Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Taking the Reigns

WOW! I experienced a first last night. I was totally in charge of a run that has had my number all along, and it feels good.

In the past, I've gotten through the lactate threshold runs on the Pfitz plan, but it was a mental struggle to the end, with my body not feeling much better. It turns out there really has been a change from making my easy miles easier, and adding more easy miles to the schedule in places where I previously took rest days. Last night, I was able to knock out the four tempo miles without struggle. They were challenging miles and I felt them through my entire body, but I felt strong and never backed off, even quickening the pace in the last mile. I was even able to lengthen the run an additional mile beyond what was planned. It seems that my body IS able to handle more mileage than I used to think....it's just a matter of HOW I run those miles, and for what purpose.

In other goings on....it's crock pot season. I found a nice recipe for a slow cooked turkey chili, so I'm going to try it out on the children and husband tonight. In our concerted effort to cut out any crap from our diet, we've figured out that everyone seems to like the musical fruit, and chili just seems to go well with the frigid weather as of late. It's a nice comfort food without the stuff in those heavy, creamy winter soups I used to down all the time in the winter (and, SHHHHH......I slap some fat free sour cream and a bit of cheese in there to satisfy that craving ;) ). We'll see if it's any good, and worthy of becoming a regular addition to the dinner menu. The kids go back to school and regular activities in less than a week so it's time to strengthen my relationship with Mister Crock Pot-he makes me less crazy than I would be without his help.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Just a Quickie

I love my new OxySox. I've never recovered so quickly from a long run. Yesterday I ran a good 16-miler on my treadmill, which is both the longest distance and time I've ever spent on a treadmill. My "normal" is that I am extremely sore for 24-48 hours following a long run-I just tend to be slower than some with recovery time. My achiness following yesterday's run was no more than moderate, or about how I might feel following a shorter midweek run.

Sure, it was on the mill of dread, but I've had some harder or medium-long type runs that have left me much more sore than I have felt this weekend. I'm sold on these puppies and plan to wear them for the marathon-even if I do look like the roller derby queen while wearing them.

Today was a rest day on my training schedule, but between the holiday mileage challenge and feeling the best I've ever felt the morning after a long run, I opted for a six mile recovery run today. That makes seven days in a row of running (three of the runs were easy recoveries) and I do believe this is the strongest and best I've felt in a long time. Hopefully, this will continue straight through to April 11, 2009!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Feats of Strength

Yeah, sticking with that Festivus theme. ;)

Following a really nice morning yesterday of watching the husband and kids open their presents, hanging out with the family, and getting Christmas dinner prepped, I hopped on the treadmill for a run. I randomly selected an archived Fdip podcast to listen to that just left me in awe regarding the episode subject's incredible feat of strength, his courage, and selfless actions meant to benefit the lives of others, and couldn't believe I'd never heard the story of Terry Fox before.

My couple of Canadian friends are probably rolling their eyes because I really had no idea how important and unifying his Marathon of Hope was, and honestly hadn't heard of him at all until taking up running. I'm glad that I at least know who he is now, and hope that folks unfamiliar with Terry will go check out this clip on YouTube from ESPN:


I think about how tough my one marathon seemed to me. Then I listened to the podcast about Terry, and watched this, and realized that if you want to talk about strength and overcoming adversity, Terry Fox was the real deal.

Running a marathon? Every day? On a prosthesis in a time when they didn't make artificial limbs conducive to being active, much less for a run across a country? And all to give other kids with a cancer diagnosis the best odds of beating the disease and living long? No entourage, just his friend driving the follow vehicle as he used his step-hop-skip gait for more than 3300 miles before finally stopping and learning his cancer had returned. The amount of money he raised would be incredible by today's standards. Keeping in mind that it was nearly 30 years ago, it is all the more impressive.

He had more maturity and drive at 21 years old than some people ever have in a lifetime. It did get me in the gut as a mom, listening to his story and hearing that yes, he did succumb a year later to the cancer that had returned, this time in his lungs. More than that, though, I'm moved by what this one young guy did in his short life, how proud he made his family and his country, and his legacy of hope for those battling cancer, as he did. I love that he really did live each day like it could be his last, and that if you don't put up artificial boundaries and limits for yourself, the possibilities are limitless. I know I'm probably using every Afterschool Special cliche, but man-as a runner, as a mom, as a person who admires true feats of strength and courage, I can't help but gush about Terry Fox, tip my hat, and say rest in peace-you really left this world a better place.

In the awkward segueway department, I'm in the middle of playing a couple of mileage games on the running forums, and decided to go on a little bit of a running streak myself this week. In the past, I said I'd never be a streaker. I decided, though, that for the Christmas/New Year's holiday week challenge, why should I limit myself and decide ahead of time that I couldn't run every day for a week? I figured that I could add some mileage on my regularly scheduled running days, and use the off days to run comfortably paced recovery runs until I just didn't feel like doing any more running. No worries about hitting a prescribed distance or pace...just freewheeling. Right now I'm on my fifth day in a row, and suddenly I'm realizing that I CAN go on little short streaks from time to time without killing myself.

Sure, it's probably not wise to just start a permanent long streak now, but this is a fun experiment. It helps when everyone else is playing the game-even though it's just for fun, you see how others are doing in the challenge, think "right on," and then say "well, no reason why I can't tack on one mile today or a few easy miles tomorrow!" I remember how challenging this phase of training was for the first marathon, and to be able to do anything extra now is a real confidence booster, and further helps me shake off any need I'd been feeling to over-analyze MCM.

It's not exactly a New Year's resolution, but I really want to go into 2009 living like Terry Fox, make each day count as far as time with my family and friends, and also work toward my running goals NOW, without putting limits on myself or saying "this can't be done." In the words of Wooderson of Dazed and Confused, you just gotta keep livin' man, L-I-V-I-N.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Airing of Grievances

Hey, it's Festivus.....time to break out the old family pole!

Good grief, I'm tired this morning. I had a parent ask if they could bring their child by nice and early today because they had to work early. No problem, I said...just PLEASE CALL ME if your plans change, even if it's early, because I'll be up. Got up earlier than usual to be ready for the child, and still nothing a half hour after said child was supposed to be here. The phone rings, and guess who isn't coming today? She said she didn't want to disturb me, even though I asked her to please disturb me, early and often, if her plans changed. That was the only child besides my own who would have been in my care today, so I'm annoyed that I got up earlier than usual for nothing.

Another grievance. I live in Colorado, so people should be able to drive in the snow here, right? It's the Rockies, after all...they shoot commericals here about all things manly and tough, like big off-road trucks, ATV's, cattle, and the like. I've been curiously watching out my window as drivers slip and slide all over, either taking it way too fast or not getting up enough momentum to get anywhere. We live on a corner, and the way the UPS guy rounded it yesterday, I'm wondering if I should keep the kids in the back half of the house so we're protected when he comes crashing through the front of the house.

Enough pissing and moaning, though-I'm just not in to doing that for more than a couple of minutes to get it out and move on. I'm now well underway with this marathon training cycle, and tried something new for my Pfitz general aerobic run with strideouts yesterday. I have to do most of these weekday runs on a treadmill, since my choices are exceptionally early or exceptionally late so that another responsible adult is available to keep an eye on the little turkeys. Anything longer than a few miles on a treadmill feels as awesome as a trip to the dentist to me, but it's typically my only option during the week.

I recently read about another runner breaking up treadmill boredom by doing what probably has an actual technical name, but what I now refer to as "we go up up up, we go down down down" (after an annoying song a friend's child looooooooooves to sing until it's permanently embedded in my brain). I gave it a try last night, and holy moly, instant boredom buster! Nothing fancy...I just started at my usual, middle of the road GA pace, then increased the pace a notch every .25 miles for each quarter mile interval. As I started mile two, I held that pace for a quarter mile, and then stepped back down. Not only did this really make time fly, but it gave me little surges that didn't take anything more out of me. Each two-mile cycle of up and down passed quickly and suddenly I was ready for my strideouts. I have NO idea why I never tried this before! If the treadmill is not your thing, or it is and you want to mix things up, give this a go.

Tomorrow morning's Christmas Eve, and I'll be joining in with a local tradition of a few of the female runners in this area. They go on an early morning run in Santa hats, reindeer antlers, or some other Christmasy costume, and then come back to the home of one of the runners for brunch. They even cover our full riverfront trail loop, which is roughly the distance I needed to do anyway midweek, so I'm excited to be doing something besides a solitary treadmill run. I found some cheap light-up Christmas socks that are delightfully tacky, and will wear them along with my Santa hat.

I have one special shout-out and kudos today, too. I've got a friend who pops in to my blog sometimes, and she recently ran her own personal 5K race on her treadmill after embarking on the Couch to 5K program. There were times when she didn't think she could do it along the way, but she did, on her own, without course support or cheering crowds-which I think is all the more impressive because that's just a runner and their body working together! You know who you are, you kicked butt, and it's an awesome thing. Love the exclamation point on the 5K race, too, in that moment of "did I cover the distance or not?" and adding the extra .1 to be absolutely certain. All runners know a little something about running math, and have stories of trouble combining running with thinking about pace and distance.

I hope everyone has a fun and memorable Christmas, and special thoughts for those who are struggling with any issues or problems during this time. Run long, run strong.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hurts So Good!

Oh yeah, baby. I am feeling the confidence boost of not giving in to the fear of running "fast (for me, relatively speaking)."

Last night was my first Pfitz lactate threshold run of this training cycle. I'd nonchalantly visited the McMillan training calculator page earlier in the day to figure my training pace based on most recent results, and reality knocked me upside the head when I discovered the pace range I should be hitting now. Couple the more brisk pace with the fact that I had to do it in the evening, on the treadmill, and I was a little scared.

