Sunday, December 14, 2008

Seattle Half Marathon Race Report

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

What a tough course! After a race like that I definitely had to give my body a break.

HIGHLIGHTS:
- Seeing hundreds of thousands of people running over I-90
- Spending the entire race waiting for the hill that would be my eternal doom and never finding it
- Starting, running, and finishing the race with friends

DISAPPOINTMENTS:
-Really the only disappointment is my Garmin malfunctioning. It stopped tracking my location while I was under the bridge. I assumed the clock kept running. But I have it on auto stop for when I'm "not moving." Sarah and I thought we finished in 2:19... and it was really 2:27.

I feel really good about how this race turned out. Even with the Garmin snafu I still shaved 11 minutes of my PR.

Look out Phoenix Rock N' Roll Half!!! :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Marathon Photos...

So I've been totally MIA, but I promise there is much to report! I'm already running again and training for the Seattle Half Marathon at the end of November.

But more on that later....

Here are the official race photos, and they actually caught my running crew out on the street with me! You can view them here:

http://racephotos.net/RunnerDetails.asp?nRunnerID=648049

I plan to purchase a couple photos this week :)

Here are a couple from our lovely dinner of Spold Mac and Cheese at the Montage:
















Sarah took this one, so she's not in it :( But here's Holly, Jess, Chris, Simon, Michael, me and Matt :)




















MMmmmm.... left overs!

















There's a good lookin' fella!


















The best friends you could ask for! (Missing a few people, of course!)




















There they are!...Sarah and Michael, too! :)




Thanks again to everyone who made my first marathon truly special! Deb and Raj, too! (Who I unfortunately, didn't get a photo with... )

More to come :)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Take that, Katie Holmes!!!

Wow wow wow! I did it! And it was incredible and one of the best experiences of my life so far!

I was sure I'd finish in 5 and a half hours. My super secret goal was to finish before Katie Holmes. What I (and I'll bet Katie) didn't realize, is that she set the bar for a lot of young women. I couldn't believe how many other gals I talked to that had the same goal!

I was also preparing myself for two hours of sheer agony. If this race was going to be anything like my training runs, it was going to be long, slow, and excutiatingly painful.

Much to my surprise, I finished in 5:03:38!!!

And I felt great! I was able to sprint the last part before the finish line! I was definitely in pain afterward. My ankle is totally swollen (pic below, promise I'm icing! Or it just looks like I have one kankle). But I'm not too stiff! We didn't have a bath tub in our hotel room, so I had to rotate ice packs. And Matt helped rub my legs and feet afterward. Then we pretty much stayed in bed and watched Food Network and football until I fell asleep.

I'm walking like a normal person, for the most part. :)

I had so much support from my friends who were there in person, and also there in spirit! And I really couldn't have done it without them. I really appreciate all the supporting phone messages and emails I received. My in person crew was Matt, Holly, Sarah, Michael, Jess, Chris, Simon, and Deb and Raj drove up the morning of.

And here's the break down:

MILES 1-6:
Off to an okay start! I see Deb and Raj right away! Shortly after I hear Matt yell, "Go Wac!" Which made me tear up a little, but I knew I had to breathe slowly if I'm going to get through this thing. I see the 5-hour pace group, and kind of just hang with them. It feels a little fast, but I look down at my Garmin, and we're only going a little over an 11-minute mile. I can't decide if this is too fast to me, or not. But my heart rate is only in the 150s, so I stick with them. Even though I'm kind of thirsty, I don't stop for water or fuel until mile 6, which is what I did in my training runs. I'm prone to cramping when I have too much water.

HIGH POINT:
Mile 5/6: Seeing everyone on the side again

LOW POINTS:
Mile 2: Noticed my sock on the left had fallen and was only half way around my foot
Mile 3-ish: The top of my ankle on my right foot began to hurt (and didn't quit)
Mile 6: Pain on the outside of my left foot


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MILES 6-13
Coming into mile 7 I was in a lot of pain. Both my feet are killing me, in very different ways. It's also that time of the month, so I was having the occasional menstrual cramp, and it was catching up with me. I managed to stay with the 5-hour pace group through this entire time. Around mile 10 I started falling behind. I was thinking, "I made my body into this machine, that means I can will it to go faster..." and this woman came up beside me and asked if I was okay! hahah... I must have been very pensive looking. We chatted for a bit, this was not her first time doing this marathon and she said the real hump is the bridge at mile 17. Her scheduled walk break was about to take place. I would have stopped with her, but I noticed the few minutes we ran together slowed me down. So I told her I'd catch up with her later... but I never saw her again.

I did, however, catch up to the 5 hour pace group again!

HIGH POINT:
- There was a family on the street handing out jelly beans. I had to stop and give a high-five to this one kid. :)
- The miles were really just flying by!

LOW POINT:
Mile 13: This is totally nit-picky, but they had the 13-mile marker, then the water tables, THEN the timing chip mat! I had stopped at the water tables, and was totally bummed to see the timing mat.


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MILES 14- 20
I had to be smart. I had enough energy to to speed up, but I knew that would wipe me out. Instead I tried to slowly increase my pace. I decided to pull ahead of the 5-hour pace group so when I chose to stop and walk, I wouldn't fall behind. Having the bridge as a major landmark to work towards, getting to mile 17 was what I was focusing on. I had some fuel at 16, and began the ascent around 16.5. I made a point of climbing the hill slowly, and not letting my heart rate get too high.

Around mile 19, the pain set in. I expected it to come sooner. I remembered something Deborah told me about "accepting the pain." Maybe it's because I was anticipating it, or imagined it would be much worse, either way... it wasn't awful, but it definitely slowed me down. I couldn't seem to pick up the pace.

I started chatting with Dave the walker. He's probably late 60's or early 70's and walking a marathon in all 50 states. (He did manage to finish before I did)

Then mile 20, I saw Sarah and Michael! Sarah ran with me for a bit

HIGH POINTS:
Miles 14: Pulling ahead of the 5:00 pace group and maintaining a lead
Mile 17: Passing people up the hill to the bridge
The bridge: I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and there was such a beautiful view of Portland
Mile 20: Seeing Sarah and Michael waiting for me, and having Sarah run with me for a few minutes

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MILES 21-26.2
Sarah let me know the whole crew was just around the corner at mile 21, which really helped me get to the next mile. Then only 5 miles to go! This was the point where I knew I was going to finish. My legs hurt, but they only felt like I had run for 10 miles instead of 20. I was also super close to finishing in under 5 hours, if I just pushed hard enough! I did what I could, and mile 25 was one of my fastest miles! Here are the highs and lows:

HIGH POINTS:
Mile 21: My whole crew came out and ran with me for a few minutes! I was the envy of all the runners around me
Mile 22: Meeting Jenny from Texas. We were talking about how much we enjoyed beer, and we passed the Widmer brewery, which was handing out free beer!
Mile 25: Meeting Victoria, originally from LA, who had been training with Portland Fit
Mile 26: Helping this guy who had a bad thigh cramp by giving him a shot block with sodium, and some water
- Seeing Holly and she let me know the finish line was around the corner
- Seeing Deb and Raj and having the energy to wave at the camera
- Hearing Matt's voice cheering for me as I approached the finish line
Crossing the finish line: Victoria and I hugged, I got my cape, medal, and rose. I found my crew and there was chocolate milk waiting for me

(Here's a photo Deb snapped of me... I'm still in a lot of pain, if that smile looks intense... :)


LOW POINTS:
Mile 26: Helping thigh-cramp guy seriously slowed me down ;)


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Here's the Garmin report:














And here's the link to view the whole report, but you need to view it in IE.


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I really can't believe the whole thing is over. It seemed to go by so quickly. I did it! I ran a marathon. I'm pretty sure I thought about each and every person in my life and how much I appreciate them. It's like everyone was running with me. It was incredibly touching when they came to run with me. (photo coming of the crew soon!) And I am super grateful for how encouraging and supportive Matt has been. He really is my biggest fan! Hearing his voice while I was running brought a smile to my face no matter what my legs were feeling.

I feel like an enormous weight has been lifted. I think I came into this race trying to prove that it can be done. That anyone can run a marathon, all you have to do is train. Through training you learn so much about yourself. You learn that you are capable than so much more than you imagined. You also learn it's okay push yourself, but also to be kind to your body.

Although it felt like I was bearing a torch those 26 miles, I wanted to do it for all the people out there who think a marathon is something they could never do. I started running when I was almost 300 pounds (hence that opening picture), and one mile at a time I made it! I've had the help of many encouraging people along the way, and I hope that my story can one day inspire others to get out there and do it, too!

