Monday, December 19, 2011

So I found the Tucson race report

It is posted below. Although the publish date is December 19, it is all about December 11 and was written in the day or two afterward.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Last race of 2011- done!

Hear that? I will not be tempted by a jingle bell run or holiday dash or even a new year's eve end of year event (if such a thing exists). Not only am I determined to give my legs and mental state a break from the stress of racing, I also need to devote a little time and attention to Christmas shopping, cooking, and maybe even baking. Oh, and my family too. (The jury is still out on Christmas decorating and cleaning....)

I write all this knowing that there is indeed a holiday race in my area next weekend...but I'm not going.

That said, I finished off the year with a bang at the Tucson Marathon. I am so happy it's over, and I'll have a constant memento of the race for days to come in my achy quads. The short story--4:24:32. A little slower than I had hoped, but well under my bottom line of 4:30.

I think one of the amazing things about running a marathon is that you accomplish something that is so hard that it is difficult to believe it can be done. I mean, I have never done a marathon fearing that I wouldn't finish, but when you think about it, it's a big deal! Running 26+ miles (even if it's just around a 10-minute pace), with only the most nominal of stops or rest (one port a potty stop, walked through two aid stations in the last few miles).

As I look outside at the pouring rain today (we are leaving for the airport in about an hour), I feel so lucky that our weather yesterday was so perfect for the marathon. (And, in fact, the days before were great too.) The temperature had warmed from earlier in the week, so it was about 40 at the start. I guess it was around 60 or more when I finished, but not so warm that I suffered from the heat at all.

Considering that the marathon didn't start until 7:30, the shuttles to the start left crazy early beginning at 5 a.m. That meant I got up at 4:15. Obviously, I had prepped all my clothes and gear the night before.

My outfit for the race was the NuuMuu dress seen above (pink animal print!) and black Nike capris. Layered on top of that I had a light hoody in matchy pink to throw away when I got warm. For pre-race warmth, I had a great thick pink fleece and fleecy pants (all acquired at Goodwill last week). I also brought a pink knit cap, although it was warm enough on the bus that I was more than toasty. Plus pink gloves decorated with hearts and doodles. Apparently they were "girl" gloves, but they were big enough for me. After I took them off I carried them the whole rest of the way. For some reason, I can't bring myself to toss a pair of gloves!

I took a couple of terrible pre-race pics in the room before I left. Race outfit including throwaway jacket....

And with fleecy layers....

I got on the first bus outside the hotel lobby. It was a really comfy charter bus, not just a school bus. Very nice! I ended up sitting with a woman from Indianapolis who was running this after recovering from an Achilles injury that has limited her running for a while. I hope it went well for her. I don't think I would have recognized her afterwards or at the hotel because most of our conversation was in the dark! I ate my breakfast, a bagel with peanut butter, on the bus along the way.

We drove and drove through the darkness and got to the start around 5:45. Luckily we were allowed to stay on the would be really horrible to stand around for 1:45 hour waiting! I did get off the bus right away for a trip to the potties. Then I read stuff on my phone for a while to pass the time. After about an hour it seemed like a good idea to get in the potty lines again to make sure I got a chance to go before the start. Good thing I did because while the line didn't seem too long (there were a bunch of separate lines), it moved really slowly.

Finally I got on and out of the potty and headed down to the buses to drop my gear bag. I stripped off my fleecy layers, fastened on my fuel belt, and handed my bag through the window.

By the time I got back to the starting area it was less than ten minutes to the start. That was perfect, actually. It was a little bit cool but the cluster of people around me kept me warm enough. As I made my way through the crowd I saw the 4:30 pacer. Strangely, the 5:00 pacer was ahead of him, but he told me the 4:15 was up there too.

I had decided to start near the 4:15 pacer. Of course that had been my Portland time, and I didn't know if I could match that, but I thought I had some chance with the downhill elevation to help me. The average pace for a 4:15 marathon, by the way, is 9:44.

As I stood there in the crowd, one minute before the start, I thought, "Why am I doing this?" Then we were off.

The first mile or two are a pretty significant downhill. I took it very easy, but was still under 9:30 pace for quite a while. In the first couple of miles I pulled ahead of the 4:15 pacer a bit. Soon, though, we made up for the downhill with a hill up. I can't remember the specifics but I am quite sure there were a number of decent hills both up and down in the first six miles. After a couple of miles the 4:15 pacer passed me and I never ran near him again. I am pretty sure he was running faster than pace though. In the first few miles I was averaging about 9:45 pace even with the uphills. At the half my time was about 2:08, which is just off the 4:15 pace (although obtaining a negative split would just not happen).

I just read an article about why your GPS watch is not an accurate measure of distance, which is a good thing to keep in mind when complaining about "long" races. But obviously, I still rely on my Garmin. In the first few miles the mile markers were about .2 mile past where my watch registered each mile. However, mile 6 came too soon! And every mile marker thereafter was about a tenth of a mile before my watch. I figured it would all come out even in the end.

The first five miles went by pretty smoothly. The next five did too. I took off my gloves in the first couple miles (and carried them). A few miles later, I started unzipping my jacket. It was sliding down my shoulder in a rather irritating way, but I was hesitant to take it off too soon because that would be my last method of cooling myself when I got warm. I decided that the removal of the jacket would be one of the mileposts I would use to break up the mileage.

After mile 8 I took a Gu. (Plan - Gu at mile 8, 13, 18, 23. Not achieved.) I decided to take off my jacket at mile 10. I kind of hated to drop it, since it matched so well, but I decided that leaving it would be much more freeing than tying it around my waist, and that was my plan all along, anyway.

So around mile 10 I pulled off the jacket and carried it for a while until I saw a few other abandoned articles. I tossed my jacket into the pile.

Shortly after the 10-mile point the course turned off the main road onto Biosphere road. We ran almost two miles out that road, before turning at mile 12 and coming back across the halfway point (which was the half marathon start). I assume we will get split times from that point when the results go up.

I can't really remember the specific places the road went up or down. (I suspect that my splits might tell the tale!) But I would say that in the second half the declines and inclines were much more gradual that the had been in the beginning.

After mile 10 my next mental landmark was the halfway point, of course. I had thought I might stop at a port a potty after the half, but I didn't need to go desperately so I decided to wait. It even seemed possible that I might make it through the whole thing without stopping, but I wasn't sure about that.

I took a gel from an aid station after the half. I thought they were going to have Gu but it turned out to be Clif brand (I think). It tasted like a mocha flavor. I probably don't drink enough with my gels--maybe that's why I never seem to feel any miraculous energizing effect. I'll drink a little to wash it down and rinse my mouth, but that's about it. I was carrying my fuel belt with nuun, which I sipped from periodically, but every once in a while I would also take some plain water from an aid station. Since I didn't stop to drink (until closer to the end), I usually ended up getting a sip in then tossing the cup.

Next target--15 miles. After that 16 (obviously), which is significant because there is "only" ten miles to go! At about 15.5 miles I decided to stop for the bathroom. I still wasn't desperate, and maybe I could have pushed through, but since I wasn't shooting for any high-faluting goal I felt that it would be worth a minute or so to rid myself of one source of discomfort. The bathroom stop took about 1.5 minutes (typical for me and I can't seem to get in and out any faster). Afterwards I did feel a little kick to my pace!

Around mile 17 I started to feel my quads. Feel them start to ache, that is. Interesting in that my legs started to feel achy around mile 17-18 in Portland too. I think that's a clue that three hours is about the time it takes for muscle soreness to set in. Perhaps I should stick to 30K races....

I think that miles 16-20 are often a difficult part of the race for me. My legs get tired, I often feel nauseous, and I drop the ball on my fueling plan. I was only mildly nauseous this time, but I didn't feel like digging out my Gu. Instead, I drank a cup of sports drink at two water stations in the low 20s. One was red and one was blue. (I thought to myself, if I throw up will it be purple?) I walked through both of those water stations to make sure I could down the drink without spilling. I also drank a cup of water in the second one. At that point I felt pretty full of liquids and figured I'd better hold off some!

