Sunday, November 8, 2015

Race Report: Soldier Marathon 2015

This was such an amazing weekend and I'm not sure how I will ever describe it in words! I'm going to give it my best shot, though!

I had been very nervous and anxious about this 2nd attempt at Marathon Maniacs since last Saturday's 6 mile run. Around mile 4 I started feeling knee/ITB pain, and it continued off and on for the rest of the day and into Sunday. My next run was scheduled for Tuesday (4 miles) and I did that one and there was some pain from the beginning. I tried wearing my IT Band strap and it didn't change anything so I took it off in the last mile. I was supposed to run 2 miles the next day but I skipped it. I figured 3 days of rest before the race was better for me physically and emotionally. But the anxiety was something that I struggled with over the next few days. I think if I hadn't been riding and staying with Jill, I may have skipped it altogether - that's how nervous I was!

Friday morning arrived at last and I took my daughter to chemistry class, came back to pick up my bags, and ran a couple of errands before heading down to Jill's house. I was feeling much, much better. Still nervous but the anxiety part of it was gone. Jill and I started off our adventure with donuts from a great little shop that she loves! It was fantastic! I think every adventure is better when you start it with donuts! :)

We arrived at the hotel in the middle of the afternoon. It's the Hampton Inn and Suites and it shares a parking lot with the National Infantry Museum, the location of the expo and the Start/Finish line. The hotel was very nice and the staff were friendly and helpful! We checked in, put our bags up, and headed to the expo. As I do at every race now, I laid out all of my stuff before I went to the expo to make sure I had everything I needed. And I did! Please remember this statement as it will become important later on! :D

We picked up our packets - race bibs, very nice clear plastic sling bags, and a tech shirt. The shirt was very small but I was able to exchange it for a bigger size! The museum was open and I have heard it was nice. I took a couple of pictures and decided that it was a destination for my husband, son, and hopefully myself one day - they will LOVE it!

The Avenue of the Flags - my finish line will be there tomorrow! (and start line)

National Infantry Museum - beautiful!

The entrance!

One look and I knew my hubby needed to see this place!

Got my bib! 
The expo was small but a local running store had a nice sized shop set up and I was able to find a pair of the shoes Riley likes and a pair of shoes I like for almost 50% off! We stopped off at the hotel room again and that's when I realized that I had brought the holders for my hydration belt - but no water bottles. Much to my surprise, I did not panic. I just set about trying to figure out what to do. Jill had a small water bottle with her that I could use and it fit into my holder just fine, so that was my initial plan.

We took a drive around to check out as much of the race route as we could. The first part of the course is on Fort Benning (which we obviously couldn't access) and most of the rest of the course runs on the Riverwalk  - a paved trail that follows the riverfront. But we drove into the downtown area and saw as much of that we could! It was nice to get a feel for where we would be running and I really appreciated that the next day!

Pre-race dinner always means pizza and Jill suggested Mellow Mushroom! It had been so long since I've been there and it was yummy!
Yep, we ate it all - plus Cinnamon/Honey pretzels for dessert! They don't call it carb-loading for nothing! 
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at Publix so I could pick up some more of the little water bottles. I really needed to have two - one for UCAN and one for Nuun. Back at the hotel, I saw posts from two of the ladies from my MRTT group offering up the very bottles that I needed for my belt. They had brought them with them but weren't going to use them! But I didn't get a response back from either of them either that night or the next morning before we left the room. So I went ahead and prepared the small water bottles that I had purchased at the store and refilled with my fuel. Remember that, it will be important later! :)

Jill and I were both ready for the race and in bed by around 8:15! We are real party animals, huh? I just hadn't gotten ANY sleep all week and I was so nervous. I fell right to sleep and woke up at 12:15 thinking I was up for the day, but I actually went back to sleep until 4:15. My alarm was set for 5, so I consider that a great night of sleep for a race night!

We got ready by 6 to go down to the hotel-provided breakfast which was fantastic! They had my oatmeal but I had already brought/eaten half a bagel since I hadn't realized they would have such an extensive breakfast open in time for the race! Went back up to eat and make use of the real bathroom we had access to! Nothing better than a real toilet before the race! As we left to go to the start, we ran into some friends, including one of the MRTT friends who had volunteered her bottles! She got my attention and asked if I wanted them! YES!! She went back into the room to get them and I filled them up and dumped the other bottles. I was SO happy - the other bottles were really not stable when you put the in and out of holders. It would have been a pain. My day was already getting better!

And then I stepped outside. And into weather that felt more like a Georgia August than November. I was so glad I had thrown my one remaining Sparkle Skirt into my bag at the last minute. I hadn't worn it for a long run since the Hotlanta Half Marathon and I had no idea if I was going to chafe miserably in the longer weather, but I was afraid that wearing the capris I had planned on wearing would be dangerous. My friend Tracy had some issues a few years ago with heat and racing and she told me that the legs being covered is actually more important than the arms, torso, etc. I decided that the risk of chafing was better than the risk of passing out. That was a smart move because the weather proved to be unbelievable!

