Monday, October 22, 2012

Post-Marathon Sanity Strategy

 It has been a mere two weeks since the Lakefront Marathon (which was the best;) however, I've been having an incredibly hard time NOT hitting the road and keeping up my miles. In fact, I would dare say that I've been down right bitchy and I would definitely say I've been eating too much. (I'm bored. It's Wisconsin. Eat/Drink/Repeat/etc.) I just feel puffy and annoyed. I guess this is the withdrawal stage everyone has talked about.

Common thoughts throughout the day lately: 
1. This water retention is normal after a marathon. (to myself)
2. If you say another word, I might kill you. (to others)
3. I'm in the mood for something salty. (to cupboard)
4. Don't we have any drinks? No. What about that NyQuil?
5. No, I didn't work out. These are pajamas.

Don't get me wrong; I have been working out and probably too much, too soon. It is STILL not enough in my mind. I have been looking into a post-race strategy that I think I can handle - but the best and most common advice I've been able to find is essentially a reverse taper. I've been trying to mix in Insanity, a little yoga and even TaeBo - sadly, those things don't work on my brain as much as a loooonnnnng run. I would just say forget the effing plan and put in the miles that I want to run, but I have noticed a little sharp-icky pain in my knee. (These jerky knees will be the death of me.) SO - I will have to take it easy, but know that in the meantime - I am fighting off a serious case of post-race rage.

To deal with my head and my excess energy, I have been doing a lot of the other things I love. That is a bonus, in a way. For example - I have been cooking like crazy. Cooking makes me almost as happy as running. I've also spent a lot of time getting ready for an upcoming craft fair here in Milwaukee (Hover Craft - for those of you in town) - so I have been doing a bunch of work in my Etsy shop: PaperMichelle. Most importantly, I have re-entered the world of the social. There are a bunch of great things that come from having your time returned to you (this is what I HAVE TO tell myself to get through the mental torture.) But it is true.

The reality of the situation is that I'm super happy that my complaint is that I AM RECOVERING FROM A MARATHON. I am also really grateful that the training I will do (when I am healthy) will be for the sake of competing in the Boston Marathon. That is rad.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Race Recap - Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon

In March of this year, I finally signed up for my first marathon. Let's get one thing straight - I am not new to running. In fact, I've been running like a maniac since I was a kid but I've just never done a marathon. I figured that I put in enough miles as it is, I might as well have a goal for those miles. I signed up for Milwaukee's Lakefront Marathon because it is my hometown race and I've only heard great things about it. I was pretty scared as soon as I paid my little entry fee.

From March on, I focused primarily on training for the LFM. I did a few races in between March and October, but it was all part of my master plan to build up for the marathon. I managed to make it through the training with no real problems - no injuries - no illness - no complaints.  October came really, really quickly.

The week leading up to the race was pretty challenging and it made me a nervous wreck. I had way too much going on (teaching, coaching, proper taper) and I got a really nasty cold the Friday before the race (Murphy's Law in action.) Being sick made me SO ANGRY, like YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW!? But - I tried to stay positive and I resigned myself to the idea that I would run the race, come hell or high water, and I would do a lot of mouth breathing. The night before the race, I got surprisingly good sleep with the help of some Nyquil and when I woke up on Sunday, I felt about 90%. I was also crazy excited - I got all jacked up on Red Bull and Kanye West.

THE RACE  (Goal: Run sub-3:30 and BQ)

Lining up at the start of the race was a real zen moment for me. It was noisy and chaotic, but all of my nerves kind of went away. I felt like "Ok - no matter what - you are here and you're going to run this race. You are prepared. Run smart and be patient. You will officially be a marathoner in a few hours from now and that shit is badass." It was calming to remind myself that I was ready and I was certainly not alone in the challenge. There were nervous people all around me, all having the same internal conversation.

I lined up with the 3:40 pace group, mostly because the starting area was really congested. I planned to take it slowly and move up over the course of the race. I stuck to my plan and the first mile split was 8:15. There was quite a big pack running at that pace. At one point, we got chased by a herd of cows on a farm, which was funny and calming - it made me remember to pay attention, because I would never run my first marathon again.

As I started to warm up in the 40-ish degree temperatures, my legs loosened up and my times gradually came down. The cold didn't really bother me. I'm sure part of that was due to the BRIGHT green Brooks arm warmers that made me stand out like a pubic hair on a toilet seat. LOL. I settled around a 7:30 pace and I tried to stay consistent for the rest of the race. 

