Friday, January 25, 2013

Winter Running

I have been awful about updating this blog. I really hope I can do better. Today, I am inspired to write because I had a great run. What made it so great? The weather. Yes, snow was falling from the sky, temps were a balmy 20 degrees (warm compared to earlier this week), there was at least 4 inches of freshly fallen snow, and no wind.  Some people may not venture out in this, but I loved it.  I have been fighting a cold all week and took a few days off from running. But I was itching to get out. It was great! I loved every moment, even the constant dog-sniff/pee-break stops. For me, running in a winter wonderland is exhilarating, refreshing, and peaceful.
"Stadiums are for spectators. We runners have nature and that is much better." -- Juha Vaataine, former Finnish athlete
Happy running!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chicago Marathon 2012

"Please don't ever let me run a marathon again!" -- These are the words I told my husband and friends after I finished the 2012 Chicago Marathon two days ago on October 7.
I often compare the experience to childbirth.  Afterwards, you swear you'll never do it again. The pain and misery can be so intense. But, your brain has a funny way of forgetting about the pain and only remembering the joy.  The joy of finishing, the joy of the fans cheering for you, the simple joy of saying "I did it!"
So, yes, I am already looking ahead to marathon #3. I want to conquer my time goal, which is 4 hours and 15 minutes. I don't know when or where, but I'll make it happen, or at least give it all I've got!

Here's a breakdown of my Chicago Marathon experience:
The weather at the start was quite chilly! I knew once I got going I'd be fine, but waiting around outside for over an hour before the start led me to have my doubts.  I was so happy to run into my friends Chris and Sarah Huffman from Watervale shortly after I arrived at my start corral. Sarah and I have been communicating via Facebook about our journey to marathon #2.

The race started off great. It is unbelievable how many spectators came out to cheer on the runners! It was like a huge tailgate party. They lined the entire marathon route!  I told myself that maybe I was going too fast, but it felt so easy. I had a great pace going for the first 13 miles, despite pain in my left knee from about miles 4 to 17.  I had this pain earlier this summer, but it went away when I got new shoes over a month ago.  I had high hopes of finishing around 4:15.  I definitely wanted to beat my first marathon time of 4:27, but now I was worried and had my doubts as to whether or not I'd be able to finish.

Luckily the pain went away, but by about mile 19, I hit a wall. Every mile got harder and harder.  By mile 22, I seriously thought that there was no way I was going to be able to finish. I really wanted to see my personal cheer team (Neil & the kids and our good friends Scott & JoAnn & their kids).  I'd seen them once a bit earlier (dressed in their colorfully decorated neon yellow shirts), but unfortunately I didn't see them again.  My pace slowed tremendously and I had to walk at times, especially through the water stations. Waves of nausea washed over me at times...I really hoped I wouldn't throw up.

Finally, mile 25 came.  OK.  1 more mile. I can do this...maybe.  The turn into the finish was upon me, finally. An uphill finish...UGH! Please let this be over! I crossed the finish line and managed a smile for the cameras.  I hobbled my way through mile 27...the long walk through water, gatorade, medals, and refreshments. I was nearly in tears. I just wanted to stop moving!! I wanted to see my family. I wanted it all over. I grabbed a Heatsheet to wrap around me and struggled my way to the reunite area.  We'd meet at "O".  Why did my last name have to be toward the end of the alphabet, toward the back of the reunite area. Finally I saw the group of yellow t-shirts that made up my cheering team. The marathon was over. I finished in 4:24:06.  A new personal record and my Garmin says I ran 26.48 miles.

The cold really set in on my sweaty body. I was freezing, shivering, and just wanted to get warm.  I was purely exhausted.  After walking what seemed like an eternity to our car and saying goodbye to our friends, I collapsed into the car and we began our 4 hour drive home.

Here I am, 2 days later.  I feel a bit stiff and my hamstrings are sore. I managed to come down with a cold on the way home. Neil says it is because I destroyed my immune system running 26 miles. I'm taking advantage of not working and spending as much time as possible "doing nothing". In the back of my mind is that part of me that says, "You're a runner. You're a marathoner.  You can do another one."  Sure, I'll listen to the voices in my head...even the crazy ones.