Based in my total time at the 20 mile mark, I guessed that I was averaging about a 10 minute pace. If I kept it up (or better) I would finish around 4:20. But in the last 10K my pace slowed significantly. It's not like I bonked--I felt fine, for someone who had been running for 20 miles. But my legs weren't going much better than a 10:30 pace. If I pushed myself, I could get to around 10-minute pace, but that would last a few seconds before I slowed again. I really wanted to be done, but not apparently enough to get back into the 9s.

Much earlier I had made myself a rule to help prevent looking at my Garmin too much. I decided I could only look at it after the end if a song on my iPod. Sure, that was still every 3-4 minutes, but if I didn't restrain myself, I would be looking every 3-4 seconds. And you don't cover a lot of distance in 3-4 seconds. Occasionally, if a song came on that I especially liked, I would repeat it until I finished the mile I was on. I briefly considered doing that for the whole 10k...finishing the remainder of the race in only six songs, how cool would that be?

I'll admit that the closer I got to the end, the more I kept checking my watch, despite the "rule." Oh, that 10:30 pace...4:20 had slipped from my grasp. But with about two miles left I was pretty sure I could still hit--or beat--4:25. Just after the 24 mile point we turned off Oracle Road (the main road where we had run most of the race). My turning pace was exceedingly slow (too much watch checking) but after that I made a concerted effort to push hard to the finish. My "sprint" in the last .2 mile was exactly a 10 minute pace. Ha.

Final time 4:24:32 (10:06 pace). Very, very...okay. I'm not disappointed, I am not thrilled, but I am happy that it was under 4:30. Of the seven marathons I have run, three were faster and three were slower. How can that be bad?*

After finishing I posed for a picture then headed to pick up my bag. I did stop to send some emails and call my dad. After I stood still for a few minutes I found it very difficult to move my legs again! I would have liked some fruit but the post-race food was in the opposite direction of the buses. Since I didn't see anyone with orange slices (the only thing I wanted), I didn't bother. I retrieved my bag and hobbled off in the direction of the buses.

About 20 minutes later the bus dropped us at the Hilton and my dad met me as I entered the lobby. Here is my post race pic!

I had asked my dad to bring my swimsuit from the room, and after buying a hot mocha at the bar I headed into the pool restroom to change so that I could take an ice bath in the cold springs spa. I would have gone directly in my running clothes, but I thought the hotel might frown on that. As it turns out, about half of the people there were in swimsuits and the other half in running clothes. So I guess it didn't matter. Everyone in the hot springs was in a swimsuit, though.

I braved the cold water and waded down the steps, sitting on the top step so I was immersed to the waist. My legs adjusted pretty quickly, but I shivered and shook for about five minutes (even with the mocha) and my feet stayed cold the whole time. (This is why I wear socks in an ice bath!) I probably stayed in the cold water for at least 15 minutes.) While I was there a number of other runners came and went, shrieking at the cold water. It was kind of fun, bonding with runners in an ice bath.

After I got out I sat on a bench until my legs and feet thawed thoroughly. Even though it was probably only in the 60s temperature wise, it seemed warm and sunny enough to sit around in a swimsuit.

This is the coldpool, can you tell? The hot pool was much more crowded.

Then I went into the hot springs. I probably stayed there for more than 15 minutes. There I immersed myself to my neck and there was no shivering. I chatted with a few people who had run, about past and favorite marathons. One woman had run about 65 marathons, which is actually not that crazy for a Marathon Maniac type, but still, it is a lot of marathons!

Finally I extricated myself from the hot water and headed back to the hotel room to shower and change. I still wasn't very hungry at all. I had eaten half a PR bar on the bus back to the hotel, and after I was dressed I ate the other half of the bar, a final wedge of quesadilla left over from dinner the night before, and a whole bunch of pretzels.

The cold and hot water soaks had not been a miracle cure. I was still pretty achy, so I took some Advil (and again before bed and in the middle of the night).

Around 6:00 I was finally ready to go pick up some dinner. I had one thing in mind.

I had never been to In 'n' Out Burger--I don't know if they even exist in my neck of the woods. But ever since we drove by earlier in the week, I had it in mind for a post marathon dinner. Cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate shake. I liked the burger and shake best...I think the fries cooled too much in the take-out process. But I still ate most of my packet.

By Monday morning the achiness was pretty much gone, and only the sore quads remained (and still do, as of Tuesday). Our flight wasn't until late afternoon, so after a trip to Starbucks for breakfast, we hung out in the hotel room for a couple of hours before heading out.

The weather on Monday was a far cry from the sun we had enjoyed since Wednesday! It was pouring rain and quite blustery. I was so relieved that the bad weather had held off until the day after the marathon!

All in all, the Tucson Marathon (and trip) was great fun for me. I think my dad had a good time traveling around as well. I finished another marathon with a smile on my face. (The official race pics, which came out today, show that! I am planning to buy the digital package and I will post a few, the ones in which I look least like a dork.)

Here's a quick look at my splits from the race.
1 - 9:21
2 - 9:43
3 - 9:38
4 - 10:01
5 - 9:55
6 - 9:36
7 - 9:38
8 - 9:41
9 - 9:42
10 - 9:51
11 - 10:19
12 - 10:41 (don't know, must have been a hard hill)
13 - 10:08
14 - 10:18
15 - 10:02
16 - 11:22 (bathroom)
17 - 9:50
18 - 10:02
19 - 10:00
20 - 10:19
21 - 10:21
22 - 10:29
23 - 10:21
24 - 10:25
25 - 10:50 (and I thought I was really trying to kick it at the end!)
26 - 10:14
.2 @ 10:00 pace.

It's pretty clear that, except for a couple blips earlier in the race, I really started to drag in the last 10K. Must. Work. On. That.

For now, I'm taking a few days off running to let my legs recover. I'll start running again at the end of this week or the beginning of next, depending on how my quads feel. I will start training for Eugene in January.

*And in fact, my fastest marathon was about 25 minutes faster, and the slowest about 25 minutes slower!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

What happened to my Tucson Marathon recap?

I swear, I wrote a LONG race recap on my iPad a couple of days after the Tucson Marathon. WHERE IS IT? I will have to check the iPad to see if it remains unpublished. If it is missing I will be Pissed. Off. Maybe it was banned from the internet because it included a picture of me in a swimsuit after the race?

In case it is missing, and I don't muster up the energy to recreate it (which seems highly likely), the short story is 4:24:32. Woot woot! Okay, I had hoped to be closer to 4:15 but the hills were more difficult than I expected.

I do have a lot of pretty good race pictures (and a couple I really like), so I will be posting them soon anyway.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

T (Tucson Marathon) minus one

Well, I'm just about there now. In about fourteen hours* I will be heading down the road of the Tucson Marathon. For better or worse. Hopefully better. Not that I'm nervous or anything.

Here's a quick recap thus far. After less than two days at home after Las Vegas, my dad and I headed to the airport again on Wednesday morning to fly to Tucson. This marathon was a bit of a whim, although a rather well thought out whim that occurred months ago.

I had been interested in the Tucson Marathon after reading Pam Reed's memoir, The Extra Mile (she is the Tucson Marathon race director). I even had a glimmer of a thought that I might look into Tucson if Portland training went well. This all came to fruition when my mom had some 50,000 air miles to use. A casual search located two seats on direct flights to and from Tucson. My dad was "willing" to make the trip, so I booked the tickets and hotel, registered for the race, and put it at the end of my 2011 race schedule.

Fast forward to October. Portland Marathon--great! Post Portland--slow. I did draw up what I consider was a pretty good 8-week re-training plan. It included a 16-mile, 18-mile, 20-mile, and 15-mile as my longest runs, plus two half marathons, one at the beginning and one at the end. What it lacked was super successful speed work. I did tried to do some intervals and temp runs, but they were not really up to par. By last week, though, I decided it was all in the bank, and I wasn't going to change anything now.

After Las Vegas on Sunday evening I took Monday off work and then ran on Tuesday afternoon. My quads were really sore...why???

By the time we got to Tucson on Wednesday, got the car, and drove to the hotel, it was early evening. For dinner we shared a teriyaki chicken wrap and a spam musubi left over from food I had bought at the airport. No, I am not particularly worried about eating food that has been out for hours.

Thursday morning I ran five very difficult miles in the golf course at the hotel. It was super hilly and my legs were not loving it. I did not push it at all because I didn't want a sore quad recurrence!

