Saturday, October 26, 2013

MDI Half Marathon Recap!

After running pretty darn fast at Smuttynose exactly 2 weeks prior to this race I went in with a very flexible plan. While rest, massage and heaps of foam rolling had me on the road to hip/butt/IT Band/hamstring recovery I wasn't 100% (well, compared to the post marathon days I felt great! but great is relative when you are a marathoner. so I was more or less hopping around on one leg.)
So essentially my flexible plan went from calling it a day the second I felt a twinge, to running slower than molasses, to motoring along at a decent long-ish run pace, to trying to win the damn thing (I was given instructions NOT to do this.)

And here is how it all played out.

No matter how much I try, I am always the last kid to the party on MDI the day before the race. (and, apparently, I am the VERY LAST person to post a blog about the big day. Go me!)
Eric and I made it up there by the time normal runners were sitting down to dinner. Oops! We arrived at the very last possible second that the expo was still open, grabbed our bibs, looked at the cruise ship and went out for a beer with a friend (because THAT is what you should do pre race for sure!!)  Over the course of the night we had that beer, ate a decadent pasta dinner (the kind that is too rich for pre marathon fare but totally fine for pre half!) drank a glass of wine, ran into Danielle and New Sarah and called it a night a little on the late side.

All my sweet gear and pumped up kicks. Ready to go!

Then we proceeded to sleep not at all. Ugh!

We awoke to rain which is par for the course for MDI. Luckily, the rain was short lived and it turned into a truly glorious day!
We only had a short walk to the busses to take us to the Half starting point so we were able to wait for the worst of the rain to quit before we moseyed on out. On the way there we had a quick reunion with JenJamie, Crystal and Mike (all doing the marathon, and killing it! or a relay. nice job kids!)

The bus trip was super easy, we jumped onto the first bus we saw and made it to the start (a nice cozy Grange like hall of some sort) where we stayed warm and dry. There was a little confusion about the start and where it was located- it was certainly a good hike from where we were. We got there with 4 minutes to spare which seemed a little shocking (I heard from reliable sources that we went off a few minutes early. Some people are taking tips from me and starting after the start! Isn't it fun!?)
I think in retrospect the only bummer of the race was the start. The marathon portion of MDI has a start that is pretty special, any of us who have done it before and then ended up choosing the half this year noticed its absence from our race. I have a feeling this was a first year glitch but my request is that the Half gets gussied up a bit in the future? (needy, needy aren't I!?) So, Danielle- you were sad you missed the anthem? Don't be dude because there wasn't one...

Eric and I stuck together for the first mile, prompting me to believe that he was out to beat me. I would have been ok with that since chasing him down was NOT part of my master plan but we were separated just after mile 1 never to see each other again. Until the finish, that is!

I felt better than expected for the first few miles and forcefully slowed my pace. I knew that the hills would be a challenge during the late miles of the course, especially since I had no reserves to fall back on. So along I chugged, pretty happy and enjoying the views and the companionship of other runners until mile 3 when suddenly, I was ALONE. Alone to the point that I almost thought I had taken a wrong turn! 
Right before I found myself ALONE I passed a guy wearing my socks...

Dudes, there was nobody around. No effing people. Luckily, I came across a few early spectators (we started 30 minutes after the marathoners, but being halfway there already meant that the crowds were sparse...) so I knew I was on the right track. Honestly, this was a bit challenging mentally as I tend to get a nice boost from other runners and it can be pretty fun to pace off people for a while for a break.
It wasn't gonna happen. I had too much time to think which when you aren't racing at 100% can be a little challenging (internal monologue: am I running too fast? too slow? ugh my butt is tired! ugh more hills! omg I'm actually getting hot! am I too fast? too SLOW?!? oh shut up head...)

Right around mile 7 there was a long stretch of road and I finally saw a pack of runners way out in front of me. Thank the sweet baby Geezes, I have never been so happy to see other runners!!! I was doing a great job maintaining my "run at a pace that feels very manageable" plan so chasing them down and picking them off, the way I normally would, was not an option. However, they must have been feeling the challenge of the hills because within about half a mile or so I had caught and passed them.

There is no doubt that the final few miles of this course is hard as shit. I run a lot of hills here at home, and while they might be a bit steeper than some of the MDI hills those MDI hills are lengthy- they seem to go on and on for quite some time. I knew at mile 9 that, as expected, I did not have any extra gas in the tank to fall back on. My legs were genuinely feeling it and instead of the tired feeling vanishing after a bit of mental pep talk it stuck around. I took it in stride and focused on maintaining nice, controlled strides and was happy beyond ALL effing reason that I only had 4 miles to go.

