Sunday, October 31, 2010

Week in Review

63.2 Miles
0 Doubles
10k Race in 38:13
Long run of 12 miles

Hey hey, it was my first week over 50 miles since the marathon! I guess I need to start getting my rear in gear anyways, since it's been four weeks. This week was pretty uneventful as I didn't feel great on any of the runs, workouts, or races. Fortunately, I've got a good feeling that my legs are finally going to bounce back next week. The highlights came mostly from the company: the workout with Thomas and Michelle on Tuesday, an easy run with Kelly Fillnow on Wednesday, and then an easy run with Justin on Friday. I took advantage of sleeping in most days, so that was a huge plus. I plan to frontload this next week before I take off for Costa Rica at 1045am on Thursday. Looking forward to a tempo with Meagan on Wednesday.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fall Harvest Run 10k Race Recap

Goal: Run a 10k at Marathon Pace (6:10)
Actual: Pretty much that (6:08 pace) for 38:13

Well this was a mediocre race for me. For all intents and purposes, John and I made the trek up to Huntersville in the hopes of winning a cash prize. To our defense, the website leading up to the night before the race had publicized "cash prizes" for top three overall finishers, and Ben Hovis recollected how he took home some cash in 2009. After a 3 mile warmup, John and I showed up in all-out racing gear at the start line and discovered rather quickly that we were in the minority. We spotted Allen Strickland at the starting line, and he even referred to losing out on the opportunity "to win money." We smiled and continued our strides.

Other than the cash, the other motivation for me running this race was to get in a solid workout. I had a 60 minute progression tempo on the calendar, but opted for a race of that effort at the 10k distance. I figured that by running the race, I'd still be achieving the goal of a hard effort.

At the starting line, John and I scoped out his competition. It turned out to be a triathlete wearing a plaid shirt and a mullet wig. My competition turned out to be a man in a taco costume that seemed particularly uncomfortable to run in. Once the gun went off, we had a solid downhill for the first 400m, and about 10 people sprinted in front of Allen and I.

I felt like the pace was a bit fast, but figured the downhill was the reason. I came through the first mile in 558. I figured the ten people in front of me would fall back. Sure enough, after the second mile (603), I had already passed six of them and would pass the other two after the third mile (601). We ran around the Huntersville Business park and then rounded back out toward the highway. I was familiar with these streets since I had run a tempo here back in September.

Once we got back onto the highway, I only had the taco man to look towards and I passed him at mile 4 (613). After that, it was a race where I was running against myself and I blasted my decision to run this race. I would have had much more fun if I had run with one of my buddies over at McAlpine. Oh well. I kept on trucking, looking at the rear end of the guy 100m in front of me. The fifth (610) and sixth (611) miles were uneventful as I crested the top of a gradual hill and then turned onto the road towards the finish. The entire time down the home stretch, I was amazed at how much easier the last 10k of my marathon felt.

I cruised into the finish in 38:13, where John was waiting for me, and freezing his tush off! He got the win, with a new road PR, just edging out the mullet man. The two of us enjoyed a nice warm down together, and both felt really sore and tired. We saw Allen later, and he ran 42:01, and was upset that he lost to a taco.

In the end, we got a blanket for our endeavors. We waited around while the race directors figured out why these crazy runners thought there was cash prizes. Turns out they had used the "old" website from 2009 up until the night before the race. While it was an honest mistake, it was definitely a letdown. The blanket is very nice, but the $20 gift certificate that the age group winners received would have been an added bonus.

In the end, I realized that about a month after the marathon, it's still hard to recover from workouts and races. It just takes a couple of more days than it typically does, when you don't have a marathon under your belt. I'm ready for this recovery period to get back to normal!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Since you asked...

A lot of people have asked me over the past couple of weeks if I am planning on running another marathon before the Trials in January 2012. Most of the time, people have asked this with the expectation that I have a goal to run faster and to try to hit the "A" standard (2:39). To be honest, shortly after running at Twin Cities, I already knew that I did not want to run another marathon before the Trials.

The reason? I left TCM with such a great feeling of elation, confidence in myself, and contentment. I want to enter the Trials race with the complete and utter confidence that I gained from the Twin Cities Marathon. That is not to say that I don't believe in myself; it is to say that the idea of chasing a time in a random marathon doesn't sound nearly as exciting as running my heart out at the Trials with, quite possibly, the same group of women I ran with at TCM (with the addition of Addie Bracy, Megan Hovis, and potentially Meagan Nedlo). Really, I'd like to use the positive experience as a driver for my training in the next 13 months.

