Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday Words - Distance

I'm kind of telling myself this one after the marathon. 

Yes, the goal of a first marathon (for most of us) is simply to finish. 

That was my goal. 

But, I figured with my long run paces, that I would come in somewhere around 4:45. To finish a full 20 minutes slower is frustrating to me. 

Something that I think really affected my race, but I didn't realize it at the time, was the half-marathoners on the course. 

In Baltimore, the half-marathon starts an hour and 45 minutes after the marathon, and at the 13 mile point on the marathon course. The marathon course runs alongside the half-marathon start corrals, and then the courses separate until mile 3 of the half and mile 16 of the full.

When Mark and the 3:45 pace group arrived at mile 16, he said the merge was crazy busy. When I arrived somewhere between the 4:45 and 5:00 groups, there was literally ONE half marathoner merging.

This left me with a LOT of slower half-marathoners to pass. This might seem motivating, but it wasn't. Everywhere I looked there were people walking. And they weren't race walking or even really "walking with purpose" (Gruver Fitness favorite phrase). The people at the back of the half-marathon pack were, in large part, just meandering. This was REALLY demotivating. It's hard enough to push yourself to keep running when you're at mile 16 and it's hot and you're tired, but when everyone around you is walking, it's even harder.

I'm definitely NOT disappointed in my performance -- I ran a marathon! I loved the whole experience, and I will be doing it again. I was just looking back over my race and thinking about what I would do differently next time, and this whole "walker" realization came to me. 

In the end, though, like the quote says -- it doesn't matter the pace or the time. I set out to complete 26.2 miles and I did every last step! I'm proud!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What's next?

So...what's next? That's been the question in my mind lately. Once you run a marathon...what comes next? Train for another?

I'll tell you what my current plans are...
1. The York Road Runners Winter Series: This winter running series is $25 and includes 8 races of all distances from 5K to 10-miler. It starts November 9 with the longest race of the series, the Dover 10-miler. Since it's not too far away, and I'm well trained for distance, that will be my next race. 

2. The Wildcat 10K: This hilly 10K is the 3rd race in the YRRC Winter Series. For the first time, I'm going to follow a training plan specifically designed for shorter distance and increased speed in an attempt to own this race!

3. The Charlottesville Half Marathon: One of my college roommates lives in Charlottesville, and one of my BRFs (best running friends) is a UVA alumni, so this is a great location for a spring half!! Lauren (the aforementioned BRF) and I both registered to run this one. I can't wait!

I'm still not sure about fall next year. I am definitely going back to Baltimore. Possibly for the half or maybe the marathon relay. It's the Baltimore Running Festival 15th anniversary - can't miss it! Fall may include another marathon (Philly maybe?) or a few half marathons. Luckily, I've got time! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Baltimore MARATHON Race Weekend Recap

I feel like I JUST posted about how marathon training was starting, and here it is -- the very long, very wordy, lots of pictures, race recap! Where did the time go?!

The Baltimore Running Festival took place on Saturday, October 18. The Baltimore Oriole's were in the ALCS Playoffs, and had the potential to be playing game 6 on Friday night and game 7 on Saturday night if the series went that far. Because of this, the BRF organizers moved all race start times up an hour and had a contingency plan in place if game 6 became necessary. If it had, the finish line (which runs through Camden Yards) would have been moved. The O's lost the series in 4 games, so the finish line was not moved - phew! I love that finish line!!! I also loved the earlier start time, because I was going to be running around 5 hours! 

Mark and I headed to the start line bright and early! It was chilly out and the crowd was super energetic. I felt GREAT! My body felt rested, I wasn't even slightly nervous, I felt totally prepared and ready to go. We wished each other luck and headed off to find out pace groups - 3:45 for Mark and 4:45 for me.
The course is notorious for being hilly, and there were definitely plenty of hills! But I really, really love this course. The first 3 miles were an uphill climb to Druid Lake and the Baltimore Zoo. We ran through the zoo, where there were animal handlers out with all kinds of birds and even penguins! It was so fun! 

Around mile 6, I was rolling with the pace group and feeling fantastic. I realized then that I was actually ahead of the pace group, not by much, but instead of a 10:40-10:50 pace, I was going about 10:30. So I didn't take off with any kind of crazy speed, but I thought I would give myself a little cushion in case I needed to stop or something. Plus I had been trapped with this REALLY chatty lady for at least a mile and I wanted to get away from her haha!!

