Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ultra training has begun....*gulp*

It’s that time of the year, folks: ultramarathon training. Last week was the official start for me in my training for the Mind the Ducks 12 hour race and the BOMF 24 hour race. *gulp* The lack of posting has occurred due to the lack of running, at times. My first two weeks back into solid running were great, with about 36 mpw for each. My third week, I got in only 20. But wait for it: for my fourth week, I got in 4, that is correct, 4 miles! Wow, I really lost motivation. Those 4 miles were also on my birthday!

In order to get me in the shape I need to be to achieve my goals for my ultras (65 miles for the 12 hour race and 90 miles for the 24 hour race), I have devised a way to scheme myself into running. I loosely got this idea from other people, but I’ve decided to create a prize for running all of my scheduled miles: $10 per week. If I am sick or injured, no money is earned or lost. If I don’t run all of my miles, I deduct $5 from my pot. One week in and I’ve got $10. Yay! When I didn’t want to run, I thought about how lame it would be to miss out on the weekly prize in the first week of training. I plan on using this money for a fun shopping spree after my 24 hour race.

When it comes to my training, I have so many ideas and not one solid one nailed down. I’ve researched to death about training programs, but I can’t exactly figure out what to do. I’m going to follow Hal Higdon’s ultra plan again, but it has what some ultra runners call “junk miles.” I am the type of person that needs a plan written out to follow, so I can’t exactly just “wing” it and know I’ll get in all the right mileage. The main thing I am torn about is whether or not to incorporate walking breaks into my long runs. I will have to walk at times to eat, but I’m starting to think about ways to improve my distances for both races. For my training for my first ultras, I needed the walk breaks so I could convince myself I could do it. I now know I can achieve a lot of distance, but will taking the walking breaks out mean I can’t run that far? Will it mean I am in pain sooner? I am not sure, but I think I am going to train with as few walk breaks as possible so I can honesty see how well I can push myself. If I don’t know my limits, I won’t know my abilities.

Week two of ultra training is underway and I am eager to earn those $10 for this week! Until next time…

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Aaaaaaaaaaand I'm back

Man, it is kind of crazy that I haven't written on here in almost 2 months. Honestly, since the marathon on Halloween, I've barely run. Once I recovered from being sick and my IT band pain, I was swamped with finishing my last college classes. Once I finished that (still waiting for my diploma to be mailed...can't wait to see it!), I only had a week home before I headed to Israel for 10 days. There was no time for me to run in Israel. Therefore, not a lot of running has occurred in the past 2 months.

Honestly, I think my body and mind needed a break from running. With 2+ years of constantly training for some race (and a decade of off and on running before that), I think I needed a break. I still am not eager to run every morning, but I'm not loathing it, so that's good. I've never really been a runner who desires to run most of the time. I usually have to remind myself that running each week is what will get me ready for the races that I want to run. I ponder quite a lot what that means for me as a runner. I do not love running most of the time, but do it so I can compete in races. If you talk to any of my friends, they know I could talk about running for hours and meeting another runner gets me so jazzed. Maybe I like the idea of running sometimes more than actually running? Maybe I am so programmed to run as I have done it for most of my life? Maybe I am afraid what it will be like to not run? I am not sure. I honestly think it is a bit of all of that, plus I just now equate exercise with running, meaning I only think to run when I need to exercise. I think I need to work on this a bit so I can integrate other forms of exercise to make me a more well rounded athlete, which is why I just downloaded an abs video and yoga for athletes video. Yay!

This week was my first week in my ultramarathon training schedule. I am officially registered for the same two ultras I ran last year: the Mind the Ducks 12 hour race and the BOMF Lone Rager 24 hour race. With about 4 months and 6 months until my race, I am slowly easing back into running and into a training program. I got in 31 miles this week, which may have been jumping in a bit too much, but my body should be alright. I got in a 15 mile long run today which felt nice. My Sundays have been for the past 2 years long run days and it felt comfortable for today to start that trend back up.

In regards to my ITBS that is still around, my IT band has been bothering me a bit, but I am work really hard to strengthen myself and truly ready myself for my races. I have not been doing nearly any core work either while running and one of my new year's resolutions is to do so--not just for my vanity and desire to fit back into my favorite pair of skinny jeans, but mostly for my running. I have put myself at a disadvantage by not strengthening my core, an essential part of my body for running.

