, there’s food at the finish line. 🙂
You are so much stronger than you think.
Tonight was our last doggie agility class. I’m so sad that we are ending our time with these classes, but our fantastic trainer and friend is moving to California on Tuesday. We are going to miss her – A LOT.
We have been taking classes with Tara for two years now and it has done a world of good for our dogs. When I first adopted Jade back in September 2006, she was a nightmare. She was CRAZY. She jumped, bit, and barked up a storm. She also NEVER calmed down. There was no stopping her. She actually got kicked out of doggie day care and sleep away camp (boarding) because the woman that ran it couldn’t deal with her craziness. Only recently did my mom admit that when she first met Jade she REALLY didn’t like her – and we all love dogs in our family.
In 2007 I moved back to New York. Jade was still crazed, but slightly better than she was initially. I was really interested in finding a dog agility place because I thought that might be a great way for Jade to get her “crazies” out. Eventually I stumbled across Tara and she reassured me that the crazy dogs were some of the ones who could benefit from it the most. So I signed us right up!
At first, Jade wouldn’t do anything. ANYTHING. We had to do “remedial” everything. While all our classmates were off doing tunnels, my husband and I were over to the side just trying to get Jade to stick her head into one. One of us had to crawl into one end and call her, while the other had to stand behind her and keep her from backing away. It was… interesting. And that was just the tunnels!
Then, all of a sudden, Jade had an agility epiphany. This was some cool stuff! She couldn’t get enough of it! Especially tunnels – who knew?
Since October 2008 we’ve been loving our weekly agility classes with Tara. Jade was doing a fantastic job and loving every minute of it. So when we got Rocket, there was no doubt in our minds that we would have him in a beginner class with Tara as soon as humanly possible.
Rocket started agility in April and loved it immediately. There was never any hesitation like we had with Jade. Rocket was FEARLESS. We knew he was going to love it, but we didn’t expect him to take to it so easily.
The thing that we were the most surprised about with these agility classes was how it transformed our dogs. Before Jade started classes, she was – dare I say? – a psycho. Getting her into agility helped her learn how to focus, and gave her an outlet for her energy. She had a JOB. She literally became a different dog before our eyes. We were amazed. To top it off, the same thing happened with Rocket. Granted, he wasn’t a nightmare like Jade was when she was younger, but he has a LOT of energy, and agility gave him an outlet for that excitement. I doubt he would be as “calm” as he is without it.
We are so sad to be losing our friend and trainer to California. But we are really excited for her to start this next chapter in her life. Our plan is to put that extra money that we will no longer be spending on our weekly classes into our house fund. At the end of this school year we plan to buy our first house, which will have a yard (of course). Our first project in that house will be to build a full set of agility equipment for our backyard and then we can do agility as often as Jade and Rocket like! So we’ll be taking a couple months off from agility, but hopefully next summer we’ll be able to start back up again. We love it and have learned so much from Tara over the last two years. We’re looking forward to being able to do agility in our own backyard someday.
Thanks so much for all your help, support, and encouragement Tara. You are an amazing trainer and have done so much for our little family. We are all going to miss you!
This has been the longest week EVER.
Ever since my 20 miler, I’ve just wanted it to be race day. I know I can do it. I know I’ll have a great time. I just want to be at the starting line already! Let’s get this show on the road!
Last night I read a great blog post from Susan at No Meat Athlete, with a recap of her first Ironman that was two weeks ago. When I read the part about seeing the finish line and having everybody cheering her on, I actually started to cry (happy tears!) because I realized that will be me on Sunday (but at a marathon, not an Ironman – maybe someday!). I’ve been working toward this for so long, and I can’t believe that in a matter of days, I’ll be running my first 26.2. Fortunately, my husband wasn’t in the room, because I think I might have freaked him out if he had seen me just burst into tears like I did.
Tonight I did a short 3 miler on the treadmill (it was after dinner and already dark out). The whole time I kept imagining how it will feel to turn the corner and see the finish line on Sunday and I couldn’t stop smiling.
Is it Sunday yet???
Hello blogging world! I’ve missed you!
I’ve been quiet since my fantastic 20 miler on September 4th, but not away on a nice relaxing vacation. Instead, school started back up again! When you combine the fact that I was now at the taper part of my training plan, and I was back to working full 9-5 days where I’m on my feet and running around a good portion of the day, I’ve had a heck of a time getting my runs in. My nightly blogging time also fell by the wayside since all I wanted to do at the end of the day was LAY DOWN.
To top it off, two days after my 20 miler, I slammed my foot into our dining room table and thought I broke my toe. I couldn’t walk right for three days. The sad part is that I do this ALL.THE.TIME. It’s much better now though!
So it’s been fun!
But now here I am, 10 days away from my marathon, still completely stoked and I can’t wait. I’ve gotten back into my groove and am managing to fit my runs in again. My toe feels much better, and I’m healthy and strong.
Tonight when I came home I went down to the basement and did a fun 3 miles on the treadmill. I smiled the whole way and rocked out to my favorite running songs and just enjoyed myself. It was great!
