Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I'm an ULTRA MARATHONER: Dirty German 50K

This monumental post of achievement is also my blogs 100th post awwww...only fitting.

But on to the real business, in case you missed it that is, it's official folks.

It (only?) took 6 hours and 50 minutes for me to become an "ultra" marathoner.

I cannot stop shouting it from the roof tops.

Sorry, I'm not sorry for blowing up your Facebook and Instagram feeds with this accomplishment. Everyone else was blowing up the feed with drinking all weekend at the beach...high five for that, but I ran 31.07 frickin miles of gloriousness. I win.

Can someone please transport me back to this most perfect and magical day?

Going in, I really had no idea what to expect.

I have run a crap load this season; and well never run trails. And here I was about to undertake 31.07 miles through the woods. Failing to taper (I took Saturday as a rest day finally) and as calm as I can ever remember. I kept waiting for the nerves to set in, but in typical Gianna fashion I was more concerned about if my outfit matched over the details of this race.

For the record it did thank you very much (and I got lots of looks like "is this girl for real?" at the start...hot pink FTW!)

So anyways. The weather was awful in Jersey leading up to the race...luckily Philly wasn't experiencing the same. And as we drove there Saturday night were greeted by beautiful sun and the promise of a great day.
The promise of sun

Always a good sign.

Hello Philadelphia.
In traditional Gianna and Tara fashion, we didn't arrive in Philly until late - 8? maybe and still needed dinner. By the time we stopped at a random restaurant (which I cannot remember the name of but was DELICIOUS) and checked in, it was now really LATE. Shocking.

We pulled together our drop bags, laid out our outfits, did a half ass foam roll (because if I foam roll my calves for a minute they will magically not be tight, right?) and then got in bed.

And still not nervous. Still no feeling of hmmm I am about to run 50K through the trails of Philadelphia setting in maybe I should be concerned?

Our alarms started going off sometime around 6am (8am race start and we were staying 3 miles away) and the two of us just kind of looked at each other like "are we really about to go do this?". Neither moving much.

Eventually though we did get our asses in gear realizing it was about 7:25 and we had to get going to pick up our bibs etc.

Insert...a very different race start. Folks we are not in road runner land anymore.

We basically got our bibs and used the bathroom and then waited for them to yell to begin.

It was that simple. And oh so foreign. And I think the casual atmosphere helped keep nerves at bay. The only time I started to get frazzled was on our way to the start when navigation to parking was giving us issues and it was now 7:40 or so. Other than than, cool as a cucumber.

And with little fanfare, just like that we were dashing across the field and into the woods. It was a surreal experience.

Our only plan of action was to take it slow. Tara needed to make sure she was staying hydrated and I am notorious for going out and bonking so it was pretty good to have her taking walking breaks out of necessity.

Immediately, I was in awe and in love with trail running. The atmosphere, the camaraderie, the pure sense of joy and lack of monotony were amazing. Miles started flying off. The only bad thing in the beginning was we both needed a bathroom and had left the TP in our drop bags at the half way point (rookie mistake) so waiting to make it to the bathroom at the 7.5 mile marker was slight torture. BUT once we got to that marker (the course was 2 loops for the 50K) we were happy little runners.
Please be leading to the bathroom...

Oh hello there sugar rush.
We took our time fueled up, hit the bathroom and were HAPPILY off and running. Not even thinking about how far we had gone or how many miles were left to go. None of that was discussed. I can confidently say that the only time I thought about where I was or how many miles in was when I needed the bathroom. Other than that, I was just running happy.

We're running!!!

Ridiculously happy.

Yup. Good luck navigating. Where is the pink flag?!
We made ourselves some friends on the course (shout out to the group that guessed the two of us were under 25 years old. God bless your souls) we weren't paying too much attention to time, pace or anything.

My only issue was that the walking breaks were too frequent for my legs liking and I wanted to go go go and each time we stopped and started my hip would get achy. Other than that it was running perfection.

But before we knew it we were at the half way point! It felt insane how quickly it came (and quick is relative since it was around 3 1/2 hours later...). They jotted down your number and time and we hit up our drop bags for what we needed and the bathroom. I also ran into my friend Jessie's boyfriend (she was running) chatted with him and eventually took off running again.
Ultra Aid Station

Me 15.5 miles in. Feeling amazing. Hair looking sexy as hell.
The one thing to note is the VAST different in an ultra versus road marathon. You spend a few minutes at the aid station, they take your water bottles for you to refill, you snack a little, do a check to make sure you are all set to go before taking off again.