The weather here starts out cold in the morning and warms up. On Wednesday it started in the mid 30s and went to the low 60s. The lows and highs have increased about five degrees by the weekend. So yes, it will be sort of cold tomorrow morning and pretty hot warm when I finish.

Our Thursday activities included a trip to Barnes & Noble and a Nike outlet store (to get my dad some shorts and a tee shirt for the hotel gym). Then we drove southeast to Tombstone. Kind of a hokey tourist town but it is a genuine historical location. Part of the schtick is a gunfight that starts in the street and then continues with a show in the theatre of the OK Corral. We followed the action down the street but didn't stay for the show.

We drove back to Tucson with an amazing desert sunset in our view the whole way (until the sun actually set). I have admired the sunset a few times now but have yet to take any pictures. Maybe tomorrow? That will be my last chance.

We stopped at Safeway along the way and got food for dinner. And chocolate peppermint pretzel thins. Just don't ask.

Friday morning we hit the gym for an hour then went to Starbucks to get breakfast on our way to Biosphere 2. Back in the early nineties there were two human missions where a small group of people lived in the enclosed environment for two years (the first time) and six months (the second time). (Anyone remember when Lilith left Frasier Crane and went to live in a biosphere?) Nowadays they are studying plants and climates and stuff.

Anyone think there's something weird about this picture? Just me?

This was the kitchen from the human missions. I snuck inside the no entry rope but still didn't get a very good view. This was my favorite part of the tour. They showed a little video about what they cooked and ate. Part of the reason the mission ended was because they couldn't produce enough caloric food. Over two years most of the eight participants lost significant weight, from 20 to 60 pounds!

On the way up and back to Biosphere 2 we saw porta potties on the road. I was pretty sure this was part of the race course. On looking at the map later I saw that it was the second half (or the half marathon). The full marathon starts further north and the goes to the Biosphere, and back to Tucson (actually Oro Valley).

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at Whole Foods, where I spent my $20 Living Social voucher (and then some) on lunch and a bag of cookies. (Oh, delicious, delicious cookies!) My dad got a grilled cheese sandwich and I got a burger and fries (plus a salad to share). I kind of forgot that I was planning on a burger after the marathon. Oops. Well, we'll see what happens.

We ate our lunch by the pool. I only ate half my burger, which was good as I ended up having the rest of it for dinner (with pretzels in lieu of fries).

After lunch (which turned out to be a late lunch), I went over to the race expo and picked up my bib and chip, and browsed the displays. It was so much more low key than Vegas. Thank goodness. I ended up buying another shirt and a fleecy pullover, even though when I was shopping for throwaway gear at Goodwill I swore I would never buy a pricey fleece again!

And then it was Saturday (today). The last day that I don't have to run a marathon. We went to Starbucks for breakfast again (oatmeal with everything and a shared banana). Then we drove downtown to check out the Fourth Avenue Street Fair, about eight blocks of crafts and vendors and fair foods. I actually ended up buying quite a few Christmas gifts. And an order of freshly made potato chips made with one potato--about 110 calories of potato plus a million calories of oil. They were shiny and delicious. I put salt and vinegar seasoning on half and chili lime on half. Oh yum.

By the time we left at 1:15 it was almost 70 degrees and HOT in the sun. Better after I took my jacket off, though.

After grabbing lunch from Safeway (again) we went back to the hotel to relax and rest. I am a little bummed that I didn't realize that the NBC coverage of the Kona Ironman was today. I learned of it just after it was over.

Along with putting out my clothes and gear for tomorrow morning, I am going to finish the rest of Spirit of the Marathon. I think that is just what I need to get psyched up for tomorrow!

*14 hours when I started writing. Now 12.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Moving onward

My Vegas recap is about halfway done, but it's on regular blogger which is a little awkward to use on my iPad. Especially as I don't have my wireless keyboard with me here.

Here? You might ask. "Here" is actually Tucson, the second (and final) stop in my December race travels. After getting home on Monday (and resuming mail and newspaper service for one day before needing to stop it again, my dad and I headed back to the airport Wednesday morning. It was pretty deja vu-esque, even getting the same shuttle driver from the parking lot to the airport. (We recognized him but I'm not sure he recognized us. How he could have forgotten us, I don't know.)

We had a pretty easy flight to Tucson. I fell asleep for a while at the beginning and again at the end. Even though it was a noon flight, I was tired because I was up past midnight and got up before 6:00 to go to the Y this morning.

In the middle I watched most of The Spirit of the Marathon on my iPad. I had to pause right at the beginning of the actual marathon as we were landing. I'm excited to finish it. It's been a couple years since I last watched it. It's so inspirational--maybe I'll even watch it a second time before Sunday!

During my two days at home I was incapable of resuming any kind of low sugar, low carb diet. So I guess I am carb loading all week. No exception today--I've eaten wraps, rice, and tons of candy.

I really am in taper this week. My legs (quads) have been surprisingly sore considering how flat Las Vegas was for running (though not truly flat, which I'll address in the race recap). I'm also having some pain discomfort in my ankle. I've iced it a couple of times, and should continue while I'm here (considering the ice machine and all).

I ran a little on Tuesday after work--4.25 miles warm-up, 4 x 400 on the track (5-10K pace effort, and at least I got there on the last one), then about 1.75 miles at marathon pace (around 9:30). Total seven miles. I want to go out for a few miles tomorrow, then I'll definitely hold off to rest my legs before Sunday.

Tomorrow I run (a little) then we sightsee the Tucson area.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:W Desert Knoll Pl,Oro Valley,United States

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Viva Las Vegas...soon!

In about three days I'll be on my way to Vegas for the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon on Sunday. I'm doing the quick and dirty version of a trip (no, not that kind of dirty), flying in on Saturday and out as early as I can on Monday morning. I'm not exactly a Vegas kind of person. Although my dad, who is coming with me, does like a little bit of gambling...hopefully the 48 hours will be fun for him.

I signed up for Vegas on a whim last spring, when they had that one day only pre-registration, probably offering a whopping $10 discount or something. I don't really intend to be someone who follows the Rock 'n' Roll races around the country (would that be a R 'n' R race groupie?), but I am also registered for the Portland version next spring, plus Seattle in the spring as well, once again lured by early registration promotions.

My only reason for doing Vegas (other than a mild interest in running down the Strip at night), is as a warm-up race for Tucson on December 11. I have gotten into the practice of doing a half marathon one or two weeks before each marathon as as a final medium-long run. If it is only one week before, I try to do it at a marathon pace effort. That means I run at a pace I believe I can sustain for a whole marathon (even though that may not turn out to be my actual marathon pace; usually the half marathon is a little faster and I can't resist putting in some extra effort at the end which I certainly would not do at miles 10-13 of a full marathon).

And my planned pace for Vegas? Seriously, I do not know. I figure I will just see what feels good. Maybe that will give me some idea of what to expect in Tucson. I am in corral 6, as I originally gave a projected finish time of 1:55. That was actually the time of several half marathons I ran this last summer, so I wasn't even overreaching or anything. But that's a pace of 8:45, so...I don't think so. I'll be getting passed some a lot, at least if the other people in the corral were realistic in their estimates.

I am in the midst of taper for the Tucson Marathon. I did my last long (20 mile) run on November 19. Last weekend I cranked out a couple of mid-length runs (10 on Thanksgiving and 15 on Saturday), with unplanned full rest days on Friday* and Sunday.** In fact, last week was the first time in a long time I only ran three times during the week*** (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday), thanks to a combination of recovering from my 20-miler, baaaad weather, and the holiday.

This week I am running on Monday (easy run), today/Wednesday (speed work), and Thursday (easy run planned). I will take Friday and Saturday off running to rest my legs for the race, and then Sunday will be a tempo/pace run of 13.1 miles.

I may have mentioned (many times) how hard it is for me to get out of bed early and get running on these dark mornings...even when they are not particularly cold or wet (worse if they are). Because of that my mid-week runs are a little shorter than I would like them to be...generally starting with 6 instead of 7 or 8. I will also use that as my excuse explanation**** for why I "only" did six 800s this morning at the track.