On the horizon of 2011, I hope to achieve a new PR at the USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston, Texas. This course will be run on miles 1-9 and 23-26.2 of the US Olympics Trials course. I am honored to have the opportunity, yet again, to run with Ruth Perkins. I also will get to watch Meagan Nedlo race for the Olympic Trials qualifying time. Not to mention that I will also be starting the race from the Houston Astros Minute Maid Field, which is Garrett's minor league affiliation, supplying me with yet another reason to run this race. Symbolically, my running endeavors will come full circle with Garrett's baseball endeavors as I run from the place where he strives to be in a couple of years. For these reasons, I am really looking forward to this race. Before then, I've got the USATF Club XC Champs in Charlotte as well as a 9 day excursion to Costa Rica with my family.
Further, Mark Hadley and I agreed that it would be best to focus on some of the USA Championship Races, such as the 15k and the 25k. I'll know more once 2011 gets here, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fartlek on Hills in Plaza Midwood

Goal: Hilly Fartlek of some sort
Actual: 6-5-4-3-2-1 on some hills, all on feel

I've been working out with Thomas a bit more lately now that he's back from Oklahoma and also now that he lives 3 miles from house. Last night we planned to meet this morning, to run from our respective houses at 550am and to meet halfway somewhere on Central. Michelle was doing 6-5-4-3-2-1 with 2 min rest so we essentially stole her workout and did it over the rolling hills of Plaza Midwood and Myers Park. We warmed up about 4 miles and then started our first interval.

Once we started, my body didn't feel great but it also didn't feel terrible. Over the past week or so, I've felt really out of breath on my workouts. I think it has to do with the weather and not really being used to the changes in humidity. Regardless, this workout was fun because we just went on feel and had no idea what pace we were going. It was nice to finish the rep and then run back to Michelle to pick her up. I tried to focus on maintaing a solid form and running as efficient as possible. I was glad to have Thomas there to push me because there were moments where I really wanted to just slow down. After the last 1 minute interval, I cooled down about 1.5 miles.

In other news, with the guidance of my mom, I did some research on what might inhibit the absorption of iron. I found that gluten is a main inhibitor, along with coffee, caffeine, tea, and calcium (but I already knew about those). In the end, I'm trying to limit the amount of wheat products I eat over the next couple of weeks to see if it helps increase my iron levels. At the same time, I have never had a ferritin level higher than 20 when I'm not injured, so I guess between 12-20 is a normal level for me. Yet, it won't hurt to try something a little different for now. I also ordered several vitamins based on my own research and then Garrett's research:

Vitamin B12 (vegetarians don't get B12)
Beta Alanine (helps in a faster recovery for endurance athletes)
Lysine (helps with the absorportion of iron)
L-Glutamine (i don't remember what this one does)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Shortened Long Run at American Tobacco Trail

Goal: 13 miles
Actual: 11 miles

After a weekend of fun with the Bullocks in Greenville and a couple days of running on my own, I was ready for some company on a run and opted to run with Addie Bracy at the American Tobacco Trail in Apex, NC. I woke up at 640am and got all my stuff, including my cat, packed into the car so that I could meet Addie and Aaron by 930am. Turns out that I completely overestimated how long the drive would take and arrived at the trail at 9am. Fortunately, Addie drove over as soon as she could so we could start a little bit earlier.

The conversation was great as Addie told me about her Chicago marathon experience and her running goals. We also exchanged stories about socially awkward runners. Addie trains completely on her own and, to me, that makes her that much more of a stud. She trains 99% on her own and pushes her mind to the limits every workout because she doesn't have any obligation to meet someone out there on the trail every day, so that means she must will herself out of pure dedication. Fortunately for me, willing myself out of bed in the early hours of the morning is a bit easier when I know that I'll be meeting a group of my five closest friends in Charlotte. I think that all of the runners in Charlotte who have a dedicated group to run with should not take this for granted. You are very lucky to have such great company on runs because not everyone has that luxury!

Enough preaching. Luckily the conversation helped the time go by pretty quickly, and, judging from how my legs felt at 11 miles, I think we dipped under 7 min pace for a couple of the last miles. They just felt tired and sore so I opted to veer off to the parking lot when Addie called it quits.

