Howdy Loopsters!!! Wow, this is so easy! Thanks Dave for getting this going. You da best!
So let's see. I did my first 100k last month. Woodstock. Everything that could go right did go right. It was so easy and I stayed positive the whole time! Weird!
Anyways, I took a few weeks off, then ran a few, then had eyeball surgery last Friday. I just ran my first post-op run. It was kinda hard! On my run I saw the two neighborhood zebras that make appearances at a little horsey paddock once in a while. They must be babysitting. Zebrasitting? I didnt have my phone, so since there are no pics, it might not have happened.
My next race is rnr Savannah Marathon in November with some local RBs.
Heress a pic of my pirate eye. Arrrrr! I don't have to weear the patch but it helps once in a while.
I can't wait to actually read some bloops again!
Well, that was embarrassing.
I signed onto the new Loop on Saturday night, shortly after enjoying one adult beverage. It was fairly simple. Just fill in all the fields, upload a picture, press enter -- then OMG -- I SPELLED MY FREAKING SCREEN NAME WRONG. COMPLUSIVE? Really? You, the English major, the writer, the proofreader can't put the letters in the right order? What the hell is wrong with you?
Determined to fix things before anyone noticed, I started toggling and googling like a madwoman. But in the end it became clear that only the administrator could solve the problem. It took a couple of days before I could connect with Cliff, but he came through and now I can stop loathing myself. (The last time I was this embarrassed about a spelling error was in 7th grade when I was about to be crowned the school champion, but took my eye off the prize just long enough to get robbed by my 5th grade brother. On an incredibly simple word. I swear the judge said "eightieth" not "eighth." Still cringing from that one).
Anyway, a brief running recap.
Injured in March, had to abandon Boston training.
Resumed in May or so. Back to about 25 mpw. No speedwork, just easy miles.
Used my downtime to get a little more compulsive about strength training. Pretty consistent now, thanks to a small group in Loopville, some of whom just killed their fall marathons.
Really inspired by last weekend's marathoners and ultramarathoners. Googling spring marathons now, but not sure my body can handle it.
Seeing a new massage therapist who's working on my terrible posture (which is probably a key contributor to my injuries).
Had to wear full tights, mittens, earband and two layers on top this morning. Not ready for that.
Planning to "race" a double (5K +10K) with Chris (NC Athlete) in November. There will be pie afterwards.
Having a ton of fun encouraging a friend who's running her first-ever half marathon in November. She's 56 (just a kid ) - and never believed she could do something like this. It's such a kick to be there when she hits new milestones.
That's about it for now. One last thank you to Cliff (if he's reading this) for helping me put my world back in order.
The babe with the power...
For some reason my whole life, my sister and I have had a strange obsession with the movie The Labyrinth our whole lives - Bowie is dreamy. Random, I know, but it fits in with my 2017 MDI Marathon experience because I added "Magic Dance" to my playlist for the race.
As I mentioned in my race preview, I wasn't feeling super confident in my training going into this race. It had even come to the point where I was telling myself, "if you don't finish, it's okay, you can rationalize it with the training..." Regardless, I got up on race morning and felt pretty good - a little tightness in my lower back that I had been dealing with for about a week, but everything else felt fresh at the start line.
This race has the best start line tradition. After the National Anthem is sung or played, they blare "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC, and the atmosphere at the line immediately becomes charged. It's something I've never felt before at another race. Halfway through the song, while everyone bounces and dances in place, a cannon sounds and the race is off.
Mount Desert Island is a really hilly island, so almost every part of this race is up or down.
Miles 1-5: I was right around 9 minutes for all of these miles. There's a killer hill that lasts from basically 3-5 miles. It's not steep, but it goes on for all two miles and can be a little bit soul sucking. One of my favorite things about this race is that it winds its way through tiny towns across the island, and there is support all over the place - some locals sit on their front porch and give you a nod or a little wave as you wander by while others are banging drums, strumming banjos, or bouncing up and down cheering their heads off. Having lived in Maine my whole life, I find that it is a really interesting snapshot of Mainers.
Miles 6-13.1: This section might be the "flattest" of the whole race, while definitely not being flat. I was still feeling really great at the halfway point, averaging between 9 and 9:30/miles in this section. I made it to the halfway point in 2:01:42 and was really surprised at how good I felt. I had a friend running who was doing the two person relay, but her partner got injured so when she was supposed to switch out with him at the halfway point, she kept going. Usually she's way ahead of me, but she was taking a break at the half when I came around the corner and jumped back into the race with me. I remember telling her that I might have been a little aggressive in the first half of the race, and that I was going to try to run for as long as I could before taking a walk break. She said she was going to run to the St. Jude aid station (mile 19) and drop there. She got a bit ahead of me, but I was proud that I could keep her in sight for the rest of my race.
Miles 13.2-20: About mile 15 I started to feel the first half of the race a little bit. I thought my pace might have been a little aggressive for the level of training that I had put in, but I maintained the 9-9:30/mile pace through this section. This part of the race is pretty lonely as you are running down Solmes Sound - fun fact, it's the only fjord on the East Coast - which is totally isolated except for the aid station at mile 16. However, an awesome surprise this year was a big fishing troller in the water blaring music and honking its horn with the crew waving and cheering. They were a huge pick me up. At this point my play list was really playing a big part in keeping me moving. I basically danced from mile 16 to the finish as a distraction. In retrospect, I'm pretty impressed with the playlist that I put together; it ran the gamut on genre and it was excellent. When I passed my parents at mile 18 "Magic Dance" from the Labyrinth came on my playlist and I briefly serenaded my mother as I ran by her.
Miles 20-26.2: Here's where my early pace caught up to me. I ran every. single. step. through mile 20. Considering I didn't do a single 20 mile run during my training for the race (things kept coming up each time I had one planned), I was pretty proud of this. Even after 20 miles, my walk breaks were short, and typically hill related. Basically, once you turn the corner at mile 20, the rest of the race goes uphill. I was still feeling pretty good at this point, despite taking some walk breaks.
This part is really spectator friendly so DH and my parents basically leap-frogged me in the car from about mile 18 to the finish - I saw them before this, but it's not super easy to get to most of the "spectator spots" on the course. We've got it pretty much down to a science at this point since this was my fifth time running the race. I see them at mile 12, 18, and then they stop as many times as they want until the end of the race. It was really nice to get a little boost from seeing them each time they would stop.
When you get to about mile 24.5 you've made it to the top of the last hill and are greeted by the best aid station in the whole race. First, they had cardboard cut outs of Star Wars characters set up along the prior mile, and their music is so loud you can hear them before you see them. At this point in the day it was drizzling, so they had been standing out there for a while getting wet, but they were so enthusiastic. One woman had candy corn in a bucket which she was covering with her jacket; every time she offered it to some one it felt like a shady street deal, which was making me giggle.
From the top of the hill aid station it's a glorious, but painful downhill to the finish.
I hit about 25.5 miles and all of a sudden I hear my name over a loudspeaker and a couple of short siren blasts. My dad is a retired police officer and he had friends at the race. My parents and DH saw two of my dad's cop-buddies at the finish line getting ready to leave and jokingly said if you see her blow the siren. And they did. It was a really funny moment as people looked around to see who the cop was cheering at.
It started raining a little harder as I got closer to the finish, but I was pushing it. I realized at about 25 miles that I was close to matching the time I ran at the Maine Coast Marathon earlier this spring (I was in much better shape for that race but the rain, cold temps, and gusty winds squashed my time goals), so I was pushing hard.
I ended up finishing in 4:13:52, three minutes slower than my spring race, but way ahead of where I thought I would be.
I never feel much like eating as soon as I'm done the race, but I wandered into the food tent and grabbed a bagel to snack on because we wouldn't be stopping for food for a little bit (MDI is VERY rural other than Bar Harbor). The worst part of the race is that parking is about a 1/2 mile from the finish line. The last thing you want to do after running a marathon is walk a 1/2 mile to sit down.
I'm just about a week and a half post-race and everything feels great. I recovered quickly from the race and was back to my normal routine (maybe a little slower) on Wednesday last week.
As far as the rest of the year goes, I've got a couple of turkey trots coming up in November and then Rehoboth in December. Can't wait! I'm running the half again this year. Not only is it a super fun trip with Loopsters, but we get to see DH's mom and stepdad while we are down there for our Hanukkah/Christmas celebrations. They live in Maryland, so it's an easy excuse to go down for the race.
Happy running everyone.
I think I've been able to stay pretty upbeat about being on the shelf for almost six months now. Until now.
Over the weekend we had all the kids and grandkids at the house. That doesn't represent a huge crowd, since there's just the four of them plus the three grands. We went to a Tigers game, spent time at the lake, played games. Should have been a great time.
I'm not really saying it wasn't, but I spent too much time thinking about how my stomach looks like Carrie Underwood's right now. And it feels even bigger.
Went to PT yesterday. Gave them the rundown of everything that's happened since last time I was there, wasting everyone's time so Blue Cross would approve an MRI. He worked some around the knee and taped up the ACL. It hurts today.
There you go.
Ladies, I am emailing you all today to withdraw from the team. I no longer feel that this expedition is right for me. I do want to thank everyone for giving me the opportunity and believing in me enough to be a member of this team, and to be a part of the incredible training that we have done. I’ve gained great skills and knowledge that I do not believe I ever would have received otherwise. This experience has shown me that my love of endurance athletics can be pushed even further than I imagined. You all are amazing women that I likely never would have met, and I’m grateful for the time I was able to spend with you. I do hope that I can spend more time with you all in the future.
Please let me know when/where I can return all of my gear. I want to give everyone who donated to my personal GoFundMe page the opportunity to have their donations refunded. If not, I will send you what I collected (after the fee was subtracted is was about $160).
Ladies, I wish you all the best of luck and safety during the rest of your training and your summit attempt. I will be cheering you on and rooting for you! Let me know if there is anything I can ever do for any of you.
Don’t be silenced,
I sent this out on Friday, October 26th to withdraw from the Denali team. It was a decision that I thought long and hard about and most likely bugged the crap out of all of my friends, seeking advice.
This expedition no longer was a good fit for me and no longer aligned with my integrity and values. I won’t talk about many specifics but I wasn’t willing to accept that my role was only to “raise as much money as you can and get mountain fit.” I will never allow someone to continually speak down to me, not for any experience or opportunity. I wish these ladies all the best and will be rooting for them next year! Go sheros!
This whole process was very hard and life consuming. I’m not sure that I would decided to take on something so consuming again.
However, this experience lit a fire up in me and I am very grateful that I was able to go through those trainings and meet those amazing women. I certainly wouldn’t give that back. More amazing opportunities will come along.
Thank you to everyone who followed along and supported me through this journey. It means the world to me.
Stay tuned for my new and exciting 2019 goals!!
So my last blog was setting up my attempt to complete the Runner’s World Holiday Streak, but with some of my own crazy rules to make it a little more rigorous and bit more fun. The first step for me in that was to beat my previous run streak, which wasn’t even planned, but I think just worked out that way by continually rearranging runs and not bothering to take a rest day for almost 2 weeks. It stood at 13 days, nothing to really be that impressed by, but seemed like an easy-ish, step 1 toward the whole Holiday season shebang.
So to have reached that, I need to run up to at least this past Tuesday. Normally I run early…very early in morning, but due to having to be somewhere even further than my normal (long) commute, even earlier than I normally get to work, I thought an afternoon run on Tuesday would be better. As you can probably guess by this point, it didn’t happen. Over the weekend my son had some kind of stomach bug and by Tuesday morning I was slightly hopeful I had dodged it.
Driving home I at times contemplated pulling over to take a nap or calling someone to pick me up I was so tired. I made it home, used what little energy I had to make it to the bedroom and collapsed into bed. Even in such a state, in the back of my mind was a day about a month ago. I had a similar feeling of total exhaustion had hit me out of nowhere, collapsed into bed and woke up two hours later feeling just fine. Maybe that could happen this time too? Then I could shuffle my way through two, post-dinnertime miles and keep the streak alive.
No need to be graphic, you all have an imagination, but the next 12 hours were pretty horrible. I know I slept a little during that time, but I don’t know how much, an hour, 20 minutes, 3 hours? Who knows? It was kind of a blur but I must have worked out in my fevered stupor because the muscles of my core were on fire the next morning.
The upside was by midmorning Wednesday I was out of the woods enough to sit in bed and binge watch an entire season of Stranger Things, eat a small bowl of plain noodles and drink some Gatorade. By Thursday I was well enough to shuffle my way through a day at work, but not a run. Friday, I thought about running but decided to give it one more day to let my systems settle down, and frankly I was still very tired.
Then Saturday I ran. I wasn’t sure how it would go, I still hadn’t eaten a whole lot, my stomach still felt a little touchy, and it was pretty cold. But, like the old mental trick goes, tell yourself you just have to make it around the block and if it’s that bad, you can go home. I made it around the neighborhood and thought well, I can definitely get 2 miles in, and at 2 miles I knew I could get to 3, and at 3 miles I decided to go to 4. And at 4 I was still .1 miles from my house so I decided to keep going all the way to 4.1 miles, because after a stomach virus and 4 days off that was enough.
In the spirit of the season and because I didn't really choose to not run, I decided to finish what I started. The streak is back on…because after all, it just for fun and I make the rules so as the judge and jury of my own streak I have allowed a dispensation for illness and consider the streak paused during that time but not officially broken.
