Thursday, December 30, 2010

We're Gonna Party Like It's.....9:00 pm and we're going to bed!

When you train for a marathon, you spend a lot of time alone with your thoughts as you log the necessary miles. When you train for both a half AND a full marathon together, you have a ridiculous amount of time to yourself. As I start my taper week for the Goofy Challenge, I have had a lot of time to reflect over the past year.

I am also a cheese ball and I always take some time at the end of the year to look back through my calendar (Not only have I been old school with using a regular watch for my training, but I still use a paper calendar that I carry around in my purse.). Looking back at all of the wonderful experiences I've had over the past year, I am so thankful for all that I have. After having a rough time a few years ago, it is as if things just keep getting better. I also think that because I've been through challenges, it makes me appreciate what I have now even more.

2010 in review

  • Walked/Ran/Swam/Biked approximately 1,000 miles (Wow! I didn't even realize it had creeped up that far!)
  • Attended 17 recruitment meetings for Team in Training
  • Coached nearly 50 athletes for 7 marathons/half marathons
  • Four personal records (PR):
    1. Completed my 1st Olympic triathlon (It's PR if it's the first time you've done it, right??)
    Completed my 4th half marathon
    3. Walked a 5K with The Pilot
    4. Ran (non-stop) my 1st 4 mile race
  • Reached $12,000 in my fundraising efforts for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
  • Followed the Jenkins Family as they lost their son to leukemia
  • Cheered on Brooklyn Meddles as she fights leukemia for the second time this year
    These are just two of the many reasons that I volunteer and raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
  • Lost my aunt but through that loss, it brought our family together again
  • Traveled more than ever (Hartford, CT, 2 trips to Chicago, 2 trips to Orlando, DC, Virginia, San Francisco, plus some random road trips in there)
  • "Relayed" at Relay for Life for 18 hours straight
  • Started this blog! (And thankful that I did. Now I have a place to vent my frustrations and fears but also a place share my experiences with friends and family that are far away and with new bloggy friends. If I inspire just one person to move more-especially the non-athletic one-then that is an added bonus!)
  • Was "acknowledged" in a book by a wonderful friend. (You should all buy it!)
  • Went on a first date to a Greek restaurant and nothing was the same after that...
  • Met The Pilot and got a new "roomie"
  • It's been a year of celebrating with friends: the start of the 30th birthdays of my besties, new jobs, marriages, pregnancies, babies and, of course, racing/training victories
  • Countless hours spent enjoying my amazing family

It's been an amazing year and I'm looking forward to all that 2011 has to bring. I've never been into big New Years celebrations or resolutions. The Pilot won't be home until probably 8:30 pm so we may just have a quiet evening together...if we even make it to midnight before falling asleep! As for resolutions, I won't be making any this year (haven't made any in a couple years actually). Sure, I have lots of goals for the year and I always strive to "do better" but I don't see the need to make actual resolutions. Obviously the first goal is to survive the 2011 Goofy Challenge next weekend and get that Goofy medal that I've had my eye on for several years now!

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope that 2011 brings wonderful experiences to you all!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It was a Christmas Miracle!