During those last 4 miles I caught a few girls and started to think that an AG placing might be possible since I was on pace to come in close to 1:40-1:42. Certainly not a land speed record by any stretch, but I was taking into account the challenge level of the course and the toll it was sure to take on quite a few people, myself included..
 For the last mile or so I could see one lonely female runner out ahead of me. I was able to close the gap considerably but I had no intention of pushing thru the home stretch, and even if that had been my intention I didn't have the legs for it. I figured that she was about 15 seconds ahead of me coming into the last 0.2 and since we were running at the exact same pace it wasn't gonna happen.

And yeah, when the lady in front of me ran for the finish and I saw the tape go up I basically said "fuuuuuuuuuuuck" but then I said "hells YES! I'm second!!!!" which was just fine. I showboated a little thru the finish line because when you are in 2nd you can do that!

Haha! Yayyyyy! Coming in for the win, oh shit I mean second!!

I finished, and must have looked a bit off color because the medics kinda ran to me but I was just fine. Apparently I just look like a person who needs medical attention!
It was a cool way to finish because all of us who were in the top 3 were hugging each other, giving high fives, comparing races and the 3rd place lady was funny "This LITTLE GIRL beat me!" she kept saying, which made me laugh because she was maybe an inch bigger than I am....

I drank Garorade. Walked around trying to stay loose and saw Danielle sprint thru the finish right around 1:50. She threw me her handheld so I walked back around to find her and hear about how she was the last person to cross the start line due to the *prompt* start! (way to make up some time and pick off some people!!) Then, as so often happens my foot cramped up and completely crippled me. So Danielle got to witness me shrieking in agony, drop the F bomb a zillion times, frantically rip off my shoe and basically drop to the ground when there was no relief, and finally get it back together, a sweaty shaking mess. This is par for the course and she took it in stride. Sorry dude, someday I'll act cool in public. (I have no idea how she manages to look so put together after a long run. and then there's me, writhing on the ground like some kinda idiot..)

We actually look pretty good for people who just ran 13.1 fast miles!

Almost immediately after the foot incident Eric finished and we made a beeline for the showers since we wanted to beat the crowd. I must admit that the showers at the finish of this race are such a damn lifesaver...

Happily, we got to see all our friends who we bumped into at the start finish before we headed out for home. It turned into such a beautiful day for race spectating that we lingered for a while, having a beer and cheering the finishers on. We ended up staying for longer than expected since we were walking to the bus stop while a bus was leaving, then we were not aggressive enough and missed the next bus as well... So over an hour later we fought tooth and nail (kidding, kidding) for a bus back to Bar Harbour, more food, and our car.

The next day my legs felt pretty great and I was able to get over the slight disappointment of loosing 1st by 11 seconds. I prefer to feel this way then to have done something over the top and be flat on my back for NYC. So, the countdown is on for NYCM at this point and hopefully my legs continue to recover and cooperate.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Recovery Week and other fun stuff!

I spent the entirety of last week recovering.
For the purpose of brutal honesty I must admit to the fact that I was agonistically , horifically sore after my big marathon effort. I was rather incapacitated. I only had one (partially) working leg. I was glad my parents house has a handicapped ramp because, doggone it, I used it. UGH to the EFFING UGH.
Shoot, after taking a look at the last paragraph I realize that I am not living up to any kind of blog standard here! Let me try again...

"After skipping thru the finish line of Smuttynose, throwing in a cartwheel for a premium photo op I proceeded to refuel with jugs of ice cold dairy beverage, eat half a slice of fat free cheese as amazing post running fuel, and do some easy yoga. The next day I awoke, refreshed and recovered to go on a 1.0 mile recovery run, then I proceeded to eat a recklessly decadent meal of a spoonful of air and part of a grilled squash.... I'm so proud of my ability to finish #sostrong when I basically did little or nothing during my training cycle!!!!! #OMG #naturalathlete"

HAH! The thing about having a little extra time during recovery is that you can discover some new blogs and have a laugh. (sorry. I'm like a little GOMI on here aren't I?!) (and needless to say, I'm sticking with my tried and true blog favorites, most of whom are runners, fewer of which are HLB's. funny stuff though, it made me glad that I eat real food!)

