Saturday, October 29, 2011

Marathon 2 Training - 50K in the Rain

Today was, without a doubt, the best run of my life. It was also the most difficult, but that's what makes it so rewarding. I set out at 3:30 am to run 29 miles, my last long run before beginning a 4 week taper and countdown to my 2nd marathon (although by now I've completed or exceeded that distance a total of 3 times). When all was set and done, I had run/walked a total of 31.5 miles and been on my feet for over 7 hours. It's hard to put into words what transpired within myself during those long hours, but I'll give it a try.

It was already drizzling when we started and I could not believe we once again had to tackle a long run in the rain. I thought I had already paid those dues, but apparently I still had a remaining balance. Thankfully it was warm, so the rain felt mostly refreshing. It rained lightly on and off, and at points it felt like an annoyance. Whenever it was not raining, it was really humid so I struggled from the beginning with my breathing. My body got used to 2 weeks of nice cool weather and had already forgotten what it's like to run in the warmer temps.

Knowing this was the longest run ever for Kirsty and I, we took it easy and ran with 1:1 intervals the entire time. For the last 4 mile loop (which turned out to be 4.5), we switched to 2:1 intervals because it hurt more to walk, and were in awe we were still running strong. Yes we were hurting, but our speed was not suffering. For the last 2 mile stretch, we gave up the walk breaks all together and just brought it home at a steady easy pace. Every fiber of my being was screaming for me to stop. My entire body ached and every step was painful, but I knew nothing was broken and I just had to soldier on.

Those 2 miles were the most important in my entire 5 months of training. I had to dig SO deep to keep moving forward and not give up when my body just wanted to quit. There were times when I really could not believe my legs had not already collapse from under me because they sure felt they would any minute, but they didn't. My co-leader Kirsty could tell I was really struggling and kept my spirits up and would not let me quit -- not that I was going to let myself stop after coming this far. She started asking me what I was going to do when I finished, and had me describe in great detail my post-run meal. It was amazing! It really help distract me, forget the pain, and give me the strength to keep pushing. There is NO WAY I could have done this without her and Stephanie by my side, as well as the rest of the Sole Mates that joined us earlier.

When we got back to the school, we went for a cool down walk around the track, then I begin to do the math. My iPhone app and Garmin watch both had issues during the run, so I had tracked half on each device plus tried to keep track of the inconsistencies from the other's devices. When I realized we were close to 50K, I talked Kirsty into walking a few more laps at the track. I could not believe it! I had done a 50K! Sure there was no t-shirt or shiny medal at the end, but I don't need an entry fee to say that I am an ultra marathoner. I did it because I wanted to; because I could. And that is the greatest reward ever.

I cried all the way home because I could not believe what I had just accomplished and because it finally sunk in that I can do this. As soon as I saw Jason, I broke down in tears again. I was still doubting my math skills since my brain had stopped functioning, so when I got home I manually mapped the entire route and we ended up with 31.5 miles. This includes 1 mile or more of straight walking, very slowly, and even with that mile in the calculations our average pace was 13:30 min/mile. That is incredible! We probably ran 30.5 in something closer to 13:15.

Despite what felt like excruciating pain during those last 2 miles, most of it went away as soon as I stopped. Sure, I'm still a bit sore all over, but nothing unusual after running for 7 hours. When I got home, I did another first and sat in an ice bath for 20 minutes. It was not as bad as I expected, specially when I spent 5 minutes prior to adding the ice sitting in the bath tub letting it slowly fill with cold water. It felt great!

Today I transcended pain. During those 2 miles, as I struggled to keep moving forward and battle the roller coaster of emotions in my head, I knew I would finish. I accepted the pain as normal; it became background noise. I learned to suffer and that my body can handle a lot if I my mind lets it. Running this marathon in 4 weeks in under 5 hours will be tough, and a LOT of hard work, but I KNOW I can do it. I just have to believe that I can and be ready to work for it. I will hang on to that feeling I had when I pushed through what I thought was my limit because I came out the other side unscathed and a better person. And even if I come up short, it no longer matters because I KNOW that I've done my very best and that is all that counts.

