Tuesday, September 25, 2012

First Marathon Recap

Well, I did it.

On Sunday, I ran the Fox Cities marathon, and it was... different than I thought it would be.

Let's start at the beginning...

I woke up on Sunday after a great night of sleep, hopped in the shower, and enjoyed half of a bagel with peanut butter and honey, some Gatorade, and a cup of coffee.

Decked out in the PR purple with my PureFlows, homemade armwarmers, and rufflebums.  

The drive to the start was exceptionally pleasant because I got to ride with my husband and my beautiful friend Kim, who was also running her first marathon.  Side note:  she BQ'd, and I (spoiler alert) did not.  ha.

We met up with a bunch of awesome runners at the start:

Kimba, me, Sarah

It was COLD out.  I'm not sure of the exact temperature, but it was right around freezing, and my Raynaud's was acting up in full force.

I wasn't paying attention to the time, and suddenly everyone was running to the start, and I found my way into the pack around the 5:00 hour pacer, and lost all of my friends.  An even bigger bummer, I didn't get to see my sister-in-law Kathy before the start to wish her luck on her first half (turns out, she didn't need it!  :))

My strategy for the race was pretty straightforward:

  • Divide the race into six parts - five 5 mile chunks, and the last 1.2 miles.
  • Run the first 5 mile chunk slower than any of the others
  • Negative Split
  • Dance, cheer, sing, have a party out there.
  • Come in under 4:30:00

Miles 1 - 5 | 10:12, 10:25, 10:03, 10:19, 10:13 | Total 51:25 | Avg: 10:17

The first few miles just flew by.  Matt and I high-fived at each mile, and it seemed like we were constantly seeing mile markers, which was great.

The not-so-great part was the pace felt hard.  I was fairly steady around 10:15 miles, and I swear, they felt like 8:30s.  My feet were numb, my breathing was a little labored, and I felt... worn out.  Not terrible, just not as fantastic as I had hoped I'd feel.

Miles 5 - 9 | 10:02, 9:58, 9:59, 9:57, 9:52 | Total - 49:52 | Avg: 9:58

These miles went by a little more smoothly - I wasn't checking my Garmin nearly as much as I did at first.  The fear of starting off too fast was slowly fading, and I was regaining feeling in my feet.  

We saw our awesome cheerleaders for the second time around mile 8, and  it was such a pick-me-up.  

They had ridiculous signs, and I loved them:

Kevin, Rachel, hubby Nick

If a Marathon Was Easy It'd Be Called Your Mother 

And my reaction to the sign:

Miles 10 - 14 | 10:47, 10:18, 10:07, 9:56,  10:05 | Total 51:36 | Avg: 10:19

This section was the hilliest portion of the course.  Nothing crazy, but definitely enough long inclines to throw the pace off a little bit.

After the 10 mile mark,  we ran through a gauntlet of middle school cheerleaders who were absolutely frenzied with excitement - it was AWESOME.  I never knew I wanted 30 twelve-year-olds to scream my name hysterically, but as it turns out, I did.  And it was amazing.

Shortly after that, I had to take pitstop number one of the day.  In an out in less than 90 seconds... not too shabby.

As Matt and I neared the halfway point, he let me know he was going to drop back and walk a bit soon.  I was feeling really good and was bummed to lose my buddy, but not worried about going it alone.

I hit the halfway at 2:13:46, and thought to myself,  "I am not ready for this to be halfway done!"  I was having a blast.

Miles 15-19 | 10:07, 9:56, 9:59, 9:45, 9:36 | Total - 49:32 | Avg: 9:54

I really started getting into my groove.  I saw my awesome spectators again at mile 16, and shortly thereafter, we turned west, and into the WIND.  Whoa.  It was pretty windy (I found out later it was gusting to 25 mph), but it definitely gave me something to talk about with other runners!

The main thing I remember from the segment was how many people had already started walking.  I passed dozens and dozens of people, and was feeling really strong.  I tried to pass on encouraging words to the runners I passed, and heard "This WIND!" more times than I can count.

Miles 20-25 | 9:56, 10:05, 12:29 (ha), 9:50, 9:36 | Total - 52:08 | Avg: 10:25

Mile 20 was AWESOME!  I even gave a little flying leap at the aid station (side note: I do not recommend this), and saw my cheerleaders again.  I also saw Amy for the fourth time that day as she was waiting to start her relay leg.  She gave me solid advice, "Hey, Kim!  Go run a 10k!"