I ran the first few miles on a relatively brisk clip, and then started the first of four miles at the prescribed 15K to half marathon race pace. The instinct to reach up and power down the treadmill speed was strong at first. I fought the urge to do the easiest thing and power down a bit, telling myself to just relax and see how long I could hold that pace. Then, if absolutely necessary, power down-but keep repeating that "faster you run, faster you're done" mantra. The truth of the matter is also that if I want the best odds for a BQ in April, I've really GOT to push myself and do things that are uncomfortable during training.

The first two miles went decently, but then I started to doubt myself. I opted for a quick attitude adjustment at this point, choosing to begin counting off laps for certain people. Four laps were for various individuals with serious health issues who either cannot run now, or couldn't run in the past due to those issues. The final four were for each of my four kids. I couldn't believe it when the last mile was completed....these tempo runs were a bit of a struggle last summer and fall. They feel better now, relatively speaking.

After my run, I had a nice bowl of the Tired Daddy's crock pot chili and a True Blonde pale ale (whoops.....so much for that "no beer during the week" thing), and slept like a log overnight. Pfitz calls for a four mile recovery run today, but I am planning to gently boost my mileage this time around, and will do five or six instead. The other tweak here is that I'll take those easy miles VERY easy so that the medium long run that follows isn't an exercise in futility.

I'm coming back to edit this post, because I can't believe I forgot to include my big news for the day. I officially ponied up my money and registered for the Eisenhower Marathon in Abilene, Kansas on April 11th! We already had lodging arrangements, and my Dad's made his plane reservations to come hang out with the little monkeys while Frank and I make the trip, but I'd really been itching to make it official. I feel rededicated to training as it is, but parting with hard-earned money really helps add to that focus.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

All We Are Is Dust In The Wind

Oh man-that wind sure blew me this way and that today! This is probably a good thing, since it's not just a Kansas stereotype....there's a very real chance I could run my April marathon in gusting winds.

Today was a thirteen miler for me, and first medium long outdoor run of the winter in the "Spidey Tights," as my husband calls them. (I prefer to holler "honey.....WHERE is my SUPER SUIT?!?" when I wear them.) Those cw-x Stabilyx tights leave nothing to the imagination, but I don't care. They wrap and support muscles and joints as well as advertised, and I ran all last winter with nothing but typical minor aches and pains that all runners experience.

My pacing was really good on the middle miles and kind of dropped off in the final few miles, mostly due to those gusting winds. Overall, the run was probably still paced a little faster than my second week of marathon training for MCM, so I would say that I am on track to shoot for a 3:40 marathon goal by the end of this training cycle, even though I am not there today.

In other news, the Canyonlands lottery just closed, so in the next week we should hear if my oldest daughter, 9 years old, was drawn for the 5-miler. She ran this as one of two races last year beyond the 5K distance (the Bolder Boulder 10K being the other race), and had a lot of fun, along with scoring an age group placement. We divided and conquered last year (I ran the half marathon), but if she is drawn this year, we've already decided to run together this year. She saw how cool the Kokopelli trophies for age group winners last year were, and decided she wants as much help as possible from Mom with pacing to try to earn one this time around.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Living Up To My Blog Title Today

I'm in my second week of a new marathon training cycle and due to changes in my daily schedule, I can't run on the treadmill during my younger kids' naps anymore. Today's Pfitz schedule calls for a medium-long ten mile run, and of course, it's also the night of the annual winter concert at my 9- and 6-year-olds' school. The run can't get moved to tomorrow evening because that's adult ballet, and darnit, I paid for that class. I'm not skipping it. The only real option is to lay out my shoes, running clothes and water bottle by the treadmill, making it as easy as possible to get started quickly once we are back from the concert.

Yippee! Can you feel my excitement? Running right before bedtime is a runner's dream, right?

On the upside of things, I had a good progression run on Monday. I'm going to monkey around with more progression runs over the next four months, and see if it helps me fight the fade in the final miles at Eisenhower. I don't want to be desperate and trying to squeak in under the wire again, and I think progression runs may give me a physical and psychological boost beyond mile 20.

And now...off to check out my 4-year-old son's monster truck action coming at me from the dining room (and it's not even Sunday Sunday SUNDAY!)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's Not Just About Me, And My Dream of Doing Nothing-The Winter Sun 10K Race Report

Okay, the poorly kept secret is out. I am a huge fan of the movie Office Space. ;)

That's literally how I felt going into this race. A month ago, I was dreaming of a BQ-on Saturday, I was sucking down coffee at 5:30 a.m. with zero motivation to get in the car, drive down to Moab and run a 10K. My motivation to do anything besides phone it in could be described as less than zero. At my recent turkey trot 5K, I went in like gangbusters, big dreams of a 5K PR, but felt kind of lousy while running and didn't come up with the race I'd hoped for. I had made arrangements, though, with two friends to ride down together for Winter Sun, so it didn't matter what I wanted to do with my Saturday (and maybe this is why I made the plans...to get myself out the door and down to Moab).

My friend Suzanne was coming in to meet me at my home at 6:30 a.m.. She lives an hour east of me, and I live four hours from nowhere, as my father likes to tell me every time he tries to fly out west for visits with my family. She was also coming off a fall marathon, as well as an injury she suffered while running said marathon. We're in the same age group and have some ridiculously spot-on PR's at a variety of distances.

When she made it to town, we headed over to pick up Carl, who lives just around the corner from me. Carl had not initially registered for Winter Sun, essentially citing a lack of enjoyment with his racing and running at the time. He'd been saying how great his last few weeks of runs and most recent races had been, though, so I decided to poke him with a stick, sending him an email on Friday reminding him that there was still a seat in my car if he was hankering for a last minute entry into the race. There was a recent development that members of our local running club could pick up a guaranteed entry into the Canyonlands Half Marathon or 5-miler by running Winter Sun. As a club member, this was extra incentive to run, so he decided that he was in as well, and hence we had the Party Prius loaded up and ready to go at 6:45.

When we got to Moab, it was sunny, crisp-cold and clear, and just so much nicer than last year's race weather. RWOL sometime-poster Josh, who lives in Utah, was also there so we all got to meet up and chat before the race. I got warmed up and did feel pretty good then, but wasn't thinking too hard about the race. I think the comment I made about how I was feeling is that "my give a (darn) was broken."

I think about 350 or so people ran this race last year. This year, there were close to 600, probably in part due to the nice weather. We were lined up somewhere in the middle of the waiting pack, and I still was very much in the "whatever" mindset. I just wanted to beat last year's 48:59 time, and crack into the top ten in my age group this year (I was 11th out of about 67 or so last year). As my mileage is close to double where it was a year ago, a fast course ahead of me, and with results in the past six months that would predict surpassing that time, it was not exactly a "pushing it" goal for me. The gun went off, and off we went.

It was rather congested in the first half mile but I kind of wiggled here and there when there was room to move, but took it easy and didn't kill myself trying to push my pace or pass as many people as possible early on. First mile: 7:52.

The second mile includes a couple of ups and downs, and the only significant hills on the course. My breathing was good and the body just felt decent in general so I just tried to use good downhill form and move steadily on the uphills. Mile 2: 7:17

The middle miles were pretty nice. I felt like I was working really hard yet still enjoying being out there, and not wishing I was somewhere else. I would pass runners here and there yet I wasn't on a mission to do so-if I came upon one I'd creep on past and keep on running my own race.

Mile 3: 7:58
Mile 4: 7:11
Mile 5: 7:06

In the final mile last year, I felt pretty lousy and got passed by a couple of runners. As I entered the final mile this year, I was able to overtake a few more runners, and then really started kicking and pushing myself to finish strong. The last lap is around the track at the high school, and there's a race photo of my last year coming in looking like the poster child for people who hate running. It was pretty ugly a year ago. Seriously...I looked like I was having convulsions or seizures as I looked down at my Garmin in those photos, thinking "please put me out of my misery."

Today, I was certainly ready to be done by the time I hit the track, but I just had better control of my running at the end and broke the last lap into short stretches without looking back or thinking about the whole thing. I also didn't want to get caught by anyone I'd passed in the last mile and hold on to my position-I really wanted a top ten age group finish and didn't know how many women were ahead of me.

Mile 6: 7:14
Last .2: 1:47 (7:03 pace)

Final time: 46:24, a new 10K PR by 2:35! Granted, we don't have tons of opportunities to race 10K's right around here, but a PR is a PR so I will take that.

They don't have age groups broken out on the website other than the top three, but know I was 14 out of 279 among women, and counting down on those results, it appears I was 5th in my age group so I am very, very pleased with that.

Carl, Suzanne and I had a very nice lunch at the Moab Brewery and hit the road back to our neck of the woods. Carl had a great race too-he had his best 10K in three years. Did I mention that Carl is 75, and a cancer survivor? He came in in under an hour, and said that he had the same type of feel-good run I'd experienced out there. Suzanne, who ran very little coming in to this race due to her foot injury, had an outstanding race. It was not a PR for her but very close to how she did last year, when she was in a "racing machine" mindset and not dealing with injuries. So, it'll be just uphill from here for her now that she's back from the injury and getting back into training again.

This race is tremendously well-run and organized so it was SO worth it in the end to make the trip, even though I was dragging my feet before heading out the door. It was just a very joyful day as it wound up NOT being about me, and not caring about the race. That sun did shine brightly on us during the race, and it wound up being a great day with friends and acquaintances getting together to share a run together in a beautiful setting.

I'm looking forward to going back again next December, and who knows...maybe tricking myself into thinking I don't care before races is good for me. When it comes down to it, it really would be just tricking myself, because as soon as I get moving I realize how much I DO care, and that I shouldn't waste the opportunity when I'm out there running by not caring.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hoping there really is some Winter Sun in Moab!