Anyway, in real life I was very sore.
I obtained a massage which was a horribly painful encounter. I cried.
Then, a few days later I got another one which was less sob inducing.
And then. I was fully recovered! It was like a miracle sent from heaven, for realz. I got back into the swing of running this week, and with the notable exception of some lingering hip pain all is well.

Oh and I also went to a horse show last weekend because that is the best thing to do after a week of one legged riding attempts. The good news is that I can ride better with one leg than most people can with two. Calm down, I'm kidding!

I was feeling quite good by show time and ready to kill it. Baffin (the red horse) put in a good test, brought the scores up from our yucky go at Regionals and snagged a middle of the pack ribbon (we like those.) Chauncy (the yellow horse) threw a major tantrum on Saturday, dug his heels in, and said "F**K YOU!!!!" I was rather apocalyptic.

A few images from said show

OK, you know how sometimes you have a killer training cycle, you have been hitting all your workouts but then get to the race and your legs and/or head check out at mile two? This was exactly the situation, but with a naughty horse instead of a pair of human legs. We spent some time sitting in the sun devising a plan of attack (minus the horse). Knowing, that if at mile 2 my head/legs said "Eff you dude, not gonna happen" I'd give them a little wake up call and remind them that they were TRAINED to do this!! I concluded that that was the course of action to take with Chauncy. So off we went, a little reminder was given in which I had to grit my teeth a bit and play the part of the stern trainer, and he went on to handily win his remaining classes. Little bugger!

I got back to running on Monday evening after a busy Holiday workday in which I taught many kids how to ride. I have eased back into it, 3 very simple runs this week at base pace. I know I'll be pretty slow for the next couple weeks, I know MDI is going to be a social training run and not a race, and I do not yet know what my NYCM plan is. Well, my plan is to rock it. We will see if the legs catch up to the brain!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How to fit it all in?!? The impossible question of the day...

So today I spent some time getting interviewed for an article (I am indeed *that* cool and famous!?)
Basically, being interviewed is like giving a deposition. Except without the lawyers and the imposing 12 foot dining table...
I kid!!! It was actually pretty fun although I did find myself struggling with coherency at times, although that is pretty par for the course with me. I can only hope that at the end of the editing process I sound as clever as I think I am in real life...

The one question that stumped me beyond all effing reason was this:
"How do you fit it all in? Running a barn is a full time job (plus overtime!) how does the running get fit it?"

Well apparently I have no idea. I had zero intelligent things to say about that because, it seems, this
has become such a way of life that I just do it. No fitting in required!
I gave this some thought post interview, since it had stumped me so badly.
I do have a lot going on in my day after all (but so do all of us...) So how DO I get all my shit done?

What I said in the interview is true. I get up kinda early. I am a terrible weekend friend (no late night drinking for me!) I would probably do an hour of some kinda dumb cardio daily anyway, so this isn't much different (well, with the notable exception of 3 hour long run days, and the fact that I rarely work out for less than 90 minutes... but who is really counting?)
Since I hear a lot of "I don't have tiiiiiiiiiiiiiime to exercise even for 20 minutes!!!" I decided that I would look at my daily schedule and see what I could figure out since clearly it can, and does get scheduled in to my daily life.

The key points!
It's about staying organized and somewhat on task.
It's about starting every day with some sort of plan, and sticking to it!
And it's about being accountable for your time. Don't "lose hours" surfing the FB and the Twitter.

I find that if I do things in chunks instead of a scattered clusterfudge of chaos it works well. For example, I don't ride a horse, run, clean a random stall, teach a lesson, ride again and so forth. My day usually goes a little like this, keeping in mind that it is not summer/camp season right now which would certainly change the structure of the day. (and the sun is still setting late enough for me to run in the PM)

-Get up. Ugh. Grumpy. Drink a coffee.
-Go to the barn, feed the equally crabby horses. Put them out.
-Eat my 1st breakfast and waste 30 minutes on emails, blogging, the twitter, the FB...
*side note. I get questions about what I eat. specifics to follow!*

Stuffing my FACE. Per the NORM.
-Barn chores time!!! I get it all done.

The world's smallest picture of me stacking the world's largest pile of hay.
It's all in a days work....
-Snack 2nd Breakfast. (I eat a LOT) Ride my pre lunch horse.
-Eat lunch (like I said. don't judge.)