After a week or so of teasing, winter made a nice comeback yesterday. Only a couple of inches. What you can't see there is that there's ice under the pretty white stuff. It fell most of the day as the temps dropped through and below freezing. Lots of scraping to clear the windows when I got off work. Hard, crusty stuff.
The drive home wasn't especially nasty, traffic wise - it seems people like to leave early when there's a storm and since I leave early anyway that just adds to the number of cars on the roads in my way.
Although I did pass two wrecks on my homeward commute. The first was an F-150 in the express lanes we could see from the flyover from one freeway to the other. Interesting perspective. There wasn't any other cars involved so it was apparent that someone was just driving too fast for the icy roads. He was on his side (I'm assuming it was a man based on the vehicle and the apparent lack of caution - I could be wrong), facing the wrong way, with the truck's bed cover open and several pieces of equipment on the road beside it. I saw no driver and I guess it had just happened, since first responders hadn't shown up yet. This was slowing traffic for me while everyone looked.
Things stayed pretty slow for the next few miles heading west from Detroit and the second wreck was on the eastbound side, with aid cars and fire trucks in attendance, flashing lights and whining sirens. Glad I wasn't coming the other way. We crawled slowly past it because you have to crane your neck, regardless of the fact that there's no way to see anything with the action on the other side of the concrete divider, am I right?
With that mess safely behind, it was easier until I got to my exit a couple of miles later, until I had to slow with a line of cars slowing ahead of me. And had a small panic moment when my front wheels started sliding unexpectedly. Ice, ice, baby.
That bit made me decide that I wasn't going to run yesterday. That, and the spill I took on Saturday. What I don't need right now is a hard fall. I already don't like the lack of progress for four weeks of running (OK, 3 - one lost to a cold).
Anyway, I went down to the basement and did some silly exercising stuff for a half hour. Planks, dynamic stretches, upper body, butt kicks, high knees. Then I ran up and down the stairs frontwards and backwards ten times each. Backwards was harder, if you're wondering. I was able to work up a little sweat, so I guess it did something.
Today's run is a question mark. Still slick out there. It won't take much to unfreeze what's there, but today won't be warm enough for that.
Taxes are about ready. Need to review and make sure I'm not waiting on any other forms to come in. And of course the refund is already spent several times over.
Because it never feels good to give in to the excuses.
Running an hour late means more traffic. Lots. And the drivers don’t expect to see a runner, or anyone on the sidewalk that they should try not to run over. Stupid driver.
Three deer crossing Midway. I was really sure the third one was going to be hit by the 411 Island Transit. Flashed my flashlight at him. Probably wasn’t necessary. He probably saw the deer. Probably thought I was trying to flag him down instead of waiting for at the bus stop. Stupid runner. The deer, all three of them crossed safely.
Got caught at the signal on Midway and Whidbey. I hate that signal. It takes forever and with all the traffic I couldn’t just ignore it. Not one to run in place, at least I got to stretch out my calves during the first mile.
Did I mention I ran the uphill direction? Something about mixing up the direction so that the bank of the road isn't always on one side. Yeah. Had to take a walk break the block before Regatta and a few more the rest of the way home.
The people coming out of Navy housing are generally aware of runners no matter what ‘o-dark-thirty time you are running.
A buck crossing the road at the church on Regatta.
The Navy parents coming out of the CDC (Child development center) are in a hurry. Ninja runner with reflective blinky lights glares at mini-van mom, but remains invisible to Ms. Inahurry Lateformashift.
It was light enough when I reached the dark stretch of Regatta for me to leave the flashlight off.
Time? Slower than Tuesday. I honestly haven't looked.
With permission I announce some amazing wonderful and utterly joyous news: My BA runner sister GiniaQ had her first baby yesterday!!!! I’m sad that she’s in Kansas and I am on Whidbey but she has a super awesome hubby and baby girl is absolutely perfect. I’ve not said anything until now because I wasn’t sure if my sis would be hopping back into the loop. She ran through all her pregnancy. I wasn’t a runner before my children, but my sister went into this pregnancy marathon-fit. No kidding, she ran a marathon at the beginning of her pregnancy and seriously went for a run just this past weekend at 39 weeks. Yeah. She’s kinda my hero.
We run tempos and 400m intervals and runs of 8+ miles, we are running 20 or more miles a week together, we’ve had great runs and crappy runs, we’ve run in rain, snow, wind and sleet. But the moment I knew with firm certainty that Clark, my new running buddy and protege running his very first race, was a RUNNER for real and for always was when he announced at Mile 4: “Boy, I sure am glad I was able to poop this morning!”
So am I, dude. SO AM I.
The New Runner Guy Clark (for the backstory on him see my two previous bloops) and I have been planning and training for this race for a couple of months. I mixed training with him along with my own marathon training, and it resulted in both getting him ready and helping me stay motivated and add mileage.
Clark crashed on our couch the night before, since he lives about 20 minutes in the opposite direction of the race. While sitting around the evening before, DH kept reminiscing about a few of his racing glory days, but he was happy to go to bed and know he could sleep in till the cows come home the next morning (He's planning on running a spring 5k with me, though!). We runners were up bright and early to get some food and coffee choked down and head to the Peninsula.
Race nerves are so much easier to squelch when you are with someone. Clark and I are like siblings; we banter and joke and hurl insults. Today, him being the newbie meant we could cover all the “first-time” jokes nicely (just relax and follow my lead, I’ll be gentle with you, start slow so you don’t blow up early, I’ll let you finish first since I’m the experienced one, etc. etc.) like a couple of degenerate 12 year olds, laughing hysterically and snorting coffee first thing in the morning. But like actual siblings, we’re also fiercely loyal and close. Clark is the kind of friend I could call any time of the day if I’m in some dire need and he would drop everything. And I would do the same. I was majorly a little annoyed that he was so darn calm, though. I AM NERVOUS AND ITS MY 62ND RACE! HOW ARE YOU NOT NERVOUS?!!! He shrugged and kept saying coolly, ‘I’m not nervous’… what is there to be nervous about? What’s the worst that can happen?’ FINE, YER NOT NERVOUS, YA IRRITANT! Kidding... I was impressed and just secretly a little jealous. He wasn’t nervous, I could tell. Relaxed as an old man on his front porch rockin' chair. He wasn’t doubting our sub-50 goal, either, asking me what splits we are running to accomplish it and commenting on the pleasant morning and the beautiful Bayfront views. I chalked it up to his years of experience in competitive sports like baseball and football, because it was the only way I could salvage my tattered dignity (You Loopsters better never betray me by telling this guy, if I ever bring him to a Loopfest, what a basket case I was at Marshall… Rehoboth… Philly…Wineglass. Okay, all the races. BOOOO!).
Like I said, cool as cucumber (below). And holding the pikermi sweatshirt he borrowed from my DH, one that TOsuperstar gifted him years ago. Fitting to wear for a race, for sure. Though clear and sunny, the cold temps called for layers for anyone spectating.
Prerace selfie in the parking lot:
The St. Pat’s Day 5k/10k is always a fun race. After a long winter, some 300-400 Erie runners come charging out of their treadmilling, espresso-drinking, too-much-pizza-eating, YakTrak-wearing lairs to celebrate the start of spring running and shake off the winter rust. And there was a boatload of rust to shake this year. Punxsutawney Phil called it, March came in like a lion and stayed lion-like, and Erie is creeping up on Buffalo’s record snowfall of just under 200 inches in one winter. We’ve had snow and cold for what seems like an eternity. But here we were: 300+ hardy runners turning out on a morning that was a crisp 25 degrees at race start.
Clark and I ambled into the building where all the race action was happening. Got our packets, put on the timing chips (you need help getting that thing on?), started checking the time to see how close we were to race time. People were trickling in steadily now, and every couple of minutes I was seeing a running friend. The great thing about the local scene is that no matter how long it’s been since you showed up to race, you just pick up right where you left off: talking about running, racing, training. And the usual sandbagging, just in case your race went to the dogs: I haven’t been running that much… winter’s been rough…life got in the way… dude, I don’t know when I last did speedwork!
The 5k was first! Clark had the advantage of getting to watch a race firsthand before actually running one himself. He had his layers on and was watching the proceedings with interest. He took a prerace pic (FYI, I'm freezing!)...
... then I lined up with the crowd of 300+ runners and we were off with the usual mad 5k mass scramble. I tried to settle into a comfortable pace while dodging people at the front of the race who should have started halfway back.
I don’t know that I ever settled into a comfortable pace, though?! Maybe it was the exceptional volume of winter rust, maybe it was training for a marathon instead of shorter distances, maybe it was the hard speedwork I’d done just 3 days before? But it felt uncomfortable and not smooth the entire way.
Mile 1 came in at 7:04. Perfect. Still uncomfortable, but it would get better and faster, right? We looped back nearly past the race start and people were gathered by the course to cheer. Clark was taking pics, but I could only smile and nod. 5ks are not the race distance where the runner can shout greetings and salutations or swing over for a high-five. But it’s always great for an extra boost to hear a friendly voice when you’re struggling to breathe and feeling the Grim Reaper of Lactic Acid clawing at your calf muscles.
There was this little kid whom I fell into step with just before we hit the spectator section. He was gritty. He was fast. He also kept surging, falling, surging, falling. Probably 5-6 times. Surge ahead with an impressive kick, then slow down. I’d reel him in slowly, bearing down behind him, and he’d keep glancing over his shoulder. I’d pass him. Within 30 seconds of being passed, here he comes again, steaming around me with his legs churning, face red and breathing loudly. Ughhh, I wanted to put him behind me… but at the same time, I admired the crap out of his fortitude. Lots of little kids, you pass them once and they shrivel up like worms on a hot sidewalk. Not this one.
Mile 2: 7:05. CRUD. It was just one second slower, but I was not feeling better. And the hardest part was coming up ahead, where the turnaround takes you back to the course. Into any wind coming off the Lake, and a slight uphill. It’s mentally the worst stretch of any race here on PI; that .5 mile section always gets me in the grumpies like OOOOOOF, KILL ME NOW!
Every step was now a cruel reminder of why I love/hate 5ks (all hate at the moment) and how I haven’t been training to race 5ks. But, I was still managing to pass people. I passed at least 6 women on the course, and probably just as many dudes.
And that’s the story, all the way to the finish. Pain… slowing slightly (Mile 3 was 7:09, grrrrr)... and THAT DARN KID!!!!!! I mustered up a little bit of kick to the finish with a 6:15 pace for the final .16. I’d seen the clock from a distance coming into the final turn, saw the 22:xx and knew my goal of sub-22 wasn’t happening. Oh well. I focused on pushing to the finish line. My legs and lungs were screaming in perfect-pitch unison, my head was throbbing with every step, and I was only vaguely aware of Clark, a red blur standing at the side of the course, yelling ‘something-something PEEEEEEEG!’
22:13. Not my fastest 5k. But still, my 4th fastest (21:35, 21:46, and 21:52 were my faster ones) out of the 24 5ks I’ve completed, so there’s that, I guess. Along with 31st place overall (of 332 participants), 5th female, and 1st (of 21 total) in the 35-39 AG.
Oh, and that kid beat me! By a few seconds. What a little turd trooper!
My head stopped throbbing and my eyes refocused through the pain fog to see Clark waiting patiently, still carrying the gym bag full of all our stuff. I had a brief moment of panic… how the heck am I going to be able to pace this guy to a sub-50 in 30 minutes when my legs feel like jello right now? But after some water and sitting down to catch a breath, things returned to more manageable and runnable state. It was racetime soon! AGAIN! YAY (this was MY first time doing a double, btw)!
For Clark, almost go-time for his first race EVER!
He left to do his warmup and visit the restroom and I chatted with more local running friends that were popping out of the woodwork to run the 10k.
We joined the crowd at the race start. I was so excited to get rolling. A little nervous about my pacing duties. Jittery. Probably more so than Clark, who was calmly watching the crowd and stretching and helping me out of my warm-up sweatshirt because I was shivering uncontrollably from the chill of sweating and standing in the barely-30 degree temps. I usually like to help undress, he joked impishly, and our laughter cut the race nerves down right where they were standing. Our plan was set, our splits were in my head, and our goal of sub-50 hung there in front of us like a carrot. I had faith in Clark, he was putting his faith in me, and this was a team effort. Then we were lining up, we were on our marks, we were OFF!
For not having felt very good during the 5k, my legs were fine now! Huh. Maybe I should run a 5k warmup before actually running a 5k? However, it also helped that I was running a minute per mile slower than I was for the 5k. Definitely less painful.
People were shooting past us like torpedoes, but I held back. I could tell Clark was itching to run, with the typical eagerness of a first time racer. Slow down, I said. We’re running 7:30s…
2 minutes later: Slow down… we’re still running 7:30s! It was an effort to slow down. Which is a good thing.
Less than a mile in, we were coming up behind a running friend, Juliann. I knew approximately what her goal pace was and I knew she was a very consistent runner. We would hang with her for awhile.
Mile 1: 8:07. A little faster than our intended 8:15, but I could tell Clark was completely relaxed with the pace. He hung off my shoulder, occasionally switching sides.
