October 27, 2011

Marine Corps Marathon Race Goals

The Marine Corps Marathon is 3 days away! WOOHOO!

I. Am. So. PUMPED.

I feel so ready for this race and I'm so excited to take DC by storm because I know that this weekend, I'm going to have the best time of my life...even though that's the slogan for this year's Philly Marathon. 

Here's the thing. I love DC. I absolutely adore our Nation's Capitol. It's my favorite city in America and nothing would make me happier at this point in time than being able to call that city home. But until I can do that, I'll be toeing the line at the Marine Corps Marathon this weekend...and the Hot Chocolate 15k in December...and the Cherry Blossom 10-mile in April.

On my first trip to DC in 2008!
When I started training for this race, I was in India. I never wrote about how bad my first training run was but those 4 miles were the worst 4 miles of my life. I honestly thought I was going to die...and I seriously contemplated seeking medical attention after sweating my way through 105 degrees with 98% humidity in a long sleeved t-shirt.

I've come a long way since then. From good runs to great runs to bad runs to horrible runs. I poured my heart into this training cycle. I cross-trained. I strength trained...sometimes. I ran 5 days a week instead of 4. I hit all of my target runs. I didn't miss a workout until I was well into my 3rd month of training. I listened to my body. I paid attention to injuries. I rested when I felt like my body needed rest.

I could not be more ready for this marathon.

When I ran the Philadelphia Marathon, my goal was, first and foremost, to finish and second, to finish in as close to 4 hours as possible. I crossed the line at 4:08 elated.

Now, as I'm gearing up to run Marathon #2, I've got some more specific goals in mind.

A Goal: 3:50
I've been weary of posting that number and talking about my A goal on this blog this entire training cycle but I'm finally going to put it out there. 3:50 is my A goal. I'd love to hit it. I know it's possible and I know I can do it, it's just a matter of execution. Running a 3:50 marathon requires that I maintain a 3:46 pace. I've been really successful at running my MGP runs at this and I've done all of my tempo runs at 8:30 or faster so I know this is a possibility.

B Goal: Sub-4
Last year, when I crossed the starting line of the Philadelphia Marathon, the Nike+ app on my iPod wouldn't start. So I ran a very conservative first half. When I saw that I was at around a 2:08 for the first half, I knew I could push it a lot harder since my half marathon PR at the time had been just under 2:01 so I pushed it and came in the second half in 2 hours flat. Now, my half marathon PR is a solid 3 minutes under 2 hours so I know a sub-4 marathon is within reach. Now, the closer I can get to 3:50, the happier I'll be.

No matter what happens on Sunday morning, I can say that I will come away from this weekend feeling so utterly blessed. I already feel that way.

I have an amazing mom who has never, ever stopped supporting me in anything I've ever done. From driving me 2 hours there and back to rehearsals for Grease when I was in high school because she knew it was the only thing that was holding me together through a really rough time to getting up at 3:00 in the morning to drive to Boston and surprise me at my first half-marathon to printing out the full 15 page Powerpoint Spectators' Guide to the Marine Marathon so that she doesn't miss a moment of Sunday's race.

I have a wonderful boyfriend who, after dating for almost 3 years, still manages to make my heart skip a beat every single time I see him and who somehow managed to finagle a way to make it down to the race this weekend because he genuinely wants to be there, who is so unbelievably supportive of the fact that sometimes, I just have to run.

I have the best group of friends I could ever ask for. My friends in DC are seriously my favorite people in the world. When they're around, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I'm going to have a fantastic time. I can't wait to see the boys tonight and everyone else tomorrow at their Zombie Halloween Party. And I can't wait to see them hung over standing on the side lines as I run my way through their city.

I have an unbelievable support system in this blog. It's because of all of your comments, tweets, emails, froyo dates, etc. through this entire training cycle that I'm going for an 18 minute PR. I started tracking my training on this blog more as a way of holding myself accountable than anything. I never thought I would get so much advice, feed back and inspiration from those of you who have commented on all of my Training Tuesday posts over the last 4 months.