Speaking of the race, I should get on to the actual race in this Race Report! LOL There was a 15 minute delay in the start due to parking issues. That made me really mad. We were trying to beat storms that were forecast to start around noon. 15 minutes could make the difference in finishing and in the race being cancelled. Why punish the rest of us when we got there early as you should always plan to do for a race?! It was chip timed so they could just start when they got there and the directors could leave the finish line open an additional 15 minutes to accommodate them! Anyway, I was aggravated - but probably that was a result of my building nerves!

The view of the start from my friend, Susan! We came towards the camera for the start and finished going the opposite direction! It was fantastic!
A cannon sounded the start of the race and we took off. I had decided to do 3/1 intervals rather than 4/1 that we had done for most of MCM. But my only goal was to finish - and my secondary goal was to finish feeling positive and having an enjoyable experience - so I knew that the 3/1 interval was merely a starting point!

This course is mostly flat, with the exception of one massive hill in the 2nd-3rd mile, and it was infinitely less crowded than MCM. So our pace was excellent! We had decided to run that massive hill because there would be drill instructors on the hill "encouraging" us up it as if we were soldiers! They were fantastic! I loved it! We had a great pace going and my legs were feeling pretty good! I had twinges come up in either knee, but it wasn't ever anything that made me feel really badly. The only problem was the humidity and heat. I was fading fast. I simply hadn't trained or raced in those conditions this year. I mean, I did some training runs that were in the low to mid 70s for temps but that was back in July and August. My two "hot" races ended up being cool wash-outs. My body was just not ready for these conditions!

The biggest indicator that things weren't "right" was my heart rate. Thanks to my heart rate training in the summer, I had gotten used to judging my heart rate zone. I wasn't wearing the monitor for the race, but I could tell that my HR was not coming down during the 1 minute walk break. That was concerning, especially because we were not even half way done and the temps were still going up! We decided to switch the intervals for a bit around mile 10. We did a few sets of running 1 minute and walking 3 and that worked great! My HR came back down nicely! We decided to do this switch-up again at mile 15 and mile 20. We started running again and my knees protested more than they had before. But it wasn't ever a 'giving out' feeling so I didn't worry about it too much. What I did worry about was my HR. After a few more of the 3/1 intervals, it started not coming back down again, so we decided to do some more flip-flopped intervals after the halfway point. I texted my mom just to let her know that we would be slowing down - at the halfway mat, we were right around 2:26 (a few seconds faster than our MCM pace, which was with more running! Incredible!). But I knew I could not keep this pace up safely. I didn't want her to be worried.

After trying a few 2/3 intervals, we decided to settle in with the 1/3 and no worry about it. Our walk pace was nice and brisk and our run pace was very strong, even until the end (our last 3 runs were 8:30, 8:31, and 8:27!) but the weather just made it harder and harder to run. I was soaking wet as if it had actually been raining! I even developed 2 blisters on my left foot, but not on the bottom of my foot so they didn't bother me when I was running or walking. At one point I stopped to put some glide on them to avoid a bigger problem and I took a couple of pictures of the beautiful downtown Columbus Riverwalk!

Such a lovely area! 

The view across the river into Alabama! We crossed the river and ran into AL briefly!
Once we crossed the bridge back into Alabama, we started heading back towards the finish line! I joked that I would like to jump into the river and just float/swim my way back! LOL There are triathlons in Columbus, so now that I'm familiar with the area, I'll have to see where they get into the water!

It was nice to know that we were heading back! There weren't very many full marathoners so there were times where it appeared that we were the only ones out on the course! I was so glad to have Jill there with me! It would have been very, very lonely without her!

One thing I need to note here is the friendliness of all of the volunteers! The soldiers and civilians both - and really every single person who was out on the course - cheered us on personally! They were encouraging and helpful and made the conditions much better (if that's possible LOL).

Once we hit mile 24, I was confident that we were going to make it. And I felt myself starting to get choked up. I didn't want to be crying as I crossed the finish line so I kept pushing it back! I am not pretty when I cry! We had decided that coming in under 5:30 was probably doable, which is amazing to me considering how much walking we had been doing! So that pushed us to keep up with the run interval even when we didn't want to, and to keep our walk pace brisk when we really didn't want to! But let me tell you, that one minute of running started turning into the LONGEST. MINUTE. EVER. Literally. Ever. In the history of time.

We made the turn onto the Avenue of the Flags and started to run! My friend, Anna, who had rocked the Half Marathon was waiting at the finish and took this fantastic picture of me and Jill heading to that finish line!

I'm sort of in love with my form! 
BTW, Jill and I did not plan to be wearing coordinating skirts/shorts! It just sort of happened!

We crossed that fantastic finish line with a time of 5:27:07! Less than 30 minutes slower than MCM - and my 2nd fastest marathon ever!

