Monday, December 29, 2014

Stickin' a Fork in 2014

I know it's not quite done (and I was just saying how I needed eleven more days), but I'm ready to wrap up 2014.  I hit my slightly revised mileage goal for the year on Sunday!  So, now I'm just cruising into 2015 and basking in the gloriousness that was this (nearly) past year.

I have seriously spent the entire month of December on a ridiculous high from the CIM, even though it was objectively not that great of a race.  And you know what, that's a really nice analogy for the way I see the whole year of 2014 - it wasn't exactly my best year of running, but I feel like such a rock star for having survived it that I don't even care!  I'm awesome!

I know, right?

So, here's how everything shook down in 2014, by the numbers:

  • TOTAL MILES RUN - 1805.4  BOOM!  Eighteen freakin' HUNDRED miles!  I've actually never really kept very good track of my mileage before, but I know that 2014 spanked any other year by a lot.  I estimated last year at around 1300.  The first half of this year, I was totally on track to hit 2000 miles for the year, but I am thrilled to hit this "B" goal, what with the whole "sidelined from anemia" thing.
  • INJURIES THAT INVOLVED BONES, TENDONS, OR MUSCLES - 0.  Yeah, baby, we're calling this year injury-free!
  • NUMBER OF YEARS INJURY-FREE - 2.  Again, I'm using the "bones, tendons, and muscles" parameter, because of course...
  • RACES RUN - 10 total.  2 5Ks, 1 10K, 3 Half Marathons, 1 Marathon, 3 Ultras (2 50Ks, 1 50-Miler)
  • AG AWARDS - 3 with an asterisk.  I nabbed 2nd place AG at both of my 5Ks, and was allegedly 3rd place at my 10K, but the internet kicked me all the way down to 6th place officially.  No matter, I still ate the pie.
  • PRs - 1.  At the 50 Mile distance, if you can believe that.
  • PERSONAL WORSTS - 4, technically 5.  Can I get a hell yeah?!?  And I'm not even being sarcastic.  I am celebrating every single mile I ran this year, even the ones that were slow.  I started the year with a PW performance at the 50K distance, then cruised into a super slow half marathon in March, followed by a much worse 50K time in May.  I picked up a PW at the 5K distance in August, then ran my heart out to a 2-second PW at a 10K in November.  And that's how we do things around here!
2014 was a really good year.  I learned a LOT about myself and my mental fortitude.  I learned how important recovery is in the cycle of running.  I learned how to slow down and look at the big picture.  I learned how to keep moving forward, even when it gets tough.

I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to 2015!!!  But that's a post for another day.

Happy New Year!!  I hope your look back on 2014 brings you smiles and your look ahead to next year brings you that awesome thrill of anticipating great things!

Friday, December 26, 2014

This is How We do Christmas Around Here

When I was young, we had your typical Christmas traditions - singing carols on Christmas Eve, eating waffles on Christmas morning, arguing with your siblings by Christmas afternoon.  You know, the usual.

My kids are growing up just a little bit different.

Oh, sure, we wake up early and go crazy for the gifts like every other family, but under our tree we're more likely to find DriFit shirts, foam rollers, a running garden flag, and safety whistles (which, OMG.  UltraIronHubs could not leave alone!  It says right on the package, "This whistle is extremely LOUD, do not allow children to play with!"  I'm pretty sure he took that as a personal challenge.).

Yes, I have Hello Kitty pajama pants.  Doesn't every middle-aged woman?
We don't really do the waffle thing around here, either, but I did scramble up some eggs so we'd be fueled for my most favorite Christmas tradition in the whole wide world:  the family run!

Blossom really did not feel like looking at the camera.  I took about five of these and you can't see her face in any of them.
We only go a couple of miles, but we're all together and everybody has to run my slow pace, so it makes me a happy mama.  This year Santa brought UIH a point-of-view camera, so of course he had to try it out!  Here's our two mile run condensed into about a minute and a half.  You might not want to watch it if you're prone to seizures or motion sickness.


After we were done with the 2-miler, I asked Little Boy to get in a few more miles with me, so we went out for another four.  I love running with Little Boy when it's just the two of us.  He's a kid of few words much of the time (mostly because Big Boy talks SO.  MUCH.), and it's nice to hear his thoughts.

