NYC Marathon Training: “What do you think about during all those long runs?!”

So my training this period has been interesting. I’ve done 98% of my weekly runs inside on a treadmill (I get really cranky about which treadmill I run on at Crunch now. Who knew!) , so that means anywhere from 3-6 miles. Once, out of desperation, I ran 12 miles on a Treadmill, and when I was training for my first half marathon, I ran 10 miles on a treadmill, so I know in a pinch I can run long, boring runs, but I’m happy that my coach has kept my weekday runs to no more than 6 miles. SO VERY LUCKY.

During the training runs, usually early morning–I worked out a deal that on Tues/Thurs I can come in at 9:30 am instead of 9, but that still has me getting up before 6am on days that I run–and have *gasp* forsaken my coffee-immediately-upon-waking for the extra minutes I gain pressing the snooze button. Thank goodness my hubby sleeps like a log, LOL, or else I’m sure I’d be dead by now. Add “morning coffee for transit to work” to my list of things I gave up for marathon training (remember, make-up is on the list, also).

My workouts during the week varies a bit, thanks to my coach. Sometimes I have a structured workout–for example, today, I had 4 x 5 minutes at 12:00 pace with a 3:00 recovery and 5 miles total to run. I have come to love the structured workouts more, because I can just focus on little stretches of time–the 5 minutes, and holding on–instead of just basically steady-state running for miles and miles (tomorrow’s 6 miles “easy” would be an example of this). Given the tedium of running on a treadmill, I HAVE to have music. I’ve been slacking and haven’t really updated my music all training cycle save some songs here and there, but I’m certainly searching for some music if you have any suggestions. My “marathon training playlist” goes from Nirvana to The Roots, to Janelle Monae, to Adele, to Katy Perry, to Pharrell to Beyoncé. LOL. But, it makes those workouts bearable.

Recently–I would say on my last 5 weeks of long runs–I didn’t listen to music on long runs. The 18 Mile Marathon Tune Up, I didn’t run with music for 80% of the run. I thought that putting on music at mile 15 would be a treat, but I couldn’t find the right music for what I needed at the time, and it bothered me more than helped. So I took it off. I remember loving hearing other people sing to themselves, or really, just listening to the sounds of all the feet around me hitting the road. It was a nice distraction. I guess I can thank my years of marching band practice on a parking lot for that.

The next week, at the Bronx 10 Miler (I ended up doing 14 miles that day), I didn’t have music, and honestly I don’t remember what I thought about, I just zoned out, ran on the lines of the road and imagined that I was running on a treadmill like my body knows so well. It worked!

For the 18 miler I did in Central Park the second time–I ran 2 miles before a Half Marathon, and then the rest after–I didn’t touch my music at all. It was the ultimate test for me. My hip was hurting a little bit, I was running Central Park backwards, so it was sort of like unchartered territory, and I had 18 miles!

Once the half marathon started, I switched between a few techniques:

  • Body check: This is the most funny to describe, but I remember in college learning a relaxation technique of focusing your attention on one part of your body at a time until you covered every part of your body. It takes attention away from thinking about other things. This was most helpful when my hip was talking a little too loudly to me, so I decided to do a body check. Literally I would say (in my head): “Head, are you there?” and then, answer, “Here!”. Then, “Left ear, are you OK?” “Here!”. “Right ear, are you there?” “Here!” and so on down to my feet. I would break down my arms and legs to “bicep, tricep, hands, fingers” etc. to prolong the process. It worked and I forgot about my hip pain!
  • Counting my steps. I would count my left foot hitting the ground up to 100 and then start over. I would count my right foot hitting the ground up to 100 and start over.
  •  Army Count: Simply repeating: “Left, Left, Left RIGHT Left” ad nauseam
  • Coaching: On the hills, once I learned to “switch gears” and use different muscles to run up hill, I would just remind myself to lift my knees, that on the uphill that’s all I had to do, lean in, and lift my knees!

I’m sure there are other things, but I can’t remember them. I know I told myself repeatedly during the 20 miler that “this [was] the hardest thing I’ll have to do until the marathon” and that kept me moving.

Except during the 20 miler I was getting tired and hungry and I didn’t want to think anymore. So my music saved me. I think if I had been listening for the 4+ hours I was on the road, I would have been bored to death, but finally, near the end of my run, I put on music, and my body went into autodrive: my feet moved to the paces that they were so used to running on the treadmills. I could just run on muscle memory alone. And sure enough, my pace picked up magically! And it was then that I learned there was rhyme or reason to this training thing!!! I am thankful that I can run without, and that I can now use the music as a tool, to get me to the end.