I haven't checked the weather forecast for tomorrow, but really hope the race lives up to its moniker, and doesn't wind up being the Snow Blowing Sideways 10K. I suppose that might be good preparation for the Eisenhower Marathon, though. April weather in Kansas=total crap shoot.

The Winter Sun 10K was a race effort of which I was very proud last year. It was the last event prior to my partial thyroidectomy and a necessary four week break from running following surgery, and my motivation was high to go out with a bang. Of course, I got sick in the days prior to the event, and didn't meet my goal of cracking the top ten of my age group, but ran hard and finished with nothing left. That's a good feeling regardless of time or placement.

This year, I am riding down with my friend Suzanne, who lives an hour east of my home. We didn't know each other last year but discovered while checking out race results that we came in back-to-back at Winter Sun, with some other crazy-close finishes, including the 2008 Canyonlands Half Marathon. We both are running Winter Sun coming off of our first marathons in October, so this ought to be interesting. Coming off five weeks of marathon recovery and beginning a new marathon training cycle, I'm still running higher mileage than this time a year ago, and have had some better results at shorter distances without a dramatic difference in perceived exertion. I think I can run the race faster this year between increased weekly mileage, being free of illness, and not having last year's worry of surgery a week later. We'll see if those factors result in a new 10K PR this year.

Above all, I just want to have fun running tomorrow. The course direction and race management at the Winter Sun are outstanding, the shuttles to the start are well organized and there are nice door prizes (including coveted Guaranteed Entries in to Canyonlands!). Last year, my friend Jess couldn't find her gear bag after the race and the race director personally tracked down the runner with a similarly numbered bag who had accidentally picked it up. If you'll excuse the bad pun, they really go the extra mile to make this a quality event for those of us out here in Western Colorado and Eastern Utah, making it well worth the drive.

I'm editing this post to include one little unrelated footnote. At my husband's urging, I recently emailed Steve Runner, host of the Phedippidations podcast, with a link to my Marine Corps Marathon race report. My email to him was basically a thank you note, as there was a very helpful mental trick I heard him mention in an archived episode as he was running a marathon. The mental trick/mind game just made sense to me, and I used it with success through most of my running of MCM. It was cool to actually get an email back from Steve, because his podcasts often kept me company on my treadmill during the week, or outdoors on the weekend during long runs.

Well, imagine my surprise this morning when I did my usual Friday check to see if the new episode was available for download....there's a link to my blog in the show notes! I've always enjoyed listening to other people's race reports on the show, and it was a pleasant surprise to be included this week (especially since that MCM race report is as long as War and Peace ;) ). I figured I'd go ahead and share the direct link to the race report, as it is archived back in my October posts now.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Turkey Trot 5K

I'm a few days late with notes on this race, but then again, I'm always behind on blog race reports, so for me that's right on time.

This was the second annual running of our city's turkey trot. Strangely enough, we never had a local race on turkey day even though this is the largest city on the western slope of Colorado. The race took place about two minutes from my doorstep so there was really no reason NOT to be there. Being that I'm between marathon training cycles, and that almost all 5K's around here are events where I don't race, and instead pace one or the other of my two oldest girls, I figured that this was a good rare opportunity to throw caution to the wind. My plan was to run as hard as I could from the start and hang on as long as I could.

I did not run the race last year as we were in Park City, Utah, visiting friends. I had been told, though, that it was a pancake flat and fast course covering the roads and paved trails in our riverfront trail and Connected Lakes area. Awesome-today might be a PR day for me. At least, that's what I was thinking beforehand.

My oldest daughter and I lined up for the start on the overcast, cool, but not yet rainy day. We'd decided to lone-wolf it this one time, so we wished each other good luck and were off a few minutes later down the road near the physical therapy clinic where all the runners, friends and family gathered for the race. First mile: 7:00. So far so good.

Well...imagine my surprise when a course marshall directs us off the road and onto muddy, wood chippy, slightly rolling single track trail through the woods. (Note to self....take a look at the course map next time.) This slows me down a bit but it's a good thing because I took the opening mile a bit too fast. It was a bit more humid than I'm used to in our area due to all the rain overnight, and I didn't exactly feel like doing jumping jacks and backflips. Mile 2: 7:38.

When I re-entered the paved trail portion of the route, I was remembering why I don't love the feeling of an all-out 5K effort, and why I leap at the chance to pace the girls whenever asked. Luckily, I could hear the announcer on the mic at the finish so that was enough motivation to say "suck it up, sister," and keep moving along. Mile 3: 7:40. When I saw the finish approaching, I tried to kick it and lengthen that stride as much as possible. Last .1 split was :38. The guys at the finish yelled "23:05" as I finished, which would've been a one second PR for me. My Garmin, though, read 23:06, and when I got my time card it said 23:10. The sub-23 mark eluded me again, but I'll take that on what was a variety-filled cross country course, NOT a pancake flat road race.

I was handed a sweet potato pie at the finish, and my very intelligent husband suggested that we put that in the freezer to save for Christmas (and save me from myself-I would've wolfed that thing down and nobody else in the family likes sweet potato pie). I watched for my 9-year-old daughter to come in, and got to watch an exciting three-way race to the finish between her, the daughter of a friend of mine, and some third girl who was unaware that she now had a target on her back as the other two worked to catch her at the finish. Alexis finished about thirty seconds faster than the last 5K she'd completed a month earlier, and she was quite proud of herself because this course was more challenging and without the wall-to-wall friends and family of GOTR races. She had some tall runner step in front of her approaching the finish, so her Dad, AKA the family race photographer, wasn't able to catch the action, but she was nice enough to re-create the big finish for Dad's camera as she cooled down a few minutes later.

All in all, we had a nice time at the race, and I can't think of a better way to get the metabolism revving prior to a day of eating and football watching. And now, back to my regular programming-the beginning of training for my spring marathon and the quest to eliminate six seconds over the course of 26.2.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Pfitz training cycle is nearly complete!

If you count this last of five marathon recovery weeks, that is. Then, it's right back on that hamster wheel again!

Until then, I've got a few more free-wheeling days left. I'm going to do something I haven't done in a LONG time, and race a 5K tomorrow. Actually race myself to try to bring down my PR, set way back in March. Every other 5K since then except for one involved pacing either my nine or six year old at various local races. I don't often get to enter that exquisite world of hurt that is pushing yourself to your 5K limit.

Of course, living in the land of 360 days of sunshine a year, we've got rain, snow and overcast skies in the forecast. I'll ponder a bit how badly I'd like to have a chance to win a free running skirt in a drawing for submitting a turkey trot photo th runningskirts.com, racing in a skirt, and then head off to join the other locals trying to offset all the eating that will take place later in the day. Whether I crash and burn or race well tomorrow, I've decided to go balls to the wall, and not the slightly restrained tune-up racing done in a Pfitzinger marathon training cycle. In the words of BQ gal Nat Nat, you have to run a 5K on the vomit ledge.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The party's over.....

And it feels good!

There's only so much eating nonstop and indulging every food craving, including the infamous Sonic Tour of 2008 (sorry, Facebook friends), that a girl can do while doing a handful of recovery runs in the first two weeks following a marathon. I packed on somewhere in the area of 5-7 pounds in that short time, which I'm not freaking over. It's time, though, to get back to my regular programming, eat my normal stuff, and get back into regular runs.

I started today with my first GA run since the marathon, and it wound up being my best run since the marathon, feeling better than all of the dead legs recovery runs during the prior two weeks. When I got to the strideouts at the end of the run, I realized that it's the first run I've been able to enjoy from beginning to end since the race. It's a great feeling to be back! Even better is the fact that I can get outdoors for Saturday's nine-miler and off the treadmill, since my fabulous husband isn't going anywhere this weekend, and can get the kids up and ready while I'm out.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Getting Over The Post-Marathon Slump Hump Day

I think I'm finally turning a corner and starting to feel like a normal runner again!

This is my third week on the Pfitz recovery schedule, and after two weeks of dead legs, they seem to becoming undead. One thing I really like about the Pfitz schedule is that it actually HAS a recovery training schedule.....not just the training plan, the high of the marathon, then nothing, like getting spit out onto the side of the New Jersey turnpike with no direction after like in Being John Malkovich. It's giving me something to do without confusion over whether I am doing too much, or not enough.

I counted out the weeks from the Eisenhower Marathon, and although I didn't plan it that way on purpose, the five week recovery schedule ends perfectly with exactly eighteen weeks after until the next marathon. I know it wouldn't have been hard to tweak a schedule and make minor modifications, but it is encouraging to know that this really was a good timeline I chose for the next big race.

For now, it's time to get ready for a local turkey trot, and prepare myself to get thumped by our local big dog girls. Just kidding. I don't ever go in preparing to get thumped, but we've got some great local competition on the women's side, and it seems I'm always looking at their backs. I like it, though-I feel like I'm doing okay when I am able to SEE them at all. It's been about four months since I last ran a 5K for myself that didn't involve pacing one of the older girls, so we'll see how I do. It should be nice and cold, so this means it'll be a "no excuses" day so long as it's not raining or snowing hard.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Attempt #2 To Slay The Dragon

I think I've settled on a spring marathon, and looks like the scheduling will work out!

It'll be the Eisenhower Marathon, in Abilene Kansas. This race will be the antithesis of every megamarathon, will barely 160 runners last year. Runner feedback on Marathonguide.com overwhelmingly says the organization and course support from the volunteers is second-to-none, though, and the small field means I would be able to just focus on my race without having to play dodge 'em, like at MCM. Granted, dodge 'em isn't THAT bad, but one less thing to concentrate on when I will be trying again to squeak through sub-3:46, and won't have a huge cushion against that time if things are going well. If I can arrive healthy and uninjured at the start, and repeat the things I did right at MCM with nutrition and hydration, then I think this race could be my big day that punches my ticket to Boston 2010.