Luckily this is NOT my lunch.
Well, it could be lunch 1 of 4.... Or a snack. Or half a snack?
-Finish riding (usually 2 more, sometimes 3)
-Yeah, yeah I'll probably grab more food....
-Teach lessons all afternoon.

Teaching the future dressage riders of America!

-Do afternoon chores, scheduling for next day, pertinent emails, texts, calls, bills.
-Go home, run. Run a lot. Run some more.

Running. A lot.

-Shower. Eat more food. Talk to Eric about all the things. Read other people's blogs. Watch Breaking Bad. Wish that there were more episodes of Firefly. Talk to Eric about that, and transition into conversations about all things geeky/how we are the athletic power couple/future plans/how and when to pay the property taxes.

So that is how it gets done people. With many snacks, fashion, high fives and determination.
And it's really no big deal. I don't have 77 children. I don't have a high maintenance husband. I DO NOT have a clean house, whoops.
So make priorities, get it done and let the house get dusty and the laundry stay unfolded!!


Friday, October 11, 2013

September Recap

September was light on the races and heavy on the Smuttynose race prep. This was fine with me, and obviously paid off!

Miles run: 152
This is pretty good stuff since my last week was a little light (taper) and I did completely skip my last "optional" long run because I was at a huge horse show and said screw it...
As these photos show, I was a stylish volunteer and a fabulous coach! (oh, and I rode too...)

Pairs of shoes purchased: 1
After a repeat purchase of my beloved Wave 16's to start the month with I grabbed a pair of the much acclaimed Sayonara's. I still am dedicated to my 16's but the Sayonara's are awesome. Light. Fast. Cute! A great back up pair when you are in the middle of a couple months of abusing yourself and your footwear.

Number of Oiselle Winona Tanks purchased: 3. Yes, I have a problem. sue me :-)

Biking/Crosstraining/Core: REALLY weak. I had to back way off the biking because the hip issue I have been dealing with flared up post bike every time. I completely bailed on yoga because I could not finish work early enough to get there at all.... I had a very busy work month, which is excellent but I can't be everywhere at once. I did do very well foamrolling, does that count?

Races run: One, just the 10k run portion of the Lobsterman tri.

PR's set: Zero, although my 10K was a decent effort.

Longest training run: 20, which was a huge morale boost and my best long run since April!

Number of times I puked on my (new) shoes: Zero! Take that stomach!

Number of times I quit running: Zero. I really enjoyed running in September even though we still had a heaping helping of hot days. I seem to have acclimated to the heat and took it in stride. I also recognize the fact that I prefer the marathon training to ultra training, more variety, more speed work, more fun. Same number of miles just heavier on the fun.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Smuttynose Marathon!

Sometimes you wake up on Marathon morning thinking "I've GOT THIS I'm so READY!!!"
Yesterday did not happen to be one of those days.
However, this is a story that proves that how you feel when you wake up doesn't count!

You might have noticed a distinct lack of chatter blog wise last week and this was for a good reason. I was not having a particularly delightful taper and managed to come down with a rather unpleasant, although luckily not debilitating stomach virus type thing on Thursday night.
Knowing that a good training cycle (which I had) is more important to reflect upon than a shit bag taper (which I HAD) I decided to keep my whining inside and zip it.
Also, nothing pesters my delicate sensibilities more than reading blogs that say "I'm SO SICK before my big day but I will PERSERVERE #OMG #sobrave." So again, I zipped it.
I decided that if I felt better there were no excuses not to have a damn good race and if I still felt like a stomach ache wrapped in a vomity feeling then I better bag the whole thing and wait for a better day. Straight up sensible plan.

If nothing else, I was going to look damn good...
Pre race day was normal. I felt about 90% good so felt pretty confident that I'd be on my A game for Sunday morning. I worked for a few hours, went on a 2 mile run with my taper filled yucky dead legs and hopped in the car to meet up with my family-in-law down in Hampton, NH. We enjoyed a lovely evening of pre race chit chat and copious amounts of my favorite pre race food: bland, unoriginal Olive Garden Italian. I do not lie when I say that I seek out the OG for pre game food. We all hit the sack early in anticipation of the 4:45 alarm clock.

I selected this race with two big goals in mind.
PR the ever loving shit out of it. (3:29:00 or BUST)
And by doing that secure myself a -10 BQ time for 2015 (I'll be 35 for those of you counting.)

I had no B goal for this race. I was ready to sacrifice my legs/bod/GI system to the running Gods and I had no plans to hold back. In fact, I had made the educated choice to bail at the half if I started feeling horrible and to save myself to try again in NY next month.

