October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

I love Halloween. It's the one day a year where it's socially acceptable to make a total fool of yourself in public. I live in the West Village, Halloween Central of New York City, so more entertainment than you can possibly imagine is right outside my door.

Before the revelry began, I had to make a quick trip up to the marathon expo to check in for the race and pick up some odds and ends. But I made this trip lightning fast. I love a good expo, but this was my 6th of the year so I'm a little expo'd out. I got home, changed into my costume and headed out to my local bar.

I don't dress up every year, but when I do, I like to keep it simple and original. I'm not a big fan of fancy costume shop costumes and I don't use Halloween as an excuse to wear an outfit that shows more of my butt cheeks and boobs than anyone cares to see, unlike what seems to be about 95% of the female population. To each his own, I'm just saying it's not for me. So this year, I went as dry cleaning. The ultimate in cheap and easy costumes. Everything actually came from the dry cleaners except for the $1.99 headband used to hold the hanger on my head.

The costume was a big hit, but by the end of the night, I must have heard "can I hang you in my closet" 1,000 times. I got called laundry girl and hanger head a fair amount as well.

We spent a bit of time at the local and planned to walk some of the parade, but the crowds were unbearable so we decided to have dinner instead before heading to another local spot. The second bar was way better. Nearly everyone was in costume so it was much more fun. This is where I saw what was hands down the best costume of the night. His stained up wife beater said "Alaskins Four Palin," he had the mullet and redneck teeth, and drank his beer out of a bag. Hilarious!

Then my second favorite of the night walked in. I turned around and there was a guy in a bathrobe drinking a White Russian with a carton of milk in his pocket - The Dude from The Big Lebowski. After he finished the White Russian, he put his beer bottles in the milk carton.

I was out late, likely way more late than I should have been two nights before a marathon. But it's only a race and you only live once. I'll make up for it with a lot of rest and Gatorade on Saturday.

Lastly, I did my final run earlier today. My legs have been on and off all week so I decided to do a combination of running on the treadmill and the elliptical. At this point I'm not gaining much except for staying flexible, but I can certainly lose a lot. It also got me to 100% of my BT October Challenge goal so at least I didn't let another team down.

Distance - 5.12 miles
Time - 47:00

October 30, 2008

Course Preview

I have just 4-5 miles left to run before the marathon on Sunday. The plan was to get some of it out of the way today and then jog an easy 2-3 on Saturday, but I woke up dead tired again. My cold seems to have migrated north from my chest to my head, leaving me congested and with a huge headache. Two Advil Cold and Sinus's later, I finally felt semi-normal. I started work late and ended it late so it looks like my final run will be tomorrow. It's probably for the best. I am gaining an extra rest day and my body seems to need it.

A friend shared this video with me the other day. It's a high-speed look at the 26.2 miles I'll be running on Sunday. Of course everything will look completely different then.

Just a little over two days to go...

October 29, 2008

Stormy Weather

Wednesdays are one of my days off so I was planning to run when it got a little warmer outside. However, the forecast wasn't looking so promising so I decided to head out before physical therapy to make the most of my day. I knew it was cold and windy so I wore tights and my new Sugoi jacket I splurged on at the Ironman expo. Boy am I glad I did.

I stepped outside and realized it was raining. Fun. I immediately took off so I could keep warm while the Garmin slowly located a satellite signal. I got over to the Hudson River path and the wind hit me hard. It's days like today I question the sanity of running along a body of water in cold weather conditions.

I ran north for a mile and the wind was pretty strong, but I felt really good. I was keeping the pace relaxed and felt I was in that elusive happy place you sometimes find when running. I was so focused on the fall leaves on the ground and how good I felt that I barely noticed the rain. I turned around and headed south for two miles and the wind was much more tolerable. This seemed like the perfect run. The sun was even coming out a bit.

And then it hailed. Seriously, WTF? If you haven't run in hail for awhile, let me tell you - it hurts. My skin was already freezing so the little ice pellets hitting it felt like needles. It came down pretty hard at one point and all I could do was laugh. The sun went away and the hail subsided for a bit. I turned to head north for the final mile and the nasty headwind was back.

And then the freezing rain started. It was a sprinkle at first, then it poured. At this point, the other few runners crazy enough to be out there were also laughing. It continued until I made it home. I have never been more happy to get inside where it's warm.