Whew, okay, so obviously I have not written a lot recently and needed to spew a lot. I am really excited for the next 6 months of training to see what I am capable of this time around.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

This Year's Accomplishments

As this year is soon going to come to an end, I've been thinking a lot about what I've accomplished this past year. With my IT band issues, I feel so stuck in the day-to-day with my running. In order to pick up my spirits, I have been looking back at all of my races this past year and I really have accomplished a lot running-wise, if I do say so myself. Here's a recap of all of my races so far in 2010:

Jan 2: Athlete's Closet Winter Series 5k: 26:59
Feb 13: Athlete's Closet Winter Series 5k: 24:29
March 6: Athlete's Closet Winter Series 5 miler: 42:50
May 15: Mind the Ducks 12 Hour Ultramarathon: 59.8 miles in 11:58:31 (PR, of sorts)
July 17-18: 20in24 Back on my Feet Lone Ranger Ultramarathon: 76.16 miles in 19:16:26 (PR, of sorts)
Sept 19: Rock 'N' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon: 1:52:09 (PR)
Oct 31: Marine Corps Marathon: 4:09:30
Nov 27: MCRRC Turkey Burnoff 10 miler: 1:26:33 (PR)

That's a lot of racing! I may do a 5k in the next week or so, but I'm pretty much done with my racing for 2010. I think this year of running has truly been life changing. I've been a runner my whole life, but this is the year that I really solidified to myself that running is something that I love, hate, enjoy, struggle through, but mostly, something I will (hopefully) get to do for my whole life. I also have pushed myself further than I ever thought possible and it's been a fun year of running. I have already registered for the 20in24 ultra for next year and once the MTD 12 hour race opens up, I'll register for that, too. I've come to realize that distance is what I am good at (I'm the long and slow queen), but I've really enjoyed the shorter races, too.

I am thankful for everyone this year who has been a supporter in any fashion, whether it's reading this blog, cheering me on during my races, sherpa-ing my long runs, or even pacing me a bit during my 24 hour race. Without everyone, I truly wouldn't have been able to do it. I am so excited to see what next year shall bring. 2011 is going to be another year of exciting races and hopefully PRs. :-D

Monday, November 1, 2010

Marine Corps Marathon Race Report

I am struggling to figure out how to feel about the MCM Marathon. In a lot of ways, it was an amazing experience and in others, it was a total failure. This is leaving me feeling, well, unsure of how I feel.

The weekend started with a dinner with MCM Fourmites from the Runners' World Forums. It seems weird to have been talking with these people for months and months, yet to have never met them. It was really great to finally meet these people who have been amazing people to talk to about running and who have been extremely supportive during all of my running related stuff the past year (races, sicknesses, injuries, etc). I ate some yummy pizza, snacked on yummy bread, laughed a lot, and overall, had an amazing night. I am so happy to have thought to have posted on the MCM boards early this year because in so many ways, these people made the race for me.

Sunday morning, my dad and I got up quite early and headed on the Metro to the race. I have been lucky with all of my major races before because they required very little of a commute to get to it, so this was  new experience for me. After getting there, finding my Mom (she was at a wedding the night before and met us at the race) and waiting 20 minutes in line for a bathroom, the race started! The gun went off before I could get in line, but my time group started to far back that it was not a big deal. It sound weird, but I love being in the massive crowd of a race before it starts. The energy of the crowd is so exciting and nerve-wracking, so I did not enjoy having to run to the start.

When I finally reached the start, I felt like I was in a can of sardines! To be honest, one thing I did not enjoy about this race was how crowded it was. I have only run the Philadelphia Marathon before, which is comparable in size to the MCM, but with the roads so much wider in Philly, the race is only packed for the first 2 miles. I was still dodging people (on and off) up until around mile 20 of this race. I did not enjoy constantly having to run around people and I'm sure I was more tired because of it. I did, because of running from the bathroom, sneak in to the 4:10-4:30 marathon pacing section, so I am not surprised I was passing people and moving around to try to keep up a sub-4 pace. Still, I was annoyed throughout the race because a lot of the time, I couldn't just run, I had to defensively and offensively run.