My speedwork has been this mini-cycle leading up to Tucson. The truth is I have no speed (or very little). So even when I intend to do a tempo or pace run, my splits look a lot like an easy run. (My easy run splits? Are sad.) My last set of 800s were shocking, and frankly a little depressing. Seriously, almost a minute per mile slower than my standard. Well, 30-45 seconds slower, anyway. I can't remember for sure. I've probably blocked the memory.

Hence, I really, really did not want to do it this morning. Still, I forced myself to go to the track after a couple miles of warm-up, telling myself there were lots of reasons this was a good idea.

  • I would only have to run half a mile at a time, and could rest after each one.

  • No matter how slow I was, it would still be faster than marathon pace.

  • No matter how slow I was, I would probably be a little faster than last time. (I hoped that was true. Thankfully, it was.)*****

  • Forcing myself to run so that my lungs wanted to explode would probably be a good cardio activity.

  • Interval training is supposed to be good exercise.

One other factor that I did not account for until I was halfway through the really only produce endorphins when you make your body hurt. So in some way, feeling bad (physically) made me feel good (mentally).

After the first two repeats from hell, I told myself I could stop after four. Then I pushed through two more. By that time, I was verging on being late for work, and had no choice but to stop. Boo hoo, right?

And this is tapering because...I am reducing the length of my weekend runs. My weekday runs are already short enough (6.25 on Monday, 7.07 total today).

I am also modifying my eating patterns in preparation for the two races. Actually I am doing two food tapers, one this week and one next. This week, to help overcome the excesses of a holiday weekend, I am cutting out sweets and cutting back on carbs****** for four days (Monday through Thursday). On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I will increase the carbs and let up a little on the sugar restriction (though trying to keep calories in check still). Next week, I will repeat the sugar/carb restriction on Monday through Wednesday, and "carb load" a bit on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

The last time I ran the Las Vegas Half I had a time of 2:07:00 and I thought if I ever did it again I would surely beat that. This year...not so sure. Oh well, we'll see what happens!

*Bought a new car! My first NEW new car ever.
**Planned to go skiing but it was raining at the summit and that was way too ugly to ski in.
***Technically the long run on Sunday was part of that week, but I count Sundays as the end of the week preceding, for running purposes. I guess because I often do long runs on Sundays, and they seem more appropriate at the end of a week rather than the beginning.

****I just love using strikethrough. Sorry.
*****If you are wondering (and I certainly would be)...The previous set of half mile repeats started at 4:26 for the first (slowest) and 4:11 for the last (fastest). Today, 4:16 for the first and 4:03 for the last. Pre-Portland Marathon, all of my half miles were under four minutes, except for a couple at 4:00 or 4:01.
******I haven't cut out carbs, just unnecessary sweet and starchy foods. I have been eating some whole grains, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and protein at every meal. I have not been eating cookies, candy+, cake, pie, or pumpkin spice bagels.
+This is a footnote to the footnote. I will admit to one dark chocolate Hershey's kiss after dinner last night and a dark chocolate macadamia nut candy after my run this morning. Those are the best, by the way. Hawaiaan Host dark chocolate macadamia nuts. Oh yes.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hey, what's up?

Two weeks since my last post...where has the time gone? Well....

Five days in Maui over Veteran's Day weekend. I backed off on posting because I didn't feel like announcing that my house would be empty for all that time. Then when I got back I thought about posting some pictures but...didn't. I don't have a whole lot of pictures anyway, it was more of just a relax and hang out weekend. I did do some running...Thursday 6.5 miles moderate, Friday 13.1 miles slow and difficult, Sunday 9.3 miles moderately speedy and good! I also have the running route from Lahaina to Kaanapali down cold. Should I ever need to do it again.

Running...I've been doing it. My pace is still definitely slowed from before the Portland Marathon. I hate to keep repeating that, but it really is the benchmark where things changed for me. And I can't quite get back to where I was. I had the most horrendous set of six half-mile repeats at the track a few weeks ago. I don't remember if I could bear mentioning it before, but I haven't done any 800s since then. And am reluctant to even attempt them. My tempo pace (hard effort) is now, yes. That's what I said.

I did my last LONG run before Tucson yesterday. 20.0 miles. And I mean the .0. Not a step further. And it was difficult. Slow and I just felt cruddy and achy the whole while. I was seriously planning my exit strategy from mile 5 onward. But once I got to the turnaround point (at mile 12, the return trip is shorter), I had no choice but finish. Unless I actually called for a ride, which I knew I wouldn't do.

I had way too much mileage on the schedule for Thanksgiving weekend. At the time I did my training schedule for this period I was both optimistic and also a little over-reaching about my need (and ability) to squeeze a lot of training into the eight weeks between marathons. Now I've decided it's better not to kill my self trying to make eight weeks into twelve. I'm still planning longish runs over Thanksgiving but right now I'm thinking about ten on Thursday and fifteen on Saturday.

It doesn't help that this week's weather is forecast to be rainy and rather cold. That leaves me struggling with my pre-Thanksgiving running plans as well. I already ditched a run this morning (6 a.m. is too soon after my late afternoon finish of 20 miles yesterday). I am torn whether to try to squeeze in a few miles this afternoon, or put it off to tomorrow morning instead. At which time it will also be dark, wet and cold. None of the alternatives are very appealing.

I did schedule a massage for this evening to try to give some relief to my battered body. That does mean that whatever I decide to do today (run, cross-train, rest?) has to be done before 7:00 so I can get to the massage.

Twenty days to the Tucson Marathon!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The mystery of missing time

That title could apply to so many things. It could apply to my Portland Marathon finishing time (which was missing but then was found). It could apply to weekends which go by so quickly that they are gone before you know it. It could apply to summer, and life, which sometimes seem to disappear like A Wrinkle in Time (a favorite book of mine).

Of course, on the other hand, you also have time which stretches interminably and feels like it takes far more than sixty seconds to complete every minute. That would pretty much apply to the first two miles of any run. Or a football game, in which fifteen minutes (a quarter) can last for 45!

But what I am specifically referring to here is the time it takes me to complete a run. That is, the total amount of time from start to finish, as opposed to the actual length of the run (running time). I have always known this happens. My hour long run that starts at 6:45 and ends at 8 a.m. An eighteen-miler that I do in three hours but return home almost four hours after I left.

I just noticed today that my Garmin data on the computer shows not just the running time, but the total elapsed time from start to finish. I looked at a few days' examples. Today, I ran 6.09 miles in one hour exactly. But my elapsed time was 1:09:20. (Nine minutes extra.) On Saturday, 18 miles in 3:03:01. Elapsed time, 3:38:44!

Obviously, those missing (or extra, depending on how you look at it) minutes are the times when I pause my watch for a bathroom stop, street light, or other random delay that I decide to stop for. It doesn't worry me that I allow myself to stop the clock for these things because it has never prevented me from running a half marathon or marathon straight through without stops (except for a bathroom stop, during which I let the time run, of course).

It is interesting, though. A ten-second variance in pace (from 10:00 to 10:10, say), is a minor blip in my overall time. On Saturday my average pace was 10:09, and my time was 3 hours 3 minutes. If I'd averaged 10:00, my total would be three hours. Hardly a difference, even though it probably would have required quite a lot more effort on my part to make every mile ten seconds faster.

But somehow I managed to fritter away 35 minutes on bathroom stops and other random delays. And almost half my run was on a trail with no stoplights! I recall when things were feeling difficult on Saturday that the five minutes it took to complete a half mile seemed very, very long. But I probably managed to spend two and three minutes at a time just stopping to look around at some random intersection (while checking my phone and drinking some water). And I did that like ten times! (I am attributing the other minutes to my bathroom stops. But really, I probably lingered far too long in the bathrooms too. As gross as park bathrooms and porta potties are.)

When I estimate how long I'm going to be gone for a given run, I always allow an hour for every five miles. I figure that will account for any kind of lagging pace plus random stops and delays. I hate the guilt that comes with saying I'll be back at a certain time and not making it. So I always try to err on the side of allowing too much time. But I rarely have "leftover" time.

As long as this doesn't affect my performance in races, I'm not planning on changing my practices. It's worked so far. And it's not the worst way to pass the time.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Happy Halloween! A little late...

I wrote this on the pre-Halloween weekend then forgot to publish on the day! Oops. So here's a look back at last weekend....

