Apr 29, 2007

the minutiae

this is one of my favorite parts of reading other peoples' blogs - the race account. with every single detail included. unfortunately, i don't think mine is going to be that exciting -- i can't recall too many details as a result of the oxygen deprivation. but here goes:

i've run this race 4 times now & it gets bigger every year ... this year was so far, the biggest field - about 11,000 people. but despite the crowds & the fact that i was about to run a half marathon and try & kill myself for a certain time, i have never been so calm at the start of a race. ever. i don't know if it was having coach there, or just knowing i was ready - but i am usually a bundle of nerves - yesterday morning though, there was nothing but a nice zen calm. we chatted a bit, checked out the crowds a bit ... and then, with little fanfare - we were off.

mile 1 8:33 ... first mile was slower than i thought it would be, it was tough to maneuver through the crowds.
mile 2 8:03 ... much better
mile 3 8:11 ... this is where we hit a series of hills that will last the next 2+ miles. this portion of the course is the same as the 10 mile race i ran a few weeks ago & the hills really slowed me down then - but not this time. i barely even knew they were there - i was amazed when i saw a handwritten sign on a tree at some point with "last hill!" written on it. i do however, find religion in the hills & chant the hail mary over and over and over again. i swear it works like a charm.
mile 4 8:08 ... still in the hills.
mile 5 7:47 .... coming out of the hills! woo hoo.
mile 6 8:01 .... there was even a port-a-potty stop in this one ... i kept looking over to the woods for a good spot to go pee, but my coach reminded me that there was a huge bank of portolets at the bottom of the hill, so i dashed into one of those & was reminded of a dream i had the night before of running into portolet & running out with toilet paper streaming from my shorts. my dream did not come true - although i did check quickly before leaving!
mile 7 7:55
mile 8 7:58 ... i'm actually amazed at these splits - i hated this stretch & thought i had slowed down a bit (the slow down is yet to come) there is this one house though, that has a huge party out on their front lawn every year & they've got huge speakers blaring music set up on their front lawn ... as we passed, the commodores "brick house" started to play ... and so of course, we started to sing - she's a brick. howse ... she's mighty mighty ...
mile 9 7:58 ... at the end of mile 8, we enter Churchill Downs ... last year, this gave me chills (this is a new part of the race & was just introduced last year) ... this year, i think i was just working too hard to get chills or be awed by where we were running. what is fun though, is that they have speakers set up that play recorded announcements of past races & you can see the horses working out on the track. this thought did carry me through the rest of the track though & i shared it with coach: exactly one week from then, we'd be sitting in the stands, in our derby finery, drinking beer ... very nice.
mile 10 8:20 ... clearly, i was really hurting by now ... i think i was even wheezing. but (other than the start) we never got any slower than the next mile. i don't even know why i had slowed so much ... i don't remember anything hurting, i think i was just plain tired.
mile 11 8:23
mile 12 8:07 ... once we got past mile 11 & i knew how close we were, i was able to pick it up a bit. this is also where my coach would start pointing people out for me to start picking off ... 'see that guy up there? he shouldn't be ahead of you - pass him" ... and then, "see that girl in the blue? you need to pass her" ... and so on. we played this game for the last mile, although it didn't feel like a game - it was hard. especially when he'd tell me to pass someone that i thought was so far away - but i did it ... it was the perfect thing to pass the last mile & to get me going.
mile 13 7:47
the .1 7:43 once we hit the finish line crowds & turned the corner to the finish, i kicked it in & we crossed finish line together. i was so tired i could barely speak - i didn't even know what my time was - just knew it was sub 1:50. we just hugged & walked arm in arm to get medals, chips taken off ... and to go fill up our bags with goodies.

i think the average pace was 8:05. it was so fun to run with my coach ... he was amazing. i never had to think about a thing - i even stopped pressing my watch for the splits because i knew he was doing it. we'd come up to a water stop, he'd tell me to just keep running & he'd bring me my water. he provided the perfect encouragement when he knew i needed it, he made me work hard, and brought an air of calmness to the whole event that i had never experienced. now i'm spoiled & want him to run every race with me.