We both smiled, even though it's a shadow selfie.  Some habits you just can't break!

I hope you had a nice holiday, too!  What's your favorite Christmas tradition??

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Learning to Run

I don't think of myself as an inherently patient person. I hate to stand in line. I'm remarkably unpleasant to be around while I'm waiting to heal from an injury. And I've been known to grumble about how damn long the microwave is taking to cook something.

So you might be surprised at how many jobs I've had - and been terrific at! - that have required enormous reserves of patience on my part. I used to be a preschool teacher, and in case you're not familiar with the job description, let me tell you that working with small children is not a good idea if you can't stand to listen to a tiny voice asking you the same question 87 times without wanting to knaw off your own arm like a raccoon in a trap.

Here's what happened:  I started typing "raccoon in a trap" into Google.  I got as far as "raccoon in a t" when "raccoon in a tux" popped up as the top suggestion.  You are a better person than me if you could resist that!  So then I lost twenty minutes looking at adorable pictures of raccoons and other animals wearing tuxedos.  Writing a blog can be a dangerous time suck.
Still, knowing the inner monologue I hear while I'm waiting for my teenager to finish telling me a long ass story about some arcane sub-plot in the Star Wars saga, it's a little surprising to me that my most favorite part of my job as a fitness trainer is helping people who are just learning to run.

It requires a lot of patience, but it's also pretty much the most rewarding thing ever.

Sometimes I read other blogs from running coaches who talk about training their clients for marathons and I think, "Wow, that must be so cool!" but I mostly can't imagine what that would be like.  Generally speaking, my clients come to me saying things like, "I will never run.  Ever.  And you can't make me."  And then a few months later, when I've worked my patient and subtle magic on them and they realize that they can, indeed, run, and would maybe even like to give racing a try, well, that's about as satisfying as it gets.

I have a couple of running clients who I run with regularly, and one of the things that's so interesting to me is how many preconceived notions my newbies have.  One girl truly felt that after the first month or so that she really should be able to regulate her pace at will (a skill I haven't mastered in eight years).  Another lamented to me the other day after a tough run that she thought she shouldn't still be running so slow.  I remind them patiently that there aren't really a lot of "shoulds" in running.

It's a good reminder for me, too. To be patient with myself. To enjoy each run, whether it's fast or slow or cold or hot or easy or tough.  Learning to run takes a pretty long time. Good thing it's worth it!

Are you patient with yourself and your running?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Well, That Kinda Sucked

Okay, to be fair, 99.9% of my run this morning was perfectly wonderful.  There was just that brief moment when the sidewalk came rushing up to meet my face that was the sucky part.

I took this photo from a few different angles and this one - despite being something of a crotch shot - seemed the least gross.  I don't love bloody photos and the scrape really isn't bad enough to post a gory pic.
I was running along, minding my own business and thinking about the half marathon that I'm planning on running in February 2015.  I was sort of noodling out a plan for the year and where I want to be pace-wise in the next few months.  I'm pretty sure that's why I fell.  People!  Running and math don't mix!

I felt my toe hit the perfectly flat sidewalk wrong and I had plenty of time on my way down to think the following:

"Oh, shit!  I tripped!  Am I falling?  Yes, I seem to be falling.  Is there anything I can do to stop myself from falling?  It doesn't feel like it.  Well, then - don't hit your head!"

And to my credit, I didn't hit my head, but I did fall the exact wrong way you're supposed to.  I landed smack on my hands and knees - well, one knee - instead of my forearms and belly.  I've watched my kids practice falling skills in karate for enough years that I know how it's supposed to be done, but that didn't translate into actually doing it myself.

I dropped a big, loud F-bomb and had the wherewithal to pause my Garmin while I laid on the ground.  That did not feel good.  But nothing was broken, so I got back up on my feet and started walking.  Oh, the tears wanted to fall!  That was probably more biology than emotion, though.  I really didn't hurt so much as it scared the crap out of me.  I thought immediately about the time last year when Big Boy was tripped less than a half mile into a 2-mile race and he got right back up and kept running.  If memory serves, he ended up placing third or fourth overall in that race.  I told myself, "Big Boy gets up and keeps running.  You can, too."