Mile 2: Another 8:07. Still feeling good, or at least I was. Clark said he was too. I kept asking, checking. He had a relaxed stride, even breathing, and was inquiring about splits at the mile markers. Good. We came up behind Brianne, another running friend. She had told us before the race that we would probably catch her, first time runner or not, so now she glanced over and said “Told YA!” She’s a triathlete, so if this were a swimming or biking race we’re be left in the dust. We also passed Karen, my running friend who is the RD of my favorite spring 5k.
The first turnaround, and Mile 3: 8:00 flat. A little ahead of schedule, but good. Then I sensed Clark, restless, chomping at the bit. He pulled up beside me. “What was that mile? Are we picking it up now?” I chuckled inwardly. We’re not even halfway… there’s a lot of race left, I told him. Patience was really important right now. He listened, fell into step. I was tempted to let him loose, just to see what would happen but nope… we all know how those end. It was important to me that his first race be a positive one, not one where he falls apart at Mile 5.5 because the pacer took him out too fast. Julianne was still ahead, keeping her consistent pace at a nearly-8:00 pace.
Clark was relaxed, even chatting now and then. The runners, the pace, the views of Presque Isle… Frankly, I’d expected him to have to start working a little harder a little sooner than he did. I was still holding him back a little, though, so I was relieved when he kept talking. It meant he was relaxed. I was having a blast. No pressure on me, except to maintain this pace, which felt pretty good. Yes, my legs were tired, but not race-pain-tired. It felt good to be out here, doing what I loved, with friends, soaking in the camaraderie, the competition, the friendly support and banter. I have missed racing so much!
Mile 4: 7:46. Almost sub-consciously, I’d picked up the pace and started bearing down just a little. It was race time. Hard work time. Pain time. This was where Clark could test himself. I tried to stay aware of his body language. Was he breathing too hard? Was his stride faltering? Was he fading? But no, there he was, glued to my shoulder, a few paces behind. As I took the seconds down, he matched the pace. No whining, no complaining. He stopped talking, mostly, and I could sense that he was pushing now. But not faltering a smidge. My legs were not getting happier, though. That 22 minute 5k was yelling at me.
Then he said it: “Boy, I’m glad I was able to poop this morning!”
I laughed aloud. It was the best, funniest, most fitting thing I’d heard all morning. We have a real runner here, folks. Talking about poop as naturally and comfortably as a non-runner talks about his morning coffee. Next up: nipple chafing. Yes, we need to have The Talk about that, heading into longer races. There is no limit to the interesting conversations when you’re a runner.
Mile 5: 7:34. I was in slight disbelief that we were this far in the race and already dropping so far below our 8:00 flat goal. I knew now that we had it in the bag… but I was going to bring it as far under 50 minutes as I could! I picked up the pace. We passed Juliann; her clockwork pacing no longer satisfactory. We thundered past a couple more people. We’ve got this, I told Clark. It was obvious by now that he was pushing, working. It was starting to hurt.
Mile 5.5: I was glancing down and seeing 7:20s. I was in full-on race mode. Clark asked, his voice raspy, what we were running. I told him. 7:20s. We’re ahead of schedule. Don’t think about it. Just focus on me, follow me. I’ll take you in.
We got to the little turnaround, heading into the nasty grind of KILL ME NOW. Except it seemed shorter this time, mostly because I was focusing on running as fast/hard as I could without losing Clark… steady, steady… keep him controlled. He was breathing hard now, hurting, I could hear the effort in every intake. I could see the pain creeping into his face. But he never complained or let up, and he kept his stride smooth. I was so stinkin proud of him. Hang in there, you’ve got this.
Mile 6: 7:25. We rounded the corner into the final .2. I picked up the pace another notch; we were nearly sub-7 now. Heck, I was hurting now! Clark was tight behind me, giving it his all. Then we could see the clock, the homestretch. I started yelling. THERE IT IS, WE’VE GOT IT, CLARK, C’MON, GOOOOO! KICK IT!!!
And kick he did. He burst into some overdrive craziness and was matching my sprint, stride for stride, almost overtaking me. Uh, nope, not so quick, buddy, so I answered with a surge that overtook him again. He fired back, losing all abandonment and kicking past me. I yelled, “HEY, YOU IDIOT!!!” (in fun, of course!), then remembered that I am, after all, the pacer, slowed up, finished the race laughing… 2 seconds behind him… as he fist-pumped and grinned victoriously. Is that the well-deserved euphoria of a first time race finisher or WHAT?!
48:32 official time. 7:50 average pace, 10 seconds per mile faster than our goal. And for a brand new runner… only 170 total miles since Clark began running a couple of months ago! Also, another 1st place 35-39 AG win for me. And just about the prettiest mile splits you'll ever see.
I can’t even describe how I felt as it hit me that we had just smashed the sub-50 goal by nearly a minute and a half! I gave Clark a few seconds; he was bent over with his hands on his knees. Then he stood up, painfully, and turned to face me, holding his arms out for a celebratory hug, a mixture of exhaustion and elation on his face. This was my first experience with pacing someone I’d coached/trained, and there in that moment, both of us smiling, laughing, sweating, trembling a little with the cold and the pure, hard shot of adrenaline, our pulses still thudding with the effort of that last sprint: it made every minute and every mile of training so worth it. That very first 2 mile run we ran, in frigid temps and snow...The circles around the community park...The speed sessions on the treadmill...The 8 mile long run at the peninsula...The good runs, the crappy runs...The times we ran for speed and the times we ran to get life and complexities and difficult things off our chest. I felt tears prickle at my eyelids… “You’re making me cry a little”, I muttered, and Clark chuckled. I was/am so incredibly proud of him!
This is where it’s at, guys. Running, racing, and then sharing it with others and knowing you brought another person into this fellowship. It was one of the top 5 proudest, most satisfying moments I’ve experienced as a runner. Bringing someone along from first run to first race, to this magical place called The Finish Line. Where you lose yourself in the pain and then find yourself again in the joy. Where problems disappear, life gets put on pause, and a little nirvana opens up. Where you feel just about as alive and free as you’ll ever feel. You fall in love with it, hate to leave it, and keep coming back for more.
For Clark, the more is already in motion. We’re training for a spring half marathon.
Winter running can be hard. It's frigid outside, the days are short (plus we all know any given temperature feels colder in the dark!), and races are far and few between. Then there are also the ice and snow factors! I run outdoors as long as the roads are safe, no matter how cold it is. In Missouri we rarely get below -10* for our lows, so it's nowhere as extreme as Northerners have it, but it's still quite cold! I start nearly all of my weekday runs at 5:30 a.m., so I am usually running in the coldest part of the day. It's rare I can tell you the forecasted highs, but I always know what overnight lows to expect for the upcoming week (this is the case year-round though)!
Just -1*/feels like -8*
My biggest reason for staying outdoors is because I enjoy it much more than treadmill running, but I also got injured from running on the treadmill at the beginning of 2016, so I have since completely refused to run on it. This winter if it becomes unsafe to run outdoors I will either run on my YMCA's indoor 1/7 mile track or cross-train instead of risking the treadmill. Thus far I've been outside every day, and since I only have a week until the Houston Marathon I feel like I've pretty much made it, since the worst weather we get should fall within my marathon recovery phase.
My best cold weather attire
Out of necessity, I've learned a thing or two about cold weather running gear. All tights are not created equal! Glove and mittens - also not equal! I could go on, but you get the picture.
My top winter weather gear picks are pictured above. I have no affiliation with any of these companies, but am just trying to help out fellow winter weather warriors. They include:
Nike Fit Dry fleece-line turtleneck. Truth be told, I've been wearing this every single day since it's been single digits or below zero out! I've had it since 2009, so it's clearly also very durable, considering I do the same thing every cold winter as far as wearing it every day. Nike doesn't make this top anymore or I would buy another! It's warm enough by itself down to about 5-10*, and colder than that I add a jacket.
Mizuno Breath Thermo tights. These are the only tights that keep my legs warm enough when it's under about 20*. I am comfortable in them alone down to about -5*, and colder than that I'll add a pair of long underwear under them or tapered warm-up pants on top of them.
Newzill compression socks. These are thicker than any other sock brand I own, and I don't even have to double layer with them.
Mittens: I have a pair of little girls XL Champion brand ski mittens from Target that I found on clearance, and my hands often even get hot in them. This is major because in any other mittens I have, my hands freeze when it's under 10* or so (gloves are far worse!), and painfully cold hands used to be my limiting factor on running outside in the stupid cold. You can add single use hand-warmers to gloves/mittens, but with these I haven't needed those yet (tested down to -8*)!
Balaclava. I have two really good ones, but I don't know where I got either of them or what brands they are....but cover your face!
Screw shoes (for snow). Put several screws into the soles of an old pair of running shoes, and you have traction! There are also shoes made for snow running that I'm sure are worth the investment if you live somewhere that gets a lot of snow that sticks around (here in Missouri it typically doesn't because our weather is so bipolar).
My other winter running tips are:
Use single use hand warmers and foot warmers if your extremities get cold, especially on long runs.
Get dressed with a space heater in your bathroom. It's really hard to get out on the cold if you're already cold in your house! You can also toss your running clothes in the dryer for 5 minutes before putting them on so they are nice and toasty.
Warm up before you got out. I do some planks, glute activation, and/or plyometrics indoors before going out into the cold. I get to the point where I am too hot (but not yet sweating) in all of my winter gear so I'm dying to get out of my heated house.
Run into the wind first and come back with it behind you. There is nothing worse than getting several miles out and being nice and sweaty, then turning back into the bitter wind.
Even better than #4, if it's windy and this is possible, have someone drive you out the distance you plan to run, then run back with the wind behind you. This makes a HUGE difference on very windy days, when the windchill may be 20* colder than the air temperature.
Wear fabrics that keep you warm with your own body heat and sweat. I find that I'm either drenched in sweat under my gear or too cold; there is no in between. I have no problem being drenched in sweat as long as I'm not cold from it, and the gear shown above does the trick for me on that.
Change out of your sweaty gear as soon as possible when you finish - it gets cold quick! A warm drink right after running is a great way to re-hydrate and warm back up.
Don't be afraid to move workouts around. I hate this just as much as (or more than!) anyone else, but it's worth it to do your tempo a day early or a day late if the temperature difference is going to be 20*! I ran a key tempo a day early last winter because it was around 30* in the morning, and the day the tempo was actually scheduled was going to be around 5*. Although my legs weren't quite as recovered from my long run as they ideally would have been, I still have no doubt I performed much better than I would have at 5*! Switching long runs back and forth between Saturday and Sunday is also a possibility I leave open if one day is going to be a lot warmer. Here is Missouri we have extreme weather changes often, so I try to arrange my runs accordingly.
Run at lunch from work if you can. I can usually get in 4-5 miles pretty easily at lunch if I plan ahead, and more than that is a trick but can be done occasionally if I really plan ahead. I know that not everyone has this flexibility, but if you do, take advantage of it to run in the sunlight and warmer temps.
Split up mileage into two runs. It's not ideal to do this all of the time, but occasionally if it's just too cold to be out for more than a half hour or so, run two 4 milers instead of one 8 miler, for example. If you're okay with the treadmill you can also do part of your run outside and the rest on the treadmill; I recommend starting outside and finishing on the treadmill due to the sweat factor if you do this.
Don't stress about pace. I run my easy runs by feel and have noticed that when it's very cold they are 20-30 seconds/mile slower. When it's extremely cold our bodies make adjustments, and we won't run as fast because of this...not to mention we are wearing 15 lbs of clothing! This is really hard for me to accept, but it's just like running in heat/humidity in that we won't be as fast, but the effort and benefit is there.
Accept that something is better than nothing. This is also hard for me, but if, for example, you're scheduled for 10 miles and only run 5 due to it being too cold to stay out for longer, you did 5 miles more than 0! Give yourself grace on your training this time of year.
Finally, if all else fails, move south! My husband and I definitely plan on retiring south. But seriously, remember that in just 6 months we will be complaining about the heat and humidity...at least I know I will!
What did I miss? What cold weather running tips do you have to share?
I'm now registered for my 3rd Wings for Life run which is on May 6th. Those who were on that previous site we don't mention may recall my attempt to describe this unique event last year (and my race summary) but if not here's a link (Wing For Life). Basically at the same time around the world everyone starts running and tries to stay ahead of the "catcher cars". The cars start a half hour later, moving at the same time & pace around the world. Once the cars pass you, your race is finished. Essentially the finish line catches you! Here in Melbourne we start at 9pm and follow a motorway so we end up looking like this:
So here's my challenge (and let me preface by saying I have no affiliation with the organizers or the charity) you can take on this little Aussie battler because you can do this race anywhere in the world. For example whilst the official race sites in the US are limited you can do your own race anywhere you like using their Apple/Android app. Plus you'll also be racing against hundreds of thousands across the globe at the same time. The other cool thing I like about this race (apart from being a good cause) is the sponsor(s) put up all the cost so 100% of any entry/fundraising goes to the charity (spinal cord research). If not you can always watch the live webcast & be amazed at how far some of these freak runners get.
"Biggest sandbag job of all time?" -NavEng, posted to my Strava feed, 10/2/17.
I suppose I deserved that. Two days prior to the race I posted a rant in Loopville about injuring my back and complained that I didn't think I could run the race. A quick recap in case you missed that: After the best training cycle to date I was down to the last 5 days before the marathon. Everything was pointing to a huge PR. (Even bigger than the expected PR in Philly... Before the weather gods dealt us the windstorm from hell.) But then there was this sudden sharp pain and tightness in my low back upon pushing up and out of the car on a hill with a file in my lap. I could hardly walk by the time the elevator arrived on my floor. My dreams of a Wineglass PR, or even finishing, seemed to disappear in those few seconds climbing out of the car. A PT pushed, pulled, twisted, kneeded and raked those tight muscles until I could walk. She also had me change my form slightly to take some pressure off the tight area. Still, it seemed that running Wineglass wouldn't happen.