My official Christmas vacation started with a training walk. On the morning of Christmas Eve, I met up with some other Disney peeps. Lisa and Mary are training for the full and Kelly is training for the half...and all were tapering while I was out for "the big one." My training got a little out of whack because I got so sick a few weeks ago but I was going into the holiday weekend with the determination to finish all 30 miles of training. I wanted to get in 10 miles on Friday and 20 miles on Sunday (I wanted (??) to get 20 miles in on Christmas Day but decided my family really should come before training.) Even though it was cold and the path was pretty icy, it was hard to not enjoy the morning with such lovely ladies as these:
They are all runners and I wanted to chat with them about race weekend so I sucked it up and ran the first 2 miles with them. I didn't have any knee pain but it felt like my lungs were about to explode. They humored me and when it was "my turn" to talk, they slowed down a little so that we wouldn't have a medical emergency in the middle of nowhere when my lungs exploded from trying to run and talk at the same time. I didn't want to push it so I dropped off when Lisa's Garmin gave us the heads up that we were at 2 miles. Luckily we were on an out and back so I got to see them again in a mile and a half. I didn't see Kelly again as I think she stopped at 7 miles but Lisa and Mary kept going so I got to see them once again. They walked with me for a few minutes before I turned around and then I ran with them for a few minutes. I was feeling really great so I had gone out further so that when I returned to the car, I would have about 11 miles. As I got closer to the parking lot, Lisa had come back out for me. I was still feeling great and she was up for it so we walked another mile together so that I had an even 12 miles. I think 12 miles is just what I needed to get some of my confidence back after being sick and falling behind in training.

I had a wonderful Christmas with my family. I won't lie, I was a little sad that The Pilot had to work Thursday through Sunday but we survived. He was abused by cranky holiday travelers but got to enjoy Chinese food on Christmas Day with the rest of his crew while my family took inappropriate pictures.... Ever heard of Flat Daddy? After some friends brought their "Flat Son" to a wedding a few years ago, I decided to run with it since The Pilot would be away over Christmas and so, Flat Pilot was born. He isn't in the military but he was still away for the holidays and I thought we could have some fun with it, which we did. It's a good thing he has a good sense of humor because my mom placed the bacon wrapped fillets in front of The Vegetarian Pilot...
My birthday is coming up soon...the day before the Goofy Challenge starts! It was pretty strange to get my race information to see "age on race day: 30." That pushes me into the next age group! Anyways, since I won't be in town for my birthday, my parents decided to go ahead and give me my birthday present. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the Garmin Forerunner 110! I've been old school since 2004 when I started marathon training, using a Timex Ironman watch and the trail maps to determine pace and mileage. Welcome to the 21st century, Amber! While it's a lot bigger than my Timex, the Garmin will tell me EXACTLY how far I have gone and my live pace! It will even tell me how many calories I burn. Just when I thought I couldn't get any more obsessive about my training....

After eating lots of yummy food on Christmas (including mass consumption of the Buckeyes that my mom and I hand-rolled a couple weeks ago) and after configuring the Garmin (I did NOT lie about my weight like I do on my drivers' license), I headed to bed early to prepare for my 20 miler.

It was another cold one and there were flurries as I headed back out to the trail. This time, a Team in Training alum, Niki, met me for the first five miles. I would post her picture but by the time we got back, both of our cell phone batteries had died because it was so cold (my phone was fully charged when I started!). We enjoyed a quiet 5 miles talking about our Christmas activities. I think she thoroughly enjoyed the quiet time since she has three kids under the age of 4. It's probably NEVER quiet at her house.

As Niki and I wrapped up 5 miles, Lisa and her dog, Blu, came out to join me for the next 4 miles. I enjoyed chatting with Lisa (now that my lungs weren't about to explode) and to watch Blu dog enjoy the snow and new sights and smells. It's fun to look at things from the perspective of a dog...or even a small child for that matter. I suspect that their view on life is very similar..."Oooh! Shiny! What's what? This looks interesting, I need to touch it and smell it. I like being outside. I love the snow. I want to roll around on the ground. Uh oh! I have to go to the bathroom...right NOW!"

After 4 miles, Lisa gave me a pep talk, made sure I had enough water and sent me on my way. It was wonderful to have 9 miles out of the way already. It goes a lot faster when you are chatting away. with friends...though I quickly realized that I should have lined people up to walk the last 9 miles with me instead of the first 9 miles!