I really love running. You never know what the day will bring. Some days you feel great and others you can barely move your legs. Sometimes the weather is beautiful, and other times it's anything but beautiful. At least it's never boring.

Distance - 4.12 miles
Time - 36:15

October 28, 2008

4 Days. 21 Hours. 17 Minutes.

As always, I'm getting reflective in this final week of marathon preparation. In my typical personal drama style, I'm not arriving at the start line as trained, healthy and prepared as I could be.

I had two blow-off marathons where I didn't really train, but I trained pretty hard for the past two years in Chicago and both were a total disaster. The first, 2006, included a 3-month battle with acute ITBS that I bounced back from only to get hit by a car on my bike 4 weeks before the race. Needless to say, it did not go well. The second, 2007, was perfect from a training standpoint and I felt confident and ready for the first time. Then it was 90 degrees and I actually finished slower than the hit-by-a-car year. It was a disappointment.

This year I should have been my best. Triathlon training allowed me to lose 20 pounds and get into the best shape I've ever been in. My pace increased, I seemed immune to overuse injuries and I was actually enjoying it. But then I missed almost 6 weeks of training after my bike accident and I've only done 3 really long runs - a 15, 18 and 20. And just when I thought I was in the home stretch, I caught a terrible cold.

I am resting and being incredibly careful this week to get as close to 100% healthy as possible. I'm staying off the new bike, I'm not putting in any extra miles, I'm not swimming at the advice of everyone (chest congestion + swimming = not good) and I'm planning to run my remaining miles slow and easy.

Will it be enough? All I can do is hope at this point. I hope the weather is good. I hope my legs are miraculously fresh. I hope my chest has cleared by Sunday. And I hope I've done enough to enjoy this race even if my finish time isn't what I planned for. This race was the only thing that survived my accident so it means more to me than just finishing. Even though it's the last big race of my season, in many ways it is actually a beginning. I can finally put the accident behind me, get on my new bike and learn to swim again. All of the troubles of the past year will be a distant memory soon.

October 23, 2008

Two For the Road

I almost always run alone. I can pretty much count the times I've run with someone else over the past couple years on one hand. While I actually enjoy running alone, I've often wished I could find someone who runs at my pace for occasional company. Because when you're running 35+ miles per week, it does tend to get a little boring.

When I was in Chicago, I got to run with my friend Tony. Both the new setting and having a running partner made it one of the best runs I've had lately. It also made me run a little faster. Then this morning, I met up with a BTer from my July TdF team for a chilly, early morning run. He was in town on business and the best thing to do when meeting up with other BTers is get together for a swim, bike or run. We had both been out the night before and we knew it was going to be cold so expectations were low. But it motivated me to get up and out the door by 7 a.m., something I rarely do on my own.

It was 40 degrees but felt like 34 according to weather.com. The chill was largely due to the wind sweeping off the Hudson River. With my lungs still a bit congested, it was difficult to breathe at times. Regardless, I was able to keep up a pretty decent pace even if it was impossible to stay warm. It was nice to have someone to chat with to make the miles go by. Triathletes tend to get along instantly since we have so much common ground to start from.

We finished just before 8 and stopped at the first place possible for coffee. I wasn't sure if I wanted to drink it or pour it on my hands. It must have taken me 3 hours to warm up. I'm going to need to get used to this as I've got a long winter of training ahead. I can't use the cold as a reason to stay inside. I've got early season races and Ironman training to think about. Soon, that will be all I think about.

Distance - 4.76
Time - 39:59

October 22, 2008

Perfect Fit

Right after my bike crash, about 9 weeks ago, I bought a Cervelo P2C knowing I wouldn't be able to ride it for quite some time. I never even got to see it. But today, I finally got to have it fitted.

You may recall my struggle with the color choice. I bought the Ultegra build, which has a silver and black frame. I've always preferred this look, but then had too much time on my hands to obsess over it and began to wonder if the white and red color scheme on the Dura Ace build would be better. I had the opportunity to make a frame chance without upgrading to Dura Ace but ultimately decided to keep the one I bought. I'm so glad I did. The moment I saw it I knew I had made the right choice. It just seems more suited to me. Here is a shot of it during the fitting. It still needs gears, brakes and bar tape, but it already looks incredible to me.