Big Boy was born with his mother's balance and coordination, which is to say that he falls occasionally while running.  He says "all the time," but I'm trying to be kind here.  Thankfully, even with my genetic hindrance, he got his father's mental fortitude.  That kid - really, both boys - have more mental toughness than I can imagine.  I hope I emulate at least a little bit of that strength and courage, because I know that someday they'll look for the qualities in a spouse that they see in me.  So I want them to find girls who push themselves and who get back up and keep going when they fall down.

Honestly, I want them to find girls who run.

Do you ever fall when you run?  I made it almost eight years without a spill, but this year alone I've fallen three times.  Not cool, bro.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

I Still Have Eleven More Days!

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I am really enjoying reading everybody's year-end wrap ups, and I am totally going to write one of my own, because in spite of some difficulties, I've had a pretty epic year. But I can't write it yet! I am super close to hitting a really cool mileage milestone and I don't want to wrap up my year until I get there.

Eleven more days!

In the meantime, let's talk about Christmas.  I am sort of ready-ish.  Most of the gifts have been bought and wrapped, though I still have some baking to do and I'm sure there will be a last minute panic of something I've forgotten.  It happens every year.  Christmas prep is usually a little stressful around here, but I do really enjoy Christmas Day, and here's why:

The family Christmas run!  This photo is from two years ago and my kids seem impossibly tiny, as compared to the gigantic men they have become in the last few months.  Also, even though we've been doing a family run since at least 2009, and I know we take selfies to document said run, I can't find any of the photos!  Time to organize the hard drive.
Years ago, when we started this tradition, UltraIronHubs and I had to run a little slower to make sure that the boys could keep up.  Then Big Boy got faster than me, so it was three of us holding back for Little Boy.  Then Little Boy got faster, and it was the three of them running slow for me.  Now?  This year?  Both boys are faster than both parents!

My how the times have changed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

All Better Now

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the lab and acted like a human pincushion to see where I stand with anemia and - thank you modern medicine and the internet - I already received results by the time I got up this morning.  Which was 3 am.  Seriously, my lab rocks!  I won't keep you in suspense - my iron and hemoglobin levels are both back up to normal!!  Hooray!

Fe = Iron, in case you slept through high school Chemistry like I did.  TIBC means Total Iron Binding Capacity.  I assume these levels were over the normal range in August because there was no iron to bind to, but that's a guess.  Transferrin Saturation  tells you the percentage of how much iron is actually being bound.
Hematocrit measures how much of your blood is red blood cells, and hemoglobin is the protein in your RBCs that carries oxygen.  (And by the way, thank you Wikipedia!)
If you're just finding my blog because you've Googled some incarnation of the phrase "iron loss from overtraining" or "running with anemia," welcome!  I hope you stick around and enjoy what you read.  My last post about being anemic has garnered more views than almost any other post I've written in the nearly five years I've been blogging, so I wanted to make sure I put out a follow-up so readers will know that there is hope for athletes getting over anemia!  

If you're looking for scientific explanations of anemia and how it affects running, I highly recommend that you go see Jaymee Marty, who is an Olympic Trials qualifier at the marathon distance and an actual scientist who has been dealing with blood loss and anemia issues much of this year.  She'll crunch the numbers and explain the data.  I'm just going to tell you how being anemic feels.

It feels like crap.

Oh, you wanted more than that?  Okay, here's more.

Many moons ago, in early spring of this year, I was doing a whole lot of running.  Like 50-ish mile weeks, which is a lot for me.  I tend to hover in the 30-40 mile range.  I had just come off of a pretty hardcore marathon training cycle and was - with very little recovery - gearing up for a trio of ultras.  Yeah, I knew it was going to be tough on my body, but I felt like I was taking it smart.  I wasn't ramping up to anything crazy mileage-wise, I was following the 10% rule of building, and every third or fourth week was a cutback/recovery week.  I felt good.  I felt strong.  I ran a kickass 50K in February.  Then I ran a kickass 50-miler in April.  I felt tired after the 50-miler, and maybe I pushed a little too much to keep up with my training schedule, but I had a 100K on the books for early May.  That turned into a mediocre 50K, which wasn't the day I had hoped for but wasn't exactly something to sneeze at, effort-wise.  That was followed by a fast-for-me half marathon the very next week.  And then a fast-ish 5K a few weeks after that.  And then another half marathon a few weeks after that.  Okay, when I write it all down like that, it looks like maybe I was an idiot.