Soldier Marathon Finisher! Love the medal!
Once I realized that I had done it, I burst into tears! I hugged Jill and sobbed on her shoulder - I was so grateful to her for all of her encouragement not just the last few weeks but in these last 4 years. When I was saying that I couldn't do another marathon, or I couldn't achieve Marathon Maniac status, she would encourage me that I could! And she stayed with me for all 52.4 miles of this journey! She also had a sign for me and my first piece of Maniac Gear!

I finally did it!!! 
It's been a long 4 years since my first attempt, but I can finally say that I am Marathon Maniac #11915, and Double Agent #1880!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Race Report: 2015 Marine Corps Marathon, Part 2

To read up on the expo and my activities leading up to race day, please read Part 1 of this post here.

I didn't sleep very well the night before the race, but I was expecting that. I woke up at 2:30 AM (meaning I got about 4 hours of sleep). I guess my brain thought I was supposed to get up "Disney early". Since I was meeting my ROTE friends at their hotel, I didn't actually have to get going as early as I would have if I had to go through the Pentagon entrance. So I lay in bed for about another hour or so, then I heard my aunt up and decided to go ahead and get up. I did my rolling and some gentle yoga and then made my oatmeal and ate it while talking with my aunt. It was raining (as it had been most of the night) and that was disappointing. But it wasn't cold. I can handle rain or cold, but prefer not to have both.

I finished breakfast, got dressed, finished packing up my stuff, and posed for a pre-race picture!

Not too bad for 4:15 AM!
The plan was for my aunt to drop me off at the train station, where I would ride down to the Rosslyn station and walk to the hotel. I arrived just as the earlier train was leaving and didn't feel the need to rush to it so I picked a spot on the bench and waited for the next train. Of course, I had to take a selfie!

Not too bad for 4:35 AM!
I tried to start up conversations with those around me but I didn't get very far. I wonder if everyone was too tired because there were lots of grumpy reactions around! The rain had pretty much stopped, though, and that was good. And I wasn't freezing, and that was good! The train came on time, though they were announcing that other lines were having trouble due to a deer that was hit on the tracks. :( I was able to get a seat and sat the entire ride to Rosslyn. I got off and headed to Jill's hotel, thankful that my aunt had insisted we take the time to walk the route during the day because it was different in the dark and I would have had more trouble!

I arrived at the hotel room and thankfully I checked the room number on my text because I had the wrong room number in my head - wouldn't have been nice to wake up the wrong people! I hit the bathroom and dropped off my bag in the room. We checked weather one last time and saw nothing on the radar so I left my poncho. I would regret that decision later.

Met up with the crew in the lobby and walked towards the start line. We got to the entrance for the military base (and I knew this from my aunt's tour the day before) and we stopped. Huge crowds and nobody was moving.  This was different according to my friends who run MCM year in and year out. But we weren't moving. And the rain was starting to really come down. And it was dark. My nerves were a bit on edge and I'm glad I had friends around me!

The line was caused by security checking bags and having to walk through the metal detectors - and there were only 4 or 5. But apparently we had it good compared to folks coming through the Pentagon side who were in line for an hour or more. Lots of racers missed the start completely. We made it through, hit the potties, and then went to the start line. And before I knew what was happening, it was time to start.

The start as seen by my aunt and uncle on the hill!
Jill and I were planning to run together and I had us doing a 4/1 interval. I had all these plans of enjoying the race and making all these memories and remembering every single detail, but my mind had other plans. Almost immediately, my brain started playing horrible games with me. And it did not let up until the very, very end. I'm not sure what happened because I hadn't had any of those problems during training, not even when I ran 20 miles in the pouring rain! But it got ugly. I did a very good job talking back to myself, in my mind... but it was exhausting me emotionally. Looking back, I should have prayed more and I think that would have brought peace to my mind, but in the moment and the surprise at having such an issue, I didn't do it. I was probably really quiet in places and I think I even said something to Jill about it at one point but I was so busy talking to myself that I didn't have time to talk out loud! LOL

As a result of all of the mind games, the details of the race are a bit fuzzy. It's a shame, but it is what it is. The course was fantastic and Jill is wonderful to run with! I had told her - and everyone that would listen - that I wanted to come in under 5 hours for my finish time. I'm not exactly why I chose 5 hours, but I did. I knew that it wouldn't be the end of the world if I didn't come in under 5 hours but I was hopeful! Jill stuck with me all through the race and really pushed me towards the end. She wasn't ugly about it at all, but she said that we were close to making my time goal! So for many of the end miles, I just settled in behind her and focused on her feet and her turnover. It really helped!