I had planned on running 13 miles to hit 50 miles for the week, but instead opted for 11 miles to top off at a whopping 48. I figure it's best now to be smart and take things easy instead of rushing my mind or body.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

11x1 min on/off

Goal: 10x1 min with 1:30 rest
Actual: 11x1 min with 1:15 rest

For my second workout back after the marathon, I opted for a simple and light fartlek of 11x1 min with 1:15 rest. I was fortunate enough to have the company of Thomas for the run, so we met at my house at 620am. I enjoyed the conversation with Thomas, but seemed to have trouble breathing. I felt like I was gasping for air and that I needed to stop talking to conserve more energy. I'm guessing it's the change in weather that's affecting me.

We warmed up for about 20 minutes and started when the Garmin beeped at us. After looking at my splits, we got faster for the last 5, so that was a good sign. We also ran an extra one because I apparently don't understand the Garmin's timed workout setting. While my breathing felt off, my hip flexors did not cause me any discomfort this morning, and it felt like most of the aches in my legs are gone. Overall, it was a successful workout and I can walk away from it with confidence, especially given the fact that I haven't done something super speedy in a while. I think I like the longer stuff better though. :o)

PS. I got my blood drawn yesterday for a check on my iron, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D levels. Should get the results back early next week. Keep in mind that my highest ferritin level ever was a 25 and my lowest ever was a 4. Last time I got it checked in May, I was at a 10. Obviously, high iron levels are not my strong suit.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

First Workout Back

After receiving my running plan for the next three months from Coach Mark Hadley, I was ready to finally test the legs after the marathon with a workout. My goal for the next few weeks is to run workouts for fun, without wearing my Garmin or worrying about pace splits, and just running on feel. If that means even just jumping in random workouts, then so be it. Going on that mentality, and wanting to make things as casual and fun as possible, I decided to invite myself to Bill Shire's workout and even invited Mike Beigay for more company.

We met at 8am Saturday at McAlpine for some miles together. Being the Illinoisan that I am, I jumped out of the redmobile in shorts and my favorite yellow Craft t-shirt, and immediately Mike made fun of me for my lack of warm clothing. At that moment, I felt great and wasn't that cold, so I scoffed at Mike while Bill noted that they were Southerners and I was technically a crazy Northerner. Once we started running, the cold immediately hit me as a light breeze made the cool air even colder on my dry skin. My wrists immediately felt numb and I instantly regretted not at least wearing gloves. In the end, we ran a solid 5 miles of warmup and then I ran back to my car so I could find something in the bag of clothes I had stashed in my trunk, ready to go to Goodwill. I found an 80s style long sleeve that worked just fine.

Mike and Bill were planning on a 5 mile tempo, and after my long schedule of 10 hours standing and barely eating enough, I had decided on the warmup I would only do 4 miles. We started out, with Mike and I as the fearless leaders, and Bill sitting comfortably on my shoulder. We went out at a solid clip, and I felt pretty good. Towards the end of the tempo, I could feel soreness in my hip flexors, which I figured was a remnant from the marathon.

In the end, our splits were:


While my legs were tired, I was pleased with this workout. With Costa Rica in less than three weeks, I'm trying to build up my strength before I take over a week of some downtime as I enjoy time with my family and Garrett in the rainforest of Manuel Antonio. Upon my return from tropical paradise, training will become more regimented as I begin to build up for the USATF Club XC Champs and then the USATF Half Marathon Championships in Houston on January, 30th 2011.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Jumping Right Back In...Week in Review

Now it's been over a week since the marathon, and I'm pleased to say that my legs feel 99% recovered. In fact, they started feeling fairly decent about three days after the marathon. I had to fight the euphoric feeling to just run my heart out, and instead chose to follow the advice from my wise high school coach. He had told me on Sunday after the marathon that I would find myself to be in euphoria with running, the most in love with it than I ever had been before, but that it would be in my best interest to keep running to a minimum. Like a high school girl trying to get over a bad-boy crush, I ignored my desires and took it easy...but only in running.

Despite the newly acquired free time, I was rather busy with other commitments.

Spent 17 hours in a car with John and Garrett over the span of 48 hours to go to a Wake Forest teammate's wedding in Nashville, TN. Reunited with several of my old WF XC teammates. Danced. Watched Matt get married. Tracked Kelly Fillnow in her Ironman in Kona. Worked...a lot. Baked vegan pumpkin cornbread and pumpkin bread. Caught up on emails and wrote people back. Partnered with Mark Hadley to make a race plan. Outlined my 2011 Race Schedule. Ran with friends.