It was a very slow day. While the path had been plowed, it hasn't been above freezing in several days so the lingering snow had turned to ice, making the path very slippery. I had to take shorter strides than normal and tread lightly so that I could keep my balance. While I was loving the freedom that the Garmin gave me (knowing when to turn around and not having to do any mental math!), it was a constant reminder that not only was I not going race pace but I was going slower than the Disney time limit! I've done several races under the Disney pace requirements but I've never done a half and a full back to back, so it is a legitimate concern....especially after I read this in the "final race instructions" e-mail I received:

After crossing the finish line on Sunday (full marathon) and receiving your marathon medal, please check in at the Goofy tent. You will receive your Goofy medal after we verify that you completed the Half Marathon and the marathon in the allotted times.

I feel nauseous. I might go postal on someone if I survive both races only to find out that I didn't meet the time requirements. I'm trying to tell myself that I was slow only because of the ice and snow. I know that I can finish both races within the time limits. I've done it before. I'll also be taking steps to make sure I stay within the requirements. I have an action plan for any pit stops that might be needed (the benefit of this being my 7th year going down for Disney Marathon weekend is that I know where all of the port-a-potties are and which are the closest to the road and should have little or no line). I will have pace charts with me on both days so I can be absolutely sure that I'm well within the pace requirements. I also have a new tool that I can pull out if needed. I now know that I can RUN if absolutely needed. I've never been much of a runner before this year but after the triathlon training earlier this year, I've still been incorporating running into my training. My run pace is pretty darn slow but it's faster than my race walk pace. Disney also has a warning system for the pacing requirements:

Pace cyclists will be on the course indicating when runners are behind pace by waving orange flags at mile markers according to the official pace time. If you reach a mile marker with an orange flag waving, please note you are behind the required pace and can be picked up at any time.

You can bet that I'll be running as fast as my Goofy legs can take me if I catch sight of one of those orange flags. I may also beat one of those pace cyclists with their orange flag if they try to pick me up....but that wouldn't be very magical so I'll just do my best to make sure that doesn't happen.

Back to my 20 miler....I was still trudging along. I tried to stick to my fuel plan with my Shot Blocs starting at mile 5 and then about every 2 miles after that. Not only is this Goofy race a new challenge and I'm trying to finish within the allotted time, but I'm also taking measures to try to avoid hitting the wall during the full marathon between miles 19 and 23 like I have in the past. Hopefully by more diligently sticking with my fuel plan (and getting in my 12 and 20 milers over the weekend!) will help avoid the evil place that I get to that makes me doubt why I do this to myself.

I was feeling pretty good all the way to mile 15 but that's really when the mental fatigue hit me. I was bored out of my mind! My cell phone was dead from the cold so I couldn't even text anyone for some inspiration. I had only one more trick up my sleeve (or in my Fuel Belt) and that was my iPod. Luckily that battery was still working. I put it on shuffle and kept going. The last 4 miles got pretty ugly as the wind picked up and the temperature dropped. It also started snowing again. I felt like having a hissy fit but that's not really an option when you are still 4 miles from the car.

My TNT friends, the Garmin, the iPod and my determined legs got me back to my car after 20 long miles. I was exhausted by my body still had a little left in me so that was reassuring. Let's hope there are still 6.2 miles more in it on January 9!

I surprisingly felt decent on Monday. Usually the day after a hard, long workout is the most painful but I recovered pretty quickly. My toes were sore from trying to grip and keep my balance on the ice and snow and I have a small spot on the back of my right ankle that's a little raw. That concerns me a little and has me second guessing my decision to switch to the narrow shoe...any thoughts on that.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It Looks Like a Frickin' Christmas Card Out Here!

So I jumped back on the treadmill last week. It was a short, 30-minute walk but it was uneventful. No coughing, wheezing or shin splints. That gave me a little extra confidence to tackle some higher miles over the weekend.