Finishing a half hour before I expected... that was for me. I just wanted to see if I could do it. Part of me knew I was going faster than I should. I figured if I lost the 5 hour group I would still finish at a decent time. But I could have lost it, and dropped into my slow mopey pace I experienced at the end of my 18-mile and 20-mile training runs. I am really proud of my time, and I know I can knock a few minutes off it next time...

That's right, next time!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Race Report: Alki Beach Run 5k

One of the benefits of being at the peak of fitness for your own body, is that you can really kill on shorter races.

My friend, Holly, and I signed up for the Alki Beach Run 5k last Sunday, and it was a blast! The weather was perfect, the route was a flat out and back along the water, and I knew this was going to be the 5k that I broke the 30 minute barrier.

I know I've been getting faster, I can feel it. I've been running with Brie in the mornings, and she's much faster than I, but I've been able to keep up with her. I've also had some surprisingly fast first halves of my long runs... but I've really been looking to do a timed race again.

The announcer starts by saying, if you run 5-6 minute miles you should be up front. If you run 7-8 minute miles you can be back by him, and the walkers will be in the back...

hahaha... oh alright, I'll go behind the stroller brigade...

The first mile went so fast! I finished it in 9:44. Having the garmin made it so much easier to keep my pace. I was able to look down and notice when I was slowing, and counteract it. Mile 2 was a little more difficult as the sun came out, and I was over dressed for the heat. There was this tall, thin blonde runner in front of me. I had to work hard to keep up with her, but I knew that if I did I would meet my goal.











The last mile was so great! I know I could have pushed harder at the end. We were coming to mile 2.5 and I wanted to kick it up, but decided to wait until I was closer to the finish line.

A quarter of a mile later I ran as hard as I could, and finished... 28:30!

Here's our photo on the beach :)

Even though I'm really excited with this new PR, I know I could have done even better!

I would love to do a 10k, so I'm keeping my eyes peeled for the perfect one!

The marathon is less than a week away... I'm so excited! :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Choooos :)

Well, sort of new. After forgetting my beloved Brooks Adrenaline GTS 8's when I went to Vancouver for the Half Marathon, I had been running in the Asics I picked up from the Running Room.

The Asics were fine. During the Vancouver half I noticed a foot pain I had never experienced before. I was ready to dismiss the Asics to being gym shoes, or maybe used for tennis. But I took them out on a few more runs and found them to work just fine!

Until about two months ago.

I started getting that same pain in my foot. Usually I would get it post mile 7, and it would go away in my ice bath. Then when I did my 20-mile run, I had to foot pain for a week and a half afterward. I kept running on it, of course, because I'm ridiculous.

So after the scare of this pain being a stress fracture, I figured I'd bring back my old Brooks just to see how they felt. And I ran 11 miles in them, pain free!

Yesterday I ran out and got a new pair of my oldies but goodies. They were practically glowing in the dark this morning :) I need to run them through a few puddles or something before the marathon.

I really feel ready to this... is that strange?

(Yes, this is a post about my shoes... whatcha gonna do?)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Real Runners do it in the rain

I woke up Saturday morning to Deb calling to confirm our meeting spot, as she was pulling into her parking spot.

Shit! My alarm didn't go off.

I raced out the door and pulled into the parking spot next to Deb 20 minutes later. It's a good thing I had set out all of my stuff the night before.

This was my first chance to use my garmin forerunner... and it was AWESOME! (screen cap below)

Deb and I began our 11-mile run on Alki, and it was raining steadily. The air was crisp and fresh and reminded me how excited I was to be running in cool weather again. The course we were running was going to be mostly flat, there was a slight incline around mile 5. (I did this exact run for my 12-miler a while back). There's also this beautiful area that looks like it could easily be a small harbor on the east coast (especially the fog).

I really finished strong for this one. It was awesome to finish 11-miles and feel like I had just ran 5. AND, my foot didn't hurt at all. (I had switched back to my old shoes for this run, so I think that's the answer).

The photo on the left is from when we were done. We were soaked. I brought us some dry jackets to change into and we got our post-run coffee and yogurt/chocolate milk.

I'm really enjoying tapering. It's so awesome to see how much long runs and speed work effect your shorter distances (and it's amazing that I consider 11 miles a shorter run now...). Deb also snapped this photo of me, but she said I didn't look miserable enough. :)

The race is two weeks away and I'm feeling pretty prepared, and frankly, excited.

I'm really in the mood to watch marathon movies and get all pumped up. Matt and I saw Run Fatboy Run in the theater a looooong time ago and it just came out on DVD. I'm also dying for Spirit of the Marathon to be released. Unfortunately that won't be until October 7.

Perhaps I'll have to watch all the Prefontaine movies for the time being... :)

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In other news, my Garmin is the bomb.com:















Deb also recommended this website/program where I can upload my runs and analyze them. I can not only see my pace, heart rate, and exact distance, but it also tracks the weather, elevation and laps.

I'm going to set it so that I get an alert at every mile. And for some reason it showed that my heart rate was 100 the entire time. I'm guessing there was interference from Deb's heart rate monitor. I'll be trying it out in the morning on my own to see what I come up with. I'm so excited.

I really shouldn't have waited so long to buy it! It's reinvigorated my love for running again. That and the abundance of running buddies I've finally found. It figures I would be getting excited about running a couple of weeks before I'm scheduled to take a break.

Also, the group that I trained with for the half marathon has started up again. They are training for the Seattle Half Marathon. I'm thinking about doing the long runs with the new group. I think I could really help some of the gals while they are training. Plus, now that I've gotten faster I could possibly run with a couple of different pace groups. We'll see... I ran into Heather from our group at breakfast this morning and she said that a couple of gals from our group were already running with them... hopefully they wouldn't mind my dropping in.

Anyway, a good weekend in the world of running. I also cheered on Holly and Alex and the Kirkland triathalon this morning. It looked incredibly challenging and fun...

Something for next year?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Taper Time!

Tomorrow morning I'll be running 11 miles with Deb, at Alki. I'm really looking forward to it. I haven't run at Alki in months. Although it'll probably be cold and possibly drizzly... I'm looking forward to running in the cold again.

The absolute nutso thing is that the marathon is 15 days away. When I started that ticker thing I was around 120 days away... when it got to 90 it was surreal... now that it's so close!

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As a follow-up, I did get my bone scan, and I was injected with radiator fluid...

jk, radiation fluid

which has been giving me awful headaches. I have to drink water to flush it out of my system, and as a result I've been drinking around 12-16 glasses a day...

I'll have a follow-up call with my doc today.

My bone scan didn't show any extra activity near the painful part of my foot, so my technologist mentioned that it was probably muscular.

Randomly, I picked up "Northwest Competitor" magazine at the doctor's office because there was an article about the "Young Guns of ultra-marathonning," and the article mentioned one of the dudes had a neuroma in his foot because he had doubled his mileage from 130 miles a week to 260 in like two weeks... or something ridiculous...

BUT... I looked up neuroma, and it sounds really similar to the foot pain I'm experiencing!

I'm going to ask for a referral to a sports medicine doctor, just so that I have one in my back pocket :)

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AND in the most exciting news of all...

My Garmin Forerunner 305 showed up last night!!!

I really should have bought this sooner, it's so amazing. It tracks your heart rate, pace, time, ties your shoes, gives you water, and carries you when you're too tired to run anymore....

OK, well the first three things are true. I charged it last night atnd I'm dying to try it out, but I really shouldn't run today with a long run on the horizon tomorrow.

I'll post a full report after I take it out for a spin! :)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

3 weeks... and an hour and a half...

The Portland Marathon is exactly three weeks from today...

wow...

These next three weeks it's going to be crucial that I listen to my body.

The first time I felt it was at the Vancouver Half. A slight pain in my right foot that radiated up into my ankle. I thought it was the shoes I had purchased the night before.

It went away, although I would get the pain occasionally even when I wasn't running.

I noticed it again this last month or two. It seemed to only show up post mile 7, or when I ran on uneven surfaces. And usually it went away before the end of the run and wouldn't bother me afterward.

Then I did my fist 20-miler. My foot hurt by the end, but no worse than before... only it didn't go away. It continued to hurt, and I continued to run on it. I cut down my mileage, started icing it on non-running days, and it finally went away a week and a half later.

I did see my doctor and she set me up with an appointment for a bone scan next week to be sure it's not a stress fracture. If it's a stress fracture, that means 6 weeks no running... at my discretion...

