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Monday, May 27, 2013

Marathon recovery update.

I've heard of people taking one or two weeks off from exercise (and running) after a marathon.  Alas, I'm not one of those people...for better or for worse.  Last Sunday (the day after), I rested.  We slept in a little bit, went to church with our friends, then spent the rest of the day traveling back home, unpacking and getting ready for the new week.

On Monday, I was back at the gym - about 40 minutes of strength training followed by a spin class.  Spinning felt okay, but while I was lifting I could definitely feel that my muscles were depleted and weak.  On Tuesday, once again I did some strength training and hit up another spin class.  Still a little tired and sore, but not too terrible.  Wednesday I worked my biceps and triceps for an hour, then did 45 minutes on a stair stepper.  Thursday, I walked on a treadmill for 45 minutes before taking a Muscle Fusion X class.  Friday, another strength training session followed by a spin class.

So, after 5 days of strength training and miscellaneous cardio workouts, I decided it was time to hit the road again.  Saturday morning I slept in again, hoping to recoup a little of my strength, then I took my youngest with me to the park where he played while I ran.  I did 5 miles and my hamstrings and quads were very tight the whole time.

Yesterday (Sunday) was another rest day, but this morning I was back at it with my own little Memorial Day workout.  First, I did Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred DVD, then I took all of the kids with me to the park - again, they played while I ran.  Today I did 8 miles...barely.  Always so much tension and pain in my hamstrings and glutes - it's very frustrating.  But, at least I did something.  Tomorrow I plan to go to the gym early in the morning to do my weights and take a spin class, but I'm not sure what the rest of the week has in store.  We might be going camping for a few days, since Chris had to work today, but he has the next 3 days off.  While we're gone, I'm pretty sure running will be the only thing I will be able to do to get a workout in, so that's probably what I'll be doing.  I also have some resistance bands I can use to do a little strength training.  It looks like I might not start a new training schedule with Misty until a little later, but I did sign up for the Pocatello Marathon, which is just 14 weeks away.  So it appears I am back in marathon training mode already. :)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ogden Marathon 2013...marathons really are like childbirth.

Long, hard, painful, emotional.  Then within a few hours of finishing, you forget all that and are ready to do it again!

I stopped checking the weather forecast at some point on Thursday, when it kept calling for a rainy day on Saturday.  It didn't matter anyway.  I was going to run my race no matter what.  Thursday evening we made the 2 1/2 hour drive down to Salt Lake City, making a stop in Ogden on the way to pick up our race packets.  Friday we spent the day with our friends, visiting, shopping at Wasatch Running Center and then having a great pre-race meal at a quaint little local pizza and pasta place.  I was in bed by 8:30pm on Friday night with a full belly and an anxious mind.

I woke up at 12:30 and tossed and turned until about 1:30am, only to be woken at 2:30 by my obnoxious alarm.  We had to be at the shuttles by about 4:30am and it was an hour drive to get there.  After I got dressed and ready, I went downstairs where I found out that my race companion Marsden had come down with a nasty virus and was feeling miserable.  He wasn't sure he was going to run, but we loaded up in the car and started the trip to the shuttles.  As we were on the freeway, the rain started pouring down.  Marsden's friend was driving us, and together they decided it might be worth risking driving up to the starting line area on our own, rather than taking the shuttles.  While it is pretty much a race no-no, it saved us from having to stand out in the rain for over 2 hours waiting.  We took the risk that there would be race officials or police at the turn that goes up the canyon to the race start telling us to turn around, and as luck would have it, we were able to make the turn and went up to the start and parked the car and waited...and waited....

At 6:30am I got out of the car and hopped into a port-a-potty line with a billion other runners.  I finished with  about 5 minutes to spare.  It wasn't until that last minute that Marsden made the decision to at least start the run with me.  As the race began at 7:15am, the rain was still coming down pretty good, but the positive energy from the thousands of runners was keeping us all pumped.  The first few miles went by quickly, though my hamstrings tightened up almost immediately.  And even though I had made use of the P-o-P's at the starting line area, about 3 or 4 miles in I was feeling like I needed to make another pit-stop.  Every time we passed more P-o-P's though, there was a line and I would put it off thinking that I would stop at the next aid station. I kept running, despite having a few stomach cramps and feeling a little "off".

Finally at the half-way point, there were enough potties that I didn't have to wait in line, so I stopped.  While I felt better after the stop, it cost me some time.  My clothes were so soaked that I had some trouble getting things back in "place".  I didn't want to start running again until I had everything properly situated and comfortable.  Well, as comfortable as I could get, being completely drenched head to toe.

After the half-way point, we took off again.  Marsden, who had seriously considered dropping out then because he was so cold and wet, had luckily come across a warmer jacket that someone had tossed to the side of the road under a tent near an aid-station.  Having a dry jacket to put on made all the difference for him and he was able to continue on with the race.

With every step I could feel my feet squishing in my shoes and I knew I was getting blisters on both of my feet.  I tried not to think about that though, and just focused on keeping a steady pace.  Right up until about 20 miles we were able to maintain a consistent pace of right around 10:20-10:30 min/mile, and that's including taking a 1 minute walk break after every 5 minutes of running.  The last 6.2 miles were almost completely downhill...steep downhill...as we ran through Ogden Canyon.  That downhill really kills the quads and the knees, even though it feels good to have help keeping the momentum going through gravity!  Due to the pain in my legs, especially my knees, my pace slowed a little.  And I honestly, I was so over the stupid rain!!  For over 4 hours we had not had a single break from the wetness.  Not even a few minutes to dry out a little.  Blah.  As we made the very last turn and had about a mile left in the race, I finally felt a glimmer.  The sun came out ever so briefly and there was a break in the rain.  We skipped our last walking break and took it home to the finish line.  Inside I felt like crying, my legs were hurting so badly, but I held it in and just kept telling myself that the pain was only temporary.  I knew that if I allowed myself to let up at all, I would regret it later.  Those last few miles are what makes marathons so very difficult.  The body hurts, the muscles are out of fuel and tired and the mind is intuitively telling you to stop.  You have to force yourself to change your thoughts and ignore the pain long enough to keep going and finish.  It never gets any easier, but there's nothing like the satisfaction you feel when you finish.