i think it was just the fact that i knew i didn't need to worry - i didn't worry about my splits, my pace, my hr or which mile i was at. in fact, i missed a couple of miles - never even knew we had passed certain points. if i just let go of all that stuff & run ... it always works out very nicely. now to bring this lesson learned to next race ...

speaking of which, we're in the car, headed back home - feeling very satisfied about the mission we had just accomplished ... and i say to him "what's next?".

i didn't get an answer. i know what the answer is - just rest. enjoy some time off.

this morning i was still on such a post race high i felt like i could have gone out for a nice big long run ... but by 4 pm, the exhaustion hit me in the head like a sack of bricks. so i'll try my best to give my body a much deserved break ... this is the part i hate the most. post race - nothing on schedule & no races on the horizon ... must try to be a grownup & be zen with this.

in the meantime, i've got a great half marathon to add to the logbook.

Apr 28, 2007

mission accomplished

i think my coachs' exact words were:
see, i told you we'd slap the crap out of your pr.
and slap the crap out of it i did.
i slapped 26 minutes out of it.


stay tuned for the mile by mile minutiae ...

Apr 27, 2007

on your mark ... get set ...

i love this feeling the day before a race -
after a few days of easy, short runs...
this feeling of just jonesing for a run.
a good, long, hard run.

it's race time.

Apr 26, 2007

lightbulb moment

while putting my sneakers on for this mornings' easy 3 miles, i think the exact same thing i've been thinking for the past month when i put them on: jesus, i need new sneakers.

i kept putting it off, then it was just too close to race day to be getting new sneakers. they got me this far, they'll get me through race day - right? (am sure those words will come back to haunt me). shit, i did it again ... may have just put the whammy on myself. must knock on wood.

so i head out in my tired sneakers & its' during the first painful mile that the lightbulb goes off:

there is very possibly a direct correlation between my leg/hip pain & the mileage on my sneakers. DUH. you are probably wondering: is she really this daft? didn't she know that?

the answer is yes - sometimes i am that daft. but now i know - once my kicks hit 350+ miles, my ass hurts, the hip starts to go, and muscle pain ensues. when i start popping ibuprofen like they are gumdrops & buying every muscle pain cream on the market, that should be my first clue.

tomorrow will be my 3rd visit in a week to physical therapist. she's my new best friend.

Apr 24, 2007

panic! stopped by for a visit the other day ....

i knew this visit was coming ... it always does right before a race - it hung around for a day, maybe 2 -- but this time, i embraced it. acknowledged it. mulled it over.

and then told it to move on ... i had better things to think about.

holy shit. i think it worked. cause it never came back.
hope i didn't just put the whammy on myself,
cause i still have 4 days left.

Apr 19, 2007

geeking out over the numbers

one of my favorite things is when i get my thursday email from coach with the analysis of the big dog run numbers - the pace, time, etc ... so here was today's:

the first email:

Overall avg pace: 8:06
Last 20 min avg pace: 7:40
Last 15 min avg pace: 7:35

right there are some serious holy shit numbers. that last number - the one i ran for 15 minutes? that's 5k race pace for me. RACE PACE. on a thursday. not in a race. at 5am.

but wait - it gets amazingly, unbelieveably better: there's a second email (after his further analysis) in which i was instructed to sit down:

20 min left to go pace = 7:32
15 min left to go pace = 7:22
10 min left to go pace = 7:28
5 min left to go pace = 7:25 (this would include the hill)

this is nothing short of mind boggling. i mean sure, i wanted to die. i wanted nothing more than to stop, or pee in my pants. but i didn't do any of those things ... i'm still here.

fairly elated.
shit ass sore.
but elated.