Predictably, after mile 20, it got a little rougher.  I started feeling like I was ready to be done, and the miles were dragging.  Right around 22, I had a sudden, urgent feeling.  Yeah.  That feeling.

I went from "Oh, hey, look at that funny sign... man.. I'm kind of tired... I wonder how Matt's doing..." to "Oh my god, I'm going to shit my pants.  I'm going to shit my pants.  I'm not a fast enough runner to get away with shitting my pants during a marathon".

Thankfully, I spotted a lone porta-potty up ahead.

I don't want to get too graphic with you guys, but this was a long, frustrating, fruitless three minutes in the crapper.

I actually laughed for awhile in that porta-potty (probably seriously concerning the passing runners).  There's just something about going from the solid, rhythmic sound of your footfalls for four hours, the wind rushing past your face, to sitting in a hot, cramped little hut trying pretty unsuccessfully to poop that struck me funny.

I saw my awesome mommy at 23, and I told her that I was ok, but ready to be done.  That was a very lonely mile, and it was so great to see her.

Around mile 24, things got rough emotionally.  I was disappointed in my pace, pretty positive a negative split was out of the picture, and tired.

I also had forgotten that the course took us up and over a bridge next to Theda Clark Hospital.  It's where I gave birth to my babies, and where my dad lost his life.

As I ran up the bridge, I could see the Children's Hospital where my littlest guy was stuck in an isolette for the first two weeks of his life.  Just past that, I saw the concrete stairs leading to a little side entrance where my brother, husband, and I spent so much time while my dad was on life support.

I lost it.  The tears were streaming and my breath was coming in ragged gasps.  I felt like I couldn't catch my breath.  I blew a kiss the hospital where I had lost and gained so much, and crested the hill.

I cruised down the backside to the cheers of volunteers and spectators, and spotted Nick, who was such a welcome sight.

 Last 1.2  | Total - 11:47| Avg: 9:49

He ran with me for about a quarter of a mile, then cut across the park to be able to see me  cross the finish line.

As I rounded the corner and saw the finish line a few hundred yards away, I willed it to come closer.  I picked up my pace just a little, and enjoyed the cheers of the crowd.

I raised my arms and took the last few strides of my first marathon.

When I crossed, I didn't cry, I didn't collapse, I just smiled.  I was happy.  I was emotionally and physically exhausted, and so very glad to be done.


 Fox Cities Marathon
10:10 pace
Division: 29/62
Sex: 193/398
Overall: 540/915

I'm still digesting my feelings about this race, but they've been vacillating wildly between disappointment, relief, sadness, and pride since Sunday.  I'm still glad to be done, but I'm already planning my next one.  

Bottom line:  Running 26.2 miles was harder than I thought it was going to be.  

If they could make a bumper sticker that says "26.2 Miles - That Shit Ain't Easy" I'd be all over that.  

Check back later this week for all of the post-race fun and some reflection on my goals - some were met, and some were definitely not.  

But it is important to note... I BEAT OPRAH!!!!!!!!  :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Plan, Stan

In exactly forty-eight hours, I'll be almost done with my first marathon.

I'm getting excited.

The sleep-deprivation induced apathy that has settled on me this week is finally ebbing away.   The kids have not been even close to sleeping through the night, and I've been in a fog for days.  But after a couple of solid nights of sleep, I feel more wired, more anxious, more ready to run.  I find myself thinking a few times a day, "I wish it was HERE already!"

Deep in taper madness (with still two days to go!), I find myself increasingly focused on logistics.  The pace calculator at Cool Running has become my new best buddy, and I've been poring over DailyMile logs like they're going to unlock the secrets of the universe.

So, here's the plan:

***First and foremost, I want to have fun.  I want to appreciate the beautiful course, the spectators, the glorious weather(!), and my fellow runners.***

Hippie blissful runner-speak aside,  I have to face my demons and realize I'm not, nor will ever be, a runner that's content to just run a race to run it.  I do have a time goal, and yes, I know how inadvisable that is for a first marathon.

Instead of the regular A, B, and C goals, I'll just put out there my real, honest goal.