The fitting was pretty cool. It wasn't all computerized and high tech the way I've heard some fittings are. Instead their lead coach and fitter spent 2.5 hours learning about my background and goals, assessing my strength, flexibility and symmetry and doing a serious of measurements both on and off the bike. I was on the bike over an hour and already love it. It felt like it was made for me.

I didn't get to bring it home yet, but it will be ready in a day or two. I've waited 9 weeks, I guess I can wait a few more days.

October 21, 2008

Season's Change

It's officially fall in New York. I love the changing of the seasons and fall is by far my favorite. October is my favorite month. It's the first time we have cooler weather, the leaves just begin to change and it's usually marathon season for me and the first time I enjoy running outside. I stepped out this morning and it hit me that summer is really over and that I never recovered fast enough to enjoy even the end of it.

But for the first time, I'm ok with that. I have finally had enough time to shift my focus and move on in many ways. I'm easing back ever so slowly into being a triathlete and so while one season may be finished, the next is just beginning and I have a lot of new and different things to look forward to.

I planned to run this morning and managed to sleep through my alarm and three snoozes. I'm not a morning person, but that is highly unlike me. When my feet hit the floor I immediately knew why. I was not feeling quite right - heavy, tired, weak, achy. I felt sick. I dragged myself out of bed and went to work, tucked myself away in my office with the door closed and drank gallons of tea and water. I canceled plans for the evening and came home and made chicken noodle soup instead. I never got that run in, but my body was telling me not to and for once I listened. I don't have much to gain at this point, but I have a lot to lose. I am taking it one day, one step at a time and I'm deciding what's right as I go along.

I'm hoping to feel better tomorrow. I'm hoping to run. But if I don't or can't, I'm hoping I can at least enjoy what I'm sure will be another beautiful Fall day in New York. Regardless of anything else going on, I don't want to miss it.

October 20, 2008

Let's Get Physical

I finally got back to physical therapy today after a one-week hiatus. I was out of town and then had an insane work schedule that kept me from making it in last week. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't do the stretches or exercises on my own either. I know, it's disgraceful, especially for someone who claims to be focused on getting better and moving on. But I've admitted all along that I'm lazy and sometimes that side of me takes over. Luckily Jason, my therapist, didn't ask so I didn't have to tell.

I did my usual routine of a warm up, stretches and a series of strength moves that always hurt far more than I expect. Today I got a new exercise that involved rolling a small weighted ball against the wall with all my body weight. It actually made my shoulder burn. This was a step up from rolling a big ball on a trampoline thing last week. I must have graduated to a more complicated move.

While I was getting the electro stim and ice on my shoulder, Jason put ice on my right knee since it hurt from yesterday's run. He also checked it out to be sure my knee cap was ok and it turned out to be just basic swelling. While I sit there getting the stim I like to check out what other people have to do. There is this guy that has to do all sorts of odd things like a hopscotch-type skip and this awkward, sideways crab-type walk back and forth across the room with a resistence band around his knees. Apparently he broke his femur so his therapy is a little more intense than mine. Another woman sat there the entire time rolling a ball around in her hand and rotating her wrist with this tiny little weight that looked like it couldn't be more than .5 pounds. At least my routine is relatively painless and embarrassment-free. I chatted with a guy recovering from a broken collar bone and we commiserated a bit about the experience.

Jason still wants to take it slow and try to build my activity without causing me too much additional pain. He's a good therapist so I'll continue to be patient and take his advice. He's done a couple marathons and understands my goals so at least he isn't telling me to sit at home on the couch and rest. I'm hoping I'll get several bags of ice on my legs when I go in post-marathon.

October 19, 2008

Long. Painful.

Today was a big day. Because of my injury, I missed a critical time in my marathon training that included a few really long runs. When I started running again, I quickly increased the volume - maybe a little too quickly - so I could get back into the 13+ mile distances. However, my body fought back and I was forced to scale it back. I decreased a planned 20-miler to a 10 in order to prevent pain and injury. So today I finally did a 20-mile run, my first and only of the training season. Normally I'd like to do 2 or 3 so I had a lot riding on this run.

I was out a bit late last night exploring Brooklyn, where I'll be moving in the winter. It was important as well so I didn't want to cut it short. As a result, I slept until 9 and planned to start my run a little later. This worked out great since it was in the 40s this morning and by the time I hit the streets, around 12:30, it was in the mid-50s - perfect long run weather.