Now I am sure if you are running this competitively you are not taking this much time (as we saw plenty that were not being as leisurely) but in general its more social and EVERYONE is so friendly. I cannot stress that enough.

As we began the second loop it became evident that Tara was going to need to be walking more than myself so after a couple miles, double checked with her and she gave the blessing for me to just go on ahead. I am thankful for her as my running partner and we have this understanding that if you are having the day where you are being held back it is okay to just take off.

Insert a few pictures  not totally relevant at this point because I took so many and how can I not share.

"minor" obstacles

Why have I never run trails before?
My legs just wanted to run. At this point I was all of a sudden running 9 minute miles and we are talking 20 miles into the trails at this point. My legs felt amazingly refreshed.

The course had a lot more hills than I anticipated but that was great because it forced the walking breaks (no way in hell I was exerting myself to run up hills during this - it makes absolutely no sense to tire yourself out for about an extra 20 seconds).

The other great thing was that seeing that this was my first trail run, I was not used to it and was forced to concentrate on where I was going versus the roads where you can totally just zone out and find yourself miles away...I think this is part of why the miles just ticked off without me knowing. If you don't want to break an ankle or bust your ass you better be watching where you are navigating. I had a couple of close calls with almost falling but managed to hold it together.

I was pretty encouraged when I stopped at the aid stations and they kept telling me how great I was looking. And when I hit the one at the 25(?) or so mile marker and they tried to convince me that I looked fresh enough to loop again for 50 miles...I am not going to lie, I had fleeting thoughts of "I should go for it". Happy to report...I did not. But I swear if one more person told me this, I was ready to get out and continue.

When I reached the final aid station on the course, I was actually filled with sadness. That was at 27.5 miles and I knew the end was near. And I also knew that I had no desire to be done (I know, who the hell thinks that at this point). But other than my legs being a little sore from the up and down hills they were still running great.

And I should mention I didn't really fuel after the half way because my stomach was a disaster. (Note to self, you have a sensitive stomach asshole, m&m's and extra sugar are not going to bode well for you...nor eating frozen yogurt the night before when you are dairy free...). I was kind of waiting for the bottom to fall out on that one, and had to keep telling them at the aid stations that I was eating gu's since I wasn't eating there. But somehow I had plenty of energy in the tank and was running great. Guess that bread and pasta the night before worked out in my favor at least.

Before I knew it I was back at the familiar place winding up to the final mile.

A wave of pure joy and excitement washed over me as I came out of the trails to the clearing.

I was all smiles of triumph as I finished the race feeling great.

Disbelief...that...that was it, I had done it, I had completed my first ULTRA marathon.

And I finally negative split the crap out of a race thank you very much.

And couldn't be happier to have this rock star waiting for me to see me in that moment:

Jessie puts my running adventures to shame. One day I will be on her level.
I'm 95% sure I am not conveying my actual experience into words (kind of hard to put that amount of running time into words in general...).  But, I am on cloud 9. And think that I have fallen in love with trail running. 

It was the absolute perfect way to finish this eternal season of races. FUN. I know I should be saying it was hard, but I honestly never once had a mental breakdown of wanting it to be over or having to give myself a pep talk to keep going. I was expecting a wall at some point since well, it kind of happens when running distance but I think the newness of the experience derailed my mind from going to any dark places. Plus, I wasn't RACING persay. I was playing cautious in that first half with the walking breaks with Tara so I'm sure that contributed to ending the race strong with something in the tank.

And sure my legs got a little sore while running on unfamiliar ground but it wasn't worse than anything I've put them through before. (This course FYI is considered a good "beginner" course because you can run a lot of it and there are some paved portions). I ran a shake out Monday and was feeling good enough where I had to pay attention to keep it slow and stop myself from running too far.
Sadly no medal, but we got some swag!

My first Philly cheese steak experience. Sadly I was not a fan. Womp womp.
Now, I am looking forward to some time "off" I only have a couple of 10K's on tap officially so far this summer (and will try to take down my PR) but other than that am going to run whatever distances float my boat until marathon training kicks off again in earnest in the next few weeks.


Cannot wipe the grin off my face. It's probably obnoxious.

When is the next?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dirty German 50K: 3 Days out from my First ULTRA!

Officially 3 days away from ULTRA MARATHONER status.

This is getting real.
And in typical me fashion I keep calling it a baby Ultra since it is the minimum there is to dip into "ultra" status. But whatever. 50K. More than a marathon. This is the good stuff.

More importantly, I think this has FUN and no pressure written all over it.

I went into the marathons with secret and not so secret time and pacing goals. But folks, we aren't on the roads any more.