Here's how I'm going to get there:

  • Run the first 10 miles no faster than 9:45s, but probably closer to low tens.
  • At the half, if I feel like it, I'll pick up the pace to closer to 9:30s (my long run pace)
  • At mile 20, pick it up gradually every mile and progression run the shit out of that marathon.
  • Drink early and often.
  • Eat pretzels, ShotBloks, and Starburst and hope I don't crap myself.
So that's that.  Either all of that will happen, or I'll just blow up and have to crawl the last 10 miles.  Either way, should make for a good blog post on Monday, right?

Really though, this is one of those rare races where the thing I care most about is feeling good at the end.  Mainly because, well, it's a FREAKING MARATHON, and because of the number of failed attempts at this beast I've had over the past few years.

I had planned to run this same marathon in 2009:
Got knocked up.


Giant funbags + infant twins = not fun training


Femoral stress fracture

And now here I am about to actually run it.  I feel incredibly lucky.  


Tell me it'll all be ok, ok?  Any last minute advice for me?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Carb-loading, and a Blogger Meet-Up!

What a beautiful, crisp fall morning we have in Northeast Wisconsin... I went for a run (my last before my FIRST MARATHON) this morning, and my cold ears and sniffling tells me that the seasons are changing!  I love summer, but I'm so excited for running in fall weather.

I wanted to write a quick post about my marathon prep.  A few months ago, I wrote a post talking about the science behind carb-loading, and I tried it in earnest for the first time for the Wisconsin Half Marathon.

I counted my carbohydrates each day and aimed for 400g each day... which is hard.  And depressing.  Seriously.  Going from an unintentionally lower-carb diet to 400g a day made huge changes for me.  I felt lethargic, BLOATED, and I was starving all of the time.  I'd find myself just snacking without even really realizing it, and I was FULL!  By the time race day rolled around, I damn near needed Rachel to cart me to the start line in a wheelbarrow - I was up four pounds and oddly obsessed with my new sausage fingers.  

The discomfort was worth it though.  I didn't need to drink nearly as much water during the race and felt like I had so much energy the entire time.  So I'm doing it again, starting with....

Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Pancake Mix

You haven't lived til you've had these pancakes.  I'm literally salivating as I type this.  

So anyway, I'll be up to my eyeballs in bread and fruit and juice this week, hoping to give myself the best possible chances of not having the end of the marathon be a death march.  


Also, we'll be having a blogger meet-up at the Fox Cities Marathon this Sunday! You don't have to have a blog, or be a runner, or anything to come have beers and laughs with us post-race!  You know you want to.. we're so nice!  :)


Anyway, we'll be meeting around 12:00-12:30 at a local watering hole... email me for all the details!  


And if seeing me isn't enough to bring you out, there will be plenty of other (much cooler) people there too:   this girl, and this girl, and this girl...

Blogger meet-up - are you in?  If you can't make it, will you have someone to hug you all day to make you feel less devastated?

Do you carb-load?  Do you love it or hate it?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Jumping out of my skin!

I could not possibly be any more excited for a race that I'm not running.

Tonight, I'm making the two hour trek to Rachel's house.

Tomorrow, I'll be waking up at 2:45am to drive an hour to the start of...

   The North Face Endurance Challenge!
THEN, I get to cheer on Rachel as she tackles her first 50k! And I even get to run a little bit with Julia who is getting ready to rock her first 50 miler!

Go give them lots of well-wishes on their blogs and think about them tomorrow - they'll be doing something incredible.

Good luck Rachel and Julia!!!!

""The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."
Robert Frost"

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Running Stuff Makes Me Happy

I was lucky enough to get to try out, break in, and love up some awesome products from a handful of companies for both the Longest Day event and for Ragnar Chicago, and I've got to let you guys in on some seriously sweet running gear.  Get ready to email the gift-givers in your life...

I know a lot of you are already familiar with some of these products (because we all need Body Glide, am I right?) but I always like it when I know which companies really care about the running community.  They'll get my business in the future over any other company because I like people who like us.  So there.


Magnets on the Cheap - This was really sweet.  We got these awesome magnetic signs for our vans for Ragnar Chicago, and they looked pretty badass.  See for yourself:
OK, it's not the BEST picture of the sign, but Falon's bright 
red thong-covered ass more than makes up for it.

Best part about the sign:  no problems staying in place even with erratic sleep-deprived highway driving and panties flapping on them at 70 mph.  


