Friday, October 17, 2008

What Marathon?

Two weeks after the marathon isn't exactly timely for a race report, but I'm on no deadline and for all I know, no one reads this anyway. I mean, who really cares about what jane regular does in her marathons and training?

This is probably the most ironic marathon I have run. Finally, I was at home for it so no long plane ride, no hotel make-shift coffee and oatmeal, and not a whole lot of extra effort going into packing, planning and missing my family. I even knew the day by day weather forecast changes and was used to running in the weather Chicago was experiencing.

I also felt the best I've ever felt leading up to race day. My head was the most positive it's ever been and I was mentally ready for the challenge. By listening to my body through my entire training plan, I got through injury free and was still able to complete all my long runs and come pretty close to the mileage I've done in the past.

But as I learned once again, the marathon is a LONG way. Anything can happen.

Probably the biggest thing to go wrong on that day was that it reached 85 degrees by 11 am. At mile 5 or so I saw a bank temperature of 74. This was close fairly close to the lake too. I was relatively relieved to see this because I felt pretty much like a garbage dump at this early point in the race. By the time I got to Chinatown, about 20 minutes later than planned, another bank thermometer read 84. I had pretty much checked out by that time so it didn't phase me, or challenge me in the least. I was laughing about it by then.

What are the chances - two years in a row Chicago has record temperatures on Marathon day? Enough so that I don't think I'll be running Chicago in the next few years. I think I am really cursed at that race. It's crazy.

So here's the mile-by-mile report:

Jody, Matt and I took the train in and dropping our bags and relaxing before the start was seamless. Around 7:15 Jody and I headed over to the corrals and make one more pit stop. The lines for even the corralled port-a-potties were insanely long. The only good part about waiting in that line was that I ran into an old friend whom I hadn't seen in years. Eventually Jody and I gave up and squatted behind the port-a-potties. This was bad for me because I perhaps needed to do a little more than #1. Apparently though, a guy near us thought nothing of it and relieved himself much like a dog.

I decided to just ignore the pending urge I may have and stop around mile 4 if need be. The first few miles are fast enough, I could use the little break, I thought.

The first few miles were fast - 7:37 and 7:49 - but not so fast I was near my red zone. What I did notice right away was that it was really hot with all those people. There's a lot of body heat with all those people. So I slowed to about 8:07 and then found myself running with the 3:30 group. Perfect. I stopped to pee at mile 4 and the 3:30 group was so huge that I hopped right back in.

So the miles went by. Never really feeling settled into a pace or rhythm by mile 8, I started to worry a bit. Sometimes it takes a good hour to feel good. By mile 10 my Gu was just so unappealing. My head started to pound and feet were getting slightly heavy. The sun was just pouring down and water wasn't quite doing the trick. They has so much water this year - the commentators at the aid stations repeated - "take as much as you like runners! We have plenty for everyone!" And really, I think they did.

By the half-way, I was tracking to finish in 3:31. But I had it by them. I figured if I slowed to 8:30s for a while, I could still probably beat my PR of 3:36. But west of Halsted is sort of no-mans-land. I mean, the miles from 14-18 are no-mans-land anyway, but do they really have to put us there? It's very exposed and the road slants down from the center so the optimal place to run is in the center, totally away from any possible shade. By now, it was near 80 and the race organization had changed the alert to Red. Meaning - be very careful and slow down a lot.

Once again, for the 3rd year in a row, I cracked at mile 15. Damen and freaking Jackson. Barry was there and we decided I'd run to mile 18 and then decide if I should finish. This may pass right?

It didn't. But Barry said I needed to finish this F-ing thing. Don't let this Marathon get me again. Right. Damn Chicago weather. So I kept on. Barry ran with me until about mile 19.5. I tripped a man-hole cover. That's how little my feet were moving.