But I felt at the time like I was being good!  I had cut way, way back on mileage in May and June.  It seemed like enough recovery, and you know what?  If I had stayed at that way back mileage for just a little bit longer, I think I would have been fine.  I think my real problem was July, when I swept right back into high volume training.

Exhibit A - my Strava training calendar.
July was hard.  I knew I was pushing myself, but I was stubborn about it, as we runners on the verge of injury can be.  I was tired and crabby.  I was working long hours.  I wasn't enjoying much of anything, particularly running.  Everything felt difficult, and I - who never, ever naps - was finding myself on the couch a lot.

I cut back my mileage again, but even then I was struggling.  It was hard to breathe and my body felt uncoordinated.  Everything sucked, I felt like I was losing my mind, and even my work was suffering, so it was time to call the doctor.  I felt pretty certain I had low iron, but it was such a relief to have it confirmed!  I was not, in fact, crazy (about this - no guarantees on anything else that floats around in my head).

Here's the part of the post where I'm going to sound like the voice of doom if you are currently struggling with low iron:  there's nothing you can do that speeds up the process of re-gaining iron.  It's a "cut way the fuck back on training, eat right, get a lot of sleep, take your iron supplements, and sit on your ass" waiting game.


But that's all you can do.

I am a pretty good eater.  Well, I mean, I eat like a champion, but nutritionally speaking, I do okay.  More or less plant-based.  Not a ton of processed foods.  Easy on the sugar.  Spinach is a daily thing, but red meat is not.  I tried to eat red meat a couple of times, because the internet told me it's good for iron, but... ick.  So, I didn't do myself a lot of favors in the eating animal iron department, but I made sure to include as many other iron-rich foods as I could, as well as foods with Vitamin C, which helps your body absorb iron.  And I took (still take) a daily iron supplement.

I made sleep a priority.  I actually sleep like a champion, too, and rarely pass up an opportunity to go to bed early, so this wasn't hard.  But I cleared a lot of my schedule during the day for naps, too.  There were times when I simply could not move off of the couch (or the floor, when I couldn't even make it to the couch).  I started saying "no" to people and tasks that wanted more from me than I had available to give.  Vacuuming and cleaning the bathrooms were just going to have to wait.  (They're still waiting, actually, even though I am more or less back to normal.  I really hate cleaning the bathroom!)

I still ran, because the alternative was going batshit crazy, but I kept my pace and mileage very, very low.  Most of my runs were two- or three-milers, and they frequently included walking breaks.  You might think that that was the hard part, running so few miles at such a slow pace, but it was so exhausting to run that I didn't want to do more.  More sounded hard, and maybe I should just take a nap instead.

And that's how I knew when I was starting to feel better:  simple daily tasks or the idea of trying to run four miles didn't sound overwhelming.

Becoming anemic wasn't like stepping off a cliff.  It snuck up on me that I had been travelling down into a canyon.  And recovering was sort of the same.  I definitely didn't feel worlds better all at once, but every few days I wouldn't feel like I was full of lead.  Sometimes the thought of making dinner didn't make me want to cry.  Once in awhile, I could breathe well enough to actually enjoy my run.  And then, with no extra attention on my part, those days started coming more often.  Once a week, or even twice.  I felt better often enough that I really noticed the days when I felt like crap.  I started to feel a little happier, a little lighter in my mood (but not in my pants - oh, lordy, that's a whole 'nother blog post right there about weight gain from lack of training).  I wanted to run a little farther or a little faster and it didn't seem like too much to ask.  And then one day I tried to remember the last time I took a nap and I didn't know when it was.  I ran a freakin' marathon and didn't take a nap afterwards!

So, it was time to call myself recovered.  Done with anemia.  Take the blood test to be sure, then write this final (knock on wood, God willing and the creek don't rise) blog post about how I used to be anemic.