Chrissy’s Knee High Socks - We were sent some seriously awesome socks to rock for Ragnar - custom made for our team:

Panty Raiders style
These socks would be PERFECT for a high school sports team, or unique race swag, or of course for Ragnar teams.  We did a LOT of lounging around in these socks, and they have held up super well.


My Race Ragz - Holy crap.  I can't even say enough about how much I loved our Panty Raiders shirts.  This thing is so comfortable, it's my first choice for what to wear during my marathon.  Perfect fit, printing looks amazing, so flattering and comfy.  THE BEST.  I wish all race directors used this company... I would donate far fewer race tees to Goodwill.....

12 women, 12 different body types, all looking beautiful and ready to run thanks to MyRaceRagz


Sparkle Skirts  - Leah at Sparkle Skirts is so sweet and helpful.  She has a personal family connection to Alzheimers and generously donated one of their awesome SparkleTech skirts for our raffle.  The winner of the skirt LOVED it, and I'm so jealous I didn't get to try one... maybe for Christmas (ahem, husband).  :)


Inkblot Graphic Design Studio - I wrote a whole post dedicated to Valerie's mad graphic design skills, but I wanted to also post my business logo she designed... from Panty Raiding Pirates to a fitness coaching business, she's got me covered.


Allied Medal Displays - Joel at Allied is a super cool guy, and they were nice enough donate a couple of medal displays for our Alzheimer's research raffle.  Rachel and I ran in honor of one of his family members lost to the disease, and it meant a lot to us to have the support of Joel and everyone at Allied.  Top-notch people, top-notch product.  

P.S.  An Allied Medal Display should be #1 on the Christmas list for "the runner that has everything".  Seriously.

Handful - Ok, you guys already know how much I love Handful.  As in, embarrassingly a lot.  As in, probably shouldn't have put that picture on the internet (twice) a lot.  

Just in case I hadn't already ruined my future chances of gainful employment.
Jennifer and Jodi at Handful are so sweet, and they make a quality product.   They donated one to our raffle, and we are so grateful.  I also heard through the grapevine they just came out with a new version of the Handful! Can't wait to try it out!

Bondi Band - Bondi Band is always supporting bloggers and their endeavors, and I love it.  I'm not a headband girl myself, but Rachel rocks those Bondi Bands all of the freaking time.  I pretty sure she has at least a hundred of them, and she always looks so cute in them:

Rocking the BondiBand for 37 miles.


Hippie Runner  They sent us a few belts for our raffle, and these things are awesome!  They stay put on the run and hold a surprising amount of stuff.  This baby has got two expandable pockets and little loops to put your gels.  I especially like that they aren't very wide so they don't cover up your sweet race day outfit.  


Running Funky - Running Funky sent us a bunch of groovy running tights and shorts... you've got to see the sheer number of patterns they have available - it's crazy!  Go check them out here.


Polar Bottle - Polar sponsored both The Longest Day and our Ragnar team, and I was SO excited to open up the box when it showed up on my doorstep.  I love that they have bottles in different sizes, styles, and patterns.  I didn't know a water bottle could look stylish.. but these really do. 


Thanks again to all of our sponsors, and I hope that some of you find some new gear here to add to your wishlists.

What's your absolute favorite piece of running gear/running company?  I really, really love Camelbak.  I have a hydration pack and a handheld, and they are probably the favorite gear I own.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

In 10 Days...

I'll be running my first marathon!

Fox Cities Marathon

This is a super cool race because the course runs through seven towns/cities near where I live.  It's pretty much flat, and is run mostly through neighborhoods, parks, and tiny downtown areas.   It's known for the enthusiasm of the volunteers and spectators (of which I was one last year).

Spectating glory, FCM 2011
It has a half marathon that starts at the same time, and the two events together draw about 4,500 participants, so it's a great mid-sized race.   It also is the storied location where Rachel lost her marathon virginity... and I can't wait to follow in her slutty running footsteps.

My training has been.... ok.  Pretty good.  I've never been able to consistently run as long as I have (about 8 months and counting...) without injury, and my running has improved quite a bit.  This year, I've taken four minutes off of my half marathon PR, and more than 30 seconds of my 5k time, and I've been itching to race again.  