I felt pretty good through the majority of the race! My right ITB started to make noise around the 16th mile but it wasn't horrible. However, after the bridge while we were running through Crystal City, my left knee started to feel like it was giving out. I tried to keep up with Jill but lost her when the course turned around. I had to walk because it hurt so badly. But once I started to walk, it felt fine! So we switched from our regular intervals and I would run until it started to twinge and then we would walk! I was thinking of the next race I had coming up in two weeks and the reminder from Jeff Galloway that I needed to keep under the threshold of irritation. During the run intervals I would focus on keeping good form, and the walking felt very good. Once we hit that mile 24 marker, I knew that we would make it and that I would finish running! I can't even begin to describe that feeling! There is no way on earth I would have been able to do that without Jill's support and encouragement!

I will always remember as we started to run up the hill to the finish, she called out, "Remember, this hill isn't any worse that what we run at home!" and she was right! I pushed out the last bit of energy I had and watched my Garmin tick away the seconds to the finish to make sure that I came in under 5 hours! And I did - with 35 seconds to spare!! Incredible!!

Happy Runner Girl!

Finisher!! I did it!!

Official time was 4:59:25! So excited! 

Jill is a Titanium Marathon Maniac and my personal marathon angel! :)
There was another line to get the food boxes and these neat jackets that took the place of the warming blankets! We didn't need the jackets but I took it to use at a future race! Then we waited to get out of the finish line area. Lots of standing and barely walking. Not good for the legs, I'm sure!

Hugs from my aunt!
We were able to connect with my aunt and uncle, who had been along the course spectating in various areas - despite the rain! I was so happy to get a hug from her! I can't believe I was able to see them in all the crowd. My uncle is nice and tall and was wearing a bright yellow jacket! It was perfect!

The Metro ride home was crazy - saw someone being carried out of the crowds at the Roslyn station by medics! We ended up getting on the first train that was going in the right direction and getting off at a station closer to home to switch to the correct line, just to get out of the scary crowds! It was worth it for sure! We actually ended up making it home in good time. And I was physically feeling good but was completely emotionally drained. My original plan had been to stay in the finish line area and cheer my other friends across the finish line, and have my aunt pick me up at the metro station later, but I was so emotionally spent that I just needed to get back to their house and decompress.

As the night went on and we went out for dinner, my knees were definitely hurting a lot worse. But then I came home and took an epsom salts and felt much better, and the next morning I felt surprisingly very good! My aunt had to work on Monday so we went in late and she took me around to see the 9-11 memorial at the Pentagon and then I got on the metro and went sight seeing! I ended up doing a lot more walking than I had intended to do but I felt fine throughout. I was a bit nervous about sitting in the plane for 2 hours, but I stood up after my flight and felt really good!

It's now a week since the race and it has been a very busy week for me and my family. I have 6 more days until my Marathon Maniac Qualifier! I have had 2 runs in this last week, a 3 miler and a 6 miler. The 3 miler was first and was horrific! It was as if I had never run before! Yesterday the 6 miler felt MUCH better, but then my left knee hurt afterwards. I think despite doing a 2/1 intervals, I was doing the actual running too fast because it felt better. I have to remember that I am still in recovery mode and any runs that I am doing need to be very easy! It's not like I'm trying to maintain fitness!  I stretched and rolled frequently yesterday, and this morning I woke up feeling just fine. I will do epsom salts bath again tonight (didn't have time to yesterday with the whole Halloween thing) and I'm sure that will help.

My only goals for Saturday's race are to get to the finish line. I have NO time goal and I do not mind going slowly and walking a lot! I guess if I had ANY goal, it will be to see if I can actually run a marathon and finish feeling good. I was able to do that the Disney marathon but that was mostly walking. I would like to discover if I have a "sweet spot" pace that will allow me to run the marathon and not feel pain at any point!

Sorry it took so long to get this posted - and I apologize for the lack of details! Oh! I remember something: I was quite disappointed in Rock Creek Park! I had been wanting to run there because it's on NCIS and it was not very exciting. LOL But now when Gibbs says, "Dead Marine found in Rock Creek Park" I can say, "I ran there!" :)

Anyway, sorry for the delays! Hopefully I'll have more details next week after the Soldier Marathon where I qualify - FINALLY - for the Marathon Maniacs! :D

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Race Report: 2015 Marine Corps Marathon, Part 1

I had a simply fantastic weekend and I cannot wait to share it! I don't have nearly the time that I need to write a post that will do the events of the weekend justice, but if I don't write soon then I'm going to end up forgetting all the details and that will be worse! So I may leave some things out, but I can always go back and add some more things if I need to!

I flew up to DC on Thursday afternoon.

Check out this fantastic picture I took with my phone from the aisle seat of the plane! Probably the best picture I've ever taken! LOL
I was staying with my aunt and uncle who live in a suburb of DC on the Metro lines. It was fantastic staying with them! They are the most gracious hosts and I haven't seen them since the last time I ran MCM in 2011! The weather was gorgeous for most of the weekend - excepting race morning - and we spent a good bit of time rocking in a chair on the back porch talking with my aunt! My aunt picked me up at the airport - then we dropped off my bags at her house and hit the grocery store to get some food for me to have around the house while I was there! My aunt is as picky of an eater as I am so that is very helpful to have someone who gets it! We ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant that night and then came back to the house. I was beat so I fell right to sleep!