Today I have my final 20-miler beginning in about an hour. I need to be smart. I'm probably doing closer to 17 instead, and I plan to really take it easy on my foot, at the first sign of pain.

Wish me luck!


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Update from 7:25 this a.m.... I wised up and I'm not running 20 miles this morning. I don't want to risk really injuring my foot today. I'm going to wait until I get my bone scan done on Wednesday before I make any decisions... And I'll hit the stationary bike at the gym until then.

I was putting an ace bandage on this morning and trying to loosen my shoelaces so my foot would comfortably fit in my shoe and I thought, "this is a bad idea..."

So Kelli and I are going to swing by the farmers market instead... time to hit the shower...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Time flies...

So... how in the heck is it Mid September already?!!?

I've had so many things to say and no time to get them on the blog! Well here's a quick recap of what's been going on in my world for the last month and a half:

In Life:

- I'm getting promoted at work! Nothing feels better than knowing you're kicking ass at work, but now the never-ended flow of work has started to appear on my plate. (Like working everyday after work, and through the weekend, and still having to do an all-nighter yesterday... sigh...)

Which really explains my lack of internet presence lately. I'm ALWAYS on my computer, but the second I don't have to, I won't... I'll try to be better about responding to emails and updating sites, and someday making a facebook account.

In Running:
I have successfully completed my 16, 18, and 20-mile training runs... and they were every bit as painful as they sound! Thanks to some encouragement from Alison, I have started taking ice baths afterward. Which are also just as painful as they sound. But they make a huge difference! The first 30 seconds is miserable, then it's just a matter of holding still.

Holly rode her bike for three grueling hours with me on my 16-mile run. And I'm excited to see her compete in the Kirkland Triathlon next weekend!

Sarah was wonderful enough to meet me along the trail and run a 3 mile and 2 mile section of my 20-miler. I don't know if I could have done it without her! And we've been doing wednesday runs, which have also been a tremendous help.

Brie was awesome and ran a relatively scary route with me the other morning. It's getting dark so early already!

I have my final 20-miler coming up this weekend. Kelli has graciously volunteered to ride her bike from Seattle to Redhook Brewery with me. Any takers on running the last three miles?

I'll be running the weekend after next with Deb, who is taking the Philly Marathon by storm in November.

And of course, my wonderful Matt has been continuing his encouragement and support by picking me up from the run I couldn't finish, and the runs I did, then taking me to starbucks for chocolate milk immediately afterward. He has also been to person to announce to all of our friends how far I've run the morning before we do anything.

I guess I'm just feeling very grateful for all my friends and family and how supportive they have been while I'm trying to accomplish this major feat. I've had to give up a lot of my social life for long solitary runs. Even though through running I've had the opportunity for a lot of self-reflection, personal development, and success... I'm ready to get this fucker over with! :)

So thanks everybody!


More to come soon! Stay tuned for blog posts on:
-The end of my first year of running
-The Garmin 305
-Gear that I love
-The last 20 before the big day
-Is that lump on my foot a bone spur?
-What the hell do you do after you've run a marathon...?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

hehehe...

pretty funny...

Updates

Soooo... I ran my 16-miler and lived to tell the tale! It actually went surprisingly well! Having Holly riding her bike along side me really helped me miss a few miles and helped me to keep going!

Miles 1-10 went pretty smoothly. I stopped at mile 6 for some fuel, then again at mile 10. Then something magical happened... From mile 10-12 my body was totally in autopilot. It was the weirdest feeling! It was like I inhabited this robot that was just running. I honestly had no say in the pace (which was pretty good and maintainable), nor my ability to stop.

Holly stopped at one of the parks to use the facilities, and I continued on foot. Only I used her absence as my excuse to see how fast this robot body could go, and my pace picked up! Mile 12-13 was easily my fastest mile! Just slightly under 10 minutes!

I told myself I could stop at mile 13, to eat something and to stop at a water fountain. At this point I had been going for almost 3 hours and was running low on fluids in my hydration belt.

In retrospect, I shouldn't have stopped. Or walked for so long, I was walking for about 2 minutes when Holly caught up with me. This also coincided with the rigor mortis setting in. When I started back up again it felt like I was trying to run on wooden pegs. I slowed waaaaaaay down, too.

Miles 13-15 were painfully slow, yet satisfying. This trail is where a lot of my runs have ended, so I'm familiar with landmarks and things that let me know how much further I have to go. I kept trying to bargain with myself that I could walk at the two mile mark, or the one mile mark... but I know that I need to be a tougher mental athlete, so I didn't stop. Soon we were at the Wall of Death, which meant one more mile.

I don't know if it was a second wind, or just the sheer excitement to get this over with, but I was able to muster up enough energy to start picking up the pace again. Then some walkers were coming on to the trail, which gave me an excuse to pick up the pace, yet again. Before I knew it I was in an all-out sprint for the end of the trail!

I finished in 3:21:28... not terrible, but I wasn't too concerned with time for this one.

What was terrible, however, were the aches and pains that seemed to instantly inflame my legs. I went over to the grass at gasworks to stretch out, but ended up just sitting down. My legs couldn't support my weight any longer.

I spent a few minutes sitting there in shade while Holly practiced some of her bike-run transitions in the parking lot, then we went to grab some coffee.

Once we got to the coffee shop, my legs felt OK! I was a little stiff, especially on the stairs... but I didn't feel quite as destroyed as I felt right after the run was over.

I went home elevated my legs and took a short nap, then I was out amongst the normal people... and able to walk like a girl! I'm so grateful that my recovery time isn't what it used to be! I really only need an hour or so after the run to really relax, then everything seems to fall back into place!

Soooooo... this week I'm back down to 10 miles, then the next week is... dun dun dun... 18 miles! I need to figure out where I'll do my 18 and 20-milers. It might be kind of cool to go out 20 miles, and get picked up... just to see how far I can run...

to Kenmore perhaps?



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In other news, swimming laps is really flippin' hard! Yesterday was my first attempt at swimming laps. We went to the outdoor pool in West Seattle, and it was divine! The weather was nice and warm, and so was the water :)

The pool was 50 feet long (as opposed to most pools which are 38 feet long). I did 6 out and backs, with significant resting periods between each lap. I couldn't believe how quickly my heart rate shot up while trying to swim a significant distance. The most bizarre feeling is sweating while you're submerged in water...

Swimming proved to be the perfect cross-training activity, as I worked out the kink in my hamstring from my speed work the night before. Today I was walking on fresh legs!

So maybe after the marathon I'll learn to swim? I mean, there were plenty of other people finishing out their laps in a doggie paddle...

Oh wait..

that was just me...

Whatever, I ran 16 miles last weekend, AND I can doggie paddle with the best of them! :)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Where we're going, we don't need roads...

I am about to embark on a journey into uncharted territory...

in more ways than one.

This morning I'm running 16 miles. The furthest I have ever run in my life. I hear this one is going to be a hard one. Luckily, my friend, Holly, has been gracious enough to volunteer to ride her bike along side me.

My 14-miler was fantastic! I finished it in 2:40, which is only 2 minutes after my Vancouver Half time. I'm expecting this run to take me well into 3 hours of running... I don't even know how to plan for that.

We're also heading 8 miles out along the Burke-Gilman trail. I've never been more than 3 miles out...

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My body is falling apart... sort of

Last night one of my toe nails popped off...

I guess that makes me an official runner!

hahaha :) No, but I've known I was going to lose two of my toe nails, the other one still looks like it's ready to go at any time. If toes had the same names as their corresponding finger, I would be talking about my pointer toes. (Second in from the big toe) But in the world of toes, those ones would probably be ring toes, that's where I always wore my toe rings.

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In other news, I finally made it to the doctor to check out my gall bladder. My doc was already talking surgery before he even sent me to get my ultrasound. Which freaked me out. On my health history I had checked off weight loss, so he asked me about it. When I told him I had lost 86 pounds his immediate response was, "On purpose?!"

Who accidentally loses 86 pounds, really? I could see 5, 10, 15, maybe 20... but 86? It takes a lot a freaking hard work to lose 86!

Anyway, I think he could have handled that situation a little better. I didn't really dig him from the start. He had on a gold chain and some of his chest hair was poking out of his scrubs. He totally struck me as the kind of guy that would have been a lot nicer if I had blonde hair and fake boobs.

But who does this guy think he is? He does colonoscopies for a living?