Most importantly, I realized that a lot of people are a part of my "team." After all, if you have a great race or have a terrible race, people come out of the woodwork to show their support. You really come to discover who is cheering for you or who is supporting you, who is a true teammate.

I believe that all of the people in the Charlotte Running Club deserve to feel as a part of a team and I hope that the Club can continue to build upon this sense of shared accomplishment. An accomplishment doesn't just have to be a success story. An accomplishment could be coming back from an injury, finishing a race even when your body is shutting down, or mentally tuning out negative energy around you. There are accomplishments every day in a runner's life, and there are people here to acknowledge that and to cheer you on every step of the way.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Twin Cities Marathon: A Race to Remember

Goal: Qualify for Olympic Trials B Standard...2:45:30 and don't die
Actual: 2:41:53 with a negative split (1:21:37, 1:20:16)
After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, Sunday morning finally arrived. I had a fitful night of sleep from 3am and on, and finally got out of bed at 445am, 15 minutes before I had set for my alarm to go off. I immediately ate a white chocolate macadamia nut Clif Bar and then got all my race gear on. I ate a bowl of oatmeal mixed with Silk around 515am too. By 530am, I was ready to roll. I asked my dad to go down to the garage to grab the car and wait in front of the hotel so that we could easily jump into the car once Ruth, Mike and I met in the lobby.

I knocked on Ruth's door at 535am to tell her I'd be heading down soon, and I swear she must have thought I was crazy because the Elite buses did not leave until 6am, and we were only a two minute drive from the buses. However, she was a good sport and was ready to go right on time. We waited for a couple of minutes in the lobby for Mike and we all jumped into the car that my dad had already warmed up. He's the best. :o)

We pulled up in front of the race headquarters - the Crowne Plaza - and made our separate ways to our respective buses. Mike and I hugged each other good luck before he boarded the citizen buses and Ruth and I boarded the Elite bus. I sat in a seat with Bill and Ruth settled across from us. Bill and I enjoyed a great conversation with a woman from Buffalo and we shared stories about the differences in weather in our states. It was a great way to keep our mind off of the race.

Soon enough we could see the Metrodome in the distance, and I knew we were close to the start. The bus pulled to stop in front of the Church that had kindly offered its basement to the Elite Athletes to lounge in before the 8am start. Since we arrived at the church around 630am, I thought the 75 minutes we had to wait would feel like an eternity. The minutes actually flew by. The elite coordinators had put out gatorade, water, coffee, bars, and vaseline for the athletes to use. There was also a nice bathroom facility that never seemed to have a long line. Bill and I chatted a bit and had a good conversation with another masters runner. By looking around the room, I noticed that were several more elite masters runners than Open Elite runners. This made sense since it was the USA Masters Championship. I checked some emails on my phone and listened to a couple of songs with my legs elevated on the wall.

Before I knew it, I had bundled all of my stuff into the bag they had provided and threw it into the gear truck. I did a couple minutes of jogging in the parking lot and heard someone calling my name. I looked around, clueless, and finally I noticed that it was Mike calling my name. I was thrilled to see him! We gave each other a high five and scoped out the finish line. I did a couple of strides and then I found Adam Mayes...Such a great way to start a marathon by seeing your own folk. After the wheeler start at 755am, Ruth and I found our way to the front of the start line. Of course, once the elite men came out, they pushed us back a couple of feet, but we were still within one second of the gun time with our chip time, so we did a pretty good job.

The gun went off and I used my elbows to ensure I wasn't tripped. I situated myself with Ruth in my site. After about 400m, I heard Mike come up and he attached himself to Bill who was in front of me. I had an urge to go with Bill and sped up a bit, but Ruth, the true marathon veteran, called to me that we were too fast and to fall back with her. Bless her soul, because she saved my marathon only 400m into it.

Over the course of the next 20 miles, I shared in an unforgettable, unique experience. Ruth and I became captain and co-captain of a pack of four to five women as we maneuvered through the sea of marathoners. Five goals of making an Olympic Trials Qualifier became one goal; our camaraderie propelled us forward, to eventually pass over eight women together as a group and to all gain the Olympic Trials Qualifying B Standard. By encouraging each other, we had so much fun and made the marathon feel almost effortless for the first 18 miles. My advice to everyone is to make friends and to run as tightly together as possible to work together. If you do that, your chances of success in the final 10k should be much greater.