I can't wait to see these fine ladies at Mile 23!
Tonight, I'm flying to Washington, DC to have an amazing weekend with friends, family, bloggers, 30,000 other runners and of course, the United States Marine Corps. All my bags are packed and I'm ready to go and I couldn't be more excited.

I'll definitely try to post over the weekend before Sunday but no promises here! If not, you'll here from me on the other side of 26.2!

October 17, 2011

Love/Don't Love

1. For the last three weeks, The Pilot and I have been pretty sure that he wouldn't be able to make it to DC for the marathon. As a newbie pilot with the airline, his ability to take days off is virtually non-existent but somehow he was able to finagle the day off and so for the second time in my running career, I'll be stealing kisses at Mile 6 and sharing space blanket hugs at the finish line with my handsome guy. Love.

2. I was planning to go to yoga this morning but instead spent my entire morning sitting in front of my computer finishing a paper. Don't Love.
3. Yesterday, I ran 15 miles in Central Park. Despite the fact that Central Park was absolute chaos because of the breast cancer walk, I had a great run and for the first time ever after doing a long run, I'm not sore at all...which is a huge improvement from not being able to walk for 2 days after last week's 21-miler. Love.

At the SI Half Finish Line.
No fist pump, no wave, no smile...clearly I waned this race to be over.
4. My knee was bothering me for the first 3 or so miles of yesterday's run. It also bothered me around Mile 2 of the Staten Island Half which is what led me to resort to walking. I've been icing, RICE-ing, arctic easing, etc. but I'm a little concerned as to whether it gives me problems at MCM. Don't Love.
5. Pan-Am was so good last night! Love.
6. School is getting harder. Lately I find myself saying, "I just need to get through this week and I'll be fine"...except I've been saying that for the last three weeks. Don't Love.

7. I'm thrilled that so many of you share in my obsession commitment to all things pumpkin. Love.

That's that! I only have about 6 weeks to get through the semester. That's 1 midterm, 2 papers and 1 final. I can totally handle it...I just need to get through this week first...

I hope your week is off to a great start!
Congratulations to everyone who raced this weekend!

October 16, 2011

It's not obsession, it's commitment!

With that title, you would think I'd be defending my running hobby in this post.

You'd be wrong.

While I do get the occasional, "Oh my God, stop running, you're obsessed!" comments from people, I brush them off because yes, I am committed to running. I run 5 days a week, I hardly ever drink and my calendar is filled with more races than anything.

But today I'm not talking about racing, I'm talking about something else.

Yesterday  morning, I woke up and had a bagel with pumpkin cream cheese. Then, I showered and washed my hair with pumpkin shampoo. After that, I had a slice of toast with pumpkin butter. Then I went to The Cheesecake Factory and had a giant piece of pumpkin pecan cheesecake and believe me, when I got back to my apartment and saw the Coolhaus truck outside the door with their brand new flavor of pumpkin pie ice cream, the only thing holding me back was the lack of cash in my wallet and my refusal to pay a $2.50 ATM fee at a bank that's not my own.
Try it. It's wonderful...and no, you won't smell like pumpkins all day. 
It's not obsession, it's commitment.

2 years ago, I thought pumpkin pie tastes like lipstick (Mrs. Smith did that to me) but a free sample of Starbucks' pumpkin spice latte turned that around real fast. Since then, I've spent my last three Octobers consuming everything pumpkin in sight sometimes eating as many as 5 different things with pumpkin in them in a day.

It's not obsession, it's commitment.

Thursday night, I needed to get out of the city so a trip to Mom's was in order. I got in late after an absolute nightmare train debacle involving New Jersey transit...from now on, I'd rather walk to Jersey, thanks....and after watching Thursday night TV with my mom and The Pilot, headed to bed.

Friday, it was time for an early morning run. You know what I learned? I do have the taper crazies. My taper crazies are that I don't want to run...ever. It took a lot to get me out the door but when I headed out for my 8 mile tempo run with 4 miles at 8:20, I was convince I couldn't do it. Guess what? I did. I think aiming for a BQ marathon is definitely in my future. Yea, I said it.