Thanks again to my entire Galloway group for making this possible! I cannot wait to share Space Coast with all of you, whether you are there in person or in spirit, I will carry each and every one of you with me as I complete this amazing journey.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

See Kitzzy Build

When I'm not running, I'm likely building with LEGO. I've loved LEGO bricks since I was a kid and never really stopped. I still have some of my original bricks and I'm constantly adding to my collection. I recently brought them out and have been building again regularly, so I started a new blog to share my creations one photo per day.

Below are two examples, but there is a month's worth on that blog. This week I'm featuring Halloween themed builds and next week I'll begin posting my Doctor Who creations.

This is the oldest photo of a LEGO build that I have, so I thought it was fitting for my first post and this blog. I built it and took the photo on September 10, 2004 for a photo challenge. The theme was to take a photo inspired by the quote “Racing is a matter of spirit not strength.” I only had one day left, so I thought the easiest thing to do was create something in LEGO that fit the bill and this is what I came up with.

This is how you write the word “LEGO” in braille. My initial thought for this theme (Less is More) was to take a photo of a single bright lego dot on a white lego base plate, but that wasn’t satisfying enough. I wanted the photo, the dot, to mean something, and that’s when I thought of braille. I wanted to write lego with white dots on a red plate (like the lego logo), but I didn’t have enough. I’m glad because I think black on white has a better effect and lets the message be the focus of the photo in the true spirit of minimalism :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Race Report: UCF Distance Dare 2011

It was a perfect morning for a race, and I added 2 new PRs to my collection at the U Can Finish Distance Dare (5 miler + 2 miler)! Not only did I PR, but I exceeded my expectations/goals for both races and had a blast!

Pre-race: I was around 60ยบ when I woke up, so I debated what to wear. I knew I would warm up quickly, so I still wore a running skirt and short sleeve shirt, but decided to wear leg compression sleeves as they would help keep my calf muscles warm and could only help my performance. It was quite cold when we got to UCF, so I put on my arm warmers and windbreaker jacket for the warm up. I ran an easy mile around the memory mall, and got warm enough to shed both the jacket and arm warmers before the start. I'm really glad I did or I would have overheated during the race. The temperature was perfect for both races and greatly contributed to my performance.

5 Miler: I lined up behind the 10+ pace sign as I was aiming for a 10:30 average pace and didn't want to go out too fast. I wore my dad's Garmin, and I have to say I don't really miss it. Having it in my hand is so easy to constantly check my pace, and I spent the entire race looking at it. I started faster than my planned 11:15 pace, but I was feeling good and not struggling, so kept it up as long as it felt comfortable. I took a gu roctane at the first water stop, just before mile 2, then gradually kicked it into high gear for the last 5K and pushed hard as you can see from my splits: 10:53 - 10:55 - 10:07 - 9:56 - 9:27. Seeing that my last 2 miles were sub-10 gave me hopes of a PR at the 2 mile race. I used 3/1 intervals the whole way.

I used the virtual partner feature to stay on pace, but it stopped the watch when it got to 5 miles, which was just short of the finish line. As is the norm, I ran more than 5 miles since I've yet to master the tangents, but I only have my time for the 5 miles. I was thrilled to finish 15s per mile faster than planned and yet I didn't feel destroyed. My official finish time was 52:06, which is 10s per mile slower, but still a PR by almost 3 minutes. I'll take it! 

5 Miler Results:
  • garmin: 51:19 @ 10:15 pace
  • chip time: 52:06 @ 10:25 pace
  • clock time: 53:10
  • overall: 958 / 1436 (67%)
  • ag: 56 / 116 (48%)
  • gender: 414 / 771 (54%)


2 Miler: I had about 20 minutes between the 2 races, so I hung around the finish line with Jason for a bit. It was just enough time to catch my breath and regain my legs, eat 2 shot blocks, and drink some water before walking over to the start of the 2 milers about 5 minutes before the start. I noticed there was a huge crowd and no starting mat, so I lined up pretty close to start - within the first 5 rows. My goal was sub-20, which I thought would be hard to do on tired legs and no walk breaks, but the weather was just amazing and the adrenaline was still pumping from the 5 miler. 