WEEK 16 NYC MARATHON TRAINING & Staten Island Half Recap

Here’s my song for last week’s training. Beyoncé!

Still traveling, including a trip to Philly and Providence last week, but I made it to the hotel gyms, which, if you know me is a LOT of work :) I mean, who knew how heavy running shoes are until you have to carry them on a trip without your husband to carry your bags :)

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Stats:

  • Total Running Miles: 32
  • Longest Run: 20.25!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Total Donuts: 344.88

As I said, last week I was in Philly and Providence for work, and that meant a lot of hours in a car which was no bueno for my hips after 18 hilly miles on Sunday.

Tuesday: Tuesday I had “sprint” intervals 10 times, and 4 miles, but I could only walk in between the 1 minute sprints. I STRUGGLED to get the sprints in, and was overall just thankful that I could do anything at all besides limp. Getting into and out of the car was still a struggle by Wednesday.

Thursday I was supposed to have 5 miles on tap, but there was just NO TIME in the day to do it–I had to drive to Providence, meet with 8 students, have dinner with 8 students, and then hit the bed.

Friday morning I got up and got 5 slow miles in–some at a tougher pace than others. It was hard. The hotel gym was hot and dank. I struggled every mile, but it got done. That was most important, that I put in the miles. My hips were still tight from Sunday. This is why I worried about doing 18 one week and then 20 the next. If I couldn’t successfully pull off 5 miles, how on earth….

Saturday came, and the week before I had decided to coordinate a carb loading party. It was my race anniversary of 3 years, and me and C had 20 miles on tap, and a few other friends were running also. So I said, let’s get DOUGH donuts, eat at an Italian restaurant, and carb load the right way! My older brother and sister in law and nephew joined us, and my running friend Jill, and some other friends Abba and Syhaya came to load up the carbs! Before the dinner, I was tasked with getting the donuts from  DOUGH which was just over a mile from my house. Because I didn’t get 5 miles in on Thursday, and because on some level, getting some workout before a long run works, I decided to walk to get the donuts and walk back. That was about 2.5 miles. Then, I caught a bus to the Italian restaurant, or near it. I needed to catch another bus, but it wasn’t coming soon, and I was running a bit late, so I walked the rest of the way to the restaurant–not ideal, but I consider it cross training, yeh? Total miles on Saturday: 3 walking. Here’s the only picture from the night–DOUGH (What’s left of it) IN ALL ITS GLORY.

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STATEN ISLAND HALF RECAP: OK. So, C and I rented a Zip Car for Sunday’s run, because, who wants to mess with the Ferry, etc etc etc? Best decision ever. We had a 5:30 AM pick-up time, which meant waking up at 4:45AM, pitch black o’clock and go through the motions of getting ready. The beauty of having a car is you can pack things like 32 oz of water in a nalgene and baby wipes and a new shirt and compression socks and left over DOUGH donuts :)

When we got out of the car, the sun was coming up. Quiet at the start.

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The plan was to run 3-4 miles, then half marathon, then 3-4 miles. Secretely, I thought about doing 5 + 13 + 2 but thought that I would use up all my energy doing 5 so I should stick with 4. Welp, our car was parked 1 mile from the start. We started running from there and up the route 2 miles, and ran back 4 miles, yeh? NOAP. We still had to get to the start (technically we could have crossed perpendicular over the route to get to the start, but, did we? No. We ran the route backwards to the start) which meant my pre-half marathon run looked more like 5.3 miles. WOOPS. I will come to thank my lucky stars later, but at this point, I’m freaking out.  Still, C and I looked fresh-to-death for the start (and didn’t look like we just ran 5+ miles)

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So, I have a secret love affair with Staten Island Half. I think it was because it was my first race ever.  And I did myself so proud. I don’t remember it being so flat, but I remember feeling strong the whole way. I was excited to return to Staten Island, and do this race again, and the weather was certainly cold like I like it–but it warmed up. I need to figure out race-day attire–at the start, and the route is an out an back, which means no surprises, and even though they changed up the route (for the better–THANK YOU DOWNHILL AT MILE 13 (or 18!)), I still had a decent race.