On Saturday, The Pilot and I headed out to the trail. I was planning on 8 miles and I didn't think it was a good idea for him to go all 8 miles with me (he's not the one training for a race afterall!) so we drove separate cars. We headed out and realized that the trail hadn't been plowed after the second round of snow so there was about an inch of snow on the trail...for the first mile. After that there was a 2 mile section of path that hadn't been plowed at all. It was a little tricky trying to stay in a good race walk form while trudging through 2-3 inches of snow and ice. But I have to admit, it really was beautiful out on the trail...which prompted my "It looks like a frickin' Christmas card out here" comment. There were even cardinals flying around, seemingly on cue...but they would fly away every time The Pilot tried to take their picture. They must have been shy cardinals.
The Pilot was still good once we got to the 3 mile marker so he agreed to go out to the 4 mile marker and do all 8 miles with me. I know that he doesn't like me wandering around out there by myself and who am I to turn down someone to keep me company during the long miles?! It was pretty slow going (well below race pace) but it was my first outdoor workout since recovering from the World's Longest Cold in the History of Modern Medicine so I really just wanted to get through the whole workout.

I had a little pick up in the last 2 miles because I was trying to make it home before the Ironman World Championships was going to be on TV (that I had forgot to DVR before leaving the house). I love watching Ironman on TV even though it makes me feel like a slacker sometimes. I whine about not being able to get all of my training in or my gimpy knee or my cold, but there are people doing Ironman that have NO LEGS. It certainly puts things into perspective, that's for sure!

So glad that The Pilot is always up to walk with me when he's in town.
It would have been a very quiet and lonely 8 miles without him!

Sunday was a coaching day and I was so excited to see the Team! I had missed 2 practices and some other Team functions due to being sick so I was going through TNT withdrawal! I was scheduled for 16 miles but there just wasn't enough time. The Pilot and I were spending the afternoon with my brother's kiddos so I had to cut the workout short to go pick them up. I went out early (before the Team arrived) to get in 2 miles (and to check the road conditions). It was crazy cold out and my eyelashes kept sticking together. Once I met the Team, we did 3 miles together and then I headed back out. The wonderful Lisa D. joined me for nearly 2 miles (she's training for the Disney marathon!) and then I did another 2 miles on my own. I felt OK knowing that I did more miles Sunday than I did the day before but I still worry that it's not enough.

After 8 miles on Saturday, 10 miles on Sunday and then chasing my niece and nephew around on Sunday afternoon, I was tired by Monday! Luckily I had the day off and could lounge around with The Pilot all day. I was also surprisingly sore. Normally 8 and 10 milers wouldn't make me sore but walking in snow/ice is definitely more challenging.

So now it is the week of Christmas and I'm trying to figure out my game plan for the weekend. It's the big one for training...10 AND 20 miles. It's annoying that I have such high miles over the holiday weekend. Especially since I'm walking because 20 miles will take me at least 5 hours. That's five whole hours that I could be sitting around with my family and eating Christmas cookies and my mom's cheesy potatoes. Oh well.

At least I know I won't gain weight over the holidays, even if I'm not doing so hot at the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge. I only have about 94 points right now and some of the leaders are pushing 200! There are a handful that are well over 200 points but I'm convinced they are either lying or they workout 8 hours a day. I'm not going to win but again, I'm fairly certain I'll make it to the end of the challenge at the same weight (Probably won't lose any weight - damn that predisone for giving me the munchies while I was sick!)and definitely with a new awareness of WHAT I am eating. It is pretty difficult to get in 7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. It's hard to do but you really do start to feel better! I challenge all of you to give that a whirl for a week and let me know how you feel!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Coughing Quads

Last night was my first real workout (unless you count digging under the bed for my snow boots and then shoveling some snow on Sunday) in OVER two weeks. My original plan was to go to the gym and spend 30 minutes on the treadmill. That plan was made before I realized that, with the wind chill, it felt like a whopping ZERO degrees. When I went in and out of the office/house on Monday and Tuesday, the cold air would instantly cause me to start coughing. Instead of braving the cold again after dinner last night to go to the gym, I dragged myself down the basement stairs to my bike.