When I got back, The Pilot picked me up and said we were going for a "surprise." 45 minutes later, we pulled up in front of the Philadelphia Pretzel Factory in Princeton, NJ and holy goodness after that morning's oatmeal, bagel (with pumpkin cream cheese of course) and toast, those decadent Philly pretzels put me on carbo-overload...which I didn't think was possible for someone in marathon training. Nonetheless, they were delicious...even without any kind of pumpkin goodness spread across them.

Nothing says carbs like soft pretzels!
I thought the pretzels were the surprise because well hey, they were surprising but The Pilot had something else in store. He drove us 5 miles to a farm where we could go pumpkin picking. Pumpkins and delicious carbs? Holy goodness guys, I've said it before but is this guy a keeper or what?

The Orchard had the most adorable little farm store!
We went to an orchard that had apples, pumpkins, ponies(!), a petting zoo, a corn maze, a winery, the works! First, we paid a visit to the petting zoo and fed some goats. (Unfortunately, The Pilot had led me to believe we were going to the movies for surprise date day so pictures are minimal) Then, we got lost in a corn maze eventually finding our way through the entrance again...no need to call 911 here folks. Then we went wine tasting and then picked our pumpkins! As you can see from the photo above, I picked a short fat 13lb-er. The Pilot wanted baby sized pumpkins. Just as we were making our way to the farm store to pay, a thunderstorm struck so we hung out in the farm store and bought a bunch of stuff before making a run for it to the car...me with 13lb pumpkin in tow.

Then we went back to The Pilot's house and turned my big fat pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern!

We tried to carve The Pilot's pumpkins but they were really hard and we gave up.

We drank apple cider and finished off a fantastic freshly baked apple pie that we picked up from the Orchard and then we went our separate ways for the night and I went to sleep. 

Yesterday, I didn't run. I didn't feel like it. But I did eat a lot of pumpkin.

Today, I ran 15 miles...and currently have a loaf of pumpkin bread in the oven. I'm also writing a 15 page paper...wish I could have written a page a mile this morning. *Sigh*

All in all, it's been a great weekend. Unfortunately, Fall Break is over and I've got to get back to school tomorrow but hey, I'm graduating 7 months from today! Woo! 

I hope you're all having great weekends and are recovering from any kind of physical activity that you did today by doing something other than writing papers about failed African economies. I also hope you ate a lot of pumpkin. 

And to everyone who raced today, great job!

October 13, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. Wafels & Dinges - If you live in New York and don't know what Wafels & Dinges is then I'm about to enlighten you. Wafels & Dinges is a food truck that I have fallen in love with. They're a Belgian waffle truck that let's you put a whole bunch of different dinges (pronounced ding-uhs) on top of them including: nutella, strawberries, pears, blueberries, nutella, bananas, spekuloos spread (it tastes like gingerbread), maple syrup, nutella, walnuts, hot fudge, nutella, dulce de leche, ice cream, oh and did I mention nutella? I've had the wafel truck twice...but I always see them when I'm at like Mile 4 of a double digit run in Central Park and get really angry that a)I'm running and b)don't have any cash. Not only are the wafeleurs the sweetest guys around who are always happy to strike up a conversation with you but yesterday, I learned that they're sent to Belgium to learn how to make their wafels and that all of the fruit they use comes from local farms. Umm does it get any better?

Last night's waffle: Delicious...I never wanted it to end! 
2. Race Weekend - Yesterday, after exchanging several emails, texts and phone calls, I've finally started nailing down my race weekend plans and I'm getting super excited. No, I do not want to run the marathon NOW (see, I'm not taper crazy!) but I absolutely want to run it on October 30. Race Weekend is already shaping up to be fantastic...so far it will involve flying to DC (because I'm lazy and it's free), emptying my savings at the Expo, eating all of the pasta in the District, a Zombie party (which I'm pretty stoked for), sight seeing with my madre, eating more pasta and hanging out with the insane amount of bloggers who will be descending on our Nation's Capital for the weekend. I'm pretty sure it's going to be the best weekend ever...right now, there's only one thing missing and he knows what it is and is working on it so cross your fingers for me!