If you only read one sentence in the whole post, let it be this one:  RECOVERY IS VITAL TO YOUR WELL-BEING!

Seriously.  I did this to myself.  I've given myself a fair amount of take-time-off-of-running injuries, but this one quite possibly sucked the most.  With tendinitis, you're back on the road in two or three weeks.  Stress fracture?  Six to eight weeks!  Being anemic, I felt like shit and derailed all of my training and racing plans for the better part of five months.  Don't do this.

And if you're already there?  Well, you're not alone.  Rest and be patient.  Be good to yourself, and someday (hopefully soon) this will be in your rearview mirror.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Better Than Good

I thought for sure I'd be a complete wreck after Sunday's race, but you know what?  I feel good.  I feel like the title of this post!

With one teeny, tiny exception, that hurts more than you might expect from how small it is:

For the love of Pete, would somebody PLEASE remind me to BodyGlide the back of my armpits before my next race?!?  How do I forget this every time??  Also, side note:  while taking 57 photos of this chafing I couldn't help but notice that there's just not a good angle from which to photograph one's own armpit.  So hopefully I'll never have to do this again.

Other than that, I'm feeling great.  No sign of post-race blues and only the faint beginnings of Christmas panic (maybe because I'm waaaaaaaay ahead of my normal game and have actually purchased some gifts already).  My legs are a little tight and stiff, but that's pretty much just my life.  I don't really notice it until I try to do something foolish like touch my toes.

I took the day off of running on Monday and put in a few easy miles with clients yesterday (Tuesday), and took today as a rest day as well.  I'm working out the kinks in my left butt/hammy/ITB, but, again, that's not new or different from the marathon.  I'll take it easy and short for the rest of the week, definitely, but I'm already looking forward to more training!  I've got some exciting things in the hopper for 2015 now that I'm feeling more or less recovered from anemia.

Wanna see something that looks nicer than my raw armpit?  Check out my race photos!   Link is to the page with all the proofs because I didn't want to steal.  Too much.  I couldn't help but post this one!  This is exactly how I felt at the finish line.

I generally buy the finish line photos if I'm going to get one, and I think this one is totally worth it!

Do you have a spot that always chafes?
What's your take on race photos - do you like middle of the race action shots or finish line triumph?

Monday, December 8, 2014

California International Marathon 2014 - Race Report!

Alternate title:  How to Run a Marathon with Pretty Much Zero Training.  The short answer, of course, is, "Kids, don't try this at home," but the long answer is much more exciting!  Read on...

When last we left our intrepid heroine (me!), she was contemplating race goals and bemoaning the near total lack of training that took place over the summer and fall.  I was pretty impossible to live with on Saturday.  I was terribly nervous because, you know, marathon.  And I was unreasonably pissed off that the weather was going to be perfect.  Of all the stupid years to have 50 degrees and slight overcast!  If I had last year's training and this year's weather... grrr!  Anyway, I went to the expo early in the day, then laid around the house biting everybody's head off and drinking water like it was my job.  I figured the only way I was going to survive was to be as smart as possible about hydrating, fueling, and resting - the only factors I had any control over, since I couldn't rely on that whole "trust your training" thing.

Sunday morning, I woke up at my normal 3 am and had plenty of time to get ready in a pretty relaxed manner.  UltraIronHubs drove me to the shuttle closest to the start, because he was going out for his long trail run while I was running my race.  The location just happened to be at a nice, clean McDonald's, complete with indoor plumbing.  Sweet!  While waiting in the long bathroom line, I started chatting with the other girls, talking about the weather in years past and other marathons we have run.  The very nice girl in front of me was running her first CIM - so exciting!

I kissed UIH goodbye and got on the crowded shuttle bus, which had us at the starting line in just minutes.  The excitement in the air was palpable.  I love that feeling!  We were all here to do something momentous!  I found a spot off the starting area to do my dynamic warm ups.  I was feeling pretty good, but a little stiff and sore from an unintentionally difficult workout on Friday.  Oops!  I chatted with some other runners and went to line up in the way, way back.  No need to jockey for position this morning!

