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 StrengthRunning.com. 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!