Now to get into a bit more detail...Ruth and I ran together for the first 2 miles and we eventually came upon two other women - Carol and Krista - who ran for LaSalle and were looking to run a qualifying time. Ruth's proposal for them to group up with us must have seemed pretty good, because they accepted and we all tucked in together. Ruth coached us in those first minutes - she told us that we needed to glue to each other and that we needed to all cut as close to the turns as possible so that we run the shortest possible distance. She also realized that it would be best for us to alternate leads. Carol and Krista took it starting from mile 3 and we alternated from that point forward. Eventually, we realized it was best to lead in pairs, so Carol and Krista became a pair, while Ruth and I became the other pair.

Ruth and I ended up sharing my special fluids water bottles, and it worked out perfectly. I would grab the bottle, take a swig of water, and then hand it over to Ruth. Once she was done, I would have another opportunity to take another sip, and then hand it back. After we were both through with it, we would toss the bottle to the wayside. I took my first Honey Stinger Gel at mile 5. I also held the bottle for Ruth while she took a Gel Block.

The first half of the course looped through three different lakes in Minneapolis. The crowds here were felt like they had taken a class in Marathon Cheering 101 because they were saying all the right things. The synergy in our group was visible to outsiders as they shouted to us "Looking great ladies - great way to work together" or other things similar to that. It made us smile and feel confident that our teamwork was going to serve as the catalyst to achieving our goals.

Before mile 9, I advised the girls that my dad, high school coach Holda, and Ruth's husband would be at miles 9, 17, and 20.5 to cheer us on. The three men had mapped out the four spots where they would see us and utilized my dad's car to hit those spots on a point-to-point course. I'm impressed with their ability to navigate the streets of Minneapolis while the roads were closed off. We heard them cheering at mile 9 and, as you can see in the picture, I was quite happy to see them.

If a fly had situated itself on my shoulder from miles 9-13, it would have heard so many positive statements coming out of our mouths...Ruth always instructed us when to cut the tangents, I reminded us to relax on the downhills and use them to our advantage, and Krista and Carol affirmed that we were doing great. When we passed one woman, we invited her to tuck in with our group. When someone was falling off, we offered those words to encourage them to stick to us.

Mile 11 came up and I took another Honey Stinger. At this point, there was very sharp, but quick pain that came up in my lower hamstring. I had a slight moment of panic, but the feeling of pain went away in less than 1 second. It happened one more time, but eventually it wore out, so I pushed any doubts out of my mind. I told myself that my legs would hold up. I also did not tell any of the other girls this because I wanted everyone to maintain a positive attitude.

At the half marathon mark, we came through in 1:21:36 and we all stated how we were right on pace, with some cushion room for the last 10k, where the hills were. Our pack had been cruising along at an average of 613 pace. I kept waiting for my legs to start to ache or for my breathing to get out of control, but it never came. The miles from 13-18 flew by. The crowd support never ceased. People were hanging out and cheering us in, so happy to see women together in a pack. We kept on trucking. At mile 17.5, the Caitlin/Ruth fan club cheered us from over a bridge and Holda screamed to me that we looked great and relaxed.

In the next couple of miles, I started to feel really good. I took my last Honey Stinger at mile 19, and here I decided that I wanted to keep going at good clip before the hills hit around mile 21. I pulled away a little after mile 20, after Ruth and I shared our last water bottle together. I urged her to come with me, and then I went for it.

The hills approached and I kept looking straight ahead, focusing on the next guy that I could pass. I used the cheers from the spectators as my fuel - they told me that I (#54) looked really strong and were amazed. At least ten spectators told me this. They could have been lying to me, but in my mind, they were there to cheer just for me. Miles 21-23 are where the biggest hills were, and I barely noticed. My miles splits here were 606, 611, 613. What helped most is that the hill would have a decent incline for 200m, and then level off for 50m, which allowed me time to recuperate. Then it would incline again, but I was catching people, so it flew by and I barely even noticed that I had already covered the worst of the hills. Suddenly I had turned onto Summit Street, where there were only about 4 more miles to go. I remembered what Ruth had said earlier in the race: "Ladies, when we get to Summit, it's in the bag!" I was feeling great. I had already passed 10 people, and two women. Up ahead, I saw Mike Beigay and my heart sank. I knew how well his training went this summer and he had high hopes for a big PR. I cried his name out and tried to encourage him to come with me. He told me to go on.