Back Porch Rockin'
Friday was going to be my busy day - Expo and then meeting up with my Disney running friends from Running of the Ears, most of whom I hadn't seen in close to 3 years! We planned to get to the Expo after the big opening rush was over, but we would learn later that we were unsuccessful in our planning! LOL My aunt works at the Pentagon so we parked there and took the Metro to the Convention Center. I was able to meet my aunt's co-workers that morning before we left and it was so nice to see where she works. You can tell how much they like her and how important she is to the staff!

The Metro ride was uneventful, once we figured out how to use the machine to purchase a SmartCard for me to use for my stay in DC. I'm not sure why we had such difficulty! LOL We had to wait in a long line that we later discovered was for bag check and wanding of our bodies! My aunt even had to throw away a lighter that was in her purse. Found out that folks who came later didn't get wanded and barely had their bags looked in. Oh, well! Once we got through that point, there was no line at all to get in and get my bib!

Oorah!! Mission Ready!
After getting my bib and shirt, we walked into the Brooks official merchandise section and saw the massive check out line! My aunt suggested that she could get in line while I browsed. That worked for me and I went to shopping. I knew I had to get a hat because my 2011 MCM hat is one of my favorites and I wear it all the time! I immediately fell in love with a hat, and then I found a couple of short sleeve shirts. There was so much gear I could have bought but I had a strict $100 budget, and prices were as crazy as the line!

This isn't even HALF of the line! 
I got a text from my ROTE friends that they had arrived and were in the crazy merch line! I went to find them and then my aunt decided she had had enough of the crazy runner expo and headed home. I stood in the line again with them and then we made our way to lunch, being very hungry runners by this time! Lunch was a fantastic, sort of fancy Mexican place near Chinatown. I was very impressed! After lunch we headed over to meet more running friends for Happy Hour! I had not really been able to do any of the meet-ups like this before, so it was nice that it worked out this time!

I left before most everyone else was ready to go, and Jill walked me to the nearest Metro station so I could make my way by train back to my aunt's house. It was dark and I was a bit intimidated but the DC Metro system is very easy to navigate and feels very secure. The only problem was when I got off the train, I was afraid I was in the wrong place because it all looked very different from the last time I was there. Apparently they have totally built up around this station and it's simply gorgeous! It reminded me a lot of the Atlantic Station area of Atlanta!

I slept very well again on Friday night - great to be banking some sleep since I likely wouldn't be sleeping much on Saturday. I had planned to hang out and rest up my legs on Saturday and that's what I did. We ran a couple of errands on Saturday morning with my aunt, including driving down to the start area to find my way from the Metro station to the hotel where I was going to meet up with my ROTE friends to walk to the start line. My aunt is a planner extraordinaire and wanted to make sure that I was familiar with my surroundings since it would be dark when I did that on Sunday. I'm so glad that we did this because it made it easy on race day - one less thing to worry about!

After errands we came home the scenic way where I got to see the finish line area and all of the beautiful fall foliage and watched college football while I rested my legs. I got some snuggle time with one of her three kitties! The other two boys were not as willing to snuggle, but were still very loving and affectionate to me!

Cozy with Dexter! 
Stanley checking my form during yoga

Maxwell striking a pose 
Saturday night dinner was pizza, of course, at a fun place called BJ's - which is a neat chain that is not in GA. Then I went back home to get packed up for the race morning!

Flat Niffercoo - ready for race day!
Time for bed... please check back tomorrow for Part 2 of my race report (aka the actual race LOL)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Just Like Last Time?

Nearly a month since I've blogged. This is definitely not the way to get my blog noticed so I can become a sponsored athlete and get to test cool gear and participate in all the fun races for free! LOL

Oh, well!

Actually, the worst part about not blogging is that there have been so many emotions running through me and so many really deep and meaningful thoughts - but then I don't write them down so I forget them. And truly that's the purpose for this blog. As much as becoming a sponsored athlete would be fantastic, and as much as I would love to be the source of inspiration for other adult-onset athletes, the main reason that I blog is so that I don't forget any of this journey. So when I don't have the time to write it down, then it's gone forever. And that is a shame.

So, let's see where I left off in my training logs - Week #13? That's a shame. I just finished up Week #18!

In the last month I have done 18 mile and 20 mile training runs. I had a lot of aches and pains after both of them. In fact, during last Saturday's 20 mile training run, I felt my IT Band flare up again in the last two miles. It's been very discouraging. Last year when I was training for the Half Ironman, I felt fantastic! No aches. No pains. Rarely even a twinge. Even with several 16 mile runs! But this year, I cut down my cycling and swimming to 30-60 minutes each twice a week and have been feeling random aches and pains since August. I really don't understand it and, personally, I do not think it's fair.

What's that saying about life not being fair? Yeah, great.