My poor bike has been sitting on the trainer for about 3 weeks now. It looks so lonely sitting down there, not being ridden. Every once in awhile a cat will wander by and scratch their face on a pedal but other than that, it just sits there looking sad. But last night it saw some action....some very slow, clunky action. I climbed on and clipped my shoes in. It felt like I had never ridden a bike before. My quads were screaming after only two minutes. I knew it would be rough getting back at it but TWO minutes?? In three weeks, I am going to attempt a 1/2 marathon that will take AT LEAST three hours and a full marathon that will take AT LEAST 6.75 hours! And then at about three minutes into the workout, I started to cough. Blah.

I forced myself to keep at it for 20 minutes. I was pretty annoyed by the cough but figured my body was telling me that it wasn't quite ready for that so I climbed off the bike and finished up with about 15 minutes of abs and arms. I have made much more of an effort this training season to focus on my abs and arms because after my last full marathon, that is exactly what hurt for the last 6 miles of the race....and for the several days following the race.

I'll brave the cold tonight and head out to the gym to see how the treadmill goes. After consulting with my own personal Goofy coach, Holly, about modifying my training schedule, the plan is to try for 8 miles this Saturday and then 16 miles on Sunday. That means I need to find my marathon legs again. Hopefully tonight will shake out the cob webs and get me back on track.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The World's Longest Cold in the History of Modern Medicine

So I successfully completed 17.5 miles without any knee pain and other than being pretty tired on Sunday and Monday, I wasn't too sore. And then it all went to crap.

I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday with a sore throat. It was like I knew something was coming and had trouble falling back to sleep. I woke up not feeling well and by the end of my work day, I was sick. I had finally caught the cold that The Pilot had a couple weeks ago and was making its way through my family and co-workers. I really believe in the power of positive thinking so I kept telling myself that it was just a cold and I could beat it in just a day or two. I brought my laptop home so I could still work at home and not infect any of my co-workers. I thought for sure that I would be back in action by the weekend and wouldn't need to modify my training schedule. I didn't have time to modify my schedule! I was scheduled for 12 miles on Saturday and 20 miles on Sunday. It was a big one! But the days rolled on and the cold was not getting better. It just kept getting worse. I spent my weekend on the couch with tissues, juice, water, ice cream, cough drops, Mucinex-D and a whole lot of anxiety and frustration about not being able to train.

The weekend came and went. I worked on Monday (and probably shouldn't have) but by the end of the day, I had completely lost my voice. I also started to noticed that I was struggling to breathe. I was diagnosed with asthma when I was in the 4th grade but it was been pretty well managed since I was prescribed the miracle drug, Singulair, about 10 years ago. During all of my marathon training over the past 6 years, the only time I've had much trouble with my asthma while training is when the humidity and/or air pollution levels get high in the summer.

I spent much of Tuesday night sitting up in bed hacking up a lung and struggling to get a deep breath. I called the doctor's office first thing in the morning and when you tell them you are having trouble breathing, they get you right in. The Pilot drove me to the doctor's office where I received a breathing treatment, some antibiotics, a steroid and a heavy duty cough medicine so I could sleep. I also received strict instructions to come back if my breathing hadn't improved by morning....

I think the cat was mocking me and my coughing fits....or maybe she was having sympathy coughs?

The narcotics in the cough medicine weren't enough to keep me asleep and breathing normally so I spent most of the night sitting up in bed, coughing, wanting to smother the sleeping Pilot. I guess when you are used to sleeping in hotels right next to the airport, you can sleep through just about anything. I woke up miserable but had an eye doctor appointment that I had scheduled nearly two months earlier. I quickly forgave The Pilot for his ability to sleep through the sounds of my lungs trying to dislodge from my chest cavity because he got up at 6:00 am with me and took me to the eye doctor. By the time we left the eye doctor's office, I was at a whole new level of miserable. My eyes were dilated and naturally it had to be a beautiful, sunny (RARE) day in Columbus. I was also having A LOT of trouble breathing so The Pilot drove me back to the doctor's office where I got another breathing treatment and a steroid shot in the hip (yowza!)...and bad news.