For all the dodging, the first half went by so quickly. I could not believe it, but I guess after two ultras, 13.1 miles is not as big of a deal as it used to be. My watch (which was a few seconds slow since I accidentally started my watch too soon) clocked me in at 2 hours exactly for the half. This was good because I was running exactly on pace and felt that I could probably speed up the second half just a bit to PR.

Everything was going alright until about mile 19 and 20. I felt tired the whole race, which I attributed to my cold and my lack of running the weeks before in the hopes to heal up my ITBS. Around this time, I was really starting to feel tired. We hit the 14th St Bridge and I just fell apart. I got a side stitch, my back was in agony, and I couldn't breathe very well. My pace went from 9 minute miles to at times 11 minute miles. I truly felt like the forthcoming 6.2 miles would not be possible and I would get my first DNF. It was such a trying time mentally for me because I do not like to quit ever, but the miles ahead seemed impossible. I ran into a fellow Runner's World fourmite earlier on, but he passed me around here. He was super supportive, but I just couldn't keep up.

Around mile 21, my side stitch just disappeared for no reason. I felt stronger and I was able to pick up the pace to around a 9:30 min/mile. I know a PR was out of the question, so in a lot of ways, I didn't push myself as hard as I could have. I did not feel the pressure of the PR, so I ran hard, but was not killing myself. To be honest, I'm not sure I could have really run any faster, so I guess it was nice to not have the pressure of the PR looming over my head.

The last few miles were tough, but I pushed through until we got to the end. The last .2 miles are uphill, which was just cruel. I love hills normally, but my legs were shot and my breathing was off. I kept hearing people cheer for GaGa (more on that later), but I just could not move my legs forward very quickly. By the time I finished (4:09:30 officially, which is about 6.5 minutes slower than my previous slowest marathon to date), I felt really off. I started to see all white and struggled to see clearly. I knew something was up, so I headed to the medical tent. I found out I was pretty dehydrated, my body temperature was quite down (95.8 degrees), my blood pressure was way down, and my heart rate was still racing. I was able to call my mom and have her find me. The medical staff were amazing and they treated me amazingly. After two bottles of Gatorade, a bottle of water, a banana, and a bag of chips, I was allowed to leave. They said the cold medicine I had been taken had probably been the culprit of my dehydration, so I started the race dehydrated and the liquids I drank during it couldn't really hydrate me enough.

One of the positive parts of the race had to be the great crowd support and reaction to my costume. Even in line for the bathrooms before the race, other runners were snapping pictures of me. I waved at least 50 times during the race to spectators cheering, "Go Lady GaGa!" It was great when people would cheer, "Is that you, Lady GaGa?" I would wave or give a thumbs up and they erupted in cheers and laughter. I kept thinking, "You know, I'm not her actually, just someone dressed as her..." Either way, getting those reactions was great. I also loved passing people and seeing them do a double take of me in my blonde wig and costume. No one expects to see someone looking like I did during a marathon, even on Halloween. During my lowest point of the race, the bridge, I even got a "nice ass" comment. While it was not something I was aiming to hear or really expected to hear, I felt so terrible that any comment that was in the least bit positive was gladly accepted by me at that point.

Overall, I'm feeling alright about the race, but still bummed my time was so bad. I knew I wouldn't PR with my ITBS (which gladly didn't bother me during the race) and my cold, but being almost 7 minutes slower than my last marathon was a bit disheartening. I am just eager to have a good training program for my next race, as well as to be in a good physical condition for it.

Thanks to everyone for your amazing support and I cannot wait for my next race (Mind The Ducks 12 Hour 2011? Yeah, I'm sure that will definitely be my next one.).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Just Dance

I ran for the first time in 15 days. I was able to run 7 miles with pretty minimal ITBS pain, but there was still more than I'd like (obviously, I'd want none). This run was also really awesome because I was able to test out my costume for the Marine Corps Marathon, which is of Lady GaGa. I purchased a blonde wig from K-Mart, bejeweled a sports bra, purchased black running briefs (okay, they are really running underwear, but they'll serve the same purpose), and purchased some big black shades with some bling along the top (these were actually for me to wear, but I realized how awesome they would look with the costume, so I ran with them). I am aiming to look like her in her "Just Dance" video (pictured to the left) and by golly, I think I look a lot like her once my costume is all on.