Or maybe it would? After a successful test run Friday evening (and a very large Margarita) it was decided that a DNF would be better than a DNS, so clothes were packed and on Saturday morning I was off on the long car ride to Corning, NY for the Wineglass Marathon. KRG, Peg, J-Zee and I met up at the expo. From there Peg drove KRG and I to a restaurant in Corning where we gorged on pasta while catching up and making plans for the next morning. After dinner we enjoyed ice cream. You can do that all this without guild when you're planning to burn 3,000 calories at the crack of dawn.
The alarm went off at 4:00 AM. Not sure why I even set it since sleep was elusive, at best. After instant oatmeal and juice I met Peg and KRG in the lobby. We drove a few miles to Corning and were safely in a parking garage with minimal delay. After parking and peeing we boarded a bus for the starting line 26.2 miles away. Not quite the same as Dave driving us to the corrals in Philly, but we made it, peed again and were directed into the warming tent. We passed the time by goofing around and taking selfies while waiting for Hot Pink Sneakers and J-Zee to arrive.
After J-Zee and HPS arrived.
We talked about goals. Mine had gone from a 9:10/mile (4:00) to "just take it easy and finish without aggravating my back." Then we noticed that speedo man was holding a 4:20 sign. He was a pacer. I had no choice but to change the goal to "stay in front of that guy." Soon it was time to pee one last time and check our bags.
It was cold and foggy when we lined up behind the starting line. I had decided to take it easy through the first half and see how my back felt after that. If everything felt loose I would pick up the pace. I lined up with the 9:30/mile pacer since that would keep me just in front of speedo pacer man. After the National Anthem and some announcements the gun sounded and we were off. Apparently 9:30 was a popular pace group. We were packed in very tight for the first 6 miles. Everything felt good. The back was loose. For a while I was running with a woman who was running her 100th marathon. Yes, 100 marathons. So impressive. But, that isn't the most impressive part of her story. Prepare to have your mind blown. This was her 100th marathon in 5 years and only 3 were in her first year of running marathons. She ran 97 marathons in 4 years! Absolutely amazing.
The 9:30 pace group reached the halfway point at 2:06 and I had no back complaints so I picked up the pace. My back didn't bother me unless I let my posture relax or if I twisted to the left. No problem because the lane was closed so there was no need to twist left and watch for traffic. The course is a net down hill, but it was still hilly in between. There was another hill at around the 19 mile mark, which is never appreciated at that point in a marathon. I was tired and starting to drag by mile 22. The slight posture change helped avoid back pain, but it's tiring to try to hold a different form than you're used to. My hamstrings were tired and close to cramping up. By now the sun was high in the sky and it was hot. I drank water at every water stop after 20 miles and also walked 30 steps at each water stop, hoping that would keep any hamstring cramps away.
Finally, we turned the corner onto Market Street and the finish line. I was the last of our group to finish. The official time was 4:07. A new PR. After staggering through the chute and chugging chocolate milk and water, J-Zee led me to the others where I learned we were 6 for 6 with new PR races. Here we are celebrating:
The race was well run and the free stuff was nice.
Eventually we made or way back to the hotel and then home. These weekends are always over way too fast. I miss everyone and can't wait to do it all over again.
His name was Otto Lam and he was yelling every 5-6 steps. “Go, Go, GOOOOO…. PASS ME… YOU HAVE TO GO FOR IT… DON’T STOP…. RUN FASTER… GET AWAY FROM ME.”
He was the 3:40 pacer, and he was 10 steps ahead of me and he was running a solid 8:20 pace. The sign he carried had a world of significance for me. Let it get out of sight and my dream of qualifying for Boston was gone. I was 1.5 miles from the finish and I had been falling apart for the last 5 miles. I could not believe this was happening. Not only was I not going to qualify- again- I was going to have the pain of watching the golden unicorn gallop past me in the homestretch.
Bangle had put the thought in my head the year I started running, 2012, at the Marshall University half marathon. It was my first half. “You’ll be qualifying for Boston before you know it” he said.
When I went on to complete my first marathon in 2013, it was all I thought about when I thought about running from that day forward. Getting that ticket. Hitting the benchmark. A dream was born.
Of course, back then the qualifying time for me was 3:35. So I set my sights on it, Somehow I thought that it wouldn’t be the hardest thing in the world. After all, it was only 11 minutes less than my first marathon time of 3:46.
It wasn’t the hardest thing in the world, but it was hard. In 2014, my troubles with the marathon started. Here’s a timeline, for some of you who may not be familiar with my ill-fated history that I’ve been told is like a Greek tragedy of running tales.
Fall, 2013. Ran first marathon. Set my sights on a BQ in 2014 for BOS2015.
Spring, 2014: Two weeks after beginning marathon training, acquired a Hamstring tear(??). Benched for 9 months. Lost ALL fitness (and I mean all…). DNSed Erie Marathon and Marshall University Marathon.
Winter, 2014. Started running again, very slowly. Eventually came back to 5ks, 10ks, and a half marathon.
Summer/Fall, 2015. Trained for Marshall University Marathon, again. Had a great training cycle. Ran a 1:39 half 3 weeks before race day. At 2.5 weeks out, injured my IT band on a routine easy run. Tried to run Marshall anyway, dropped at Mile 11 when I could no longer walk. Devastated.
Winter, 2015. Injured. Had a January birthday that gave me 5 more minutes for BOS2018, moving the barrier to a sub-3:40.
Spring, 2016. Started running again, with the sights on a fall BQ at Wineglass. Did some tris and duathlons, ran races.
Summer, 2016:. Had a strong marathon training cycle until August, when I dislocated my cuboid (it’s a bone on your foot, I didn’t know I had one, either) during a trail Ragnar relay. Was out for about 5 weeks, the most important 5 weeks of marathon training. Made the decision to defer Wineglass to 2017, and go for the later marathon at Philly.
Fall, 2016. Made it to Philadelphia Marathon. Race day dawned with some of the worst running weather imaginable… a 30 degree drop in temps, 25 mph wind at the start gusting to 50 mph at the finish. Made it to Mile 18 before I crashed and burned to a 3:56 finish, more than 20 minutes slower than my goal.
Winter/Spring, 2017. Nursed a mild case of peroneal tendonitis before firing things up again, this time for a spring BQ at the Glass City Marathon in Toledo. Started working a new job a couple of months before Glass City, caught the mother of all plagues and was sick for a month. Lost 4 weeks of running, plus my body was completely run down for about 6 weeks. Dropped to the half at Glass City.
Summer, 2017. Trained for a BQ at Erie. DNFed by Mile 13 at Erie after inexplicably straining my IT band.
Sept/October, 2017. Ran very little, between Erie’s taper and getting the IT band healed.
October 1, 2017. BQed at Wineglass.
Except I came to Corning with low and daily plummeting expectations. I had run less/tapered more than recommended in the final weeks leading up to Erie, but tried to tell myself that the rest would help. Then Erie happened… the bizarre muscle strain, the DNF, trying to regroup and get my head back in the game. I ran little between Erie and Wineglass; my only quality workout was one 16 mile long run. So I was running Wineglass after basically a 5-6 week taper. NOT optimally trained at all.
I left my house Friday evening to drive up to Corning, about 2 hours and 50 minutes due east. It’s a pretty drive- nothing but scenic countryside and little villages tucked into calendar-picture backdrops- and the weather was perfect. After arriving, I met up with Liz (KRG) at our podunk little hotel room that we snagged last minute when other lodging plans fell through… and were extremely lucky to get! We heard that Caitlin (Hot Pink Sneakers) was already in town with her parents, so we arranged to meet at a nearby Applebees for drinks. Before we got there, though, we had some interesting interaction with a lonely and obviously “seeking” pipeline worker from Tennessee who was 2 rooms down from us… and was toting a 10 week old puppy. His puppy ploy did not work on us as we announced our plans to meet up with friends and hastily exited.
I started the race weekend and Loopfest with a margarita. YOLO!
We are the Comeback Queens!!
And I was starving so I had steak quesadillas and they were divine. One thing I did well in the 2-3 days leading up to this marathon: eating!
Back at our hotel, Liz and I caught up with each others’ news before calling it a night. I slept long and well, which was a huge plus seeing as I don’t sleep well the night before the race. I’m all about banking sleep 2 nights out.
Caitlin, Liz and I had a shakeout run planned for Saturday morning, so we met up at 8:00am for that. It was drizzling and a little chilly. Perfect for running!
The next day was a fun succession of activities, friends, and food. Brunch at a local diner, packet pickup, touring the glass museum, getting souvenirs for my kids, seeing more running friends who were arriving into town. We even got in some artsy wine glass designing...
Eventually we ended up back in Corning for a delicious pasta dinner at an Italian restaurant. And a glimpse of the next day’s finish line. What a beautiful town and street… just charming and pretty. I felt my heart thud with anticipation looking at it. Would I sweep beneath that banner in triumph or defeat? It’s the gamble of the marathon.
Back to the hotel room for (hopefully) some pre-race shut-eye... Liz is a great sleeper and was off to dreamland in no time. I, however, was awake and tossing. I distracted myself by texting my husband and a couple of friends, which helped until about midnight when I started getting sleepy.
Race morning! Ughhhhh. I don’t bounce out of bed happy and excited on race day. The butterflies are gnawing, the nerves are rattling, frankly, I’m kind of a mess. I choked down a banana, some cookies, and started sipping Gatorade.
The bus ride to Bath was calming. Even more so was the location the race starts in. We were just up the road from a farm surrounded by rolling farmland, cow pastures, and trees. Upon arrival, Liz and I were relieved to see a huge white tent set up with signs and announcers telling us to go inside to stay warm. It was just under 40 degrees at about 6:30am. There were heaters being blown into the tent and 100 yards away was a long row of porta potties so everything was easy and convenient. Huddle in the tent, hop out to use the porta-potties, hop back in and warm up again. Our group started dropping in one by one… John P (slow running) Jonathan (J-Zee), Caitlin. We took some group selfies to commemorate the occasion.
The arrival of the 4:20 pacer caused a bit of a stir. Young skinny fellow with normal running gear on top… and nothing but a Speedo from the waist down! I guess he was really committed to distracting and motivating his pace group. He promptly found a spot near the middle of the tent, jovially chatting and seeming to thoroughly enjoy seeing everybody trying hard to, you know… pretend we don’t see. On one of my porta potty trips I happened to pass just behind him as he was exiting the tent… one poor lady who was sitting down was staring off into space when Speedo guy passed directly in front of her, squeezing through a narrow space between the lady’s face and another person’s backside. She suddenly realized that his um… package… swathed in Lycra/spandex was maybe 6 inches?? from her face. I had to put a hand to my mouth to suppress a giggle at the look on her face as her eyes widened and she recoiled. Like, whattheheckdidIjustseeOHMYGOD. Yes, ma’am, we’re all thinking that.
The minutes ticked down and suddenly it was time to toss checked bags into the trucks (again, so organized and easy!) and amble to the start. We exchanged hugs and good luck with everyone as we headed to our respective pace groups. I found a spot by the 3:35 pacer and shed my throwaways. The 40 degree air felt crisp… the sun was partly hidden by a thick cloud of fog hanging over the rural countryside…hardly any wind… perfect fall day to run!!
So we ran!
My goal for the first 10 miles was to keep things easy. The best way to do that, I figured, was to stick to the pacer. I was behind him like glue for about 5 miles. He chatted with some of the group, so I listened to that. Everything felt good. Easy. Not much effort. Just right. There was a hill just before Mile 6, but not a bad one, and I took a gel thereafter to put some more zip in my system. Not a complaint from the IT band. Not a complaint from anywhere! I was gradually pulling away from the 3:35 pacer and by Mile 7-8 I had lost him a good half mile behind me. Still reeling in mostly 8:00-8:10s.
Feeling OSOM and cheesing for the photographer...
Continuing on, miles 7-14 were my fastest of the race, all between 7:58 and 8:10 pace. They still felt easy. I was in a good, good place. By now I knew that my IT band was not going to give me a repeat of Erie, at least not nearly as quickly, since Erie already had me feeling pain by Mile 9.
Although some people don’t like a race course that is fairly quiet and isolated, I am a country girl… green grass and trees and mountains give me peace. I absolutely loved this course. There were animals in pastures and stately farmhouses and the smell of earth in the air. High rolling hills or baby mountains behind the picturesque tableaus, still covered in the fog gave it an ethereal feeling. Every few miles we would enter a quaint little town or village, and it would be a nice pick-me-up to have spectators. There were kids high-fiving and people sitting on their front porches. At one church we passed, the parishioners and clergy came out to cheer as a group, dressed in their robes and church finery… wearing out their voices for us before even beginning singing and praying! One barnyard had about a dozen people spectating… they had set up tables with coffee and a variety of snacks, and were holding out plates of cookies for the runners. I didn’t see anyone taking any cookies or coffee, but I figured if they’d done this before they knew they’d get plenty of love from the later runners who were more about the experience than losing a few precious minutes at a snack table. For just a second, I wished I was one of those today… I wanted a cookie!! Eyes on the prize, Peg… cookies afterward.