And the rest of it all pretty much went down hill. It took me 56 minutes to run the last 10K. But it was more a walk/run. I walked through the water stations and then some. Swore. Laughed. Planned my next race (Yes, really. But it certainly was NOT going to be a marathon. Maybe a 10K or heck, 5k. Or maybe I'll just do yoga). And hoped Jody wasn't mad I was taking so long.

Then I remembered my last blog entry about the mantas I was going to use when the race got hard. I really had to laugh at these because there really was no positive thought entering my mind. I repeated them, and here's how my oh so happy brain talked back:

- Do you want to make you goal today or not?

Nope. This is way too sucky to do that.

- Stay strong stay strong

How can I possibly STAY strong when I'm a weak pup right now?

- You don't want a disappointment today

Oh, I've got one already.

- Stay strong today

Maybe I could if I ever was.

- Don't give in

Why not?

- It's your head not your body that's hurting so move it

No, believe me, it's my body.

- You can rest when it's over

Ok. That will be very nice. But I really think I could just walk a little longer here. I'm already way over my goal time.

- You've been through this before and you know what to do

Yeah, the last time I ran in the heat like this I quit. So I'm even dumber this year.

I'd rather just forget that race ever happened. No more Chicago Marathons for me!

Afterwards, we all went out for beer, which I could only drink one because I felt so crappy, and some yummy vegan food.

The following week was indescribable. I've never felt that tired, drained, and just pooped after an event. I had nothing. Then I got this illness in my throat, which has since moved to my chest and head. 10 days of it and I'm giving in and seeing a doctor.

As for my next race, well, I may do something in late November low key (think Turkey Trot). Or I might just try to relax, get fat and run when I feel like it. Bt mostly likely, I'll start upping my mileage around 12/1 so that I'm good and fit to start training for Boston 09. I'll let you know when my vacation is over next week.
happy runs!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Third Time's a Charm

Yesterday I finished my last longish run until the marathon, 15.5 miles. It was a relief because I don't need to eat any more gels until 10/12. I'm still feeling pretty good, although in much need of a massage. My hamstrings and hips are creeek-y!

I was pretty proud of myself because my mile splits were so even. 8:30, 8:30, 8:29, 8:22, 8:24, 8:29....I somehow am really good at just an holding effort. It's something I've always been pretty good at, even as a bike racer. My husband seems to think it takes a lot of focus, but I think it's just the opposite. I feel like once I'm at a particular effort I can just lock in and keep going. I mostly think about other things, like what I'll make for dinner, or who my clients are for the afternoon, what Camille and I can do later. And sometimes I come back to the running. Lately I have been thinking about what I'd like to accomplish in this marathon. It'll be my 5th one and I think I should be able to overcome some of the things I've failed at, or not quite understood how to get through.

I've been teaching myself little tricks on how to get through the pain and keep the pace up. Because at mile 22 when you have no glycogen left, your legs and hips are screaming, and your feet are about to explode out from your shoes, you gotta find distraction. I've learned how to focus on a spot on the ground ahead of me. The worse I feel, the closer the spot. This seems to break up the miles into mini-goals. I also have learned to count. Rather than count each step, I count only when my right foot hits. I loose count somewhere around 450, but it's over a half mile anyway. And when it's really hurting, I found that chanting works best for me. These are some of them that I've come up with:

- Do you want to make you goal today or not?

- Stay strong stay strong

- You don't want a disappointment today

- Stay strong today

- Don't give in

- It's your head not your body that's hurting so move it

- You can rest when it's over

- You've been through this before and you know what to do

Probably one of the best moments I had was when I was running my 20 miler in the pouring rain. I ran the first 12 miles with the Glen Ellyn Runners (waaaay too fast) and then finished up the last 8 on my own. At about mile 16, I remembered that at home I could eat! Food! Not a gel or a block, but real food like a bagel with almond butter, jelly and banana. It made those last 4 miles really not so bad. So I guess when it gets really tough I just need to remember that there's beer and a Ceasar salad waiting for me. And yes, that is really what I'm looking forward to. The salt on it is just glorious.