getting back on the horse

last sunday, i took a mulligan on my 9 mile run that got thwarted when i had a (literal) "run-in" (pun intended) with a car - here's how it goes:
  • i head out, nervous & sore - contemplate crossing street so i don't have to pass scene of crime again, but figure i must face it head on. hopefully, i won't literally be facing fear head on again. been there, done that.
  • defiantly (somewhat) run by same spot. stopping FULLY at alley to check for cars. none. keep going. runs take a lot longer when you make full stops at alleys. but i guess it takes even longer if you get whacked by a car. lesser of two evils is way to go.
  • this run is the most miserable run of my whole life i think ... am totally shell-shocked & freaked out by every car and more sore in more places than i realized or cared to admit.
  • around mile 5, the cheese that had snuck its way into my big mac (how the hell did that get in there??) exacted its' revenge & sent me into a gas station loo, where i sat there, willing the cheese to make a hasty exit (it did not - just sat in my gut - mocking me for eating it in the first place - dairy hates me), thinking i would need to call my husband to come get me. (lets preface the whole big mac thing - because clearly, this is not an optimum meal for training - it is, however, my optimum hangover remedy ... had the weensiest little hangover due to the one glass of wine too many to celebrate the mere fact that i was not in traction, or worse - thus; a big mac).
  • now, i have never been here. this place where i thought i could not finish a run. i didn't like this place. its sad & lonely.

i sucked it up & kept going. 9 miles ... all the way home. every. single. mile. sucked. even the one i walked.

Apr 14, 2007

run, interrupted.

today's 9 miles was a total wash.
about six minutes into said run, i got hit by a car.

it was bound to happen one day ... i knew it - it was either going to happen crossing an alley on a busy street that i always run on, or on one particular street in the park where the cars just come flying by - its every man for himself.

so about six minutes into run, i step off sidewalk into alley, give a cursory glance to my left to see if a car was coming, but it was too late - the car was there. in front of me. the whole event was totally surreal ... there was no screaching of brakes, no drama - it was all a very slo-mo out of body thing - like i watched it happen, but have no idea what happened ... i don't know if the car actually hit me, or if i ran into it .. i think it was a combo of both - whatever happened, i went over the hood in some sort of spectactular stunt girl thing (maybe it was more of a trying to stop my fall, slipping on rainsoaked hood of car thing - i don't know) -- either way, i landed on the asphalt in front of the car ... comepletley stunned. i got up & went over to his window ... it should be noted that the guy did not even get out ... lord, if i had just hit someone in my car, i'd be out of it in a flash & helping the poor soul up off the ground.

he parked his car, got out ... and accident formalities were exchanged. this was weird.

what the hell do you say to someone when they hit you with their car? other than the very obvious - dude, you just f--ing hit me with your car! which i did not say ... i mean, that went without saying. did you not see me in my brand new so-stark-white-you-can-see-it-from-space running jacket? but then of course, i am still trying trying to figure it out - did he hit me or did i run into him? idunno.

the adrenaline rush is such that i didn't even know if i was ok or not ... other than the fact that i am standing & talking and clearly, thankfully, not in need of an ambulance - despite having just gone over the hood of someone's car ... i wondered what injury the adrenaline was hiding.

now - this is where i realize i have a problem because once the accident formalities are exchanged, i actually consider continuing on. the first step is admitting you have a problem. and i see that clearly. i pace the sidewalk, back & forth, back & forth - shaking my left leg out - wondering if it hurts or not ... thankfully, brain cells kick in & i decide the wise thing to do would be to go home, re-group, and (get this) - get my road id bracelet.

i half run, half walk home ... sort of crying in disbelief the whole way ... walk into front door, call my husband over because i don't want to scare the kids - and dissolve into those scared, shaken tears while i tell him. the poor guy is stunned - but then more stunned when i say i'm going back out, just need my id bracelet.

i'm sure this is when he wonders how on earth he could have married such a dimwit.

suffice it to say, i did not go back out. i took off my rain soaked running clothes & got in warm shower ... i'm one lucky girl to have come out of that with a very minor scrape on my knee. sore & shaken ... but could have been so much worse.

i wasn't wearing my running mojo necklace ... its a pendant with a depiction of Ganesh: the harbinger of success, the remover of obstacles ... that car was one big friggin' obstacle.