While yes, I do want to finish this in under 6:30 - in reality, I am really just looking forward to having FUN. And enjoying the experience.

I haven't been training in trails and I mean I have kind of had an epic season of racing that has been continuous since last September so what better way to finish it off than 31.068 (not precise or anything) sweaty miles through the woods?

I have also felt a bit off for a while now. I'm not quite "training" but more or less have been in taper mode since the weeks before the NJ Marathon. Then recovery. Then race. Then taper.

My legs have responded pretty well to all of this for the most part. But after this there will be lots of unstructured lets just run and do what we want time.

And some meetings with potential run coaches.

But that is for another day, another post.

And plenty of FUN. Summer is about to kick off and I am looking forward to lounge chairs, pools, beaches, bbq's and some adult beverages in my life. Not to mention a killer tan...and not one that involves horrendous tank top/short/sock tan lines!

So anyway. Back to this week.

Post half marathon life this week went a little something like this:

Sunday: 6.25 miles steady pace for 2.5 then 400's at 8:30 recover for 400 at 9:30
Monday: an hour on the elliptical and lift
Tuesday: an hour on the elliptical and lift
Wednesday: 45 mins elliptical and lift / 3 un garmin monitored miles
Thursday: 6 miles @ 9:39 - yeah I figured the treadmill would bore me by 3 not.so.much.

Apparently bore me on an elliptical a couple days in a row and I will even love the treadmill and not want to get off. Legs felt so refreshed though. Which was great since I had been having some soreness the beginning of the week (and scared me enough to not run Monday and Tuesday...I hear you running God's I know I know I need to learn to invest in rest days...).

Oops. My shoes made me do it.

Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 50K

But, I am sure that won't go as planned...since this morning was a total fail (3 planned). At least I did not push the pace at all! But lord I was ready to just run my heart out. Then when I hit 6 I remembered I need to do that times 5 on Sunday and that helped me slow my roll right on off and home.

So here we are just a few days out. And it is like waiting for Christmas to come. I am just as if not more excited than I was for Miami aka first marathon.

Potentially more so, because with Miami I was (perhaps not so) silently banking on pacing and time goals. I swear I really really am not with this one. Don't expect A/B/C goals from me!

I want do however want to PR in m&m and pb&j eating while running. I'm all for hitting those kinds of PR's.

Any ultra runners out there have any bits of advice for me? I'm ALL ears!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Brooklyn Half Marathon Recap: A Reminder Why I Run

Today was a day that reminded me why I fell in love with running in the first place. 

It wasn't about trying to PR. It wasn't about splits or strategy. We were out there for fun. Okay edit that - first because it fit into our training taper plan for the 50K next week. And second to qualify for NYC Half next year and 9 + 1 for the 2014 NY Marathon. But the love for racing and fun were factors in signing up. Pretty sure we knew PR's don't happen 2 weeks post marathon and a week before an Ultra. 

And sometimes you really need that reminder that you do it because you love it. Especially since you spent a few days hating yourself for signing up in the first place. The logistics of Brooklyn were annoying for our equally busy work/training schedules. Luckily it turned out I had some downtime on Friday and going to the expo turned out to not only be painless but also a quite pleasant experience. 

Stepping off the subway to this view, was not awful.

A little graffiti.

They took their party seriously. I took scoring watermelon Nuun quite seriously.

Totes would have carbed up had the line not been down the block.
Then I had to set my alarms for Saturday morning. Insert a lot of hate once again when 3:45am found its way onto my alarm preset. 
I don't think the frame of mind I was in Friday night is even questionable towards BK.
This morning I got a little bit of excitement when getting ready because I was in love with my outfit. Yes the outfit and matching are high up there on my priority list of things that really matter when running. 
It's hard to NOT be in a good mood in this outfit.
After being picked up at 5:15 and a quick stop at 7-11 for caffeinated goodness; we were on the road to Brooklyn. And oh so thankful for the ride, thank you Michael! 

And still not in the mood to be running. All I could think was I had run 13.5 total Wednesday and only taken Friday off from working out and that this was going to be a painful race. I had this sense of dread that my legs would feel like lead. Not to mention my stomach was oh so rumbly. 

We finally arrive and with a sense of "here goes nothing" hopped out of the car to make our way to the corral at about 6:20. Holy mayhem. SO MANY PEOPLE. This was seriously no joke. Tara was going to run with me so we made our way alllll the way to my corral, 17,000 at 6:30 and luckily had the half hour to spend in the bathroom line. Which we would be in right until 7:00. 
A couple people showed up this morning

I love this girl.
Finally we were starting - and I bumped into my friend Lindsay (PR'ed, yessss! Congrats!) and Tara and I talked "strategy" otherwise known as we didn't give a f*ck. Tara needed to be careful with hydration so we planned for every water stop and I knew bathroom stop(s) would be happening. 

