The Big Show (Part One)

(Sorry for the lateness of this post. I had technical difficulties. Damn you technology!) This is going to be a long one so now is the time to go get a drink or take a bathroom break. There is no intermission.

It’s been a little over two weeks since the main event! The 40th TCS NYC Marathon was Sunday, November 6th and all I can say to explain it is wow. I’ve never seen anything like it. Everything I’ve read and heard about is nothing compared to what it actually is. So here is my experience in a not so brief nutshell….

Alarm went off at 4am so I had enough time to pack a few last minute things and head down to the Meadowlands to catch the shuttle bus to Staten Island. It was pretty cold and windy but I knew it would warm up by the time my wave started (which was at 11:00am.) My race nerves started a couple days before hand so they were in full force now! By the time I got to the Meadowlands my internal organs reminded me how nervous I was and luckily there were porta potties everywhere. (Nothing like being the first one to use it…it’s like a gift from the running heavens) I boarded the bus and off me and about 60 others were to Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island. The bus was quiet; I wonder if anyone else was nervous. I got off the bus and went to the Runners’ Village which had vendors, samples of energy bars and gels and coffee….genius! Got me a cup o’ joe and headed for the hospitality tent to shelter from the cold, dark, cold darkness. I stayed huddled in a ball for the next three hours. I may have fallen asleep, I might have gotten stepped on and I definitely tripped a few people. The sun was finally coming up so I made my way out to a warm spot and start eating…damn straight it was Snickers!

Fast forward a couple hours and it’s almost start time. There are people everywhere. Just when you thought the crowd was thinning out another wave of people came through. Talk about your quality people watching. I got rid of my sweatpants (little did I know this was going to be a mistake) and get lined up in the corral to walk over to the base of the Verrazano Bridge. The sun is out in full force, time to ditch the sweatshirt. 11:00 hits and we are lead over to the start. It is GO TIME! After a great rendition of our National Anthem by a girl actually running the marathon the cannons go off and so are we. OMG! I thought I would be emotional but I think I was just excited. Who gets excited to run 26 miles? I was on the upper level of the bridge and the view was amazing. Because of the crowd it was difficult to start off at a decent speed so I think my first mile was around 12 minutes but it was worth it. There were runners stopping all over for the infamous selfie and the crowd shots coming up the bridge. Dodging people and abandoned clothing for the first two miles, I get over the bridge and into Brooklyn. I am finally getting into a groove though I’m running a little faster than I had planned and I can’t seem to slow my pace. It’s hard with all the energy. It’s electric. The sun is really starting to beat down and I am getting warm. I wasn’t expecting to be this hot in NYC. Getting nervous about the temperature I try to slow down but that lasted for about half a mile. Here I decide that if I feel this good now run a great first half of the race and not worry about the second, I will muscle through. Engage cruise control.

The spectators were awesome! You really felt like they were all out there for you. Live music at almost every corner there is so much to look at and listen to. Every mile had their own personality. You really get an in depth perspective of the different cultures in New York.

I am going to stop right here and keep you hanging for a bit while I write up the rest. There is so much to describe and you look like you need a break. Besides I need a snack.

 

Third Time’s a Charm

After a tough couple of weeks and attempts at running 20 miles, I finally broke the barrier. What a relief! Mentally and physically I think I can now conquer NYC. I still want to get one more 20+ run in but knowing that 20 miles is behind me is giving me the confidence I need to getter dun’ (that’s what we say in Florida).

Saturday morning was finally a bit cooler than it has been so I was able to “sleep in.” My alarm went off at 4:00am and I started my prerun ritual of getting dressed, taping up my feet, picking out gels that won’t make me gag all while eating a Snickers. I was out of the door by 5 starting my first loop of three. Because of the cooler temperature I was able to keep a steady 11:15 min/mi pace without struggling, which was nice for a change. The first 8 miles went by fairly quickly. After a quick water stop I went out for the second loop. This was supposed to be another 8 miles but my insides decided otherwise. The amount of caffeine I have ingested decided it was time for an unscheduled pit stop. So the second loop was cut short. After that last break it was time to finish up the last 8 miles. By this time the sun was starting to come up and heat up the world like it always does. Conveniently my watch was dying as well. I knew this last leg was going to be tough mentally. To break up the monotony the last loop was around the neighborhood and down the road to another that I rarely go into. A bit hilly it provided a good challenge for my tired legs. I cranked up my music (which you really shouldn’t do!) and finished up around the lake with my watch dying before the last mile was done. At least I knew how far I needed to go to get to 20.