Here’s our view at the start:

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Let’s see if I can remember any highlights:

  • At mile 2 (7) I started walking, and I heard a “spectator” comment: “Oh man, they’re walkin’ alreadyyy”. YES. WHEN YOU RUN 5 MILES BEFORE THE RACE YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU WANT. Rant over.
  • Mile 3 (8) was GU time. FINALLY. We ran up to this point and back before the race started, so I was familiar with the “rolling hills” and felt good. Because I knew I would be racing the clock (even more so now that I ran more than I anticipated because I ran so much before), I started a few corrals up. This would give me the time I needed to finish on time, and it would give C a Half Marathon PR in the middle of a 20 mile run!!
  • I had this great new belt that lets you put GU on the straps and so I had like 6 GU’s lined up ready for race-day nutrition. A guy ran past me and said, “It looks like you have a whole meal on your waist!” YEP SIR, when you’re running 20 miles, you gotta be prepared!
  • I take advantage of the downhill, which I know is going to bite me in the butt at mile 9 on the way back–the pluses and minuses of an out-and-back course. But I’m taking what I’m given when I get it.
  • At mile 6 (11), when there was supposed to be a water station (I need to pay better attentenion!) for my next GU, there was none. I realized i was HUNGRY. I’ve never felt hunger or such emptiness in my belly before. It made focusing on the run near impossible–I was just looking for the next water station. And suffering through a lot of walking, and barely any running. When I planned out my GU’s, I had a 2x Caffeine Caffe Latte GU that I would save for the half-way point. I needed it so badly then, but would not be able to refuel until after the 7 (12) mile marker.
  • Right before the turn around point (a little after mile 7), I hear a lot of yelling. and see people jumping up and down and waving. I think: man, this person has the BEST cheering squad ever! Then I see a police man running in the direction of the screaming, and think, oh, no. I see a man on the ground, shaking. A few seconds later, ambulances in both directions are coming to assist. By the time I make it to the point where he was, he is gone. I think to myself: Thank you, God, for allowing me to do all of this as safely as I can.
  • Mile 8 (13)–the GU is kicking in, and mentally my brain is like: we’ve done a half marathon! we’re done! Not so, my friend. We get back to the elevation-point of the course, and finally I have something to put my mind to–switching gears for uphill, letting gravity pull me down the down hill, and running in between. I realized I no longer like flat courses and this course proves it yet again. My mind is thankful for the distraction.
  • Mile 10 (15) comes and I sprint up the hill and walk some, but I start passing people on the hill. SO ALL THE HILL WORK IN CENTRAL PARK DID SOMETHING!! At this point, I start feeling better, because I remember when each of these people passed me on my “low point” of the flat turn around point. Now I get to reel them in. I always read about this in race re-caps but never understood what it meant, or how satisfying it really is. It IS!
  • I finally put on music between 10-11 (15-16) because I can’t do any more mind tricks. I just want the music to take me away. I shuffle through to find my good songs, and land on “Run the World” (hence the song of the week) as my first song. SCORE. My body just goes into automatic–it knows what to do. This is my weekday training on the treadmill, one foot in front of the other, listening to these same songs over and over. Just do what I’ve always done for the last 18 weeks, is all. And I did.
  • At one point, this guy I had been leap-frogging with comes into my peripheral vision. I’m on the jamming part of Run the World, and jamming, and he’s a pretty big guy in the way that I’m a pretty big girl. He glances over at me, but I’m looking straight forward–never let him see you sweat!–and he picks up his pace, and I pick up my pace. He looks over seriously at me at this point and smiles, and I look over and smile and nod my head, and think: what perfect music!! and Beyoncé carries me away, and I left him in the dust, and I never saw him again.
  • It goes like that with a few more people. I find some sprints in there somewhere, even at miles 16, 17, and at mile 12.something, I see C and a fire is lit beneath me! I’m so happy to see a familiar face! The race is almost over! He runs and I see my pace picking up, much faster than it has been all 12+ (17+) miles. Where is this coming from? Oh well, I go with it. I run with it. I run with C. I ask him where the hell is the finish line, and he walks me through it. And I’m half listening, watching the folks I’m passing by on my way. AND THANK YOU GOD AGAIN FOR THAT DOWNHILL TO 13 MILES.
  • We turn the corner into the stadium, and there are two more people between me and the finish line and .1 left. I tell C I’m going to sprint so that I can make it in before them! He says, GO! Then I say, but wait, will you hold my hand into the finish? So he grabs my hand, and we sprint to the end:

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I finish, and grab a bagel and apple, and eat the apple and take a bite of the bagel and continue walking. Even though I felt “finished” I still had 1.5 miles left. IT WAS HARD adjusting to going bcak to running, and immediately, I regretted the sprint (even though it felt SO GOOD at the time) at mile 13 (18!!). But I just had to jog back to the car plus a little more and I would be put out of my misery.