I ran up the Hudson to Central Park, then did a loop, a middle loop and multiple bridle path loops on the dirt to rest my legs. I was feeling pretty great except for minor aches and pains here and there. Because it was cold, I wasn't feeling thirsty so my hydrating was definitely at a deficit. I experimented with my race day outfit, a sleeveless top, shorts, compression socks (of course) and arm warmers. All seemed to be working well. Around mile 8 I noticed a blister forming on my left big toe. Ouch. My ITB hurt a bit around mile 12, but nothing I couldn't push through. The weather was perfect, the route I chose was beautiful and I was enjoying about 75% of what was coming up on the iPod. You can't ask for more.

The miles flew by for the most part, but at mile 15, I got a very painful side stitch that never let up. I tried putting my hands above my head, deep breathing, even holding my breath. Nothing worked. I had to push through. It unfortunately didn't end so I just kept running. I looked at my watch and realized I was going to finish in under 3 hours so I kept pushing. I ended up doing my last mile in under 8:30.

I finished well within my former marathon goal pace of a sub-9:00 mile. This would land me comfortably at a sub-4 race. But I let this goal go and I've adjusted it to 4:15 or less because I had a lot of struggles, a lot of aches and pains and another 6.2 miles is a lot. Everything could change. I'm going to give it my all in 2 weeks, but if I can make 4:15 I'll be happy. This will be 30 minutes better than my previous PR and that's a big accomplishment. I've had a lot of obstacles and I've fought a good fight, but there comes a point where sometimes it just isn't enough. I'm thankful to be where I am and I have no doubt after today that I'm going to have a great race on November 2. I just want to remember to keep my head up and take it all in rather than stressing over a time. Otherwise, why am I doing this?

Distance - 20 miles
Time - 2:58:52

October 18, 2008

Me Against the Water

As soon as the orthopedist told me yesterday I could swim again, I had a plan to get up and get straight to the pool. He told me not to overdo it so I took that advice to heart and planned to get to the pool during the last hour of lap swim to limit my time. I haven't been in the water for over 3 weeks. I had no idea what to expect, but I was excited.

I hopped in, hit the watch and started. The pain was surprisingly minimal and I felt like I had almost full use of my left arm. I felt the most pain on the extension so I definitely held back a bit. I did 100 yards to warm up and needed to stop for a break. Sad. The good news is that my 100 time was one of my best, 1:53. This is likely because of the strong kick I've developed while swimming with one arm. The bad news is that it totally winded me. The overdeveloped kick is not great for triathlon swimming.

I was a little disappointed in how this swim went. I ended up resting after every 200 yards for the first 900. My heart was pounding and I was exhausted. It's as though my swim fitness was totally gone and I was starting over. I could tell my stroke was all screwed up and my body felt low in the water. I used to feel graceful and smooth, now I feel like I'm attacking the water. It was frustrating to say the least.

I rested after 900 and decided to try the last 450 without stopping. By this point I was warmed up and feeling better. I was able to do the 450 in decent time and my form felt much more comfortable. I remembered back to June when I was learning to swim and hanging on the wall every length, wondering when it would click. Then one day it happened and I comfortably swam a mile. I know that day will come much more quickly this time so I'm not going to let the frustration get to me. It's been a long road back and I'm just happy to be back in the water. I'm going to take it one day at a time.

I hit the elliptical and the treadmill later to keep my legs loose for tomorrow's big 20-miler. Fingers crossed.

Distance - 1350 yards
Time - 27:39

Distance - 1.57 miles
Time - 15:00

Distance - 1.5 miles
Time - 13:15

October 12, 2008

Different Point of View

I went to my third Chicago Marathon today, only this time I wasn't running. I was supporting friends and was there just for fun, a totally different experience than my past two years at this race. I didn't have to worry about my horrible hydration and eating on Saturday or the fact that I'd gotten a sum total of 10 hours sleep in two days. I had as many drinks as I felt like the night before without feeling guilty. I was able to roll out of bed an hour before the race, get dressed and walk out the door without wondering if I'd had enough water, eaten early enough or forgotten anything. All I had to do was walk to the race, meet up with the group I was spectating with, memorize what the runners were wearing and remember the miles we promised to be at. Not hard at all.