On Summit Street, the crowds were ridiculous crazy! It's a long straightaway for a mile and a half and I decided it was best to latch onto a young man to get my mind off the huge stretch of road that I could see in the distance. He turned around, said "DAMN!" and kept at it. I didn't want to waste a breath so I didn't say anything. In my head, I thanked him. I was worried about hitting the wall but figured if I just kept barreling forward, I might hit the wall or I might not, so I made a decision: I should just go for it and run with all my heart. Turns out that decision was a good one; it worked out great.
I felt fabulous on Summit Street. I felt like I was running free and that all of my training had prepared me for this final 10k and that these thousands of people out there were cheering just for me. I kept my head up and pushed forward to pass more and more people. In the last 10k, I was so focused that I didn't even notice the mile markers. I didn't catch the mile splits but was able to catch the two-mile splits. I looked down and saw 12:10. I was rolling. At mile 23, I took my last water bottle and was sad that I didn't have Ruth there to share it with me. I tried to throw it in the street so that if she could see me, she could maybe pick it up (I found out later that she did see me throw it and contemplated grabbing it!).

At mile 24, I could feel the bottom of my feet, and I remembered what Jordan told me once that he'd rather wear flats and have feet that hurt for a couple of miles than wear trainers that could potentially slow you down due to the added weight. I decided that my feet really didn't hurt after all. Sure enough, I forgot about how my feet felt. I checked the elapsed time on my watch and calculated that I could potentially run a 2:43 (obviously my math was wrong). I felt my legs in Mile 25 and worried for a moment about their ability to pound on the approaching downhill to the finish. I was afraid they'd turn to rubber and wobble, forcing me to tumble down the hill instead of cruising down it. Fortunately, my legs cooperated and I sprinted toward the finish, with a tingling feeling the entire time. If there were any water stops at miles 24 and 25, I didn't see them and I worried that I would bonk because of the lack of fluids in the final miles. Fortunately, I must have done a good job in the earlier portions of the marathon of hydrating because it did not effect me in the final two miles.

I knew the finish was coming after I rounded a left turn and I felt so great, so fast, and so grateful. Grateful for the women who worked together, grateful for the man who let me latch onto him, grateful for my parents cruising around the course, grateful for the opportunity to run as an elite, grateful for the Minnesotans who cheered for me, grateful for Mark Hadley's coaching, and grateful for the Charlotte Running Community. I thought about all of that in the final .2 of the marathon; how all of those things had culminated into making this debut a success. Those thoughts helped me reach the finish line, and I crossed it with pride.

I didn't even look at the official finish clock, so I didn't realize what my time had been until I looked at my own stopwatch. 2:41:53. A negative split with a second half marathon time of 1:20:17 on the hillier part of the course. My last six miles of the course were: 606, 611, 613, 603, 602, 600. I closed stronger than I started. I was waiting for my legs to give way, but they didn't. I felt fabulous. I was elated. I looked around expectantly for my parents and Holda. They showed up and ran right into the finish chute and gave me hugs. Holda was so happy. I know that my mom wished she could have driven/run with them around the course, but her injured shouldered kept her sidelined at the finish. Next marathon, she'll be with them!

I looked back at the finish line, looking for Ruth, but didn't see her so I congratulated a couple of guys who had helped me out, and then an escort came and ushered me to the elite tent. Inside, I found the room where I could change and spotted Bill and found how that he ran OOO - out of control! He ran a 2:40:02. I'm so proud of him. He bruised his ribs just a little over two months ago and here he was sitting in his chair, having run faster than he did at OBX last year.

Soon, all the ladies who had been part of my pack, came in. Ruth, Carol and Krista all run under the 2:46:00 mark to make it the Trials. Ruth and I hugged and already began talking about how we would do this again at the Trials in January 2012, work together as a group and make the most of our camaraderie.

It was in the tent where I discovered a flood of texts from supportive friends, family, and running partners. I cannot express what a wonderful feeling of elation this provoked from me. I am so happy to be a part of the Charlotte running scene and I am so thankful for all the love that was showcased throughout this weekend. A special shout out goes to Rebecca Thomason for sending me a bottle of wine and two Guinness Chocolate Mousse cups from room service. I want to list off all the people who texted, called, or facebooked me, but you know who you are, and please know that it did not go unnoticed.