30,000 runners? That's way bigger than Philly was!
3. His Dark Materials - I finished another book off "The Book List." Actually, 3 books but I totally got gypped because the book was listed as 1 book but it was actually a trilogy...so my 100 books is actually 103. Rude. Anyway, "His Dark Materials" by Phillip Pullman is a trilogy that includes "The Golden Compass," (you may have seen the movie with Nicole Kidman), "The Subtle Knife" and "The Amber Spyglass." I loved the first 2 books. The third...not so much, it was really long and in the last paragraph of the book, instead of wrapping it up, they introduced something entirely new. which threw me way off. And even though when I started the series last month, everyone told me not to watch the movie, I think I will. I'll let you know what I think!

It's Thursday! It's been a short week for me! I'm having an "I don't feel like running" kind of day which I need to get over and then I'm off to spend the weekend writing papers, hangin' with my honey and doing all things Fall. It's definitely starting to feel like baking weather!

So tell me: Do you have any food trucks where you live? What are your favorites? Are you a New Yorker who's been wafeled? If so, what are your favorite dinges?

October 11, 2011

Training (Taper) Tuesday: Week 12

Ahh it's that time of the season: taper time.

A lot of runners, I've noticed, get the "taper crazies" when they hit this point in the season. I think those runners are crazy. (No offense). Meggie put it best when she said that because of school/work, tapering is a nice relief and I think that's the same case here. Tapering is coming for me at the same time as midterms, so it's nice not to have to be hitting that high mileage as school is getting a little crazy.

The last few training weeks (when I've skipped my Training Tuesdays) have been pretty rough. I was smart and took an entire week off to ward off an injury and now, I'm better than ever. Then, I ran two half-marathons in 2 weeks...which apparently qualifies me for Half Fanatic membership...and boy did those runs take their toll.

At the first one, I had a tough race, thought about quitting and ended up with a 2 1/2 minute PR.

Woo! Happy! I didn't quit!
At the second one, I had a brutal race. I added 8 miles to the start and walked/ran through a lot of it, coming in at an almost 20 minute PW. But you know what? I never once thought about quitting. I think I learned from Grete's Gallop that if I could push through and PR, quitting would never be an excuse.

I don't have pictures of this one...but I almost collapsed at the finish line so I really don't want to see those. 

So that means I'm ready for Marine Corps. I'm ready to take it all on. Part of me is terrified. I had an amazing first marathon. Everything went perfectly. Sure, I cramped up at Mile 18 but I stopped and stretched for a minute and still managed a negative split and an awesome race.

Woo! Look at me! I Just ran a marathon!
I'd like to have that again at Marine Corps. I don't want to feel the way I did at these last two halves. But you know what, I think I will. I think these two halves, as hard as they were, are exactly what I need to tuck away pull out when things start to get tough at MCM.

So this week I'm scaling back. I have 8 miles on deck but my body feels pretty trashed so I think I'm going to go for 4 or 5. We'll see how I feel. I have a short tempo run planned for tomorrow and then a few easy runs before tackling 15 on Sunday.

In the mean time, the Post Office lost my Garmin. That's right. They lost it. They tried to deliver it to the wrong address on Saturday so I didn't have it for Sunday and now they don't know where it is. I'm pissed. They also claim they can't be accountable because they supposedly left a notice at my door saying they tried to deliver it...which is funny because this building doesn't do notices, my staff at the front desk signs for all packages and when I was working on Saturday and got all of the mail and signed for other people's packages, it never came.

I'm not happy. But I'm going to go for a run and pray that when I get back, my Garmin is here.

October 10, 2011

Love/Don't Love

1. Yesterday was by far the hardest race I've ever run but looking back on it, it wasn't the worst race ever and I think that running 21 miles and actually finishing the half is something to remember when I toe the line in DC on October 30. Love.

Stolen from Jill's Facebook page
2. I am unbelievably sore today. My quads are screaming at me and my glutes feel a little bit like someone stabbed me in the ass. Don't Love.
3. I took advantage of my apartment's pool for the first time today (I know what's wrong with me??) and spent about half an hour leisurely swimming in the pool. It felt so good to be in the water. Love.
4. Today is Columbus Day which is not cool. I think it's pathetic that America still celebrates Columbus Day. I'm definitely not an overly sensitive minority but he landed on the island of my ancestors and raped and pillaged the island for its people and resources...and then brought his friends over to do it all over the Caribbean before he got to what is now America. Sure, let's celebrate him. Don't Love.

