Sunday, April 29, 2012

21.25 Reasons to Eat Cookies

Today was my 22 miler.  Well, 21.25 miler for reasons later explained.  Overall it went pretty well, and I proved to myself that I can go farther than 20 miles and not keel over dead.

This morning was another clear, sunny, 30 degree start (my favorite favorite running weather!) which warmed to about 50 over the course of my 4+ hour stint outside.  I decided to run from home instead of driving somewhere, so I spent a fair amount of time devising a route that would be almost completely new to me.  I ended up choosing a looping course that took me from my home on the NE side to downtown and back. 

I had to hire a babysitter for the run, as my dear husband remained at the station hoping for rescue calls, and she arrived at around 6:30am.  I was ready to roll for the most part (having been awakened before my alarm by my sweet little Charlie shouting his lungs out for water at 5:30am).  I will say that paying someone to watch your progeny so you can run is a powerful motivator.  If I wimped out it was a total waste of time and money.  So, on with the rundown:

Starting out:
Man it's a beautiful day.  I'm pretty stoked about the new route...wonder what I'll see today?

Mile 1-5 (home to Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary):
Familiar territory, still lovely in that first flush of Spring kind of way, but a bit of a yawn.
Oh, look!  Geese and 6 little fluffy goslings!  That is just precious...OHSHITTHATGOOSEISHISSINGANDCOMINGTHISWAY!!!!!!

Mile 5-7 (N. Irwin to Dousman bridge):
Hmmm...there are a crapload of Veterans post dealies on this road.
Hey look!  More geese and little baby geese!  I hope they get accross the road here okay
I may or may not have shouted "YOU WANT A PIECE OF ME GOOSE?!?"

Mile 7-9 (Broadway to Walnut bridge):
Oh that's where Kavarna coffeehouse is!  Huh.

Mile 9-10 (Astor Park Historic District):
This neighborhood is beautiful.  How have I never run through here before? It even smells beautiful.
St. Vincent Hospital is way less ugly from this angle.

Mile 10-13 (S. Baird to University to Humboldt):
How did I never notice the huge park on this road (S. Baird).  Oh!  And City Stadium, that's cool.
Sure are a lot of people at Sts Peter Paul and Mary (or whatever it's called) this morning.  I wonder what time it is?  That is one huge fluffy white dog that dude is walking...Is he shouting something?
Hmmm...I think I just saw a schizophrenic walking his dog....

Mile 13-15 (Humboldt to Mt. Mary to St. Andrew to Curry):
Dooodoooddododoooo...old mental hospital....dodododooooododododoooo....Oh!  That's where the jail is! mental hospital.....power plant.....

Mile 15-17 (Lake Largo):
This neighboorhood is really pretty in a "designed development" kind of way.  Still, I wouldn't turn up my nose at a house on this lake...all manicured green lawns and stone and grasses....I dig it.
Why are those old men looking at me like I have two heads?

Mile 17-18 (Old road turned trail to Bay Settlement and Bay Highlands and ???):
Fuckballs.  I'm starting to tank.  The last few miles were way hilly-er than I thought...where was I supposed to turn?  Crap.  I think I'm lost.  Quick, try to find a road name you recognize....ummm.....Fayetteville?  Yeah, that one totally goes back to Bay Settlement.

Mile 18:
Motherfucker.  I am toast.  I am out of water...oh wait, I have money and there's a BP up there
(Cue angel chorus).

Mile 19-20:
I over this.  But my legs have reached the point of being apathetic about continuing, so I might as well keep going. 
Side note?  Margarita Shot Blocks taste awful, and if you drink too much water washing the taste out of your mouth?  You will slosh.  And you will feel sick.

Mile 20-21.25:
Hmmm....should I push for the 22? Slosh slosh slosh
No.  No I shouldn't.

So I headed home, hit the ice bath, took a shower, paid the sitter, and proceeded to put the kids down for a nap and fall unconscious into my own bed.

Best. Nap. Ever.

So.  The taper begins.  I have a half marathon next weekend, then the following week's "long" run is 8 miles.

Eight.  Miles.  Seriously, what's the point of gearing up for less than 10?

Marathon training has massively fucked with my brain....

For the record, I did eat cookies.  Oatmeal raisin to be exact.  They were delicious. (Also 100% clean)

**My time was 4:17.  I wasn't super happy with that, but considering I'm "riding the red tide" this week (hint hint) it could have been worse.  I now know how it might feel to run a marathon while in labor.  Which makes me feel a teeny bit badass.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Feeling the Blahs

Ok runners, help me out.  Those of you who have trained long-do you reach a point where your "mojo" just vanishes?  Where the thought of going out for runs you previously enjoyed just makes you want to crawl back into bed?