20 miles done in….wait for it….3:50! Under 4 hours. I am still in disbelief. Amazing was a little bit of rest and a dip in the temperature can make.

It’s Monday now and I’m still sore and the bottoms of my feet are on fire but I feel good! This week will be just maintaining and eating well. I can now say the NYC Marathon is next month. Am I ready? Maybe. Am I excited? Heck yeah! We are almost at the finish line, but it is easier said than run.

Dread the Tread

These past two weeks have been super busy however training has not gone off course…well too much. It’s still brutally hot and humid in the center of Florida though it feels nothing short of one of the circles of hell. So to compensate I have been doing quite a bit on running on the treadmill. That awful machine in the gym usually facing a window or tv because they are the most painfully mundane miles ever inventing in the history of running miles. But it’s the only way I’ve been able to stay on track and not lose some focus. I have only been doing short runs at the gym though, long runs will always be on the streets. Last Saturday was supposed to be 20. I was actually looking forward to it, breaking the big 2-0. Sadly only 16 miles were completed. I started too late and by 7:30am the blazing sun was stealing even ounce of energy. One thing I have learned during these longer distances is to know when to quit and sacrifice a goal for a more quality run. Feeling good at the end is a huge part of this. Saturday was a pretty strong 12 miles and I have very happy with that. So I will continue to forge on thanking myself that I started this training with enough time to try 20 again. Tomorrow will be an “easy” 5 then hills on Thursday. Fingers crossed that it won’t be hotter than the sun in the morning then again it is easier said than run.

K.O.

I know I am being dramatic but Saturday I felt like I got knocked out. A combination 3:00am alarm, humid weather and just all around exhaustion took me out. I’m tired, cranky, sweaty, hungry and frustrated all at the same time. So Saturday after 2 miles, 2 measly little miles I threw in the towel for the day. If I’m not running 18 why go further and exhaust myself only to continue a downward spiral? Sometimes you have to sacrifice a fight to win the war, or something like that.

But as defeated as I feel, I purposely set up this training with enough time for setbacks like this. I blew off some steam this weekend and am looking forward to getting back on track. I am planning out my meals carefully and to give myself a break from heat and early morning exhaustion I am running in the gym all week. As much as I dread the tread[mill] I think mentally it will help in the long run, no pun intended….maybe.

 

Summertime Blues

I had good intentions to blog almost everyday but once again life gets in the way. It’s been a pretty uneventful week actually. Last week I dialed it down quite a bit to give my body a rest. My runs during the week weren’t more than 3 miles, including hill repeats. It’s been so incredibly hot and humid lately that it’s nearly impossible to get what you set out to do accomplished. It’s a bit demoralizing, but alas I truck on.

This past Saturday was the “Howl at the Moon” 10 miler in Clermont. It is a loop of rolling hills on the clay roads surrounding a blueberry farm. Am I painting a beautiful picture in your mind? Well take that picture, set it in the pitch dark and crank up the temperature 20 more degrees and humidity to 135%. Man was I miserable. I set out on an 11:30 pace, I really didn’t care about time, I wanted it just to be a training run. It didn’t take long, however for the heat to take a toll on me. By the first water stop (they were set up every two miles) I was drenched in sweat. I trudged along but unfortunately I couldn’t keep a steady pace. My allergies were flaring up so bad that my throat closed part way and I couldn’t get enough air to run. That sounds a lot serious than it actually was but it’s the best way I can explain it. I was in no medical danger but I was not able to race properly. So I resorted to intervals and finished 2:06.