We crossed the start finally without ceremony and it was go time! 

Both of us could feel we needed to warm up and we eased into a pace and settled comfortably in the low 9's or so would show when I looked at my Garmin which wasn't too often. 

Off the bat we were having a lot of fun. I was taking pictures...and video...and we were goofing off and having a fun time. Laughter was happening often. There was an electric energy being around SO many runners. We were quickly put in a good mood. The only frustrating part on the beginning was watching that first batch of runners come around the circle and back - it seemed to take us forever to actually get there (insert NJ Marathon flashbacks and shudders). Other than that we were our usual yelling and cheering selves. We like to cheer for our cheerleaders. Just the way we are!

We are running. We are having fun.
We got into a groove, and the miles ticked off. Run run run slow for water walk through for however long it took to drink and take off again. I didn't start with water until about mile 6 but had NO problem stopping. 

We were on the road outside the park until shortly after mile 3 then looped through Prospect Park - and boy did I forget how much I enjoy the park. 

Oh and cannot forget this awesomeness right before the park (like I said pictures were a big part of the run)
Yup #OnlyInBrooklyn
Note to self do some marathon training next cycle there. Such a nice change from Central Park.

My stomach was really off so when Tara stopped for water at mile 5 I hit the bathrooms and was a lot better off after. I was too scared to eat any Gu during the race but did start to hydrate at the next mile marker.

After hitting that lovely hill in PP, we opened up our pace and the next couple of miles would be pretty speedy, we were in the mid to low 8's and creeped into the 7's - I was surprised by how natural and good it was feeling.

Upon exiting the park, the excitement was invigorating!! The spectators lining the entrance/exit were awesome and so motivating, I loved it! Then, we entered on to the highway, and it was AWESOME so wide and open!

We OWNED the highway baby!!!

Potential part time job: running photographer. Getting good at this. Great form Tara.
I didn't believe that this could be a PR course due to the volume of people, but honestly had I been in a mindset to try - totally could happen. Wide open spaces people, it was awesome.

We were also half way through at this point and it felt like we had been running for 5 minutes. There was nothing but smiles of happiness and giddiness for running.

I know, I sound corny. But when you connect with a run there is no better feeling.

And to be feeling like this after what has been a no break for almost 2 years in a training cycle, two weeks after a full marathon (with only 2 rest days), 2 days after running 13+ miles...let's just say I was in awe of my body. Was I breaking records? No. But we were keeping a great pace. I didn't even think I would be able to hold a 10 minute mile pace today and we were anywhere from 8:30-9:30 the whole time. Heck we split a 8:2x with a water walking break.

At this point though the miles were speeding by...no sooner would we slow through one water stop then another was upon us. There was a smattering of spectators (and shout out to the Hoboken group! yeahhhh buddies!) but overall just a sense of: I love this run.

I remember hitting mile 10 and being sad that it was coming to an end.

Who does that?

The only unfortunate part was my stomach took another dive and at mile 12 I knew I had to stop or that final mile would be miserable. Good thing time was not of the essence.

I was glad that I did because the energy in the final mile was amazing. These spectators were so much more engaging, and cheering! (earlier on at some parts yes there were spectators, but they weren't cheering...which is why we cheer FOR THEM :)

It can be tiring to be yelling and cheering at the top of your lungs for the people that are out there spectating when you are a couple hours into running, but honestly 9.5 out of 10 times I would prefer to be the one running, so am so so thankful.

We hit the 800 meter sign and I was just in shock, were we really about to finish?

Then the 400 was upon us.

I was so excited to be finishing with my BFF and running rock star. We have some of the most amazing runs when we stick together - feeding off of one another's energy.

(Side note: I cannot wait for pictures...it was our mission to PR in picture taking today. We were camera whores on the course: there might be a blog post dedicated to them)

We soon dashed up the on ramp to the boardwalk and the finish line was in sight. The finish was lined with cheering spectators and we got ready to finish hand in hand. Yes we are absolutely adorably cute in our running excitement.

And then, we were done.

Will run for hardware.
Half marathon number ??? I don't even know 12? in the books.

Quickest half marathon ever. Okay well not quickest finish time was 2:10:xx but it felt like we were running for a hot second. I finished not tired, legs could have still gone longer and just happy with the race.

I'm not going to post them because there is no need; but looking at the splits we probably would have run well under 2 had we actually "raced" this...bathroom alone cost about 5-6 minutes those two stops and walking through 11 or so water stations...I'm happy with the pace that was being kept when we were running.