So back to the beginning of this post, since I got sidetracked.
I woke up super neutral (read: whining a lot about getting up early) I was a bit put off by the VERY windy ocean conditions and storm on the horizon weather.
Luckily, with an 8:00 start I did not have too much time to mull it over- especially since I decided to start in wave 1. I was seriously like, UGH! Cold! Dark! Potential RAIN!!! But, as is often the case once I got running everything was fine. Proving my point that you must not judge your potential race on your early morning mood!

Who was grouchy at 5AM??? Oh me, that's right.

The bummer about this being my A race is that I fully and completely missed the first half marathon starts (and hugely successful finishes) of my BFF and SIL. They had worked so hard getting ready for this big day and I would have loved to be there for them at the start and finish- alas, I was already/still out on the course... I thought a lot about them in my first couple miles and was wishing then luck from afar (well, afar-ish. You can only get so far during a marathon!)

The wind made the first couple of miles more challenging than they would have been in an ideal world. Luckily they let up almost 100% after we moved away from the beach- and a good thing as I do believe my race would have been impacted by running into a monsoon. At mile 3 I pulled off my throwaway shirt and found myself in a good rhythm. I had turned off the auto lap on my Garmin as I actually enjoy doing a little math mid marathon (seriously, it keeps me amused and keeps me in touch with how my mental faculties are...) I was running DEAD STEADY at just barely sub 8. This pleased me. I concentrated on maintaining a very sustainable pace as I was zero percent interested in bonking at mile 15 similar to GCI, or running out of legs at 13 like Hyannis, or sucking in any way whatsoever. And so along I cruised....

I picked this race because it is pancake flat. There are a couple of little inclines (mile 9, 16, 22) but nothing to get your knickers in a twist about. I found that very little got in my way and that I was able to maintain my just-under-8 pace much longer than I had planned. The miles just kept ticking by, it was one of those perfect days where I never wondered "where the hell is the mile marker?" because it would be there long before I expected it!

Thank heavens for tough Facebook friends who sit in the rain to get pics!
I'm totally gawking around to see if there were snacks.
Apparently the guy in the raincoat was gawking at me.... Haha!

At mile 14 it started raining and never really stopped. 52 degree rain is cold, but I have had much worse this year. My best running conditions are cooler ones so I will refrain from complaining and be happy that it was not 90 degrees!

At mile 19 I started to calculate how close I was to my goal time and it was in reach, comfortably. At mile 22 I started to have visions of coming in sub 3:25 but knew to do so I'd have to kick it up about 10-15 seconds a mile and did not think it was feasible! (I mean, come on!) The good news is that I was able to chug along at the same damn pace the whole race, right to the finish like!  It was almost even splits which makes me all kinds of happy! Mile 25 came along, and not a second too soon because both of my legs fell off and got swept into the ocean. I was like "LEGS you only have one job and that is to get me to the END of this damn RACE!" Luckily they complied.

I ran across the finish in 3:25:45 and promptly started ugly crying and basically falling down. Jyoti popped up from out of nowhere and I fell down on her and cried some more. Angie, Eric and Andy showed up shortly to hear me babble incoherently, watch me shiver uncontrollably and tell me that they had all had amazing races and PR'd!! You guys!!! I'm so proud of you ALL!!!!
 My legs were broken and horrible and I froze to death in five seconds. So I totally skipped the music, beer and lobster party in favor of changing all my clothes and taking a sink shower at the police station and then heading off to get pizza in a warm building.

Angie and Me FREEZING post race!!!

So "A" goal completed. Kicked the crap out of my PR, BQ'd with a time that I never thought possible even 6 months ago, completely murdered my legs out there, left it all on the course and came home knowing it (and feeling it!) Thank you Coach Kelsey for getting me here in one piece. Clearly your help has brought me to this point and I am so pleased to have your know-how and logical guidance! And thank you Eric, for driving me home even though you were exhausted too!

I think this was a really nice way to wrap up this particular cycle of hard work. I honestly loved almost every minute of my late summer/fall training. I love the work involved in getting marathon ready and feel lucky every day that I have the ability and good fortune to be able to participate, and do fairly well in, something I enjoy so much. While I believe that this summer I discovered that I don't need to ever race farther than a marathon (50k is not really my bag) I do feel that at some point I might have a faster marathon in these old legs. I'm pretty excited to find out just how fast...