The course was great. The fall colors were super pretty. The spectators and their witty signs could not have been better. The weather ended up being perfect for the race - I even ditched my little gloves somewhere along the way. I did see several grown men that opted to NOT wear a shirt, which I thought was slightly optimistic. I am willing to bet that they stayed cold, even if their nipples stayed in tact. 

I didn't run into any problems physically along the course. My legs felt energized and light all the way until mile 24. At that point, I got a cramp that felt like a baseball was in my right calf but I was so close to the end that I just had to ignore it. One thing that did surprise me was how many people were walking in the late stages of the race. Maybe it is just me, but there was no way I was going to stop running with less than two miles to go.

By that time, I realized that I was going to come in well under my goal time of 3:30, which meant I was also going to get a Boston Qualifying time. I couldn't stop smiling through the end of the race - I also considered crying - but what for? There's no crying in running! Plus, it was awesome! I entered the park in the last mile and the crowd started to build, so I knew the finish line was right around the corner. All that was going through my head was "Oh my god! You did it!" I finished feeling really strong, relaxed and extremely happy that I made it. Extremely happy that I ENJOYED it!

My official finishing time was 3:18:45 - which means that I met both of my goals. I even qualified for a division award, so I got to meet USA Olympian, Nick Symmonds at the award ceremony. How cool!!

When the race ended and I stopped moving, my legs started to lock up. Walking was a serious task and I looked like Frankenstein. As soon as I was able to lock-step all the way back to my car, I got my phone and attempted to register for the Boston Marathon. I could not believe it was still open! I had to wait a few impatient days to hear back, but I finally got my confirmation email which said that I AM IN for the 2013 Boston Marathon. I cannot believe it. I am so friggin' excited that it is all I can think about. My flight and hotel are booked (going to have to get another job to pay for this) and now I have 180 days to train.

Overall, I loved my first marathon. LOVED. Like - one of my favorite days in my 31 years. I look forward to the rest of the races I am bound to run now that I AM A MARATHONER! BITCHES! I even have a 26.2 magnet on my car to prove it.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Twas the night before the marathon...

'Twas the night before the marathon and all through her mind
ran panicky thoughts of chaffing and PR times.
Arm warmers and socks packed in her gear bag with care,
In the morning she'll double-check to be sure that they're there.

The runner was restless as she laid in her bed
while visions of blisters danced in her head. 
And she, already wearing her bib under the covers,
questioned why she'd become such a torture lover.

At an ungodly hour arose such a clatter
She jumped out of bed to silence the chatter
The alarm blinked boldly, it is 4 AM!
Surely, no sane person would be awake then.

Time for some carbs, a Red Bull, a poo
(Can't do that on the course, because that's a DQ!)
She laid out her wardrobe of fluorescent green gear,
she pulled up a pony-tail and flexed in the mirror.

"You got this," she said with a nervous grin
And she slugged some more water for some hydratin'
With gels in her pocket and tape on her toes
She grabbed her bag and hit the road. 

She arrived at the start and saw such a crowd,
They were stretching and lunging and jogging around,
The elites stood out in a particular way,
The rest wore shirts that were complimentary swag.

The runners lined up in corrals based on their times,
She checked out her competition and passed them in her mind.
The gun went off and the herd started moving,
Slowly at first, but then they were cruising.

It took a little time to find a good pace,
It also took time for the nausea to leave her face,
After a while, when the masses spread
She hit her stride and started to sweat.

One mile, two miles, three miles, four.
What do you mean, there's twenty-two more?
Over the hills, the heavy feet pounded
Heavy breathing, like an asthma attack, resounded.

Some stopped and walked, while other pressed on.
Some were crying and some sang songs.
The spectators cheered mile after mile,
Which caused all the runners to force up a smile.

Halfway done and the excitement was waning,
"Just let me finish" was what she was saying,
But then something happened, she remembered one fact:
"I paid for this, damnit. I better run fast."

The second half of the race passed by with a blur,
She avoided the wall chasing after her,
While trying to keep port-o-potty's in sight,
She passed anonymous people on the left and the right.

And then -  there is was, the finishing line.
Never had a beacon put out such a shine.
The tears started flowing long before she was done,
But when she finished, she thought, "Now, THIS is my messed up idea of fun."

Here's to tomorrow's 26.2! Good luck, everyone.