At mile 8, the course runs back down into the Inner Harbor area, and it's where I spotted my friends. Actually, I spotted myself -- because they had GIANT heads of Mark and I on sticks. It was HILARIOUS to be running down the road and think "Is that ME?" HAHA!! 

The next 2 miles of the course are an out and back along the harbor. I figured it would be a good chance to spot Mark on the course, and I did! We waved at each other and that was a great boost for me. I knew my friend, Christy, should be about 30 minutes behind Mark, so I was able to spot her too! 

Around mile 11, the 4:45 pace group caught up to me. I hung with them for about a mile and a half, and then I just couldn't keep pace. My legs were feeling fine, but my low back kept tightening up. I ended up doing walk/run intervals for most of the rest of the race.

So, miles 13-20 were the worst for me...and that was unexpected. I really thought the last 6.2 would be the worst, because that's what everyone told me to expect.

Miles 20-21 run around Lake Montebello, and I love this part of the course. From mile 16 on we were on the half marathon course, which I ran last year, and it was fun to remember that race. At my mile 20, I also knew that Mark should be finishing up, so I had my phone out the whole time around the lake waiting for his finish text! (He finished in a killer 3:48!!)

At mile 22, I heard my name and spotted some unexpected spectators!

My friends, Bekah and Matt, were there! Matt works for the Baltimore City Fire Department, and the course ran through his area! Bekah had been the sub in my classroom on Friday and had sent me a cute video of my students wishing me luck before the start! It was fun seeing them on the course, especially when I didn't expect it - and it was mile 22!

Sometime after this, I paused to stretch out my back (like I had done about 15 other times on the course), and when I looked up, the 5:00 pace group had passed me. I caught them and ran with them for a little bit, but ended up dropping back.
As I approached my favorite part of the course, the last mile and it's downhill, I could see Camden Yards and knew I was almost there! Coming down through Camden Yards, I heard lots of cheers and looked to my left to find my "friends"...
...yup...they were sitting at a bar having nachos and beer. Jerks. HAHA! I definitely made a gesture on my way past them that is not appropriate to include in the blog. They did manage to get a photo of me without the gesture though! 

I finished the race in 5:05:33 - 20 minutes slower than I had hoped for, but I had enjoyed the experience. Somewhere around the halfway point, I started to just really take in the experience. I knew since it was my first marathon, time shouldn't be a huge goal for me. I also didn't want to be completely miserable for the next 2+ hours. So, I stopped focusing on time and just focused on my walk/run intervals and spotting photographers!

After the race, I was a little emotionally wacky. I texted my friend Steph and told her she couldn't hug me and I wasn't coming into the bar and could someone just bring me a hotel key so I could go shower. I'm the type of person who often needs time to decompress and get myself together after stuff like this. So, dear Steph came out and I did a little crying (and did let her hug me). Eventually Mark came out too, he said he thought he'd give Steph a little time to calm me down first -- haha, smart guy!!

We took a few pics, and I decided I was ready to actually face people. Seriously, could I be any more high maintenance? HA!

The giant heads - this was hilarious!!!

Reggie's sign made me crack up!! The older guy in the pic is Hal Higdon, who is a well-known runner and race coach. We have a running joke that the more of Hal's books you buy, the faster you'll run. And we often say things like "What would Hal say?" or "What the Hal?" - so this was perfect!

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped for a pic with the flags! Pratt St. in Baltimore was lined with flags for the Ravens, Orioles, and Marathon!
After the race, we went back to the hotel with our friends Jesse and Abby. They came down to support us, and celebrate with us! We were all exhausted (them from chasing us around all day!), so we just showered and relaxed for awhile before heading out for some fun!

Sunday morning dawned clear and beautiful! We stretched our legs with walk down to the Harbor and treated ourselves to the reward meal I had been waiting for - Cheesecake Factory!!! A big, juicy, cheese covered burger with a side of sweet potato fries...and most importantly, a big piece of White Chocolate Raspeberry Truffle cheesecake!!

So, there it is. I ran a marathon.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Marathon Questions

It's official - I can now add "marathon" to my running resume!

I'll have a full race report tomorrow, but for now here are the answers to some of the most popular questions I've been asked lately!

