Monday, October 26, 2009

First Last Week

Now that I am in the last week, Marathon week, I am freaking out a little. Well, it turns out I am not alone. A friend of mine who runs a 3 hour marathon pointed out this article about the tapering freak out from Runner's World. It was a big help in making me not feel crazy.

I can't think of anything else right now. I am excited and nervous. I can't wait to see people that are coming to watch the race. It's getting so close!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chicago Marathon Part 3: More Videos

Here's some fun footage of flying clothes, miles 16 & 21, and what I had for breakfast.
video video video video

Chicago Marathon Part 2: Videos

I am afraid of the cold. I am afraid of being cold. Extreme weather, either hot or cold, is not ideal on a typical day, but when asked my preference, nine times out of 10 I'm going to choose hot. I'm from Florida, and I don't like winter. On marathon day, however, I prefer colder. And, when I say "colder" I'm talking a balmy 60 degrees. 50 degrees at the NYC Marathon is bad enough.
It became very clear to me five days before the Chicago Marathon that the weather gods could care less about what I wanted. In fact, they like to mess with people like me, get people like me all freaked out so we'll spend more money at Niketown. Seven days before the race the forecast predicted highs in the mid-40's (that was the high!) with rain. Cold and rain. Five days before the race, the weather gods decided that cold and rain were not enough and added snow to the mix. Snow. I was a wreck. I like snow from my living room window, or in some romantic movie. I don't run in it. But, there was no backing out. A team of McGee's were flying to Chicago to see this race (and eat pizza), so I knew I was going to have to slog through, possibly literally, and I was going to have to figure out how.
Flying into rainy Chicago on Friday was not encouraging. By Saturday, though, the sun came out. It was cold, but it was sunny. Still terrified of not being properly dressed on race day, I anxiously asked the Nike saleslady (Nike set up a store in the official marathon hotel, the one we stayed at. Smart Nike. They made a bundle off me.) if they had 3/4 tights, recommended moments before by Abby, who I'd called in a panic. She lead me to the rack, and I picked up my size. No time to try them on. And, while I'm here I probably need some arm warmers, maybe another long sleeved shirt, and a head band. Can't leave without a head band.
The only thing that I thought maybe the cold would encourage was a 4:00:00 run from me. I was hoping to break my personal record of 4:04. If I matched it, great. If I came in slower...not so great. I knew I'd be comfortable with a time between 4:00 - 4:04. I also knew training hadn't gone so well for me this year. If my half marathon times were any indication of how I might do, well, I wasn't going to be breaking any records.
Geared up for some winter running, I was relieved to wake up on Sunday and see the sunny forecast. Not so thrilling was the 29 degrees / high of 44 flashing on the television.
I got to my corral by 7:15. Most people around me were in layers, but there were those tough running animals dressed in tank tops and shorts. Right before the start I started seeing clothes fly through the air. Unlike NY where racers gently remove their layers and throw them on the Verrazano Narrows, Chicago runners send theirs flying, like throwing caps at a high school graduation. I got hit in the face with a rather nice sweat shirt, which I considered keeping and giving to Kirk at mile 2. I had my own clothes to worry about, however, including my sweatpants, the ones I'd had since grad school. I knew we were about to say goodbye. I couldn't carry them with me -- I had a jacket and a long sleeved shirt to pass off -- so I had to make the decision to leave them at the starting line. Instead of throwing them, though, I placed them neatly along the side lines, hoping they'd end up with a nice woman, who'd want a comfortable pair of sweats to wear around her house.
The horn blared signaling the start of the race. As I started running I felt cold, but it wasn't unbearable. And, as the race went on (and on and on) I never got completely warm, but the cold was not my enemy and I was able, by mile 13, to kind of enjoy it. I high-fived little kids and big kids. I stopped for water, even walked through some of the water stops. I thanked the volunteers, who stood in front of the tables with cups of gatorade in their hands so we runners wouldn't have a mash up. I saw the city, the truly gorgeous, clean, well manicured city I remember from my childhood. And, I stopped thinking about breaking any records.
The cold did not help me run any faster, as you can see by my time, but it was a very beautiful day, and when I crossed the finish line 15 minutes slower than I'd wanted, I could see it had reached 44 degrees. Still not in my comfort zone, but a hell of a lot better than where I'd started.
video