Meh, now I'm just being mean. Needless to say, I'll be looking for a new gastroendenologist.

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I had an ultrasound on Wednesday and I got to see my stones on the monitor... they're going to be soccer players!

I have two small stones, and apparently the small ones are the more painful ones. I asked my ultrasound technician if my stones and me can have a peaceful coexistence; one where I don't feed them anything that makes them angry, and inturn they don't make feel so sick I want to die.

She said it is possible. My gallbladder is not infected, so it doesn't have to come out.

There's a little ray of hope! :)

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Normally I don't think I know more than doctors. In fact, I know I don't know more than doctors. But I really don't want to have surgery if I don't have to. If they remove my entire gallbladder it'll mean an overnight stay in the hospital (something I've never had to do), and at least a month before I can return to any form of strenuous exercising.

Even though the pain is pretty bad I know I can control it through diet. And I know I can get through it for at least the next two months.

I'm pretty much refusing to let surgery get in the way of my training for the portland marathon. I've worked too hard and I just want to make it to Portland so that I can take a break afterward. A real one.

In the mean time, my mom is researching my holistic medicine options, and I'll be avoiding Cheez-its, french fries, and excessive amounts of dairy. We can get through this!

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Even though it seems like my body is falling apart, the rest of me is incredibly healthy! Blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, my insides... all in terrific shape! The guy who took my blood pressure was surprised at how "normal" it was. He asked me if it's always that low...

I dunno? I guess so, right?

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That concludes this health update :) Hope everyone else is feeling as healthy and vibrant as possible!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

So where's this slow and steady race?

I am the slowest runner, ever.

period.

ever.

exclamation point!

As I embark on this marathon journey I realize I'm going to be doing the majority of my long runs on my own. Which is fine, I'm perfectly good company for the first nine miles... then I'll talk to just about anyone who passes me. Don't be surprised when you start getting calls from the road! I'm just not used to being solely responsible for my pace.

My first official long run after the Seafair Half Marathon was an 11.2 mile run... over queen anne hill, around lake union, and back over queen anne hill. It took me 2:25! Granted, I did run the queen anne hill twice, and I wasn't really on fresh legs, but still! I averaged 13 minute-miles! Yeesh, some people walk that fast!

Here's the loop:


I highly recommend it! It was a beautiful run. The best part was getting to the other side of the lake and seeing buildings I had just ran by look so small in the distance. I mean, this was a fantastic long run! The problem was my heart rate only raised above 165 when I was running up hill. I held back and fell into a nice easy pace that I could have kept up all day.

But who wants to run all day?

My only motivation for getting faster is that I just don't want to be running for 6+ hours to finish the 26.2! I'm not talking about running a sub 4-hour marathon... I'm thinking between 5:15 and 5:45. (And hey, I would be ecstatic to beat Katie Holmes' time. Hey, it looks like we might have the same pants!)

Last weekend I did a 10-mile long run, and it took me 1:56. Not too shabby... And yesterday I ran 6 miles in 1:06. I'm totally happy with that, too!

What I need to learn is how hard to push myself. I dream of being able to just bust out 10-minute miles with no effort necessary. What I'm now realizing is that if I want to run 10-minute miles, I need to keep running miles at that pace and eventually it will get easier. Or at least striving for that pace. My 6-mile run was definitely not easy. I really had to push the last two miles to keep up the pace.

I think I've found the difference between jogging and running. When I'm jogging, I can run for days at a super slow pace. When I'm running, I'm pushing and trying to gage how hard to push so I have enough endurance to las the whole run.

Tomorrow morning I'm doing some speed work again. I did some track workouts with Holly on Monday and it was awesome! I wish the track by me wasn't so scary :)

I also think it might be time to step up the gear... I'm really thinking about getting a heart rate monitor that tracks mileage and pace... A big investment, but it will really help me on my long runs.

I want to go fast!!! Now I need to work for it!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Who am I?

Yesterday I was walking over to Jessica's apartment and I saw it...










They are building a TACO BELL less than a block from my friggin' apartment! This is going to be the ultimate test!

Most people who know me know of my deep and profound love of the bell. Even the logo is so inviting with it's hip, fresh colors, to match it's hip fresh(?) food! Even a glimpse of the logo can get my salivation glands going like one of Pavlov's dogs.

Mmmm... bean burritos, chalupas, mexican pizza, mexi-tots, Cheesey bean and rice burrito... MMmmmmm.... listen to my inner-fatty roar! RRRaaaaaarrrrr yom yom yom!

The good news is the Bell has not opened yet... It looks like we're still a few weeks away before the test begins.

Damn! And I had been doing so well... is this going to be my kryptonite?





I think I'm going to be OK. I haven't been to Taco Bell in over seven months. If this had happened last year I think it would have been a real problem. But now I know the only days I can visit the Bell is after running for 2 hours so I can quickly burn through all the APs I'm earning. I'll have to get a shirt with the Taco Bell logo and a line that says, "This is why I run!"

Then it hit me, I'm referring to myself as two different people.

Old Me

and

New Me


Old me would be ecstatic that I don't have to drive 15 minutes to the nearest taco bell, and I can waddle down the street into cheesey goodness.

New me is frightened by the idea of Taco Bell being so close to my home, and was immediately grateful that it is out my back door instead of the front door near subway.

Wow!

I think I've made the transformation into thinking like a healthy person. Well, healthier... When I started to think about everything that I've changed in the last year it all made sense: I've become a different person!

A year ago if you had told me I was going to run a half marathon on the hottest day of the year, I would have told you you were full of it! There's no way I could even run a quarter of a mile! Well, Matt maintains I would have said, "Shut up and hand me a piece of pizza, don't forget the ranch!" Which is probably more accurate... :)

I've noticed how I'm physically becoming another person, I don't even recognize certain parts of my body anymore. My hands are so strong looking and have bulging veins... instead of the chubby 12-year old hands I've had my entire life. I'm starting to see and feel muscles in my legs that I've never seen before!

I still feel like I'm me... but I'm in a different me suit. And with different priorities. A year ago a friend asked me what the top five things were that make me happy... was it sad that three of them were food?

5. Tup Tim Thai's Pad See Ew
4. Chicken Tikka Masala
3. Anything with cheese melted on it
2. My friends
1. Matt and my family



What would be five things that make me happy now?

5. Design and excelling at work
4. Finishing a long run
3. My friends
2. Matt and my family
1. Feeling confident and proud of all that I have accomplished


Well, now that I realize I'm transforming into a new person, it's time to decide who I want to be. There are definitely different areas of my personality that could stand to be improved. And I've learned how to make changes in my life. Start small and before you know it, you've turned your whole life around! Besides, it's never too late to be who you could have been!

Monday, June 30, 2008

I have been to purgatory

Yesterday I finished my second half marathon during the hottest day of the year in Seattle. It also happened to be the hilliest course I have ever run.

We'll start with the good part... like the first 5 miles were no problem. It was a little warm, but we ran across the 520 Bridge (photo to the left) and had the benefit of a nice cool breeze coming off the water. I couldn't even believe we had been running for an hour already!

Everything was going fine until I saw the 7 mile marker...

half way up a hill.

Wait a second... this course was supposed to be flat! I had checked the course elevation map and the biggest hill should be coming between mile 11 and mile 12 (coincidentally the hardest mile in a half marathon, right?) Here's the course map provided by the race (to the right), which shows some rolling hills, but for the most part, a fairly manageable course.

Chris and I are able to get through the first two hills. There are some wonderful spectators on their lawns wetting us down with their hose and sprinklers. It feels great for a moment before all the water evaporates off my skin...

Damn, it's hot.

We get the satisfaction of running down hill, only to turn the corner and see...

another incline?!?!

I started running up it, but I was going so slow I knew I had to walk... it was too much. My heart was pounding and I could not cool off. I checked my heart rate monitor... 178! And I'm walking... partially in the shade!

As a reference for me, here's how the heart rates break down:

165- Nice, easy 11 minute-mile
175 - Pushing for a 10+ minute-mile
180- Running uphill in cool weather
189- Heart is about to pound out of my chest, incredibly uncomfortable

I realize I need to to take it easy, especially if I want to have anything left for those last dreaded miles. I stopped at every water station and walked while I downed glucose and water.

I'm able to keep chugging along, but this part of the race was definitely challenging. I knew Deb would be at mile 10.5, so I had to at least make it that far!

Deb was actually a little past mile 11, which actually made all of mile 10 go by much more quickly! She asked how it was going, all I could say was, "this sucks!"