Reflecting upon my first marathon, I got spoiled. Everything was perfect. My fueling strategy, my race tactics, and the weather. I know that not every marathon from this point forward will be as perfect as this one; it will always hold a special place in a my heart.

I was lucky: four girls to talk to for over two hours. 40 Degrees. Parents cheering. Water Bottles. No injuries. Everything about this spoiled me, but I'll always be able to use this race as a motivation in those others where I might not get so lucky. Until then, I'm going to relish in its grandeur.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Twin Cities Marathon: Saturday

On Saturday morning, Mike, Bill and I scoped out the final four miles of the marathon on a run. The night before at dinner, my mom had suggested we take a driving tour of the last 10k of the marathon course, and then get dropped off at the 22 mile mark to check out the final miles of the marathon. We all thought it was a great idea, one that we had stolen from Ruth who was going on the Marathon Tour bus with other elites. I didn’t like the idea of sitting on a bus for two hours the day before the marathon, so I opted out and did this instead.

Around 8am, we all met in the lobby and piled into my parent’s VW Jetta Diesel. We drove the biggest hills from mile 20 and on, and then turned back around to head back to mile 22. We stopped at a gas station and got out of the car. It was cold this morning and I quietly hoped it would be above 40 degrees tomorrow morning. The three of us ran together and noticed there was a gradual incline of maybe about 1% grade. It didn’t seem so bad, but at the same time, we hadn’t covered 22 miles at a much faster clip yet. The houses along Summit Street were absolutely beautiful and I soaked in the beautiful scenery of the fall leaves with a vibrant array of colors. We rounded a turn and a nice downhill awaited us and Mike informed us that this was the final 1200m of the course. He also told us that a photographer would be here to take a picture of us coming down the hill, with a huge Catholic Church in the background.

After we finished the run, I did a portion of the Tabata workout with Mike and Bill and then we walked back to the hotel since the Holiday Inn is just two blocks from the finish line. I drove Bill back to the Crowne Plaza and on my way back in, I saw Mile walking on the street. I immediately called him and asked if he was looking for breakfast. I told him that he should turn around and drive with me to get a bagel from Bruegger’s Bagels. He agreed. After some navigation, we eventually found the downtown bagel shop and ordered our breakfast.

After I got back to the hotel, it was already time to head back to the Crowne Plaza for the Elite Technical meeting, which was mandatory for all elites to attend. Before we headed to the conference room, I stopped by the Hospitality Suite and, to my delight, found an array of prepared sandwiches for the elite athletes. I immediately thought they would not have a vegetarian option, but fortunately they did! It was delicious and free. My mom even got one too! We arrived at the Great River Room to hear a presentation of how the events would unfold the next morning. Really, the presentation just reiterated everything that we had received in our elite packet of information.

My mom, dad, and I walked back to our hotel five blocks away and ordered Toy Story 3 on demand. It was a great movie! The day flew by as we headed to the Marathon Pasta Dinner at 5pm. I had a simple dinner of spaghetti with marinara sauce and salad with parmesan cheese. I also had a cookie because I felt hungry still. I’m glad I had that cookie.

Upon arriving back at the hotel, my dad had coordinated with my high school coach where to see us the next day. They would be at miles 9, 17, 20.5, and 26.2. I got all my gear ready to go, with my bag packed full of Body Glide, two “This Apple walked into a bar” Bars, water, Gatorade, and cold weather gear. Ruth knocked on our door and we figured out the rides for the next morning and her husband, Dean, would join my dad and Holda to see us throughout the course and take pictures. All in all, everything was falling into place. Lights were out at 9pm.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Twin Cities Marathon: Friday

This is the first of my three posts from the Marathon. I had to break it down because otherwise it would be a novel. This is more of a journal recap of events so that I know what works for me on marathon weekend.

I woke up at 545am to get ready for Michelle Hazelton to pick me up. I had a mango smoothie with rice protein powder and was soon ready to go. Michelle arrived right on time and dropped me off at the airport, where I checked one bag and made my way through the security and to the gate. I hung out with Mike, Andrea and Bill until we boarded our plane. I was able to read most of my book and the two-hour flight flew by.