But still, as always, one of the best sights out there on a run is Barry and Camille. Like yesterday, when I least expected them, there they were. Camille so excited to give me water and make sure I'm ok. She always says, "Mommy, do you want to see how fast I can run?" And off she goes as Barry and I watch her blast away and just hope for no spills. Our little runner.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

18 days

I was running the other day (duh) and realized that I'm going to have to run a marathon soon. All this time it has just been this "thing" that might happen. Taking it day by day, I've managed to get through and am in fact quite fit. Amazingly, I feel better than I usually do at this point in a program. Perhaps that's because I didn't follow a program and instead listened to my body and my intuition and did what I needed to do to feel good for the full 12 weeks.

There's a lot of optimism this time around. An injury came early rather than late in my training, i don't have weird cramps like I usually do running hard (thanks Michelle), and I even got a cold early rather than 10 days before the event. I know I'm not out of the woods yet, but still. I'm pretty psyched. 3:30? 3:32? 3:28? 3:40.58?

But, I also know that anything can happen because 26.2 miles is a LONG way. Like for example, if it's 82 degrees at the start. This year I plan on finding Jody and she and I can run to the half-way mark and then head to the bar. Detroit has a marathon the following weekend we can do.

I have a whole box full of goals to make running Chicago this year the best. More on these later. But for now, if you want to track me, my number is 6608. You can sign up to track athletes at

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Skirting the issue

I did it. I joined the fashion runners. My friend Jody has always thought that I was a matchy runner, but now not only am I matchy, I'm fashionable. I bought one of those running skirts, which really just looks like a tennis skirt. I always thought they were cute, but couldn't let go of my ego that told me they were really only for "recreational" runners.  Or for girls/women thinking that going out for a 3 mile run is a big deal. 

But since moving here in June, I've seen a lot of fast women running on the Prairie Path. And many of them are wearing these skirts. Somehow no matter what time I run I see the same people running. Usually they're in the about the same spot too. It's a very strange phenomenon. Like we're all on the same unspoken schedule of sleeping in or getting up early to run as well as distance and pace of our runs. Most of these women have kicked my butt in local races, too. Sub 7 minutes used to be the milestone to beat. Now it seems like 6:30 is the milestone. I'm not sure I'll ever get there, but maybe so in my new sassy skirt! 

That is if my foot ever decides to heal itself. There was a glorious 3 month period from Boston to July 20th when my foot didn't hurt. But since then it's been touch and go. My current podiatrist thinks I have, or had, a stress fracture. I don't see how this is possible. Stress fractures REALLY hurt. They don't allow you to run and even walking is troublesome. I wouldn't describe my foot pain as REALLY hurting. It's more of an ache that I'm trying to protect so that it doesn't get any worse. Problem is, it's not getting any better. The x-ray films show a very light line that could indicate a stress fracture. But the Dr. doesn't know if it's old or new or about to happen. So all this uncertainty makes me crazy. Any slight increase in pain in my foot makes me think I've finally broken it. But then a few hours later it's totally fine. Or the fact that I got through 40 miles last week with no troubles, including an 18 mile run. And then yesterday I ran 12 without any pain but blisters forming on the toes. 

I think what I need to do is find a new doctor. Someone who will analyze my stride, my pain patterns, and do a bone scan. But for now, I plan to run today and this weekend. 6 more weeks until the marathon. I'm already starting to have dreams about loosing my race day clothes and missing the start. Maybe I should go get a back-up skirt...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tempo Tempo

Finally, I'm back to running on a regular schedule. But still, I have no idea what is up with my foot. It hurts sometimes a little and I can bear it through my run, and then other times it hurts like mad and it sends me walking home. And other times it doesn't hurt at all. 