A New York friend dropped out of the race so I was primarily there to support my friend Tony, who I met at Ironman Wisconsin, and some others from Beginner Triathlete. It was nice to have a group to watch the race with, especially since a couple are also doing Ironman Wisconsin next year. It was really humid and already getting warm at the start, but not nearly as bad as last year. Everyone looked good and seemed ready to go.

We walked up to mile 3.5 and found a good spot right at the curb on the left. Once we saw our runners, we planned to walk one block over to mile 11.5 to see them again, then split up for the various finishes. We grabbed coffee along the way and still had time to see the elites come through. They make it look so easy. We also got a laugh out of the water stations. After last year's debacle, they weren't taking any chances. The tables were stacked 5 high and they added several extra stations. There was no chance of a shortage this time.

We were scanning the crowd looking for Tony and Louis since they were expected first when I heard someone yell my name. They were already past us and we almost missed them. Turns out this spectating thing is actually harder than it looks. All of the runners looked the same to me. My eyes were burning from staring at thousands and thousands of people and I still managed to miss them.

I headed over to the next spot where we had about an hour to wait. We took the opportunity to sit on the curb for some rest. I'm embarrassed to say I was getting tired from all that standing! My back and feet were really aching. I suddenly had a new appreciation for my supporters over the years. About 15 minutes before we expected Tony to come by, I got up and found a spot along the course. Again, he and Louis ran by and had to get our attention, we missed them again. I realized then that I pretty much suck at marathon spectating. I wished them luck and said I'd see them at the finish.

I hung out for about another 1.5 hours with the group to watch the race. It was getting hot and the shade was rapidly disappearing. People were starting to slow down and it was such an early mile in the race. I couldn't help but think of last year. Then I realized we had not made a finish line meeting plan. Not very smart when there are over 35,000 runners and their friends and family all piled into a small area. I was carrying the keys to the condo, his cell phone and people's clothes. I figured if I couldn't make it to the finish, I could just walk to his apartment and wait there. He'd have to show up eventually, right?

But I used my New Yorkness to shove my way up to the fence along the finish line shoot, about 100 meters from the finish. What a great place to watch the race. I saw the 3:35 - 3:50 finishers and it was a wide variety of emotions. Some people looked great and seemed to be in good spirits others were totally defeated. One guy collapsed right in front of me and medics had to help him off to the side so he could hold himself up on the fence. He couldn't even stand let alone walk or run that last stretch. Then another runner came along, exchanged a few words and put his arm around his shoulder and started to jog with him. A total stranger gave up several seconds of his finish time to help another runner cross the line. There are a lot of great people in this sport.

A few shades of pink later - I was standing in the direct sun - I finally spotted Tony making the turn into the park. Of course he was in the middle so it was almost impossible to get his attention, but just as he was about to pass by he saw me. He looked good and was finishing in under 3:50.

It took me far longer to fight my way out of that crowd than it did to fight my way in, but I finally made it and miraculously found him right at the first runners exit. He wasn't feeling well from the heat so it was a long, slow walk home. I was reminded of what the marathon can do to you and I was finally glad I wasn't running. I have a few more weeks to prepare myself and I need all the time I can get.

October 10, 2008

Change of Scenery

As much as I love New York City, like most New Yorkers, I need to escape every so often. That's what I'm doing this weekend. I planned a very long weekend visit to Chicago to meet up with some friends doing the Chicago Marathon.

I was feeling a bit nostalgic about not doing the race this year and that hit me even moreso when I arrived. I love marathon weekend. There is energy everywhere and it makes you excited to be part of it. Plus the weather was beautiful so I couldn't help feeling a little cheated (again) about last year's scorching hot weather. But I was happy for those running the race.

I'm staying with a friend I met at Ironman Wisconsin and he happens to live just a few blocks from the hotel I've stayed at for the last two marathons I ran here. We went for a short run today along Lake Michigan. It was my first run since the Army 10 and thankfully nothing was hurting. He's faster than me so I ended up running a much quicker pace than usual, which is great for shorter distances. I tend to get a little lazy on my own. I wish I had a running partner in New York.

The run along the lake is really beautiful. It was crowded because it was a Friday afternoon, but it was still one of the best runs I've done lately. A change of scenery always makes running feel so much better.

I'm assuming Saturday will be slow in preparation for the race on Sunday. Even though I kind of wish I were running, I'm looking forward to supporting for once. It will be a nice change.