I knew I only had two miles to go, but I started to feel all sorts of strange sensations in my body. My hands had swollen to the point where it was painful to try to close my fingers. My feet were swollen and my shoes felt so tight. My left ankle shot pain up my leg with each step, meanwhile my right hamstring felt like it was on the verge of cramping.

And I had the chills! I could feel the goosebumps showing up on my arms, and I felt cold, yet feverish. I even starting getting a tingling sensation on my face.

Then Chris and I hit the even larger hill. I knew I had to walk it. We both decided to walk to the top and see how we felt about running the downhill afterward. As we were walking Chris saw this gal we had started with. Her shirt said, " I thought this was supposed to be a beer run!" She really wanted to beat her, so she picked up the pace.

I did not.

I felt like I was lucky to be walking at this point.

I came to the mile 12 marker, only a mile to go... slightly downhill. I started to run again. I was sooooo slow. I just could not muster enough strength to pick up the pace. I could see Chris off in the distance. But she was too far. I couldn't catch up. I just had to take it at my own, very slow, pace.

Before I knew it, I turned the corner and I was in the shoot and could see the finish line. It's funny, at this point during Vancouver I started choking up because I was so proud of my accomplishment. This time, they were literally tears of joy. I knew not to let myself totally cry because I can't breathe, but I didn't care, I was sooooo excited for this to be over!

Then some dude started coming up on my left... No way Jose! I somehow found some strength to pick up the pace and finish before him!

And then there was watermelon! Woo hoo! I could not think of a better post-race treat! My face was covered in watermelon by the time I met up with Deb, Chris, and Chris' family.

I don't even care about my time, or the fact that I had to walk more than I would have liked. I am so ecstatic that experience is over. I was so nervous the night before and it turns out, the race was even more terrible than I had imagined it would be. But I survived!

Chris later emailed me the actual course elevation and map:













Yeah, that's more what it felt like. Every agonizing step... But I couldn't be more happy that I did it. I probably won't put myself through that again... but now I really know that even when things seem terrible, if I just put my head down and take one step at a time, I'll get through it.

I'm too stubborn not to.

Portland, here I come!

Friday, June 27, 2008

They don't make 'em like they used to!

Surprise surprise!

I can't eat like I used to...

Not that it's a bad thing, by any means!

Its probably a good thing that I had to spend half of the Mariners game in the bathroom because I ate 10 garlic fries. And I wish it was just diarrhea or something I knew how to control...

I'm about 95% sure that I have gallstones. I know I'm totally a self-diagnoser, but I've been doing some research and it's all pointing to the same thing. I've had six "episodes" in the last six months. Initially I thought it was just really bad gas from being lactose intolerant. But how do you research "cramps" and "gas"? Those are symptoms for just about anything that's fun!

Then I stumbled upon an article on gallstones.

(they're so cute in their little dish)

Here's how wikipedia describes the attacks:

A main symptom of gallstones is commonly referred to as a gallstone "attack", also known as binary colic, in which a person will experience intense pain in the upper abdominal region that steadily increases for approximately thirty minutes to several hours. A victim may also encounter pain in the back, ordinarily between the shoulder blades, or pain under the right shoulder. In some cases, the pain develops in the lower region of the abdomen, nearer to the pelvis, but this is less common. Nausea and vomiting may occur.

Sounds pleasant, right?

I totally freaked Matt out when I had a terrible attack at the Las Vegas airport while we were in line to get our tickets. I started getting the pain in my stomach, and I knew what was about to happen. I started feeling really woozy and light headed. Then all the blood in my body rushed up to my head, I was barely awake standing up and I had the chills, yet I was dripping in sweat.

Matt took care of our bags so I could go to the restroom where I curled up into a ball and just waited it out. That's really all I can do. I was fine an hour later.

I blame the box of cheez-its I ate a half an hour before.

----------------------------------------------------------------

There was no way I could have gallstones, right? I mean I eat really really healthy most of the time. WTF? I'm supposed to have less health problems, not new ones!

I was on a walk with my friend, Holly, and she had mentioned that she came across an article saying that people who lose weight too quickly run the risk of getting gallstones.

So I immediately looked for the article.

It has been confirmed, I've developed gallstones from losing weight too quickly. I have lost 85 pounds in 9 months. Basically all that crap I ate before I decided to get healthy is still in my body. My poor gallbladder couldn't process it fast enough to keep up with my digestion. It probably doesn't help that I haven't been very good about getting my healthy oils in (which lubricate the process... get more of that *ish out of my system).

------------------------------------------------------------------------

So what have I done about it?

Nothing.

I keep putting off making a doctors appointment. I'm not scared to go. I really want to! I'm just a complete slacker about making appointments. I don't like using my phone for personal conversations in my office with 10 people and no walls. And I don't want to do it on my lunch break because I'm usually with co-workers.

I'm blogging about it, so anyone who reads this will harass me until I make an appointment. I already did research and picked out a doctor, I saved the number in my phone... no excuses.

Also, I guess this is sort of a public service announcement. Just raising awareness :)

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Luckily, I only get these attacks when I eat absolute crap disguised as food. I know to avoid super greasy and really high fat foods. Because, frankly, none of that crap is worth the amount of pain it causes.

So now I'm stuck in this healthy world I've created for myself. Whether I like it or not :)


Let's go have some veggies dipped in hummus!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Snoop Bloggy Blog

Man, I sometimes really suck at this "keeping up with my blog" business....

Here are my excuses:
- I've been working a lot
- I've been running a lot
- I've been enjoying an active social calendar
- And all these things mean I'm not sleeping much

The running world has been awesome! I've found two running buddies crazy enough to meet me as the sun comes up to go for a jog. We get to enjoy the beautiful views this city has to offer, and we have them all to ourselves!

Myrtle Edwards park can be somewhat scary when you're on your own, this morning Sarah was awesome enough to meet me at my apartment and we embarked on a four mile journey along the water front and back up Queen Anne hill. She's such a trooper, this run is gorgeous, but either way you end on an incline, Queen Anne hill being the lesser of two evils.

Tomorrow morning I'm meeting Chris at Alki at 5:30 a.m. to do 5 or 6 miles. This run is also fantastic! It's flat and we usually make a point of ending the run at starbucks, just in time for me to need some caffeine!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

So I've neglected my blog a little, but I'll be back! This weekend I'm running my second half marathon. I don't feel totally prepared for it, but I know it'll be fine. Expect a full report!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How do they do it?

This whole week I've been struggling to get my runs in... Monday the weather was ridiculous (windy and cold), and my running buddy cancelled, which made it much easier for me to cancel... I was lucky enough to get myself to do yoga that night, so I wasn't a total waste.

Tuesday we had some friends over for dinner, and my apartment was a disaster, so rather than selfishly taking a run while the best boyfriend in the world cleans and slaves over dinner, I took the day to help get the apartment in order.

Tonight I went to a senior portfolio show, followed by Ladies' Night, followed by a much needed pedicure. (I'm totally not one of those gals, so the fact that my feet were so funky is a testament to how poorly I'm doing at keeping it all together.)

Tomorrow my theater group is meeting and Friday is well... ya know, Friday...

then I'm running 12 miles on Saturday! hahaha... that sounds pleasant...

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I need to get my ass up in the morning. No more excuses. It is too hard in the summer to have a social life and train for a distance run. I know I won't be able to balance both successfully. Frankly, it doesn't get much better than drinking a cold beer at 3 in the afternoon on a sunny day....

All I need is some sun... and to have my run out of the way!

What does that really mean?

It means I need to be up at 4:30 in the morning. I have to be in the shower a little after 6 if I plan to catch the bus on time.

It also means I need to drive somewhere safe to run in the wee small hours of the morning. Even though Queen Anne is perfectly harmless, I'm still one girl running by herself, with no one around. My best bet is probably Greenlake... which will mean two or three laps around it once I get my distance up again... geesh! I thought this was supposed to be fun!

Last year I had a good 6 month stint of getting up to go to the gym every morning, and I know that all it takes is a week or two of sludging through it before it becomes routine.

I'm starting tomorrow...

I will be at Greenlake at 5... see ya there!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Heart Rate and Fat burn (heart burn and fat rate?)

Although I haven't been to the gym in months, I was always mystified by the heart rate scales on the treadmills and elliptical machines. For some reason if your heart rate stays lower you are in "Fat burn" territory. However, when your heart rate gets higher your workout is considered "Cardio."

WTF?

I thought the whole point of doing cardio workouts was to burn fat?