I kept repeating to myself, “This is the last hard thing you have to do before the marathon.”

And my Garmin beeped 1.5 miles

AND I WAS DONE LIKE BURNT TOAST.

I MADE IT! I MADE IT TO 20 MILES! AND TO THE TAPER! I still contest that “taper” is the most beautiful word in the English Running Language :)

And there you have it, folks. I’m in taper. This is the slow-roll into the station.

WEEK 15 NYC MARATHON TRAINING: A WEEK LATE & Grete’s Gallop Half Marathon Recap

Travel + Marathon training = late blog post and possible missed runs.

However! Here’s what last week looked like:

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Stats:

  • Total Running Miles: 30
  • Longest Run: 18.4!
  • Total Workouts: 5

I got a nice swim in on Thursday thanks to my brother in law! I love his pool!! I’m so thankful that he lets me cross train in it when our schedules align! Now for the weekly update. This is for September 29-October 5:

Tuesday: 5 miles with some pace work. I nailed it, and did more than expected of me. I swear—having an excel spreadsheet of my workouts and cross-referencing it with my daily mile workouts really lets me see how my workouts are changed by the time of the month. 4 days out, and I feel ON TOP OF THE WORLD! And sprint and do more than expected.

Wednesday: 4 Miles. What a difference a day makes! Now enter the working-out-is-so-hard phase right before my period starts. Please note the day before I rocked out–and speedy, too!–my run and had less miles, and struggled harder. Leh sigh.

Thursday was swim day. I did laps of the pool until I got to Letter T or 20 laps. It felt good to let my arms do a lot of the work on some of the laps and let the legs come along for the ride.

Friday: REST DAY! I think I was supposed to run, but it did not happen.  (See Wednesday’s PMS blues)

Saturday: Because I did not run on Friday, I wanted to get some miles in before the long run on Sunday. For October, all of my long runs are on Sunday. I have found that doing 3 or so miles the night before the long run lets me shake out my legs, and it sort of lets me get the crappy miles out of the way the night before rather than on the run. And for crappy miles, this run did not disappoint. See Facebook Status immediately post-run:

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LOL.

But. If I got those miles out of the way Friday to have THE BEST LONG RUN (to that point) EVER IN THE HISTORY OF MY MARATHON TRAINING. I’d go through it again.

So. First let me tell you that I have a friend running Chicago, and we compared training plans. Chicago is a week early, and because my coach had me do a lot of my long runs twice before I went up or stepped back, many weeks we ran the same distance. Except, last week she was running 20, and I was “only” running 18. I ran 18 on Sept 15, and it was successful enough that I didn’t want to ruin its success by trying again and failing. ALSO I wanted so badly to get to TAPER MODE (read: reduced training miles, specifically in the long-run category) that I was willing to run 20 last week to get it over with. AND I was scared of running 18 miles one Sunday and then turning around and running 20 miles the next sunday.

I wrote to coach to see if I could run 20, and 18. She wrote back: sure, run 20. But you’ll run 20 next week too. THERE YOU HAVE IT FOLKS. I ran 18.

I was also beginning to think about the fact that I had been using NYRR races for fueling and set-location running. Between June and October, if I ran the races I was signed up for, I’d have run 7 of the 9 races you needed to qualify for the marathon for 2015. And on the weekend that I had 18 miles, there happened to be a half marathon in Central Park (we are BFF’s now), and well, I registered to get to 8, and signed up for #9 and completed my volunteer requirement on 9/29.  YEP. We’re doing it next year!!!

Anyways. The Half Marathon on Oct 5 was Grete’s Great Gallop a race remembering Grete Waitz, and in honor of cancer survivors. I knew the half was going to be two full loops of Central Park, and as I had 18, I thought about doing 3 full loops a la Marathon Tune-Up, until I realized it was THREE BACKWARDS LOOPS OF CENTRAL PARK and then I changed my game, and did some miles, before (2) the half marathon (13.3) and miles after (2.7).