Marathoners in training tend to be irrational creatures. We sometimes ignore all reasoning and forget that we are, in general, smart, educated people. This is why injured marathoners tend to rush their recovery and then get hurt again. I knew I was in no condition to be working out in any way but with the Goofy Challenge only about a month away, I thought maybe, just maybe, I'd still be able to get in some decent mileage over the weekend. All those drugs would surely get my back on my feet by the weekend, right?! No such luck. The doctor and the nurse (who happened to be a marathoner), told me no working out until at least Monday and only if my breathing was back to normal.

After 10 days of not sleeping well and not working out at all, I was done. I couldn't even help it and just started crying. Right there in the doctor's office. I felt like an idiot. The marathoner nurse told me not to panic, that I would be back on my feet in no time and then went to fetch The Pilot who had been waiting patiently in the waiting room for 45 minutes. After a hug and a smile from The Pilot (yes, that's all that I needed at that moment), we left, armed with some samples of an even stronger cough medicine.

The Pilot had to leave in the morning. I know he was worried about leaving me but I couldn't help but think that certainly flying an airplane full of cranky passengers would be easier than taking care of a sick and cranky marathoner that can't train. Plus, I knew my mom would be happy that she could step back in to take care of me. Being a nurse for nearly 40 years and being my personal nurse for 30 years, I can imagine that it's hard for her to take a step back and let someone else take care of me. She does it like a champ though. And when The Pilot left for his 4-day trip, she showed up with dinner....and then I showed up at my parents' house the next day where they fed me lunch and dinner. It was exhausting to get dressed and actually get out of the house but it was nice to get a change in scenery.

I'm still not sleeping normally because the steroids have me all hopped up but I can now move around the house like a normal person and still be able to breathe. The coughing is slowly going away and my energy level is coming back. My legs feel like tree trunks and my body is puffy from the steroids so I'm not exactly looking forward to my first post-crud workout. I'm doing my best to listen to all the advice and will avoid working out until Tuesday. That is when I plan to trek over to the gym to test my legs on the treadmill. I'm hoping that I can make it 30 minutes and then I'll take it from there.

Thank you for all of the get well wishes and training advice over the past two weeks! I'm probably one of those most annoying sick people in the world but I'm definitely thankful that this was just a bad cold/bronchitis and not something worse. I don't think I could handle anything else! I'm also extremely thankful to have The Pilot, who dropped everything to play nurse and for my mom for letting him do that. I'm constantly reminded that I am surrounded by the most loving and thoughtful people in the world.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Whirlwind Week

So I last left off with my 16 miler that turned into an 8 miler after my knee decided to have a hissy fit. I wanted to have a hissy fit but when I called my mom for some moral support on the way home from training, she suggested I come over for lunch. Free lunch and some time with my parents, I headed right over. It's hard to have a hissy fit when you are almost 30 years old and your mom suggests that you put a "boo boo pack" on your gimpy knee...especially when it's an Elmo boo boo pack (I still love that little red fuzzy monster!). I know enough that ice is just what my knee needed and I'm old enough and smart enough now to know that my mom is always right. I was still pretty bummed about my knee though. It's been years since I've had an injury that has made me stop training.
This gets me to the week of Thanksgiving! I love the holidays and I'm not one that gets stressed out about the holidays. It goes against my personality but I sort of enjoy the chaos of trying to fit in all the parties and family gatherings. This year is particularly chaotic now that The Pilot is in my life and there is a whole other dynamic with trying to coordinate his crazy schedule with the holiday plans of my family and his family. And then to throw it all out of whack, I headed to Orlando on Thanksgiving day to work my annual shift at Walt Disney World so I can maintain my seasonal cast member status (that is a long story for another time for my bloggy followers that don't know me personally).