Training will start the week of December 7th. This should be good timing-I'm recovering slowly, but am losing the dead legs day by day. I think I'll be chomping at the bit and energized to get going again then. Even though I'm impatient to try again for the BQ, I think it was a great call to just take a pass on Rock and Roll Arizona. Besides being tapped out financially after the trip back east, I don't think I could physically recover fully, get trained back up, fully tapered and ready for a 100% effort in ten weeks. Some people can do that and rock it....I think I'd just be inviting injury and burnout since I know I'm kind of slow to recover, and need my rest days...I'll never be a "streaker" with daily runs for years.

I think Pfitz worked well for me the first time around, so after a little bit of thought and Q and A with other runners, I've decided that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I'll follow Pfitz 18/55 again with a few minor tweaks. I've heard some poo-pooing on this plan lately and suggestions that it is the cookie-cutter plan du jour, but I don't know that any other plan would've had me within seconds of a BQ right to the end. It was the right intensity and mileage for me, so I don't worry about what the big dogs have to say about it, though I did consider their opinions and thought about other options before deciding to stick with what works. Others can do it without injury, but I don't think my body would react favorably to entering that 70+ mpw zone. Pfitz gives me good bang for my buck, so we'll give it another go.

This'll be a notable trip to my April marathon for another reason...it'll be the first child-free trip for my husband and I since having kids! It's kind of funny that we'd hoped the trip would be to Boston, but it's all good because it's cheaper and closer. My dad will come out to visit with the grandkids and keep an eye on them, and we'll drive on out the Thursday before, returning west on Sunday.

I even found this kickass little bed and breakfast that boasts the unofficial title of "Inn of Champions." They've had several marathon overall and age group winners and placers stay there since the marathon started a few years ago, so I can't help but think that's a good sign.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Back to the Daily Grind

It's so weird to not have a marathon training run scheduled this week! Kind of nice, actually, that I do have a pretty relaxing recovery schedule over the next week or so. Nothing hurts, nothing is excruciatingly sore, but I can feel that the marathon was a whole different beast. The legs are just very, very tired, and heavy feeling. I paced my oldest at the GOTR 5K Saturday, and it was surprisingly hard work to get through on her race pace. Granted, it was not a recovery pace, and kind of more in the range of my general aerobic pace-but still MUCH more difficult than a 3.1 mile run at that pace normally would feel.

Off to adult jazz tonight. We'll see if that loosens me up a little bit. Then we'll try a 5 mile recovery run tomorrow.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The 33rd Annual Marine Corps Marathon Race Report-First Marathon, A BQ Attempt, & A Matter of Seconds

Okay, I've been putting this off long enough. ;) This is very, very long. Fair warning. ;) And this is copied/pasted to my regular forums at RWOL, so second warning to skip altogether if you happened to catch it over there.

To go back to the very beginning, about two years ago, I was a few months out from my youngest child's birth, out of shape, overweight, unable to run more than about 30 seconds without being exhausted. On a lark we signed our oldest daughter up for the fall GOTR 5K because she was an active kid who liked running, I started doing the equivalent of C25K with her, and the rest was kind of history. Got back in shape, the best in my life, and realized I loved running and racing.

Somewhere during this time of increasing endurance, mileage and pace, I started thinking about a marathon, and running a time that would qualify me to run Boston. I was hearing "you just want to finish" so much-but you know what....the thought of a BQ just lit a fire under me. I figured that if anything else, BQ or not, I'd have a race that was that much better if I trained for the goal I had in MY head. I very much respect the marathon and know that anything and everything can happen. I knew that *IF* I managed to BQ the first time, it realistically would be by a very narrow margin....less than a minute, even seconds was my prediction based on training and race results through the summer and fall. I believed, though, that I had a realistic shot at it so I went through all of my training with that in mind.

I signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon last spring with 30,000 of my closest friends, and got started training about two months later, after a winter of base building and racing. I grew up in Virginia, and my father ran this race 6 times (not 5, as I learned this week) in the 80's, so there's family history there. My SIL, a high school and collegiate runner at short distances was also running the race as a first timer, and we arrived last Thursday to stay with her family prior to the race.

We got up on race morning, and were dropped off at the Metro by my BIL, riding in to the Pentagon metro station, moving our way up to the big parking lot where most runners were hanging out. After a day of cold and rain on Saturday, I was very happy that there was no precipitation. SIL and I planned to line ourselves up somewhere in the 8:00/mile range, and I was planning to average 8:20-ish miles, she at closer to 7:50-8:00. We were going to start together but then do our own thing and branch off when we needed to.

After several stops through the port a potty line we hurried up through the crowded start area and worked our way smack between the corrals that had about 8:25 or so as a dividing point. I checked my gear one last time....I was carrying a handheld with a couple of GU's, a Geetah straw so that I could drink and jog through most aid stations, and more GU's in my skirt pocket. A few minutes later and we were off.

For all the talk about massive crowds/jostling for position at MCM, I have to say honestly that it did not feel any more crowded over the first few miles than our Canyonlands Half back here in this part of the country. There were a lot of people on the course for sure, but moving between them when I needed to was just not that bad. We started moving uphill and I just wasn't feeling physically my most spectacular, but I never feel great at the start of a run or race so I just tried to relax and remember that I'm never jumping for joy in the first few miles.

First few Garmin Splits:

Mile 1: 8:23
Mile 2: 8:38
Mile 3: 8:05

I started kind of settling in, and planned to really be aggressive on the hills, both going up and coming down. I like them and thought that if anything the downhills would help me get a few extra seconds here and there, so I wasn't going to put on the brakes. Early on, I was very surprised at how many people could read and were actually pronouncing my name correctly from my Team Tiara foam crown. I hadn't been thinking either way about wearing it for the race since none of my teammates would be at this race with me, but when one of my coaches asked half jokingly if I was going to wear it, I'd said "you know...why the heck not?" I didn't realize it at the time but this turned out to be something that made it easier for family to spot me on the course, and I surprised myself at how much it really pushed me when a Marine course volunteer or civilian spectator shouted my name.

More splits as I settled in:

Mile 4: 7:59
Mile 5: 8:20
Mile 6: 8:16
Mile 7: 8:22
Mile 8: 8:10
Mile 9: 8:09
Mile 10: 8:17

Somewhere at the crest of the last big hill early in the race (I think this was mile 8 or so?), among the fans, there was a lone woman cheering loudly and enthusiastically for all the runners, continuously drumming on one of those small handheld Japanese drums that you twist back and forth with the two balls attached, drilling away on the drum. The first thing I thought of were the women of the Moab Taiko Dan at the Canyonlands Halfs who drum from atop the last hill on the course, so I really tried to take that as a sign and additional motivation for the rest of the race. The weather was cool, but my breathing was a little different than in Colorado. I wasn't getting my butt kicked by it but there was a very, very slight difference in the effort it took to breathe in moist air when we're at about 10% humidity back here on most days.

I passed my Dad for the first time on the course at 10 miles, and got to smile and wave back when he shouted out to me. From here on out, I really started focusing on the rest of the race being a series of one mile races or time trials, not getting into the "OMG I have 16 miles to go" mindset. I listen to Steve Runner's Phedip podcasts when I run inside on my treadmill during the week, and he had some show when he referred to breaking his marathon miles down this way, and this just really resonated with me as a way to relax and pace myself. It was just beginning to warm up and get brighter out there at this point.

Mile 11: 8:25
Mile 12: 8:24
Mile 13: 8:26

I used some sort of modified Geetah straw-I think I missed cutting something somewhere but it was all good....I would kind of pinch the cup, get the straw in there the right way, close the top around it and sip down a powerade. Two thumbs up on this method....I know from prior races that aches and pains seem to creep up on me only if I slow down or walk through aid stations in most cases, and that my BQ time, if I made it, would be SO close that I could get it or miss it with going too slowly or walking too much through aid stations. I know other people have great success walking the aid stations but it seems like this is almost always something that doesn't help me. One of two aid stations where I walked for a few seconds was the one that was somewhere around this point, and when I stopped, my left IT band suddenly hurt. Now, this has happened in a few other runs and went away, so I tried to stay calm about this, plan on using the straw for the duration of the race, and hope it went away. After a few minutes the pain did subside, and I went on my way with plans to Geetah straw my way through all the remaining aid stations. The straw is definitely a keeper as far as tools and tricks for me for future marathons.

As the middle miles rolled on, I still felt okay but not like I had extra kick. Just enough to maintain, and I was glad at this point that I'd let myself fly down the hills in the spots where they existed in the first half of the marathon. I passed my DH, children, Mom, Dad, MIL and FIL around mile 16 and was not enjoying the heat but focused on each mile, getting through each one and not sabotaging myself.

Mile 14: 8:39
Mile 15: 8:34
Mile 16: 8:27

In the 17th mile, I started looking for Greenlee from Marathon Race Training and the women's BQ attempt thread group. I knew she'd be around here somewhere in a yellow shirt and hoped I'd be able to spot her. Imagine my surprise when she comes bounding toward me! She ran along right next to me and we chatted, and as I was chatting I became oblivious to the fact that I'd accelerated to an 8:00 pace up that incline that started somewhere around 17.3 miles. I said WHOA....how'd that happen? and scaled back a bit, but was thrilled to have gotten up something I probably meant to take conservatively on a nice clip without feeling awful. It was SO cool that she was there as a spectator and really awesome to have a FE for a few minutes, then and there! :) Thank you Greenlee!