Because it was two loops of the park, I’m not going to recount mile for mile, but yall—I think I have FINALLY gotten the hang of running in Central Park, and dare I say it: I like it! I managed to figure out how to “shift gears” for uphill, downhill, and flat running, and prefer the elevation change to flat running now! Who knew?! Even some of the later miles, I ran some of my fastest miles in this cycle, and finished with a sprint (thanks, speedwork!). I finished 2.7 by doing a bottom loop of Central Park and then down Central Park West where C was patiently waiting for me to finish–that’s love!

And the kicker? I finished 15 MINUTES FASTER than the Marathon Tune up 2 weeks prior!

I want to write a separate post about how I’ve gone mostly no-music lately on these runs, and talk about other things I’ve discovered about myself while running. In the meantime, I still have to process this week’s feat: 20 MILES! I AM NOW IN TAPER MODE!

More soon!

WEEK 14 NYC MARATHON TRAINING: It’s our Anniversary & Bronx 10 Miler Recap

One year ago, I married my favorite man. Here’s a song for today. (Tony Toni Toné)

We spent Wednesday-Saturday in Philadelphia to celebrate our anniversary, and I was still getting over my sickness, so, marathon training was kind of lackluster…

Here’s the pictoral evidence:

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Stats:

  • Total Running Miles: 20
  • Longest Run: 13.61
  • Total Cumulative Donuts: 291
  • Total Workouts: 3

Tuesday night, I decided to get some miles on my new shoes on the road instead of the treadmill, and went to Prospect Park. It was dark, it was hard. It hurt a little bit, and scary, because I was out there alone, and at night. But I did close to 5 miles, “by feel” which translated into probably more walking than I wanted…but I was rewarded with a pretty cool view at the end of the run:

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We did a LOT of walking in Philly, including the Mural Mile walking tour, which was super fun, and we decided to do that instead of going into the Philly Museum of Art (though we did take the obligatory pics in front of the Rocky Steps:

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Here are some pics from the Mural Mile Walk:

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I was “good” and brought my gym clothes to Philly in an effort to keep up with my marathon training, but the truth was I was still sick when we left. I tried to go down and do some miles, but it was hot and I couldn’t focus, and only managed to do about 2 miles, then biked while C was finishing up his 1.5 miles. That would be the only mileage “running” during the trip…

Here’s a cute pic of us (I’m SO SHORT!) after a great dinner in Philly:

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ANYWAYS—so, C’s favorite race is the NYRR Bronx 10 miler, which he ran in 2012, but could not because it was our wedding weekend last year. I agreed to run it this year on our anniversary both because, NYC Marathon Training waits for no anniversary, and I wanted to experience the bliss that he seemed to experience. SPOILER ALERT: There was no bliss on my part, only because I wanted it to be cooler, and we ran (RACED) 2.5 miles from Harlem to the start (shout out to the old hood, and the Starbucks that welcomed me for a bathroom break), and I was already spent before the race began.

If you’ll recall my open letter to NYRR, about the lack of water near the end of the race…I was certainly keeping open eyes to make sure that my experience matched everyone’s experience. And I’m here to tell you that each water station was filled with water and gatorade all the way until the end!

Bronx 10 miler is an out-and-back course which I tend to like. On the way “out” I’m thinking: YAY DOWNHILL. OH WAIT. THAT WILL BE AN UPHILL COMING BACK. Or vice versa. I was praying that the sun would still be behind the buildings on my way back, and for the most part, it was–enough–even though I definitely have sun-kissed shoulders. Because my pace has been MAD SLOW lately, I worried a bit about my pace for the race. Because the race is a road race–on Grand Concourse in the Bronx–they have a stricter time limit to get the streets back to normal for the folks in the neighborhood we take over. There was an honest-to-god sweep BUS creeping at the end of the runners, and yall, that put fire in my belly to make sure I was NOT ON THAT BUS. I swore I would rip off my bib and pretend to be a street runner before I got on the bus. If you’re familiar with NYRR rules, generally the course limit starts “after the last person crosses the starting line”, and so when I went to line up, I made sure that I was “somewhere up there” near the middle of the pack to ensure that I could get a few more minutes. I also went out too fast to give myself a “buffer” but having already spent everything on the 2.5 miles before the race, after the first mile of the race, I WAS BEAT, YALL. My pace dropped considerably and I just struggled to hold on, ahead of the struggle bus.