I read this fantastic book, Marathoning for Mortals, which I highly recommend to anyone even remotely interested in running. Here's a section from their book that breaks it down:

"You run all of your tempo workouts just below your anaerobic threshold, that is, the level at which your body begins to burn the short supply of glycogen or sugar in your system at a higher rate. Your muscles can burn one of two types of fuel–fat or glycogen (stored carbohydrates). At lower intensities–such as walking–your muscles prefer to burn mostly fat for fuel. However the higher your intensity, the more glycogen your muscles burn.

"You can go for days on fat stores but only a few hours on glycogen. The body is always using a ratio of both, but for the purpose of a successful and comfortable race, you want to burn a higher rate of fat.

"Your tempo workouts will allow you to raise your threshold. Ultimately, your body will burn a higher percentage of fat for a longer period of time at a higher intensity. This not only helps you lose weight; it also bolsters your endurance. The more your body burns fat for fuel, the more it conserves glycogen and the longer you can run without feeling tired."

Hey, I'm a fan of burning fat, So I think I'll keep up the tempo runs!

I mean, it makes sense that you can build endurance by increasing your threshold. And really I've seen evidence in my own running career.

Presently I am reading The Complete Book of Running for Women, where I discovered that women store the same amount of glycogen whether we eat a diet containing 60 or 75% carbohydrates, but we burn more fat than carbohydrates or protein compared to men. Which means our glycogen store will last longer.

So.... if I keep up the tempo work and maintain a healthy amount of carbs and fat in my diet I will be able to run forever...

Or cover the same amount of distance in less time...

I prefer the latter. Even though I totally agree with C.S. Lewis when he said, "If one could run without getting tired I don't think one would often want to do anything else," let's face it, comrades, the best part of distance running is when you're finished.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

30:38

I knocked 4 minutes off my last 5K time in a matter of 4 months. And it wasn't easy.

Last night I ran the fremont 5K. (My race photo is there to the left.) My intent was to use this race as my tempo run for the week. I haven't competed in a short race or fun run in a few months, and I was curious to see how fast I could really run 3 miles.

I would really chalk this event to a bad run day. I came home from work starving and against my better judgement, had a pretty heavy meal. It was also raining all day, so I wore pants, a long sleeve technical shirt, and a jacket...

It ended up being a beautiful afternoon, and I couldn't believe it. It was actually pretty hot (considering our recent weather), and around mile 2, I could tell my upchuck reflexes were being tested...

I ran the first mile at a relatively slow pace (or so I thought), but then I hit the mile marker at 9:40. I felt fine, but I was distracted by the two barefoot men running near me, and the woman on one leg who passed me.

Between mile 2 and 3 is where it got hard. I could feel myself slowing and couldn't do anything about it. My heart rate was in the 170's (which for me means I'm pushing, but I'm probably at about 80% of my capacity). And all I really felt like I could puke at any time. I even rationalized stopping and walking for 30 seconds.

But come on, it's 3 miles...

There was a large crowd of people around a runner who had fallen. As I got closer I saw his hand was covered in blood. I looked in through the crowd and saw a man in his 40's with a purple face and blood under his nose. It was pretty scary! The ambulance was on it's way for him.

I passed the mile 3 marker at 29 minutes. I could see the finish line, so I wanted to push harder. I could feel my heart pounding, but I pushed anyway. I was 50 feet from the finish line and looked down at my heart rate... 188! Oh Sh*t! But I'm so close. My heart feels like it could jump right out of my chest, and it's over!

When I stopped running my entire body shook. I knew if I had to run another step I would have thrown up. I could feel my dinner packing it's bags and getting ready to come back up.

Sarah finished just after me. She also felt pretty woosy, so we headed to the food table, got some water, and met up with her husband, Michael, at the beer garden. Danielle finished a little after the both of us, so we all went to a bar and got a beer.

The beer actually calmed my stomach, quite a bit!

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The book I'm currently reading, "The Complete Book of Running for Women" casually mentions a 10-minute mile as though it's a slow pace, on par with jogging. I find this fascinating! I've been running for over a year now, and I'm only finally getting to a 10-minute mile pace, and only on my short runs. I think one of my other side goals would be to have a 10-minute mile be my 10K pace. I would LOVE for it to be my distance pace, but really my only motivation for running long distances faster is so I won't have to be out there for so long!

Guess it's time to up the speedwork!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Reunited and it feels so good...

Sorta...

Saturday morning my alarm went off at 5:45. I slowly got myself out of bed. I found my running pants, got my sports bra on, strapped on my heart rate monitor, located my one technical shirt, threw my hair back in a ponytail, put on my under armor running socks, and went into the kitchen.

It's weird how a routine and gear can feel like getting reacquainted with an old friend you haven't seen in a while. For two months every Saturday started this way. It was completed by having a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of soymilk.

After the Vancouver Half I took a week off of working out. My body appreciated it, and I continued to lose weight. The problem was, not working out was starting to become too easy. One week turned into two, and then three... I went on the occasional three mile social run, but nothing I would consider training.

Saturday was going to be my first long run with Chris. And I knew it was going to kick my ass. We were planning to run 6 (or 7 miles). Which is twice what I had run at any one time in the past month. To make matters worse, rather than eating a healthy dinner and going to bed early (like I did for my two months I was training), I decided to go out for dinner and have a glass of wine... and three jack and diet cokes.


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Back to Saturday morning... Chris woke up with a stomach bug :( I knew this was going to make it easier for me to wuss out on my run... but instead I went anyway. I decided to run along the Burke-Gilman. I knew it was three miles out to the water fountain.

Mile 1-2:
Were awesome! I was somewhere around 10.5 minutes a mile for the first two and the felt great. I've totally missed this!

Mile 3:
It's funny how quickly running goes from being enjoyable to pretty uncomfortable in a matter of a couple steps. It's hot out and I got a pretty bad cramp and felt my breakfast starting to come up, and I was ready to turn around, but I hadn't even made it to the water fountain yet... Then I looked down right as I was stepping on the marker for three miles. I knew the water fountain wasn't far, so I kept going.

Mile 4:
I spent this entire mile looking for the mile 2 mile marker I had seen on the way out. This sucks.

Mile 5:
When you run out and back you get to cross paths with some of the same people. I see a man approaching slowly, he's walking... and carrying a cup of coffee in his hand.

Mmmm... coffee, I look down at my monitor to see how many minutes I have to keep this up before I can be smug walking around with my cup of coffee... dang it, probably 20 minutes yet!

Mile 6:
I'm so close I can smell it! I'm ready for this to be over with... and it is!

I spent a good 20 minutes stretching at my truck, and it felt so great! All of it, so great! Even the agony (haha, I can be so dramatic!) during the run seems all worth it now that it's over.

I missed this!

I felt so great after my run, I go home and sign up for a couple other fun runs and races I'm planning to do: the Fremont 5K, the Seafair Half Marathon, the 4 mile run at the Redhook Brewery... and the Portland Marathon.

Here we go!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Life After a Half Marathon

There isn't one...















Totally kidding!

I did REALLY enjoy taking a week of exercising. I know I should have been cross-training, but whatever. Sometimes you just want to do nothing... so I did and it was glorious!

I've been reading about this phenomenon of the "post marathon blues" where runners have a hard time adjusting to life again. The past few months were spent diligently training with a goal in sight, and now I'm supposed to be aimless...

Instead I've started making training plans for another half marathon at the end of June. Chris and I are crazy enough to try it all over again! Then I'm pretty sure I'm looking at the Portland full marathon in October...

As trite as this is going to sound, running the half marathon totally changed my life. It's the perfect example of how lots of small goals can become a major change in your life. Like miles, for example. This time last year I would set out to run a mile on the treadmill, and fall about 3/4 of a mile short because it was sooooooo hard!

So instead I focused on quarters of a mile, then after many months I was able to run three miles without stopping. Then I decided to take on the half marathon and added a mile a week. Some runs were harder than others, but before I knew it I could run 10 miles!

A few months ago I was convinced the human body was not supposed to run 26.2 miles straight. Hey, that's why the first dude who did it died immediately afterward. You hear all these horror stories of people's bodies shutting down and losing toe nails, and bloody nipples... and worst of all you have to run for like 5 hours... sounds more like torture than a hobby.

After the half marathon we met up with a friend of mine, and her sister and friend. All of them ran the full marathon, and this wasn't their first one.

Sarah, in an act or recklessness that I can totally appreciate, upgraded to the full marathon, even though she had planned (and trained) for the half. Luckily, she ran a full marathon a couple months ago so she had enough of a running base to survive.