Two weeks ago I ran the Chicago Distance Classic. It's a half marathon that starts in Grant Park and heads south to Hyde Park and then routes us back north along the lake. In theory, the course sounds grand. Runners can distract themselves the second half of the race with the beauty of Lake Michigan and the giant skyline of the city. But in reality, there was a massive tailwind the first half which in turn means that there's a massive headwind on the way back. Not only did we have the wind to contend with, we had to manuever through other runners and cyclists sharing the path. You'd think the organizer could shut down the path for the 8500 runners running this race. Not only did the organizer miss this point, but he also created a course that was 13.27 miles. .15miles too long! I thought something was funny when my mile splits were all fairly even until mile 7, where I was more than a minute off pace. I mean the wind was strong, but not THAT strong. I expected mile 8 to be short but not so. I was back to my pace. Then at mile 10, we had another long mile and no short miles to counter. I'm so happy that I wasn't using this race to qualify for coralls like so many people do. I would have finished very frustrated for sure. 

My foot cooperated, mostly, during the race. I was able to endure it anyway. My goal was to make this a training run and run about my marathon pace. I was right on, mostly, despite the long course. Not bad for barely running the weeks leading up to this. Not a half marathon PR by any means, but I did PR in the mind game department. 

I was reading some running psychology stuff lately because I think that's my real trouble. I know I can run fast for a long time, but can so easily just stop and forget it. I can focus for weeks and weeks training and then come race time, I give up too easily because it hurts. I thought I'd give some of the psychology a try in this run. I was going to try to not walk through the later water stations (total beginner thing I know) and also just try to push through when it wasn't going well. Once I hit that wind on the way back, it was perfect to practice this self talk psychology. Legs cramping, foot burning, I began to chant. "This is only making me stronger, this is only making me stronger, this is only making me stronger..." It seemed to work. Next I tried what Paula Radcliff does - count steps. I got pretty bored of this around 250 so I returned to my chant. I think I said it about 3000 times by the time it was all over. 

This week was one of my first "real" training weeks. Tuesday I ran 12 miles with 6 at tempo pace. I usually get so nervous before my tempo runs. It's a silly waste of energy I know, but I'm very type A. But on this day, I wasn't going to get nervous. I was just going to go run and run the "tempo" that felt comfortably hard. I gave myself a big range of pace and shot for the slow end of that. First mile was on the fast end, second mile on the slow, then I was smack dab in the middle. That 6th mile I needed to dig for that psychology. "This is getting me closer to my goal, this is getting me closer to my goal, this getting me closer to my goal." And I finished this last mile as the fastest one. Good stuff. 

So on I go. Bring on the marathon. 

Thursday, July 31, 2008


This "injury," or more accurately nuisance, has kept me out of my running shoes for over a week now. The neuroma between my second and third toe makes my third toe completely numb and toeing off extremely painful. So that I don't totally loose aerobic fitness and grow out of all my clothes, I've been riding my bike. It somehow feels exactly the same as it did when I was any good, but I'm sure I'm moving along much more slowly. I've removed any measurement devices from my bike so I have no idea how fast I'm going or how many watts I'm putting out. Ignorance is bliss, right? And, this ignorance makes me feel like I'm still a superstar on the bike. I got back from my ride yesterday (which I mapped out and learned was only 16 miles after thinking I was so cool and rode about 20 in an hour) and told Barry that my foot needs to feel better soon or else I might have to start racing my bike again because riding feels so darn good. 

But riding these past several days has reminded me how being out on the bike allows for a lot of introspection. The world passes by much more quickly than while running so there's not as much time to focus on the surroundings. I can think, focus on my workout, focus on pushing myself harder, focus on how I'm feeling. This is all really good stuff when you're and athlete in training. And I realized that I don't feel this when I'm running. At all. It's a bigger world when I'm running. I'm going slower thus making me feel less alone. Maybe this is why I'm not a very good runner. It hurts so bad I can't, or don't want to, focus on how I'm feeling. I just want to be. I just want to get it over with and be done. I'm not saying I don't love running. I do. To me, putting on my shoes, clicking on my iPod shuffle and heading out for a 2 hour run is complete solitude. I create my own world within the one around me. 