And well, we have bigger fish to fry as in we will be running a 50K in 8 days. So, you know...keeping our legs fresh as can be is kind of key.

The DJ and post half atmosphere was electric - all we wanted to do was dance dance dance (and may have had a little parking lot stretching dance party, totes necessary). The only con's - water/Gatorade station was past the pictures and medals and everything. And the subway ride home was cold as balls. Other than that, today was a day of perfection. I would go run that half again immediately. As in, let's go right now and recreate that experience.

I kid, I kid. Kind of sort of...I often wonder if others have this insane connection with running. It's a necessity for me. I may not be BQ'ing (at the moment give me time) but I feel the genuine NEED to go run daily. Often multiple times a day. Just who I have become.

But in all sincerity, I apologize for all the hate I have spewed towards you this week Brooklyn; let's be friends. You rocked my world today, in a way that hasn't happened in quite some time.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

That Time I Accidentally Ran 10 Miles.

And all of a sudden my thoughts of being super human untouchable by marathon mileage have really been dashed.

Ohhhh I'm feeling it.

I took Monday and Tuesday off from running after logging a decent amount over the weekend. Just lifting and ellipticalling for me (yes it is a word).

So yesterday morning I decided to log a little over 3 before lifting.

And then something glorious happened.

I was home by 5:30 last night.


I haven't even LEFT work that early in months. So to be home, and it be a gorgeous day...let's just say my thoughts were all on the miles that were about to be run.

My level of excitement was off the charts (I am also painfully aware how I have changed - previously my thoughts would be on after work happy hour, now I can't believe the years I wasted on that).

So,  I got home and after a brief photo shoot to capture this excitement, I was off on my merry way.
Nothing like a little neon to brighten the day.
I knew that I would do a mid mileage run but had no pace/mileage count in mind. Just ENJOY.

I was blissfully wrapped up in my thoughts. My mind was going a million miles a minute as I have had a ton on it recently and I guess that the miles just started to tick off without me really paying attention.

I was running my ever familiar "normal" route when all of a sudden I realized: I was close to 5 miles away from home.

And had a total "oh shit" moment.

I continued the last .2 or so to hit 5 (because I have a thing for even numbers ask anyone that runs with me...I will often run in circles just to make it even).

But not a bad view.
I then paused and assessed myself.

I was TIRED. Caps lock. Bold. And italics necessary.

And I still had to get home.

And I was now running INTO the wind.

Insert F bomb.

I was actually surprised I was able to maintain a 9:20/9:30 pace at this point.

I did pause a couple of times to stretch out and of course my Garmin was threatening to punk out on me that final mile...but by golly I made it. And promptly wanting to pass out.

This is my fuck I am tired face.
I was not fueled or hydrated and it was on the warmer side. I dropped 8 pounds on that 10 miler.

This was my lunch/snack run fuel. Sufficient?
I managed to get home and shower, attempt to eat something and then honestly got into bed and curled up and passed out without dinner.

I don't think I was even that tired AFTER the MARATHON. Actually, I know I wasn't. DOMS is setting in 10 days too late. 

I then woke up at midnight. At which point I was ravenous and scarfed down 1/2 a pint of strawberries and a quest bar.

I am starting to think of JUST how difficult the Brooklyn Half is going to be on Saturday.

I don't think that a couple of rest days are going to help.

Not that I took a rest day today or anything. I was up and questioning my sanity at 5:30  today on my walk to the gym but I did need to stretch out my legs (elliptical of death) and then you know lifted for good measure.

Dependent upon plans tonight I might top it off with a double session.

And take a rest day tomorrow.

Cross my heart legs I will.

And please do not fail me on Saturday. I am going to run BK for fun and enjoyment not expectations - it is supposed to be such a great race so I just want to enjoy it. But I also don't want to struggle through it legs dragging. Which after an impromptu half marathon midweek might be my fate.

Womp womp, I'm an idiot.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Newport 10K Recap (Kind of) + Post Marathon "Recovery"

Goodness. Life has been so busy the past couple of weeks that I have barely had time for social media.

Unless it is instagram; I always have the 5 seconds to instagram some aspect of my TOTALLY exciting life. Running and eating. Yes I lead the most interesting life around these days.

Anyways - I thought I would do a little update on how things have been going post marathon.

As I said in my previous post - I had a hard time coming to grips with my marathon performance. If I am honest, I am not 100% over it. I think about it a lot and carry it with me on my runs.

Especially since I was able to rock out runs right after.