Because I'm there.  My 16 on Saturday was sucky, my 5 miler on Tuesday was crappy (felt like I was going to lose my banana at mile 3 and shuffled home for 4 total), I skipped my mid-week long run on Wednesday, and flaked on my Thursday 5 miler.

Right now I'm mentally preparing to go out for 5 miles to make up for one of the flaked runs.  It's a lovely morning, I feel fine, I just don't want to run.

I have a 22 miler scheduled for Sunday.  I'm going to do it because I enjoy a challenge and it's a mental conditioning thing for the marathon.  Mostly, though, it's because I already arranged a babysitter.

It's not a fear thing...when I think about the marathon, I'm excited and a little nervous, but not afraid.  So is this normal?  Or am I going crazy?  Do most people at this point in training just feel like "Meh, so I skip a 10 miler.  It's only ten miles.  Childsplay (yawn)."

I think it's a good thing I registered for the Door County half on May 5th.  Otherwise my "taper" might amount to nothing more than a lot of napping.

Sigh.  I'm just going to finish my coffee, and then I'm heading out.  I am.  No, really.  For 5 miles.  Or something.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Twenty is a Lot of Miles

I survived it.  I survived the 20.  More than survived it, I finished 15 minutes faster than I had planned, and I felt pretty good the whole time.  Here's the breakdown, because I know you are just dying to read the blow by blow.

Prior to starting:  Holy fuckballs, I'm going to run 20 miles.  Maybe.  If I don't die, or fall, or...something.  I have to pee.  I have to pee again.  I need a banana.  Or whiskey. 

Parking my car:  Wow.  What a nice morning.  I kind of have to pee.

Headed out:  Okay.  I'm running.  See?  You do this all the time.  No biggie.  Just let your body do what it does.  Relax.  Stop freaking out.  It's fine.  No seriously, you're so tense it hurts a little.

Mile 1-5:  deeedeedeeeedeedeeeee  lalalalalalalala What a beautiful morning!  It just couldn't be nicer!  Wow, it's already time for a walk/water/shot blocks break!  Wow!  Wait, I'm pacing 10:30s?  That's too fast...

Mile 6-8:  Oh hey!  They paved the trail south of Heritage!  Cool!  No gravel in my shoes.  It's kinda pretty out here!  Look at all the big houses!

Mile 9:  Seriously, where the fuck am I?

Mile 10:  Holy gods I have to pee.  Is that a porta-john?  HOLYCRAPTHATSAPORTAJOHN!  The people who built this trail are clearly geniuses.  I shall pee and I shall eat shot blocks and I shall drink water.  There's even toilet paper in here!  And it doesn't smell.  I am so winning.

Mile 11-13:  deedededeeeeeeededededeeeee  lalalalalalala Ooooh, lookit!  I'm back in De Pere!  That was quick!  Only 2 miles until my walk/water/food break!

Mile 15:  It is too hot.  Must. take. off. this. shirt. (Relax, I was wearing a long sleeve over a short sleeve).  Blast!  Side stitch!  Calm down, just calm down, walk it off and have some water.

Mile 17:  I imagine this is going to start hurting soon? 

Mile 18:  There it is. 

Mile 19:  Is my shoe untied?!?!  Seriously?  It should not hurt so much to tie a shoe.  I'm gonna walk for a bit.  Oh shit, walking hurts more than running!  RUN, DUMMY, RUN!!!!!!

Mile 20:  Back at the car.  Holy crap.  I just ran 20 miles. what?  Oh!  I should update my facebook status!  Yeah!  "20 miles.  3:45:30."  Woo!

So that's pretty much it.  I came home and had a huge glass of chocolate milk while I sat in a tub full of freezing water.  I didn't have ice, but the tap water was pretty cold.  After the initial shock of it, the cold bath felt pretty freaking great.  I sat in it and read a magazine for about 20 minutes and then took a nice lukewarm shower. 

I spent the next two hours packing for the weekend, then ran to Target for some random stuff.  I felt fine, a teeny bit sore/stiff, but nothing major.  I took 800mg of ibuprofen before leaving the house, just as insurance, and made sure to pack my Biofreeze.  After hitting the Target, my stomach woke up and began shreiking at me "GO IMMEDIATELY TO JIMMY JOHNS AND GET ME A #12 AND A GIANT PICKLE.  GET THE PICKLE WOMAN!  I MUST HAVE THE GIANT PICKLE!"