Apr 13, 2007

my running partner

i had a 4 mile recovery run today & i decided to use it to also get my former 4 legged running partner acclimated to running with me again. this dog is the fastest thing ever. she's a crazy combo of greyhound, pointer, whippet & i swear she's got some race horse in her. she's small, but fast & psychotic. figured she'd be great protection on pre-dawn runs & good motivation since she never stops running.

but we had a minor accident a few months back during marathon training, when a bike came by us; it scared her, she ran in front of me, & since we were literally attached at the hip by her leash, i tripped over her & we were both a tangled mess of crying dog & runner girl (also crying). that biker never even turned around to just see if we were ok! Anyhow, we were indeed fine that day, but my dog was rendered very bike / car shy & would stop dead in her tracks when one came by after that ... i lost patience with trying to coax her from her statue-sitting thing, and so i gave up on her ... left her home. she stopped getting all excited when she saw my running shoes on ... she knew she had no hope of coming with me. i had a schedule to ahere to, paces, times to meet ... how on earth could i stop everytime i car went by to try & pry her up from sidewalk??

well, for some reason i thought today was the day we could have another go at it ... it was just 4 miles, in the park ... what do you know? she was fine - the perfect running partner again. it was a constant stream of "good girl, good girl" from me every time a car came by & she kept going ... there was one biker that came by too close, and she stopped, sat & whimpered ... once the bike was out of sight, she was off again. she must have doggie post traumatic stress disorder or something. must take baby steps i guess ... i'm not real good at baby steps - i like it all to work out. perfectly. now.

my run was bad - slow, sloppy, tired; but the partner showed some signs of promise.

Apr 10, 2007

race strategy!

i am a girl with a plan. a race plan to be exact. its not my plan ... i don't ever have plans ... i like to wing it & see how things go (sometimes this works like a charm, sometimes not so much).

but now - thanks to my coach ... i have a plan for the half marathon on the 28th. here's the best part of the plan: my coach is running with me. a week and a half after running boston, he is going to run the mini with me & pace me to the finish. he has announced that he will be my sherpa, carry my GU, get my water ... i am to do nothing but focus on running ... hello, people - how lucky am i?

here's the plan (a condensed version):
  • we need to be near the front
  • miles 2-4 are good for "getting time in the bank", we'll go faster than i am comfortable with.
  • once we hit the park (and the beginning of 3 miles of hills), we'll run steady, but use gravity to really speed it up on the downhills.
  • we'll really hit the gas on last descent (mile 6) we can get a fast mile in on that last downhill coming out of park.
  • then we'll settle into steady pace on the next, flat 6 miles ...
  • at mile 12.5, we'll really kick it in to end & finish strong.

it will be hard ... no doubt - i have in fact already been informed that i'll be praying for race to end ... but having a good friend & coach right there to help me through is the best.

Apr 8, 2007

happy easter.

i'm curious to see how tomorrow's 6 miles goes with nothing in the tank but jellybeans.

Apr 5, 2007

the bike

i may be able to pilot a small plane; plot a course, take off, and grease a landing, screaming out of the sky, right on the numbers ... but something as simple as riding a road bike scares the bejeesus out of me.

i rode with my husband & another friend yesterday ... my husband (a cyclist, and so of course, my bike coach) said "get about 4 feet behind his wheel" ... WHAT? 4 feet? that's shit close ... there's no brake lights - how will i know when he's slowing down? then i think ... well, when i crash into him - that's when i'll know.

then it was my turn to be up front ... i hear "go on suzanne, break some wind" ... i think - yeah, i'll break some wind alright, but not the kind you're thinking of. there's a serious headwind, and so i'm peddling my little ass off ... this is 10 miles into (a 20 mile!) ride & my husband asks "how are your legs?" my legs? my legs are FINE! my legs are finely tuned machines ... its' this thing on wheels underneath me that's throwing me for a loop.