So far this week there was an easy 3 mile run on the treadmill Monday along with weights. This morning was another dreadfully humid 4 mile run. That wasn’t as smooth as I had hoped. I am praying this heat will break soon. It’s becoming a struggle to keep focused. It wears you down, first physically then mentally. For me running is so much more a mental feat than the actual running part and I am starting to suffer.

Tomorrow is hill repeats and then 18 miles Saturday morning. I’m going to stay hydrated all week in preparation and pray to the weather Gods that maybe they might grace me with a little break in these torturous summer conditions. Anyone know a rain dance?

Planters Peanutitis

Oh glorious hump day. The middle of the week and yet many more miles to run. This morning was 3 miles around the neighborhood with the run group. Following the outer streets then coming in the middle around the lake once is exactly 3 miles from start to finish. It normally is an easy run but it was so incredibly humid (it’s 5am mind you) that is was almost impossible to breathe. I ended up walking half of it but I am in a “rest” week and not totally concerned about running the entire route. This Saturday I signed up for the ‘Howl at the Moon’ 10 miler, a spooky nighttime race on the clay roads in Clermont. Super hilly but it will be a nice change of pace from the constant increase in miles.

Side note, I saw a podiatrist yesterday about the burning on the bottoms of my feet. You know…planters peanuts, those tissues that go from your toes all the way to your heels. Yeah I didn’t know either until they starting talking to me in painful burst of weird heat. It has been bothering me for a couple of months though I have been able to keep it at bay with some serious massaging and compression socks. I was pretty nervous he was going to tell me I couldn’t run for a while but after a few squeezes of some muscles and tendons, I do in fact I have a mild case of planters fasciitis but will just require some better insoles, stretching and a generous helping of biofreeze. Done and done Doc! With a clean bill of health I am going into the next segment of training with some positive vibes. The clock is ticking as November is sneaking up on me. At least I have a routine set…maybe….sort of….in the meantime, tomorrow we hill!

Sweet Sixteen

So yesterday was my weekly long run. This time 16 miles. The novelty of running my longest runs is over as I am really trying to focus on the some of the finer details of the sport if you will. Sleep, food, temperature, recovery and very importantly remembering to charge your iPod the night before so it doesn’t die by mile 11 well before your run is over and resort to singing the Fraggle Rock theme song over and over to keep your mind busy as you are trying to get to the end. Hey…you do what you need to finish.

Overall this was a tough one. We started late, I didn’t sleep well the night before, it was extremely humid; I really wasn’t into this run from the very beginning. This was a test of mental power from the first step. The run was split into three parts, two legs of 5.5 miles of the same route on the trail going left and the final 5 miles going right. I have been going over this run in my head for the last 24 hours and the most important thing that sticks out is how much metal power it took to run this one. I thought about how far I’ve come, where I am going, and the ultimate thought…the finish line at NYC. I think about that a lot actually. It is the one thought that really motivates me. All this work is for that one moment. So as I struggled, as I continually sweat in my eyes, choked down packets of GU, sang Fraggle Rock, I kept thinking of that finish line. And while my quads are so tight that it hurts to walk, I have a hunger that doesn’t go away and I can’t seem to get any energy back I am another week closer to the line. It really is easier said than run…

 

Feeling the Burn

I wish the title implied getting stronger, faster, or something else more positive. For the last few weeks the bottoms of my feet have felt like I’ve been walking on hot sand. Just a constant burning that oddly enough feels better while I am running. After Saturday’s long run I took the next three days off and ran this morning. With stretching and easing up slightly on mileage I hope to stave off whatever this is until I see a podiatrist next week. I don’t have time to be injured! Don’t my feet know this by now?