Ready or not (mostly not), here I go!
Somebody sang one of the best versions of the national anthem I have ever heard, and we were off!!  Well, the people at the front were off.  Those of us at the back were kind of standing around.  We meandered a little.

Me and 9000 of my closest friends at the start (pic from UIH).

After the gun went off, I was heading toward the starting arch when I felt a hand on my arm.  It was UIH!!  He found me in that huge crowd of runners!  So we took a selfie, then he kissed me and sent me on my way.
I went out slow.  Like really, really slow, which is maybe the first time in my history as a runner that I truly held myself back at the start of a race.  I have a healthy respect for this distance and I've run the CIM enough times to know that this course makes it too easy to go out way too hard.  The first mile is all downhill, so the urge is there to just take off.  Not so for me yesterday.  I trotted and reminded myself numerous times as other runners were literally streaming past me like I was standing still, that I was here to rulk (run + walk) my own race.  When I hit the first mile marker, I made my way over to the side of the road and took a walking break.  I drank my Gatorade and didn't worry about my pace, but I felt fine so I got back to trotting right away.

I ran at a comfortably easy pace, enjoying the crowd and the terrific spectators.  I didn't care about my speed, I just wanted to focus on staying hydrated and getting through the miles.  By the time I stopped to walk at the Mile Two marker, though, I knew I needed to relax a little.  I had a huge knot in my stomach and that was not going to do.  I put on my headphones and tried to pretend like it was just another run.  The music definitely helped.  I hated to miss out on the cheering crowds and interesting eavesdropping, but I had to keep my head in my own game.

I ran on.  The hills at the start didn't seem bad at all!  I enjoyed reading the spectators' signs and settled into an easy rhythm.  I walked at every mile marker and felt like the day was going as well as I could hope for.  I finally looked at my Garmin somewhere around Mile 6 and was a weird combination of pleasantly surprised that I was going that fast and sort of pissed off that I was going that slow.  Ha!  For not having any expectations, I guess I had some after all.  It was hard not to compare my pace with other years where I had actually done the training, ya know?

Around Mile 8 or 9, something wonderful happened:  I finally relaxed.  The knot in my stomach let go and I felt great!  At other marathons that have fallen apart, I have known by Mile 5 that the days were not going to end well, and I guess I had just been holding myself tight worrying about that.  I was drinking plenty and my effort level was holding steady, so I started to let myself truly enjoy the day.  I was just here for the party and the pretty necklace at the end!

My grammatically incorrect motto is, "Run good when you feel good," so I picked up my pace and found myself smiling.  I saw some friends who were spectating, which raised my spirits even more.  I cruised through the middle miles feeling wonderful.  I knew it wouldn't last all day, but I sure enjoyed it while I could.  My half split was 2:18:11, my slowest half marathon...pretty much ever, but no matter.  I didn't let myself think about the total distance of the day, I was merely running mile marker to mile marker.  They seemed to be awfully close together, because every time I wondered how far to the next mile, there was the sign!

I texted my sister and let her know that I was more or less on schedule for seeing her at Mile 21 when I had told her I would be there.  Around Mile 15, I realized I was starting to feel the effort, but for possibly the first time ever during a race, I recognized that I was low on calories and started eating the food I had brought with me.  I had only gotten a little behind the eight ball on that and never made it all the way to crying and feeling miserable.  So, yay!  I saw my spectating friends again and gave them high fives.  It was getting tough, but I could muscle through this.

At mile 17, I was definitely starting to fade.  I kept eating and drinking, but I was also really, really looking forward to the walking breaks and felt like it would be nice to see a smiling face I knew.  I texted UIH and took a slightly longer walk, but I wanted to keep going.  My pace had been so good through those middle miles that I had kind of set myself a time goal and the only way to meet it was to keep running.  I know from experience that miles 17-22 are just tough for me.  I was prepared to feel this way, so I turned my music up and gutted it out.