On Saturday I ran a 5K. The last 5K I did was on August 20...more than two months ago. The last time I ran at 5K pace was...I don't know, probably the set of 400s I did the week before Portland. So yeah, at that time I was able to run a sub-8 pace (maybe even sub-7:30) for a quarter mile at a time.

I was somewhat apprehensive about this race. I was also mad at myself for my negative attitude. Every single race that I've done this spring and summer I've gone into optimistically, and though I rarely met my high hopes, I always did just fine.

I decided that if I believed I would fail then I would. So I decided I would switch my outlook to hoping to surprise myself with speedy legs!

This was a Halloween 5K, although it was politically correctly called "Fall Classic.". Puh-leeze. People wore costumes. Not me, though...I wasn't feeling quite sure enough about myself to draw attention with a costume. (I wanted to be speedy in Ninja black. I did add a festive orange Roadrunners cap, though.)

The race didn't start until 10, so I had my parents pick me up at 8:30 and we got to Monroe around 9:00. That allowed me plenty of time to pick up my number, cute long-sleeve shirt and goody bag (stuffed with lots of food samples). After a couple of bathroom visits, I did a loop around Lake Tye which amounted to a 2.1 mile warm-up. Then I stood in line for one more shot at the bathroom. Happily I got to the front of the line and over to the starting area with more than five minutes to spare.

After some announcements, we were off. I took off running as I hard as I reasonably could. It felt incredibly awkward at first. Luckily after a bit I found my legs (some) and settled in around an eight-minute pace (slightly slower than that in the end, but I did see sevens flashing on my watch occasionally, which was cheering).

I didn't spend much time trying to pass people (I'm sure I did some, and was passed as well), but I did have one pace setter with whom I ran neck and neck throughout the race. She was a young lady about 10-11 years old dressed as a blue fairy...very cute. In the end I did manage to finish a little ahead of her, but she was great!

I don't have my exact splits, but my overall average was 8:15 and I think each mile was in that vicinity, give or take. My time on the clock when I crossed the finish line was 25:50 (although the race results got mixed up and they listed me as 25:58). Not good enough to place in my age group (I was fifth). I was happy enough as I had decided I would be pleased with anything 25!

By the time I finished my sister had arrived with her hub and three kids (a two-year-old and three-month-old twins). Here are some pictures taken by my mom and sister....

On the course, about mile 2.

Just after crossing the finish line. With a smile on my face.

That's my dad at the right.

Beet red face.

Yes, I am a dork. Actually I was just surprised to see my sister there (already).

Those two little boys do not belong to us (the twins are in the stroller, perhaps the boys are their future selves); nor does the man to the left.

With my niece Eva.

Pretending to cross a finish line. We kind of ticked off the time keeper but really, we were in the 1.6 mile lane and it was 45 minutes on the clock. No one was still finishing this distance.

After leaving we went to the Cabbage Patch in Snohomish for a late breakfast. I ate three scones (they were just like Fisher Fair scones, OMG) and an egg white veggie scramble (to counterbalance the scones). Eva chose to sit with me but was reluctant to smile for the camera.

Note my iPhone in her hand--that made her happy!

On Sunday morning I took off to do my longest long run yet in this mini training cycle--16 miles (I hoped). I am trying to work on downhill running for Tucson and this run did incorporate several miles of downhill grade (although pretty gradual).

The weather seemed horribly dark and dreary but once I got out it really wasn't bad. It didn't even rain at all. After about two miles I got to go up a long, increasingly steep hill. It was exactly one mile to the intersection at the top and I did it in 10:37. I thought I was slower, so that wasn't bad. The next mile had a couple of rolling hills and a stretch of no shoulder roadway which was kind of scary.

Then I got to the Centennial Trail and the next five miles were railroad grade downhill. At some point I started to appreciate the pretty fall foliage. It really looked much nicer than this photo.

You can kind of see it's downhill though.

Running on the trail is pleasant and safe from cars, but I kind of prefer running in town. Even though it was downhill my pace was just under ten minutes per mile. I would have thought I'd be faster. I felt like I was faster when I got back out on the road dodging cars, but it stayed pretty much the same.

I hit the Armar trailhead at nine miles. I hoped the return trip through town would be shorter....and it was. I had to add a couple of little detours to make a full sixteen. As I approached the end, I put on a final burst of speed, which gave me a total time of two hours 40 minutes, and an exact pace of 10:00 per mile.

Post-Halloween addendum: On Monday morning I decided four consecutive running days was too much, and postponed my run to Tuesday. But then Monday's weather was quite sunny and nice, so I left work at 4:00 and squeezed in a 6.1 mile run before the trick-or-treaters arrived!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's going to be a long, dark winter...

And it's not even winter yet! We are only 1/3 of the way through autumn, and I am already bemoaning the short, cold, wet days to come.

Before I continue with my whining...I know that I have nothing to complain about compared to the winter weather that will be endured in much of the rest of the country. I know that the worst weather we endure will probably be balmy compared to Chicago, North Dakota, Michigan, and even the east coast. I know that. I know that.

Still. I fear that fall and winter weather will put a serious crimp in my running style. Oh, I will be running. I will be getting in the miles. I will maintain the quantity of my running (pretty much, anyway). But the quality? Oh, I fear that will suffer.

I see it already. It's hard enough to get up and outside in the darkness that I have been starting way too late in the morning most days, meaning that even the quantity of mileage is slightly compromised. But I am also sluggish, and nervous of tripping in the semi-dark (there are streetlights, but it's dim and shadowy), and my easy pace is taking a real hit. My string of "no runs over a 10-minute average pace" has ended just like that. Many of my individual miles have been hovering around 10-minutes (which isn't horrible), but when you average that with my molasses slow warm-up miles it is quite likely that I won't end up with an overall pace under ten.

(And don't even ask about the quality of my speedwork. Ugh.)

This is bothersome because I believe that my marathon pace tends to end up just a little bit faster than my easy pace. If my easy pace gets slower, my marathon pace probably will too.

Now, I'm not to concerned about how this will affect the Tucson Marathon. Tucson's gonna happen, and while I'm trying to train for a strong performance, I don't think I am going to change the outcome drastically at this point. Maybe I'll do a little worse than Portland, maybe the same, maybe even a little better.

My real concern is that training for Eugene is going to start in January, during the darkest, coldest, wettest months of the year. Fun! Hopefully I'll have some New Year's mojo going for me at that time....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Portland Marathon Photos (and a time!)

Last week the Portland Marathon website finally posted my finish time, which was a net time of 4:15:33. To prove that I actually did run and finish the race, there are numerous race photos of me on St. John's Bridge (about mile 17) and at the finish. Of course, combining that with the few recorded splits I have (start, 10K, and about 8.6 miles), there is an undocumented window of time...when I was on a bus? NO! I plugged through all 26.45 miles, I promise.

Here are a whole bunch of race pictures that I forked over good money for!

Never mind the time on the clock, obviously that was taken long before I approached the finish line!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What I'm thinking right now

1. I don't ever really want to be a Marathon Maniac. I know I could do the minimum it takes to qualify (two marathons in 16 days is the easiest), but I don't have the Maniac mindset. A marathon every weekend? Two in one weekend? Um, no thanks. I like my body and want it to like me back. I also want to be able to use it for ordinary things, like walking, without hurting all.the.time.

2. On the same tack, I'm not sure what I think of this "two marathons in two months" thing I have scheduled. Conceptually I still like it (have something similar in mind next year), but it is a lot harder to get back on track than I thought it would be. It is still a challenge to run my former "easy pace."

3. I'm not setting any goals for Tucson just yet. I have to see how things develop into November. But at the moment I am not thinking any bigger than getting back to where my Portland goals are still realistic for Tucson.

4. I miss summer. Yes, even our sucky summer of 2011 (with only a few weeks of sunshine in August or September, as far as I can remember). The best things about summer? Early sunrise and late sunset. I do not love running in the dark. At all.

5. I have to force myself to get up earlier on these dark, wet mornings if I want to do more than 6-7 miles in my weekday runs. 6:00 isn't any worse than 6:30, right?

6. Do I really need to run more than 6-7 miles in my weekday runs?

7. Eugene is going to be my goal marathon for 2012. I want to train for a possible PR there, or at least a great race. I need to think about what I need to do (training-wise) to make that happen.