From here on out I started having weird flashes of self-doubt creeping in since this was my first marathon, I was slowing down a little bit and didn't want to hit the wall, crash, burn, and have a disastrous end of the race. At the same time, I knew exactly what my splits and elapsed time looked like, and knew that being too conservative could also mean my missing a BQ. I kept having these moments when I would feel really tired my pace would slip significantly, and a moment of "oh crap. The wheels are coming off" which inevitably would be followed by a little burst of energy and I'd say "no, they're not! Keep going! Keep going!" I knew I was not out of it for the BQ but right on the edge, and really didn't know how hard I could push when I felt good without killing my chances.

Mile 17: 8:26
Mile 18: 8:43
Mile 19: 8:26
Mile 20: 8:56

So here we came into no man's land. The last 10K. I mentioned that in the first half, in the humidity versus altitude training ratio, the humidity probably had a miniscule edge. Well, in the last 10K, even though I was getting VERY tired and starting to slow, I think this is where training at altitude and racing at sea level gave me a very slight edge. I was starting to feel kind of lousy, but thought about how I felt during the last two miles to the summit at the Imogene Pass Run. I'd grade myself as "needs improvement/still learning" in lots of aspects of running, but I think one thing I've been not too bad at is finding whatever it is that I need to mentally push through tough situations. What I told myself here was "this isn't as tough as Imogene. Remember how hard that was? This isn't as painful as that. Go, go, go." I thought of Hammer from the Masters forum and his first marathon BQ by mere seconds, what it took to do that, and how I was going to have to keep trying to surge whenever I could in the final miles if I was going to BQ. I was slowing down but kept repeating stuff to myself in my head..."GO! PUSH! DON'T CURL UP AND DIE! INCESSANT FORWARD MOTION!" I thought of some people I know who cannot run, and the children (Cody, Megan, Katie) of several forumites fighting REAL health battles, and that's really all you need to suck it up and realize how it's a gift to be out there, able to exhaust one's self in a marathon.

Mile 21: 8:31
Mile 22: 8:48
Mile 23: 9:03

Leading up to that mile 23 marker was the longest mile of the marathon to me. Everything at this point seemed like a distraction...the roar of the crowd, food coming from restaurants in Crystal City, even some cigar smoke wafting onto the course from somewhere. I was feeling pretty beaten down and like all this stuff was further sapping my energy so I just kept focusing straight ahead to whatever landmark was a short distance up the road. I was fading but fighting as much as I could. I knew now that it was going to be very close but also had an overwhelming urge to want to walk.

Mile 24: 9:13

I was determined not to fade away and give it all of whatever I had left but was beginning to struggle some now. Somewhere in here I made a choice. I am still not sure if this choice was exactly what I needed when I was struggling and hurting, saved me from total collapse and gave me a little bit of extra energy to finish the race, or if this was the dumbest and worst move ever made by someone trying to BQ, and right on the edge. I felt awful, the powerade at earlier stations had kept my energy up and I wasn't cramping anywhere in my body, but I was getting tired and also a little sick to my stomach from the powerade. I was craving water and felt like I needed to stop, drink, and be certain I finished the entire thing. So, at the last aid station, that's what I did. One of only two aid stations where I stopped for a few seconds at all....and probably about five seconds, give or take.

Mile 25: 8:58

From here I just pushed and turned those legs over as fast as I could. If I had to describe how they felt, it was just plain tired. Not heavy, not tight or cramping, just tired. I felt pretty desperate now and felt like things were slipping away but was determined to not have the wheels come totally off.

Mile 26: 9:00

I came up that last hill, just feeling like toast. I knew that I definitely did not have it by gun time but could see the time clock. I knew it was roughly two minutes between the gun time and the when I crossed the start, and just threw myself into it as hard as I possibly could, even though it seemed that I was going to be about thirty seconds too slow to qualify. I kicked as fast and hard as I could, knowing that I had no way of knowing and that regardless, I needed to finish knowing I had absolutely nothing left.

I hurled myself across the finish with an 8:47 split for the last .2. Total time I'd recorded on my Garmin was 3:46:16. I had absolutely nothing left, stumbled, and nearly fell into one of the Marines at the finish. I walked a few more steps and was pretty woozy, and was asked once or twice more by Marines if I was okay. As soon as I moved through where they had the waters, and downed that, I started to feel a bit better. I moved through another line, and got a Powerade, and started feeling like myself again, kind of. My left IT band was hurting (didn't hurt again during the race after that point at the half) and I was so exhausted that every step was very labored.

I finally made my way to the finisher linkup area and found my family. I was very surprised to see that my SIL was NOT there....she should've easily run sub 3:30 at least. As we are standing there, my DH gets a text of my final split. He says "Hey, you finished" and holds up the phone, which reads 3:46:04. I couldn't believe it. Five seconds.

In the meantime, we wait for my SIL, whose texts suddenly stopped coming in. We were worried about what might have happened, and it turns out she'd breezed through the first 16 miles before a hamstring that's been an on-and-off nagging injury just seized up in pain, and the pain further moved down into her calf. She'd tried to run but fell over the first time she tried and had just wrenching pain each time she tried to run again. Determined to finish however she could, she found a power walking gait that she could do without significant pain, and walked out those last ten miles as fast as she could, finishing in roughly 4:30. I'm immensely proud of her for how she smartly handled a really crappy hand in the race, not doing things that would further aggravate the injury, but still getting it done however she could.

My final, official result from the marathon was adjusted by one second after a few days to 3:46:05, so I missed my BQ time of 3:45:59 by six seconds total. I would be lying if I said it doesn't get to me that I got THAT close and didn't BQ or that I'm not analyzing things that I could have done differently. The side of me that's trying to be logical about everything knows, though, that I didn't have anything left at the end, and that it was a satisfying experience to do some things reasonably well to finish in the time that I did.

Official splits from MCM's website:

5K 25:53
10K 52:06
15K: 1:17:48
20K: 1:44:14
Half 1:50:12
25K: 2:10:59
30K: 2:37:54
35K: 3:05:23
40K: 3:33:50

Age Group 72/1148
Women 421/7139
Overall 2364/18249

If you made it through, my apologies, and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Get Me A Ticket For An Aeroplane....

Wow...two more days and I fly East for the marathon! It's time, no more training. I've got a seven mile run tomorrow with two at marathon pace as a dress rehearsal run, and am actually scheduled for two recovery runs in the days prior to the marathon, but my husband and I agree that I seem to do MUCH better with a few days off before a race and perform with fresh legs, and that I stay just as loose. I tried a recovery run the day before the Slacker Half in June and that was NOT a good race so I'm feeling okay with going against my plan for once.

Yesterday afternoon was spent with the GOTR team girls. I don't have a gift for public speaking at all but the coaches were cool and kind of bounced questions off of what I was saying, which helped a great deal, and then the fun part was opening up the floor for questions from the girls, and finally getting to run with them. I was asked a surprisingly "wow" and deep questionn regarding my half season of cross country in high school, when I dropped out because I thought I didn't really belong on the team because I was the slowest one there. The girl asked if I regretted that. The answer I gave to that question was that there's nothing I can do to change that decision now so I just try to work as hard as I can, push myself and enjoy my running NOW.

That wasn't a B.S. answer, either. In a weird way, I think it's kind of a blessing that I took up running again when I did, and that I didn't get too in to it when I was a teenager. I have the maturity (sort of) now that allows me to take crappy workouts or races in stride without melodramatics, days of sulking and cries of "I'm so awful...I should just quit this running thing altogether!" Now I just kind of laugh after bad training runs and say "wow, that sucked, but I did get through it and that's something!" I say "what the hell was I thinking," giggle and roll my eyes at myself over racing strategies that were obviously bad in hindsight but seemed like great ideas at the time. I also know that those "bad" runs just make a runner stronger so it makes me really appreciate when things come together and a race or run is absolutely fantastic. That all said...I told the girls to avoid ever getting down on themselves, comparing or thinking they shouldn't be part of a team or group....DON'T quit because you think you're not as good as X athlete. Just do it for you if you like it.

The best part was just running with them. I was pretty well blown away by the ease with which these girls could run and talk. All in all, we did two big mile loops around this park (not the usual location due to the Sarah Palin/Hank Williams lollapalooza down at our city's sports complex where the girls usually work out, going on at the same time), and MAN, it's just cool to see that I think we're officially out of the era of people thinking of running as a form of punishment in other sports, and where kids are getting back to doing it as a stand-alone form of exercise and just having a good time with it.

I recognized one of the girls from the Mike the Headless Chicken 5K and she smiled and seemed to be excited when I said I remembered her from that race. This little girl is a petite wisp of a kid whom most folks might not give a second look to at a road race, but bounced and sprung along like Tigger, looking effortless as she went on to win her age group in the heat and sun. It's just cool to see all the girls running like that, and be a part of their training.

I guess I have to really start packing now for the trip! I keep threatening to do it...hasn't happened yet. It appears that the packing gnomes are not going to show up, though, so I think I'll have to bite the bullet today and get ready to drive to Denver tomorrow evening.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


No, I'm not watching The Ring. It's officially seven days to race day!

I had a 12-mile yesterday that was a world of suckiness. I didn't want to get up early today to run it, but it was scheduled for today so I did it starting around 3:30 PM yesterday. I was tired before I started and really never got out of the rut. I'm going to apply the same school of thought, though, from the dance studio that bad dress rehearsal equals good show/performance.

I did hit the appropriate pace range for this run but really couldn't rise above it at all. This would've been a bad race for me if it had been marathon day. Oh well....it wasn't my race day so it's all good and I'll just move forward from here.