I realize I may sound contradictory here. But somehow, running creates more solitude for me even though it doesn't allow me to focus as hard on my workout. Cycling brings me in and somehow makes me feel more alone. Maybe it's because I don't have my iPod on. Who knows. And most cyclists would totally disagree I'm sure as cycling is a team sport. So this could go on and on, and a topic for another posting. But where I'm going with all this is that riding made me realize how alone I've been feeling lately. Not sappy, feel bad for me alone, but in all honesty, I do a lot of things alone. And, really, this is ok with me.

Camille and I were at the park the other day. We chose the park at the Lake because it's most shaded. And it's hot! It so happened that the Glen Ellyn New Comers Mom's Group also choose that park that day for their weekly meeting place. I met a woman our first week here who encouraged me to join this group. I thought about it, but decided against it because I really dislike being forced to meet people. I don't like walking into a room not knowing anyone and putting myself out there. It freaks me out. And I have friends and family here who I really enjoy and don't feel the need to meet forced friends with kids. 

So all these moms were setting up their snacks and juice boxes for all their kids. They all knew each other and all the kids knew each other. It looked nice. Camille and I headed over to the sandbox and took our shoes off and plopped down. While Camille was digging out and re-filling her "garbage dump" I was watching all the moms and their kids. Most of them had about 3 kids ranging in ages of 1 to 5. The kids were playing and the moms were chatting, occasionally freaking out not knowing where one of their kids were. And it was this that made me realize that I always know where Camille is. She's the only one I have, the only one I will have, so I really focus on her. She doesn't have a sibling to play with at the park so she depends on me. It's a lot of work for me at times, and tiring (thus why we frequently set play-dates at the park). And looking around I realized I was the only mom there with just one child. I'm sure they're out there, but just not at that park that day. 

Sometimes I see all these moms with 3 or more kids and think how fun (in a way) it must be to have so many different little personalities around. All these little people discovering and looking up to them for more knowledge and guidance. And then I start to think that yes, perhaps we should have another child. It would be good for us, good for Camille. She'd have a sibling and although still two kids is more work than one, some of the work would be taken care of in terms of playing. I wouldn't have to sit and play Groovy Girls or Play-doh day after day. And then I wonder if those moms look at Camille and I and wonder where my other kids are (because really, this is Glen Ellyn and everyone seems to have 2.8 kids) or do they think, wow, that woman has just one kid. How strange. How unfulfilling. 

Then I come back. And remember that we love our life. We love that we have a brilliant, healthy little girl with a vocabulary of a 7 year old. We love that we can play with her a lot and teach her things about the world. We love that we will be able to give her most everything she needs and not have to make as many sacrifices to do so. And we love that vacations will be able to include a little friend for Camille if we so desire, and likely, those two won't be fighting. We chose to have just the one because that's the life we choose to have. We both need that quiet of running or riding our bikes. That solitude and alone time. And that to us, makes us feel more fulfilled than ever. 

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Week One, Injury One

Today marks the end of week one of marathon training. It started out nicely - I ran a 10K in Chicago and PR'ed in the first 5K and since it was so bloody hot I took it easy for the second 5k. Then on Monday, the official "start" of marathon training, I ran 7 miles and my left foot's neuroma started yelling. Oy. The week continued and by yesterday's long run, it was useless to try to run. I managed 1.5 miles before limping through my stride. 

I'm experienced with neuromas and know that the only way to calm it down is to not run and to visit the doctor. So intstead of running my 13 miles, I went for a bike ride. I was lucky enough to have Barry back home from his week long trip to California and he and Camille were heading out for some quality Tour de France watching. 