8. But for now, I'm sticking with the status quo training plan through Tucson.

9. I am so pleased I didn't get a cold after Portland. I almost always end up with a cold after a marathon. I've read that is very common, perhaps because your immune system is compromised when you put it through the stress of a marathon. Unfortunately that doesn't mean I couldn't still get a cold. At any time.

10. The one special thing I have done with my Tucson training plan is include as much downhill running as I can manage (based on availability of routes). That also includes some uphills, as I don't have any point to point runs planned. So far in my downhill training I include the Portland Marathon (lots of downhill), the Poulsbo Half Marathon (largely downhills for the first six miles), today's run to Badger Mountain in Waterville (rolling hills and uphills on the way out, downhills and mostly downhill grade on the way back). I also regularly run up and down hills in my weekday runs. I want to be able to take advantage of the downhill Tucson course without killing my quads. (I accept that my quads will be toast after the marathon, I just want to keep them working throughout the 26.2 miles.)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Getting my legs back

After my pretty rough run on Friday, and the Poulsbo Half Marathon on Sunday--which went well at a pace that was at least a minute per mile slower than my "easy half marathon pace"--today I finally felt like I might be regaining a tiny bit of running ability. Not a lot, yet, but enough to keep me optimistic. I did seven miles at about 9:50 average pace. I still felt a little herky-jerky--but that may be because I watched the video my mom took of me sprinting around the track at the end of the half marathon. Not exactly smooth and flowing!

Now I think I can write out my training plan for the remaining seven weeks until the Tucson Marathon. I was really reluctant to do that until I was sure I could run again!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, October 16, 2011

THE Portland Marathon Race Report - Part 2

And then it was morning. The alarm(s) went off at 4:45 and by 5 a.m. I rolled out of bed and smeared a whole wheat English muffin (NOT "double fiber"!) with almond butter and strawberry jam. I took this back to bed with my coffee and a banana and ate breakfast while lounging. I wanted to eat two hours before the race but didn't need to get up so early for any other reason.

I was a little confused about how to get to my starting corral--the maps made it look like I may need to walk way south and then double back, over a mile--so I planned to leave around 6 a.m. to allow plenty of time. The race started at 7:00.

I dressed in my previously pictured race outfit. A Nuu Muu running dress, Nike capris, my brand new Nathan Speed 2 fuel belt (I bought the new one in blue to go with my outfit), a black running hat and a throwaway jacket from Goodwill (which looked a whole lot like other black jackets I own). I also had my brand new Garmin--no more duct tape! (Although I'm keeping the old one, obviously, there may be some circumstances when I need two, right?)

I made as many bathroom visits as I could manage but worried a little that I wasn't purging my insides as thoroughly as I would like. Perhaps my reduction in fiber over the last couple days played a part...I was also worried that I hadn't been hydrating well enough because I didn't seem to be peeing as voluminously as I am accustomed to.

Let me say a little something about nerves. Of course I was nervous, I always am before a race. But the nature of my nervousness is a little different before a marathon than any other race. It's kind of crazy how tense and worried I can be bfore a 5K or 10K or whatever shorter race. That's pretty much based on my fear of not being able to run as fast as I want to. That worry alone will turn my stomach into knots. In a marathon, it's different. Nobody ever worries about not being able to finish a 5K, right? But in a marathon, not finishing is really the only fear.* Oh sure, there are time goals and PR dreams (more important to some people than to me), but the biggest and really only failure would be not getting through the 26.2 miles. It's still absolutely amazing to me that I can really do this.

Okay, then. I walked out of the door at a little past 6:00 and joined the group of people walking the same direction as me. It turns out that we were able to turn into the corral area sooner than I had feared, so I probably only walked a half to three quarters mile distance. I passed by Corral C and went into Corral D. There were lots of people already but they were milling about and going to the potties, not gathering to start yet. There was still probably 40 minutes to wait.

I got into a port a potty line and got in pretty quickly. then I walked over to the pacers' signs. Four-hour was at the front of the corral and I decided not to bother with him. If I was capable of running a four hour marathon I would see that in my splits pretty early on. I went to 4:10 and and asked him what pace he planned on running, 9:30? He said 9:32. Someone else asked him how many marathons he's run. He said three. That kind of made me wonder whether he had the ability to keep his pace down to a 9:30-ish level. (I am assuming his personal marathons have been much faster.) But I decided to go out near his sign and see what happened.

I went back to a potty line and passed some more time there. I really didn't have anything left to squeeze out, though. In a shorter race I always do a warm-up run and that makes me really pee right before the start. I hoped that the first few miles of the marathon would not have the same effect.

Then, as we all clustered toward the starting line of our corral, it was 7 a.m. and the race was starting somewhere ahead of us. Each wave would start a few minutes after the one before, walking up toward the "real" starting line. I believe my wave (or me, anyway, crossed the start at 7:09).

As we started running over the timing mats, we were still hampered a little by the closeness of the crowd and it was hard to set a pace. I really wanted to stick with the 4:10 pacer for at least a few miles, so I followed him as he took off once the crowd opened up a little. I think he was trying to make up the pace from a slow start, plus the first mile was a little downhill. I felt like our effort was a little hard for 9:30 pace, and I wondered if I would be able to keep this up. But it turns out we were running a little fast. Mile 1 - 9:13.

We slowed down a bit in the next couple miles (a little slower than goal pace, but it would average with the first mile). The pacer guy may have been trying to even things out, or maybe it was because we were going uphill gently in these two miles. I stayed right in the pacer's vicinity here. Mile 2 - 9:37. Mile 3 - 9:47.

At that point we got to turn and go back down the other side of the uphill! I picked up my pace easily and decided to let myself pull ahead of the pacer. I was happy to get a little bit ahead of pace because I knew I would lose some time with a bathroom stop eventually. Mile 4 - 9:09. Mile 5 - 9:13 (this 9:13 felt much more natural than the first one!). As we started down the hill a guy told me to enjoy this downhill! Yes, indeed.

The next seven miles were perfectly on pace. I believe that these miles were pretty much flat. I'm sure there were slight inclines and declines in the road elevation, but nothing to interfere with a comfortable pace. This section was a long out and back along N.W. Front Street. We turned around just before the 9-mile marker. There was a band playing along the way and lots of spectators. I'm not someone who really cares that much about spectators--I'm fine with or without them--so I can't remember well what sections had lots and which had none, or few. There was one older guy, though, who I kept seeing pop up throughout the course. (I think it was the same guy.) He had a bike so it was quite possible. It was just a little weird!

I ate a Gu at about mile 8. My fueling plan was one Gu at miles 8, 13.1, 18, and 23. I almost followed it. Up until the end.

On both the out and the back it was fun to see the other runners going the other directions. The runners coming back were the fast ones, of course, and they didn't care about us. When we were on the return side I hope we were more encouraging to those still plugging "out"!

I saw the 4:10 pacer after I turned around and I think I was probably about 30 seconds or a minute ahead of him there. Miles 6-12 - 9:27, 9:27, 9:32, 9:32, 9:26, 9:35.

Just before the Mile 11 marker we split off from the half marathoners and they headed toward their finish while we headed onward. I was actually quite happy to let the half marathoners go on their way and not even envious that they were almost done. Even though we weren't halfway yet, I felt like this was a significant point in the race, where it really became a marathon. We were also well on the way to our own 13.1 point.

I had started thinking about a bathroom. I wasn't desperate but I did need to go. I didn't feel that it was realistic to get through the entire race without a stop, but I only wanted to stop once. I decided that I would stop at a port a potty after the halfway point if it seemed practical. I don't know if it was in anticipation of losing time in a stop or what, but I whipped through mile 13 in 9:14.

Just past the 13.1 mark there was a row of port a potties with plenty of open stalls. I zipped into one to do my thing. It was a good stop. I managed to squeeze out everything I had been hanging onto. I kept an eye on my watch because I didn't want to spend much more than a minute, but I also wanted to make sure I did everything I needed to. My split for mile 14 reflected my stop - 10:42. Given that I had been running 9:30s or faster, I am guessing I was in there about 1:15.