Mile by Mile Pace
Mile 1 -- 8:37/mile
Mile 2 -- 10:23/mile
Mile 3 -- 9:51/mile
Mile 4 -- 9:28/mile
Mile 5 -- 9:03/mile
Mile 6 -- 9:17/mile
Mile 7 -- 9:01/mile
Mile 8 -- 8:54/mile
Mile 9 -- 9:26/mile
Mile 10 -- 9:12/mile
Mile 11 -- 9:08/mile
Mile 12 -- 9:06/mile
Mile 13 -- 9:52/mile
Mile 14 -- 9:21/mile
Mile 15 -- 9:50/mile
Mile 16 -- 9:24/mile
Mile 17 -- 9:52/mile
Mile 18 -- 9:49/mile
Mile 19 -- 10:22/mile
Mile 20 -- 10:51/mile
Mile 21 -- 11:41/mile
Mile 22 -- 10:54/mile
Mile 23 -- 12:00/mile
Mile 24 -- 11:40/mile
Mile 25 -- 11:39/mile
Mile 26 -- 10:40/mile
Last .48 -- 10:01/mile

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Highs and Lows of the Last 6 Months

It's been almost 6 months since I last updated my blog. A lot has happened in that time.
Here are the highlights and lowlights:

May 1: On the eve of my dad's 83rd birthday, he was diagnosed with brain cancer. The mass was the size of 2 golf balls and inoperable. He rested comfortably in the local local long term care unit under hospice care. I spent as much time as possible "up north" with him.

June 2: Dad passed away this evening. All of his children and grandchildren were able to see him during his last month. My mom spent time with him every day. He never lacked in the visitor department. The man knew EVERYONE!
June 3: After a bottle of wine, many tears, being comforted by a dear friend and Neil, I managed to squeeze in a few hours of sleep, before running the Dexter-Ann Arbor 1/2 Marathon.  I decorated my race shirt in his memory. He would have wanted me to run the race, so I did, and set a PR in the process: 1:53:44
June 17: Ran the inaugural Ann Arbor 1/2 Marathon in 1:55:02.

This month, I really focused on increasing my mileage in preparation for the Chicago Marathon.
On July 31 we held my dad's memorial service at Watervale. It was a wonderful service and I was surrounded by so many friends and family.

August 4: Peter, Rachel, and I walk/ran the Onekama Days 5K. Peter finished the run with a time of 31:30 (and that was after accidentally running th 1 mile fun run).  Rachel walked it and finished in 51:58. I am so proud of them, especially Peter! As for me, I set a new PR with a time of 24:43.  I came in 1st in my age group! Our good friend Frank managed to win the whole darn race!
August 6: The kids and I again participated in the annual Baldython at Watervale.  I ran a new PR here too -- 37:36 (it's approximately 3.5 miles). In the woods, I tripped on a tree root and fell down hard on my left side. My friend Brad said he wondered what that THUMP was! I was only down a few seconds and the pain didn't set in until later. I went in for X-rays, convinced I'd broken a rib, but the results were negative. I couldn't run for about 4 days. It took about 3 weeks to feel healed.

Well, that brings us to September.  Today I ran 18 miles. Ribs don't hurt much (a bit stiff after the run), my left knee feels better (NEW SHOES! - it's been bothering me a bit the last month or so), and my recurring back pain subsided enough to get the run in.  I miss training with others. Running alone has its benefits, but as the mileage piles up, I sure miss my Team in Traning partners.

What have I learned these last 6 months? Running is my "ME TIME".  Some people may have thought I was crazy to run the day after my dad died. He'd have wanted me to run. He knew how important it was to me. It's my "THERAPY". I am a much happier person when I can run. I get all sorts of aggression out, daydream, think, and appreciate all that is around me.

'Til next time. Hopefully sooner that 6 months.