I’ve tried some great recipes lately, so I’ll have some good ones to share with you soon (like the best veggie burger I’ve ever had). I also have some potentially huge (and very exciting) news in the works, but I don’t want to share that until it’s all official (just to clarify one thing – it is DEFINITELY NOT baby-related). But I promise I will share soon!
My first EVER 20 miler was this morning and I was so excited for it. My prior attempt at a 20 miler (while training for the Buffalo Marathon this spring) ended badly at 17.5 miles due to my then-emerging runner’s knee problem. So, if successful, this would be my first time running 20 miles.
I was so stoked.
Carrie and I were planning on running it together (yay!). I have been super wary of all the crazy insane hills in the first half of the actual course. It’s basically miles 3.5 to 11.5 – that’s right, 8 miles of HILLS. And I’m not talking nice little rolling hills, either. This is shoot-you-in-the-foot-make-you-want-to-cry hills that feel like they never end. Every time you turn a corner, it just.keeps.going. Oh sure, there’s little parts that flatten out along the way, and a nice couple downhills. But then – WHAM! Back to “Okay, just make it to that leaf 10 feet in front of me. Okay, now make it to that next leaf.”
So Carrie and I decided to go up to Schroon Lake and run the actual course today. And I am so glad we did!
Since we were only running 20 miles and the full 26.2 goes all the way around the lake (meaning, if we did just a straight 20 we’d end up 6 miles from our car), we decided to do an out-and-back on the first part of the course. Since almost all of the hills – and definitely the worst of them – are in the first 11.5 miles, that was the part of the course we wanted to run and get some confidence on. I knew that if I could just get my feet on the pavement there, my apprehension would melt away.
We parked in downtown Schroon Lake and headed out from the starting line. Downtown was bustling today with garage sales all over the place (one woman we passed had about 30 bottles of shampoo for sale – are we the only ones that think that’s odd???), and banners for the race were already flying.
It was gorgeous out, and we were so glad the weather had finally cooled off! It’s been insanely hot here the last couple days, but today was high 60s/low 70s and perfect.
One of the best things about the course is just the beautiful scenery. We were having a great time just taking in the sights and the peacefulness of the quiet country roads.
And then the hills started!
At 3.5 miles there’s a very short but steep hill. That was fine.
At 4 miles, there’s a very long hill (about 2 miles) with some pretty steep parts. Fortunately there’s also some small spots that level out so you can catch your breath. I had to stop and walk on this hill once for about 30 seconds, but other than that, it felt good! Tough, but good.
There was a decent downhill around mile 7 (probably all the stuff you just ran up between 4 and 6!). And then the uphills reappear. From miles 8 to 11.5, it’s up-down-up-down-up-down. And none of them are small. Again, I stopped to catch my breath for 30 seconds here and there (maybe three or four times), but it felt good.
We stashed some water at 11 miles, which was perfect timing, because that was when I sucked my 1.25 liter Camelbak dry. We refilled, and finished off the last .5 miles of uphills, and then turned around to head back toward the car. I was absolutely thrilled that I had just tackled the hardest part of the whole course – the part that had been making me really nervous – and I felt great! I knew I had run faster than I thought I would. But like my 18 miler, I didn’t look at my Garmin, because I knew that if I knew how fast I was really going, I would want to slow down. I was playing a mental game with myself.
Now this was the part where we were in for a surprise.
On the way out, it felt like everything was uphill – with a few (maybe one or two) downhills along the way. On the way back, we realized that was completely false. Because the way back felt like it was all uphill too!
So I had already tackled (and defeated) the monster that is the first part of the course. And then, like the crazy people we are, we turned around and went back for more!
Going back was definitely harder than going out. By this time, my butt and hamstrings were tired. If we had continued on the rest of the course, it would have been fine. I could have recovered and been great for the last half. But going back and repeating all those massive hills was exhausting! I had to keep focusing on a leaf/rock/bump in the road 10 feet in front of me and just focusing on making it to that. Once I would get there, I’d pick the next leaf/rock/bump in the road and keep going. It’s a strategy that works well for me. If I look up at how large the hill is and just stare far away, I feel overwhelmed. Breaking it down into smaller parts makes it seem more manageable.
On the way back, I definitely slowed down. I also started walking the really steep parts (my butt and hamstrings felt like wet noodles), but the walk breaks weren’t for long. I kept telling myself “you are so much stronger than you think.” Fortunately, Carrie was powering up the hills like they were nothing (rock on Carrie!), so no one could hear me talking to myself.
We finally made it out of the hilly section (rejoice!) and I realized I had passed 18 miles. I started yelling to Carrie “every step I take now is the farthest I’ve ever run!” That was a very cool feeling. I felt exhausted, but giddy. I knew I was going to make it.
When my Garmin beeped at the 20 mile mark, I made some weird type of “hehehehehehehehehe” noise, which I think scared Carrie a little bit. 🙂 I had done it! Then I looked at my Garmin…
Sorry for the blurriness – my camera wasn’t cooperating.
10:36/mile!!! On the hilliest 20 miles of my life!!! I felt tired but amazing. I rocked that 20 miles of hills. It was hard, but I had gotten through it. And I did it at 10:36/mile to boot!