Tomorrow's also a big day when I get to speak to the Girls on the Run Team girls. It's not one of the regular school programs-this is a dozen girls from all of the area schools who just love running, so I'm supposed to speak to them about whatever I feel like. I am an awful public speaker so hopefully they don't start throwing stuff at me. The funny thing here is that they normally meet at our municipal sports complex, and after making arrangements to meet them there on Monday, it was announced that Sarah Palin would be coming in to town (with Hank Williams Jr.) to speak. At the municipal sports complex. Same time. Same place. So, practice had to be moved to another area park because I don't think they'd appreciate us running circles around Mrs. Palin. I wouldn't make much of an example being tackled and carried off by Secret Service. ;)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Holy cow, it's time to count down, isn't it?

I will be approaching the finish of my marathon in exactly nine days! How did that happen?

My marathon shoes arrived yesterday....New Balance 1224's. I suddenly realized about a week ago that I had close to 300 miles on my older pair of 1223's, about 150 on the second pair, and just didn't feel like running in either pair for the marathon considering that I need to retire shoes somewhere a little over 300 miles. This seems to be a common symptom of taper madness....you become compelled to shop-often for running gear, but could be anything. I walked around in the shoes a bit and am pleased to find that the new version of the recently discontinued 1223's really does feel the same. I'll give them a go for my recovery run today on the treadmill, for my 12 miles on the river trail Sunday, and then they will go in the bag I'm carrying on the airplane with all of my race day essentials (NO way am I going to chance that stuff getting lost in baggage hell!).

I've also been keeping an eye on the 10 day weather forecast in a bit of an OCD fashion, and laughing a bit at the "feels like" part of the weather forecasts. I grew up in the DC metro area....but you just don't hear those words in any western Colorado weather forecast. We just don't have the humidity here to have any deviation between the actual temperature, and how it feels. Right now I'm doing weather dance for a little bit of humidity (not much though), cloudy skies (that make way to sunshine around noon), and a gradual progression from 45 at the race start, with a slow progression to 55 by the finish. That's not much for me to ask, right?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Pfitz 3 x 1600 VO2Max Workout

It's today. Somebody hold me.

My 4 x 1200's two weeks ago were TERRIBLE. As it turns out I just wasn't feeling great that week and was fighting a cold but still, I've done other challenging workouts at not quite 100% and didn't do them as pitifully as that one. I'm a bit scared for this one because we're now talking about 1600 meters at my 5K pace-THREE times. Nearly a 5K at 5K race pace in the middle of an 8 mile run. I'm almost thinking that I want to start the intervals earlier in the run so I'm more fresh for them but I am not sure it's going to make a huge difference-these longer intervals are clearly the ones where I need to improve the most.

This is really the last hard workout before the 2008 Marine Corps Marathon for me, so I just want to end on a good note. So, in the immortal words of Gloria Gaynor, I will survive. I'm just going to make myself get all the way through them, one way or the other, then begin focusing on strategies to make it from the Denver International airport to Washington-Dulles without being asked to never again fly the friendly skies with my family.

Monday, October 13, 2008

An Honest Tune With a Lingering Lead Has Taken Me This Far....

That might be the story of my training this year. Last year, it was filled with group runs with fellow runners in training for The Other Half. It was all happy and chatty, with lots of boundless enthusiasm about our first venture into 13.1 land. We were featured in the race program, and sort of got treated like rock stars as we ran the race with our foam crowns and met up with teammates at the finish.

This year, it's been a solitary road in training for my first marathon, now two weeks away with the real training complete at this point. Several of those girls are pregnant, one moved, one took a break and just started running again so it's really just been ME out there with my thoughts. I am not using the word "lonely," though-it's actually been a great thing for me this year. I don't really get alone time otherwise so it's been invigorating to get those few hours uninterrupted, free to think about anything I want, or nothing at all. I love my kids, but with four of them it's just a very welcome and energizing break to have that time.

I've done lots of thinking out there at times, and other times just zoned out to music that allows me to just get deep in my head and run, hence the title of this blog entry, a lyric from Widespread Panic's "Driving Song" that just feels like it was written for a long run around the Connected Lakes here on the river trail. I was never an iPod listener this time a year ago, and am sort of surprised that I've got a few artists and podcasters to thank for adding to my runs. Allison Krauss + Union Station's double live album has been one that just meshes well with early morning running, along with Widespread Panic's Space Wrangler as a tried and true staple. I found myself actually looking forward to that point in the second half of summer long runs when I'd crank up "Coconuts" and "Contentment Blues" (That Chicken Tastes Good!" Then there was the perfect tempo run album of all time...Phish's A Live One, Disc One, building up to that crescendo on You Enjoy Myself with the indecipherable lyrics (gosh this feeling mighty differente? wash uffizi drive me to Firenze?). Definitely, there are certain songs and albums that have been the soundtrack of this training cycle. And it's not all my hippie jam band music....throwing in some Von Bondies telling me to C'Mon, C'mon, a little bit of 311, or Soul Coughing singing to Move Aside and Let the (wo)Man Go Through have helped too.

I also discovered Steve Runner's podcasts during this time, so I've enjoyed and appreciated the way he can make me laugh hard at times (the steroid-infused Barry Bonds helium voice saying "I Like Money" is now a common saying by the kids around the house), and really move me with serious commentary at other times. It's been cool to really learn more about my chosen sport and some of the folks who have turned it into what it is today, and just appreciate the fact that this is your average Joe Runner, husband and father, who like me used to be overweight and didn't believe himself to be capable of much of anything in the runing department. So I have to send a big cyber thank you to Steve. Even my non-running husband has started listening to his archived podcasts when he uses the bike trainer here at the house.

I think it's no coincidence, as well, that I happened upon the podcast of a guy from right outside of Boston who says you've just GOT to run the marathon I'm trying to qualify for...because "Hey, it's Boston!" It's kept me hungry to pursue this BQ goal after actually HEARING him live on the course.

There have also been the RWOL BQ women. What a tremendous and diverse group of women who will give you straight and honest feedback without ever talking down to one another, and really pump up and support each other through thick and thin. I owe them a huge thank you-I've learned SO much from everyone and have been sitting here with baited breath each of the past few weekends, watching and waiting for results to come in. More than once I've cursed the computer when marathon websites weren't properly working, or splits were slow to update.

I've been lucky to have some of THE best female runners in the region for coaches through Team Tiara, the ones who really helped get the ball rolling on the point I've come to today. I got an email from Girls on the Run after doing their spring 5K in '07 (my first race) regarding them looking for women who wanted to run and fundraise. I really did NOT think a half marathon to be within the realm of what I was capable of, and sent an email asking about the program to our regional director, really expecting her to say "nah, it's too soon. You need to run more before you can do this." Instead, what I got back was a VERY encouraging email telling me that while yeah, you have to train for it, YES, absolutely, I COULD go from 5K to half marathon in four months' time.

Had she not been as encouraging, or the coaches and teammates so friendly and approachable, I could've gone screaming the other way. You hear so much about women being unsupportive and not nice to one another in general. I have to say that running women are SO supportive of one another and carry each other through thick and thin. How cool is that? I'm trying to do that now for friends who are getting out there for the first time with C25K, or just finishing it up and wondering "what now?" Or help with those little random questions that I know the answers to now, but are NOT at all obvious when you're first getting out there. I do remember being scared, uncertain and nervous and kind of feel like it's my duty now that the shoe is on the other foot to let these women know that their bodies CAN do it....it's just a matter of getting the mind to understand and believe it.

There have also been the many supportive family and friends, some with running background and experience, and others with none whatsoever who have taken the time to talk and ask me about my training. We runners joke a little bit about the folks who ask "So how long is this marathon?" but in reality I am always surprised and totally appreciative when someone asks about it, how training is going, or whatever.

Then there's my husband and kids. I KNOW it's not the most convenient thing in the world when I have to vanish for a few hours to run every weekend, or hole up in the bedroom on the treadmill, but they've been awesome. Not every mom with kids gets this kind of support during such time consuming training and they've been my main crew from day one. My better half has been the voice of reason when I've had some injuries that could have become major ones that could force me to cancel the big event. He seems to know instinctively whether he needs to gently soft sell me on something I should be doing, or just flat out say "Hey, you'd be a total moron to run today." Okay, I'll be fair, he'd never call me a moron. He has his very effective way of conveying that message, though.

And the kids...I'm not kidding when I say I LOVE knowing at the end of races and long runs that I'm going to see them. :) I was SO excited to see them at the finish of Imogene Pass and run over to hug them all before crossing the finish. I love that my two-year-old shouts "GO MAMA! RUN MAMA!" or that my four-year-old son likes to play Mister Massage Therapist and give me a back or foot rub. My six-year-old, who used to scream bloody murder when she was three or four about going for family walks has suddenly transformed into this kid who WANTS to be a runner and WANTS to do races! If you knew temperamentally how she is-it's mind blowing to my husband and I. Even more mind blowing that she's this zen runner now-just smiling, kicking her legs, swinging her arms. So if she wants to do this now because I'm doing it, it just pumps me up more.

My nine-year-old is amazing too. Now that she's becoming quite an experienced 5K-er, and has this innate first-kid seriousness and competitive drive, she seems to really understand what I'm doing in training, and gets into all kinds of specific questions about my distance, my pace, and other aspects of the daily runs. I don't ever want to force running upon them, so it's really a thrill that they are not only interested but actively participate in it, both in their own running, and supporting me. It has been the coolest thing ever to have my family crewing for me on weekend long runs, whether it's them refilling and switching out my handhelds at my car parked at the trailhead, or my husband doing like he did yesterday, being in charge of getting the kids out the door to some activities in the morning and leaving me a note that he'd left me a breakfast burrito in the microwave. Training has been hard but thanks to them, I don't have any added stress that comes from lack of support or outright negativity.