There were lots of wine references in the handmade signs spectators were holding. “Pain Now, Wine Later” “Hurry up, there’s wine at the finish line” “Just get to the finish wine”. The wine theme is, hands down, one of my favorite things about this event. I got the sense throughout the whole weekend that the areas the race runs through, and Corning, especially, are very proud of their reputation with this race. Everywhere we went, folks were accommodating, friendly, and intent on making a good impression.
Mile 15-17 8:07, 8:06, 8:08. I was so happy! Being in such beautiful surroundings, feeling good, doing something I love. I was also getting excited that everything had gone well up to this point and envisioning finishing well. I was in single digits going home, the majority was behind me. At the same time, oof… 9 miles is a long way.
And then, bam. In a big way. I suddenly felt fatigue creep in, and not just a little. I needed another gel, so I decided to slow down a little, walk through the water stop, assess how I feel, etc. This is the point where, if everything went perfectly, I hoped to pick things up a little bit. I don’t know if taking a little moment killed my momentum or if it just happened that the miles were taking their toll on my legs after so much time off from running. But I went from feeling amazing to feeling like crud. I became very aware of a dull ache in my hip, up where the IT band attaches to the bone… the spot that had been sore ever since Erie.
Knowing I was still way ahead of the 3:35 group and on 3:32-3:33 pace, I gave myself permission to just scale back a bit. Take a mile or two and breathe. Walk through the water stop, drink plenty.
Mile 18-19: 8:27, 8:22. Nope. Not getting better. In fact, the hip pain was now traveling down my leg to my knee, the one that had been all the trouble at Erie.
Mile 20: 8:41. I was taking walk breaks.
Mile 21-22: 9:02, 9:04. Full on bonk and pain and hurting everywhere from the waist down and having my energy drained away like water in sand.
Somewhere in here the 3:35 pacer passed me. I tried to glue myself to them, maybe I could just pull together enough to stick with them? But the steady 8:12 pace was too much and I fell back.
Mile 23: 9:11. I was sick at heart. Mentally and physically done. Every now and then I tried to kick up the pace and hold on to something in the 8s, but when I did my heart rate would soar up to 180-185 (which is 5k effort for me), pain would take over, I’d be a hyperventilating mess and have to walk. Run… die… walk… recover… run… die…walk... RINSE. REPEAT.
Mile 24: 9:15. It’s over, I thought. My knee and hip is killing me with every step and I am bonking. I’m lucky to finish with a 10:00 minute pace and maybe a tiny PR? I’d banked enough time that a PR was still going to happen. But I didn’t come here for a PR, I came for sub-3:40!
Mile 24.5. Where I had The Moment. You know how when something high-stress or particularly intense triggers all kinds of crazy in you and you break down and maybe cry and go into a place so dark it feels like you will suffocate… it only lasts a few minutes… and then you snap out of it and are like, “sorry, wow, I just really had a moment there.” ?? Well, that was me. I heard the 3:40 pace group in the distance. I took off running, hoping I could get back into some momentum. Instead, I fell apart a little. I swore, I started crying, I prayed, I just HAD A MOMENT. Now the darn 3:40 pacer was coming up alongside of me as I was run-limping off to the side. I glared out of the corner of my eye, sobbing quietly under my breath, my brain a fog of defeat and pain. I couldn’t do any math anymore, so I had no idea where I would finish. All I knew is that the number on that sign was the barrier. The bridge. The dividing line between what is and what could have been.
You can’t be doing this!!!! You CANNOT LET IT GET AWAY. Peg, you are an idiot. No matter how much pain you are in, no matter how little energy you have, this is a choice you have to make.
Faces and names started flooding my mind, breaking through the fog of negativity. The people who had been texting, calling, talking to me in the days and weeks leading up to this race… sending me their positive energy, their prayers, their wishes, their love for my race. My running friends in Erie. All you people on the Loop. My husband, who has been my most faithful fan and wanted this for me badly. A couple of non-running friends I’m close to who have been amazing in supporting my crazy hobby even if they don’t fully understand it. Looking back, I feel like God put those people in my mind to carry me through the final stretch. It was as if all their collective voices were in my head saying, “Peg, don’t let us down now… don’t let yourself down.”
And Otto Lam, the 3:40 pacer! Bless his heart, he was yelling and trying to get his flagging, tired group of about 3 runners to stay with him. PASS ME, PASS ME! He bellowed. GO GET IT, YOU PEOPLE! DO NOT FALL BEHIND ME! LEAVE ME! PICK IT UUUUUUUUUP!!! Seriously, it was like a nightmare in which Roger (ocean101), Loop pacer/sadist extraordinaire, suddenly became Asian and developed the ability to project his voice to about 3 times its current volume. Then you would have Otto, the bellowing 3:40 pacer of the Wineglass Marathon.
I snapped out of my moment, thanks to Loud Otto and the mirage I just had of all the people I loved and envisioned urging me on. Whatever pain I was feeling and whatever energy I was not feeling… it would not compare to the pain if I let that 3:40 slip away and finish just seconds or minutes behind it. Seriously, in that moment… though I know that’s overly dramatic, but c’mon, I was an emotional mess at this point, melodrama is inevitable… my thought was that I would not be able to live with myself coming so close and failing. Gathering myself together, I prayed one last time to be able to bear the pain, to not pass out, to not fall down or end up in an ambulance (I’m fine with a hospital right afterward, Lord, just let me finish first). Then I dug deeper than I ever have before and started running.
By now, I was at 24.75. The Moment had lasted a quarter mile. I never stopped again for the next 1.5 miles. I closed the gap between myself and Bellowing Otto. He screamed at me to pass him and I did. I was gritting my teeth, breathing hard, feeling stabs of excruciating pain on my left side with every step. Along with, you know, everything else that hurts in the last miles of a marathon. All I thought was YOU WANT THIS, YOU WiLL GET THIS, YOU WILL NOT LET THE MARATHON CURSE STRIKE AGAIN.
And you can finally make the people who believe in you proud.
Mile 25: 8:38.
As the next mile started, I didn’t know if I could hang on. I knew I wouldn’t stop on my own will, but I wasn’t sure that I would not pass out or collapse from exhaustion. Well, so what, at least then I’d know I tried and died with my boots- er, running shoes- on…
Hardest mile of my life, though. I’ve had painful sprints to the finish, lots of them. In 5ks, halves, etc. But none that carried this combination of fatigue and pain and desperation. And none that lasted for an entire mile and a half. I could still hear Otto yelling for a little bit and I was scared that maybe I was not running as fast as I felt I was. I could not bring myself to look at my watch. Maybe he would still catch me? Maybe I wasn’t even close to coming under 3:40?? Refuse to feel anything physical right now, I told myself. Stay in your mind. Just RUN.
Then there was a mean little bridge, just before turning into the final homestretch. It hurt. Which is probably why they put a photographer there. Sadists.
After what seemed like an eternity, I reached the final turn. I couldn’t hear Otto anymore. But I could see the finish line. The entire length of the street was lined with people. There was music and sunshine and flowers everywhere… the most beautiful finish line ever. Adrenaline, just about the purest, hardest shot of it I’ve ever had, kicked in and my mind kept screaming that I am DOING IT! My face kept wanting to crumple with the emotion I felt about doing it and it was hard not to bawl my eyes out the entire length of the street but dang it, that takes energy and I gotta run! I couldn’t feel my legs anymore, everything seemed kind of hazy and floaty and AMAZING. I didn’t even realize that I went from crying to smiling just before the finish, but the photos prove it:
My eyes never left the arch with the huge FINISH words on it. Except just before crossing when I saw the clock reading 3:38 something. I realized that my long-sought dream of years and miles and sweat and tears was coming true, right here, right now, in this beautiful moment... oh my God, this is real? This is happening?! I threw up my hands in some fashion of a victory salute… it’s ½ Bangle-Pump, ½ my-fist-clenching-my-heart-because-I-am-so-overcome-right-now-that-I-can’t-breathe.
My last mile? 7:49. Desperation, desire, and adrenaline. And joy, for the last 100 yards. So much joy.
I alternated smiling and crying my way through the chute, taking my heat sheet, trying to say Thank You to the volunteer who handed me a medal, hardly able to fathom what happened. My legs completely shut down on me, of course. Normal marathon lock-down plus being unable to bend the right knee thanks to the now livid and throbbing IT band. But I loved that this time, the pain was what brought me to the goal. Not just today’s pain, but all the disappointment, defeat, and injury I’ve accumulated since I started dreaming of qualifying for Boston. Yes, I know it won't be enough of a cushion to get into Boston, but being a Boston Qualifier is something no one can take from me. A huge mental block is lifted from my mind... I know I can do it now, and do it again faster soon to get those 2-3 extra minutes.
4 years. 4,800 miles of running. And here I am.
PS. And a huge shout out to all the OSOM Loopsters who were there… who made the weekend so enjoyable… and who smashed their own races with amazing performances. You all rock. A special thanks to NavEng/Tim who found me in the crowd and was the first Loopster I saw right after finishing (and survived seeing me ugly-cry and babble, it’s a wonder he stuck around to see the rest of us after that). The 6 of us all came into Wineglass with sub-par training and lost fitness because of illness or injury… but we all PRed. It was a great day to be a runner!
TL;DR: Wineglass Marathon was amazing! I ran my most consistent race and got a PR by nearly 6 minutes. Parents and Loopsters made it extra-special. 10/10, would run again.
The parents and I arrived in Corning, NY, late Friday afternoon. We checked into our hotel and met up with Liz and Peg for a drink and bite to eat nearby. It’s always great to catch up with Loopsters, and it was fun for my parents to meet some of the people that I talk about so much. It had been a long day of driving from Massachusetts, so we called it a night pretty early.
Saturday morning started out with a short and fun shakeout run with the Loop ladies:
Later in the day, we went to the Corning Museum of Glass, where the race expo was held. Very cool venue for sure! The expo was surprisingly large for such a small race, and the swag we got was top-notch. High quality half-zip pullover specific to the race distance (which I LOVED! I’m always kind of disappointed when there’s a single shirt for all distances), a wine glass, a split of sparkling wine, and a nice drawstring backpack to put it all in. After the expo, the parents and I visited the museum itself, which was very cool! We saw some contemporary art installations made of glass, as well as some breathtaking glass mosaics made and/or designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
On Saturday evening, the parents and I went to the official pre-race pasta dinner, because securing a dinner reservation in Corning turned out to be way more stressful than I would have expected. So the official dinner seemed like the safest bet, and the menu we saw online was much actually really great-looking! Turns out that this was one of my favorite parts of the whole weekend! I shouldn’t have been surprised, because runners are the best people ever. But our tablemates were completely delightful, and we quickly got into sharing race stories and training experiences and our goals for the next morning. The food was plentiful and delicious, and I tried a couple of new things that worked out amazingly well and might become part of my goal race routine: gluten-free pasta (this one was corn-based) and a baked potato. I picked the corn pasta because it was spaghetti-shaped, while the regular wheat pasta was short (farfalle or something) and I just like long pasta better. But my stomach was noticeably calmer than usual the next morning, so maybe it’s something to consider for future races.
Anyway, the main attraction of the pre-race dinner was the featured speaker: Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray! He was funny, self-deprecating, charming, and inspiring as hell. It was such a great way to get pumped up for the next day’s race, and definitely further stoked my desire to qualify for and run Boston in the near-ish future (more on that eventually. I’m not ready to put my plans down in black and white yet.).
After dinner, we went back to the hotel and got ready for race day! Mom and I got our flat girls ready (she was running her second half- marathon!) and we put ourselves to bed.
The next morning dawned cold and crisp, which was exactly perfectly right for an October race in central NY! But for this pseudo-Southerner used to the never-ending DC summer, it was soooooooo cold!! I just kept telling myself how good it would feel once we got running. Mom and I caught our respective buses to the half- and full- marathon start lines (the half- marathon started at the half-way point of the full course), and I quickly found the other Loopsters once I got to the marathon start line staging area. Another awesome thing about Wineglass: they had a lovely big tent for us to wait in, which got nice and toasty once several hundred runners were packed inside! It was so great to be able to stay warm-ish and sit down on actual chairs while waiting to toe the line.
Eventually it was time to walk over to the start line and get this show on the road! I chucked off my layers of Dad’s old sweatshirts and lined up next to the 3:45 pacer. Most of my training this summer had been done with a 3:40 in mind, but then I hurt my back in August and missed about three of the highest-intensity weeks of the training plan. I’d felt good in the few weeks leading up to the race, but I knew those weeks off had cost me something. I thought that an 8:35 pace seemed reasonable, all things considered, and figured I’d start there and if I had to back off, then so be it. The gun went off and we ran into the misty morning. The fog was pretty thick for almost the first half of the race, and it kept the air quite chilly! I didn’t ditch my gloves or makeshift tube sock arm warmers until at least 10 miles in, which is highly unusual for me. I stuck to the pacer like glue, and to my pleasant surprise, the 8:35ish pace felt practically effortless. After battling the heat and humidity of DC for so many months, feeling cold while running was kind of amazing and definitely made a huge difference in my race.