5. I'm on Fall Break which really doesn't mean a lot except that I'm lying in bed all day writing papers but at least I don't have to go to school. Love.
6. I'm starting to like my classes a lot less and I'm definitely starting to have "senior-itis"...if that's even possible in grad school. Is it May yet? Don't Love.
7. I'm obsessed with the show Pan Am. I'm not a big TV person at all but seriously every time this show ends, I get mad that I have to wait another week for it. Love.

This show is SO good!
8. Even though I felt like yesterday was the worst race ever and that I needed some sort of redemption, after careful consideration and advice from everyone's favorite redhead, I have decided against a 20-miler this weekend. Marine Corps will be my redemption so from here on out, it's taper time! Love.
9. I GOT NEW SHOES! I got them like 2 weeks ago and keep forgetting to blog about them. Umm they are hands down the sexiest running shoes I've ever seen. I decided to switch back to my tried and true Nikes and I've slowly been breaking them in in time for the marathon. Love.

This photo does not do the color justice.
So tell me: How many miles do you typically have on your marathon shoes before Race Day? Do you watch Pan Am? Did you have off for Columbus Day today? Do you get the taper crazies?

October 9, 2011

Staten Island Half-Marathon Race Recap

I wish I could have come out of this race like Danielle came out of her marathon last week saying that the list of good things far outweighed the bad...and she had a tough marathon. Instead, I walked  out calling it the worst race ever.

When my alarm went off at 5:00 this morning, the first thing that came to my head was "I don't want to run this race." I didn't. I never did. I'm not trying to be a marathon maniac, I didn't want to run 13.1 two weeks in a row so why was I waking up at 5am on a Sunday morning to trek all the way out to Staten Island and run another half?

9+1. FML.

I decided to have a large breakfast since the race didn't start until 8:30am. Oatmeal, toast with almond butter and a banana and orange juice would do the trick for me. I ate, got dressed and headed to the subway to try and catch the 6:30 ferry. I made it there with plenty of time and spent about 20 minutes reading at Runners' Village Whitehall Terminal.

Compression socks everywhere at the Staten Island ferry
We got to Staten Island shortly after 7 and after dropping off my bags and taking off my outer layers, I was on the road for some easy miles before the race started. My legs were pretty dead and I thought it would be good to get some miles on and wake them up. As soon as I took off, I thought, "This course sucks." The supposedly stunning views of Manhattan would have been great if they weren't hidden behind a giant run down warehouse with a rusted barbed wire fence and an overgrown-with-weeds parking lot. Maybe it'll get better after Mile 4. I made my way back to the Start while volunteers were screaming "You're late! You missed the start"...even though I had 15 minutes to get to the start...but when people start yelling like that, you naturally pick up the pace so I did my last few pre-race miles a little faster than I expected. I got to the start just as the back corrals were going through which was perfect because I was able to just keep going.

By Mile 2, I felt like I was in trouble. I was starving. My 5am breakfast 2 1/2 hours before I started running followed by 8 miles wasn't a good thing. I took a Gu and it helped a little bit but my legs were still tired and I didn't want to be running along that same damn boring loop again. I needed energy fast. When I saw the water station at Mile 3, I walked through it to get some Gatorade. And then I kept walking. For about half a mile.

I haven't walked during a race since my first half-marathon. Right there, I lost it. I was so disappointed in myself. Why was I walking??? 11 miles is supposed to be nothing this late in marathon training.

As I crossed over Mile 4, the winner was coming through Mile 10. What?! Last week, I hit Mile 7 as the winner was finishing. That was even more discouraging. We were climbing a hill and I wanted to walk but I stuck with my mentality of last week...if I make it to the top of the hill and I still need to walk, I will. Well, last week that kept me from walking and landed me a huge PR. This time, it resulted in 6 walking breaks. At Mile 2, 4, 6.5, 9, 11 and 12. The course was basically one huge out and back loop. The only time I've run an out and back was for the 6 or so miles toward the end of Philly and it wasn't bad because the spectators were great. From Mile 5, the out and back just started to get to me. I saw that everyone in my corral was on the other side and knew that time-wise, this would be my worst race yet. I was still hungry and my stomach was turning over so I was afraid to take anymore Gus. I stuck with the Gatorade along the course and didn't Gu again until Mile 9. Mile 8 was one long, slow, steep incline that went all the way up to Mile 9. This was the only part of the course that was pretty as we ran right under the Verrazano Bridge. But once we got under the bridge, it was those dreaded 4 miles again.