Distance - 5.44 miles
Time - 44:25

October 6, 2008

Army Strong

The Army 10-Miler on Sunday turned out to be one of the best races I've done yet, both from an experience standpoint and a performance standpoint. I wasn't sure how my foot and leg would hold up so I went with no expectations. I just wanted to enjoy it and finish.

We got up at 5 a.m. and were on the metro by 6:15. There were runners everywhere - on the platform, on the train and at every station we stopped at. Who else would want to be out that early on a Sunday morning? It was dark and we were all tired, but we were already having a good time. When we arrived at the Pentagon I was surprised by how huge the start/finish area was. I'm not sure what I expected, I knew there were 26,000 runners registered, but because it was just a 10-miler I was picturing it smaller. There were all sorts of things going on including guys jumping out of planes, a military helicopter flyover and a nice performance of the national anthem. It was also great to be doing a race with my sister.

There were 4 of us running and we were all in different start corrals so we picked a post-race meeting place and said our goodbyes. I settled into my start area and my foot started cramping. Great. I stretched and walked around a bit and it was hard to step on at times. After a few minutes I tried to jog and it seemed ok so I figured I would start out slow and see how it felt. I somehow (again) got placed in a slower wave than my pace so I went ahead and jumped in with one of the groups ahead of me. My leg and foot were feeling good, but I didn't want to celebrate too early so I tried to pay close attention and adjust my pace as needed. I did the first mile in 8:23 and worried I might be going too fast. The second mile was a few seconds faster so I deliberately slowed to 8:30 for the third.

But then I got stuck next to the heavy breather. And I'm not talking about normal heavy breathing I'm talking about loud, labored breathing with a very forceful exhale. I had a choice - either throw myself into the Potomac or drop the guy so I picked up the pace and tried to get away. It took me over a mile and I ended up dropping my time to just over 8:00. I was able to settle into an 8:13-8:19 pace pretty consistently for the remainder.

There was an incredibly positive feeling in this race and inspiration pretty much everywhere. There were a lot of amputees running, many who seemed to just be learning to run with prosthetics. All of them were way too young. There were tons of people running in honor of a friend or family member who is either still serving or who died serving and seeing the thousands of faces and names was very moving. And the energy level was unbeatable. Several Army band groups, other bands along the route and groups doing cadence calls all helped to keep up the momentum. It also didn't hurt to have the cute Army guys handing out water and Gatorade.

It was also fun to do a non-marathon race with such a huge field and adequate room along the course. I especially enjoyed a stretch along Independence Ave where the faster runners had made the turnaround and were running on the other side of the street. I desperately scanned the crowd for my sister but just couldn't find her. She was wearing a pink sleeveless top and so were about 5,000 other women.

I was somewhat amazed when I reached mile 8 and my legs and feet weren't giving out on me so I picked up the pace and pushed it to the end. The last couple miles covered the bridges we started on so there were some challenging hills. I was sure my pace had died off, but was surprised to see my 9th mile was just over 8:00 and my 10th was 7:59, my fastest of the race. I was thrilled with my finish time. I was in the top 10% of females overall and my age group, which is the best I've ever done in my 9 years of running.

My sister finished 15 minutes faster than she did last year so it was a great race all around. Everyone agreed that it couldn't have been better.

After a lot of coffee, a nice long nap and some wine in the backyard - the perfect lazy Sunday if you don't count the 10-mile run at the crack of dawn - we ended the day even more perfectly with dinner at Citronelle. My sister went to Citronelle a couple years ago and I've been dying to go ever since. We made the reservation back in June and I've been looking forward to it ever since. It was incredible from beginning to end, but even moreso because we ran a great race and had such a great day.

Distance - 10 miles
Time - 1:23:19

October 4, 2008

DC Fun

I got to my sister's place in DC last night around 12:45 a.m. after a 3.5-hour train ride and a short Metro ride. I love it here and haven't been since Memorial Day weekend when there was a huge backyard party involving a kiddie pool, bourbon and a 4 a.m. train ride back to NYC. This trip will most certainly be more tame considering I'm here to run the Army 10-Miler tomorrow. But that doesn't mean there won't be a small amount of DC Fun to be had. I snuck a bottle of wine on the train and then shared another upon arrival before going to bed at 2:30.