The course (or at least what we could see of it through the fog) was pretty and quiet and rural. There were small pockets of spectators as we went through small towns, but it was pretty zen overall. I just listened to my music and tried to trust the pacer rather than check my own watch every few minutes. The pace group was pretty big, and several people were chatting steadily as we ran. I tried to tune them out and just keep my breathing steady and not worry about anything more than taking my gels on time.
The pace was still feeling really good at the halfway point, and when the pacer peeled off to use the bathroom I took the opportunity to surge ahead a little bit. I was tired enough that his banter and people’s talking was getting annoying, and I wanted to just run my own race from this point on. I tried to keep my pace as steady as I could just ahead of them. I felt pretty good about the fact that they never passed me after that.
Around Mile 18 or so I really started to drag, and I focused on just getting through the intervals in between gels. I felt so good about how the race had gone thus far, and worked hard to maintain that psychological momentum if not the physical. I didn’t let my pace stray too far above the 8:35 target, and I tried to take it one mile at a time.
Eventually I reached the little bridge that leads into downtown Corning, and there was only one left turn remaining between me and that finish line. I took out my earbuds when I made the turn onto Market Street with about half a mile to go. This would be the greatest number of spectators I’d seen all day and I wanted to soak up the cheering, because I knew that I’d run my butt off for a nice PR!
This was my face when I knew that I was about to finish in 3:45:xx:
Official time: 3:45:21. A PR by 5 minutes and 39 seconds, and my most steady marathon splits ever:
I definitely credit the pace group with keeping me in line during the first half of the race, and enabling me to save up the energy for the second half.
Such an awesome race calls for another Bangle Pump:
I spotted Peg shortly after I finished and got the quick version of her race. After getting some snacks, I found my parents back along Market Street. My mom had finished her race with a 7-minute PR! Then I got to see Liz finish looking crazy fast and strong!
Eventually we got all the Loopsters back together for a group picture. PRs all around!! Wineglass is just that awesome!
I printed out my official results, which I have almost certainly since lost but it was nice to have the record in-hand even briefly.
In another super cool feature, they had these race clocks where you could punch in your bib number and bring up your time for a photo op:
Everything about this race weekend fell into place perfectly. I really can’t recommend it highly enough. I was really worried about how my unplanned time off would affect my fitness. This may not have been exactly the time I’d planned for at the beginning of my training cycle, I really couldn’t be happier with how I felt or how I did once it all came together.
Now that the goal race for the fall is behind me, I’m focusing on having fun! To that end, I leave on Thursday for what will surely be a VERY different New York marathon experience: the New York City Marathon on November 5th!! I can’t wait to get to the city and see all of the craziness of the expo and race pavilion and everything. It’s sure to be an unforgettable race experience.
"We're going to run this whole way" I say to PegLeg. "Yep" she says. "That is so stupid."
We’re on the bus with slow_running on the way to the start. It feels like we've been on the bus forever. How can you go this whole way on foot? Why would you want to?
Earlier I had sat down in PegLeg's car and immediately something was wrong. My ass was cold. No-wet. Why is my ass wet? I felt under me and realize that I sat on the hose of my hydration pack and soaked myself and the seat. This is a perfect metaphor for the lead up to this race.
PegLeg and I are talking about the race and paces and I think she's calming me down. We both have a nervous energy but also a fatalistic sense of calm. Wineglass has been poop theater (trying to keep the new loop family friendly) for everyone. A third of the people cancelled. Those of us who came all had injuries and twinjuries and sickness leading up to it. Our goals were all over the place and came with many asterisks. I'm nervously checking my phone every few minutes to see if HPS has responded.
We make it to the start, make the first of many trips to the POPs and stake out seats in the tent for J-Zee and HPS. I'm worried about her. We were supposed to meet at the buses but we got there insanely early and decided to forge ahead to get seats. She hasn't read our messages and I'm scared she may still be sleeping or something.
Eventually we find HPS and J-Zee and we take turns guarding the seats and visiting the POPs. J-Zee politely listens to my nonstop nervous chatter. I can hear myself talking but it’s mostly to distract myself from the fact that for some reason I told everyone I know that I’m going to run a marathon and it’s too late to back out now.
I'm coming into mile 18 and I feel myself starting to falter. My legs hurt. I want to stop. I know that I'm in trouble. I'm telling myself to just try to hold on. It's okay that it hurts. I knew that it would.
I try to make myself little bench marks. Little things to look forward to. At 20, I'll put my headphones on. At 21 I get to eat another gel. I'll get a boost then. Am I drinking? Have I been drinking? I taste water in my mouth but I can't remember. Why did I think it was smart to run the first half sub 9? What is wrong with me?
Can I keep this going now? Yes. So I keep going. Mile 20 hits me like a newspaper hits a roach. I want to be done. I put on my music and I hate every song. I am angry at everything. I ignore the crowd. I want them to be quiet and let me concentrate. I want them to cheer louder so I can get some energy. I do my best to not project anything because I know I really appreciate them but everything hurts and I am not reasonable.
Mile 21 I take a gu and I need it. My legs hurt. My shoulder hurts. A truck goes by with a sign taped to the side cheering on someone named Laura. I know in my heart of hearts that if I were Laura, I'd hop right into that truck and call it a day. I think about quadracool and tell myself to woman up. She’s running multiples of what I am and I’m sure she’ll hurt and I’m sure she’ll want to stop so who am I to complain.
Mile 22 this is just stupid. Effing stupid. I am never doing this again. I am throwing my shoes out the second I cross the finish line. I know everyone says that but I mean it. I am never doing this again. I hate this. I want to be done. I hate that nothing will make me feel better. I am toast and I am so stupid.
Mile 23 Literally left my body. That’s all I know about this mile.
Mile 24 I can run 20 minutes. I can do anything for 20 minutes. Oh look at that bench. Maybe I can sit on it until the race is over. No one will miss me. I’ll be fine.
Mile 26 I want to walk. I took two micro breaks earlier. One for a few seconds while I drank a cup of water. And once for even less while I tried to drink water but really just poured it down my face. But not now. Not in this mile. I will not walk. IS THAT A FUCKING BRIDGE!?!?
.2 There's the finish line. Am I running backwards? Am I running? I can't feel anything and yet everything hurts.
I cross the finish line and I'm vaguely aware that the announcer mispronounced my name. It's a blur and then there's J-Zee. I give him a big sweaty hug choking back tears. I'm babbling at him again. I ask about PegLeg. I show him my watch. He says something about sub 4 and I'm glad to hear the verification. Did I really finish? Did I really run a sub-4? I realize I didn't ask about him. He tells me his time. I congratulate him. I ask about HPS and NavEng. I'm taking it all in in that super slow on the uptake post-race way. Just slow_running after me and I'm anxious for him to come in.
A few minutes later, I'm sitting on a row of camp chairs with Peg. "I keep tearing up." I say, feeling my face start to scrunch up again. "Me too." She says and for a second we're both sitting there, our eyes welling with tears, unable to articulate any further.
Note: All 5 of the other Loopsters who participated in the Wineglass weekend are stellar individuals, outstanding people. Words don’t do justice, so I have copped out and not written about them. It’s too difficult to find the right sentiments. To be honest, it’s hard enough to write about this race. My feelings are complicated. Despite the successes across the board that the weekend brought to us, I feel we’re all poised for even better things. May the running gods smile on us, every one.
October 1, 8:15 AM: The gun fired and we were off.
September 7, 6:15 AM: I panted, bent over with my hands on my knees at the end of a 10 mile tempo. It was a little over 3 weeks until race day and I had been feeling bullet proof. Not a disappointment to be found for weeks and weeks of the training cycle. Until today. Hansons had called for 10 miles at marathon pace, but I had been sluggish from the start. I had pushed the pace to where I wanted it to be, but at more effort than expected. And then I felt them coming on slowly: abdominal cramps. The hell? When’s the last time that happened, a decade ago? More? They grew sharper and more insistent. Finally I had to stop, gulp air, wait for them to subside. I started up again and tried to find pace but there they were, lurking, aching, sharpening. I stopped again. In the end I managed 6:40 for 10 miles, not counting the stops. Just eking out goal pace on a perfect running morning. Except for those stops. “Oh well,” I wrote in my journal later. “They can’t all be great.”
October 1, 8:20 AM: We were cruising now, headed down the first gentle incline. Fiddling with my sleeve to check my Garmin (not used to long-sleeved mornings, I had failed to tuck it under my watch) I hit a button and the display flipped over to the time. As in, 8:20 AM, not race time. I panicked a little and began stabbing at buttons, including briefly stopping my chronograph before getting things back the way they needed to be. “Calm down,” I told myself. At the first mile marker I manually hit the lap button. “OK. Relax. You got this.”
“Maybe,” said a quieter voice in the back of my mind.
September 7, 9:00 PM: During work, throughout the day after that bad tempo, my body had gone through cycles of too cold and too warm. I put on a fleece and then took it off again. I realized during a meeting that I was feeling more than a usual Thursday morning listlessness. I was able to forget about it for a while, occasionally feeling worse, sometimes not too far from OK. But as the day wound down I was definitely perking up. No doubt I had been fighting something off, explaining the lackluster training morning. My confidence was coming back and I wrote a status on Loopville on being so BA my body had killed off the flu in a day. It was tongue in cheek; I knew that wasn’t exactly true, but was reassured to be returning to myself.
October 1, 8:35 AM: I was moving along at just under 6:40 pace. That was fine, but I wasn’t sure it was as easy as it should be. A few weeks earlier I had expected to be about the same pace, but sailing, wondering, “Am I running too slowly?” Instead I was wondering, “Am I running too fast?” I had seen my family cheering around the 2 mile mark and their energy and support had buoyed me, but now the doubts were creeping back in. A pack of six had formed a few yards ahead. I attempted a gradual acceleration, to pull them in and draft. Slowly, slowly I increased my effort. The experience of thousands of miles of training and a dozen or so marathons whispered in my ear: “Too much.” I fell back and set my own pace.
September 10, 9:00 AM: I stopped my watch at the 20 mile mark, wrapping up my longest training run with a 6:59 pace. Success! Despite my confidence of a few days before, there was no doubt that I hadn’t been quite right since then, more tired than I should have been as each long day came to a close. At least it didn’t seem to affect my early morning running. And this run clearly showed I was past all that. I was over this minor cold and good as new, getting ready to sail through Hansons’ gradual taper and look for a big PR on race day.
October 1, 8:40 AM: What was with the fog? It was going to burn off, right? And was that a breeze in front? There wasn’t supposed to be any head wind. I must have been imagining it. Still, I couldn’t get comfortable, feeling more chilly than expected. If only the damn fog would burn off. I thought back to the ice on the car windshields as I’d left the motel that morning. That was a first for the fall. Just like the icy windshields that morning at Mohawk Hudson a few years back. That had turned into a disappointing day. “Be quiet,” I told myself. “You’d over-trained three weeks out. That’s the last thing to worry about today.” I watched the group of six pull ever so slowly away and then gradually became aware of footsteps approaching from the rear.
September 13, 9:00 PM: After a successful 4 x 1.5 mile workout the day before, “Not quite right” had turned into “Pretty well wrong.” I hadn’t checked, but there wasn’t much doubt I was running a fever. My head was clogged. I was coughing up phlegm. My muscles were letting me know that some crap was going on that wasn’t OK. A rest day hadn’t seemed to help much, but I didn’t want to mess up the plan. Another 10-mile tempo was waiting in the morning. Stick to the plan. Everything depends on the plan. “I’ll get a good night’s sleep and see what happens.”
October 1, 8:45 AM: The footsteps slowly pulled up to me and then stayed there, just behind. It sounded like two of them but I couldn’t be sure. I didn’t much care if they passed. As much time as I’d spent before the race, reviewing previous years’ results, wondering if an award was possible, I didn’t care at all about that now. Just go around me. Run your race and let me run mine. Let me focus here.
I concentrated on my pace of just-about-comfortable and tried to ignore them. They stayed right there. It may have been a mile, a few minutes, a few steps. Then one came up just off my right shoulder, a foot away, and parked there. I could see him in my peripheral vision. I couldn’t stay quiet. “You can pass if you want,” I grunted. He fell back. A minute later he said, “You can take a turn in back if you want.” Was that reasonable? Expecting me to slow to take my chance to tuck in behind? I wasn’t sure, but decided to dislike him.
September 14, 5:30 AM: My 10 mile tempo became a 1 mile tempo. The pace was fine for that mile, but after that I was done. I took a few more steps at tempo and then slowed to easy pace. I cruised, questioning whether I had given up too easily. Then a growing weariness assured me that there was no way I could have maintained the pace. For the last few miles I began wondering if I should have gone straight home after abandoning the tempo. At what point does the plan become an inflexible command to do the wrong thing? But the race was just over 2 weeks out. I felt I had to keep walking a fine line. A PR goal left about no room for error. The next few runs were supposed to be all at an easy pace. Maybe I could slip a few more tempo miles in there. No harm in that, right?
October 1, 9:00 AM: The footsteps stayed behind me. I ran my pace, generally just under 6:40, sometimes creeping above. Eventually the guy who had run up on my shoulder came back. I could see now the white hair, probably prematurely white as I stole a glance at his face, but surely another Master. “Are you from Cleveland?” he said. “Because you’re not letting anyone pass.” What’s that? Oh, a baseball reference. The way he said it, with a smile and followed by some words about working together, convinced me he was trying for a friendly reset. I apologized and explained I’m used to running alone. It sounded lame but was true. I’ve tried pace groups. I don’t like them. Too many constant, almost imperceptible adjustments to everyone else’s running. Plus, I’m an introvert, a strong one. It doesn’t mean I don’t like people. It doesn’t mean I can’t interact, be friendly, shoot the breeze. But each of those interactions, especially when they become a conversation, is a tiny withdrawal from my energy stores. And I was thinking that by the last few miles of the race I would have approximately zero energy to spare.