I worked out not once but twice the day after - but waited to run until Tuesday night when I was throwing down sub 8 min miles to end my workout. Umm right, where is that coming from?

Wednesday I cross trained and lifted.

And then I did another easier run on Thursday averaging around 9 for a few miles.

Friday - I FINALLY took a rest day post marathon. I have a really hard time with rest days but I had the 10K on schedule for Saturday morning so decided it wouldn't kill me.

Saturday I woke up to gloom and doom and rain. The nice part was that it was in JC a quick ride on the light rail from me. Problem: I get to the light rail and it isn't running because of an accident. It is now 20 minutes prior to race and I still need to get there and get my bib. We got a courtesy bus to the PATH station and I ran to the cab line and hopped in and zipped over. Arrival at race = 8:25 for an 8:30 start. And the RAIN UGH.

I was most concerned that I finally had given in and upgraded to the iPhone 5 Friday - I dropped my phone in October...that poor thing was destroyed - and now I was about to run a race in the rain. Oops.

It was simple enough to pick up my number and hop into the start. A couple minutes later we were off!

Insert going out WAY TOO FAST. I looked down and was in the low 7's. Mother effer.

I kept trying to pull back but wound up killing that first mile in the low 8's and kind of f myself up for the remainder. My hips were super tight and my shoes were soon heavy with water.

I was not in the mood to be doing this.

I hit the 5K point in about 27 or so and stopped to stretch out my hip. I knew I would PR (old PR was 59:35 or something so by default, I was going to PR this) and stretching was more important than anything else.

I was pretty over it and spent miles 3-4 contemplating jogging my way back to Hoboken. I am dead serious. I was achy I guess that whole recovery thing is real after a marathon and me going full force all week was coming to bite me in the ass.

Once I hit 4 though I was good. I wasn't really pushing and just toned it down until the finish. Positive splitting races for life!

When all was said and done I finished just over 58. I was fine with that. I plan to take that down big time though this summer. I can rock a 10K in the low 50's for sure if I am rested (a whole different issue in itself obviously for me).

I am slowly getting faster again with ease. I know partially is that I am losing weight somehow about 5-6 pounds in about 2 1/2 weeks (yay not being able to eat anything stupid awful GI issues) so pace with training naturally goes down.

But overall - it is a really nice race and super flat course. I can't wait to do the Newport Half again in the fall which covers the course.

After I met up with a friend before going home and eating (pancakes necessary obviously), showering and packing then heading down to my parents beach house in Belmar for the night.

The most exciting part of the weekend was having my first beach run of the year. Sunday was beautiful and I logged just over 7 glorious miles. Heaven (and taking it easy yet again, clearly).

Overall - I am getting REALLY tired of races. I am so ready for this cycle to be over. I pretty much haven't stopped since September.

This weekend I have the Brooklyn Half Marathon then finally the Dirty German 50K MDW.

After that this summer I am planning the NYRR Mini 10K as well as the Queens 10K.

Then there is the Belmar 5 Mile.

And realizing I guess I am still racing a bit.

Insert cursing.

But the MOST important thing coming up = MIAMI. Approval has been received and in a month I will have a glorious long weekend with my sister full of poolside R&R.

I. Can't. Wait.

And can we take pause for just a moment about next weekends ultra marathon.

50K = 30.xx miles.

Start the prayers now.

Much appreciated.

Friday, May 10, 2013

NJ Marathon: Recap

First things first, I PR'd! Yessss! (You know just in case you don't make it to the end of what is I think the longest post I have ever written).
Or at least that is the enthusiasm I feel responsible to portray. Truth be told I have had a hard time all week summing up my thoughts; hence why this post is coming several days later. I feel like I have to be proud and want to shout it from the rooftops that "I RAN A MARATHON!" and that I am being a brat for feeling as though that triumph is FORCED. 

But let's start from the beginning shall we?

After taking total rest days Thursday and Friday, I felt it was 100% necessary to go for a baby shake out run Saturday morning. Or maybe it was that I had a new running outfit and it was taunting me to log some miles in it.

Either or, you choose.

So I went on a garmin-less couple mile jaunt that ended in DD coffee perfection.

After attempting to stuff in some peanut butter banana oat pancakes (a hardship in itself) I was showering, packing and off - on the train down to Long Branch to meet up with my racing buddies at the Expo.

I found the Expo itself to be rather...unexciting. EXCEPT for this:

After the Trenton Half Marathon did a spotlight on me this week, they told me to come on by and gave me this lovely jacket! (HI GUYS! and THANK YOU!!) Kind of made my day.

Picked up my bib (#131 I felt like a marathon rock star) and shirt and then we were off on our way to the hotel.