I started to get my legs going (finally) around Mile 9 but by Mile 11, I was done. And then my iPod died. When I needed music the most, I lost it. I stopped and started walking. I couldn't not do it. I hit a wall. (I'm not sure if it was the wall but I was just completely checked out of this race.) When I saw the mile marker for Mile 12, I told myself, "You are not going to walk the last mile of this race. The faster you run, the sooner it will all be over." By 12.5, I was walking. We hit the long stretch going back to the Finish Line and I said I would run the whole thing and I started running for what felt like forever. Mind you, I was on Mile 20.5 at this point. We went around a little bend and when I didn't see the Mile 13 sign. I just stopped. So did everyone around me. "Jesus Christ!" "Are you f*cking kidding me?" "Where the hell is the damn finish line?" were some of the things being shouted around me. I picked it up and started running and I started feeling like I was going to pass out. It was hot. It felt like July and everything around me got blurry. I started getting really dizzy but damn it, I was so close, if I stopped again, I wasn't finishing. When I finally saw the Mile 13 sign, my mom was standing right underneath it. She came out to surprise me. I was so dead at this point that I couldn't even respond to her. I really thought I was going to collapse on the finish line.

This course was dead. There so few spectators, it was sad. The volunteers didn't cheer and I just felt like there were crickets. Even in the last mile and a half stretch, it was silent, no loud cheers from the Finish Line, no spectators lining that last mile. Nothing. It was so depressing to be running such a hard race and having no one cheering along the course.

When I finally crossed, the medical tent was right there. I tried to go through it and they wouldn't let me. I needed to go through the bagel line first. ARE YOU F*CKING SERIOUS? I grabbed a volunteer and said, "If I don't sit down right now, I'm going to faint. I can't see clearly, I can't see anything in front of me and I need to sit down." So they took me in, laid me down on a cot, wrapped my legs in ice, gave me some Gatorade and after going through spins the likes of some of your first drunken nights at college, I finally started to feel a little better and made my way back to find my mom.

I crossed the finish line in 2:13:54. A personal worst by more than 5 minutes. I totaled 21 miles today. My longest training run ever. I didn't have my Garmin (more on that later) and since my iPod with my Nike+ died, I'm not sure how long it took me to get in those first 8 miles. I was also using my Nike+ which was so off, it wasn't even funny. When I hit Mile 4, it told me I was at Mile 5. It also said I was averaging an 8:24 mile and since my legs felt so dead, I assumed I was and kept trying to slow down. When I started actually running the race, I realized how off I was and through any time goals out the window.

This race was bittersweet. On the one hand, it's a huge accomplishment to hit 21 miles and log my longest training distance. On the other hand, 3 weeks out from the marathon, it's a little frightening to be having such a hard run. I attribute it to not wanting to run this race. Plain and simple. Last week, I had just as hard of a race (if not harder, since the course itself was more challenging) but I was excited about it. I wanted to be there. This time around, I mentally wasn't there. So it made the course that much harder. And to deal with the frustrations of having your technology so off when you have a pacing plan made it worse.

So that's it 21 miles. I'm technically tapering now but I might turn next week's scheduled 15 into a 20 just to make myself feel better about tackling the marathon distance for the second time.

This was a tough race. And a tough recap to write (sorry it's so long) but I'm proud of myself for running 21 miles and I'm proud of myself for finishing my 5th half marathon. I'm going to toe the line in DC in 3 weeks and I'm going to have a great run because I know that I don't ever want to have a run like today ever again.

October 6, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. Training Tuesday - I was writing a paper so I didn't get my Training Tuesday post done. Basically, this week I have 3 easy runs, a tempo run and my final long run before kicking it in to taper mode. I may scale that back to 4 runs and skip the tempo run since I'm racing this weekend but we'll see.