My plan was to go out hard and try to hang on for dear life. When the horn went off, I took off at a hard pace. I looked at my watch and to my surprise I was averaging 8:30 for at least the first 1/2 mile. I knew I couldn't maintain that the whole time and slowed a bit, but kept pushing to stay sub-9. I ran the whole 2 miles, minus a few seconds at the water stop, and had to talk myself into staying strong and not walking the entire last mile. I just kept telling myself to keep pushing because the faster I ran the sooner I could stop :) As you can see from my splits, my pace was pretty consistent: 8:56 - 8:55. 

My official time was 18:04 @ 9:01 pace, which is a PR by almost 3 minutes, but my pace by my watch was 8:55. Furthermore, I finished 6th out of 65 in my age group (top 9%). I'm in complete shock!  I've come a long way since I toed the line at my first race 3.5 years ago. It was the Winter Park 2 Miler, which I ran in 28:54; today I finished almost 11 minutes faster than that. It's amazing how easy it is to run fast in cooler weather, and how big of a difference a little speed work and consistent training makes on performance. I really need to find 5K to run soon because if I can pull this off for 2 miles without any walk breaks, I can easily run my coveted sub-30 5K.

2 Miler Results:
  • garmin: 17:51 @ 8:55 pace
  • clock/chip: 18:04 @ 9:01.7 (there was no starting mat)
  • overall: 195 / 807 (24%)
  • ag: 6 / 65 (9% - holy crap!)
  • gender: 68 / 490 (14% - wow!)

Below is a screen capture of my PR collection so far from my running history spreadsheet ( Legend: orange = PR in 2011; light green = sub-12; dark green = sub-11; blue = sub-10. My goal is to have all dates in orange (except the 12K because I didn't run one this year), and the pace column be green or blue by year's end :) I'm well on my way!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Marathon 2 Training - Week 20

I'm on the home stretch now. Only 1 more long run left, 6 weeks until marathon day, and 4 weeks until the tune up half marathon in Ft Lauderdale. This was a great cut-back week, and despite skipping a run due to a cranky hamstring, I still ran 18 miles and everything feels good. This week I'll be racing the UCF Distance Dare in hopes of collecting 2 more PRs. I'm pretty confident about the 5 miler, but the 2 mile PR will be a tad harder. I plan to give it my all at both races and see how it goes, but if any body part protests I'll be pulling back. I don't want to get hurt the week before a 29 mile long run.

This week's stats:

  • Ran 18 miles
  • Biked 19 miles
  • Walked 9 miles
  • 2 Yoga sessions
  • Total: 46 miles; 9 hours

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Half Marathon Streak

After my marathon in November, I want to run a half marathon per month until at least April/May. This will be a great way to keep up with my running, have some fun soaking up the race atmosphere, and qualify for level 2 of half fanatics. Who's up for the challenge?

So far, these are the races I'm considering.

  1. November - 13.1 Fort Lauderdale (registered)
  2. December - OUC (Downtown Orlando) or NTC (Clermont)
  3. January - Ocala
  4. February - BCM (registered)
  5. March - Orange Blossom
  6. April - Iron Girl
  7. May - Flying Pig? (Cincinnati)
  8. June - 
  9. July - San Francisco?
I need suggestions for the rest of the year, preferably in Florida but I am willing to travel for a 1 or 2 of these. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge 2011

I participated in the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge last year, and it really helped me stay on track during the holidays. I'm doing it again this year because it will be just the motivation I'll need after the marathon.

The challenge runs from November 19 to January 6, to cover Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. You earn points by working out like you normally do, plus extra points for a few other things geared towards taking care of your entire body, mind, and soul.