Cat, the super-human athlete woman, just finished her marathon in less than four hours! And was able to walk and talk about it! (Apparently on her long runs she sets into a casual pace of 8 minute miles...) The other two finished in a little after five hours.

Cat had the revelation that when she looked back on her marathon, there wasn't a second where she wasn't pushing as hard as she physically could. I ran my half marathon in the exact opposite way. I look back on my half as two and a half hours of concentrated restraint.

We all had lunch and talked about shoes (haha, running shoes!), running, race locations, goals, and pacing. We casually discussed running 16 and 17 miles, as though this is what normal people do. The Sarah's and Cat encouraged me to run a full. And I left the lunch truly believing that I can do it.

One of the main reasons was that one of the Sarah's was saying that in her training runs she only got up to 16 miles before running the full marathon...

16 miles is only 3 more than what I had run earlier that day...

Although I didn't feel like I could have done 26 that morning, I definitely could have done 16...

Then it's just a couple more miles to 20...

Hmm... maybe this lofty marathon goal pretty attainable after all...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

13.1 miles down! 26.2 to go?


Well, I did it! I finished the Vancouver BC Half Marathon...

And now my life can go back to normal... or will it?

Is it crazy that I'm really considering the Portland full Marathon in October?

Let's not put the cart before the horse. I've lived to tell the tale, and here it is (less clich├ęs below, I promise):


Saturday afternoon we pulled into Vancouver BC, and right as we get to Robson street I realized...

I f-ing forgot my running shoes.

I came to Vancouver to run a half-marathon and I forgot my shoes. The most important piece of equipment for this sport, and I totally forgot it.

To spare some of the self deprecating anecdotes, it was just on par with the kind of week I was having anyway. So... almost 3 miles of walking and several crying episodes later, I finally got a new pair of running shoes. (Thanks, Matt for being such a trooper)

We still had a lovely dinner with the gals from the running team and their husbands, and watched the E True Hollywood Story about Patrick Dempsey before finally falling asleep.

I already had a sore throat starting Saturday morning, and it kept me up through the night and really everything was pointing a recipe for disaster....

RACE DAY:
5 AM: My alarm is going off, and I had just fallen back asleep... so waking up was pretty miserable. Matt was great and got up to help me make my breakfast while I was getting dressed.

I met up with the team to get some breakfast down and walk to the starting line together. Here's a group pic on our walk down.

Uh, I'm in the back :)

If you can't tell from this picture the weather is perfect! It's a little chili but promises to be sunny and kind of warm... too warm. :)

AND WE'RE OFF!

I was really trying to run at a slightly slower pace, and it felt great. I was reading some where that rather than placing the emphasis on time, really focus on enjoying your first half-marathon. I'll have plenty of opportunities to better my time, but only one first half-marathon.

We got to run through china town and parts of Vancouver I've never seen before. Which isn't a big surprise, considering this was only my second time to Vancouver.

Even though the supporters were sparse, it was greatly appreciated.... until there was this woman around 2 and a half miles. She shouted, "Keep it up, you still have a long way to go!"

Thanks, b****! We are well aware that we have at least a couple of hours of running to do yet. What a butthead... Oh, I'm sure she didn't really think about what she was saying... but it's not really what you want to hear so early on in a race.

Here's a pic of Chris and I around mile 3, seconds after seeing her family cheering on the street near a band covering David Bowie. I love that in all my "action photos" it looks like I'm just walking, but hey, it felt like I was just walking :)

Around mile 5 we headed into Stanley Park. It was such a beautiful run. I absolutely loved it. It felt like a nice leisurely weekend long run... with 20,000 other people.

We ran up this slight incline to the water station near the halfway point. We overheard this gal mentioning how easy "the hill" was, we didn't have the heart to tell her what was yet to come.

The last two months we've all been talking about the hill we were going to encounter around mile 8. It was kind of nerve wracking to know it was looming ahead. The funny thing was, the hill really made the race for me! That was the point in the race that I felt the strongest.

Thanks to all those hill runs we had to do for our training Chris and I were able to charge up that hill! I was 200 ft. and spanned about 3/4 of a mile. We were passing people left and right. It was such an amazing feeling! Then when we got to the top of the hill I knew, the rest was going to be easy.

Although I completely understand why, I was pretty irritated that there were no cheerleaders up the hill. That's when we needed them the most. but I guess bands, djs, friends, and family would have to be really ambitious to get up that hill just to cheer.

We stopped and walked for a few seconds, and Chris wanted to walk a little longer to get her knee back in gear. So I continued on...

The best part about running up a hill... is getting to run downhill afterward! And I had the energy to really push through it. I picked up the pace, and was flying down that hill. Again, passing people left and right. I've never really passed more than maybe a person or two in a race before. It was incredible!

By mile 10 we were out of Stanley Park and running along the water. I recognized where I was from the 10K two weeks back. This was the half way point for the 10K, meaning more or less 3 miles to go. It's funny when you find it comforting to think that you only have one lap around greenlake to go.

I'm not going to lie, I don't think mile 12 was a regulation mile. It was sooooooooooooooooo long.

There was a man preaching around this point. I found myself trying to block out what he was saying (there were protesters at the 10K, apparently you can't "run with with world and walk with God..."), but when I got close, I realized he was encouraging us! The only part I caught was him congratulating us because only 1% of people would even attempt to do this, that makes us the elite.

I started to well up. But starting to cry makes you hyperventilate so I had to slow my breathing down and focus on running. Even though I really appreciated the support of the crowd I knew the mile 12 marker would be coming soon, and I needed to bring it!

I finally made it to mile 12! Little did I know my personal photographer was along the street at this point. It was funny, because I thought to look for him at this point in the race, but knew better so I wouldn't start hyperventilating again.

I actually had enough steam to push really hard for the last mile! I was as close as I could be to "sprinting." As much as I enjoyed the race, I was ready to be done! Crossing the finish line was the biggest relief I've ever felt. Every muscle in my body exhaled. And as much as I tried to hold it back throughout the race, the tears just kept coming (and I don't know if I can spare the fluid or sodium at this point!).

Jonna, my coach, was there to greet me! She gave me a huge hug, and asked what my time was. I looked down at my watch, 2:40 (Just looked up my actual time: 2:38:49).

The best part was, I actually wasn't that sore! Or hungry! I just went through to find Matt. We bought a bag of ice from the fancy 7-11 and walked the mile back to the hotel. I spent about 45 minutes stretching, then a few minutes icing, then hopped in the shower and went to best part about all the running I've done for the last two months...

A full body massage :)

And I'm insane enough to set my sites on the Portland full marathon in October...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Walkers to the right!


Last Sunday I was one of almost 60,000 runners to grace the streets of downtown Vancouver for the Sun Run. It was 30-ish degrees at 8:30 in the morning when Deb and I left the hotel to walk to the starting line. It was so exciting to see sooooooooo many runners ready to do this!

The race, of course, started late. And based on my estimated pace I was so far back that I didn't even start the run until 9:45 (pretty late by my standards) :) We enjoyed the musical stylings of "the Neurotics" who were doing a cover of Amy Winehouse's "Rehab." Incredibly relevant, if you ask me.


And we're off!

There are HUGE 6' signs every where that say "Walkers to the Right"... yet Walkers were everywhere! Did all these walkers really think they would be finishing this in about an hour? I spent some time darting around trying to go the speed my body wants to.

Mile 1:
Really? Only a mile? I'm already ready to stop running and just walk... I know the first two miles are usually the hardest... besides the last two miles...

Mile 2:
What? The road is getting narrower? We're running near Stanley Park, but I can't even enjoy it with all the walkers everywhere. You really have to be on top of your game to even make it through the crowd! The sun has come out, so it's starting to get nice and toasty... kind of wish I wasn't dressed for 30 degree weather... But we're running along the water which is always nice :)

Mile 3:
I'm nearing the 5K mark... it would be AWESOME if this was the end... Alas, I'm only half way through. I throw back a GU and some water and hope that it will kick in soon. I look down at my watch... 34 minutes... If I can just keep this up, it'll all be over soon...

Oh F! incline just ahead. Meh, I'm walking it... it'll give me time for my GU to kick in. Because I know and understand race etiquette, I jog over to the right side of the hill where I can walk safely.

Well, with every incline comes a decline, right? Um, no. We turn the corner and we are now running up the Burrard Bridge! I figure I can probably run this one, but I feel myself definitely slowing down.