2. Grete's Gallop Race Photos - You've all read my race recap by now about this past weekend's half-marathon and know that it was definitely know walk in park but for some reason, in all of my photos, I look like I'm having the time of my life! I've only ever bought my marathon race photos but I might buy some of these because I kind of like them!

Hello awkward wave.
Mile 13! 
Annnnnd we're done!
3. Staten Island Half Marathon - This weekend, I'm running the Staten Island Half Marathon. It will by my 8th qualifier for the 2012 NYC Marathon. Since I haven't actually run anything above 18 miles this training cycle, I'm planning to add between 7 and 9 miles to the start to turn this into a 20 or 22-miler. My plan is to take the first 7-9 miles easy and when the race starts, run my marathon goal pace for the first 10 miles and then run like hell for the last 5k. I've heard good things about the race and it's pretty flat but it's the biggest out and back I've ever seen so I'm praying I don't have any music glitches this time around!

Are you racing this weekend? Do you ever buy race photos?

October 3, 2011

September Recap!

These days, I'm starting to feel the effects of training for a marathon five days a week in comparison with four. I'm tired a lot and even though I'm lucky enough to get about 9 hours of sleep every night, it doesn't seem like enough.

September was a busy busy month. Between starting a new job, starting school, upping the mileage, traveling for a wedding and having The Pilot move back, I barely had enough time to wrap my head around everything I needed to. But I definitely won't say that September flew by. Call it "2nd year grad student-itis" or what you will, but I feel like this month and the semester is dragging by.

Now I'm the first one to embrace long days and months that feel like they went on forever because hey, life is short, why wish it away? But a teeny tiny bit of me really just wants school to finish so that I can spend my weekends recovering from a long training run by immersing myself in an ice bath and chasing it with a few beers with friends rather than immersing myself in academic journals and texts about sexual violence, genocide and gross human rights violations.

But you know what? I'm almost there. After this semester, I have nothing to do except write my thesis, work and train for a spring marathon that has yet to be decided. I'm lucky enough to already have my thesis topic ironed out and hey, if I'm really on top of things, I'll have the first draft done by mid-March and then, I'll be free until I find a job!

So that's one thing I did this month, I started my 2nd and final year of graduate school (#8 off my list). And here are a few things I did:

  • I finished reading The Old Testament! Man, it was hard to get through, but I did it! 
  • I read "The Souls of Black Folk" - #44 off The Book List
  • I went to a music festival!
  • I made 2 recipes out of one of my cookbooks
The school year always makes crossing things off my list a bit of a challenge but you know what, September actually shaped up to be a pretty good month! Here's a look at some of the non-list related things I did in a photo recap:

I ate a lot of 16 Handles
I did a lot of yoga!
The Pilot moved back home!
I ran...a lot and made NYRR's event gallery
So there you have it! Now, it's October and I have big plans for the month! My plans involve consuming obscene amounts of pumpkin flavored things, writing a lot of papers, tackling Tolstoy again (War & Peace was so good!), oh and running my 2nd marathon. It's gonna be a fun month, that's for sure! 

What are your October plans?

October 2, 2011

Race Recap: Grete's Great Gallop and a New PR!

This race was a lot of things for me. It was a training run, it was a dress rehearsal run, it was both the best and worst race I've ever run, and it was the first race I've ever done where I actually almost quit.

Thursday night, I had a dream nightmare that I woke up late and didn't get to the race until 20 minutes after it started. I had been really pumped for the race all week but something happened Friday night as I was getting ready for bed and I just wasn't excited anymore. Was it the impending rain for race morning? Was it overtraining? These questions and a million others circled my head all night Saturday and I didn't sleep at all. I got out of bed about 20 minutes before my alarm, made breakfast, got dressed and headed to the race.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that my Garmin died on Thursday. It's currently en route to Olethe, KS where the folks at Garmin are going to replace it with a new one. So I packed my iPod with the idea of using my Nike+ without the headphones and still using my Sony headset since it has all my updated music.

When I got to the race, I dropped off my bag, pulled out my headset and my iPod and with a last minute decision, threw my iPod back into my bag. I didn't even have time to think about this before I ran to the starting line about 2 minutes before the gun went off.