September 17, 8:30 AM: I wrapped up an 8 mile run including 3 at tempo pace. Ten the previous day had included 4 tempo miles. My 10 mile tempo for the week had turned into 8 tempo miles over three days, each time shutting it down when I began to feel done. I was walking, well, running a fine line. Was it too much? Was it enough? How could I possibly do 26.2 at this pace in two weeks? Calm down. This isn’t mono or bronchitis or strep. It’s a cold. An annoying, lingering cold. There’s no way it can last for two more weeks. No way.
October 1, 9:45 AM: The miles pounded by. Our group of three had grown to five as we neared and then passed the half mark right around 1:27:30. The first new runner to join us and take the lead was a lanky redhead in a cap. Looking smooth. Looking young. A shorter, dark haired guy joined him at the front of our group, letting Red take the lead. The other three of us stayed just back, and I was now convinced we were all Masters, possibly all in our late 40s. I found myself now naturally exchanging positions with the older guys. Sometimes near the front, sometimes just behind. No longer from Cleveland, I guess. The pace wasn’t hard yet but wasn’t easy. Sometimes it felt like I was just where I was supposed to be; sometimes like I was about to drop off the back. Focus. If the young guys are stronger, let them go. Just run somewhere around 6:40. Not quite there anymore but close. Stay with the middle-aged guys if you can. Almost surely headed for another positive split, don’t let those guys go. Smart? No idea. Hold on.
September 19, 6:00 AM: Yes! 6 x 1 mile ranging from 5:57 to 6:05. The intervals weren’t easy, but not bone-crunching either. I was feeling better, finally putting this stubborn illness behind me. No doubt my immune system had figured out how to beat it. Beautiful, beautiful T cells. What a miracle, the human body. A solid 10-mile tempo waited in two days, then I would be sailing into race day.
October 1, 9:55 AM: I knew it was coming, a small hill right around mile 15, and there it was. I had felt like I was hanging on during the previous mile, but as the incline began I naturally moved past my Masters companions. It wasn’t much of a hill, really. On my home paths in Hershey it’s impossible to avoid hills like this. None is brutal, but they come one after another. One after another. I was in familiar territory. I kept my head down, smoothed out my stride, pumped my arms, and heard the two behind me fall back. As we neared the top, they may have been 20 feet back. Not a lot, but a gap. Then we were cresting the hill and descending, and here came their footsteps, catching up again, until at the base of the other side they were right behind me. Had they come back too fast? Maybe. Because when the road leveled out I noticed them falling behind again, very gradually. The two younger guys were still in front, but the sound of my other friends slowly began to fade behind me, and this time I didn’t hear them coming back.
September 19, 6:00 PM: Is the fever really coming back? How can I be getting sick again? This is a cold. It’s not supposed to relapse. I Googled it. Once I beat it, it’s beaten. Race day is just around the corner. Rest day planned tomorrow. Maybe this time I’ll take another rest day after that. Yes, another rest day after that.
October 1, 10:30 AM: “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” I heard my daughter’s excited screech a few seconds before I saw my family, waiting by the side of the road, close to the 20 mile mark. Immediately I began to peel off my top shirt and gloves. I surprised myself with how long I’d held onto them, but the fog had finally burned off and it was time. I still couldn’t shake the feeling that we had been running into a breeze much of the way. Was it in my head? Probably. No matter now. Time to shed that layer and bear down. “Love you!” I shouted as I dropped the clothes at my wife’s feet. “Love you!” “Love you!” “Love you!” I called back one more time over my shoulder. OK, this is it. The race starts for real now.
September 22, 6:30 PM: I had managed seven tempo miles that morning before cutting it off. Only nine days left to the race now. That bothered me, because the rule of thumb is that it takes 10 days to gain fitness from a workout, but there was no way I was ready to run yesterday.
And quite possibly, there was no way I should have run that morning. “Go to urgent care,” Kim said, taking a look at me when I’d arrived home from work. Finally, I had. The nurse was now reading the thermometer and giving me the news: 102. The doctor looked down my throat. Into my nose and ears. Listened to my chest. “I don’t hear any congestion in your lungs,” she told me. I knew that. It was a blessing and why I had been able to train some during the ups and downs of this illness. Or maybe that was a curse. “I’m concerned that you have a fever 15 days after getting sick.” Yeah. Me too. Here I sat, just over a week out, feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. Was there any way I could get well in time?
“I’m going to prescribe you a Z-Pak. It’s well tolerated and the cycle is only 5 days so you’ll have a few days left before your race. And it kills a lot of bugs.”
“Except viruses,” I said.
“Except viruses,” she agreed.
October 1, 10:45 AM: Two had fallen back, and they hadn’t come back. Two in front had gone ahead. I was on my own now, occasionally reeling in a fading runner, occasionally being passed by a runner who had paced more wisely than myself. “Good job,” I would pant each time they passed, and then congratulate myself for that. It was a good sign. If they had passed and all I could offer was silent hate, that would mean I was close to collapse.
The course was now winding through a city park. Tiny ups and downs that felt like mountains. Plenty of race volunteers to point the way, and also families enjoying the warming morning. I could stop for a rest with them. Give my tightening hamstrings a break. It would feel so nice. So nice. Snap out of it. Check the watch. Do the runner math. Let’s see. About 2 minutes ahead of PR pace, I think, and not getting any faster. Time to bear down.
September 24, 7:00 AM: An easy 8.5 with Mr. Andante, in town with the family to visit the park. After another rest day I was now a week out from the race. Was I well? No. But maybe scraping myself off the pavement. That truck that had hit me hadn’t quite finished the job. It was a welcome interlude, running at an easy pace, chatting with a Loopster. But not feeling right. Better, maybe, but not right. I’d felt better before. I didn’t trust it. A week away. I couldn’t even remember feeling normal now. Only a week to go. It didn’t seem sensible to hope.
October 1, 11:00 AM: It felt like my feet were barely lifting from the ground. My hamstrings were very close to done and wouldn’t allow any extra lift. But the pace was OK. I was keeping it under 7:00. Would I ever negative split a marathon? Maybe, but not today. A few more runners passed me, and I passed a few. Everything else was a blur. How many minutes to go? Where would I be if I were in training Hershey, headed home? Oh, that’s an uphill. Don’t think about that. What’s my mantra? Mantras are stupid. Just run. It’s impossible, but never mind. Just run.
September 27, 6:30 AM: Two straight days of easy runs at a good pace, not pushing. Maybe the antibiotics were taking hold. Maybe my body was just finally winning, for real this time. Either way, I was feeling just a little better each day. Maybe this would happen after all.
October 1, 11:05 AM: There was the bridge, somewhere just past 25 miles. I remembered it from my first time running this race, a dozen years and a lifetime ago. That was a warm day, pushing past 70 degrees. An unexpectedly fast pace turned into cramps and walk breaks, but I still eked out a 3:10 and 3rd place male, 35-39. The picture, taken on this very bridge, sits on a shelf in my dining room. Twelve years later a photographer was there again in the same place, but now a new PR was coming into focus. A PR that would have been unimaginable to my younger self. Pain was turning toward confidence. No walking this time. I put down my head and did my best to power up the bridge.
September 30, 7:00 AM: That was it, the training done. The last 3 mile easy run finished. Race tomorrow and everything felt OK. Miraculous. I did the math. I’d missed about 30 miles in the last three weeks of training. The last three tempo runs were misses. And though I felt fine in the moment, I had no idea how I’d feel after 10 miles at marathon pace, or 20, or 25.
If another Loopster was looking for reassurance in the same situation I would have written about the potential benefits of an increased taper, about all the hard work accomplished, about the strength and stamina in my legs. It was all going to be fine. Have confidence, you got this.
Looking at my own situation, I saw nothing but question marks.
October 1, 11:10 AM: But there I was making the last left turn that brought the finish line banner into view. A few blocks away but inevitable now. I charged. Block by block became foot by foot. I reeled in one last runner and passed him. The crowd packed in tighter and tighter, the cheers louder and louder. Another runner sprinted past me in the last few meters like I wasn’t even moving, and then the announcer was calling his name, and then he was calling mine.
I crossed at 2:56 and change. Official results put it at 2:56:14, a full two minutes under my previous PR, and first of the 45-49 year old men. I stumbled through the chute, got my medal, my water. A volunteer wrapped me in Mylar. I heard familiar voices and there was my family calling to me. I found a gap in the barriers and went to them. I gave them sweaty hugs, then more hugs, thanks, and love. They shepherded me to the massage tent, then to pick up my drop bag. Shivering, I pulled on a layer, then as Kim went to get the kids something to eat, I went back to look for Loopsters. They came in one by one and you know the stories: PR, PR, PR, PR, PR. Read their bloops. Read them again. They are Rock Stars.
Wineglass had become magic.
October 1, just before 8:15 AM: “I hate marathons,” I said to Peg as we left our cozy tent and took the final few steps toward the start in the chilly fog. We’ve all had that feeling at the start of a race when the pressure and the uncertainty come bearing down. I hate this. Why do I do this to myself?
But the marathon is a different beast. I’ve run races longer and shorter. There is something magical and terrible about marathons. So much training, so much grind, so much sacrifice for one race where everything can go right and everything can go wrong. Pounding out mile after mile at a pace that seems just this side of crazy.
I hate marathons. And I love them. Of course I do.
Everything is crystallized during that last 10K when the pain comes in waves and running is impossible and you’re still doing it. Moving forward in devastation or triumph. Hundreds of days of work coming to one point of focus. All of the unknown, the hopes, the dreams, the fears becoming that one simple, burning point of focus. You run and you run and you pour your blood across the ground and then cross the line and all of the question marks, all the uncertainty leading up to that race are gone. You’ve done it. It’s done. Success or failure. It’s done.
Until it’s not. Until it’s the week after the race and it’s sinking in that there will not be another marathon for at least a year, through agreements both internally and externally made. Through tattered muscles that, though they feel better every day, will not fully be back for months.
It’s too much to launch into again right away. Too much sacrifice to every other part of a life. Some balance must be restored. Shorter races. More sleep. More energy to give back at the end of the day.
And it’s not simple to know how to feel when 2:56:14 would have been an impossible dream just a few years back, a two minute PR over a previous mark that in itself would be treasured for a lifetime. But does it feel the same when a few weeks earlier you knew you could go under 2:55, and were wondering just how high to aim?
It’s not simple with the knowledge that the next marathon will come within spitting distance of 50 years of age. A half century. Maybe even after that. How many more chances will there be to set an all-time mark? How much longer can a person expect to get faster? How much longer will it be possible to cheat time?
And if that 2:54 or 2:53 or 2:52 had come this day, would that have been enough? Enough to say, that’s it, forever, I’ve done it, it’s accomplished?
Of course not.
This all sounds gloomy and unappreciative. But really, it’s never been simple, knowing how to feel in the aftermath. It wasn’t simple the first time and it’s never been simple since. There is always another dream, another goal, another marker that feels that it would be even more meaningful. A thousand more miles of work and it could be real…
But all those thoughts are for later. For now we are shuffling toward the line. The National Anthem.
We take a deep breath, the gun fires, and we’re off.
It's week two, the ladies are gushing and already are showing cracks in their ability to watch the object of their affection date other women, and all I feel I really learned is that every star in the night sky is like a twinkling tax reduction, but I figured that would make a boring blog, so here's a few more "lessons" for you:
Try to talk to him while you are riding on the back of his motorcycle. It will surely be deep and meaningful, because he can totally hear you, right?
LET HIM SPOIL ME!!!!!!!
Talk with his other girlfriends about how pillowy his lips are.
Let him take me to meet his parents on the first date .... or is this the second date? Second date, sorry.
Wear a race suit. It's sexy.
Sweatpants are the best. <---okay, actually very true
When he shoulder dances, it's a good thing.
Fashion takeway: Always have a fur on yourself.
Tweets of the week:
So sorry I'm behind on WILFTBs and sorry for those who only care about running-related stuff. I am running and that will become more exciting as the days get longer. Right now I'm just kinda getting the legs and Mary Jane re-acquainted with running so we can attack 13.1 training. I did have a nice impromptu fartlek sesh over the weekend while I was visiting a friend in Northern Arizona. The weather forecast and RW What to Wear "app" had me packing shorts and a tank but then a cold snap changed everything so I either was going to easy run in shorts and a t-shirt at 55* and windy (I need LS or capris for that weather) or speed it up a bit and be warmer.
My path was a short little path around a park across the street from my friend's home. After about a mile warm-up, I just pushed the part that was mostly straight and jogged the rest for 5 rounds, which turned out to be an equi-distant run hard/jog for each turn. My pace splits looked like this:
I'm actually surprised I was pretty close, other than the first one, because I totes did it by feel and totes felt like I was slowing down with each round. Got in a total of 3.1 miles for a quick, yet satisfying workout. Then I went to feed wild burros in a neighboring town.