Then, FINALLY, we get to run down the Burrard Bridge... but I'm still going really slow... I'll keep that in mind for when it gets flat again... I think I'm already out of gas.

Mile 4:
What am I doing here? I thought running was fun... this is NOT fun. It's hot and I'm tired. I know I shouldn't be so hard on myself, I did run 11 miles yesterday. I look down at my watch.. 52 minutes? No way... I need to pick up the pace!

Mile 5:
And I'm walking again. I told myself I could slow down to get some water, but the water tables are at least 20 feet back by now... then I see her...

I'm coming up from behind on this girl who could have been my body double 6 months and 60 pounds ago... and it's on! I can't let her beat me! (This poor gal probably has no idea I'm projecting so much emotional torment and anguish on her) I start to pick up the pace and pass her...

Oh I'm tired... I slow back down.... then she passes me just as we're getting to another hill!

I had to zoom past her, so I charged up the hill. I could feel my heart pounding all through my body.

The this old guy charges past me yelling "walkers to the right!" each time he passed walkers on the left. Most of them didn't seem to care.

I finally hit the 8K sign.. only about a mile to go!

Mile 6:
Running isn't a competitive sport. At least not at the level of running I'm doing. We're not really competing against each other. Even though I made a point of trying to run faster than my body double, I was passed plenty of people who weighed 60 or 70 pounds more than I did, or were 60 or 70 years old. The whole point of racing and distance running is to compete against yourself. (Or someone who reminds you of yourself...)

Races are really the perfect place to challenge yourself and to see if you really are greater than the distance. People enter races to see if they can do it. Or if they've done it before, to see if they can do it better this time. That kind of drive for personal growth really makes this sport more than just getting from one place to another. (Yes, I'm including the walkers here!) But it creates an opportunity to challenge yourself and see measurable results.

Anyway, I just want this bugger to be over! The only thing keeping me going is that I know that if I walk it could take me almost twice as long to finish. So I just keep jogging... 12 more minutes...

My legs feel like they are made of wood and I can feel my right foot going numb... and we have to go up another bridge.. but then we get to go down the other side of the bridge. I want to sprint in and I'm pushing as hard as I can, but my body is still going at that jogging pace.

Maybe it's a delayed reaction thing, but I'm able to get up to a sprinting pace with only 200 feet to go!

FINISH
02:18:36 Haha, I mean 01:12:36

Meh... a good bench mark so that the next time I run a 10k (hopefully on fresh legs) I'll be able to blow that time out of the water!

I spent the rest of the day (and part of Monday) walking around like a 60 year-old man with a hernia... It's almost like a badge of honor :)


'View

Monday, April 21, 2008

This one goes to 11!

Initially Jonna told us we would be running over 10 miles, closer to 11. So in my mind, that meant we were running 11. But Jonna couldn't make it, so Christi lead our run. She wanted to stick to the original route, which was little over 9.

I ran 11 anyway...

because I got lost :) Saturday morning I posted the route we were supposed to run, here is the route I actually ran:




And here's the break down:

Mile 1-3:
Chris and I started before the group since I was in a time crunch. So we headed down the Burke Gilman. It was a lovely run through Canal park, then we got to the armpit of Ballard, Shilshole. Don't get me wrong, I know you need industrial boating sections of town, but it's not my favorite back drop to run against...

Mile 4:
We've just ran across the Ballard Locks, and I like it! It's refreshing to run through the loud water and light spray...

then Christi points to the hill we need to go up... grumble grumble... We (well, I trudge, the other gals don't seem as affected) up the foot bridge and up the street until we finally get to flat land again. The only comforting thought right now is that this will be downhill on the way back!

Then we enter Discovery Park... and have another hill to climb! I'm feeling kind of beat at this point. I'm definitely excited to stop and walk and look at our maps to make sure we're headed the right way.

Mile 5:
We're running again. Luckily, Chris got us to start up again otherwise who knows how long I would have walked! We get to the top of the hill and pass the cementary, which means we're headed in the right direction! Kristen takes off (she's much faster anyway), but a few minutes later we realize she went the wrong way!

But, there's not much we can do about it...

So we get to (FINALLY) run downhill. Part of it is on the street, the other part is on a trail. I'm starting to feel the effects of our shot blocks we took at mile 3. I'm ready to fly down the hill.

Unfortunately, running downhill was not so kind to Chris' knee. So she needed to slow down.

If this had been any other Saturday, I would have stayed with her. Unfortunately, I had to be back at my truck no later than 10:30, so I had to keep going. She does her best to give me directions and I vaguely know where we are anyway, so I take off.

Mile 6:
I've come to a dead end. I saw a parking lot that I recognized and rather than leaving the park, I followed my gut and went down this other windy road. It was a beautiful run through nature and on an open empty road. I could get used to this! I made it to the Native American Cultural Center. I ran all the way to the edge and looked out at the water for a second. Despite being a gray-ish cold day, it really was perfect for this kind of run!

OK, no dilly-dallying, time to get back to the task at hand. I head back out to the road. I see Chris coming about 200 yards up the way and I start motioning her to go back. The last thing she needs is to be on that knee any longer than she has to! I'm actually able to sprint to catch back up to her. Once I do, I stop to walk and eat my goo and have some water.

Just as I finish we meet back up with some other gals from the team, and get directions to Commodore way. And it's downhill again!

We get back to the Locks, and Christina needs to find I restroom so I continue on by myself.

Mile 7:
I'm running down the railroad tracks because I think it will save me time... but there's two dudes walking down the tracks and I figure this isn't the ideal running condition, so I head back up to market street.

The rain is slushy in blowing right into my face. I go to wipe my forehead and realize my entire head is sopping wet. I try to wring out as much as I can.

Mile 8:
I give Matt a call, why not? I'm running by myself, he's on the way to work... It was actually kind of nice. I think that's how I'll be able to pass the time when I do long runs by myself :)

I can tell that I'm slowing, but I know that once I get to the Ballard Bridge, I'll only have two miles to go.

Mile 9:
My iPod stopped working a few months back and rather than getting it fixed I've started getting used to running without music. In a way, I feel like I can listen to my body. And there's something almost soothing in listening to your own breathing. I'm starting to notice the rhythm... breath... step step step breath... step step step breath... step step step

I've definitely settled into a slow but steady pace. Now if I can just keep this up for 20 more minutes I'll be OK.

Mile 10:
A woman in a Seattle Marathon shirt approaches from behind me. I'm surprised she actually returns my smile. (You never know with runners in this city)

"Nice day for a long run!" she says.
"Yeah, it's just right!"
"How long you doing today?"
"I'm doing 11, " I say, realizing I'm slower than dirt right now, so I add, "about a mile and half to go!"

She tells me I'm doing great and I wish her luck then she disappears off into the distance...

What I wouldn't give to be able to run that fast right this second!

I've reached a point where my running isn't going as smoothly as I would like. I start digging in my pack for some sort of energy enhancer. My legs are so heavy! And with each step the pain increases in my left quad and right inner thigh. My calves are tight like rocks and my feet feel like they are starting to blister.

15 more minutes, Wac...

I'm starting to notice how irregular my breathing is. Instead of the nice even rhythm I heard earlier, it was more like: breath... step scuff scuff breath breath scuff breath step

I've been running along the right side of the path, and I'll move over into the center to accommodate the walkers. This older woman (and her husband and dog) are walking along the right side, so I move into the center to pass them, and cyclists come on my left passing me.

The woman says, "I think they want you to be on the other side."

I'm sure she was trying to be nice, but at that point in my run that was the last thing I needed. I waited a few seconds (until she was out of site) flipped her off and said, "well, I want YOU to be on the other side."

Here's the thing, runners can go in the bike lanes on Burke-Gilman because walkers go in the pedestrian lanes! Sure, cyclists and runners are at odds sometimes, but the bike lanes are huge! Wide enough for a couple of runners and bikers going each way. The pedestrian lane is usually two people wide at very best.

I digress...

Gasworks park is finally in my line of sight. I start to use whatever energy I have left after getting pissed at that lady to pick up speed. I'm pushing as hard as I can to get back to my car as quickly as possible. My heart is pumping so hard feels like it could jump out of my chest. I dart across the street, run into the parking lot, and tap my truck as I come to a halt.

DONE!
And I couldn't be more excited. I walk over to Christi and we chat for a sec before I have to schlump into the truck. Wow... I can barely walk... I wonder how that will feel during my 10K tomorrow... Good thing I have a nice long car ride to rest these legs!...