The course was a familiar 2 loops of Central Park starting on the East Drive and ending at Tavern on the Green. I was in a pretty far back corral (I really don't understand NYRR's corralling system) so it took us a bit to get to the start and as I heard the beep-beep-beeps of Garmins going off all around me, I thought to myself, "Well this will be interesting" and off I went. I tried to turn on my headset which I had fully charged the night before and it wouldn't turn on. I started panicking...no music? For 13.1 miles? And no Garmin to at least distract my attention for part of it? I'm f*cked.

My legs felt like lead as I took off over the start forgetting to see what time it was that I crossed the starting line. By the time we hit Mile 2, I thought...I'm going to run as far as I can go and call it quits, I don't know what's going on but I don't have the stamina to finish this race. We starting climbing the Heartbreak Hill around Mile 3 and I thought about stopping to walk but I told myself to get to the top of the hill and if I wanted to walk then, I could. That mentality saved me this entire race. Every time we hit those hills which I've never once walked up in any training run or race, ever, but seemed so difficult yesterday, I told myself that I had to run to the top and could walk down from there.

And you know what? I never once walked.

Coming down Cat Hill definitely woke my legs up and at Mile 5 I GU'd and almost immediately felt the effects. I started feeling good and started playing Math games in my head trying to figure out how I was doing pace wise. I figured I was hitting at least a 9 minute mile. We hit the starting line again and the next mile or so went by quickly. As I was approaching Mile 7 (also the Finish Line), I heard the announcer say that the first place male finisher was approaching the start. I turned to look behind me and there he was! Not only did I see him break the banner, but I was running right alongside him (in the passing lane of course) which was awesome and gave me a little spring in my step to get through the next few miles.

I was in the passing lane at this point...and a little jealous that he was already done!
The second time around Heartbreak Hill didn't seem so bad but I really wanted music at this point. It was really humid out and it had been cold in the morning so I wore capris and I was starting to get warm. When we started the ascent up Cat Hill, I started thinking about walking and again told myself I could walk if I just made it to the top. I got to the top, just about Mile 10 and really started thinking about quitting. I was tired, I was hurting, it was hot and I just wasn't feeling the race. But then I saw the clock and it said something like 1:31 and I thought...hey, I just might be in range of a PR if I keep this up. So I GUd and kept going. I knew I was maintaining a pretty fast pace the whole time and I tried to slow down a little bit but my body just wouldn't let me. Maybe I was, maybe I wasn't, I had no idea and you know what? That kind of felt good.

Miles 10, 11 and 12 seemed absolutely endless. I almost wish I had had my Garmin just to see if the miles actually measured evenly because they seemed to go on forever. Between 10 and 11, my heel started to really hurt and I stopped to adjust my sock only to realize that the whole back of my foot was bloody.

That's what happens when you forget to wash your socks the night before a race and just throw on any old pair.

I had come into this race with the idea of treating it as a dress rehearsal race but without a Garmin, that was tough. I still had plans to run the last 5k as fast as possible. I know I definitely ran Mile 11 the slowest of all of them, I could just feel it but Mile 12, I started to sprint and just run out everything I had. By Mile 13, I was done, I ran through the finish line but definitely didn't sprint. At that point, I had nothing left to give.

I crossed the finish line in just under 1:59 and was anxious as to whether that would be a PR or not. As I walked through the finisher's chute, I got so dizzy and felt like I was going to pass out. I slowed down, took some Gatorade and started to feel a little better. I saw a very sweaty Emily just at the end of the chute and we had a very sweaty hug and made our way to the Norwegian festival for waffles. I stuck around until they posted the results and freaked out when I couldn't find my name among the 1:58:xx or 1:57:xx finishers.

And then, I saw my name and my time.


A 2 1/2 minute PR.

And all of a sudden, the race became awesome. I ran this race purely by how I felt. I had no idea what my pace was or how far away from each mile marker I was. I had no music to get me through the tough points of the race but I still managed a huge PR even after I thought about walking and even after I thought about quitting.

You know what that means? I'm ready to take on Marine Corps and I'm ready to kill it.

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