1. How are your legs feeling?
They've been getting a little more stiff/sore as the day has gone on. We went out in Baltimore last night, and my legs were tired but not too tired for a little dancing! Today we walked around a little, and while I could definitely feel soreness in my legs, the real challenge came when I stepped off a curb -- stairs are not my friend! I'm hoping an Epsom salt bath and another good night of sleep will help me wake up feeling refreshed tomorrow!

2. Were the last 6.2 miles the worst?
For me, no. The middle 8 miles were the worst for me. At mile 21, I knew I had made it last mile 20, and with 5.2 to go, I didn't doubt that I would finish. Also, at this point we were on the half marathon course and I was remembering it from last year, which provided good distraction. 

3. Will you run a marathon again?
Yes. Absolutely. I'm not sure when, probably not next year but we'll see. During my first half, I remember thinking "I don't even want to finish this race let alone ever run a full!" Famous last words, right? I did think "I'm not doing this again" for a brief moment yesterday but I quickly laughed and realized I totally will do it again. I trained injury free, I didn't have any crazy pains during the race, and I think I'll recover well. So yes, another 26.2 will happen. 

4. How were the hills?
Baltimore is often called a "tough course" and is notoriously hilly. However, if you train in southern Pennsylvania, hills have a different meaning. The first 3 miles were all a gradual uphill, but there weren't any hills that made me cringe on the whole course. There were an equal amount of downhills and flats. I love this course! 

Check back tomorrow for the race recap!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Baltimore or Bust!

Hello from Charm City! We made it to Baltimore (ok, it's only an hour away), hit the expo, and met my friend Dawn and her husband for some carb loading in Little Italy. 

Mark and I both had some hiccups in our mornings. He dropped his house key on his 2 mile shake out run and ended up doing almost 4 miles since he had to retrace his steps! Thanks to the change from humid, wet weather to blue sky and sunshine, I woke up with an awful sinus headache. The weather changes like that are horrible for my head. I shuffled through my shake out miles and felt horrible. After a little vomiting (sorry for the TMI), I felt better though. I haven't had a puke worthy headache in a long time! It's now almost 9pm and I still have a headache, but it's tolerable. 

Hopefully a few hours of sleep will get rid of the last of the headache and I'll be race ready tomorrow. 

26.2 -- here I come!

Thursday, October 16, 2014


I had heard and read about the so-called "taper crazies" from a lot of sources. I knew to expect a crazy appetite, sluggish legs, moodiness, possible illness, and all forms of hypochondria. I did not expect the complete and total feeling of CRAZY that I've been experiencing this week!!!

I simply can not get it together. I feel like my mind is not just a hamster on a wheel, but that there are about 50 hamsters and they're all on their own wheels going at different paces in different directions. I have substitute plans to write for Friday (which, if you're a teacher, you know it takes longer to write 1 day of sub plans than it does sometimes to write an entire week of regular plans), laundry to do, meals to make, things to pack, lesson plans for next week to do, etc. My classroom feels disorganized. My house feels disorganized. MY LIFE FEELS DISORGANIZED.

I spent 2 hours in Starbucks yesterday writing lesson plans, and blogs, and grading papers. I do feel better. But the hamsters in my brain are still running. Can it please just be race time already???

(P.S. Forgive, in advance, my Friday and Saturday blogs - they will be coming to you via the Blogger iPhone app...because, in case you missed it, I'M RUNNING A MARATHON ON SATURDAY!)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I am going running.

I came across this image on Pinterest at least a year ago and it is something I find myself repeating often. "I am going running. {{insert excuses here}} I AM GOING RUNNING."

The fact is, if you're a runner or an athlete - or really anyone with a goal in mind, physical or not - you have to get rid of the excuses

There's another quote that says "If you wait for the perfect conditions, you'll never get anything done.". There are a lot of days when I don't feel like running. But...tired, busy, crummy weather, don't feel like it, blah, blah, blah...I AM GOING RUNNING. I actually say that sentence out loud to myself a lot. It doesn't allow for excuses. It's not "I am going running if __________." It's simply: I am going running.

I'm currently sitting in Starbucks typing this. It's gross and raining outside. I don't have a run scheduled today, but if I did -- I'd be doing it. Even in the rain and the gross. It's why I bought a rain jacket.

So, what's your goal? And what's the excuse you've been letting yourself use? We all have one. Go buy a rain jacket. Find a way to eliminate the excuse!