Now I'm sitting here, eating a pickle, and hoping I don't lock up and end up stuck on the couch.  Is it possible to feel basically good after 20 miles of pounding?  Because I feel kind of good.  I won't pretend that the last 2 miles weren't painful (mentally and physically), but it wasn't injury pain...just a little hip tightness and a desire to be done.  It was truly the most perfect running morning I may ever experience.  35 degrees as I set out, warming to 55 degrees at the finish.  Sun and clouds, a light breeze, and 20 miles of river views and backyard voyeurism.  I have never been so happy to be alive and a runner.  That sounds so stupid and cheesy, but it's true. 

I ran 20 miles today.  I don't even know who I am anymore :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

High Mileage Mama

This will be the highest mileage week of my running career.  If I run all the miles, that is.  So far so good.  I had my legs/back/core session with the evil troll that trains me twice a week (the evil troll being a very pretty, extremely fit, 30-odd year old woman that I like very much) yesterday, and today I took my sore glutes and quads out for an easy 5 miler.

I went out for the run with no real plan except to avoid the ridge where the wind would have been soul sucking.  I ended up sort of meandering around the neighborhood, bored out of my gourd, checking my Garmin every 15 seconds to see how much more distance I had to "find" to get to my 5.  The wind was pretty awful.  I am so sick of running in this demon wind that I could spit nails...if I wasn't pretty sure I would ultimately end up eating those nails.

Lesson learned.  If I need to hit specific distance, I need to have a plan!  If I'm just running to run, willy nilly is perfectly fine...not so much if I'm on a schedule.

Tomorrow I'll hammer out a 10 miler before work (probably my old tried and true route, just because I know it is exactly 10 miles and will land me right back at my house), then 5 miles on Thursday.  I'm undecided about how I'll handle Thursday...might be a walk, might be a run depending on how much rest I think I'll need before (drumroll)


Which will go down on Friday (my day off).  My plan is to park in the Cherry St. ramp and run the Fox River Trail through Green Bay, Allouez, and De Pere south towards Greenleaf and then back again.  This is a part of the marathon course (well, not south of De Pere) and I'll be hitting the parts of the trail where I'll likely be the most tired/beaten down/self loathing/sick/crampy on marathon day at about the same distance as on race day.  I think this makes it the perfect dress rehersal.  I do plan to do a 22 miler before beginning my taper, but that will be a looping course I think.

Will I make it or won't I?  Will I actually pound out 40 miles this week?  I've never run so many miles in one week before (and yes, I know there are people out there that run 70-100 miles a week, but that ain't me m'kay?) and I am alternately really excited and really scared. 

I find the idea of a 20-miler exhilarating...hopefully I'll find the reality that way, too.

Mostly, though, I just don't want to barf or shit myself. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

I Want to Love it, but I Don't

I'm sitting here in my race t-shirt from this weekend's race.  I was going to write about my 18ish miler after I finished it, but I was too angry to be articulate about it, so I waited.

First, the nitty gritty on the run itself.  I ended up just shy of 17 miles, which was mostly me just being cranky and wanting a sandwich.  I think my mistake was stopping to pee and spending a little too much time waiting for a stall to open up before just hitting the port-a-john, also chit-chatting with a fellow participant a little too long at the Gatorade water table.  By the time I got moving again, I was sort of over it.

Overall, I felt great.  I ran to the start of the race, chatted with a friend beforehand, ran the race (which is a course I train on's hilly, but pretty, and there weren't any surprises on race day), chatted with a stranger afterwards and bopped on home.  If I had any physical complaints, it was that the arms/shoulders/core workout I did with my trainer on Friday was very intense and my triceps were screaming by the end of the whole deal.  My legs were fine, my pace was very easy, and I was happy with 3:09 for 17 miles, considering it took me 3:15 to do 16 two weeks ago.  Amazing what a 20 degree temperature difference can do!

Now.  The race itself.  The race in question is the Dick Lytie Spring Classic.  This was my second year doing this race.  It's small and locally run by a sports store a few miles from my house.  The route starts at Shorewood golf course on the UWGB campus and winds around the roads surrounding my neighborhood.  It's a hilly, sometimes very windy course that is challenging even for experienced runners.  This year the event added a 9 mile run to the usual 3 miler and half marathon.  It was also on the Prevea training calendar this year (9 miles for the halfers and 13.1 for the marathoners).  Last year I did the half just to do it.  I was all half crazy last year.  This year I thought doing a half in the midst of my 18 miler was a great way to avoid carrying water (and it was).  I ran to the start, and ran home.