On a more positive note, this morning was a faster than normal 3 miles around the neighborhood with some of my faves from the run club. It’s great how quickly those miles go by when you are in the company of friends. Tonight I am going to try to roll out some of the crunchiness in my feet and hope for the best tomorrow for hill repeats. Because it is easier said than run…

In my teens

With a little over three months away training is getting pretty serious. No longer are the “baby” runs that do not require multiple water stops, GU and prayers to anyone who is listening to help you get to the end. And with the Florida summer in full swing, if you don’t start in the middle of the night to beat the sun and heat you will be turned into dust mid stride. Yesterday was 15 miles. That’s a half marathon and then some….and ultra half if you will. (My running friends will get that corny joke).  I wasn’t nervous at all about this run, probably because 14 was absolute misery and I now had something to prove. With these long runs getting into mileage I’ve never done before, not stressing over it makes a world of difference. So as the alarm is taunting me to get out of bed at 3:30am, I begrudgingly got ready for my longest run ever. (Get used me to saying that until the marathon is over!) Fueled by a trusty Snickers and a pack of sports jelly beans (they were weird but I kind of liked them) it was time to start. It was humid but not as agonizing as it’s been lately. I kept my pace slow and steady, time really isn’t something I care about anymore. The run was split into three legs. The first two, each 5 miles, were the same going back to the car each time for water. It was nice and dark and quiet so I just zoned out and put my legs on cruise control. I’ve been wearing a knee brace for added support and overall I was feeling pretty good. Some walking here and there but nothing that would make me feel like this run wasn’t a success. The third leg was the final stretch and now with the sun starting to light up the world, I see a local 5k getting ready on the trail. Oh boy here we go…do I join in?…Do I laugh at all those people running 3 silly miles?….Do they think I am dying by the way I look?? I had a little trouble focusing as people whizzed by me. While they all look fresh and energetic with smiles on their faces, I am running my last 2 miles and I am starting to fade. But I can’t stop now. The end is near. Miraculously I kept an 11min/mi pace and as soon as my watch beeped at 15 I was overjoyed. With the adjustments in food during the week (trying to cut back on the simple carbs and getting more fruits and veggies), in the GUs I’m eating during the run and the twice weekly gym workouts I think I might be in a good spot. This week’s routine will be more of the same with a 16 mile run Saturday. Hopefully I will keep you updated…in the meantime I leave you with my breakfast….

IMG_4311

Lucky 13

Saturday was my birthday. How did I celebrate it you ask? I ran 13 miles. Marathon training doesn’t stop for a birthday. So well before the break of dawn the alarm went off as I painfully dragged my now year older self out of bed, laced up, choked down breakfast and got out of the door for the birthday half marathon fest. What a way to celebrate. I didn’t sleep well to begin with, but starting at 4:30am I was able to beat the heat. My legs were super heavy as I tried to keep a steady and rather slow pace. The first 5 miles were at the neighborhood across the street, then the next two back in my hood before stopping for a water, refueling break. It actually hurt me a bit to stop but I needed more water and gel to continue. I knew that the second half of this run was going to need a lot of mental power. Though I was more than halfway done I was exhausted, drenched in sweat and starving for something other than goo that comes in a packet. Boy did I want a burger. Miles 8-10 were tough. It was hard to get back into a groove. By 10 though my knee started to bother me. Currently I am in the mindset of ‘train smart and do not get hurt.’ So I walked a good part of the next mile to give me knee a rest. By now I am 3 gels in, a ton of water and the “finish line” is near but still so far away. The sun started to rise and I knew the temperature was about to be hot enough to bake a birthday cake. 11-12 were still slow but I made it through the neighborhood and time to finish the last mile at home. I hate that last mile and it hates me. I kept checking my Garmin, each ten seconds felt like an eternity. Finally with a quarter mile left I somehow found the energy to sprint home. 13 miles done and done. Definitely not my best run however I did it. I went straight into the pool….yes in my running clothes and it was heaven! Looking back at it, it wasn’t all that bad, it was good mental training and I didn’t feel as beat up as my first half marathon when I could barely even sit down on a toilet without wanting to scream. I am happy where I am at and though super nervous, ready to try to conquer 14 on Friday. Never ran that far before, time to hit some uncharted territories and see what I am really capable of. Until then time to celebrate my birthday! Another year where it really is easier said than run.

13709870_10210024098067365_8188758915594274861_n