I know nobody reads these boring rambles but I was thinking about this on my run yesterday-all the ups and downs and people and influences I needed to acknowledge and thank in what has NOT been a lonely training journey, even though I've been out there alone on many of my runs. I might be the one moving my arms and legs, but I have been far from alone on this journey to my first marathon, and just wanted to acknowledge all the positives and support I've been lucky enough to experience throughout.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Last Pfitz 20-miler!

Wow! Is it really time to begin that descent into taper madness?

I showed up for a Team Tiara group run Saturday, expecting that as per usual, I'd start with them for the first two or three miles, then split off to finish my run. For the most part, my teammates are training for The Other Half with a few doing the Rim Rock Run (22.6 miles), so their training schedule's different both in terms of mileage, and timetable. The Other Half is a week before my marathon, and Rim Rock is two weeks after. I'm cool with this, and like at least getting to be with them at the beginning of the run.

Well, I met the other women, and surprise, coach Leanne says "I was thinking I'd run the first twelve with you so you're not by yourself the whole time." I was really excited to have someone to run with BUT....let's keep in mind something about her-she's a former track and field All-American and has a list of running accolades a mile long. She's a total sweetheart and says "I'll just go whatever pace you're going!" but trust me, there's still a bit of pressure to perform there. She is as humble as they come, but her recovery pace is still easily faster than the top of my range for long runs. I figured, though, this'll be good....it'll keep me from getting lax and just phoning in the slowest possible pace.

We started out, and MAN, the gnats were out in full force on the route. They REALLY seemed to like Leanne and we stopped a couple of times when she asked me to see if I could spot ones that were dive-bombing into her eyes, and try to swipe them out. I felt a little funny jabbing my sweaty finger into her eye, but hey, I got the job done and we'd continue on each time, bugs removed and no damage to her eye by my hand.

I used the opportunity to pick her brain about marathon strategy, including pacing strategy during the race, and whether or not to deviate from my written plan that week before. We both seemed to agree that it wouldn't be a bad thing for me to can the recovery run the day before the marathon-so many people seem to like to do a shakeout run but honestly, I don't think it's going to help me personally-especially after flying, and being two time zones behind. She also told me not to freak about the congested start, that it could very well be to my advantage and allow me to have the juice left in the last 10K to make up that time, and then some. So, I'm freaking less about missing out on a BQ because of a slow start. She imparted all of her "works for me" thoughts about nutrition, too, and the importance of getting calories immediately after a long run or race for a faster recovery.

We also got to chat about other fun random stuff, like how we met our husbands, our kids, and other non-mom, non-running stuff we do. She's a cool lady and we're very lucky to have someone who is THAT good but completely approachable and friendly to help with our training! Seriously....I would've turned and ran the other way in fear last year if we didn't have such great coaches. It was a nice surprise to run with her and have the opportunity to get training advice from someone who knows a LOT of things that I don't.

We moved along at a pretty good clip for the first 12 miles, then Leanne bid me adieu and I continued on. I was experimenting with Succeed Caps, or S-caps electolyte tablets, on this run, instead of my usual GU's. I normally don't like the taste of the GU's so I figured I should monkey around with alternatives before race day. I popped another one at this point, and continued on my merry way. I was a little tired by the end, but I felt no cramping or muscle aches, no upset stomach or anything like that. And, even with the several gnat-ectomy stops, and slowing my pace for a mile or two around mile 15, I still finished this run on a several seconds faster pace than my first 20-miler! I was very pleased with how it went.

The other good news-I am normally VERY sore for two days after long runs. I am not sure if my body is more accustomed to training or if this was a direct result of the S-caps, but I only had moderate soreness and stiffness Saturday, waking up feeling nearly 100% on Sunday. After being kind of sick last week, I feel damn close to a million bucks today.

I'll be doing my 8 miles with 600 meter intervals in an hour or two, then it's a fairly easy week. I'm kind of relieved that with all the tweaks and tiredness of training, things are coming about as together as they can be at this point.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wow, What a Craptacularly Bad Workout

It feels weird to be trumpeting to everyone that I had a terrible workout. Oh well. Might as well own up to it.

This was the 10 mile run on the Pfitz plan, four weeks to goal marathon, with the 4 by 1200 meter intervals at 5K race pace, with 2 minute jogs between. I am NOT making ANY excuses, but I did have a lousy night of sleep (or lack thereof) last night. I just couldn't fall asleep and was still looking at the clock at close to 1am, and remember getting up once or twice during the night. Still, I was positive this morning and looking forward to doing the intervals. After all, I've done intervals on this plan all the way up to 1000 meter intervals and got through them.

I felt tired before starting, and a little sick and tired once I started running. By the time I got to the intervals, I just felt crappy. I made it through three intervals at slightly slower than the prescribed 5K race pace. I suppose this is good because I was ready to quit the intervals after the first one, but made it through three of them.

I got to the last one, made it about 600 meters, and that was it. I felt like a big steaming pile of poop so I slowed to a jog for a few minutes and then finished out the run on a brisk pace, though nowhere close to 5K pace.

I know this is only one run, but it was an important run so I'm feeling at least a little bit discouraged. Here's to hoping that tomorrow's rest day recharges me before the 10 miles scheduled on Thursday...at least I know that one will not kill me since it's a regular ol' general aerobic run, no intervals, strideouts, or any other accelerations or harder paces.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

All Signed Up For the Zen Run 10K!

I've been listening to Phedippidations/Steve Runner's podcasts on long runs and treadmill runs (well, I guess that would be pretty much ALL runs lately) and it's been great to have a virtual training partner during this marathon training cycle. I've been toying with the idea of registering for the Worldwide Festival of Races, which is a big virtual racing festival featuring choices of the Kick the Couch 5K, Zen Run 10K, and Worldwide Half Marathon. I have to do a time trial that day anyway since we have no official 10K races going on here in the Junction then. I figured that might actually give me more purpose and feeling of racing when it's really just going to be me out there. I'm excited....it's neat to be part of an enthusiastic group of runners all around the world who aren't running side by side, but running together with the same purpose somewhere on or around the weekend of October 11-12.

If you're a fellow runner, you can sign up here. Even if you're not a runner, you could still sign up for the 5K and give it a go with power walking or hiking it with a couple of run intervals thrown in there for fun. It's free, no pressure to perform, just something cool to do. Check it out here:


I've got a day off today from running...just some lowkey core training type stuff to do later.

Monday, September 22, 2008


I swear this was discussed amongst the women's BQ attempt group but it's all a blur to me as far as what the consensus was. I'm looking at the schedule for four weeks to goal marathon and can't figure out where their math is coming from. The week is supposed to look like this (and I run my week starting on Sunday, not Monday as Advanced Marathoning formats the training schedules):

Sun-rest or XT
Mon-VO2 Max-8 miles w/5 x 600m @5K race pace, jog 90 seconds between
Tues-Medium Long Run-11 miles
Wed-rest or XT
Thur-Recovery + Speed- 4 mi w/6 x 100 meter strides
Fri-8 to 15K tuneup race (will actually do this Saturday, and move the long run to Sunday this once)
Sat (my Sunday)-Long Run-17 miles.

Pfitz says this is a weekly mileage of 50. If I take out the race, I get 40 miles, then depending on the race distance I get a maximum possible 49.3 miles. Maybe I shouldn't split hairs over it, but I am. Anyone have a clue? I don't this morning.

So my kids' naptime will be spent on that 8 mile run. Looking forward to getting it out of the way early so I can get my butt kicked at adult jazz. It's sad-I really thought I was in pretty good overall shape but that class kicked my butt when I tried it out last week. Guess that means I need to attend it more often.

Friday, September 19, 2008

On Pfitz Training Plans

Since a few people actually appear to wind up at my blog while searching for information Pete Pfitzinger or Pfitz plans, I figured that maybe I'd post a few quick tidbits and links that have been helpful to me in sorting out the plan. I do not claim to be an expert on anything-this is my first marathon, and I probably know less about marathoning than many individuals. That said, I've learned a few things in training through experience, and reliable sources, so if I can share some of what I have learned and help out a fellow runner, then I think it's worth my while to type it out.

First off....training paces. So many of us who have been using the Pfitz plan for the first time have questioned at least once whether or not we are in the right pace range for a given run. Though not everyone may choose to do this, I have opted to use the McMillan running calculator as a general guide for the appropriate pace range for a given run. You can find it here:


Select a distance and enter a time for that distance, and you will get a full chart that includes appropriate pace ranges for all types of distances and workouts, including but not limited to recovery runs, tempo runs, long runs, and intervals. The ranges are nice because as you know, some days as a runner you feel terrific and want to push yourself a little. Other days you are feeling lucky just to get out the door, and try to do just enough to keep your training on par.

As for the distance I've used to get those paces, I have opted to use a 10K result, NOT a half marathon or other longer distance. A 5K is not a great predictor for marathon success, and based on conversations with more experienced runners, plus information from the wonderful Jim2, who many in running cyberspace circles may be familiar with, it was my thought that this indeed would be the result to plug into the calculator to get the best possible results at my marathon.

This is the article written by Jim2 (he has many well-researched articles that include his thoughts and opinions based on actual numbers and statistics, and is a true go-to guy for many of us younger runners):


It is long, but a great read. You can return to his main page and find many articles on not only marathoning, but all things running, including some great stories like "Sarah's Saga" about a runner's multiple attempts to "beat the bridge" and finish the Marine Corps Marathon.

