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.).