Originally I had planned my 10 miler for Thanksgiving Day (no guilt for me if I decided to eat a whole pumpkin pie!) and then a 18 miler on Black Friday. I returned to Ohio on Black Friday but was exhausted so a nap was required. By the time I got up from the nap though, I was starting to run out of daylight. I also hadn't really tested out my knee other than during some strength training and walking around the airports so I was reluctant anyways. I decided doing some laps was best so that I wouldn't get too far from my car and I wouldn't get caught in the dark (I do NOT train in the dark, alone EVER. Even though I love winter marathon training, I HATE that it is dark so early.) I was able to get in 5 miles at an decent pace and NO knee pain! I was so excited.

The Pilot came in late on Friday night so I snuck out around 7:30 am on Saturday morning to meet up with the Team for the group training while he slept in. I wasn't coaching but I like to go to as many practices as possible because the Team always helps keep me motivated. I walked a couple miles with the spring Teams and then headed back out with some alumni for a total of 6 miles.

I hopped in the car and headed home where The Pilot had a chance to sleep in a little and was waiting to go back out with me. It was pretty cold out and I was walking (I'm going to lay off the running for awhile. It's just not worth it to me this close to the Goofy Challenge) so The Pilot left the bike at home and said he would walk a few miles with me and then head back out on roller blades. We walked out 3 miles, straight into the wind and then headed back. I kept asking him if he wanted to turn around since he hasn't walked that far since doing volksmarches while living in Germany as a kid. I'm glad he was up for it though because I much prefer going out as far as possible before turning back so I can avoid having to do laps...I also genuinely enjoy his company and we had been apart for several days.

I had picked up a new pair of shoes on Black Friday (yeay for the running store not being too busy!) but didn't want to wear them for all 18 miles. Even though they were the same shoe, I ended up going with a narrow version in the same size. I have been having some issues with my foot sliding from side to side in the toe box and I was getting a hot spot on the ball of my foot. Anyhoooo....we got back to the car and I changed into my old shoes and The Pilot changed into roller blades. We headed back into the wind (ugh!). I was really starting to drag but I also really wanted to get all of the miles in. I started to have some stomach issues though and that is when I discovered another downside to winter training.

We weren't near that wonderfully clean port-a-potty that I mentioned from the previous weekend so that only left one other option (since outdoors is still not an option in my book!). We headed towards the public park where we discovered that the bathrooms right off the trail were closed for the winter and a sign directed people to use the other restrooms at the park....which were not close. But I didn't have a choice. The upside to the bathroom being further away, I totally counted that towards my mileage for the day. The Pilot looked on Google Earth when we got home and added a 1/2 mile for the 2 round trips (once on that first trip out). Normally I can make it through a full marathon with only one pit stop but I think the combination of flying and being dehydrated left me a little out of sorts before I even started the training which led to the cranky stomach. OK, that was a lot of bathroom talk. Before you know it, I'm going to be talking like Beth over at SUAR!

There's my man in black on roller blades.
The dudes certainly don't get as much of a selection in athletic gear as the ladies!
When it was all done with though, I made it a total of 17.5 miles. Yes, I am fully aware that I intended to do 18 miles but I really had given it all I had and was just exhausted by the time we got back to the car. Now, I'm sure I could have squeezed out another half mile but it would have been junk so I called it a day without any guilt. And thanked The Pilot over and over again for covering a whopping 11 miles with me! He's such a trooper and definitely kept me going. He may have also learned the hard way about why marathoners have the mantra, cotton is rotten. :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Not the Bees Knees

Life, the Holidays, a random trip to Orlando and a clingy head cold has gotten in the way of blogging but I'm back!

As the weekend of November 20 approached, I had a really busy week but was trying to switch my focus from work to training. I was scheduled for 8 miles on Saturday and 16 miles on Sunday.