I started thinking to myself, "This is just like last time." It's hard not to feel that way. I'm not sure why I get surprised when things don't go the way I want them to or expect them to. Surely I have lived long enough to realize that it's just the way it works. Perhaps I should have been more grateful last year when nothing went wrong during 70.3 training, instead of just assuming it was because I was doing "all the right things"?

In other words, why do I continually think that I can control the outcomes in my life by following what I perceive to be the 'right plan' or taking the 'right steps'?

So, since that obviously doesn't work, what can I do? Is there anything to be learned from the last 5 weeks of marathon training? Or is this "Just Like Last Time"?

I can choose how to respond. I typed "react" at first and then came back and changed it to "respond" because that word better represents what I want to do. React seems more immediate and spur of the moment. Respond implies deliberate and thoughtful execution. Here is I how I responded:

1. Focus more on rolling and stretching.
2. Drop down the pace and increase the run/walk intervals.
3. Epsom salts baths twice per week instead of only after the long run.
4. Make hydration a priority.
5. When the twinges went from random spots after the 18 miler to the IT Band during the 20 miler, I resumed the IT Band Rehab routine from I also focused on my form and activating my glutes. I know where my own IT Band issues come from so I spent my time on those areas.
6. Dropped cycling since I was feeling the twinges more during and after rides on the trainer.
7. I was also able to find a massage therapist who works in a local PT office so I went to see her and had her work on my hamstrings and hips - the tight spots that cause my IT Band problems.

It sounds like a lot of change but it really wasn't that dramatic. It was just a way of adjusting what I was already doing to accommodate the changes in my training. Training isn't a static process. I can't focus on the training I WISH I had, but only on the training as it really happened. I wish I wasn't feeling aches and pains and IT Band problems. But I did, so I have to take action.

So even though the IT Band flare-up is Just Like Last Time, my reaction to it is not. I learned so much from that time in my life and I was able to apply it! And this week, UNLIKE last time, I was able to complete both a 40 minute training run and a 10 mile training run (and a few gentle swims, and 8 hours on my feet at a rock concert LOL).

I'm 15 days away from race day now, and feeling positive! I skipped my run today, not because I was feeling badly but because it was thunderstorming and I do not want to get struck by lightning! I did my 20 miler last week in the pouring rain and most of my runs in the last few months have been in the rain. I decided yesterday that if it were raining today, I'd be skipping the run! I am OVER running in the rain. But if it's raining on race day, I shall be well prepared! :D

So I guess I'm pretty much caught up on my thoughts to this point. I am having a hard time getting focused on the excitement of the race but only because there is so much else that has to happen first. Nutcracker rehearsals for one girl. Solo audition results for the other girl. Last driver's ed class. Drama and dance performance. Meeting with the dance company director to discuss career options. PSAT. And THAT is just between now and Wednesday!  Is it any wonder I'm having trouble focusing on something that's 15 days away?

Thanks for continuing to follow along on this journey, even when I am not doing a very good job with posting! I hope your training is going well this fall!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Race Report: Rise Up and Run 5K 2015

Shortly after my hubby and I finished the Braves Country 5K that ended on the warning track at Turner Field (the Atlanta Braves stadium), we were sent a code from Atlanta Track Club to save on entry to the Rise Up and Run 5K, which ends on the 50 yard line inside the Georgia Dome (where the Atlanta Falcons play football).

He forwarded me the email and said, "Sign us up!" LOL

I wasn't sure if we were going to be able to make it work since Saturday is a dance day for our Dancing Queen, but she was able to spend the night with a dance friend last night who took her to class this morning - so we were all set!

Yesterday was a crazy day and I was so tired, but I did sleep pretty well. The alarm went off at 5 and I started to get ready. Woke hubby up at 5:30 so we could leave at 5:45. Men. @@ On the ride down to Atlanta it was sprinkling. Of course it was. If it rains on marathon day, I am all set. I have run so much in the rain recently, it's not even funny.

Thankfully, the rain stopped before we arrived downtown and we found the parking lot with only a little bit of confusion from the directions. Still, we pulled into the parking garage at 6:30 which is what I wanted. We lucked out by parking right next to the stairs to where the start line was. I'm not sure we could have done as well if we had planned it that way! Took all of 5 minutes to pick up our bibs and shirts. Atlanta Track Club really knows how to put on events and keep everything organized well. Took the shirts back to the car, put on our bibs, and went back to the start line area.

Pre-race selfie!

Start Line

The new Georgia Dome for the Atlanta Falcons!

The current GA Dome - our race finishes inside!

The Atlanta Skyline before dawn
The porta potties were flushing ones. As in, you stepped on a thing on the floor and the toilet 'flushed'. It was dark, so I can't say how it worked - but it sure was cool. We made one more trip back to the car so hubby could finish his coffee - a perk of being so close to the start!

While waiting for our corral to start, we discussed strategy. Hubby had not been able to keep up with training over the summer, so he only ran the last 2 weeks regularly. He wanted to do a 2/1 interval - something regular - instead of running until he got tired like he did last time. Of course, I was all on board with that. We would take each mile slightly faster than the last. And he needed to keep his walking pace at a faster pace.