Anyways, I finished. C and I were re-united, spoke to some NYRR officials who asked to meet us on our anniversary…and I wobbled to the train. I’m still breaking in these new shoes, and I definitely felt it when I stopped running. I wanted to do at least one more mile when we got to Brooklyn, so we got off the train a stop early, and ran around Bed Stuy–C even paced me for a few fast blocks near the end, for my second-fastest mile of the run– before coming home.

We set out our cake to defrost so we could eat it on our anniversary day, and besides the fondant, it came out pretty good after a year–literally–in the freezer!

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It was the lemon piece of our cake, and it was certainly sweeter than I expected….but still delish, and I’m not sure I”ll eat more of it, but C certainly instructed me to save the rest!

In other news……………..

I’m one race sign-up away from completing another 9+1. Tomorrow I’ll head up to NYRR and complete my volunteer component….then participating in 651 ARTS’ conversation series, Love in the Time of Brooklyn., and Tuesday, I will attend Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Classic Cocktail Party; so excited!

 

What’s My Plan?

Marathon training is hard enough; the miles, the miles the miles. I have been pretty public with my training so as to hold myself accountable, and to document for myself, AND to show that folks of all sizes can work towards the seeming impossible.

I confessed to my friend Jess one night when she asked me how it was going, I simply said: “I’m tired.”

When she asked me to elaborate, I said something to the effect of: I’m tired of thinking about everything and how it might impact my runs: am I eating enough?/ am I eating enough of the right things at the right time?/when do I need to go to bed to get enough sleep?/what time do I need to wake up to get to the gym, run my miles, shower, and walk to work to get to work on time?/did I pack the clothes I’m going to wear to work tomorrow?/ do I have enough GU for the long run Saturday?/how many miles on my shoes before I need new ones?/how much salt is good for tomorrow’s humid long run but too much for normal hypertension aversion?/ do I have a bagel for my breakfast before the long run in the morning?/do we have pasta, tomato sauce, protein for me, for C?/where am I going to run?/what am I going to wear on the long run?/wait, before I decide that, what’s the weather going to be like approximately during the hours of 7am-1pm?/ what percentage of humidity is too much?/if I eat kale with dinner tonight will I regret it in the morning during the run?….AND ON AND ON AND ON…

But I think about other things that could be on this list. One thing I’m thankful to not have to think about is: how far do I have to run today? What’s my plan?

As I have been  mentally preparing for the TCS New York City Marathon, I went through my favorite running blogs, and started reading their race recaps. I also found some new favorites. I discriminated against running blogs with runners who did sub-4 marathons because I just couldn’t relate. At All. These are the people who call 10+ minute miles SO SLOWW and well. That’s me. So, you won’t get my eyes or my time. I stumbled upon this one compelling blog, and read through her archives (OK, I’ve read it twice.) for the 2013 NYC Marathon, and was intrigued by her mentioning she had a running coach. I didn’t act on that first intrigue. Well, I went to the Running Coach’s website, and read through how super-fast she is, and qualified for Boston Marathon on her first run (that is a pretty big deal, BTW). I thought, that’s cool that she has a coach, and continued to modify Hal Higdon’s marathon plan for myself and try and figure that out on my own.

And yes, my feet are doing the running, but I don’t have to be alone. And yes, my husband is running/training for NYC Marathon, also, but he’s so fast, and I just wanted someone I could talk to about my struggles and concerns (turns out there would be a lot of it!) and who could create a plan FOR ME. It’s part of my new belief (another post on that later) that if I am able to, I should go down the path of least resistance, and the “sacrifice” (in this case, the $) would pay off in peace of mind, in letting experts do what they are trained to do and not try to be one, and it would take one more thing off my plate.

So I contacted Abby and she agreed to coach little old me to the marathon! We’ve been working together since about July 15, and I can say it was the best decision I could have made. Hands down. I get a monthly plan, and we check after each run, and I have someone–who is not my husband–to cheer me on, to hear me out, to tell me how far I should run, for how long, and when. She (might) doesn’t judge my SLOW PACE, and even, when I whine about not getting faster, she tells me–I’m probably faster than I think I am, and challenges me to push myself a little bit more.

If she’ll have me for future races, I’d continue to work with her again and again….

WEEK 13 MARATHON TRAINING: Harder to Breathe

So this is the song of the week. Maroon 5 “Harder to Breathe”–I realize I’ve used this title before, but, it applied to last week’s training.