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tapering is Hard to Do

As a first time marathoner, this is the first time I am experiencing a lot of things, including my first real taper. Hearing other runners talk about tapering in the past, I never understood the real deal. Training tips are always telling us to follow the taper and only do what your training schedule says to do, no more! "Why," I thought, "would you ever do more?"
Yesterday, was my first long run after my tapering officially began. I had the best 12 mile run ever. In the history of running. Ok, maybe that's an over-statement but it felt so good. As I approached the end of the run, I thought briefly, "I wonder how fast I can do 13.1?" Woops. There it is. I felt great. It was cold, it was raining, I was strong, I was fast, I was consistent. I wanted to do more. I stopped myself. I ran just slightly more than 12 miles and then reminded myself that I am so close, yet if I injure myself or over-train, I will be so far away.
Less than 2 weeks. There is so much to do, including successfully following my tapering training schedule.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chicago Marathon: 4:15:40


We stayed right across the street from the start of the race. I walked to my corral 30 minutes before and only stood waiting for 15 minutes before the horn blared. What a wonderfully civilized way to begin a race versus getting on a boat or a bus two or three or even four hours before the the start! When I crossed the finish I was handed an aluminum wrap immediately, my medal was draped over my neck, and I was able to easily walk the mile to the family reunion area. The end of NY is always a nightmare. Congested; long walks to get to meeting areas and bag check; blocked off streets with no easy way out. And, the Chicago Marathon starts at 7:30a.m. I crossed the finish line and found my family by noon. In New York I'm not done until 2:00 or 3:00 so the rest of the day is shot.

The course is flat. There's a hill right at the end, which is mean, but other than that it is super flat. And, I did run it faster as a result -- until mile 14 when I made the decision to slow down. For the first 13 I thought of nothing but finding my family, how fast I was going, how much I had to pee, how cold it was (it was 29 degrees at the start!). I wasn't looking at the city or the course. And, I wasn't having fun. It was stressful until I decided at mile 14 to slow down and, literally, smell the freakin' roses. OK, there were no roses, so it was smell the city. After that I started to enjoy myself.

There will be more later in the week, but for now, here are a couple of pictures. Videos and more story to come.

Monday, October 12, 2009

20 miles down 26.2 to go

Long time reader, first time contributor...

I'm in the home stretch of my first attempt at a marathon. THE marathon. NYC. I'm so happy, scared, excited, energized, amazed, nervous that it is almost here (19 days 15 hours but who's counting).
My training has been long, as a first-timer I chose a 20 week training plan (The Beginner Marathon Program on Cool Running), and not without hiccups (I clumsily ran into the corner of a wooden box and injured my leg while goofing around. That took me out for over a week. Then I had to come back slowly. My first scheduled 20 mile run out of 2 was supposed to happen when I was in Hawaii and I only managed 10 because I was too busy being on vacation) but I feel like I am ready. After my 16 mile and 18 mile long runs I finally felt like this wasn't a crazy dream anymore but after my run on Saturday (slow as it was - Hey, I never said I was fast. I'm shooting for under 5 hours, under by seconds is fine.) I can really visualize myself doing it.
Of course, the minor annoyances continue. My shoes have more than 300 miles on them right now. Should I buy a new pair when the race is only 19 days away? And this morning my Nano died (thank goodness I had uploaded Saturday's run or I would probably have thrown myself off my balcony when the ipod died). Music is not essential but Nike+ has become my running lifeline, it's how I got to this point. So, it makes me nervous to think about going on without my running buddy recording my every step. At the very least I should buy that new Nano to save my running partner, TheMonkey, from my yammering. On our run this morning, without music to listen to, I didn't stop talking for a second.

So, what do you think? Going into the final days of my training, I have some expensive things to think about. Is it worth it to get that new ipod so I can go back to tracking my runs and striking up my power song when I need a little boost (Pump It by Black Eyed Peas)? Or should I get those new shoes tonight and start rotating them in , instead of waiting until after the big day and retiring the shoes I wore throughout training with a big sigh and thank you? Or suck it up, dig into my savings and do both?

For some side reading, see how I got here in my running posts on my personal blog. Bit of trivia: The bride in the first running post: Running Girl.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Barefoot in the Park

Amanda forwarded this great article in the NY Times about Christopher McDougall and barefoot running. I haven't tried it yet, but I've been inspired by "Born to Run". Plus, with my injury, I really should test it out. Maybe tomorrow morning I'll show up barefoot for my run with Mariana. That would totally freak her out.

By the way, Christopher McDougall commented on this blog. Check it out if you missed it. He also sent some great music, so take a listen. And, read the book!