Keeping a slow pace was easy in the last corral - any pace higher than 9:30/miles. Let me tell you that is a HUGE variance. We had to move around a ton of slow walkers. But it kept us from going out too fast.

Hubby did very well! It was a cool, overcast morning which certainly helped. The course was a tiny bit hillier than the Braves Country one, but it didn't feel that way to him, so that's good!

We turned into the GA Dome and saw the field and the markers for the "40 Yard Dash"! This finish line sprint was going to be timed all by itself. I had reminded hubby not to go all out so he didn't have a heart attack or something. But then we got there and started speeding up and I find myself saying, "I'm going to beat you!" and pushing it! He pushed, too, but I'm better trained currently. He's much faster than I am normally! So I'll take my edge while I still have it. I'm certain that I'll pay for that sprint for many races to come! ;)

Our time was slightly under 39 minutes, about 30 seconds faster than in June when he was fully trained!

There were finisher's medals for this race - so my hubby got his first ever medal!

They were letting everyone hang out on the field, which was really cool. They had some fun football-type activities but we weren't able to stay too long. Hubby has a recording session today in the studio with his band! But I took a few pictures of the stadium, since this may be my one and only time to go inside it!

Picture with our medals that was not taken well! We should have asked someone! 
There were photographers out on the course - and I especially hope they got a picture of our sprint to the finish! We asked a photog to take our picture together in front of the Dome before the race so I will post it once it gets posted to their FB page! :)

Now, back to that "40 Yard Dash" split I mentioned earlier: it turns out that I was 2nd in my age group and 4th overall Female Masters in that split! I can't even believe it!

Age Group results for "40 Yard Dash"

Masters Female results for "40 Yard Dash"
I feel so incredibly speedy! LOL There aren't any awards for the dash winners, as nearly as I can tell! But I do have bragging rights on my blog and on FB, and that's enough for me!

Hubby is already asking when the next 5K will be. He seems to need a race to keep him motivated to run. I think we qualify for the free Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day, put on my Five Star NTP, so I'll have to check that out!

Will post the Week in Review tomorrow! Come back to check it out!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

MCM 2015: Week #13

This has been the most emotionally draining week of training so far! On Monday evening, I started to feel some back pain. I woke up on Tuesday and still felt it, but it wasn't too bad and I could do the trainer ride. I later went to swim. By the evening, the pain was absolutely dreadful. It got so bad overnight that it woke me up and I had to take ibuprofen just to get some sleep. I never take OTC meds. So I knew it was bad.

Wednesday morning I woke up still in pain. I had tried to do a heating pad, ice, and a new rub that I got from an essential oils company and nothing really helped. Obviously, I canceled my run for the day and spent time researching doctors. I decided to start with a chiropractor because our copay is less than 1/2 of what it is for an orthopedist or sports doctor, but I knew I wanted a different one than I used before. Called around but nobody could get me in until Friday at the earliest. Ugh.

I was trying very hard not to freak out. A phone call from the chiropractor's office didn't help. Turns out our current insurance plan doesn't differentiate between chiropractic and specialist. Both are $60 each. And PT would also be a $60 copay. There is simply no way we can afford that. I was so sad! When I got home from my Dance Taxi duties, I decided to take an epsom salts bath. I felt so much better when I got out! I applied the essential oil rub again and went to bed. I woke up feeling like a totally new person! I skipped my trainer ride but I was feeling well enough to swim.

I continued to feel good on Thursday. I kept stretching and doing yoga for my back and hips and applying the rub to my back. I slept pretty well on Thursday night and on Friday morning I decided to cancel the appointment with the first doctor. I have another appointment scheduled for next Wednesday with my first choice chiro but I decided to leave that one in place pending the rest of the week.

I ran on Friday morning - just a 40 minute easy run. My training plan called for 16 miles as a long run and I did not want to get into that to find out that running would hurt my back. I could feel my back, but that is common for me when I have an area that's bothering me. I seem to hyperfocus on it. I worked on relaxing my shoulders and back as often as it came to mind. I had full range of motion stretching after the run so I decided as long as I felt good all day, I would attempt the long run!

I barely slept last night leading into this 16 mile run. I decided to stick close to home just in case it didn't go well. I also had to think about my nutrition as I was going over a half marathon distance for the first time. My friend, Julie, uses UCAN to fuel her full marathons so I asked for her advice! She suggested taking the 2nd serving of UCAN in a bottle, carrying it with you, and then dumping the bottle. That's so simple! I just have to see if I will be allowed to carry in a full bottle at MCM.

I arrived at the park before the sun came up. It was darker than I was expecting, but luckily there was a huge soccer tournament going on and people were already starting to arrive!

Boy, do I look tired! And I haven't even started!
Even though it was going to be warm, I wanted to wear the top and capris I am thinking of wearing during the race. That's one reason I started so early.