By Mile 20, I started to feel the happy anticipation of knowing I would see my mom and sister soon.  I could do this!  I wanted to look good and feel strong when I saw them.  Suddenly, I saw a young guy on the ground.  I turned off my music and stopped to ask him if he was okay.  He was trying to stretch out a cramping quad muscle.  He looked lucid and was answering my questions, so I knew he didn't necessarily need medical right away.  I offered him some of my peanut butter pretzels to get some sodium in him.  He was so sweet.  I held out my bag of pretzels and he only took like two or three (they're small).  I laughed and insisted he take more.  He thanked me and I told him to keep moving if he could, because I wanted him to finish.  He smiled and assured me he wanted to finish, too.  I hustled off on my way, but wondered about him the rest of the day.  I sure hope he made it to the end!

Seeing my mom and sister at Mile 21 was just what I needed!
I got a nice little second (third?  fourth?) wind after seeing my family at Mile 21!  The next mile was 22 and 22 was practically done!  Any fool can run four miles!  That giddy feeling carried me to the bridge that crosses the American River, but fizzled out pretty quickly thereafter.  Holy crap, shit just got real and I still had four long miles to go.  My legs were...  well, I'm not really sure what my legs were because I couldn't exactly feel them anymore.  I was pretty sure we were still running.  Maybe.

The last few miles have the best spectators.  The course runs through a beautiful neighborhood with huge, stately turn-of-the-century (20th, not 21st) homes where the families are out on their lawns with kids ringing cowbells, then crosses under the highway into midtown Sacramento where the 20-somethings are shouting boisterously because they've been drinking since the elites ran by hours ago. The families and friends who have been following their runners down the hill are starting to get punchy from the long day and they've saved their funniest signs for these last difficult miles.  Police keeping the streets closed are giving out high fives and shouting encouragement.  It's awesome.

I wanted to walk, or possibly crawl.  Really, I wanted to sit my ass down and never move again, but I kept running.  I walked through the water stations and at the mile markers but ran everything else.  I dropped F-bombs like confetti every time I picked it back up to a run, but I kept picking it back up.  OMG, nothing has ever hurt this bad, but before I knew it, the blocks were counting down and the spectators were getting louder and more crowded and there were my friends again!  There was the Mile 26 sign!  Turn left, then left again and there were my kids!  There was the finish!!



My unofficial finish time was 4:38:39, my third fastest marathon ever!

If I had to pick, I think the thing that made me happiest about the day was that I felt mentally strong the whole time.  I've been the girl who craps out in a race.  Frequently.  But not yesterday, and I'm definitely proud of that.  Next year (and, yes, I've already signed up for next year - they have an early, early bird special for the 2015 race, just $89!), I will put in the training.  Promise!  {crosses fingers behind back}

Thursday, December 4, 2014

CIM Goals

You might think that since I haven't really been training for the California International Marathon, that I might not have any goals for the day, but you, my friend, would be wrong.  I always have goals, even if they're as simple as "Don't suck too much."  Which, by the way, is exactly what I'm hoping to accomplish on Sunday.

To recap, I pretty much stopped running anything longer than three miles at a time back in July.  Within the last month, I've been able to add some mileage to my long run, making it all the way to 14 miles.  For the mathematically challenged among us, that is just slightly over half of what I will be running this Sunday.  So, yeah.  Totally prepared.

Longtime readers will note that of the nine marathons I've started, the three for which I was best prepared and fully trained resulted in two DNFs and one Personal Worst.  Honestly, I am starting to think training for a marathon is completely overrated.

Here's what I think I can make happen at this year's CIM:

  • Don't drown.  This is always #1.  Even though we're having a super rainy week, Sunday's forecast looks absolutely glorious:  50-ish degrees at the start, maybe some clouds, only a 10% chance of rain and a high of 63 for the day.
  • Walk and run.  Notice I put the "walk" first.  There will be plenty of that.
  • Enjoy the day.  Last year, I was so focused on my splits and the tangents and fueling (all of which went down in flames!) that I didn't have any fun at all.  That was no bueno.
  • The previously mentioned Don't suck too much.  I feel pretty confident about this one because my bar is set very, very low.  Like I think one of my legs would have to fall off.  I mean, knock on wood, but my legs feel pretty securely attached.
  • Ummmmmm, that's it really.  Time goals are irrelevant at this point, though I have a window of about an hour (4 to 5 hours) that I think I can hit.  We'll see.

Do you still set goals for races you haven't trained for??