That said, I have missed a few mid-week runs (and my long run this weekend, whoops), and I'm deep in the taper-doubt I know a lot of you are familiar with.  

Here's my training for the last 10 weeks:

For a lot of runners, my mileage is low, but for me it's really good.  Until this year I never ran more than 20 miles in a week as I was always injured, and I'm so grateful for this higher mileage weeks.  Over the past two months, I've had fairly consistent mileage and gotten in two 20s and an 18, and they all went really well.

So, that was my pep talk for myself.  Brace yourself for the onslaught of doubt and panic that will surely invade your computer screen over the next 240 hours... and also get ready for the best idea for a race sign.  Ever.

Lay it on me:  advice for a first time marathoner.  I want to hear it all.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Just Run Half Marathon Recap

Happy Tuesday that feels like a Monday to you...

Last week, I signed up to run a half marathon in a pretty little college town about an hour away.  It promised to be a good race - lots of scenery, a very small, competitive field, and a chance to run the last 13 of my 20 miler with other runners to distract me.

I woke up on Saturday, got ready and waited for my buddy Matt to pick me up for the trek out to Stevens Point.  While I was waiting, I noticed a little note on the counter:

I am a lucky woman!

Matt and I found the race start, laced up and got in an easy almost seven miles (hey, if DailyMile rounds up, I can too.)

I actually felt pretty crappy during the warm-up run, and considered a DNS.  My knee was killing me, I felt there was a decent possibility of having to find a spot on the course to deal with some GI issues, and I just felt tired.

We kept it an easy 10:15/mile pace, and headed back to the car to stock up on provisions for the run.

Pretzels on a string?  Yes, I am a genius.

A klutzy genius.  Sad after dropping my pretzels in the parking lot.  

 The race started on a bridge, and the sun was shining beautifully off the water.  There were about 120 half marathoners and another hundred or two 5k runners who split off about 100 yards into the race, so the start had that fun, tiny race feel.

I ran the first mile with Matt and went on ahead when he stopped to walk through the water station.  I had hoped to run 10 minute miles through mile 8 or 9, and then push it if I had anything left.

Mile 1 - 10:05
Mile 2 - 10:04
Mile 3 - 9:51
Mile 4 - 9:42
Mile 5 - 9:40

About five miles in, I was feeling GOOD.  Fluid, easy.  Wanting to pick up the pace, but trying to remember that I was actually running 20 and not 13.  I did not want to crash and burn at the end.

Mile 6 - 9:03

When I saw the 9 minute mile on my Garmin, I thought, "Wouldn't it be hilarious if I could pick it up enough to go sub 2?"  
Mile 7 - 8:57
Mile 8 - 8:50
Mile 9 - 8:29

Miles 7-9 just cruised by.  Easy auto-pilot miles, and I rarely looked at my Garmin.  I knew I'd have to pick it up to get my average pace down to 9:09 (for a sub 2 finish) but I felt great and was loving the faster pace.

This course was had some loop portions, so there were plenty of opportunities to cheer for the faster runners ahead of me and also the walkers that had started an hour earlier.  I made it my goal to cheer for every single person I saw, and I did.  

There were also a lot of middle and high school kids out on the course playing their band instruments, and it was awesome. 

Mile 10 - 8:20
Mile 11 - 8:19

After mile 11, I started feeling pretty tired.  I cranked up the tunes and thought about how bummed I'd be if I put in all of the work over the last hour and didn't get under two hours. 

Mile 12 - 8:16
Mile 13 - 8:16

The finish was in a pretty park, and I cruised into the finish, happy to be done, but still feeling pretty strong.  A glace at the clock brought a smile to my face:


***In the spirit of full disclosure, I feel I have to mention that this course was pretty short.... about a quarter mile by my Garmin and the Garmins of the people finishing around me.  But, my pace was still under 9:09, so I'm counting it as under two hours.  :)

Just Run Half Marathon
9:01 pace
Overall:  56/122
Division:  11/25
Sex: 25/70

This was my last long run before my FIRST MARATHON, and it was a good confidence booster.  Enough that I think I'll actually register today... :)

Do you prefer big or small races?  I really like both, but there there's something special about the community feeling of a tiny local race.

Do you try to run negative splits when you race, or do you prefer an even pace?  I love negative splits... the races where I feel happiest at the finish line are those when I took it easy in the beginning and had energy for the second half.  

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