The 4:10 pacer passed me while I was in the potty. I figured he would. I could see the sign ahead in the distance after I started up again. I did a good job with mile 15 at 9:33, but I was never fast enough again to actually make up the difference and catch up to the pacer. I did have my second Gu in mile 14 after my bathroom stop. I also noticed at some point there that one of the water bottles had fallen out of my new fuel belt, maybe at the bathroom stop when I was fiddling with my clothes. For half a second I thought about turning back to find it but quickly realized that was crazy, and impossible. I saw someone else's dropped bottle along the way so it wasn't just me. Mile 16 - 9:38.

In Mile 17 we climbed the most significant hill in the marathon as we approached crossing St. John's Bridge. This hill was at least a mile long on the road, plus a little bit more going up onto the bridge as well. I just plugged up the hill at a steady pace. Mile 17 - 10:23. I'm actually quite pleased that my time was not even slower. I certainly felt slower.

St. John's Bridge was a big deal on the marathon course. On the approach there were many signs warning that only runners could go on the bridge, and apparently there was a "checkpoint Charlie" where they were checking for race numbers and D-tags. It's an amazing, beautiful structure and running across was a joy. I wish I could post a picture...maybe I'll go back later and put one in.

Edited to add this borrowed pic:

St. John's Bridge took us to the east side of the river where we would run most of the remaining miles before the finish. I had no sense of geography and only know this from looking at the map later. We ran the next number of miles on Willamette Boulevard.

There was a lot of downhill in the eight miles or so after the bridge. In fact, except for one short hill and the approach to Broadway Bridge near the end, I would say this last segment was mostly downhill or flat. Given that, my one doubt about my performance was whether I could have pushed harder on the downhills. Some of my splits seem a lot slower than they could have been. They're fine, but if I was ever going to catch the 4:10 pacer, I might have made up some time here. But I'll admit, I pretty much wrote off catching him after the hill before the bridge.

Part of this is also my marathon slump section. I'll admit, miles 16-20 (approximately) seem to be my hardest miles. Maybe even harder than the last 10K. I think the ten miles to go seems so far...but 10K is not so bad.

I have been writing as if this was all so easy breezy and not hard. That's not true. Marathons are hard, no matter what. I'll admit that I have pretty much wiped out any memory of stress in the first half...I do remember that as going pretty easy, at least once we got past mile 3.

I did go through mental gyrations throughout the race, trying to break up the distance without getting too overwhelmed by the total! My basic breakup of a 20 mile distance is, the first five are warmup, the second five are easy (you are warmed up but not yet tired), the third five are quality (maintaining a pace while you are starting to get tired), and the fourth five are endurance. But I needed to break it down even further. From 13.1 the next mental checkpoint was 15. Then 16, then every two miles to 20 (and two mile segments to the finish).

In the miles after the bridge, I was slumping a little bit and I could feel the downhill stress in my quads. I forgot to take a Gu in mile 18 but took it in mile 19. Mile 18-21 - 9:51, 9:41, 9:46, 9:53.

Then there were just five (or so) miles left! I think I got a second wind. I didn't bother to take any more Gu...I kind of wonder if it would have given me a bigger finish kick if I had taken the last one. I had already sped up a little in the final miles and I didn't feel like I was losing energy or anything. Mile 22 - 9:29. Mile 23 - 9:37. In mile 24 we had to go up a little hill onto Broadway Bridge...maybe I could attribute my slowing again to that? Mile 24 - 10:07.

Then, the craziest thing happened. We were back over the river and I was all prepared to make a final push to the finish. I had calculated that I had a good chance of finishing in 4:12. Then, just before the Mile 25 marker we saw ahead of us flashing lights and heard train bells and whistles and the track arm came down and we had to stop for a train. It was the Amtrak train and luckily not too long. I calculate that we stopped about a minute or a little more based on my split for that mile. Mile 25 - 10:45.

We headed out and I felt a little stiff and awkward after the stop (though I can't say I didn't enjoy the stopping while I was forced to) but managed to pick up my pace decently. If you can believe it the bells were clanging again at another crossing but I and those around me were able to cross before the arm came down. Mile 26 - 9:25.

Then another factor came into play that had a major effect on my final time. I had noticed that my watch splits were a little off the mile markers, but I wasn't too concerned because that often evens out. I am also aware that the final distance is always more than 26.2 but I completely failed to account for that in my calculations.

So after the 26 mile marker my sprint to the finish was not .2 mile, but in fact it was .45 mile. A full quarter mile extra. I am estimating that added two minutes that I hadn't planned on! Mile 26.2 - 4:12 for .45 miles at 9:16 pace.

When I stopped my watch after the finish line it read 4:15:39. I think I started it a bit early and I know I waited to stop it till after the finish line photo, so probably I can take a few seconds off that.

Since 4:15 was my secondary goal, I was really happy with my finish. The time I was pretty happy with, but the overall race was great! Other than maybe going a little harder on the later downhills, I think I did everything I should have done to have a successful marathon. I was happier at the end of this marathon than I have been since CIM.

I did feel just lightly woozy in the final mile (maybe I should have had that last Gu), and right after the finish. But I was fine by the time I posed for my "medal" photo.

I called my mom to tell her I was done and said I'd call her again when I was on my way to our meeting point at Starbucks. I worked my way through the post-race area, collecting my trinkets (commemorative coin and charm) and finisher's shirt. I drank a little cup of pomegranate juice (delicious) and had a couple of orange wedges.

Walking was just a little bit difficult. And slow. Luckily there were a number of people leaving, so I was able to wind my way out of the finish area and back toward Starbucks without adding any unnecessary blocks. I arrived and claimed a table right by the door just before my mother got there.

I ordered us mochas with a couple of my free drink cards and got a spinach and feta wrap for us to share. After we ate we walked slowly back to the hotel. It's only a few blocks....

I had planned and was determined to have an ice bath back at the hotel. Luckily our room was really close to the ice machine, so I emptied the ice chest and used it to transport ice. I hopped in the tub in my clothes (with a fleece top), started filling the tub with cold water, then got my mom to dump in the ice. I stayed in for about 15 minutes. Then I put on a hotel robe and laid on the bed to warm up before going back into the shower. I couldn't dilly dally too long as housekeeping hadn't made up the room yet and we wanted to go down to the lobby and give them the chance. (Unfortunately they didn't make it up until about 4:00 which was a little bit of a pain.)

Down in the lobby we ate maple cinnamon rolls that I had brought along. Later (finally back in the room) we noshed on pretzels to ward off hunger until dinner. We never really had a chance to eat lunch, but the cinnamon roll and pretzels did nicely.

The only remaining negative about this race that has not been resolved is that my chip failed and I don't yet have a recorded finishing time. My mother was quite disturbed when I seemed to drop off race tracking after the second split! I didn't know about that until after the end. I have sent in an email for a correction and hopefully it will all turn out okay. There should be a picture of me crossing the finish line and hopefully that will prove my claim that I actually ran the race! Should proof be needed.

We ordered dinner from room service and had a quiet evening. In the morning I went out at 7:30 and picked up drinks and breakfast from Starbucks. Then I had a 9 a.m. massage using another Living Social voucher. Very good timing on that offer!

After that I picked up sandwiches (and cookies) for our lunch at Bridge City Cafe, and we left Portland a little before noon.

So that is the end of my Portland Marathon story. Well, almost the end. I am still waiting on the race pictures and my recorded finishing time!

*Well, that and not pooping my pants. But that's a fear at any distance.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, October 14, 2011

Well, that wasn't pretty

We interrupt my series of Portland Marathon race reports to announce that this morning I went out for my first run post-marathon. All I can say is...ugh.

Five days ago I ran 26.45 miles at an average pace of 9:40 (including stops), and today I managed 6.25 at an average 10:20. And half of that was on a downhill grade. I don't know if any single mile was even under ten minutes.

I had thought that the soreness in my quads was pretty much gone (I can walk down stairs!), but two or three miles along it was right back. Nothing was terribly painful but it was all so sluggish.

After three miles I was contemplating cutting the run short. I didn't, I stuck it out for 10K, but I never got to that breakthrough point where a difficult run gets easy. (That happens, right?)

I sort of felt like I was in the last 6.2 miles in a marathon...except slower. Much slower.

You spend months training for a marathon and working on some speed and lots of endurance and then it's like the marathon uses it all up, leaving you an empty shell of runner. A very slow, empty shell.