This year she has 3 different levels so we all have a chance to win some fabulous prizes. She also gives away random prizes just for participating, so check it out and make your health a priority this holiday season.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

September 2011 Recap

September was an amazing month, and I cannot believe I forgot to post the recap. It started with an amazing birthday and a 10K PR, continued with a great 23 mile training run, and finished with a 15K PR. I ran over 20 miles each week, including a 33-mile week, and for the first time ever I ran 100+ miles in one month! I even biked a significant amount! What a great way to celebrate my birthday month :) October is shaping up to be just as awesome, then November begins the taper and countdown to the marathon.

Stats & Goal Progress (75%)
  • ran 102 miles; 606/700 (87%)
  • biked 63 miles; 811/2000 (41%)
  • walked 40 miles; 283/400 (70%)
  • yoga = 9 sessions; 3 hours
  • core/strength = 3 sessions; 40 minute
  • total = 205 miles; 42 hours; 1700/3100 (55%); 314/365 (86%)
Goals for October
  • run 100+ miles
  • walk 35 miles
  • bike
  • 16  yoga/core/strength sessions (3/wk)
Upcoming Events

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Marathon 2 Training - Marathon in the Rain

Yesterday I ran a marathon, as a training run with my amazing group. I ran 26.27 miles in 5:52:48 @ 13:26. Including water and bathroom breaks, I was out there for almost 6.5 hours. Splits:
While this is a huge accomplishment on it's own, we did it in the pouring rain and I have to admit I actually enjoyed it :) Nine (9) of us started at 3:30 am to willingly run in the rain. It had already started raining, so we knew what we were in for. This is a lot harder than begin caught in the rain, because it takes deliberate mental strength to start when it's already wet all over, but we all had to run at least 18 miles and didn't want to reschedule or have to do it on our own. 

It was only a light rain when we started, so it we welcomed the cooling effects because it was still warm out. But within a 1/4 mile it started to pour and we were all questioning our sanity. Although we were all complaining, not one of us really had any intention of turning back. We all welcomed the new challenge and were in for the long haul. The rain was never heavy for long, but it was constant. On the off chance when it stopped raining, the wind would pick up and spray us with water from the trees above, so we were never dry. Thankfully, it was not cold so it made it feel refreshing and I would much rather be drenched in rain than sweat. So once I got over being wet, it was fun splashing around puddles. We tried to avoid them so our shoes wouldn't be squishy, but it was a futile attempt since the rain never stopped and the streets just accumulated more water. I was pleased to learn that my shoes and socks were great at keeping my feet dry because I never felt uncomfortable. 

At 8 a.m., I still had 8 miles to go while most everyone else was finished. Despite the rain, we picked up 3 more runners and went out for another 5 - 8 miles. I knew I'd have company through 23 miles and was prepared to run the last 3 alone, but my group is amazing and would have none of that. I'll admit that I am grateful because it would have been mentally tough to keep going alone in these conditions. I had these 2 guys with me through the very last soggy step, and it really helped me forget about the rain and pain and finish with a smile. I felt like a celebrity running with an escort :)
When we returned to the start, our fearless Director Laura was waiting for us with donuts and coffee, and a ribbon that said "All Star" that my group bought me (I had posted on Facebook earlier about running a marathon even without a medal at the end). I am so very touched by my group's compassion, and impressed by their determination to accomplish their goals regardless of the circumstances. Many of them were beginners when we started in June, and have now completed several races with impressive results. Their hard work has paid off, and I'm so very proud of their accomplishments and thrilled I am able to be part of their journey. 

I'm really glad we did not cancel this run and I got to experience these conditions, because you never know what race day will bring. I've now run in scorching heat, freezing cold, and pouring rain. I swear, I don't even know who this person is anymore because 3 years ago I would have laughed at you if you said I'd even attempt any of those things. Training for a marathon is grueling, but it is so rewarding and I learned so much about how far I can push my limits and I'm not done yet! :)
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