My official chip time was 4:49.  And unfortunately we didn't get many pictures along the course this time.  Hopefully I can get my hands on the few that Marsden's friend took for us and there may also be a few coming later from the course photographers.

Today I am limping around a bit on incredibly sore legs and lots of blisters on my feet...but still, oh-so-happy. :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tales of the taper and something new on the horizon.

I have a few minutes while I wait for my kids to get out of school and we leave Idaho and head for Utah and my marathon race weekend!  I thought I'd use those spare minutes to update my blog, since it's been a few days. :)

Typically for marathon runners, the taper period leading up to a race tends to be a mixed bag of feelings and emotions.  Through each of my 5 other marathons, I have tried different things during my taper, from running everyday (even just a mile or two) right up until the day before the race, to taking the entire week off from all exercise.  While it is hard for me to not do anything for so many days - at least, fitness wise - I have found that my best race performances came when I allowed my body to rest for at least 4 or 5 days prior to the big day.

So for the past week, I have kept things low-key.  I went to a spinning class on Monday afternoon and then another on Tuesday morning, but that's all I've done this week.  I didn't lift any weights or run stairs or go to Muscle Fusion or do any running.  Normally this lack of exercise would trouble me and cause a shift in my eating habits as well.  But as I am starting to get the hang of this marathon training thing, I've also come to realize that I won't get fat or gain (much) weight if I cut out exercise for one week and continue to eat healthy amounts of food.

I've acknowledged that this taper period should be embraced as a pre-race reward for all the hard training that has been put in and it should be savored.  Somehow I have managed to stay pretty much stress-free this week as I've rested my body, drank lots and lots of water and eaten tons of good food - including a few times at my favorite restaurants.  Why not?  I know that come Monday morning, I'll be right back at my routine of going to the gym and getting in some miles on the road, and keeping my diet clean and tight, so I might as well make the most of this change in routine, right?

So my race is Saturday morning and we always make a weekend trip out of this marathon.  We have some friends that we stay with in Salt Lake City and the kids get to spend time swimming in their pool and playing around while we visit, shop, and eat with the adults.  It's always a fun weekend.

My goals for this race are a little different than they have been for past races.  I didn't want to set my mind to achieving a PR because my training was a little helter-skelter this time around.  I did get a couple of 20 milers in during training, but because of my back injury, bad weather and some other issues, I didn't get in as many miles overall as I have in the past.  And I'm not sure how much it will help me that I've spent the last 26 weeks working with my trainer on building muscle and shifting my fitness focus somewhat.  In some ways I think I am stronger, but I'm not sure yet how that will translate when it comes to running a marathon.  My last marathon was 9 months ago and it was a great race for me.  I'm hoping to channel some of the positive emotion I have associated with that day into my race this Saturday morning.  But in the end, my main goal is to finish the race with a smile on my face and to enjoy the time I get to spend on the beautiful course through Ogden Canyon with my amazing friend and running buddy, Marsden.  As long as that happens, we will have won the day.

Next week things in my life will start taking all kinds of new twists and turns.  It's the kids' last week of school before being out for summer vacation, I will be starting a new training routine with Misty that will include some (certain death) circuits, and there's the possibility of another very big change coming....you'll have to check back in later to find out more about that one!! Haha!  See you on the flip-side of marathon #6!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

13.1 mile training run.

I did my last long training run before the marathon on Saturday with my running buddy, Lisa.  We ran our favorite route: Buckskin Road from Pocatello down into Inkom.  Lisa is on a different training schedule than me because the marathon she is currently training for is 2 weeks after the one I am doing.  So, she needed to do a 20 miler and I only wanted to do 12 or 13.  We ran together until we got back to my house, at which point I had gotten in about 13.1 miles.  Lisa kept running from there until she finished her 20.

It was a sunny but cool day, despite how hot and sweaty we both look in the above photo.  But this is the kind of running weather I have been longing for all winter.   It's been so nice to be able to get out and get some sun.  In fact, it was such a beautiful day last Thursday, that I skipped my usual day at the gym (treadmill run and Muscle Fusion X) and hit the road for a 10 mile run instead.  I'm not sure that was the best idea for my legs, but it sure helped give a positive boost to my psyche.  Normally when I run the Buckskin route with Lisa, I can cruise through the first 7 or 8 miles at my fastest pace because it's mostly downhill.  But Saturday, because my legs were already feeling fatigued, I was a little slower and more stiff.  My hamstrings (of course) were especially tight.  I finished the 13.1 miles with an average pace of around 10:20 min/mile, which is still pretty decent for me, but I was wiped out at the end.

After a 45-mile week, I'm feeling ready to start my taper now.  This week I plan to do my normal daily workouts, leading up to a medium length run on Saturday - maybe 9 or 10 miles.  Then I will jump into "rest mode" for the full week heading up to the marathon.  The one thing I learned from running the Pocatello Marathon last fall (and achieving my PR of 4:36) was that allowing my body to fully rest for at least a week before is crucial to feeling fully fueled and ready on race day.  I know I was also a lot more careful with what I ate, so I plan to be a little more strict with myself for the next 2 weeks and focus on getting lots of healthy, complex carbs and protein.  I'm really hoping that doing those things will offset some of the trials I've had during this training season and allow me to have a great race.