We chilled out for a while before realizing that oh it was about 7:30 and we kind of needed to eat, oops.

We managed to find ourselves a nice little Italian place and I filled myself with chicken and whole wheat pasta. It was divine.

By the time we got back it was late and didn't find ourselves with lights out until after 11:00. I was able to sleep without tossing and turning with nerves. 
In the morning we awoke when the girls did that were running the half and just chilled for a while waiting until we had to get ready. At about 7 I finally got my ass in gear and it began to get real: we were about to run another marathon!

I had no appetite but ate half a quest bar, handful of pretzels and an espresso gu for my breakfast before heading off on the half mile walk to the start. 
As soon as we got outside realized it was definitely cold and windy but I tried to remind myself it would be amazing once we started to run.
We reached the corrals about 5 minutes before the start just as the national anthem was being sung and inserted ourselves into corral c as they played a tribute Sweet Caroline chorus for Boston. 

The next thing we knew the horn sounded and they queued up Born to Run (come on now you didn't see that coming??) and, we were off and running! 
I had no true pace plans in place, just to run comfortably. The start was a little bit cold but knew that was pretty perfect versus the alternative. It was marathoning weather baby!

With the wave start and not that many people running the full, it wasn't too difficult getting through the start of the race and get into a groove. I looked down a little bit and noticed we were around 9:20ish and that was feeling easy so just kept it around there. I didn't want to be a slave to my Garmin and forcing any sort of pace, I was looking to run this by feel versus obsess with what I could or couldn't do. Especially given I really didn't train for any specific race pace.
The miles started ticking off. Around mile 2 and the first water stop Tara stopped and I didn't want to and figured she would catch up right away with me, but unfortunately did not I would wind up being solo until mile 20 or so.
When I got to mile 5.5 I started to nurse my first Gu in anticipation of the water stop ahead - and it was at this time that I either didn't zip back my pocket or they rest fell out but I would find out later on that I was without fuel.
I would also like to point out that VERY early on in the race my Garmin was 1/4 mile off. That kind of sucked the remainder of the race to be hitting mile marks with no actual mile marking in sight. Apparently NJ is notorious for that but seriously NOT amused.
I spent the majority of the time thanking those along the course, and looking for kids to high five. I love love love interacting with the spectators! I get totally envious of people who have family and friends come out since I have no one that will come out for mine. I get a little bit choked up to see what some will go through to be there for their runners. I don't know if they understand just how much that means. Rock on awesome spectators!!!
And a shout out to one of the best - BRENNAN! In full banana suit at mile 11.5 - I didn't know for sure it was her until after the race or else I would have probably tackled her awesomeness.
It was also at about this time I was focused on the fact that I needed to stop for the bathroom. It was not URGENT but I knew that it was better to stop at this point then to try and hold off the inevitable. Unfortunately the bathroom had a line but when I made the decision to stop I stuck with it and just waited it out. Definitely took a few minutes but in the grand scheme of a marathon, that was not about to make or break me.
Once I got going again I went to take a Gu and this was when I realized - they were gone. Insert minor panic attack. Or well major. I literally stopped running and had an oh shit what now moment. But soon enough just regrouped and kept going. I felt fine, and stupidly was pretty much like it's okay you don't NEED any fuel. You always run without anything. Stupid stupid stupid.
I hit the half way at 2:07 - and was pretty happy with it, as that included the few minutes for the bathroom. I was also feeling REALLY good at this point. I wasn't focusing on any time goal but thought I had the chance to get a pretty solid PR. (and yes was taking pictures and texting while running...I love to multitask!)
Within the next couple of miles though that would all change.
That whole skipping stops and underfueling and being dehydrated...around mile 15 or 16 hit me full force in the form of calf cramps. Now I have notoriously tight calves to begin with but insert over a dozen miles and not drinking or eating and well it is not going to help you out at all that is for sure. I had to slow down my pace. Partially due to it was more comfortable to go slower and the other out of fear that pushing it would make my calves ball up into total knots of pain.
I was also super fearful of hitting that dark place that I did in Miami where I was ready to throw in the towel and questioned why the f I run in the first place. Happy to report, that point never came during this race.
Soon we were on the course from the Asbury Half which brought back horrible memories in and of itself. Not to mention as we got to the lake to go around, the wind started in full force. Insert further slowing down. I was not in the mood to push through the cramping AND the wind. I just told myself to keep on running slow as I wanted but just to run because I would be mad at myself if I was walking.