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Stats:

  • Total Running Miles: 11
  • Longest Run: 4 (WOMP WOMP)
  • Total Cumulative Donuts: 279
  • Total Workouts: 4

Monday I had a little bit of DOMS from Sunday’s 18 mile run, and found myself walking around tightening my quads for some reason, I think to make myself feel more stable. That worked itself out into some runner’s knee pain on Tuesday’s run, but I worked through it. And except for one stop to shake out the knee, I ran all 4 miles straight and strong. I told myself: 4 miles in the context of 18 is NOTHING. :) They were also some pretty fast miles for me.

Wednesday, I decided to check out a spin class. It was all right. Certainly, my quads were still stiff, and I basically just pedaled at my own pace for the 45 minutes, and gave myself permission to skip out on some of the jumps. The instructor did the obnoxious thing of running up to people to incite them to work harder, and I know it looked on the outside like I was phoning it in, but honestly my legs could not move any faster than what it was. So the instructor bops over to me and is like, “COME ON YOU CAN GO FASTER THAN THAT” and I just said, “I ran 18 miles on Sunday.” and she goes, “YOU SHOULD BE RECOVEREDDD” and then I proceeded to neither speed up NOR do practically anything else she was asking me to do. I finished up, and then did some leg exercises and assisted pull ups and dips. It felt good to do some weight things. Doing a pull up was a goal of mine a longgg long time ago, and so I hope to continue to work towards that goal. I did 1/2 of my body weight, which is still significant, but a good ways to go. Hopefully as I drop weight, the pull-ups will get easier?

Thursday’s run: 4 miles + strides. It was like a run out of the movies. So smooth. So fast (for me)–it even elicited a  “GREAT JOB” from the coach :). I felt on top of the world, and had such great hopes for Saturday’s run.

THEN ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE.

Friday night, I bought some new shoes, new GU/Power Gels, bought my pasta and treated myself to a Dough Donut for the 16 miles. Went home, cooked it. Loved it. Went to sleep at a decent enough time. Everything by rote; I’ve been doing it for 11 weeks now. I knew it was getting fuzzy when I couldn’t focus enough on a route to run 16. I was just going to basically meander around Brooklyn, rather than try to do it all in Prospect Park (or 4.75 loops of the park. For someone who has run 12 miles on a treadmill, I really should be shying away from this). Anyways, that was the first indication that Saturday was going to be not fun.

Alarm clock goes off, and I fight with it for an hour. AN HOUR. I knew the temp for the day was going to get pretty warm and humid later, and the later I stayed in bed the more likely I would be to run in those conditions. I fix my bagel, drink my 16oz NUUN water, pack my spibelt and water bottle and just think: If I get out there on the road, I’ll get it done.

WELP. I’m here to tell you that sometimes the body can win over the mind. I was struggling to catch my breath at mile 1. I thought at first it was because I wasn’t running a race, which could certainly be a reasoning for me not running as fast as my 18 miler–or that I was on the streets of Brooklyn instead of in a park without stoplights, and concrete sidewalks and worrying about tripping over things. It was just mental. I was just complaining. I kept going. Mile 2 went by and it was just as bad as the first. Usually, if I can get past 1.5 ish, things clear up and I convince myself that whatever was trying to stop me from running is over….but it was not. I passed by the Avenue that intersects the street that I live on (except I was like 10 blocks north), and walked home. I immediately got in bed. Did not pass go, did not collect $200.00.

C came in from his 12 miler all jolly and happy. I told him I didn’t finish my run. And went to sleep. We were going to meet up for dinner and I was going to go to his Urban World Midnight screening event. We went into the city for Chinese (yum!), and during dinner, my eyes glassed over, my nose became congested. C sent me home and straight to bed. Even going to sleep was hard though; as soon as I went horizontal, I couldn’t breathe. IN ADDITION: my knee was starting to bother me….and would last until today.

Sunday I thought at least I’d be able to run. NOPE. I couldn’t breathe. My head was fuzzy. You could hear it in my voice.

I let my coach know that I couldn’t do the 16 miler, and she kept checking in on me for Monday and now today. I’m feeling like it’s getting out from under me, finally–after more sleep, and things–and hope to resume running plan soon. This means though, I have to add 6 miles to the 10 mile race on Sunday (OUR 1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY!) and I was looking forward to “only” 10 miles….Coach believes this won’t mess me up too much.