First, a couple of points about this race.  These are not critisisms, just info for anyone unfamiliar with it.

1.  There is no swag bag.  You get a number, a decent cotton t-shirt, and some coupons for the store that runs the event that are only good on race day.  The race fee is only $20, so it's a bargain for a supported race.

2.  There are no port-a-johns on the route.  There are a couple of businesses and a church that won't beat you for pit-stopping, but you're out of luck if you need to pee at a water stop.

3.  It's an extremely small field.  This year there were only 201 people in the half.  Last year there were 250, but I think the addition of the 9 miler shifted the balance.

4.  There is no day-before packet pick-up.  Race day only.

Now, my issues with this race.

 I went to the sponsor store (InCompetition Sports) a couple of days before and asked about early pick-up since I was running in and out.  The owner told me "Just ask them to hold the t-shirt until the end, that shouldn't be a problem".  Apparently it was a problem.  The lady at the table said she had nowhere to hold the shirt, and I would just have to find a place to stash it.  So I found a place.  In a tree a few yards down the trail I would be taking home.  After the race, I saw people picking up their shirts inside.  It seems I wasn't the only one who ran in and ran out.  I was peeved.  Not as peeved as I would have been if it had been raining, but peeved.

The race is a small field.  I know this. It's also generally a fast field. Last year I finished 230ish out of 250ish finishers with a 2:17.  After I finished, I went inside to use the bathroom and heard one of the race officials say "We're going to do awards, since evereryone should be off the course by now."  Seriously?  At the 2:20 mark, everyone should be off the course?  I have no issue with a race doing awards whenever they want.  I'm used to finishing long after the awards are handed out (why should a dude that finished in 1:05 wait for me to finish at 2:30?), but that attitude rankled.  Did she have to make that announcement that way?  And did the people in the warming house have to laugh?  It made me feel embarrassed and excluded...and I WAS off the course then.  20 odd people weren't.

This year, I finished 194 of 201 in 2:21 and change.  I was not last.  So here are my questions:

1.  Why were the people at the intersection I had to cross to get back onto campus so surprised to see me? 

2.  Why were there no volunteers pointing the way at the turns on the course past the 5 mile mark? If there weren't enough volunteers (totally possible at a small race), why were there NO SIGNS?  Tiny pink arrows painted on the road with no other markings are not an adequate way to mark a race course.  I know this course like the back of my hand, and it was hard for me to see the markings.  Campus was the worst.  The racecourse through campus winds quite a bit and is crisscrossed by paths and side roads and driveways.  There was NO INDICATION of where to go.  I was running completely on memory.  A woman a couple of minutes behind me told me that she had to try to keep me in sight so she would know where to go.

3.  There was no one from the race AT ALL between mile 11 and the warming house.  This includes the finish line.  That's right.  There was not one single solitary race official at the finish line.  There was the clock, and a boom box, and that was it.  Nothing says "Hey, slowpoke, we could care less if you finish" like a complete lack of race staff at the finish.  I don't need a cheering crowd, but there wasn't one person who could man the table?

4.  Why was there no water at the finish?  You had to go all the way up to the clubhouse to get water and Gatorade.  Oh, and they were out of Gatorade.  It's not a mile to the clubhouse or anything...but really?  No table with water?  Out of Gatorade less than 2:30 after the start gun?

My overall impression of this race after running it two years in a row is that it is cliquey and elitist.  I've done lots of small races of varying distances.  Most of them are very friendly, because more participants means more money raised.  At the worst, small races are kind of clueless, but I've never felt like they were cruel.  At this race I get the impression that they would rather it just be their favorite 100 runners and that the rest of us are just cluttering up the racecourse with our crappy times and pokey bodies. 

I was left feeling sort of empty and worthless as an athlete after the unmanned finish line.  And I was 15.25 miles into an 18 miler at that point.  No one who just put in 15 miles should feel worthless as an athlete!

This was long-winded, but I had a lot to get off my chest.  I won't be doing this race again...and I'm pretty sure I've spent my last dollar at InCompetition (which is a shame, becuse they probably have the best GU/shotblock selection in the city).  If you're extra speedy and want to do this race, I'm sure they'll welcome you with open arms.  If you're a 10+ minute miler, skip it.