The Pilot was home on Saturday so he packed up his bike and we headed out to the trail. I decided to go ahead and run most of the miles. Like always, the first three miles were not fun. I tried to focus on The Pilot chattering away over my left shoulder instead of the fire I was feeling in my shins. It's no wonder that beginners often quit, because it feels like it's never going to get easier! Luckily it does though! Once I got the the 3 mile marker, the shin splints went away so I could finally enjoy my surroundings. It was pretty chilly but I'm one of those weird people that loves winter marathon training. The Pilot seems to like to take "action" pictures but most of those pictures make me rethink this whole running thing. I run like a Penguin that's for sure. I look like I'm in pain or I'm drowning in most of the photos. This one represents my speed work though....
...Yes, I go much faster when my tongue is hanging out like that. Anyhoooo....there is an upside to being one of the few that actually enjoys winter marathon training...nice and clean port-a-potties! There are two legitimate places to use the restroom on the trail (I am NOT one of those marathoners who can use the "nature's facilities). One is a real bathroom at a public park, 1.5 miles from the trail head. The other is about 3.5 miles out and is a port-a-potty in the middle of nowhere. I probably could have made it back but as I turned around at the 4 mile marker, I decided to make a pit stop. Lucky for me, it had just been cleaned the week before (yes, I check the dates while I'm in there) and not many people go that far out on the trail (it dead ends at mile 6) so it was nice and clean. And I am even luckier that The Pilot was with me and likes those "action" shots because this is what I saw once we returned (gee, thanks, hon!):
There are several comical things about this photo...1.) I actually managed to look like a runner while heading to the port-a-potty. 2.) The sign says Do Not Enter. 3.) It looks like I am running right for the power substation. Again, thank you to my wonderful boyfriend for his mad photojournalism skills.

The 8 miles went pretty quickly, as it always does when my partner in crime is keeping me company. We got back to the car and went on our merry way.

Sunday however was not as merry. It was a coaching day so I met with the Team at 8:00 am to do 2 miles. One of the alumni, Kim, was planning to go back out with me for a few miles and then I would head back out again to finish my 16 miles. That was the plan at least. During the easy 2 miles that I did with the Team, my right knee was acting a little weird. By the time we got back to our starting point, my knee was really annoyed. I mentioned it to one of the wonderful run coaches, Krista, who quickly told me that I should take it easy. When an elite runner like Krista tells you to take it easy, you should probably listen. I was so determined to get all 16 miles in though.

I headed back out with Kim. We went to the 2 mile marker and she offered to head out another mile before turning back. I really wanted the company so we went out to mile 3 and turned around. When we made the turn though, my knee was about to have an all out hissy fit. Even still, I was calculating in my head, how many miles I had left and what course I would need to take to get that many miles in. We were making our way towards the parking lot to finish when some of the runners that were going longer distances caught up to us. I was talking with another amazing alumni, Ann, about my knee and I think it was her kind words (and a text message from Krista telling me to listen to my body) that convinced me that the right thing to do was to stop for the day. I've had a lot of doubts about my training over the last couple of weeks (I constantly worry that I'm not doing enough) but Ann reassured me that I still have time to train and that I have enough spirit to get me to the finish line. You can't fake something like a full marathon and especially not the Goofy Challenge but she did have a point, though I don't know if I'd call it spirit. I think stubborn and/or determined might be more appropriate. Come race day, I want it bad enough that I won't quit.

Stopping after 8 miles was definitely the right thing to do that day. By the time I got to my car to head home, I was limping. And then it was very painful to drive. I started a routine of ice and ibuprofen for the next three days (and swapped 2 workouts for stretching and abs and arms work) and was feeling much better. Unfortunately, taking the time off left me very grumpy and unsure of myself. This is the life of a marathoner though I suppose! Ups and downs but we just won't quit.