This was also where I started to get annoyed. The turn around point was NOWHERE in sight. Seriously. You kept thinking it was up ahead but nope, not there, keep on going. I was envious of all the speedier runners making their way back. I was greatful though that there was a stop that had Gu and I have never been more happy to inhale one...mind you this was mile 18 or 19 at this point, I went from 6 to that point without any. I'm not sure if it was the lack of water or carbs but my legs were not too happy the second half of the race.
Or maybe that is just what happens when you run a marathon. Whatever, details, details.
FINALLY the turnaround came (literally a cone to reverse direction - it was sharp) and then the wind was even worse. BUT this was also when I saw that Tara was probably about 2-3 minutes behind me. And I yelled out that I was going really slow now and she would catch up.
As I passed the aide station again, I grabbed yet another gu to try and give myself more of a boost (but as we all know once you are behind the ball on fueling there is no "catch up" to be had but I could pretend that my body would be different).
Now I was kind of bored and wanted company so pretty much slowed and ran backwards waiting for Tara to catch up to me. I was happy for a little bit of company. She had found a friend that she was running with and then we realized that her family should be waiting about a mile further up at 22. That put a little bit of pep in our step. I was definitely hurting. I didn't want to talk (and she knows me well enough that if I am not chatting I am having an internal battle and she doesn't force it or question me - reasons why I love running with her) but it was nice to have the company regardless.
Seeing her family and boyfriend gave a boost for a little while - but by mile 23 I then got a cramp in my left side that was radiating. Running was now really uncomfortable. The next aid station had bananas and I told them to go ahead while I ate half a banana and had some water. At this point I didn't care if it upset my stomach - I needed something to try and ease the pain for the remainder. I also needed to tough out the remainder of the race on my own. I hurt and while I wasn't having negative thoughts, I prefer to be alone at those times.
The last couple of miles - they were hard. I just kept telling myself to keep on running that I was almost there.
For a while there was a woman from TNT running near me with her coach - that actually made me run faster to get away. The coach was giving her all these inspiration phrases and such and oy they were annoying me. I respond better to tough love - as in fucking run you have 2 miles left; you have come this far get your act together. Don't tell me to dig deep blah blah blah, just run. Jillian Michaels would be my ideal coach at that point in time to get me to the finish. What can I say, I am a strange person.
As we hit that final mile, I knew I was going to PR and instead of being elated I started to get disappointed. I knew how far off I went from first half of the race to second (positive splits FTW?) and was pretty much just ready to be finished. I was already reviewing what had gone wrong in my head and I hadn't even made it to the finish line.
 When all is said and done I finished in 4:26 about 7 minutes off my first marathon time.
Was I happy - yes. I think. Truth be told I did one 20 miler and then a couple of longer 15-16 mile runs. The disappointment came from the fueling. That was in my control and sometimes I am just stupid and think that I am a superhuman elite that can go go go! I was thrilled to not have major stomach issues - ONE stop I mean that is a victory! Things are definitely on the up and up with that.
But, I can't help it, I have mixed feelings on the outcome. I have been moody all week; I haven't even wanted to talk about it much. I tried to have the proper enthusiasm but it just felt fake.
I was with the 4:10 pace group for so long and it felt easy. The what if's all start and are clouding my head post marathon. I have had a lot of trouble sorting through my thoughts. I know it is expected for me to be all sorts of excited for a PR but honestly...I don't think my time was that great. I slowed to make it easy since my legs were cramping. What if I had just pushed? I want to have a ton of pride and a sense of accomplishment but it is more forced than anything.

I am my own worst critic. Type A perfectionist.
After going out for a celebratory meal and drink - want to know what I wanted to do - I wanted to RUN. Yup you heard that right. I got back to Hoboken and seriously contemplated going for a run.
Now I will update you that no I was not insane enough to do that, but I felt fine (part of where the anger and disappointment was coming from) fine enough to want to log some miles - who really wants to do that a few miles after completing a marathon?
But every marathon is a learning experience right?

I would like to say that I did really enjoy the marathon in general - well organized, I liked the course (of course hate the shore wind) but will probably do it again next year. I mean running through the Jersey Shore what is not to love? Jersey Pride. And the half starting earlier plus not as many people doing the full was great. And even with less people running the full, it was never too lonely.
I am hoping that I can take what I learned from #2 and fuel it into my training this summer for when I go for sub 4 in Hartford in October. Because pretty sure that is going to take a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Just 26+ minutes that need to come off. No biggie right?
So there we have it, another marathon checked off and the start to what is going to be a crazy ass month. I have a 10K this coming weekend, followed by the Brooklyn Half Marathon and the Dirty German 50K. But all of these are being run for "fun" no pressure.
Marathon number two, done and done.