I gave Carrie my car keys, since we were still 2.7 miles from the car. She kept running (what a stud!) and I walked the last 2.7 miles back to the car. She was going to do 23 miles today, but since this was my first 20 miler, I didn’t need to do those last 3 miles (which, by the way, were also mostly uphill). I had pushed myself a lot on that run, and I didn’t want to overdo it.
Once I made it back to the car, we washed our faces and changed (thank you Stewarts’ bathroom) and busted out the cooler full of cold water and lunches from the trunk. Then we spent a good 20 minutes lounging in the sun in the picnic area relaxing and enjoying some well-deserved food. It was a great way to end the run.
My overall impression of this run (my longest/hardest one before the marathon):
I am absolutely thrilled with myself. Even though the second half was really hard, I ROCKED the part that was the actual course the way it will be on race day. If I would have continued on at 11.5 miles instead of turning back and repeating that section, I would have felt absolutely fabulous the whole way. So I am coming out of this run extremely confident. I can not wait until race day!
Here’s the splits: (this does not include the 2.7 mile walk back to the car)
- Distance: 20.01 miles
- Time: 3:32
- Pace: 10:36/mile
- Mile 1 – 9:36
- Mile 2 – 9:30
- Mile 3 – 9:46
- Mile 4 – 9:55
- Mile 5 – 11:34 (Oh, hello hills!)
- Mile 6 – 11:08
- Mile 7 – 9:34
- Mile 8 – 9:52 (The hill torture comes back with a vengeance – wait, no, I LOVE THE HILLS! LOVE THEM!)
- Mile 9 – 10:49
- Mile 10 – 9:58
- Mile 11 – 10:37 (This is where we turned around, so I’m not really concerned with my splits after this point, but I’ll put them anyway.)
- Mile 12 – 10:29
- Mile 13 – 11:15
- Mile 14 – 10:55
- Mile 15 – 10:54
- Mile 16 – 11:10
- Mile 17 – 13:03 (That was a bad hill)
- Mile 18 – 10:25
- Mile 19 – 10:26
- Mile 20 – 11:01
- Time for the first 11.5 miles (the way it’s meant to be run): 1:57:33
- Average pace for the first 11.5 miles: 10:13/mile (WOW!!!)
Isn’t that funny? When I first uploaded my Garmin data, I was shocked at how slow my second half splits were. But now that I typed it out, that’s actually right on par with what I used to run for my long runs all the time. Yay for progress!
As an afterthought, I pulled up the profile of the course. Here’s what we ran today…
Now I know why the hill at 4 miles felt so much harder than the one at 8 miles! I didn’t think it was that much bigger. Wow! I also now feel much better about being beat up by that same hill coming back (it’s even steeper going the other way). Oh my goodness!
From now until race day I’m relaxing a bit. Next weekend will be a 15 miler or so. And after that my taper starts. I can’t believe I just did my longest pre-race run! It’s almost here!
Thanks Carrie! You rock!
Although it didn’t feel like it the last couple days, summer is on its way out.
I can’t say I’m really sorry.
While I love summer, and I love my summer vacation (I teach), I absolutely adore fall. It’s my favorite time of the year. I love going apple picking and getting cider donuts (swoon – although now I need to find out if they’re vegan. I might cry if they’re not.), going to the Alpine Slides, hiking, and enjoying the leaves changing colors. We live in such a beautiful area, and it gets even better when fall is in full swing.
I also really, really love going back to school, and all the school supplies that come along with it. Yeah – I’m a nerd. I go to Staples for fun.
All the students started arriving on campus this week, and classes start back up on Tuesday, so my summer vacation is very nearly over. What better way to end “The Summer of Marathon Training” (like the Summer of George) than with my 20 miler? I can’t wait!!! I’ll let you know how it goes!
Now it’s time to say farewell to summer with a recap:
- Miles run (June – August): 218.6 miles – not as much as I originally had planned, but I had to scale back in June and July to keep my foot under control.
- Biggest challenges:
- Pushing through burnout – I think I’ve rounded the corner on that one now.
- Keeping my plantar fasciitis manageable – which I’ve also gotten under control now – yay!
- Biggest accomplishments: My 18 miler with Carrie, when I ran my fastest average pace for a long run (10:14/mile).
And of course, it’s time to look forward:
- Goals for the fall:
- Complete my marathon on September 26th and have a great time doing it! I know I can do it, and I can’t wait!
- Complete my half marathon trail race on Halloween without breaking my ankle again (I’m paranoid). I’m not going to worry about my time since I’m just running it for fun and will be running it with a lot of other people, and in costume (wait until you see what we came up with!). I’ll also still be recovering from the marathon, so no expectations other than having fun.
- Start P90X after I’m recovered from my marathon.
- Run with my husband (he’s signed up for the 6 miler that’s part of my Halloween half).
- Total miles planned (September – November): 402.3 miles
- Biggest anticipated challenge: My marathon. Even though I know I can do it, I’m not expecting it to be a cakewalk!