In other news. ONLY 40 DAYS TO NYC MARATHON. #GULP

Hows training? I think I’m going to write a #marathoneats post pretty soon…I’m loving the Nutritionist, and Nutribullet and the #moregreen movement that I started for myself :)

Open Letter to NYRR and Race Officials Everywhere

*UPDATE: I received an appropriate response, and will continue to hold NYRR accountable.*

Dear New York Road Runners,

I have been a member since 2011, and have run 23 road races with your organization in the last three years. I won’t count the races I registered for and did not run, for which, you received my $, I will only talk about the 23 road races that I ran and finished.

I’ll start by saying as of today, September 17, 2014, I’m just coming out from under my injury, however, I am still running over weight, which means, I am running slower paces than some of my earlier races. This is significant and important. You see, the earlier races, I finished somewhere in the middle-back of the pack averaging 10:22-11:30 miles, a pretty average (some might call it “slow”) pace in those days. I would line up in my corral (I was SO HAPPY to move up a corral when I clocked those 10:xx miles) and run my race, and finish, and cheer on the folks coming through the chute behind me.

This past Sunday, despite so many odds (the injury and being over weight I mentioned earlier), I finished the 18 Mile Marathon Tune-Up. It was the farthest I have had to run. I won’t say it was the hardest (because, the humidity the week before in the park certainly wore me down quicker). But I finished it, and I was so proud of myself, but also disappointed. I was at the back of the pack, you see. I only really had two goals: 1) finish before you pulled up the timing mat and 2) run as many of the hills as possible. I accomplished the first goal, and 2/3 of the second, so I’ll call it a win. I’m almost ready for November 2, but, I have a few concerns for that race day that only you, NYRR, can help me with, because it has to do with race-day amenities and providing for EVERY finisher that finishes within the race time (How you described it on Sunday: 4.5 hours from the last person to cross the starting line).
Let me explain a little bit more: It was made clear that the course had a 4.5 hour time limit. It was made clear, also, that Power Gels would be provided through the course, and gatorade at two stops during the race, and water at almost every mile marker through out the race. Because the race was 3 full loops of Central Park, you could get away with your 5 water stations and just keep it stocked. You didn’t need 18. You didn’t need 23 like you’ll need on Marathon Race Day. Just, 5. Just keep 5 water stations stocked for 4.5 hours after the last person crossed the starting line. Given that I wasn’t the last person to cross the starting line by a long shot, and it took me 7 minutes to cross the starting line, and the race started at 7:00am, by my calculation, there should be water, gatorade, and Power Gels at your 5 water stations for each of the almost 5000 runners until about, say, 11:40 AM, no?
But on the contrary. I’m slow. I know I need to keep a certain pace to finish on time. When I made my way around the third loop of the race–at this point, only 3 or so hours in, there was no gatorade at the 1,7,13 mile marker, as promised. Because it was clear that it would be provided, I did not run with water. Additionally, the West Side water stations–2,8,14 and 3,9,15 were packing up, and had no water set out for the runners who were still on the course with me. Of course, you can imagine if there was no water, there was also no gatorade OR Power Gels, during the critical points of the run.
I was thankful to find water and Gatorade at the Mile 17 station as I was finishing up the run, and EXTREMELY THANKFUL to find cheerful volunteers at the finish line, with water, Gatorade, bagels and apples.
But I think I should be clear at this point: if I am the first or the last runner to cross the finish line within the time limit, and if I pay the same price to run as every other runner, I should have access to all of the race-day amenities I am promised upon paying for the race. 
Because as I said, I have been a member since 2011, having run 23 of your races, ad not been slowed by injury before–I usually experience the uninterrupted joy that is NYRR race–free-flowing water, Gatorade for all–but I was extremely disappointed in running by water stations to find tables stacked up, volunteers *emptying* the water bins, and none set out when there was easily an hour left to the race, and other runners in the field, indicated by the race bib you ask each of us to wear.
I really hope to not pass by an empty water station during those critical miles of the Marathon, or that should I need Gatorade, there will still be cups for me to grab as I continue on my way, or I hope that when I get to mile 18, there are still Power Gels (as advertised) left for me to make it to the finish line on November 2!
But actually, before that, I still have the Bronx 10 Miler on September 28, and the Staten Island Half Marathon on October 12. Will there be water enough for me, too, at the end?
I would love to hear your thoughts on the plan for such a dream.
Sincerely,
DéLana