Oh the bike ride was glorious! It felt like I never left the sport. My pedaling was light and quick (granted I was in a little gear) and the hills seemed like small bumps in the road. Compared to hills in Oregon they were little bumps! The bike may be put to more use this week until I can get to the doctor and have this neuroma taken care of. It would be dreamy if this marathon actually goes well. And the fact that I'm getting hurt EARLY rather than in the last 6 weeks is a good sign. haha. Oh marathons. 

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I Found That Rock

No, I'm not a bike racer anymore. But somehow I still manage to get road-rash on a regular basis. Yesterday on my 12 mile run, my running buddy, Christine, and I were chatting away, lalala, in our 11th mile. "Wouldn't some cookies be wonderful right now? You know I made some chocolate chip cookies this past weekend and put some cinnamon in them. I learned that from my favorite grocery store in Portland where they made these 7 grain cookies..." and wham-o. I was airborne and then next thing I was sliding on the limestone Prairie Path. I managed to hit the only rock embedded into the path which then launched me off my feet.

My hand, knee, shin, and ankle were all banged up. Rats! Bloody and adrenaline filled, Christine and I ran finished up the run. I kept running so that the pain didn't set in. Once I got home I played it cool so Camille wouldn't see the damage. Barry couldn't believe how bloody I was. My new socks! It really looked much worse than it was, as always. After cleaning it up with hydrogen peroxide and soap and water it was just a deep abrasion on the knee and some scratches down the shin. 

After showering and putting some New-Skin on my wounds, Camille noticed my knee. "What happened Mommy?" Do you have a boo-boo? Did you fall down? Did you fall down while you were running? Did the other girl say oh no? Did the other girl fall down too? Did she give you a hug? Mommy, does your boo-boo hurt? Do you need a Band-Aid? (I discovered we only have Dora Band-Aids) Here, here's my doggy to make you feel better. Mommy do you have a boo-boo?"

And on and on. 

This weekend Barry and Camille are heading out to Iowa to visit Barry's mom. She's over the moon that we're back here and can make these last minute trips out to visit. Camille is looking forward to the trip out there and seeing her Vivienne Grandma. I'm missing the trip this time because I have a 10K race downtown.  It's been planned since before we left Portland. I feel bad that I can't go but I think we'll all be ok. Really. I'm going to get Camille's room painted and curtain rods hung. Then I have some appointments and then, well, I don't know. How often do I get to say that? I imagine I'll get a little lonely though. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Starting Fresh

Welcome to our new blog! This will take place of our old .mac account. My goal is that this space will be easier to update so we can write more often. And, you'll notice I said "we" so this space also allows Barry to post - if he so desires. I imagine his posts will likely be more insightful than mine since he often has a lot more to say than I do. 

We're settling in well here. Our daily routine is starting to gel and running routes are becoming established. I have yet to get all my shopping spots found, or my haircut place selected but that will come soon. Oh my hair is becoming a mess! 

I start work August 1st. I didn't mean to get a job, but it just sort of fell into my lap. It's at a chiropractors office in Glen Ellyn that focuses on athletes. Pretty much my dream job - lots of runners, cyclists, triathletes. I'll be doing office work - front desk, scheduling, billing, inventory, etc. part of the time there and then in addition, I'll be renting space within the office to run my own massage practice. I'm excited, nervous, anxious, confident about this all. There's a lot to think about as I've always worked for someone else while I've been a massage therapist. It's a new venture for me in all regards but I think I'll be ok. More on all this later. 

Marathon training starts officially next week. EEk. My goal is to be more relaxed about the training and just let the running come. More on this as well. 

Camille amazes me everyday. She's becoming such a little person. There's not much I do that she doesn't immediately copy so it's a good thing I'm pretty straight in most regards. She says the most amazing things. Like the other day we were driving back from Downers Grove, ready to get on 355. I told her she may want to roll her window up because we were getting on the highway. She said, "Where's the highway? Is that up on a hill?"  Fantastic.