Testing out the costume was pretty funny because in all honesty, there's a fair amount of nakedness seeing as I am only wearing black underwear as bottoms. Running my 7 miles through neighborhoods in Rehoboth Beach, DE (where I am currently to celebrate the Sherpa's/Mom's birthday) was pretty hysterical. I got so many funny and confused looks from older people and an even weirder one from a fellow runner. I also was honked at by some movers (I never understood why cars would honk at female runners. Do they just want to say, "Hey, we appreciate your looks," or are they cheering on my healthy lifestyle? I just think they are being pigs). Overall, the shades, wig, and briefs all worked out great and I am beyond excited (and a little nervous) to wear the outfit 7 short days.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Where have I been?

Man, who knew school would make it impossible for me to blog? In most cases, I had homework to focus on, so I couldn't really blog with any good conscious when I had homework. I also have been injured with an ITBS flare up. I haven't run in nearly 2 weeks to try to rest it, but with my marathon just over a week away, I am getting antsy. I'm hoping to try running tomorrow to see how it goes.

Today, on a walk home from class, I realized that during my co-op (and lack of one when waiting for it to start), I really used running as an escape. While I awaited my co-op, running was something I could put my energy into it. When my co-op started and I felt unfulfilled in the work, I used running as something to keep me excited and to be an escape. Now that I am back at school, taking classes, working two part-time jobs, involved in lots of clubs, and attempting to find a job since I graduate in December, I am struggling to find the passion for running. Well, that's not true. I loved running, but it was tough to fit it in. This injury right now has made me kind of forget I used to run so much. I think I have been so busy that I haven't even had time to think about it and then when I do, I freak that I won't be able PR the marathon. I shouldn't aim to do that, but I am too competitive to just "run" a marathon.

Okay, enough blabbing. After my run this weekend (and test run of my costume for the race), I will update this to reveal of all systems are a go for the race.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

PR for my Half Marathon = happy me :-)

To start, I decided to not fast for Yom Kippur (aka the day before my race). Driving up Friday to Philly, I inhaled a 32 oz bottle of water and was still parched. That made me think that if I go the whole day before without food and drink, I would not make it to the finish line. Not going to get into the religious debate about it, but that was my decision and that's that.

I made sure to eat a lot of yummy carbs yesterday, including a delicious rice bowl with Chinese broccoli and grilled pork tenderloin. I'm just drooling thinking about it. Made a pasta dinner and got in bed about 10:30 pm. Woke up around 6 am to get myself prepped. My stomach was all a mess and I worried that I might have to run to the porta-potties during the run, but I got lucky that it calmed down.

I met some other runners from Drexel and we all headed to the race. We checked in our bags, hit up the bathrooms, and got ready to race. Finally the race started! I think my issue to begin with was I was not really sure what I wanted to run the race in. I knew I wanted to run it faster than 9 minute miles, but that was about it.

The first few miles were weird because 1) having forgotten my banana at home, I was starting to get a side stitch, and 2) my Garmin wasn't picking up the satellites right in Center City so I couldn't exactly figure out my pace. I also felt like everyone around me was flying by, which was a bit frustrating. My Garmin was saying I ran more than I had, which was annoying, but it actually broke up the race because I had when my Gamin would say I ran a mile, then the actual mile about .3 miles later.

I found myself running around 8:30 min/miles and I was feeling like I was pushing it, but it was sustainable. I just kept making sure I was hitting 8:30 min/miles, even with the water breaks. The course was really really flat, so it was easy to keep an even pace. At this point, I knew that unless some freak thing happened, I'd PR the race, which was so exciting.

Around the 10 mile mark, I was starting to feel the Shot Blocks in at the bottom of my stomach and it felt so so awful. I felt so nauseous, but knew that slowing down was not an option. I just pushed harder and harder to the finish, which made my stomach hate me even more. Right before the 13 mile mark, surrounded by spectators, I started to gag and was very very close to throwing up. I was able to not toss my cookies in front of thousands of people, but it surely was a close call.

As I sprinted to the finish, I felt so awful and sick to my stomach, but I knew the race was almost done and I'd PR by almost 2 minutes! I'm exhausted, but I am definitely on the road to breaking 4 hours at the Marine Corps Marathon in just 6 short weeks. Ah!

Final Results (official)

1:52:09 (8:33 min/mile pace)