Now, here are a few random thoughts that have helped me during this training cycle. Number one....I fell right into the trap of running recovery paces too fast in the beginning. I didn't realize I was doing it and thought that just dropping back a bit slower than my GA (general aerobic) place was good enough. Then I couldn't figure out in the early weeks why I was feeling a bit tired when running the next workout on the schedule. After asking around (and confirming this by plugging my times into the McMillan calculator), I was doing the recovery runs WAY too fast. A recovery run is a recovery run....not a slow GA run. It should take nothing out of you and should really feel like a walk in the park (well, almost). That would be my first big tip to Pfitzers. If you feel like the recovery runs are too slow and easy, you're actually doing them just right. If you're working at all in them, it's a bit too fast. Once I corrected that recovery run pace, I immediately noticed that I would have more juice on my next regular run.

With regard to pacing, I also made the mistake on my first marathon pace long run to take it too fast. I thought it would be good to essentially build a cushion and try to hold on as long as possible. Bad idea. I have my second marathon pace run tomorrow, and plan on taking it AT my goal marathon pace, no more and no less.

As for other long runs, I've been working at starting the runs at about 20% slower than marathon pace and working up to finishing at about 10% slower than marathon pace. This seems to be one thing I've been doing mostly right, although there have been a few days when I was really tired and just did what I could, and others when I started a bit closer to that marathon pace.

Jumping around a bit to strides, or strideouts-I found this video by Katie Koski to be immensely helpful. This was another aspect of Pfitz training that I did seem to have the correct understanding of, but seeing this video confirmed that I was on the right track.


I happen to love strides. They are so short, and coming at the end of the run, the pressure's off to think about covering any more miles on the run.

With regard to tuneup races, I haven't worried too much about getting these to match up perfectly with what Pfitz prescribes. Don't get me wrong, I think it's important to get actual race experience during training, but living where I do, we simply don't have much available to run locally besides 5K's and trail races, which are paced differently anyway. I have several races on my schedule but they're just when and where they've worked into my schedule. That said, if I had the 8-15K races available when they appear on the plan, I'd do them, but I'm just trying to race whenever I can and not dwell too heavily on it not matching up exactly with the plan.

My last thought, and this is purely my opinion again-the recovery run is the only run I really feel 100% okay with ditching if circumstances beyond my control cause me to bag a run. The long runs are crucial to marathon success, and I think the medium long run and various hard workouts (the LT runs, the VO2Max sessions) are also very important for those with specific time goals for their marathon. While the recovery runs also play an important part in keeping the muscles loose, and help us recover from the tough runs, I think it's the run to ditch if you know you HAVE to miss a run during the week. I fully intended to run my recovery run today, but due to somebody springing a surprise on me today, I wound up with a choice of running tonight (with a marathon paced long run in the morning), or not at all. I am opting for not at all so that I can preserve the quality of tomorrow's run.

Again-I don't profess to be an expert in anything, and have no credentials, books, or articles on the subject (well, besides THIS little blog entry). Some of the links provided, though, come from folks with information, thoughts, experiences and opinions on the subject. Hopefully some of you will get some ideas and answers to questions you may have through some of the links here. I know they've been very helpful to me, and I just wanted to share the wealth.

(My apologies to non-marathon training friends-and now back to your regular programming).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rest Day, How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways

Ah, what a glorious day here. A rest day. All too often, my running blogs are about RUNS.....but rest is equally as important.

I was Pfitzing again yesterday, and boy was it a doozy. Nine miles, with 5 x 1000's at 5K race pace (7:30 miles), and 2 minute jogs between intervals. I wanted to just curl up in the fetal position in a corner by the time I was on the fourth interval. Add to that the kids coming in for shower time (they've got their own bathroom but for whatever reason prefer to clean up in mom and dad's shower...go figure) and talking to me when I was just focusing on not falling off the treadmill, and I was ready to be done. It was the promise of an ice cold beer after the run, and the rest day today that kept me pushing through the whole workout.

So, today I am doing nothing in the way of exercise, and it feels good. No guilt for the rest day, or wishing I was running. I'm going to go to the dance studio this evening to watch my daughter walk like an egyptian with her fellow dancers instead of cranking out the miles. I'll get to read some extra books with the younger kiddos, and probably lay around and watch a little TV after they go to bed. They dumbbells and exercise ball are just going to collect dust tonight and I couldn't feel better about it. Maybe I'll even pick up some Americone Dream ice cream on the way home to complete the rest day in proper fashion. Tomorrow will bring another time-consuming medium long run, but for now, I'm going to play blissfully unaware of the impending run, and enjoy my down time.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Incessant Forward Motion-The Imogene Pass 17.1 Mile Run Report

That incessant forward motion is what this race's founder repeated over and over in the pre-race slide show/orientation. Incessant forward motion is what will get you to the summit, so never stop moving-and they were important words to live by on this course, not just something clever he thought he'd say!

I got down to Ouray a little after 5 on Friday, and Ilana, whom I met on my marathon rac training forum and was sharing a room with that night, had gotten to the hotel just before me. We grabbed dinner with one of her friends, hit the orientation (alternately laughed and cringed at slides of people doubled over, huffing and puffing up to the summit), scored some chocolate at the chocolate shop and went back to the hotel where we were able to soak in the hot tub outside under the stars before laying out gear and getting some shuteye before the race.

The hotel wound up being literally two minutes from the start (elevation of 7810 ft), so it was a great setup to just hang out in the room until about ten minutes before the start. It was a cloudy at the start but the forecast was still for great weather on the course. A few minutes later, we were off.

My strategy for the day was just to take an easy pace on segments where I could run, and be really careful on the parts where I would be hiking and walking. The first bit of hiking came a few tenths of a mile into the race, and for the first few miles I was able to alternate walking and jogging. The first time checkpoint, Upper Camp Bird (11,235 ft) was roughly 7.5 miles in to the race, and you have to make that in 2.5 hours so my main objective was just to come in ahead of that mark. The sections of uphill hiking and walking were really slippery with lots of scrabbly rock underfoot so I just tried to watch a little bit in front of me and go cautiously. I made it to the UCB checkpoint in a little over two hours, and spent about five minutes there having some food, taking in some electrolytes, and snapping a few pictures before moving on.

The next roughly 2 1/2 miles is probably THE hardest thing physically that I've ever done. This is where the "death march" nickname that one of my Team Tiara coaches/mentors gave to this run came from. If you look ahead it's just a stream of ants marching up switchbacks to the summit, and the closer you get, the slower you're moving. Because it's really steep in most spots, and it's all slippery rocks, I also had to pay very close attention to where my feet were going. Other than my planned stop/photo op at the Upper Camp Bird checkpoint at 7.5 miles, though, I never stopped on the way up, so I was really proud of myself for that. I just kept following the sound of the ringing cowbells, and a woman whooping it up, hooting and hollering at the point on the course when the climb finally stops. I reached the summit (13,120 feet) in a little bit over three hours, I believe (I don't think they have those splits up on the website yet).

It was cold, but sunny and about as nice as you could possibly expect the summit. Again, I took my time to look around, take a few photos, snack on some cookies at the aid station (they had chicken noodle soup up there too!), stretch a little bit and get ready for the downhill. I think I spent close to ten minutes in total at the summit. Not a typical thing for me to do at a race but then again, this wasn't a typical race, and since I was proceeding with caution anyway with my hip, I figured I might as well enjoy it. It was really cool to turn around and look down and say "I got up here on my own two legs".....not in an ATV, not as part of some luxury adventure sightseeing tour group in jeeps or whatever.

My legs REALLY felt like Jell-O by now, and the aspect of my running that needs the most work is definitely downhill trail running, so I decided that my game plan going down was NOT going to be push for a fast finish, but go the other way and turn it down a notch or two to get down safely on tired legs. I had mountain goats flying past me left and right, but the three times I kind of gently skidded and landed on my butt and hands on the downhill, I knew I was doing the right thing because those harmless slides could've been nasty injuries if I'd allowed myself to get too concerned with what others were doing, and tried to take it the way some of the better trail runners did.

The weather was gorgeous coming down into Telluride, and I was surprised to see that wherever I was in the pack (which was somewhere at the back of the midpackers) had really thinned out. I guess most of the front-to-mid-packers were well ahead on the course, and the back-of-the-packers well behind. I wound up getting a good half mile stretch in what I think was the 15th mile where I was TOTALLY alone, just coming down the trail along the tops of aspen trees on the downslope, and it was awesome.

I finally could see Telluride approaching, and then I was finally on pavement for the two blocks downhill to the finish line. DH and kids didn't see me and I didn't see them until just before the finish but they'd managed to plant themselves just before the finish. I didn't hear the announcer, but I guess they were announcing each runner and their hometown as they came in to the finish, and DH was impressed that the guy got my name totally right, haha. I finished in 4:41:xx, which was 64/95 AG, 765/1071 overall finishers (there were I think about 50 more who started but either didn't make the time cutoffs or stopped on their own).

That's WAY WAY off my goal marathon time (which the training plan on the website said should be pretty comparable to your marathon time), but I am happy with my performance and not going to split hairs too much about it since I went into this wanting to start and finish healthy, and basically just keep moving at the most consistent but conservative pace possible since I knew there would be many ways to get hurt or sick out there.

So that's my novel. It was one hard "run" but the event is VERY well organized, the volunteers and search/rescue personnel on the course were GREAT and I don't think this will be the last time I do IPR. I'm thinking that next year I'll train specifically for IPR and run it for time, and use it as a tuneup for my first running in '09 of our local 22.6 mile race across the CO National Monument.

A footnote-I took photos but on a disposable camera so I wouldn't smash our "good" camera, and I haven't filled it up so if I have any good shots once I've taken all the pictures, I'll share them in a week or two. Ilana had a real camera and posted some great photos on her flicker account and blog so I'll check with her to see if she doesn't mind me linking in to them.