I hope that's not really true because I have a lot of running to do in the next eight weeks before the Tucson Marathon.

Not to mention I'm doing a half marathon this Sunday.

Oh yeah, in some sort of bonehead enthusiasm earlier this fall I signed up for the Pouslbo Half Marathon one week after Portland. I thought it would be a good way to kick start Tucson training!

I have thrown out all ideas of running it with any kind of speed at all. I had intended to run it easy in any case, but my perception of what "easy" looks like has changed drastically as of this morning. I am not setting any goals except to not die.

It can only get better from here, right? RIGHT???

Thursday, October 13, 2011

THE Portland Marathon Race Report - Part 1

I have slacked off on race reports for so many races...Bellingham Bay, Fairhaven, umm, Boston Marathon...because I have been waiting to get pictures and then time passes, and I just don't seem to get around to it. Maybe I'll still get back to those! But for now I am starting on Portland right away, while the memories are fresh, and I'll add pictures when I get them, assuming I do get them.

I've already written twice about Portland, so it's obvious that it was a great race for me. Yes, I said great. My time was good, but my experience was great.

Since I live north of Seattle, this was a destination race for me, and my mom and I drove down to Portland to make a long weekend of it. I had to work for a while on Friday morning, so we left around noon. Almost the first half of our drive was occupied with looking for a Starbucks off the freeway so we could get lunch! I was kind of obsessed with having a Starbucks breakfast wrap for lunch. They were having a special promotion for a few days in which you could buy a wrap for $2 if you bought a beverage as well. Yes, that's only 99 cents off (less than the cost of the drink), but considering that I would buy a drink anyway, it seemed like a good deal. And I really like their breakfast sandwiches.

I didn't want to drive off the freeway into Seattle, so by the time we located a convenient Starbucks (and it wasn't all that convenient), we were in south Tacoma. We each got a spinach, egg white, and feta wrap. And I bought us a pumpkin scone to share...all in the name of carb loading, of course.

We got to Portland around 4:30 and there was no rush hour traffic, so it was a quick and smooth arrival at the Benson Hotel. We got to our room and proceed to lay around for a couple hours until it was time for dinner. I had bought a Groupon for the London Grill (fancy hotel restaurant) for two prix fixe dinners, and that was our Friday night dinner. I'm not sure how good a deal the Groupon was (it was quite expensive), but I assume that the London Grill was not trying to rip us off, so that we did get a legitimate deal on the dinner.

Our dinner included a little salmon tartare appetizer (really an amuse bouche) with a glass of sparkling wine, a starting course of sweet onion soup, a main course of grilled flank steak with wild mushroom bread pudding and Hasselback potato, and dessert of caramel creme brulee. It was a little diversion from the strict "carb" type of dinner I would have otherwise have chosen...but we had a Groupon! We supplemented the carbs by eating two baskets of bread.

I had a good night's sleep and woke up without an alarm on Saturday. This was great because who knew how well I would sleep Saturday night!

Saturday morning the weather was partly cloudy, partly sunny...exactly what one would hope for on marathon day (Sunday). The weather forecast still showed a chance of rain on Sunday, but at least we had good weather to traipse to the expo! Last year it was raining already on Saturday. And everyone knows what happened on Sunday!

After a cup of tea, I headed out and picked up our breakfast at Starbucks...beverages and breakfast sandwiches (today we opted for the turkey bacon and egg wheat on whole wheat English muffin option). Before leaving, I regretted that I hadn't brought some ketchup along (this sandwich is really good with ketchup). However, I had an idea...I scanned the hallway for abandoned room service tray and happened to see one with a sealed, untouched ketchup still on the tray! I whisked it back to our room.

Later in the morning we headed south on Broadway to the packet pick-up and race expo at the Hilton Hotel. I quickly obtained my packet and then the fun began...the shopping. I really enjoy the Portland Expo. For some reason, it is one expo where I always find lots to buy! As I did this year. In addition to some body glide and Gu (I was down to one flavor so I got a few supplemental packets), I got a couple of official Portland Marathon items, plus a few other shirts from local running stores. I walked away with a big bag.

I also ran across the display for the race pace leaders. I was thinking about running with, or near, either the 4:00 or 4:10 pace groups (depending on how I felt). I asked which corral they would be in, and both pace groups were starting in D. I was assigned to C (because of my always optimistic time estimate of 3:55). I eventually (not at that moment but later) decided to move back a corral and start in D so I could be near my goal paces. It's not like I had "earned" my place in C other than by thinking highly enough of myself to give a rather unrealistic estimated time. (Of course I still put 3:55 on my Eugene registration form....Hope never dies!)

The other thing I did at the expo was register for the Eugene marathon next spring! In early October I got my rejection for the London Marathon (which is on April 22). I had already made a back-up plan, however, which was the Eugene Marathon on April 29. By the time I made this decision, the earliest registration period had ended. At the Portland Marathon expo, however, they were offering the same pre-October rate. So I went ahead and signed up. Eugene is on the books!

I found my mother in the hotel lobby and we headed off to get lunch. This time I had a Living Social voucher, for two combo lunches (sandwich, chips, cookie, drink) at the Bridge City Cafe. We finally found the cafe in the food court at Pioneer Place. What a great place! Super sandwiches and amazing cookies. We got one turkey and cranberry sandwich and one veggie sandwich and split both. For our cookies we got a chocolate chip and coconut cookie (I want coconut in all my choc chip cookies!) and a lemon cookie. They also put two regular chocolate chip cookies in the bag with our sandwiches. Every sandwich comes with a cookie and I don't think the kitchen knew that we had already ordered ours. (Extra cookies! Yea!)

We carried our lunch back to the hotel and ate while lounging in the room. Have I mentioned the heavenly Tempurpedic mattresses? I am in a dilemma whether I like those mattresses or the Davenport Hotel pillowtop mattresses the best!

Later we forced ourselves out of the room and walked to Nordstrom so I could try to spend my Nordstrom Notes. I was hoping to buy my favorite Lancome moisturizer but wouldn't you know, it's been discontinued. I liked the substitute they suggested but when I learned it was double the price I just couldn't stomach that and I decided to pass and keep using some stuff I already had at home. I then thought about buying a purse but even in their "regular" "not designer" handbags they were selling lines like Coach, and again, I didn't want to spend that much money.

I finally ended up buying a pair of sunglasses with reader inserts (yeah, like bifocals) so I could wear sunglasses and read at the same time when I had my contacts in. My eyes have fully succumbed to presbyopia and I really need some kind of reading glasses to see small print. I can adjust if I am wearing glasses (by taking off the glasses), but with contacts I am completely stuck. These kind of sunglasses are a little hard to find so I was happy to buy a rather glamorous Kate Spade pair at Nordstrom!

Then it was back to the hotel for more lounging before dinner. (Hey, I was resting my legs for the marathon!)

We had dinner reservations at Pazzo Ristorante in the Vintage Plaza Hotel across the street. Shortly before dinner time I realized that I hadn't secured my coffee for the morning! I could make coffee with the in-room coffeemaker but I preferred to advance purchase an Americano at Starbucks, add my cream, and drink it cold in the morning. I just walked to Starbucks first then met my mother at the restaurant.

Pazzo Ristorante was really busy the night before the marathon. We got seated right away (I had a reservation) but the whole dining process took a long time. Luckily there was bread....

We started with a salad that had dates and roquefort cheese on it. Really tasty. I think dates are good pre-race fuel! My mother gave me some of her dates as well.

We munched on bread while we waited a long time for our pasta to arrive. We both had butternut squash ravioli. I couldn't possibly consider anything else! I also ordered a side of braised kale. It was so good...I could have eaten twice as much. Although possibly that would not have been a good idea.

It was probably close to 9:00 by the time we got back to our room. The rest of the evening was pre-race prep. I took a shower (and soaked in the tub a bit to loosen up my legs), and laid out my clothes and race gear.

I modeled my bib and fuel belt.

I gathered up my stuff. I forgot the capris in this picture.
I put my D-tag on my can see it in the above picture.

I set three alarms for 4:45 (my phone, the room clock, and a wake-up call) and did a little reading before trying to sleep.

I didn't really want to go to sleep because that meant morning would be here soon and I would have to run a marathon.

**************This has been so long that I am going to stop here and move on to the race in another post!