I arrived to the Twin Cities on Friday in mid-morning and Bill and I almost couldn't find our luggage because the carousels were confusing and unmarked. Somehow Mike found it though and had already grabbed my bag, which was rocking a WF label since it was my official travel bag back in my college XC days. My parents picked me up from the airport and we went to Holiday Inn - St. Paul in hopes of checking in early. Fortunately for us, they let us check in around 10am, which was amazing! As soon as we got to the room, I pulled my parent's luggage off of the luggage carrier, and a game in a 5-lb box crashed onto my left big toe, causing it to bleed and bruise. I immediately iced and tried not to freak out as it was throbbing. I decided to give it a go by running with Mike. We met in the lobby for an easy 5 miles along the Mississippi River with Chloe Shea in the jogger, and my dad in tow. I could feel my toe if I landed on my foot a certain way, but my thoughts of worry vanished as I realized it wouldn't affect my marathon in just two days' time.

Afterwards, my parents and I headed to Whole Foods for a healthy lunch of a sandwich with some salad. Once we returned to the hotel, we walked to the expo which was across the street from our hotel. I met Bill briefly, but we eventually lost him in the flurry of activity and the bustling crowd. Jordan texted me and told me to stop by a booth where his co-worker from The Genesis Agency was and to ask for Lee. I did just that. I bought two pairs of Balega socks and, in return, Lee gave me three packs of Nuun, and a Nuun water bottle. I was a happy camper and glad to support my favorite training partner's company. I walked by the Cascadian Farms and Larabar booths three times so I could get as many free samples as possible. I came out on top.

I also learned something about big marathon expos: get your marathon gear the first day of the expo, or as soon as it opens, so that you can get the size you want in Official Marathon Gear. I was lucky enough that my parents bought me a really nice Brooks all-weather jacket that had a nice emblem of the marathon's logo on the right side. When I went again on Saturday, all of the jackets were gone, except for ten Extra Larges.

Next, my parents and I made our way to the Elite Hospitality Suite at the Crowne Plaza, which was about five blocks from the expo. There were snacks such as crackers, Fig Newton's, bagels, peanut butter, and soft drinks and gatorade for the elites. It was a very nice setup on the 20th floor, overlooking the Mississippi. I picked up my race number and my bag for gear. Soon, it was time for the massage I had made on Thursday, and I headed to the pool area where I would wait for the therapist to come get me. I noticed a young blonde woman sitting at another table, and I wondered if she was another elite. Turns out we ended up in the same massage room.

Meeting Ruth Perkins was the best thing that could have happened to me this weekend. A bubbly blond, an alum of Seattle Pacific University, mother of two toddlers and a personal trainer, Ruth made me feel at ease and confident. After asserting that she got faster after having two kids, I found out that her marathon PR was 2:50 and that she was also going for the qualifier, with a race plan to run 2:44, an average of 6:15 pace. We found out that our other PRs were right around the same time, so she offered that we work together. The kicker was that she wanted to go out in 6:10, but I wanted to go out in 6:30. We both agreed it wasn't good to steer away from our respective race plans and dropped the subject. Little did I know that we would end up working together and actually recruiting other women to run with us during the race.

After our massages, we found out that Ruth and her husband Dean were also staying in the Holiday Inn, so we invited them to walk back to the hotel with us. They checked in, and when they walked to their room, they could hear our voices, and Ruth knocked on our door to tell us that they were just across from us! Fate brought us together on this trip, I swear. Ruth gave us the idea of running the last four miles of the course, since she was taking the bus tour of the marathon course on Saturay, and then jumping off at Mile 22. I didn't like the idea of sitting on a school bus for two hours, so we stole from her the next morning and had my parents drive us.

Already it was time for an early dinner, so I coordinated with Mike and Bill to meet at an Italian restaurant just down the street from the Holiday Inn. Bill walked from the Crowne Plaza to join us and we had a great conversation and enjoyed watching Chloe Shea eat her ravioli with her fingers. I could tell my parents were having a great time, talking running with Bill and learning more about Andrea and Mike. They loved hanging out with the CRC crew!

Once we got back, I watched Dexter on my mom's laptop and read some of my book that I needed to read by the time I got back to Charlotte so that Meagan could read it for our book club meeting in a week. Lights were off at 9pm and I put in my ear plugs and slept until around 2am, when the people in the room next to ours were having a party with twelve people. I found out the next morning that Ruth went over and told them to be quiet, and then when they didn't listen to her after another 15 minutes, called the front desk. We were all woken up from their rowdiness. Other than that, I slept great!

Check for the Saturday's course of events soon.