Overall, the run went very well. I had to adjust my route to avoid the very crowded soccer fields, but the baseball fields were empty so I just did more loops on that side. No biggie. I ran for about 2 hours and then picked up my bottle of UCAN and drank it during my walk breaks. The thick texture was hard to handle at first since I wasn't used to drinking it during a run. Last year I took in my extra UCAN on the bike and that was different. I was afraid I would have a "sloshy" feeling while running but I didn't!

I was feeling utterly blessed with each step! Just a few days prior to this run I was afraid I wouldn't even be able to do it! I was afraid my road to MCM was derailed! It felt so good to be able to train!

I started feeling weak in the last mile or so. My legs just felt weird. I wasn't sure what was going on and felt a little aggravated and out of shape. Well, while I was doing my cool down walk, it dawned on me that I hadn't taken in any electrolytes during the entire run! I had filled a bottle with water intending to put Nuun tablets into it this morning on my way out the door but I completely forgot! And it never, ever dawned on me! Yikes!

The bottle that was in the cooler that was supposed to contain my electrolytes!

The bottle of electrolytes I purchased at the concession stand! 
I walked myself over to the soccer fields to see if the concession stand was open - it was and Powerade was only $2, which is all the cash I had with me! LOL It was absolutely perfect! It was very cold and I drank it down quickly and it helped me to feel much better right away!

Better than an ice bath!
I took my Powerade and went to stretch under the pavillion an then over to the water feature to soak my feet in the frigid water! Overall, I hit a home run by choosing this park for my long run today!

I have felt good the rest of the day! I got my turkey sandwich that I was craving after my run, and I even took a nice 2 hour nap! As soon as I finish writing this post, I am going to take another epsom salts bath! :) And then I'll probably go to bed again! I am really, really drained from this week. I'm so glad it ended up on such a good note, and I will not take any of these steps I'm making during training for granted!

7 weeks until Race Day!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

MCM 2015: Weeks #11 and #12!

Week #11 of training coincided with my youngest daughter's return to dance (3 nights per week) and my older daughter's start of dual enrollment classes. Week #12 of training coincided with my son's annual neurologist appointment and other general craziness!

But the training got done! And as you read already, a couple of races got done last weekend as well!

Yay, me!

As much as I wish I were doing another HIM this year (Augusta in particular), I am reminded over and over this year that it's just not feasible until my older daughter can drive herself places. Which could happen as early as January. If we can find her a car. Fingers and toes are crossed! (Though I will genuinely miss all of the great talks we have driving together for hours each week!)

Last week, I started back to swimming after a few weeks off. This week I only had time for one swim, but the shoulder was glad! Also, I found "the spot" (I think) that has been causing all the problem. I started rolling it - with a massage ball while I stand against the wall - and it is really, really painful but it really, really helps! YAY!

This week my long run was "only" 8 miles. I was going to hit the Mountain and run, but my friend Susan (who I ran the half with last year and who is doing the fulls I am doing this fall) reminded me that our fulls are mostly flat, and we need to train for mostly flat. So I dropped off my big girl at dance and came home and hit my flat park. It was really great! I have to remember to train for the races that I'm doing. I remember last year with Augusta being totally flat, my legs were unused to using the same muscles constantly. So it's a good thing to make sure those muscles are ready for the job they have to do!

I have been trying out some CW-X capris during my runs to help my muscles. Thankfully the heat has relented a bit and I haven't been too hot while I wear them. Today's 8 miler was the longest that I've worn them for, and it went well while I was running and then afterward I find that my legs are much less fatigued. I am having a hard time getting used to not having my bottom covered though. When I wore CW-X during the Goofy challenge, I wore skirts over them. But my collection of skirts is much less now so I'm not totally sure what I will do. I think I want to get an InkNBurn shirt to wear. But they are very expensive. And I don't really see anything in stock at the moment that I like. There is still time, though... so InkNBurn, you need to get busy! ;)

I'm 60% done with my training now. And I'm into the part of training where I do the really long runs every other week. So next Saturday's run is a 16 miler! And then that just leaves 18 and 20! I'm so excited - and nervous, too, because 18 is where I started having problems last time. (And I swear I am feeling twinges left and right these days. I'm starting to lose my mind about it! It's going to be a long 8 weeks if I am going to obsess about getting injured! @@) I am trying very hard to keep positive and trust that everything will work out just fine!

Hope training is going well for everyone! Here's looking towards September for some chilly mornings for training!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Free professional pictures?! YES! At the Hotlanta Half Marathon!

I couldn't believe my eyes when I got the email from the race directors at the Hotlanta Half Marathon that said we would be getting free race pictures! I knew we had a few pictures taken, despite the rain, so I was really excited!

Then I saw the pictures! They are fantastic and remind me all about the fun we had in the pouring rain!

Silly runner girls before the race started!

Too happy for being soaking wet!

It's like a party broke out at a race!

Totally love this picture!