Things are heating up and the insecurities are coming out as the numbers get smaller and the women develop feelings for The Bachelor because literally he's the only person or thing they are allowed to talk or think about. Also, did you know that being in the middle of the Everglades is pure nature? Because being in the middle of nature could apparently be something else .... Anyway, as a followup to the last post (which BTW, thanks to you all, I "won" January 11; that date is my brother's birthday, my work anniversary and now my "winning" day. woot), the cat innuendos are apparently weird if the guy is allergic to cats, going to bed early and wearing cardigans is NBD, and the ameteur wrestling thing could be a real way to get a guy.
Here's what I learned the last two weeks:
When there are only 14 other girlfriends, it's hard to believe because that number is SO small
Spy on his date with binoculars
Parasailing is a good date because it's about letting go and seeing where the wind takes you
Drink your pee for him
Travel with a taxidermy duckling
Always play a damsel in distress, even when he says he wants an independent woman
Find bowling sexy
Smell like a bowling ball
Drink your coffee with coconut milk (that will impress him)
A crazy alligator is a reminder that love is scary but can also be an adventure
If you get mad at your boyfriend one time you evidently aren't a good match for him
Tweets of the last two weeks:
Thankfully, the 22nd season of The Bachelor has concluded. Unthankfully, ABC has me so invested in the new Bachelorette that I'll be watching that damn show come spring. UGH. Can't. Escape. Send more wine.
Here's what I learned from the last 5 (FIVE!) hours of this show:
Don't date a man who dates 25 other women.
Here is what I told my boyfriend he learned:
If you're not sure, don't propose.
If you propose, then want to end it with me, don't let ABC film it.
If you blindside me and break my heart, leave when I ask you to leave. Don't linger, don't wander around like a hurt puppy, don't keep staring at me in hopes that I'm going to tell you everything is okay, JUST FRIGGEN LEAVE.
If you decide to go back to the woman you broke up with to propose to me, don't propose to her 6 weeks later.
BTW, BF said I didn't have anything to worry about. I said, good, then you don't either, LOLZ.
Your Twitter feed:
Me, too, Astrid.
It's coming on Christmas
they're cutting down trees
they're putting up reindeer
and singing songs of joy and peace
oh i wish i had a river
i could skate away on
-- the prophet joni
Mo is off. We decide to go for a run. It’s cold outside, but that’s OK. We’re runners.
I pull on the faithful blue woolly shirt. Mo dons her red sweatshirt. We step outside. It’s cold, but that’s OK. we’re runners.
I stop by my car as we leave the parking lot and grab a second layer, my bite me elf shirt, just in case. We drive to the track.
The gate is locked. And it’s cold, but that’s OK. We’re runners. Mo thinks we can sneak in through the secret inside gate. I am skeptical.
We walk around the tennis courts, past the fitness center. We hit a shady spot, making it even colder. Although it’s around 60 degrees, the wind chill plunges it down into the mid-50s, testing the ability of man to survive. Not sure about women. It’s cold. I might have mentioned that already. But that’s OK. We’re runners.
As we near the track, we step into the sunlight. It’s a beautiful morning. The sky is blue, the leaves are doing wind sprints, one lonely runner is floating down the back straight.
And sure enough, the secret gate is open. We’re set. We walk through the entrance onto the track. It’s windy. And it’s cold. But that’s OK. We’re runners.
A gust of wind hits us. We look at each other. We turn around, go back to the car, and go to Einstein’s for bagels and coffee. I have blueberry; Mo has sesame seed. I drink the house blend, while Mo opts for a combination of three or four flavors. She’s a rebel.
We sit next to the window where the sun is shining through. It’s uncomfortably hot. But that’s OK.
I'm sitting here at the house, nearly at the end of eight days home alone. Mrs.Dave and T-Rex are in Seattle, checking in on Big Mac and Mrs. Dave's parents. Old Vern's getting to the point (at 88) that there's no guarantees he'll be around next year or next month or even next week. Since we live so far away, it's best to make the opportunity rather than wait for a convenient time to visit. The next time may well be the last.
Normally, I'd take this time to do a couple of things. First, of course, I'd run a bunch. The plan, as you know, was to be in heavy build up for a spring race. I was excited about Vermont. But the knee says, "I don't think so."
The other thing - and I feel like I'm repeating myself all the time. Pretty sure everyone who reads the Dave blog knows what the other thing is - I do is fix things up around the house. Unless one of the cars needs repair. I was going to paint some but that's on hold since I'm not authorized to pick colors and Mrs. Dave is out of town. When she left eight days ago, I thought we'd decided on something, but in between then and the time I let her know I was on my way to Home Depot to get paint, she'd gotten some more opinions about colors and wasn't sold on the color we'd agreed. Fortunately I only have one room, stripped, primed and ready for paint, so there hasn't been too much wasted time.
Saturday I spent the morning helping a friend with his roof. There were a few others there as well. We stripped off most of the old shingles. Fun work. Then a couple of guys went over to strip the detached garage while I stayed with a young kid to finish the house. The last three feet had been put on that special moister barrier, with the shingles glued solidly on. That was a lot of scrapping, pulling, and tearing - some of it on my butt, and some of it on my knees. After about two hours of that, we finally finished. I was going to go help with the garage for the last 45 minutes I had to give, but my lower back decided that 59 years old was too old to spend two hours kneeing and leaning on a roof. Give me marathon pain any day, kids. I could barely move the rest of the weekend.
On the plus side, my knee hasn't bothered me nearly as much since Friday.
Speaking of the knee, I have my first appointment with PT tomorrow morning at 6:30. I've even thought that I could cancel, since my knee hasn't hurt the last two days, but it's still not right and I may as well have someone professional look at it.
Frankly, I'd rather he look at my back. Ouch.
My focus this “off season” is to get stronger without getting injured. Of course, every time I make it through a tough workout without dying or getting hurt, I’ve succeeded in starting the muscle rebuilding process, which puts me in a better place to ward off future injuries.
Step one is to do some strength work after each run in addition to my everyday rolling/stretching/heel drops. Not too much, just a few exercises daily, rotating between leg day, hip day and arm/shoulders day.
Step two is to incorporate hills multiple times per week. I had 8500 feet of elevation gain over 134 miles in November, which I’ll attempt to beat this month. I made a chart:
I realize 8500 ft is what Joanna eats as an afternoon snack (or the metric equivalent), but it seems to be helping. It was 50F and sunny on Sunday, so I visited my favorite park to run some trails. I was able to run up all the hills, some multiple times, without stopping. I was unable to do that during my 50k rampup last summer.
So getting stronger, which should help the chassis get ready for my spring race, a 20 miler on these very same trails.
I also realize the chassis is getting older, and I’m reminded every morning as I quietly try to get ready for the run without waking up the house. I’m careful not to slam doors and turn on lights, but it seems like the snapping, crackling and popping happening in my toes, feet and ankles as I walk across the bedroom echo through the house like every day is July 4.
The race plan for 2018 is coming together. It looks like: 1. Trail race in April, 2. Early August half, 3. End of August 50k, and 4. Wineglass half. Still trying to figure out if 5 weeks between a 50k and a half is enough time. I still have a few weeks to mull before the Wineglass fee goes up.
I'm starting to think I should get the prize for the longest injury. Here's my timetable:
November 2015 - pikermi PR
January 2016 - hyper colleague insisted on helping me move stage equipment that he didn't know how to move (I was accustomed to moving it by myself and didn't need anyone being a "gentleman.") Result - sprained ankle.
March 2016 - Sprained ankle healed. Feral cat momma and kittens acquired and moved indoors, necessitating many trips up and down stairs. Ran a bit, but sinus infection prevented full return.
May 2016 - began running again in earnest, but very slowly and gradually.
June 2016 - peroneal tendons began popping painfully, the week before a long-planned anniversary hiking trip. Usual podiatrist not available, so cold-called and got an appointment with another. There may have been a reason this one had an opening. I was diagnosed (correctly) with peroneal subluxation. Prescribed "conservative treatment" (incorrectly.) That meant one month in a cast, one month of PT, and one more month of rest and prescription NSAID. The more medical journal articles I read, the more I saw the phrases "high failure rate" and "rarely successful" in relation to conservative treatment of peroneal subluxation. But I think insurance requires trying it before an MRI is allowed. I'd happily have paid for an MRI myself.
September 2016 - finally allowed to have MRI, which of course showed that I'd had a tear of a peroneal tendon all this time. Wasted summer.
October 13 2016 - surgery to repair tendon. Surgeon blithely said I'd be back to running in 6-8 weeks.
End of November 2016 - finally started PT - still on crutches. PT lasted till...
End of April 2017 - when my insurance benefit ran out. I could walk fine, and run a little. PTs had watched me run, analyzed my gait, and given me exercises to correct imbalances in my hips and strengthen my toes and the other ankle. Ankle still bigger than the other one, and stiff, but perfectly trustworthy. I was the owner of two pairs of custom orthotics.
May 2017 - began a return to running. Very slowly and gradually - starting with intervals of one minute running, one minute walking.
June 2017 - pulled out my Newtons and did an interval run. After about the 4th interval I realized my big toe was hurting. I thought it was just a fleeting pain, but it has hurt off and on ever since when weightbearing. Two of my podiatrists have moved away, and a third one is not in my current medical practice, so I need a new one. My primary physician knew of my problem, so I thought I could get a referral by phone, but no - I have to go for a referral to the walk-in (no pun intended) clinic - which has very limited hours, all of which are times I teach. I'm planning to cancel teaching next week to get there, and hopefully I won't have to wait a month for the appointment. I suspect sesamoiditis. My chiropractor suspects a bunion, my massage therapist turf toe. I wonder how fixable it will be since the main problem is that the ankle is still swollen and stiff.
Over the course of the last year and a half I've gained a good bit of weight. For months my husband was doing all the shopping, and while I was in the cast and also after the surgery friends brought high-calorie meals, plus there might have been some comfort eating, too. I can walk and do the elliptical - but not for very long. I do ride a stationary bike, but even that starts to bother me after half an hour. Swimming is not my choice of exercise because I don't like soaking my violin callouses. But I know the extra weight is not helping the injury.
I've tried not to post about this - really, it's no fun posting about non-running. I'd love to hear some happy stories about folks who have survived long injuries and returned successfully to running! I know it's going to be a long way back.
My running, that is. The start of 2018 was supposed to coincide with the start of serious training for my spring half, but that hasn’t really happened. I’ve been alternating 30+ mile weeks with 19 mile weeks. Speedwork has been sporadic and brief, at best. There’s no mystery behind the malaise, I know the problem is motivation. The spring training cycle always overlaps with busy season at work, and the half I’m running is a particularly challenging one. It’s where I set my current PR, but it’s also the only half I’ve run the past two years so that’s sort of by default. It’s also my weakest PR by far. All of this has had me making excuses to take an extra off day, turn tempo runs into easy runs, and call some weak ass intervals “workouts” since I know it’s not going to be a great day anyway.
Then the Track Club announced this year’s Grand Prix Series race schedule. There’s the usual mix of 5Ks and 10Ks, and this year there’s a new 4-miler and a 12K. But what caught my eye was the All Comers events. Most Tuesdays in May and June, the Club hosts track and field meets open to anyone who wants to show up. They run the usual slate of track races and even some field events, and they pick one or two events each year to be official Grand Prix events for points. You may remember (OK, fine, you don’t) that last year I wanted to run a mile race. I’d never run a timed mile before, and given that my age graded results get better the shorter the distance I was curious how I’d do in the mile. But a confluence of real life interruptions conspired to prevent me from making it to the track race I’d wanted to run, and while I did accidentally run a mile road race when a sinkhole opened up the night before a 5K and they had to shorten the course, it was hilly and hot and not great (6:11). But right there, on the official 2018 Atlanta Track Club Grand Prix schedule, was a mile track race on May 8.
So now my aimless unmotivated training has a new purpose. I’d like something in a 5:4x, if the lungs will allow it. Over the weekend I dusted off the Jack Daniels Running Formula, Third Edition (blows the Second out of the water in my opinion) and started putting together a plan. Today was my first workout (because the 11th Commandment was “Thou shalt run intervals on Tuesday”), and I was a bit nervous. Almost all of my speedwork for the last two years has been marathon focused. So plenty of 400s, 800s (you’re a sick bastard Bart Yasso), and mile repeats, but the fastest I typically went was 5K pace. Accordingly the fast 200s today, and really all of the super fast workouts in the plan, had me a little nervous. And as an added layer of unpleasantness I had to do them on the treadmill because I was sneaking out at lunch and there’s no track or even remotely flat spot to run around here. Well, there is an asphalt oval behind the grade school but I figured a grown man running around an elementary school in the middle of the day in what looks like his underwear would raise some unwanted questions. So the gym it was.
All throughout my 2 mile warm up, I kept doubting that I’d be able to hit the interval paces. I had 10 x 200s in 45 seconds each, and haven’t run that fast since the kick in my Labor Day 10K. But the first rep wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Neither was the fifth. And honestly, as I cooled down after the tenth I thought to myself “I probably could have done a few more”. Even Garmin wildly missing paces and distances couldn’t get me down (I know I shouldn’t expect accuracy here, I’ve just gotten too lazy to manually enter things into my log anymore). Most importantly though, as I stood in front of the old school photocopied-out-of-the-book training plan hung on the wall in the kitchen sipping my chocolate milk, I eyed my next workout with a sense of anticipation instead of anxiety. The mojo’s rising again.