After sleeping in a bit, we drove down to Alexandria for breakfast at Jack's, our favorite local coffee shop where the service is slow as molasses to the point of being infuriating at times, but totally worth it since we had to pick up our race packets in Virginia anyway. We browsed the expo a bit and I got a much-needed new pair of shoes. My current shoes are pretty beat up and have around 500 miles on them. I did a short run in the new pair and was shocked by how white and clean they are compared to my old ones. That won't last long though.

This was my first run since Sunday's 18-miler so I half expected my legs to fall apart. But all went well so I'm hoping it's a good sign for tomorrow. I'd like to have a few hassle-free runs so I can regain my confidence for the marathon. I'm not sure how much I'll push the pace though given my recent setbacks, but I'm sure I'll be able to keep a similar pace as my race last week. If nothing else, this is the first big race I've ever done with my sister so I'm looking forward to it. I keep trying to convince her that we could run the Marine Corps Marathon together and she says I'm crazy. But she used to think a half-marathon was crazy as well and she just finished one. So I guess we'll see.

Distance - 3 miles
Time - 26:57

October 2, 2008

Few and Far Between

I seem to be keeping up the trend of barely posting these days. I meant to post on Sunday after my 18-mile race, but never got around to it. Then Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were a blur once again, so here I am on Thursday playing catch-up.

First of all, the race went far better than expected. The weather was a little unfavorable, upper 60s with 93% humidity and light rain on and off again, but my leg held up and that's all I could ask for. I tried to keep my pace conservative, especially in the first half of the race. I experienced some ITB pain around miles 4 and 5 and my pace during these miles showed it. But I was able to run through it and pick up the pace around mile 12 to make up for some of the slower earlier miles. This was a very challenging course - three counterclockwise loops around Central Park, which means three times up Harlem Hill and three times up Cat Hill, plus all the other smaller hills in the park. It was good for me to get out and run on some hills since I've been training mostly along the river where it's dead flat. The NYC Marathon isn't crazy hilly or anything, but it certainly isn't flat either.

I finished the race in 2:45:13 just slightly slower than my marathon goal pace. I really don't think I could have pushed it any faster, but it had me wondering if I could still make the sub-4 goal. I stretched and quickly went home to ice before everything swelled up. I put 20 pounds of ice in a tub of cold water and suffered in it for 20 minutes. This was one of the coldest ice baths I've ever taken and I was shaking the entire time even with a fleece top on. But it wasn't as bad as one I had last year after a 20-miler that actually made me cry. Yes, I'm a wimpy girl and I couldn't help it. I thought my feet were going to fall off. This is what 20 pounds of ice looks like on your legs:

I was feeling rather overconfident all day about my seemingly injury-free run and finally felt back on track. But then Monday morning I stepped out of bed and it all went downhill from there. My plantar fascia in my left foot was super tight and I could barely step on it. After some stretching it was better, but it cramped on and off all day. I had a swim planned that morning with my friend Louise, so I walked the mile down to Tribeca to meet her only to find out they closed the pool unannounced yet again. We decided to grab coffee instead and sat on a bench in Tribeca for 1.5 hours enjoying the nice morning. I have to say it was more fun than the swim would have been.

Since I missed the swim, PT was my only real activity for the day. It hurt again, but I can tell it is really going to help if I stick with it. I need to do some more stretching outside of my sessions because I'll admit, I've been slacking.

On a more fun note, I had a friend in town on business so I was able to forget about my foot, ITB, broken shoulder and lack of training for awhile and just go out like a normal person. The timing was perfect since I couldn't run anyway. Of course I now have no excuse and since everything is feeling better, I'll give running a try again tomorrow.

I'm off to DC tomorrow night for the Army 10-miler on Sunday, a race I was originally planning to add 10 miles to for a long training run. But given the latest setbacks, I've decided to just do the 10 and start my long run build up again the following week. I'll only get one 20-miler in this season and I'm sure I'll be cursing this decision at mile 23 of the marathon, but at least I should be able to make it to mile 23. With the way things were progressing, I was likely on track for a DNS. This may not end up being the race I had planned or hoped for, but I'd still like to be able to do it. So I've let go of my sub-4 goal and am now just hoping to cross the line by 4:15:00. I need to look ahead to my Ironman training and starting with an injury is not the way to go. There will be another marathon and another time for me to achieve the sub-4. And who knows, by then I may be able to just skip sub-4 and go straight for a Boston qualification.

Sunday - 9/28

Distance - 18 miles
Time - 2:45:13


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